On May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Kaufman v. Microsoft Corp. affirming a jury verdict of $7 million in reasonable royalty damages against Microsoft’s Dynamic Data for generating web applications. The Federal Circuit denied various claim construction arguments advanced by Microsoft on appeal, including several raised on the proper meaning of “automatically generating” within the preamble to asserted claim 1, and reversed the Southern District of New York’s denial of prejudgment interest to Kaufman.
Speakers on day one of IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters program acknowledged that it’s easy for patent owners to become frustrated and disconsolate about how far the pendulum has swung away from encouraging effective patent protection but urged attendees to continue speaking up. As program sponsor and co-chair David Henry of Gray Reed put it, “I think we all have to become ambassadors for the patent system.” Henry spoke Monday on a panel about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s recent habit of granting petitions for writ of mandamus to order Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer cases out of his court, largely to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Panelists speculated about the motivation for this focus on both the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, with several agreeing that at least part of the trend is rooted in anti-patent sentiment. “Every time there’s a favorable forum for patentees, it gets harder to get into,” Wendy Verlander of Verlander LLP said.
With about one month left in the U.S. Supreme Court’s current term, several petitions for writ of certiorari in patent cases being appealed from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit remain pending in front of the nation’s highest court. Several of these petitions raise important questions on Section 101 patent eligibility jurisprudence in the wake of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a subject which the Supreme Court has punted on dozens of times after handing out that landmark decision on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions back in 2014. With several petitions on other areas of patent law that have grown more uncertain in recent years, including Section 112 enablement issues and patent-specific preclusion doctrines, the last few weeks of the Supreme Court’s term could presage coming changes to U.S. patent law, while recent cert denials indicate other areas of patent law that are of no concern to the nation’s highest court.
This week in Washington IP news, the House Financial Services Committee explores the risks and benefits of any central bank digital currency that could potentially be adopted by the Federal Reserve, the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee reviews the most recent Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey and its recommendation to send a robotic mission to the planet Uranus, and the House Government Operations Subcommittee looks at ways to support the Technology Modernization Fund for upgrading IT systems at federal agencies. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation debates the potential impacts of a regulatory framework for AI technologies being drafted by the European Commission, while the Heritage Foundation looks at how the characteristics of Bitcoin intersect with American values.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been a lightning rod since it was established on September 16, 2012. In recent years, it is undeniable that the PTAB has become fairer, although there are still obvious improvements that can and should be made. Unfortunately, the fact that the tribunal has become more even handed and offers more meaningful process and procedural protections to patent owners does not mean that the overall PTAB process is in any way fair to patent owners, as recently evidenced by an astonishing offer to throw a case, including tanking efforts of third parties seeking to join, if the patent owner paid up.
If listing artificial intelligence (AI) machines as inventors on patents sounds like science-fiction to you, Professor Ryan Abbott is ready to make the case that it’s a very real issue. Abbott became interested in patents after becoming a medical doctor and obtaining a law degree from Yale Law School. He then noticed that scientists were starting to use AI to identify problems and solutions — and wondered about the legal ramifications from a patent perspective. Shouldn’t the AI be identified as an inventor, the same way a human would be? Abbott clearly believed that was the case. However, there was no precedent for any patent system allowing for an AI machine to be listed as an inventor. In fact, he discovered that companies had to forego obtaining patent protection because they were unable to do that.
This week in Washington IP events, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary kicks off the week by returning to debate over Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, as well as another nominee selected for the Southern District of New York and its IP-heavy docket. Over in the House of Representatives, the Space Subcommittee discusses ways to work with private commercial firms to develop space situational awareness tools, while the House Task Force on Artificial Intelligence explores the pros and cons of the use of AI systems on RegTech operations within the financial industry. Elsewhere, the Center for the Study of the Presidency & the Congress hosts an event focused on the relationship between IP policy and U.S. innovation leadership; the Hudson Institute takes a look at new challenges to copyright law posed by the digital publishing industry; and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation looks to correct misconceptions in the advocacy for exercising march-in rights under Bayh-Dole as a price control mechanism for pharmaceuticals.
Measuring the quality of a patent portfolio doesn’t have to be subjective. There are a number of objective indices that measure patent families’ potential economic and reputational value, the breadth of patent claims and the statistical validity strength of a patent. The Patent Value Index, or PVIX, measures the potential economic and reputational value of a patent. PVIX scores each patent family on a curve from 0-100 using a weighted average of the GDP of the countries in which the family has granted members and the number of forward citations garnered by the family members compared to peer patent families in the same technology classes.
As a former Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and co-author of major patent legislation, I have a special interest in supporting and protecting U.S. intellectual property rights. So, I took note last month when the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released its latest Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement.
Schwegman is seeking qualified patent attorneys having strong technical skills in computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or advanced degrees in chemistry/biotech. We are particularly interested in candidates with 5+ years of experience in drafting and prosecuting patent applications. Industry experience in a technical field and advanced technical degrees are also of particular interest. Attorneys at Schwegman may be exposed to technical information that may be subject to U.S. Export Control laws. Therefore, proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (“Green Card”) status may be required before consideration for a position. This is a full-time, permanent position in both cloud and physical offices.
The golden age for patent brokers has come and gone, but that doesn’t stop Louis Carbonneau. “There are very, very few patent brokers nowadays,” Carbonneau says. “We’re just one of a handful left. And frankly, we get about four or five portfolios every single day that people want us to broker. We only say yes 1% or 2% of the time.” As one of the world’s leading patent brokers, the CEO and Founder of Tangible IP has brokered over 4,500 patents and boasts close to 30 years in the intellectual property industry. With experience as Microsoft’s former General Manager of International IP & Licensing, Carbonneau has sat on many sides of the intellectual property table. He shares his adventures in the industry and lessons learned with Eli, host of the Clause 8 podcast, including behind-the-scenes stories from his time at Microsoft, the common pitfalls of patent licensing, and why price isn’t always an essential part of the conversation when buying and selling intellectual property.
Last night, the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property published an op-ed in The Hill on the important role the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays in the U.S. patent ecosystem, and expressed their commitment to strong patent rights as a necessity for American innovation to flourish. “In order to ensure America’s continued dominance in all areas of innovation, we must have strong patent rights,” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) wrote. “However, for our patent rights to truly be strong, they have to be based on high-quality patents… The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) plays a critical role in this process and is a necessary backstop to invalidate truly low-quality patents that do not represent true innovation and never should have been issued.”
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced last week that it will terminate engagement with the Russian IP Office (Rospatent) as well as the Eurasian Patent Organization (EAPO) and the IP Office of Belarus, which has been cooperating with Russia in the lead-up to and during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The USPTO also said on Wednesday that, effective March 11, it is no longer granting requests to participate in the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) at the USPTO when those requests are based on work performed by Rospatent as an Office of Earlier Examination. And, in pending cases where the Office granted special status under the GPPH to applications based on work performed by Rospatent, “the USPTO will remove that status and return those applications to the regular processing and examination queue, meaning that they will no longer be treated as GPPH applications at the USPTO,” said a USPTO statement. “Like so many, we are deeply saddened by the events unfolding in Ukraine,” said the USPTO. “We hope for the restoration of peace and human dignity.”
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