Posts in Inventors Information

After Hyatt v. Hirshfeld, it Might Be Time to Pay Attention to Prosecution Laches

Gilbert Hyatt was one of many applicants who filed many patent applications shortly before the June 8, 1995 transition point, where patent terms transitioned from being defined based on 17 years from issuance to 20 years from filing. However, he was quite unique in that he was an independent inventor who filed 400 patent applications before this transition point. The vast majority of these applications are still pending – decades after filing. Hyatt asserts that the long pendency is due to bad-faith behavior of the USPTO, while the USPTO asserts that the extended pendency is due to inaction by Hyatt and the complexity of the applications.

Biden is Missing an Opportunity at the USPTO

Intellectual property (IP) made modern vaccines possible. It took billions of dollars in private and public investments in research and development to be able to create, in record time, multiple viable vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire world should be celebrating the innovators that continue to push forward with new solutions to problems we will face in the future. This pandemic will end, but there will be another. We should be eternally grateful to have companies like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson that have the capability to create and manufacture vaccines at large scale…. It has been over four months since President Biden’s inauguration. As of yet there has not been a nomination for the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In addition to running the USPTO, the Director is responsible for advising the President on intellectual property issues. I believe that President Biden would have benefitted from an experienced voice knowledgeable about the dangers of supporting the erosion of property rights during the discussions on whether to support India and South Africa’s proposal to the World Trade Organization to waive IP protections under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Fit to Drive: Three Inspiring Office Action Responses from the USPTO’s Art Unit 3668

Every patent practitioner has faced the same obstacle — a client’s application is assigned to an unfamiliar art unit. This presents two challenges: unfamiliarity with the examiners and unfamiliarity with the application of the law. Here are three proven arguments that overcame Section 101 rejections in AU 3668 from which to draw inspiration.

Design Patents 101: Understanding Utility Patents’ Lesser-Known Cousin

Design patents provide powerful protections both on their own and as a complement to their more well-known cousin, utility patents. The highly publicized Apple v. Samsung lawsuits of the previous decade featured both design and utility patents, and revitalized public awareness of design patents in general. In fact, it was infringement of the design patents that resulted in the large damages awards in those litigations, with three design patents resulting in an award of $533.3 million and two utility patents only $5.3 million. Beyond the likelihood of greater money damages, as compared to their utility patent counterparts design patents are also less expensive to obtain and hold, offer simpler determinations of infringement and validity, and are less susceptible to being invalidated (whether, e.g., for non-patent eligible subject matter or via a post-grant procedure). As such, design patents are more likely to survive, potentially resulting in substantial damages for the patent holder.

Patent Filings Roundup: In Reversal, COVID Renders W.D. TX Trial Dates Uncertain for Fintiv; Semiconductor NPE Suits and PTAB Challenges on a Roll; Board Issues Order Barring Future Filings

A quiet week resulted in 28 petitions at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), mostly related to preexisting suits, though with a perhaps surprising number of semiconductor patents challenged, and three Qualcomm challenges to Monterey Research (i.e., Vector Capital) patents were all instituted; in general, the district courts had a light week with 55 patent filings, many complaints adding new defendants for old campaigns. Some of the recently filed complaints in the longest-running Blitzsafe campaign against were dismissed without prejudice against automotive OEMs; and probably most notable, in a Fintiv denial, a panel cited the global pandemic and the uncertainty of trial schedules in weighing that factor neutrally (while still exercising their discretion for other reasons), as discussed below. Sonos hit back with inter partes reviews (IPRs) against Google patents in their ongoing dispute.

Leahy-Tillis Amendments to Endless Frontier Act Opposed by Inventor Advocacy Group

The full U.S. Senate is currently considering passing S. 1260, the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that would establish a Directorate for Technology and Innovation within the National Science Foundation (NSF) that would work to establish U.S. dominance in crucial areas of basic research including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and advanced manufacturing. The bill, which represents a bipartisan effort to address China’s ambitions to become a globally dominant technological power, includes a pair of amendments from Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) that would impact U.S. patent law by requiring foreign entities to register ownership changes to ensure the availability of infringement remedies, and by increasing the scope of ex parte reexamination to adjudicate whether patent claims are unenforceable for inequitable conduct. But according to small business and independent inventor advocacy group US Inventor, these amendments would negatively impact small inventors.

Ninth Circuit Upholds Ruling Against Gil Hyatt: The Paperwork Reduction Act Does Not Apply to Individualized Communications Between The USPTO and Applicants

On May 20, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, holding that requests for information by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to an individual are exempt from the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). Gilbert P. Hyatt is the named inventor on hundreds of inter-related patent applications that encompass over 100,000 claims. See Generally Hyatt v. U.S. Pat. & Trademark Off., 797 F.3d 1377 (Fed Cir. 2015). Both Hyatt and the American Association for Equitable Treatment (AAET) contend that patent applicants should not have to comply with certain USPTO rules because, they allege, the USPTO is violating the PRA.

Republican Senators Demand Answers from Biden on ‘Disastrous Decision’ to Support COVID IP Waiver

A group of 16 Republican senators sent a letter on Wednesday to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai denouncing the Biden Administration’s “disastrous decision” to support a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive intellectual property (IP) rights for COVID-19-related inventions and products.  The letter explains that the waiver is not limited to vaccines and “will do nothing to end the pandemic,” but will instead “undermine the extraordinary global response that has achieved historically remarkable results in record time and our nation’s global leadership in the technologies, medicines, and treatments of the future.”

IDEA Act Added as Amendment to U.S. Innovation and Competition Act

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) this week filed the United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 as a substitute amendment to the Endless Frontier Act, thereby bringing that bill together with a number of other bipartisan bills, including the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act, which passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. The IDEA Act is aimed at improving the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) demographic data-gathering efforts to better understand the rates at which women, people of color, and lower-income individuals are inventing and patenting. The Innovation and Competition act is primarily aimed at out-competing China in critical technology sectors.

Two Key Steps to Overcome Rejections Received on PCT Drawings

A large number of patent applications are rejected in the initial stage of filing via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) route. One of the most common reasons for such a rejection is an error in the drawings appended to the patent applications. Notably, patent drawings not only enhance the visual appeal of an invention but also help in better understanding the invention. As per the PCT guidelines, patent drawings should be included wherever applicable. This implies that it is essential to submit the appropriate formal patent drawings with a patent application. Failure to do so can result in patent rejection followed by an office action (OA) from the designated patent examiner. But here are the two key steps for overcoming rejections received on PCT drawings.

We Must Remain Open to the Future Possibilities of AI—Even if it Means Replacing Humans

In response to our recent article on artificial intelligence (AI) reducing transactional costs to help determine infringement and invalidity determinations, a commenter made an interesting counterpoint, paraphrased as the following: AI provides useful tools that should be used as an aid to human thinkers, not as a replacement to human thinking. Moreover, when it comes to AI making subjective determinations, such as obviousness or novelty, we should be skeptical of relying on AI, either legally or practically. We appreciate the counterpoint and we wanted to address it in this follow-up article.

European Inventor Award 2021 Finalists Spotlight Diverse Group of U.S. Researchers

Last week, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced six U.S. researchers as finalists for the European Inventor Award 2021. The EPO began the prestigious European Inventor Award in 2006 to honor individual and teams of inventors in five categories, i.e. Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury of experts in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research. In addition, a Popular Prize is awarded based on a public vote wherein the public selects a winner from among 15 finalists through online voting. U.S. researcher Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic was nominated for a lifetime achievement award for devoting her career to “developing an ex vivo tissue engineering technique for more precise tissue cultivation.” The remaining U.S. finalists were nominated in the “Non-EPO countries” category. In particular, Kim Lewis and Slava S. Epstein were nominated for their development of a device for separating and incubating single strains of bacteria in nature, Sumita Mitra was nominated for pioneering use of nanotechnology in dentistry, and Bo Pi and Yi He were nominated for developing the first fingerprint sensor capable of detecting both a fingerprint’s pattern and the presence of blood flow.

Eleven Million Patents: Milestones in the History of Invention

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued its 11 millionth patent today, May 11, 2021. America’s first (unnumbered) patent was issued in July of 1790, and patents were numbered consecutively starting in 1836. From there, the pace of patenting accelerated, with 100,000 patents issued by early 1870 and the 1 millionth issued in 1911. Since 2010, the USPTO has issued an average of over 300,000 new patents annually, as inventors and firms around the world have look to the United States as the premier global patent location.

Errors in Issued Patents as a Measure of Patent Quality

Companies spend considerable sums of money to develop patent portfolios that protect their valuable innovations. Given the large stakes, it behooves companies to obtain high quality patents. I’ll start this article with an example of a patent mistake that resulted in a bad outcome for the patent owner. iRobot lost a patent infringement claim against a competitor that perhaps could have been avoided. The issue was that important concepts of the claims were not described in the patent, and the meaning of the claims was not clear. The independent claims included the phrase “instructions configured to cause a processor” but the only use of “instructions” in the patent related to operational instructions for a user. Because the patent did not sufficiently describe the “instructions” in the claims, iRobot did not obtain its desired claim construction, and the Federal Circuit found no infringement. It seems plausible that better claim drafting might have avoided these errors and achieved a better outcome for iRobot.

The Common Thread of Innovation Ecosystems: Securing Ownership to Guarantee Creation

Over the past several weeks, it has been our pleasure at IPWatchdog to be a media sponsor for the excellent programming on intellectual property and the innovation ecosystem produced by the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The last in the series, an overview of the common thread running through innovation ecosystems, took place on Wednesday, April 28. “One thing we all have in common is that everyone wants more innovation and creativity to meet societal challenges, never more so than in a pandemic,” Patrick Kilbride, Senior Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce, told IPWatchdog following the conclusion of the Innovation Ecosystem series. “Sustaining the global middle class through COVID will require a steep trajectory of innovation. Our experience working with businesses of every size and sector, and governments around the world, shows intellectual property rights as a central enabler of innovation.”