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Posts in Technology & Innovation

The Section 145 Trilogy: Why More Applicants Might Take Patent Applications from the USPTO to the E.D. of VA

Typically, patent examiners are the prominent decision-makers controlling whether patent applications are allowed. However, Applicants have the power to change who controls these decisions. For example, each Examiner’s Answer must be approved by a supervisory examiner, so filing an Appeal Brief results in the supervisory examiner reviewing the rejections at hand, the appellant’s arguments, and the examiner’s responses to the appellant’s arguments. (If the supervisory examiner agrees with the appellant, then the application is either allowed or prosecution is reopened with one or more new rejections). So long as prosecution is not reopened, paying the Forwarding Fee subsequent to receiving the Examiner’s Answer results in jurisdiction shifting to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

CareDx v. Natera: The Latest in Patent Eligibility of Medical Diagnostics

The latest ruling involving patent eligibility of medical diagnostics comes from Chief Judge Connolly of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in a consolidated case brought by CareDx, Inc. and the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University against Natera, Inc. (Civil Action No. 19-0567-CFC-CJB) and Eurofins Viracor, Inc. (Civil Action No. 19-1804-CFC-CJB). After initially denying the Defendants’ motions for summary judgment of invalidity of the asserted patents under 35 U.S.C. §101 in December 2020, the Court then later denied certification motions for interlocutory appeal and instead ruled sua sponte to reconsider its own denial of summary judgment. Following an evidentiary hearing during which expert testimony was heard, the Court reversed its previous ruling to find all claims of the asserted patents invalid as a matter of law under §101.

Navigating the Legal Cloud: How to Manage Data and Intellectual Property with Cloud Orchestration Platforms

As the way we live and work has increasingly moved into virtual environments (I like to call it a legal metaverse), the boundaries between physical, digital, and biological worlds become blurrier by the day. Sensors lie within devices installed across every aspect of our home, office and mobile environments, connected from the edge of each of your devices to networks that are both local and cloud-based (with many in a foggy place between the two). The ensuing data traffic requires massive computing power for transfer, storage, analysis, and response. The migration to automated cloud computing power has further accelerated the deployment of containers across the public, private and hybrid cloud ecosystems for the transfer, storage, analysis, and response layers. Kubernetes and Docker have emerged as ubiquitous technologies to build, deploy and manage containerized applications using automation, and investors have noticed. Understanding the key legal issues will enable more successful client relationships for both vendors and customers, and inevitably growth and value creation.

Where We Are on AI Inventorship and Where We Should be Heading

The past few years saw a meteoric rise of artificial intelligence (AI) products, services, and applications. AI has evolved from merely a buzzword or a cool new idea to a substantively used tool in a variety of applications, including autonomous driving, natural language processing, drug development, finance and cybersecurity among others. Companies, universities, and inventors world-wide noted the importance of AI and began seeking to patent various aspects of AI technology. Until 2018, these patent applications identified a human inventor who invented a particular aspect of the AI technology. Then, Dr. Stephen Thaler filed a patent application for a food container and a light emitting device that identified an AI, known as DABUS, as an inventor.

Senator Tillis Letter to Ambassador Tai: TRIPS Waiver (Copyright)

Dear Ambassador Tai: I write you again today for the fourth time about the Biden Administration’s waiver of international obligations under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS agreement. Last week, several open-content organizations wrote to President Biden and argued that your proposed TRIPS Waiver should cover not just patents, but also copyright and other intellectual property rights. These organizations ask that you include copyright simply because it may apply to software, medicine labels, manuals, or “tools” associated with vaccines. The letter fails to address the importance of these protections to the economy, trade, and employment, the limitations placed on protections to ensure a balanced system, and how copyright protection facilitates the very innovation, creativity, and knowledge sharing that will make it possible for us to end this once in a lifetime pandemic. The inclusion of copyright is both unsubstantiated and unwarranted, and would impose devastating consequences on American creators, businesses and workers, while doing nothing to advance the objective of combatting COVID.

Let No Good Deed Go Unpunished—The Tale of a COVID-19 Breakthrough

The lead story in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal made an exciting announcement: “Merck Covid-19 Pill Cuts Risks of Hospitalizations and Death”: “Merck & Co. and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP said their experimental Covid-19 pill helped prevent high-risk people early in the course of the disease in a pivotal study from becoming seriously ill and dying, a big step toward providing the pandemic’s first easy-to-use, at home treatment.” In case its readers missed the significance, the same issue included an editorial, “There May Soon Be a Covid Pill”, stating: “In what is rare good news these days, Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said Friday that their Covid pill molnupiravir reduced hospitalizations by about half… Since the beginning of the pandemic, doctors have been hoping for an oral antiviral that could prevent recently infected patients from getting sicker… Merck has also signed licensing agreements with generic manufacturers to accelerate the pills availability world-wide. Manufacturers in low-income countries don’t need special expertise and supervision to produce the pills, unlike with Covid vaccines. Molnupirvir can be easily distributed in poorer countries… Evidence also indicates that the drug is effective against different variants and is unlikely to produce viral resistance.” The partnership between Emory University, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck could turn out to be one of the most significant Bayh-Dole alliances ever, yet just a few months ago all three were under fire. And the critics are renewing their attacks.

AI Versus Manual Patent Searching: How a Hybrid Approach Can Optimize Success

With the forecasted growth of global Artificial Intelligence (AI) market size, it is evident that AI is quickly becoming the solution to most software and service needs. AI has even infiltrated our homes—for example, we are increasingly seeing smart home systems that incorporate Internet of Things (IoT) technology along with a master AI virtual assistant. Undoubtedly, the technology has made space in the intellectual property-based service sector as well. For instance, to support patent searching, there are quite a few AI-based automated patent search tools available. Although many of these are still in their training stage, these tools are likely to mature. Thereafter, the question looming over innovators is whether to take advantage of affordable AI patent search tools or invest in outsourced manual patentability searches.

Roblox is Latest Online Platform to Settle NMPA Copyright Claims with Collaborative Music Licensing Agreement

On September 27, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and online game platform provider Roblox announced that the two parties had settled ongoing copyright litigation in the Central District of California over Roblox’s unauthorized use of copyrighted music on its online gaming platform. The settlement also creates an opt-in mechanism for eligible NMPA publishers and opens a negotiation period for individual publishers to engage Roblox in go-forward licensing deals.

Deep Learning: Tracking the Growth of an Emerging Technology

In 2015, I spotted what I thought might be an emerging technology: deep learning. Because of my engineering education, I was able to go up the “deep learning” curve. The term “deep learning” is the current name for a “deep neural network,” which was previously called a “multi-layer neural network.” While our organic brains are filled with approximately 86 billion neurons, the “deep learning” quest was built on mathematics and Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). It seemed like a breakthrough. With enough examples of a category, could a deep learning model assess data that the model hadn’t seen previously, and then score, rank and report the “matches” to a user? In short order, I was persuaded that the answer was yes.

The United States Must Step Up Its Support for R&D, Education

History is often defined by its most important technology, giving us eras such as the Bronze Age and the Industrial Revolution. Given their importance, the modern era may go down as the Semiconductor Age. But unless the United States begins making needed investments in this and other key technologies, the future may wind up being the Age of China. It is hard to overstate the importance of semiconductors. The most sophisticated of these computer chips help to control computers, airplanes, and even modern weapons systems. Less sophisticated versions are still critical components of our daily lives and power automobiles, TVs and home appliances. From an economic and national security standpoint, controlling our supply of semiconductors should be essential. Yet, U.S. companies have spent decades outsourcing and consolidating the manufacturing of this essential technology to other countries.         

The Role of Standard-Essential Patents for the Auto Industry

Most market experts predict dramatic changes in the auto industry because of shifting consumer preferences, new business models and emerging markets. The sector also looks set to be heavily affected by new sustainability and environmental policy changes, as well as by upcoming regulations on security issues. These forces are predicted to give rise to disruptive technology trends, such as driverless vehicles, electrification and interconnectivity. Forecast studies posit that the smart car of the near future will be constantly exchanging information with its environment. Car-to-X or car-to-car communication systems will enable communication between cars, roadsides and infrastructure, while mechanical elements will soon be embedded into computing systems within the internet infrastructure. The auto industry is one of the first sectors to rely on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, which connect devices, machines, buildings and other items with electronics, software or sensors. Interconnectivity across multiple vehicle parts and units relies on the specification of technology standards such as 4G or 5G, Wi-Fi, video compression (HEVC/VVC), Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) and Near Field Communication (NFC) or the wireless charging Qi standard to name a few.

Seven Veteran Inventors Named to National Inventors Hall of Fame

The 2022 class of inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), announced earlier this week, includes the inventors of the foundational technology for messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based vaccines, the Super Soaker, and Laserphaco cataract surgery. In all, 29 inductees will be honored at the Annual National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 5 of next year. Twenty-two of these inventors were announced in 2020.

Allegedly ‘Late’ Disclosure of IP Rights to ETSI Does Not Make Patents Unenforceable in the U.S. or UK

Two recent court decisions in the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, have considered (i) the disclosure obligation pursuant to Clause 4.1 of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, and (ii) the impact this has on the enforceability of a patent subject to the Policy…. Both decisions were in the ongoing patent and fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) related litigations between Optis and Apple. In summary, the decisions confirmed that neither Optis nor its predecessors had breached their duty to disclose IPR to ETSI under clause 4.1, nor did the timing of their disclosures constitute egregious misconduct, so as to result in an implied waiver under U.S. law, or in the case of the UK, a proprietary estoppel, preventing or restricting enforcement of the patent.

DABUS Defeated Again—But Judges Divided

The England and Wales Court of Appeal has upheld lower rulings that two patent applications designating an artificial intelligence called DABUS as the inventor were deemed to be withdrawn. (Thaler v Comptroller General of Patents Trade Marks And Designs [2021] EWCA Civ 1374.) However, the three judges were split, with the two patent specialists on the panel taking different views. Dr. Stephen Thaler filed two UK patent applications in October and November 2018 for a “Food Container” and “Devices And Methods For Attracting Enhanced Attention” respectively. Parallel applications have been filed in many other jurisdictions, as reported previously by IPWatchdog.

Senators Tear into Facebook and Google Reps During ‘Big Data, Big Questions’ Hearing on Competition and Privacy

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights held a hearing yesterday titled “Big Data, Big Questions: Implications for Competition and Consumers,” in which both Republican and Democratic senators pushed representatives of Facebook and Google to answer difficult questions about their platforms’ impact on everything from competitive marketplaces to teenagers’ body image. The hearing is one in a series that aims to conduct a bipartisan review of America’s competition issues, according to Subcommittee Chair, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).