Posts in Inventors Information

Billionaire Space Race Between Bezos and Branson (and Musk) Pushes Forward Next Generation of Spaceflight Innovation

This July has been a landmark month for the commercial space sector thanks in large part to the determination of two tech billionaires: Richard Branson, business magnate and founder of the Virgin Group; and Jeff Bezos, the former CEO of e-commerce titan Amazon.com. Both of these icons of business entrepreneurship reached the outer limits of Earth’s gravity to slip into space for a brief moment in recent weeks—Branson in the VSS Unity, owned by his Virgin Galactic spaceflight company, and Bezos in the New Shepard craft developed by his Blue Origin firm. The successful spaceflights for both Branson and Bezos are breathing life into the nascent space tourism industry, as many others with the wealth to pay for a seat to outer space are lining up for the opportunity.

A Closer, Evidence-Based Look at ‘Patent Quality’ Advocacy

The Patent Infringer Lobby has ramped up banging the drum about “patent quality.” They dedicated a week-long campaign to questioning “patent quality,” which its constituents regard as a huge problem. Advocates have taken advantage of the vacuum left after U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu left the building. Anti-patent advocates are exploiting the new dynamic of Senator Patrick Leahy, coauthor of the America Invents Act (AIA), who now chairs the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee. Leahy recently did the Infringer Lobby the favor of holding a hearing on this subject.

DABUS Gets Its First Patent in South Africa Under Formalities Examination

South Africa’s patent office has granted the first patent for an invention conceived by an artificial intelligence (AI) inventor, DABUS. The country does not have a substantive patent examination system, and thus the significance of the grant may not be as great as it would be in other jurisdictions—but the DABUS team is celebrating. The patent is for “a food container based on fractal geometry,” and was accepted by South Africa’s Companies and Intellectual Property Commission on June 24. The notice of issuance was published in the July 2021 Patent Journal.   

USPTO Implementation of Arthrex: Questions from Administrative Law, Part II—the Bigger Picture for Reform

In Part I, we looked at two of the legal principles that govern Arthrex Director review: Director review must be implemented by notice-and-comment “regulation,” not website, and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires that the Director’s decision demonstrate “reasoned decisionmaking.” Today, we’ll look at a few more legal obligations that confine the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) discretion as the USPTO seeks a lawful implementation of Director review. This Part II concludes with a plea that the USPTO take the public interest seriously, as the public interest is reflected in various statutes outside the Patent Act.

‘AISITAs’ and Written Description Requirements: Considerations and Guidance for AI Patent Applications

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, touching nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including how we work, communicate, shop, travel and more. The term “AI” is generally understood to encompass computerized systems that perform tasks ordinarily perceived as requiring some form of human intelligence. Many AI-based systems are able to recognize trends, patterns and connections, test hypotheses using available data sets, and continuously improve decision trees based on user input. As such, AI has been shown to have near endless applications, driving a surge of inventions and related patent application filings.

USPTO Implementation of Arthrex: Questions from Administrative Law, Part I—Dismissal and Subregulatory Rulemaking

In United States v. Arthrex, No. 19-1434, 141 S.Ct. 1970 (Jun. 21, 2021), Chief Justice Roberts cured an Appointments Clause defect in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) organic statute by holding that 35 U.S.C. § 6(c) “cannot constitutionally be enforced to the extent that it[] prevent[s] the Director from reviewing final decisions rendered by APJs.” Arthrex, slip op. at 21. Henceforth, rehearings are no longer the exclusive domain of PTAB panels, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) must provide at least one path of review that flows through the agency head…. This article discusses a number of issues of administrative law that must be addressed before the USPTO can proceed. The PTAB now resembles a poorly-maintained building—after decades of benign neglect, and more than a little old-fashioned cheating to evade work that’s required by the statute, a stress has induced a collapse.

ITC and Trade Secret Cases Against Apple Over Pulse Oximetry Tech Highlight Need for Better Ways to Rein in Big Tech

In late June, medical technology firm Masimo Corporation and its consumer device subsidiary Cercacor Laboratories filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) asking the agency to institute a Section 337 investigation into several versions of the Apple Watch. Masimo’s allegations, which also include trade secret litigation ongoing in U.S. district court, follow an increasingly familiar narrative in which a Big Tech player, in this case Apple, engages in licensing negotiations with a small tech developer, only to poach employees and ideas from the smaller firm without paying the original developers.

Emerging Anti-IP Policies the Focus of Heritage Foundation Event

At today’s Heritage Foundation event in Washington, D.C., titled Restoring American Leadership in Patent Law and Innovation Policy, former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director (USPTO) Andrei Iancu began by lamenting the failure of decision makers to make the connection between intellectual property and innovation. Increasingly, policy makers think innovation just happens, Iancu explained, with too many believing monetization happens after the fact, rather than driving innovation. “Without IP, the free market does not participate, or does not participate to scale,” Iancu told the Heritage audience. Laurie Self, Senior Vice President and Counsel, Government Affairs, Qualcomm, agreed with Iancu and added that, without a strong patent system, there is no opportunity to maintain a strong innovation leadership position. Presumably alluding to developments such as the Biden Administration’s support for waiving IP rights under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) related to COVID-19 inventions and the recent Executive Order on Competition, Self said: “We are seeing a series of policies that if implemented would undermine our system… this cognitive dissonance is a threat.”

Did the USPTO Institute Procedural Obstacles to Block Patents for a Particular Applicant?

Gilbert Hyatt filed hundreds of patent applications across fields such as machine control, audio and image processing, and computer technology. While many such applicants can similarly claim to have filed at least so many applications in these areas, Hyatt is perhaps somewhat unique in that: (1) he is a pro-se inventor; (2) he filed the vast majority of the applications shortly before the 1995 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) transition date when patent terms transitioned from 17 years from issuance to 20 years from filing; and (3) his applications are long with complex and extended priority chains. Hyatt has been characterized by some (e.g., Judge TS Ellis) as a “prolific inventor”. For others, Hyatt brings “submarine patents” to mind.

Industry Commenters Say Minerva Ruling is a Win for Employee Mobility

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., Cytyc Surgical Products, LLC that the doctrine of assignor estoppel”—which bars the assignor of a patent from later attacking the patent’s validity—“is well grounded in centuries-old fairness principles…[but] applies only when the assignor’s claim of invalidity contradicts explicit or implicit representations he made in assigning the patent.” Most expected the Court to rule along those lines following oral argument earlier this year, but the split decision, which included two separate dissents, could signal this Court’s future interest in patent cases. Commenters below also said that the ruling will result in the doctrine of assignor estoppel being applied much less frequently and in much narrower circumstances, and that it will almost certainly never be applied in employee agreement situations going forward. Here is what some stakeholders had to say.

Disclosure Requirements in Software Patents: Avoiding Indefiniteness

How much detail is needed in a patent application for a software-based invention? Software patents present some unique challenges that many other kinds of patent applications do not need to contend with, one of them being the level of disclosure and care in drafting needed to avoid indefiniteness issues. While source code is not required in most cases, a growing body of case law indicates that insufficient detail about the algorithms underpinning the invention could render the patent claims indefinite, meaning that the scope of the claimed invention is too ambiguous. If the patent examiner deems the disclosure to be inadequate during examination, indefiniteness could prevent a patent from issuing. In the case of an already-issued patent, indefiniteness could render the claims unenforceable.

Patent Procurement and Strategy for Business Success Part III: Prosecution – Wielding an Invisible Hand

In the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s ) patent academy (or today’s version of such), patent examiners are taught that the objective of the patent examiner is to “issue valid patents promptly.” In pursuing this institutional interest, each examiner conducts examinations that they independently manage. Although patent prosecutors cannot control an examiner’s decisions, they can establish a context that encourages a favorable outcome. If first and second application drafters each drafted applications to cover the same invention (that met all of the requirements of 35 USC 112) the presentation of the content in the respective applications could engender drastically different examination processes. This is because there is a relationship between the manner in which the content of a patent application is presented and the character of the examination process that follows.

Senate IP Subcommittee Mulls Ways to Improve Patent Quality (Again)

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on Tuesday heard from four witnesses on the topic of “Protecting Real Innovations by Improving Patent Quality.” The topic has been addressed by the Senate IP Subcommittee before, and long-debated in patent circles generally. Under the leadership of its new Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Subcommittee now seems to be revisiting the conversation and looking for practical fixes.

Patent Procurement and Strategy for Business Success Part II: Claims – Targeting the Right Infringers

To protect the inventions that are important to a company’s current and future success, the claims of the patents covering those inventions must accurately define the subject matter that is regarded as the invention and target the right infringers. Drafting claims that accurately define the subject matter that is regarded as the invention requires the crafting of claims to have metes and bounds that precisely circumscribe the subject matter which is regarded as the invention. This can be done by constructing independent claims such that the subject matter regarded as the invention forms the axis around which independent claims are structured. Using this approach, the content of the body of the independent claim is limited to the subject matter that has been identified as that regarded as the invention and any subject matter that is needed to support that subject matter. These subject matter parts are the elements that are needed to accurately define the subject matter protected by the patent. Organizing these elements into patent claim format with the elements recited as broadly as possible provides the fullest measure of protection to which the applicant is legally entitled. This process helps to ensure that those who engage in infringing activity related to the inventive subject matter are implicated by the claim for infringement.

Patent Procurement and Strategy for Business Success: Building and Strategically Using Patents that Target the Right Infringers and Thwart Competitive Countermeasures

Successful patent strategies for business are inexorably tied to the quality of the patents upon which the patent strategies depend. The quality of a patent depends upon the capacity of a patent prosecutor to resolve a series of non-trivial patent application drafting and/or examination challenges in order to secure the issuance of a valid patent that includes claims that provide a desired scope of protection. Such challenges can involve subjecting complex and/or unwieldy subject matter to patent form in a manner that yields an accurate, clear and complete detailed description of the invention and well-crafted claims. Moreover, they can involve managing difficult patent examiners who require the amendment of claims as a prerequisite to advancing the prosecution of the application. The detailed description and the claims are the parts of the patent that can be employed by the practitioner to imbue a patent with attributes that optimize their support of patent strategies for business.