The White House website explains that it is the right of the people to petition the government, a right that is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Of course, the idea of petitioning the President is not something that is new, but the ability to use the Internet to create an online petition that may be considered and responded to by the Federal Government is indeed quite new. Not surprisingly, the Obama Administration, known for savvy use of the Internet both in governance and campaigning, pioneered this unique approach to making government reachable by the masses.
With this in mind, last week, a petition was created to petition the White House to take down the website Jerk.com. To date the petition has unfortunately not received many votes. Earlier today I was the 28th e-signer of the petition. My guess is that this is due to lack of publicity more so than anything else. Once people learn of the petition my guess is that the signatures will accumulate quickly, but will there be enough time to reach the 100,000 signature threshold by February 22, 2013?
The first order of business, however, is to get the required 150 signatures so that the petition will be searchable on WhiteHouse.gov. To view and/or sign the petition visit We the People.
UPDATED: Jan. 22, 2013 at 11:43am (see comment #2)
USPTO Director David Kappos speaking a White House event on April 11, 2012.
Today President Barack Obama publicly started his second term in Office with a celebration in Washington, DC, marked by his second inaugural address to the Nation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that President Obama will mark his second inauguration quite the way that President Abraham Lincoln did with a grand ball held at the United States Patent Office in the model room, but today is a very special day in America. We transfer power without a shot fired, which can’t be said for a great many places in the world. Soon we will turn from celebration back to partisan politics, if that hasn’t happened already.
One of the things that President Obama will be faced with in his second term, which I understand he was not expecting to have to deal with, is selecting a new leader for the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
On November 26, 2012, news broke that David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, would be stepping down and leaving the agency effective the end of January 2013. In fact, Director Kappos’ last day as Director will be January 31, 2013. At that time the mantle of leadership will pass to soon-to-be Acting Director Teresa Rea.
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.
President Obama delivering State of the Union Address, January 2012.
You would have to be living under a rock not to know that President Barack Obama was reelected last night in what really can only be characterized as a resounding victory. While I went on the record endorsing Governor Mitt Romney, rather than feeling too bad, I at least have the reassurance that the U.S. patent system will remain in capable hands for the foreseeable future.
Even in my endorsement of Governor Romney I discussed that it is undeniable that the USPTO is run better now than at any time during the Bush Administration. So while the Republicans in the patent community are no doubt disappointed about the results of the election last night, the consolation prize is that the federal agency that handles matters in our little niche will be competently run moving forward. So there is a silver lining.
Of course, there have been rumors flying around that David Kappos will not remain at the USPTO for long even if President Obama did win reelection. No one knows for sure what will happen, and frankly who could blame Kappos if he decided that 4 years was enough and he wants to return to the private sector. Still, if and when Kappos would make a decision to return to the private sector I would be surprised. As far as I can see he remains the highly energetic, extremely motivated, dedicated servant of the patent system that he was when he first assumed the mantle of Director in August 2009.
President Barack Obama (left), Governor Mitt Romney (right).
I am presently in San Francisco, California teaching the last live course for the PLI patent bar review course this year. As I was in my hotel room this morning getting ready for the day news coverage showed President Obama at a rally where supporters were screaming the familiar “4 more years” chant that you hear every time an incumbent President is running for reelection. The coverage then turned to Governor Romney in Wisconsin, where the crowd started chanting “4 more days.”
Then when I fired up my laptop to check e-mails and approve comments from first time posters and those otherwise caught up by our comment spam software, I came across a comment from a patent attorney who explained why he had finally decided to vote for President Obama — the Patent Office is working very well.
The comment to that article really didn’t fit with the broader content or theme of the article on which it was left. As frequent readers know I always try and encourage relevant comments that don’t go to far off tangent so as to keep the discussion focused and on point. So I didn’t approve that comment there but reached out to the commenter to let them know I would be posting this article.
Today’s Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare is historic. This issue has dominated political and private discourse for the past several years in America and, therefore, it is unrealistic to believe any legal commentator could resist the temptation to comment or opine. While Obamacare and the Supreme Court decision have nothing to do with intellectual property, I will, to the best of my abilities, turn this into a tongue in cheek patent commentary. Of course that is after I bash the Supreme Court. So liberals and others who believe the Supreme Court knows anything about anything should probably skip Part 1 and jump right to Part 2 of the article. I had a blast writing it. Hopefully you will have as much fun reading.
Part 1: Not Intended for Liberal / Supreme Court Consumption
A majority of the Supreme Court finally placed a meaningful limitation on the rampant, intellectually dishonest and terribly troubling use of the Commerce Clause to justify everything Congress ever wants to do. Unfortunately (at least in my opinion), Chief Justice John Roberts got in touch with his inner liberal and decided that the individual mandate is constitutional under the taxing power granted to Congress in the Constitution. Rather peculiar given that during the rancorous debates and ultimate passage of the bill the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress repeatedly proclaimed this was not a tax on the American people. To be fair, the Obama Administration did seem to argue it both ways on the tax issue depending upon the forum. I guess arguing in the alternative paid off even if Congress and the President were dishonest with the American people in public.
President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, January 24, 2012.
In the annual State of the Union Address President Obama explained: “Innovation is what America has always been about.” Today the Obama Administration took major steps forward to collaboratively work with private industry to tap American ingenuity to assist in a world-wide humanitarian effort. The United States government will work with the private sector, universities, and non-profits to foster game-changing innovations with the potential to solve long-standing development challenges in health, food security and environmental sustainability.
I had the honor of being invited to the White House today for the Innovation for Global Development Event, which was held in support of the President’s commitment to using harness the power of innovation to solve long-standing global development challenges. As a part of this event, David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, launched a pilot program dubbed Patents for Humanity, which is a voluntary prize competition for patent owners and licensees. The pilot program seeks to encourage businesses of all kinds to apply their patented technology to addressing the world’s humanitarian challenges.
Rebecca (left) watches President Obama sign the America Invents Act into law.
On September 17, 2011, I attended the Signing ofthe America Invents Act at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. A young lady named Rebecca Hyndman, who is a senior at the high school, introduced President Obama, which took place immediately prior to his signing the Act into law. Rebecca was chosen for this honor because at the age of just 14 she acquired a patent for her own innovation. Recently, I ran into her father, Kelly Hyndman, at another IP event. While discussing the AIA signing ceremony, I asked Mr. Hyndman if he would mind my interviewing his daughter for our blog. With his blessing I conducted the following Interview via email, which I received back from Rebecca at the end of November. Unfortunately, as many of you know, I had to have emergency spinal fusion surgery and was unable to publish her interview prior to now.
So (as Gene likes to say) without further ado, here is my interview with Rebecca.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Obama will today announce a proposal that would merge six agencies that focus on trade and commerce into one new department. Apparently the belief is that the restructuring will make it easier for businesses to navigate government bureaucracy. Notwithstanding, the proposed restructuring may better be thought of as a reshuffling since it seems that the plan would only save several billion dollars over 10 years. Thus, the real savings and streamlining may be minimal and likely won’t make the bureaucracy any more friendly unless regulations are minimized, but that is another topic for another day.
The Obama government restructuring plan is of particular importance within the patent community because it will affect the Commerce Department as well as five smaller agencies. As soon as I heard that my Spidey-senses started tingling. Wasn’t there something in the the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) that applied only so long as the United States Patent and Trademark Office remained an agency within the Department of Commerce? Sure enough, there is. The new fee setting authority vested in the USPTO is contingent upon the Patent and Trademark Office remaining within the Department of Commerce.
At this time of the year many attorneys and agents are not paying all that much attention to the rules and requests for comments coming out of the Patent Office. Truthfully, with the number of changes that have taken place under the Kappos run Patent Office and the enormity of the America Invents Act many patent attorneys, including myself, are worn out! Add to that the typical end of the year matters for clients and our own businesses and it is easy to miss announcements in November and December.
With that in mind I thought I would take this opportunity to try and bring everyone up to speed on the various patent related announcements and notices in the Federal Register that were published in November 2011 and December 2011. I am told that more are on the way in January 2012. I can’t wait!
Several weeks ago, on December 11, 2011, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson set out his vision for how the Department of Commerce can best partner with the business community to support President Obama’s jobs agenda. If the past is any indication of the future, President Obama and it senior team will do whatever they can leading into the new year to jump start the economy and get Americans back to work.
At his speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Commerce Secretary Bryson outlined his top three priorities to help American businesses “build it here and sell it everywhere,” focusing on supporting advanced manufacturing, increasing our exports, and attracting more investment to America from all over the world. The key to emerging from the Great Recession is, of course, manufacturing. Manufacturing jobs have left the U.S. in favor of more business friendly climates in other countries, taking with them U.S. jobs and U.S. intellectual property. But moving into a Presidential election year will government be able to do anything that is at all likely to help?
Did you know that since President George H. W. Bush started the tradition of pardoning turkeys in 1989 there have been 24 turkeys to receive Presidential Pardons, sparing them from the dinner table? Somewhat ironically, that first turkey to receive a Presidential Pardon was sent to Frying Pan Park in Herndon, Virginia. In any event, the latest two turkeys to receive a Pardon were Peace and Liberty, both who received a pardon by President Barack Obama in a ceremony held on the North Portico of the White House.
But was President George H. W. Bush the first to pardon a turkey? According to the definitive history of turkey pardons on the White House blog, the answer is technically yes but not really yes. While there are rumors that President Lincoln issued the first pardon at the behest of his son, it is known that in 1963 President Kennedy returned the turkey sent to the White House saying: “We’ll just let this one grow.” Perhaps not exactly a pardon, but the turkey was spared the death penalty.
With an eye toward creating new jobs and improving the economy, the Obama Administration wants to expand the ability to quickly and efficiently transfer science and engineering breakthroughs from the laboratory to the commercial marketplace. To accomplish this goal, earlier today the Obama Administration announced two new initiatives to help U.S businesses create jobs and strengthen competitiveness in the global economy. The new initiatives continue a week long theme where President Obama has showed a willingness to take whatever executive action he feels he can in order to attempt to spur job creation.
This latest set of initiatives will take steps to speed up the transfer of federal research and development from the laboratory to the marketplace, and it will create BusinessUSA, a one-stop, central online platform where small businesses and businesses of all sizes that want to begin or increase exporting can access information about available federal programs without having to waste time navigating the federal bureaucracy.
Is this a good idea? Yes, I think so. Will this work in any relevant time frame to create new jobs? I doubt it. There is too much work that needs to be done, you cannot mandate the speed of innovation and many universities have a rather myopic view of their role within the technology transfer cycle to suggest that an effort like this will yield any results over the short-term. It is, however, something that should be undertaken.
Recently the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, otherwise known as the Jobs Council, issued an interim report outlining a number of suggestions and recommendations. Some of the suggestions are quite good, although hardly revolutionary. Indeed, one obvious recommendation is for Congress and the Obama Administration to explore tax reforms that would increase the competitiveness of businesses locating in the United States. I guess it is that type of outside-the-box thinking that only a Presidential blue-ribbon panel could come up with!
Indeed, many of the ideas in the interim report are quite broad and vague, but on the tax issue there were at least a couple specific recommendations. The Jobs Council recommends eliminating capital gains taxes on investments of $25 million or less in privately held companies where the investment is held for 5 years or longer (see page 19). Also recommended is eliminating corporate taxes for the first year a company is in existence and reduce corporate taxes by 50% in the second and third year of existence (see page 19). The thinking here is that by reducing tax burden during the first three years companies will be able to invest in growth and expansion, which seems reasonable and also calculated to lead to job creation given that start-ups disproportionately are responsible for creating new jobs. Unfortunately, being reasonable and calculated to lead to job creation likely means that it has no realistic chance of being implemented.
Obviously, the universe enjoys irony. How else to explain the simultaneous issuance of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness interim report (see pages 21-22) with recommendations that would wreak havoc on university technology transfer, and an article in the Wall Street Journal crediting the same system as one of the Three Policies That Gave Us the Jobs Economy.
When asked how he felt about a blunder made by one of his politically appointed generals, President Lincoln said “It hurts too much to laugh, and I’m too big to cry.” When considering these recommendations of the report, it’s easy to feel the same way. If adopted, they undermine the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows universities and small companies to own and manage inventions they make with federal funds. There is considerable evidence of the harm such an action would do to the US economy, undercutting the very objectives of the Council.
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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