Posts in Interviews & Conversations

Hirshfeld Says He May Move Forward on Important Items If Biden Appointee Takes Too Long

IPWatchdog and LexisNexis held a “Conversation with the Commissioner of the USPTO” today, in which Drew Hirshfeld, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Commissioner for Patents, Performing the functions and duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director, explained that, while he would prefer to wait until a political appointee is heading the Office to move ahead on substantive reforms, he will consider moving forward on important initiatives if necessary. “I’m trying to run the agency as if I was in this permanently, knowing I’m not and I won’t be, because I think that’s the right thing to do for the system,” Hirshfeld said. “If we’re going long enough without a nominee then maybe I need to move forward on things.”

Doing it Their Way: Leaders Share Tips for Helping Women to Make it in the IP Game

Panelists on yesterday’s IPWatchdog webinar, “We Did it Our Way: Women IP Trailblazers Share Their Incredible Journeys” explained that, while the challenges they have had to face along their paths in the intellectual property (IP) world have made them stronger, there are actions both women and men can take to help minimize those challenges so that women don’t fall too far behind. Angela Grayson of Precipice IP said that, although the challenges of rising to the top in a male-dominated industry may make you a better leader, “some of the challenges really put us so far behind other people, and that’s something I hope we as a legal community can work to address in order to provide more equity.” She added: “There are probably other ways we could become better leaders besides being cash strapped and having to overcome these challenges, so we can spend our time really contributing to our economy.”

New Clause 8 Episode: Andrei Iancu – From Communist Romania to USPTO Director

At the beginning of this year, IPWatchdog asked a panel of experts who should be the next USPTO Director. Almost every answer cited former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu as a model. Former Deputy USPTO Director Russ Slifer wrote: “Director Iancu worked with Congress and did not shy away from necessary reforms in Section 101 and the PTAB. Will the next Director be as successful? Hopefully, but Director Iancu is a difficult act to follow.” At the beginning of this year, IPWatchdog asked a panel of experts who should be the next USPTO Director. Almost every answer cited former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu as a model.

PTAB Masters™ Day Four Features Judge Michel on How the PTAB is Working: ‘When Facts Change, Views Should Change’

The final day of IPWatchdog’s PTAB Masters™ 2021 program kicked off with more than 1,070 registrants and a discussion featuring retired U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel, Meredith Addy of AddyHart, and IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn about the many obstacles facing patentees today in light of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and an overburdened Federal Circuit. Michel said that, a decade after the America Invents Act (AIA) was passed, with the real-world knowledge we now have of the PTAB, “conclusions and practices should change in light of experience. When facts change, views should change.”

Kappos at PTAB Masters™ Day Two: PTAB Problems Arose When It Failed to Evolve

The second day of IPWatchdog’s PTAB Masters™ 2021: “Winning at the PTAB” featured a keynote interview with former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director David Kappos, who was at the helm of the agency when the America Invents Act (AIA) was passed. As part of the AIA, Kappos was tasked with developing rules to implement the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and related post grant proceedings, and was chiefly focused on adhering to the unprecedented timelines set for those proceedings in the AIA. “The PTO had never been given strict timelines before,” explained Kappos. “I felt the gravity; I thought, ‘if the public is going to respect the PTO and patents, we have to get on top of the timeframes.’ [I told my team] the goal is going to be to implement within the timeframes 100% of the time.”

PTAB Masters™ 2021, Day One: How Iancu Tried to Repair a ‘Damaged Brand’

While steps taken under former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu to restore equilibrium at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) have improved a bad situation to some extent, in many ways the damage has been done, said IPWatchdog founder and CEO Gene Quinn during a keynote interview with Iancu earlier today, on day one of the PTAB Masters ™ 2021: Winning at the PTAB Series. “It felt sometimes like the PTAB was making it up as they went along,” said Quinn to Iancu. “It eroded the confidence of patent owners. I do think it’s getting to be more of an equilibrium, but it’s a damaged brand.”

A Conversation with Cloudflare Co-Founder Michelle Zatlyn on the Future of the Internet and the Role of IP

The IP Tech Summit, researched and produced by Premier Cercle, took place virtually this year, on December 3-4, and focused on new intellectual property strategies for open innovation and digital transformation. As part of the summit, IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn conducted a Fireside Chat with Cloudflare Co-Founder and COO, Michelle Zatlyn, who said that we are presently in a critical phase of the internet’s development and have an opportunity to redefine it to make it work. But—if we act too quickly—we could potentially go backwards.

How Patents Helped Sprout the World’s First Plantable Pencil

It has likely been a while since most of even used a pencil – but would we use them more if they grew flowers, trees and herbs? Enter, Sprout World, a company founded on the concept of sustainability that credits patents as playing a large part in its success. In late 2012, Michael Stausholm, the company’s founder, happened upon a Kickstarter campaign launched by three MIT students for a pencil one could use and then plant in the ground to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables and even trees. “I saw it and thought it was a wonderful idea,” Stausholm says. “I had been working in sustainability for many years and everyone was talking about it, but what was it actually? The pencil was a wonderful way of illustrating the concept.”

Panelists Urge Americans to Trust IP, Trust Vaccines, Listen to Science in COVID-19 Debate

IPWatchdog’s most recent webinar focused on the role of IP in the development of the most promising vaccines to combat COVID-19 and included speakers from the medical community, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the biopharmaceutical industry. The upshot was: wear masks, get the vaccine when it’s available to you, trust the FDA, and stop targeting IP rights, since there’s no evidence they have hindered the process and, in fact, IP has so far played a crucial role in collaboration efforts.

‘Intangible Investor’ Column Moves to IPWatchdog

Starting this week, Bruce Berman, author and CEO of Brody Berman Associates and founder and chairman of the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, an independent non-profit, will publish his well-known column, the “Intangible Investor” with IPWatchdog.The column ran for 17 years in IAM Magazine and will continue to focus on trends and observations in the realm of IP valuation and investment. Berman spoke with IPWatchdog about the history of the column and what readers can expect going forward.

Judge Michel, Panelists Contemplate the CAFC Past, Present and Future on Day Two of CON2020

Headlining day two of IPWatchdog’s CON2020 was Retired U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Chief Judge Paul Michel, who offered attendees 12 “perspectives” on the present-day Federal Circuit to provide context for some of the Court’s current problems. Ultimately, said Michel, these problems need to be fixed via legislation, not the courts, and the key to speeding up that legislative process is for individuals and companies to become involved and proactively advocate for patent reform at the local level.

IPWatchdog’s CON2020 Kicks Off with Andrei Iancu on 101, China, and Building Respect for IP

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director, Andrei Iancu, joined day one of Virtual CON2020 today to chat with IPWatchdog CEO and Founder Gene Quinn about topics including counterfeiting, Chinese IP theft, and the continued confusion in the courts and at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) around patent eligibility. On the topic of Section 101 and patent eligibility, Quinn lamented the recent American Axle decision, wondering if the holding that an invention involving a drive shaft could be considered directed to a law of nature represents a broader and growing disrespect for intellectual property. Iancu could not comment on the case itself, but said that with respect to the basic principle, “you’re absolutely right.

Judge Paul Michel to Patent Masters Attendees: It’s Time to Wake Up to Preserve Our Patent System

Retired Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Paul Michel told registrants of IPWatchdog’s Virtual Patent Masters program taking place today  that the U.S. patent system has been “weakened to the point of being dysfunctional.” This dysfunction has been especially harmful to small businesses and startups, as well as to innovation in the life sciences industry—which we need now more than ever. Asked by IPWatchdog CEO and Founder Gene Quinn whether the coronavirus pandemic may be a wakeup call to those in power about the importance of incentivizing innovation in the life sciences area, Judge Michel noted that experts in the vaccine industry have indicated that China now dominates vaccine research and production. “The current circumstances may shift the thinking of policy makers quite suddenly and quite far,” Michel said. “We definitely are crimping the human health efforts for prevention and cure of symptoms. Let’s hope this really is a wakeup call for our leaders.”

Retired USPTO Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison Recounts Her Career and the Challenges Ahead for the Office

On December 31, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Commissioner for Trademarks, Mary Boney Denison, retired from her position with the agency. Denison joined the USPTO in 2011 as Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations and became Commissioner for Trademarks on January 1, 2015. Before joining the USPTO, she practiced law in the area of trademark prosecution and litigation, as a founding partner of Manelli Denison & Selter PLLC in Washington, D.C., from 1996 to 2011, and as a partner of Graham & James LLP for ten years. The USPTO has not yet named the next Commissioner for Trademarks. Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Operations Meryl Hershkowitz will be acting in the role until the new commissioner is named. In late December, IP Watchdog had the opportunity to interview Denison about her career and her accomplishments at the USPTO. Below, she discusses what she is most proud of, what she could have done better, and provides an update on the Office’s efforts to combat fraudulent trademark filings from China, which has proven to be a major stumbling block for the agency in recent years.

Chief Judge Paul Michel: Patent Reform Progress is Likely, But We Must Stay Focused On the Big Picture

Last week during IPWatchdog’s Patent Masters Symposium, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel sat down with me to discuss the state of the U.S. patent system and best options/ predictions for moving forward. He began by lamenting that “the courts have failed and failed and failed” with flawed rulings such as Helsinn v. Teva, which Michel characterized as “completely illogical”, and Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc. To boot, the Supreme Court has refused to take any patent eligibility cases, and the Federal Circuit has managed to make the harm and illogic of the SCOTUS rulings even worse, Michel said. In fact, they’ve “expanded on the bad rulings of the SCOTUS.” Part of the problem may lie in a misunderstanding of the true intent of the patent system, according to Michel. “The real point of the patent system is to incentivize innovation, not to encourage creative people. Creative people will create no matter what. Investment is extremely risky and costly—if the incentive to invest shrinks, and there is evidence that it has, we are in trouble.” Below, Michel offers more of his thoughts on the current patent landscape, including what to expect from pending legislation and why he is cautiously optimistic that change is coming soon.