Yesterday the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a decision in Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., which canceled a variety of U.S. federal trademarks that were issued to the Washington Redskins football team between 1967 and 1990. The trademarks in question consisted in whole or in part of the term REDSKINS for professional football-related services. The TTAB ruled that these trademarks were inappropriately granted on the ground that the registrations were obtained contrary to Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.
While this decision will be widely cheered by those who proclaim the virtues of political correctness, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that from a legal standpoint this decision is clearly wrong.
From a purely legal standpoint there is absolutely no valid reason to have canceled the trademarks in question, but this is the second time the TTAB has canceled these same trademarks. Ultimately, the previous challenge was reversed as the result of laches because the challengers waited too long to bring the challenge. Laches was not an issue in this case, but previously federal courts also question the evidence, or lack thereof, relied upon the challenge the trademarks. See Redskins Can Keep Trademark.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announces the launch of a new Glossary Pilot as part of a White House Executive Action designed to enhance claim clarity in the specification of software-related patent applications.
The pilot runs for six months from the start date of June 2, 2014.
When the Supreme Court hands down a decision bearing on a hotly contested area of law, it means the work has just begun for any agency tasked with administering its consequences. Last term, the Court rendered such a decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, adding a new wrinkle to the already confounding question of patentable subject matter under §101 of the Patent Act.
As companies consider current cases related to patents before the Supreme Court, they would be wise to learn from the challenges the USPTO faced in implementing the Myriad decision. And for the reasons set forth below, we believe that the USPTO and the entire business community are well served by engaging in rigorous public debate about the guidelines that should be established to implement the decision from the Supreme Court.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host a career fair for veterans with specialized IT experience on Friday, June 13 and Saturday, June 14, 2014 at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. There are available positions in the areas of cybersecurity, data architecture, desktop support, software engineering development, systems development and testing, and web development, among others. The free, two-day event sponsored by USPTO’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and Office of Human Resources (OHR) will offer veterans who are transitioning or have recently transitioned from active duty the opportunity to interview on site for current USPTO vacancies.
Attendees will hear directly from USPTO Chief Information Officer John Owens as well as a panel of current USPTO veteran employees who will share their personal stories of success in transitioning from active duty to Federal service. Participants will also get a chance to network with hiring managers and hear first-hand what makes the USPTO the #1 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government®.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that its permanent satellite office in Denver, Colorado, will officially open on June 30, 2014. Located in the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building in Denver’s central business district, the new office will help the region’s entrepreneurs advance cutting-edge ideas to the marketplace, grow their businesses, and more efficiently navigate the world’s strongest intellectual property system. The Denver satellite office will also soon begin hiring patent trial judges and patent examiners—creating new, high-skilled jobs in the Rocky Mountain region.
“From the moment a game-changing technology gets sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin to when a company goes public, the USPTO offers the tools entrepreneurs need to protect their innovations and promote U.S. competitiveness,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “In addition to creating jobs for intellectual property professionals throughout the region, the permanent Denver satellite office will be an indispensable resource for regional inventors, entrepreneurs, and businesses. The office reflects the agency’s mission to promote and foster American innovation in the global marketplace while placing agency resources and personnel directly to the doorsteps of regional communities.”
Washington – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to reduce fees for many new trademark applications and most renewals of registration. USPTO also proposes a new Trademark Electronic Application System Reduced Fee (TEAS RF) filing option in addition to reducing filing fees for both applications filed using the current TEAS Plus option and applications for renewal of a registration filed through TEAS.
“The proposed fee reductions advance the USPTO’s core mission of serving the public in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “Lower fees will lessen the burden for entrepreneurs to obtain the crucial trademark protection they need to grow their businesses, while increased electronic processing improves agency efficiency.”
Mark Twain wrote that a country without a good patent system is doomed to go only sideways and backwards.
Recently when looking at some new Hewlett-Packard patent applications and patents we stumbled on an interesting patent that issued on April 22, 2014. U.S. Patent No. 8694327, entitled Electronic Warranty System and Method, protects a method of applying a warranty to printer cartridges so that the warranty data is stored within the printer itself. This system offers a major improvement over organizational shortcomings to traditional warranties, or at least it did back when it was filed in 2002.
When reading patents it is not at all unusual for a patent to be issued a number of years after the original patent application was filed, but it isn’t every day that you see a patent issue more than 12 years after it was originally filed. Yet, that was exactly what happened with respect to the ’327 patent application to HP. Worse yet, after HP successfully prevailed on claims in an appeal to the Board the case goes back to an examiner who for the first time raises a rejection never before made, while still continuing to make additional obviousness rejections. In short, this reads like the story of an application that examiners never wanted to issue in the first place.
Had the applicant been a small entity or individual it wouldn’t have issued. It would have been buried. Once upon a time Directors and Commissioners of the Patent Office used to believe that burying an application that should issue was as bad, if not worse, than allowing an application that shouldn’t have issued. Oh how the times have changed in this anti-patent world in which we live where it is better to not issue patents that should issue as long as we don’t accidentally issue something that might be embarrassing. And we seriously wonder why it feels like a recession never ended?
Initiatives for Consideration When Filing an Application
First-Action Interview Pilot Program
The program allows an applicant to have an interview with the examiner before she/he issues a FOAM. Notably, the First-Action Interview Pilot Program does not speed up the time that a case is picked up for examination, but it does facilitate a first action allowance because the applicant and the examiner can get on the same page quickly. The First Action Interview pilot program has had 3,533 participants as of November 2013, a first action allowance rate of 29.4% percent, compared with an 11.5% for all original applications.
To participate, an application cannot have more than 20 claims, including a maximum of 3 independent claims. No fee is associated with participating in this program.