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Posts in USPTO

Patent Filings Roundup: In a Slow Week, IP Edge Hits Amazon on Cryptographic Keys and Jeffrey Gross-Run Entities Proliferate

Another week, another dearth of any Fintiv denials, which sort of begs the question, if the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has effectively walked back their reliance on the Fintiv factors, does that order’s precedential status merit walking back? In terms of district court and PTAB filings, subdued is the word; just 19 PTAB petitions (all inter partes reviews) with four being apparent joinders by LG Electronics against Gesture Technology Partners, LLC [a Tim Pryor entity] well prior to institution, seeking to join Apple petitions. Previous Pryor entities include Motion Games LLC, PSTP Ttechnologies, Tactile Feedback Technology, LMI Technologies Inc., and Great Lakes Intellectual Property, Ltd]. Gil Hyatt filed yet another suit this week (and has filed one a week, it seems, for some time).

Patenting Trends in Emerging Technologies: Blockchain Patents Grow from Three to 2,660 in Less than Five Years

Blockchain’s history begins in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta published a paper describing a cryptographically secured chain of blocks. It took another 18 years before a developer who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto released a white paper that established the model for a blockchain and then, a year later, implemented the first blockchain as a public ledger for transactions using bitcoin. The engine that runs the bitcoin ledger that Nakamoto designed is called the blockchain; the original and largest blockchain is the one that still orchestrates bitcoin transactions today. Blockchain technology was separated from currency in 2014, and that advance opened the door for using blockchain for applications beyond currency. The standout example is the Ethereum blockchain system, which introduced computer programs in a blockchain format, representing financial instruments such as bonds. These became known as smart contracts.

Great Inventors are Industry Outsiders and Must be Protected

Every once in a while, a new invention changes an industry and sometimes even the world. In grade school, we all learned about some of these great inventions – the cotton gin, the lightbulb, the telephone, etc. Today, like no time in history, we are witnessing an explosion of innovation in every facet of life. Many of these inventions change the way we live our lives. But most of today’s great inventions are hidden behind touch screens or in the bowel of data centers. They are often not well understood, nor well known.

PTAB Obviousness Ruling Reversed by CAFC, Clarifying ‘Reasonable Expectation of Success’ Standard

On November 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that University of Strathclyde’s patent claims for a method for photoinactivating antibiotic-resistant bacteria without using a photosensitizing agent were unpatentable. The PTAB held claims one, two, three, and four of U.S. Patent No. 9,839,706 (‘706 patent) were obvious based on the prior art. The court held the PTAB’s findings were not based on substantial evidence.

Patent Filings Roundup: IP Edge Files Another 50, Comprising 13% of all District Court Litigation; Hawk Hit with Declaratory Judgment For Asserting Already-Invalid Patent

It was another banner week in district court complaints, led primarily by a deluge of new IP Edge complaints—49 in all, by my count—including newer subsidiaries (like Wiesblatt Licensing or Hickory IP) and old mainstays like Moxchange and Tunnel IP (over a dozen entities in total). At this point in 2021, IP Edge has filed at least 519 known suits via non-practicing entity (NPE) vehicles (more by various counts); it is by far the highest aggregate filer of all time, and of this year. To date, there have been 4,001 patent complaints filed (per Unified’s portal, based on publicly available PACER docket data); IP Edge thus has again filed upwards of 10% (so far, 13+%) of all U.S. patent litigation in 2021, up from last year. It also, for the first time, went to trial on one of its many patent assertions, though overwhelmingly vast majority of them remain file-and-settle affairs.

As Raimondo Takes the Helm on Council for Inclusive Innovation, Inventors Have an Unresolved Ask

In a letter provided last week to members of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI), Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced her role as Chair of the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2). I congratulate the Secretary for this extremely important role. Innovation should have no barriers, and both of these—a) innovation and b) the breaking down of unjust barriers—stand at the root of America’s success and identity. To aid the CI2 and all who create and execute innovation policy in our government, underrepresented inventors have an unresolved ask, and it involves breaking down a barrier identified by the very people who the CI2 and Congress desire to help. That ask is this: remedy the inventor’s second prong.

Criticism of Judge Albright Looms Large in Tillis Letters to Hirshfeld, Chief Justice Roberts

On November 2, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a pair of letters regarding issues in district court patent litigation—one addressed to Drew Hirshfeld, performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and another letter co-written with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) addressed to Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court. While never mentioned by name, U.S. District Judge Alan D. Albright is unmistakably the subject of both letters, which expressed serious concerns about “unrealistic trial dates” and “open solicit[ation]” of patent cases from a single judge in the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas.

Pro-Apple TTAB Bias Case Heats Up at CAFC

Following a motion filed in mid-October with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) accusing the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and its management of facilitating the appearance of bias at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) in favor of Apple, Inc., Apple has now filed its opposition to that motion. Apple contends there is no precedent for allowing the motion, as it requests to supplement the record with documents that were not part of the trial record; that the TTAB is “an executive adjudicatory body” within the USPTO, which is “an executive agency within the Department of Commerce, and the TTAB’s administrative law judges are not subject to the recusal requirements set out in 28 U.S.C. § 455”; and that the documents Charles Bertini is asking to submit “reflect merely routine and fleeting professional contacts” that “fall far below the threshold of the personal contacts necessary to support disqualification on the basis of bias or prejudice.”

It’s Time to Address ‘Patent Mercenaries’—and the USPTO Already Has the Tools

In response to intense lobbying for patent litigation reform, Congress was convinced that a substantial amount of district court patent litigation involved “poor quality” patents that were clearly invalid. Images of extortionist patent trolls were widely portrayed as a primary threat to U.S. innovation. The high cost of patent litigation, years to reach a judicial resolution and reliance on lay juries to determine highly technical issues were cited as evidence of a broken system. In response, Congress passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011…. The current IPR system as implemented has caused severe damage to an important segment of our innovation community. Congress instructed the USPTO Director, in 35 USC§ 316(b), to “consider the effect of any such regulation on the economy, the integrity of the patent system, the efficient administration of the Office, and the ability of the Office to timely complete proceedings instituted under this chapter.” It is time for the Director to reevaluate the effect of IPRs.

Patent Filings Roundup: Intellectual Ventures Jumps Stalled Car Campaign; DJ against Mystery Sons of Innovation LLC; Another Hundred Suits Dismissed

It was a (relatively) light Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) and district court week, with 26 PTAB (two post grant reviews and 24 inter partes reviews) and 48 new district court complaints, with the number of dismissals or closed cases in district court again reaching nearly 100 for the third week in a row—I’m unsure exactly, though I suspect it has something to do with a fair number of cases being voluntarily dismissed and refiled in other jurisdictions following renewed vigor in venue analysis after the Federal Circuit’s recent round of mandamuses of Judge Albright’s cases (he’s up to 17 mandamuses on the issue of venue, mostly over the past calendar year by my count, which as far as I know is a single-judge record).

Industry Reacts to Kathi Vidal Nomination

Following yesterday’s announcement of Kathi Vidal as President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), IP professionals largely expressed their congratulations and support based on her strong credentials. However, many acknowledged the hard road she has ahead of her—first before the Senate Judiciary Committee and, once confirmed, tackling the many challenges facing the USPTO. Here is what some stakeholders had to say about her nomination.

Alice-Insanity (Part One), or Why the Alice-Mayo Test Violates Due Process of Law

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees, inter alia, that no person shall be deprived of property (including intellectual property), without due process of law. For instance, it is settled law that a federal statute may be so arbitrary and capricious as to violate due process. Similarly, it is settled that an administrative agency, e.g., the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), cannot escape the due process of law requirement when processing patent applications. In theory (less in reality), due process of the law extends to judicial as well as political branches of government, and judgments that violate constitutional limitations and guarantees are void or voidable.

Kathi Vidal Has Been Nominated to Head USPTO

As predicted by IPWatchdog, Kathi Vidal has now been officially nominated by President Joe Biden as the next Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the Department of Commerce. Vidal is one of five nominations announced today. She would replace Drew Hirshfeld, who has been serving under the title, Performing the Duties and Functions of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

This Week in Washington IP: Deregulating Agricultural Biotechnology, State Sovereign Immunity and IP Infringement, and Copyright Law in Artificial Intelligence

This week in Washington IP events, the U.S. House of Representatives hosts a pair of committee hearings on tech subjects, including a joint hearing of the House Biotechnology Subcommittee and the House Livestock Subcommittee to look at how the current market approval process for agricultural biotechnology products could be made less cumbersome to encourage commercialization. Elsewhere, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosts an event exploring the intersection of copyright law and artificial intelligence, while the Hudson Institute takes a look at studies by the USPTO and the U.S. Copyright Office on state sovereign immunity from IP infringement suits.

Patent Filings Roundup: District Court Termination Wave, Old-Fashioned Oil Fights, NPE Targets Apple and Others

A slightly above-average week in filings saw 38 Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions (one post grant review and 37 inter partes reviews) and 71 district court complaints, with another massive wave of district court terminations—likely due at least in part to parties voluntarily dismissing cases and refiling them based on recent venue rulings, though it’s hard to capture, as many are simple voluntary dismissals. There also appears to have been an RPX settlement of Proven Networks (based on conjecture given the public dockets and en masse terminations); a batch of new non-practicing entity (NPE) campaigns (many spun out from Intellectual Ventures-licensed patents), including Buffalo Patents, a new single-patent DynaIP retail suit, LINFO IP, LLC, against CVS, Sears, Costco, and Target, among others; and while it isn’t captured here, Intellectual Ventures just yesterday itself launched its first major suit in years on IV Funds I and II; more on that next week.