Michelle Lee, USPTO Deputy Director and Director Nominee.
Thank you, Wayne, and good morning everyone. Before I begin, I just wanted to say, it’s been a busy week, and that I am beginning to lose my voice, but it means a lot to me to be here today and to speak to you all of you, so I hope you will bear with me and hopefully my voice will hold through the speech.
With that, I’d like to congratulate Q. Todd Dickinson for his successful leadership of AIPLA, and for his past service as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
We at the USPTO appreciate his support of our agency over the years, and I personally want to thank Todd for his warm welcome of me when I took the helm of the agency in January. I know we all wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
I also want to commend Vince Garlock for his recent stewardship of the Association, and congratulate Wayne for his successful tenure as the 106th president of AIPLA.
Earlier today President Barack Obama nominated Michelle Lee to be the next Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Lee has been serving as Deputy Director of the USPTO since January 2014. Previously, she served at USPTO as the Director of the Silicon Valley Office from 2012 to 2013, a USPTO satellite office that still has not opened and will not open until early 2015.
Immediately prior to becoming Director of the un-opened Silicon Valley Patent Office, from 2003 to 2012, Lee was the Deputy General Counsel and Head of Patents and Patent Strategy at Google Inc. Google has been a outspoken critic of the U.S. patent system and based on their public positions and lobbying it is clear that the company would like to see software patents abolished and the patent system significantly curtailed. Recently other large Silicon Valley companies have split with Google and have started to work to promote the importance of patents as a tool for American innovation.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) today launched a new free service that will allow the two offices to electronically exchange patent application priority documents directly. This new service will help streamline the patent application process and reduce costs for businesses which are increasingly pursuing patent rights globally.
The new service will allow the USPTO and the SIPO, with appropriate permissions, to obtain electronic copies of priority documents filed with the other office from its electronic records management system at no cost to the applicant. With this new service, applicants will no longer need to obtain and file paper copies of the priority documents; however, they are still responsible for ensuring that priority documents are provided in a timely manner.
Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) Commissioner Young-min Kim (left) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee (right) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding that brings KIPO fully into the Cooperative Patent Classification system developed by the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO).
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) today announced a major expansion of cooperation in classification activities between the USPTO and KIPO. The agreement,signed by the heads of the two offices during a bilateral meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, is designed to improve the patent granting process through streamlined access to patent documentation. Through this cooperation, KIPO will greatly expand the number of documents included in the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system by fully classifying its patent applications and utility models.
“Today’s historic announcement further illustrates the usefulness of the Cooperative Patent Classification system and demonstrates the excellent bilateral relationship and spirit of cooperation between the USPTO and KIPO,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “We hope other offices, particularly IP5 offices, will follow KIPO’s lead in increasing global intellectual property protection for innovators around the world.”
Mariano Rivera knows something about perfection. The New York Yankees now-retired pitcher is regarded by many experts as the greatest closer in the history of major league baseball. For those who are not aficionados of America’s Pastime, the closer comes in after the game has largely been played, and his sole job is to get the last several opposing batters out. For seventeen seasons, Mariano Rivera (a.k.a. “the Sandman”) dominated at his position and was virtually unhittable.
The USPTO Director also knows something about perfection, albeit in a far different context than baseball. For six years, the USPTO Director has dominated opposing patent practitioners, who have gone hitless against the Office in cases involving reciprocal ethical discipline.
“Reciprocal discipline” is a process for disciplining an attorney in a second jurisdiction after the attorney has been ethically disciplined by another jurisdiction. A patent or trademark attorney who is publicly disciplined in another jurisdiction is subject to reciprocal discipline by the USPTO, even if the attorney’s conduct has nothing to do with their practice before the Office. And while it is theoretically possible for a patent or trademark practitioner to avoid reciprocal discipline in the USPTO, in reality they would have a better chance of hitting a Rivera cut fastball blindfolded with one arm tied. To date, the USPTO’s record in Section 11.24 cases is a perfect 77-0, and counting. Practitioners, meet the “Sandman.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Gene Quinn will host a free webinar discussion about the PTAB past, present and future with Scott McKeown on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:00 am Eastern. You can register by CLICKING HERE.
At the end of July, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) hosted a press conference to discuss ongoing progress with patent trials which have been or are being conducted under the terms of the America Invents Act (AIA). Scott Boalick, Acting Vice Chief Judge of the PTAB and head of the PTAB’s Trial Section, answered questions from the audience on various aspects of the AIA trials, as well as offer questions for public comments being sought by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in its attempts to determine how and if the AIA patent proceedings can be improved.
The online webinar was not the first time that the PTAB and USPTO have worked to gain feedback from various stakeholders on the progress of AIA trials. Earlier in spring and early summer of this year, representatives of the PTAB attended eight roundtable discussions in cities across the United States. Although one goal of these meetings was to educate the public about AIA trial proceedings, the PTAB was also interested in collecting feedback from those involved in trial proceedings. Of great importance to the board is methods of making these trial proceedings more effective at challenging patent validity than filing cases in district courts; encouraging the use of these type of legal proceedings is a major goal of the law.
Under the America Invents Act, it is possible to challenge the validity of a patent after its issuance. Some have argued in the past that allowing for third-party input in this way could improve patent quality, even after a patent is issued. However, with litigation involving patent validity as such a major issue in recent weeks, it’s understandable why the PTAB would reach out to stakeholders and see if the rules were serving them well.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I will host a free webinar discussion about the PTAB past, present and future with Scott McKeown on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:00 am Eastern. You can register by CLICKING HERE.
The American Invents Act (AIA) created three new ways to challenge the validity of claims in already issued patents. While the AIA was signed into law on September 16, 2011, the new post grant proceedings did not become effective until one year after the signing, on September 16, 2012. These three new post grant proceedings are post-grant review, inter partes review and covered business method review, which is a variety of post-grant review that is limited to business methods relating to the financial industry. Because post-grant review was specifically limited in applicability to patents that were examined under the new first to file law, only patents that have an effective filing date on or after March 16, 2013, are capable of being reviewed in a post-grant review proceeding. Therefore, so far the USPTO has only seen inter partes review and covered business method cases.
On August, 14, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office promulgated final rules applicable to these new proceedings, and at that time the USPTO said that they anticipated that 420 petitions for inter partes review would be filed in fiscal year 2013. The USPTO also said they anticipated that in fiscal year 2014 there would be 450 petitions for inter partes review filed. See 77 FR 157 (August 14, 2012) 48713. The Patent Office severely under estimated the popularity of post grant proceedings, particularly inter partes review.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I will host a free webinar discussion of the PTAB past, present and future with Scott McKeown on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11:00 am Eastern. You can register by CLICKING HERE.
On September 16, 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the most sweeping changes to U.S. patent law since at least the 1952 Patent Act, perhaps ever. One of the dramatic changes to the U.S. patent system was the creation of post grant administrative proceedings where a challenger could in a contested forum akin to a trial challenge one or more claims of a patent already issued. These new proceedings — post grant review, inter partes review and covered business method review — went into effect on the one year anniversary of the signing of the America Invents Act (AIA) on September 16, 2012.
The patent litigation landscape has forever changed thanks to the AIA. On that date the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) was born. The precursor to the PTAB was the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), which would hear appeals from applicants who had their patent applications rejected and also conducted interference proceedings. With the signing of the America Invents Act (AIA) the PTAB was born and the jurisdiction of the appellate body within the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) was greatly expanded.
This Board, the adjudicative body of the USPTO, consists of technically and scientifically trained administrative patent judges (APJs). The PTAB was created, in part, to adjudicate the new patent challenge mechanisms of the AIA. Between September 16, 2012, and August 7, 2014, there were 1793 post grant challenges instituted. See USPTO PTAB Update, slide 5. Of those challenges 1,585 (or just over 88%) were inter partes reviews. There have been 201 covered business method challenges, 6 derivation proceedings and only a single post grant review. The fact that there has been only a single post grant review is not surprising giving that a PGR can only be instituted to challenge patents that were examined under the first to file rules of the AIA, which did not go into effect until March 16, 2013. The relatively low number of covered business method challenges suggests that this form of review is not nearly as popular as it was thought to have been prior to the enactment of the AIA.
Many within the independent inventor community are well acquainted with John Calvert. Calvert originally started out working for the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent examiner, but by the time he retired twenty-four years later he was in charge of the independent inventor outreach efforts of the USPTO. I have known him for a long time, he is a friend, and he has been a champion for the independent inventor community.
When Calvert retired in June 2014 I was saddened to see a him leave, but also saddened because I know how tirelessly he works to inform, educate and assist independent inventors. While he has no doubt earned a quite retirement I am extremely pleased to say that in retirement Calvert will continue to work with independent inventors; he was recently hired as the new Executive Director of the United Inventors Association (UIA). His energy, passion, knowledge and contacts should dramatically impact the UIA in a positive way. Good things are no doubt on the horizon.
Just as in the land of Westeros, there is turmoil and intrigue in our government as to who is to lead the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Indeed, the top position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO has been vacant since the resignation of David Kappos on February 1, 2013. His deputy, Teresa Stanek Rea, became Acting Director, but she was not elevated to his post. She resigned on November 21, 2013, which left both positions unfilled.
On January 13, 2014, Michelle Lee, former head of Patent and Patent Strategy at Google, was appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, and in the ongoing absence of a Director, she holds the fort as Deputy Director, but with her position in administrative law limbo. Despite the clear need for leadership at the USPTO, the search for the next Iron Throne holder is mired in ideology and lobbying.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the launch of its newly redesigned KIDS! Web pages aimed to encourage students of all ages to learn about the importance of intellectual property (IP) creation and protection. In addition to featuring young inventor profiles, activities, and videos, the pages also offer curricula that link Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education to IP and innovation through downloadable lesson plans, hands-on instructions for building inventions, USPTO career information and other useful resources.
“The USPTO looks to our children—the doers, makers, and tinkerers of the future—to reimagine the world and, as the Constitution calls for, ‘to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts’ like never before,” said Michelle K. Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO. “As schools across the country ramp up their STEM programming, we look forward to putting even more tools in teachers’ hands that will ensure our next generation is well-versed in concepts of making, inventing, and creating the high-value intellectual property that drives our economy.”
The USPTO is seeking feedback from U.S. trademark owners, practitioners, and other interested parties about this proposal to allow amendments to identifications of goods and services due to technology evolution. Please send comments regarding the proposal to TMPolicy@uspto.gov, with the subject line “Technology Evolution.” Comments may be posted on the USPTO website. In order to ensure that your feedback may be considered, please submit it no later than November 3, 2014.
Based on user input, including at a recent roundtable, the USPTO proposes to amend its current practice to permit amendments in limited circumstances to identifications of goods/services based on changes in the manner or medium by which products and services are offered for sale and provided to consumers due to evolving technology if the underlying content or subject matter has not changed. This change in practice takes into account the goal of preserving trademark registrations and applications in situations where technology in an industry has evolved in such a way that amendment of the goods/services in question would not generate a public-notice problem.