is a U.S. Patent Agent at Pearne & Gordon LLP. She is also a European and German Patent Attorney, and the sole author of the legal handbook “US Patent Law for European Patent Attorneys” (Wolters Kluwer, 2015). Ms. Nickel has practiced IP for nearly a decade, including at several prestigious IP law firms in Munich, Germany. In 2017, Ms. Nickel was recognized by AIPLA as a ‘Woman to Watch.’ Ms. Nickel holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and an MS in Computational Science & Engineering from the Technical University of Munich.
For more information or to contact Ms. Nickel, please see her Firm Profile Page.
We need to ask ourselves: what are the defining features of a “filler patent”? At least two things stand out. First, “filler patents” go through more rounds of prosecution than other patents. Secondly, the independent claims of “filler patents” are longer (have higher word counts) than other patents… A “round of prosecution” means an Office action from the USPTO and the applicant’s response. It is typical for “filler patents” to go through multiple rounds of prosecution, such as six or more rounds. At each round of prosecution, the claims are tailored, so that the scope of protection of the resulting patent is whittled down until essentially nothing is left. Then the application is allowed to issue.