Serving the economic interests of America for more than 200 years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for granting US intellectual property rights for patents and trademarks and providing inventors exclusive rights over their discoveries. It’s an effort that contributes to a strong global economy, encourages investment in innovation, and cultivates an entrepreneurial spirit in the 21st century.
The USPTO is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and has over 10,230 employees, including engineers, scientists, attorneys, analysts, IT specialists, etc. all dedicated to accomplishing the USPTO’s mission, vision, strategic goals and guiding principles.
The USPTO is currently seeking applicants for a non-paid summer 2013 externship — the Patent Experience Externship Program (PEEP). This externship program is intended to give students an opportunity to experience what it’s like to work at PTO, as well as interact with experts in several disciplines, explore opportunities and develop or enhance personal and professional skills. The program is an 8-10 week summer program. There will be two entry on duty dates, one on May 28th and the other on June 10th, 2013. Those selected will be notified of their entry on duty date and made a formal offer to participate.
Do patent applicants appealing a rejection of their claims from the Patent Trial and Appeals Board have a chance of success at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit? What about patentees appealing to the CAFC from rejections in reexamination proceedings? The candid answer is not much of a chance. Of course, every case is different and needs to be considered on its own merits. Yet, the standards for review of Board decisions, followed by the CAFC, significantly favor affirmance of those decisions.
What about a rejection by the Board that the claims in an application or patent are anticipated by a prior art reference? The CAFC reviews an anticipation rejection as a “finding of fact” under the “substantial evidence” standard. In re Gleave, 560 F.3d 1331, 1334-35 (Fed. Cir. 2009). A finding of fact is “supported by substantial evidence [and therefore affirmed] if a reasonable mind might accept the evidence to support the finding.” Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). For a reversal, it is not enough that the CAFC simply disagrees with the Board – the CAFC must find that no reasonable person would have rejected the claims.
The U.S. Patent Office as it looked prior to the Civil War.
The Old Patent Office is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Washington, DC. Presently, it hosts the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. For those who are not from DC or familiar with the city, allow me to explain that obtaining directions to the Old Patent Office on your electronic device of choice may be difficult because there is no street address. At least I have never been able to find a street address for the building. The Old Patent Office Building takes up an entire city block in DC, located on the corner of Eighth and F Streets, roughly between the White House and Capitol.
Yes, the Patent Office was once upon a time thought to be so important to our new nation that this ornate building was located between the White House and the Capitol. Yet today there are forces throughout academia and elsewhere that would rather see the entire U.S. patent system dismantled. Oh how we have departed from the views of Madison, Jefferson and the other founders who thought a strong patent system would be central to the success of the new nation. That, however, is a story for another day.
The Old Patent Office Building has had a storied history, which is commensurate with what our early leaders, such as Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Lincoln thought of the patent system. In addition to housing the Patent Office from 1842 to 1932, in 1865 the Old Patent Office hosted President Lincoln’s second inaugural ball in the model room. This marked the first time that a government building was used for the inaugural ball. See Inaugural Ball, from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Since April 2011, the United States Patent Bar Examination has been a moving target. For many years the exam was static, largely remaining the same. Numerous repeat questions would be asked from administration to administration and changes to the law not tested. In fact, it was nearly 5 years before the USPTO started testing changes to the law of obviousness mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex, which was difficult to imagine since the law fundamentally changed and impacts nearly ever application filed.
Enter David Kappos. As Kappos was setting out to redefine the USPTO he also made time to have his team update the stale patent bar exam. The first updates of the patent bar examination in some time were unveiled in April 2011, and with every new Federal Register Notice the exam is being updated to test the latest law and newest rules.
There does, however, remain a problem associated with studying for the patent bar exam. The Manual of Patent Examining Procedures is not up to date, and in places it is significantly out of date. That can make studying for the patent bar a daunting task for those who attempt to do it on their own. Without the guidance of a course that can pull everything together it is quite possible that a student will study the wrong material out of the MPEP, even believing they are about to get a question correct because the answer is included in the MPEP. A case in point will illustrate.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today opened a new Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) in Smithtown, New York, at the Smithtown Library to better serve the intellectual property (IP) needs of the public.
“Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC) are the face of the USPTO on a local level,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “The PTRC-designated libraries promote innovation and entrepreneurship and help ensure that members of the public interested in getting a patent have access to the resources they need.”
I will be speaking at the 7th Annual Patent Law Institute sponsored by the Practising Law Institute live from New York City on February 4-5, 2013, and live from San Francisco, CA on March 18-19, 2013, with the San Francisco location also being webcast. My topic this year is ethics, which will give me at least several CLE credits for teaching this ethics component and give those who attend live or via webcast 1 CLE credit hour of ethics.
I will be discussing some ethical issues raised by the America Invents Act, but when giving an ethics lecture I also like to take a look at some of the things that the Office of Enrollment & Discipline has been doing with respect to practitioner discipline. I did this several years ago, see Patent Office Disciplinary Actions and Lack Thereof, and more recently I looked at a handful of cases from January 2012, see, Ethics and OED 2012.
Over the coming weeks I will be publish more summaries of some of the more interesting disciplinary matters before the Office of Enrollment and Discipline during 2012. What follows are cases from November 2012 and December 2012. My goal is to work my way backwards and summarize as many decisions from 2012 prior to my PLI ethics presentation as I can.
One of the criticisms of the PatentCore database in the past was that the database was not a complete representation of the case files at the USPTO and gave a false impression. I never personally found that persuasive given that even when the database first became public there were approximately 1.5 million application files within the database. Still, many patent examiners scoffed at the notion that this data was accurate.
If I were a patent examiner that hadn’t issued patents for years I wouldn’t want anyone to know that either. Similarly, if I were a Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE) in an Art Unit that routinely only issued patents after a long drawn out appeal process that resulted in the Board overturning the rejections I wouldn’t want the public to know about that either. Sadly, this type of gaming exists at the Patent Office. There are examiners who only rarely issue patents and Art Units that openly tell patent attorneys that they don’t issue patents unless ordered to do so by the Board. Knowing that this happens, which is supported by hard data, makes it impossible to tolerate the anti-patent zealots who routinely opine about just how easy it is to get a software or business method patent issued. Really? You have to be kidding!
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.
Without hesitation I recommend One Simple Idea and think it should be required reading for any motivated inventor. There is so much to like about the book and so much that I think author Stephen Key nails dead on accurate. The book is educational, information and inspirational. For the $14 cover price it is essential reading.
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