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Posts in USPTO

The DOCX Transition: The USPTO Explains Why It’s Delaying the Fee for Non-DOCX Filings

On Friday, November 19, the USPTO announced that it will be delaying the $400 fee for patent applications filed in non-DOCX formats until January 1, 2023. Previously, the fee was set to take effect on January 1, 2022, but the Federal Register notice, officially published on Novemebr 22, indicated that the Office will undertake enhanced testing of its information technology systems as more users file in DOCX, and that it wants to give applicants more time to adjust to filing patent applications in DOCX format. The goal, according to acting USPTO Director Drew Hirshfeld, is to alleviate concerns that have been raised by users about rendering problems that could result in applicants losing their filing dates due to incorrect information being filed.

Vidal Confirmation Hearing Should Provide a Hint at What’s Ahead for Patent Owners

IPWatchdog has been told that Kathi Vidal, who is President Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will have her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, December 1. As of the time of publication, the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which the Vidal nomination has been referred, lists a confirmation hearing for the full Committee at 10am on December 1, but provides no additional information. It is believed Vidal will share the hearing with several nominees for federal judicial positions.

This Week in Washington IP: Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Microelectronics, Amending Section 230 Immunity for Big Tech, and the Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics

This week in Washington IP news, committee hearings in the House of Representatives will focus on ways to ensure that America retains global leadership in microelectronics, proposed legislative amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to rein in legal immunities for major online platform providers, and recommendations from the recent decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics, including recommendations for building a next-generation large telescope. Over in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee will discuss several judicial nominations, including a pair of nominees to sit on the Ninth Circuit. Elsewhere, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation will host the annual Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance summit, while the American Enterprise Institute explores ways that Congress can make minor changes to current antitrust law to increase regulation against anticompetitive Big Tech practices while limiting negative impacts on consumers. 

Rethinking Innovation with Michel, Iancu, and Watts

In early November, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) School of Law held its 65th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference. The program consisted of five plenary sessions and ten breakout sessions featuring candid discussions and networking sessions with judges, senior government officials, and leaders of supranational IP offices, multinational corporations, law firms, academia, and nonprofit organizations. IPWatchdog’s Founder and CEO, Gene Quinn, moderated the second plenary session, “Global Patent Issues.” The program kicked off with a featured panel consisting of Andrei Iancu, Partner at Irell & Manella, Former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, and Former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; the Honorable Paul R. Michel (ret.), former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; and Brad Watts, Minority Chief Counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Professor Daryl Lim, Director of UIC’s Center for Intellectual Property, Information and Privacy Law, moderated the discussion.

Can You Refile a Provisional Patent Application?

The question that we receive most frequently from inventors, usually independent inventors, relates to whether a provisional patent application can be refiled with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Before giving the correct answer, it is critically important for everyone to understand that if a provisional patent application is refiled it may become impossible for a patent to ever be obtained, period.  Can a provisional patent application be refiled? The short, easy answer to the question is yes, of course you can refile the provisional application. The USPTO will be happy to have you refile the application, take your filing fee, and send you a new filing receipt. The problem for you, as an inventor, however, is the consequence of refiling a provisional application. So, while it may be very easy to do, and seem like you’ve just extended the life of your original provisional application, that is precisely NOT what has happened, and you may have – indeed likely have – made it impossible to ever obtain a patent anywhere in the world.

The 10 Most Active Patent Prosecution Attorneys of 2021

Earlier this year, we published our findings on some of the best performing patent firms of 2021. Now, we have evaluated this data at the attorney level, meaning that we can compare the activity and performance of patent attorneys and rank them based on their work. To calculate this ranking, our Data Science Team had to develop an AI-based tool to read tens of millions of PDF documents available through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Public Pair website and then use neural networks to identify the attorney responsible for each application.

Patent Filings Roundup: Light Week Leading up to the Holidays Sees Record District Court Terminations

Happy Holidays! Thanksgiving has come and gone. A light week last week headed into the holidays saw 20 Patent Trial and Appeal Board filings (two more against MemoryWeb, and a lot of one-offs, including one by gaming company Zynga against IGT). District courts saw 58 patent filings, with a whopping 115 terminations again this week—at least a few attributable to transfers, but many, many more attributable to file-and-settle settlements headed into the end of a very lucrative year in monetization, as quarterly statement-minded licensing entities look to wrap things up before the holidays.

Hindsight Bias: An Ovine Survey

The arrival of a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) office action citing no less than six earlier patents directed to various sub-combinations in the features of the main independent claim in an application which I was handling prompted the present note. Readers may recall the decision of Judge Rich In re Winslow 365 F.2d 1017 (C.C.P.A. 1966): “We think the proper way to apply the 103-obviousness test to a case like this is to first picture the inventor as working in his shop with the prior art references — which he is presumed to know — hanging on the walls around him.” However, Boltzmann’s entropy formula S = k log W where S represents entropy, a concept associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty, and W represents the number of possible states in the relevant system, leaves an unforgettable impression on those who have studied it. Even if the fields from which the earlier patents might be selected are restricted to relevant general classifications, the number of combinations of six references which might have been collected together from the body of prior art in the relevant technical field randomly and without knowledge of the invention is mind-boggling.

The U.S. Patent System is Still Worth Saving

Much deserved criticism has been leveled at the U.S. patent system in the last decade or so, from all sides. No one branch of the system seems to much appreciate what the other branches are doing. The Supreme Court and Federal Circuit are issuing decisions that seem innocuous at first, but then inevitably snowball into wrecking balls. Regulatory policies, guidelines and statutory prescriptions that are well intended when the ink dries turn lethal to patents—witness the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). But, despite this situation, in the late summer/early fall of this year, in a brief burst of face-to-face patent events, I began to re-appreciate the value of the system and what it means to the country and our collective future.

Quantum Computing Takes Off: A Look at the Evolution of Quantum Technology and Patents

Towards the end of 2019, I was finishing a book, AI Concepts for Business Applications. The last chapter was titled, “The Future.” I wrote about quantum computing and a version of deep learning that was related: a “quantum walk neural network.”In 1980, the idea of a quantum processing unit was proposed. Such a processing unit doesn’t use the 1s and 0s with which we’re familiar. That “classical” way of thinking is the way we think, with a 1 for true and a 0 for false, and combinations—for example, a “false positive.” Quantum computing is based on a “superposition” of states called “quantum bits” or “qubits” for short. But there’s a big difference between the way we think and the way nature behaves. In 1981, the late Caltech professor, Richard Feynman (a Nobel Prize co-winner for his work with “quantum electrodynamics”) summed it up: “Nature isn’t classical, dammit, and if you want to make a simulation of nature, you’d better make it quantum mechanical, and by golly it’s a wonderful problem, because it doesn’t look so easy.” Now, quantum computing is beginning to emerge.

Final Rule Implementing Trademark Modernization Act Will Soon Allow USPTO to Crack Down on Fraudulent Filings from China

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday published a final rule implementing the Trademark Modernization Act of 2020 (TMA), which was signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020 last year. The new regulations go into effect on December 18, 2021, except for the implementation of the shorter response period for office actions, which will go into effect on December 1, 2022.

The USPTO’s New Guidelines on Prophetic and Working Examples in Patent Applications and Corresponding Practices in India and China

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) publishes a large number of notices in addition to guidelines for patent applicants. These guidelines are frequently updated, and it is critical to stay informed of those updates. On July 1, 2021, the USPTO published a notice in the Federal Register titled “Properly Presenting Prophetic and Working Examples in a Patent Publication.” In this notice, the USPTO defined prophetic and working examples, distinguished these concepts, and described their use and importance within patent applications. In contrast, this distinction is not made under Indian or Chinese law or practice. Furthermore, applicants are generally not required to provide prophetic or working examples, and the concept of prophetic examples is not recognized under Indian or Chinese patent law.

Patent Filings Roundup: Judge Albright Hits Back at Federal Circuit; APJ Urges Board to Consider Litigiousness Under Fintiv; PTAB Reverses Fintiv Denial after ITC Termination

District court patent filings this week remained slightly elevated, at 78, with a fair number of Rothschild, Raymond Anthony Joao, and Jeffrey Gross entities filings complaints; but oddly—after their explosion of new litigations the past two weeks—there was not a single IP Edge case to speak of. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), for its part, was up slightly too, with 37 new petitions (one post grant review and 36 inter partes reviews). Speaking of Jeffrey Gross, though it consists of two patents issued in 2013, the Jeffrey Gross-run Auth Token LLC appears to have waited until the sunset of covered business method (CBM) petitions to turn around and slap virtually all of the nation’s banks, credit card companies, and some financiers with a lawsuit over two pretty identical point-of-sale authentication patents. The cases now include Mastercard, Visa, M&T Bank, PNC Bank, Regions Bank, TD Bank, Trust Financial, and US Bancorp (US Bank), among the 32 defendants thus far.  But the real action was between the Federal Circuit and Judge Albright, as the words and rulings of each become increasingly confrontational toward the other.

B.E. Technology Dubs IPR Process a ‘Kafkaesque Nightmare’ in Mandamus Petition to CAFC

B.E. Technology, a company owned by Martin David Hoyle, developer of internet advertising technology who has been embroiled in litigation with big tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google for close to a decade now, today filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The petition asks the court to intervene to “prevent an unconstitutional deprivation of B.E.’s property rights in the onslaught of IPR proceedings that have been brought to challenge the validity of its most critical patents.” B.E. specifically asks the CAFC to direct the Patent Trial and Appeal Board  (PTAB) to vacate its decisions to grant institution in four separate inter partes review (IPR) proceedings: Twitter, Inc. and Google LLC v. B.E. Technology, L.L.C., Nos. IPR2021-00482, IPR2021-00483, IPR2021-00484, and IPR2021-00485. The question presented is: “Whether a writ of mandamus should issue to prevent an unconstitutional deprivation of the Petitioner patent owner’s property rights without due process of law?”

CAFC Vacates TTAB Finding of No Fraud on the USPTO, Citing Two Legal Errors

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Friday, November 12, vacated and remanded a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) that had found Galperti S.r.l (Galperti-Italy) had not committed fraud on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in asserting that it had substantially exclusive use of the mark GALPERTI in the five years preceding its registration. The appeal to the CAFC stems from Galperti, Inc.’s (Galperti-USA’s) petition for cancellation based on its own prior use of the same mark, in which the TTAB found that Galperti-USA had demonstrated only insignificant use of the mark and therefore had not proven fraud or falsity on the part of Galperti-Italy. The CAFC cited two legal errors in the TTAB’s analysis that warranted vacatur and remand.