President Obama announces of new Commerce Secretary. Secretary Gary Locke (left) and Secretary Designate John Bryson (right).
Earlier today President Obama announced the nomination of John Bryson as the next Secretary of Commerce. Bryson, the former CEO of Edison International and co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will replace current Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke who has been tapped as the next United States Ambassador to China. Meanwhile, earlier in the day Secretary Locke continued to work patent reform, sending letters to Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who is Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and to Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, which set forth the Administration’s position on patent reform.
Notably, but not surprisingly, Secretary Locke explained: “The Administration continues to strongly support the bipartisan efforts of Congress to enact patent reform legislation that will accelerate innovation, and create new jobs, new industries and new economic opportunities for Americans.” Secretary Locke went on to elaborate more specifically about some of the specific provisions of the America Invent’s Act, explaining the Obama Administration supports first to file provisions, supports giving the Patent and Trademark Office the ability to set fees and keep the fees collected to be used to run the agency, supports post grant review and supports allowing individuals to submit prior art references to patent examiners. Unfortunately, however, Secretary Locke explained that the Administration generally supports prior user rights given that it is, on balance, a good policy. I respectfully dissent!
Counterfeiting and the theft of intellectual property rights is not just a matter for companies. Such theft, or piracy as it is frequently referred to, is a major issue for the United States government. Over the years the piracy problem has continued to grow in importance in both trade relations and in the war against organized crime and terrorists. The United States needs to do what it can to prevent intellectual property theft because of the negative impact it has on job creation and our economy. It is also imperative to shut off the flow of easy money to criminal enterprises. Without money they become starved for resources, a big strategy in the fight against global terror.
On May 5, 2011, in prepared remarks in a speech to commemorate World Intellectual Property Day, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke acknowledged that much still needs to be done regarding theft of intellectual property around the globe. Secretary Locke said: “[W]hen over 80 percent of all software installed on computers in China is counterfeit and when first-run movies continue to appear on rogue web sites as soon as they show up in the theaters – then we know the problem is still grave.”
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will belatedly commemorate World Intellectual Property Day on Thursday, May 5, 2011, in a ceremony at the Rayburn House Office Building in the House Judiciary Committee hearing room. The event will take place starting at 4:00 pm. Secretary Locke’s remarks will begin at approximately 4:10 pm, and he is expected to highlight the importance of intellectual property protection and enforcement to the U.S. economy, celebrating the 11th anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day. World Intellectual Property Day is April 26, 2011, each year. For more on the worldwide celebration of World Intellectual Property Day this year see Ranting on Congress: Not a Happy World IP Day in the US.
Washington – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has appointed James Donald Smith of Chicago, Ill. to serve as the next Chief Administrative Patent Judge of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As BPAI Chief Judge, Smith will lead the board that hears and adjudicates patent appeals from decisions of patent examiners. Smith begins serving as Chief Judge on May 8, 2011.
Smith currently serves as Associate General and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Illinois-based healthcare company, Baxter International, where he oversees its global patent, trademark and copyright affairs. He replaces Michael Fleming, the former Chief Judge who retired in the fall of 2010.
On March 7, 2011, I had the privilege of conducting an interview with the United States Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. Later in the day word began to leak that President Barack Obama was planning on announcing that he would appoint Locke to be the next United States Ambassador to China. ABC News first broke the story that President Obama would nominate Secretary Locke to become Ambassador to China after the close of business on March 7, 2011, and President Obama followed suit and later that week did announce that Locke would become the next Ambassador to China. Little has been said since that time about Locke moving on to become Ambassador to China, and less even still has been said about who will replace Secretary Locke once he leaves the Department of Commerce.
Those who live inside the beltway know that rumors swirl left and right, and it is sometimes extremely difficult to cut through the rumor-mill, which sometimes seems more like a “wishful thinking mill” than a true rumor-mill. Notwithstanding, there is one name that I have heard from multiple sources as likely to become the next Secretary of Commerce — Ambassador Ron Kirk.
At 11:30 am on Monday, March 7, 2011, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke spoke at the Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation Forum hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Immediately after his remarks I was granted an exclusive interview with Secretary Locke. The interview was originally scheduled for 10 minutes, but as you can see from the transcript below the interview went long. In fact, Secretary Locke was gracious enough to talk about a range of issues for more than 25 minutes.
During my interview with Secretary Locke we spoke about patent reform efforts in the United States Senate, what patent reform might look like from the House of Representatives, his management style and how to motivate individuals to achieve transformative change. What you will not read, however, is about his much anticipated appointment as the new U.S. Ambassador to China. ABC News first broke the story that President Obama would nominate Secretary Locke to become Ambassador to China after the close of business. This interview wrapped up at approximately 12:30 pm, some 6 hours before Locke’s impending nomination as the Ambassador to China became public knowledge.
Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced more details relating to the “Three-Track” program, which was first published for public comment in June 2010. See USPTO Announces New Examination Rules). The Three-Track initiative is designed to enable applicants to choose the speed with which their patent application is processed. On Friday, February 4, 2011, the USPTO will publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking on “Track One” of the program, which will give applicants the opportunity for prioritized examination of a patent within 12 months of its filing date for a proposed fee of $4,000.
Sadly, because the Patent Office does not have fee setting authority there will be no reduction in fees available to small entities who otherwise normally pay 50% of most Patent Office fees. Because the Congress controls which fees qualify for small entity preference everyone will need to pay $4,000 to accelerate under Track One. Perhaps this will get Congress to stand up and take notice of the patent system they have so long neglected. I can only imagine the outcry from independent inventors and the small business community. If you are offended by the high fee just be sure to direct your ire where it is deserved; namely in the direction of Congress.
In a conference call this afternoon with reporters Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that the first Regional Patent Office would be located in Detroit, Michigan and will open at some point during 2011, employing some 100 patent examiners with some additional support staff. Locke explained that as a part of the nationwide workforce initiative of the Obama Administration high paying jobs would be coming to the USPTO Detroit Satellite Office. Locke said that while 100 patent examiners is an appropriate level of staffing initially that number could expand over time if the Regional Patent Office model proves successful. Secretary Locke also explained that the Detroit Satellite Patent Office will be “the first of several Patent Offices we hope to establish around the country.” When pressed during the question and answer phase of the call, Secretary Locke said that perhaps two additional Satellite Patent Offices might open “within the year after Detroit.”
In this edition of News, Notes & Announcements, happy birthday wishes to IPWatchdog.com for celebrating our 11th year online and a heartfelt thank you to all our readers. Additionally, the TiVo patent used to sue Echostar, the litigation at question in the en banc review at the Federal Circuit, survives reexamination at the USPTO. Professor Thomas Field (UNH) publishes the 21st edition of his IP casebook, which is now online in royalty free version; the USPTO is hosting the National Trademark Expo this Friday and Saturday on campus in Alexandria; the USPTO is hosting the 15th Annual Independent Inventors Conference on November 4-5, 2010, and I will be there teaching two sessions of patent claim drafting; US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visits the USPTO and the AIPLA will host is Annual Meeting next week.
Draft plan sets priorities to strengthen the USPTO, drive innovation and support economic growth
Washington – Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today that the USPTO’s draft Strategic Plan for fiscal years (FY) 2010-2015 is posted for public review and comment on the USPTO Web site at www.uspto.gov.
The draft 2010-2015 Strategic Plan sets out the USPTO’s mission-focused strategic goals: to optimize patent quality and timeliness; to optimize trademark quality and timeliness; and to provide global and domestic leadership to improve intellectual property (IP) policy, protection, and enforcement worldwide.
Public and Private Sector Leaders Meet to Discuss Copyright in the Internet Economy
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke gathered with leaders from the public and private sectors to discuss the relationship between copyright policy, creativity and innovation in the Internet economy as part of a symposium co-hosted by the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chair of Judiciary Committee
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) recently came to agreement with Committee Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on changes to the Patent Reform Act of 2009 (S. 515), winning Senator Sessions’ support for passage and making it extremely likely that patent reform will happen this year, and likely very soon. An individual involved in the ongoing patent reform debate on Capitol Hill tells me that the Leahy-Sessions language would substitute for the Committee-passed language, and then be considered by the Senate as a whole. This is an important procedural step toward passing patent reform, and could mean that patent reform will be passed by the full Senate any day now. Leahy’s procedural move is called a “hot line”, in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will ask all Senate offices for unanimous consent to proceed to the bill, substitute the new language, and consider it passed.
EDITOR’S NOTE: President Obama’s recently submitted budget would allow the USPTO to hire 1,000 patent examiners during both FY 2011 and FY 2012. It would also provide an interim fee increase on certain patent fees which is estimated to generate $224 million. There is no mention of fee diversion, but reading between the lines it seems the budget would allow the USPTO to keep all, or at least more, of the fees collected. More to come, but below is a press release issued by the USPTO on February 1, 2010. It is worth a read.
########## PRESS RELEASE STARTS HERE ##########
Washington – February 1, 2010 – Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos today announced President Obama’s $2.322 billion fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011) budget request for the USPTO.
The president’s budget request for FY 2011 will support a five-year plan designed to enable the USPTO to achieve the strategic objectives laid out by Under Secretary Kappos and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke – a significant reduction in patent pendency periods and the existing patent inventory backlog; improvement in patent quality; enhanced intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement; global IP policy leadership; and investment in information technology (IT) infrastructure and tools to achieve a 21st Century system that permits end-to-end electronic processing in patents and trademark IT systems.
Christmas is coming early for inventors, innovative companies, patent attorneys and anyone in the technology/innovation industry that relies upon patent protection. Faced with a growing backlog and long patent pendency periods in a difficult fiscal environment, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is reaching out to former patent examiners, inviting them to return to the agency. According to David Kappos, the Director of the USPTO and Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property: “Because of their prior experience, returning examiners will need little training and will be able to hit the ground running. These examiners can have an immediate impact on the patent examination backlog and reducing the backlog is our top priority.” In the past I have written over and over again that the USPTO should bring back former patent examiners, precisely for the reasons stated by Kappos (e.g., 5th paragraph and 5th paragraph). I am not about to claim that the USPTO listened to me, but whether they listened to me or came up with this idea on their own it is something I have thought made a lot of sense for a long time. So, not surprisingly, I think this is a wonderful idea!
Earlier this week Mike Drummond, the Editor in Chief of Inventors Digest, authored an article titled US Senate Votes to Leave Patent Office Underfunded for 2010. In this article Drummond explained that over the weekend, while no one was paying attention, the Senate voted to leave USPTO funding at the same level in 2010 as it was in 2009, which is bad enough because the Patent Office desperately needs more resources in order to tackle the problems left over by the previous regime. Worse, the Senate vote would re-institute fee diversion, which means that if the Patent Office were to collect revenues over and above the amount allocated by Congress those additional fees would not be able to be used by the Patent Office to improve operations, or even for just handling the increased work generated by additional filings. Rather, fees received over and above the allocated amount would be stripped from the Patent Office and diverted into the General Treasury account. That is plain and simple a National Innovation Tax, and it is an enormously bad idea.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
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