Kate Gaudry is a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, where she focuses her practice on data-driven and strategic patent prosecution. She has authored over sixty publications sharing results of generally applicable analyses, and her work was also pivotal in the shutting down of the USPTO’s SAWS program, which secretly subjected select patent applications to increased examination scrutiny. Her research and data focus was recognized when she was one of five attorneys across all practice areas to be selected for LexMachina’s and Law360’s Data-Driven Lawyer award in its inaugural year of 2018. Most of her clients are in the software, computers, and quantitative-biology technical areas. She particularly enjoys patent-prosecution relating to artificial-intelligence and computational-biology technologies.
Kate was recognized as a Washington D.C. “Rising Star” in 2019, 2020 and 2021 for Intellectual Property by Super Lawyers magazine. In 2020 and 2021, she was recommended by Legal 500 US for Patent Prosecution. Kate was named to National Law Journal’s Inaugural List of Washington D.C.’s 2020 Trailblazers.
Kate holds a J.D. from Harvard Law, a Ph.D. in computational neurobiology from UCSD, and a B.S. in Physics from Fort Hays State University.
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).
Once a rejection by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is designated as at least one “final” office action (which typically occurs when the office action is at least a second office action issued after filing), the applicant has the opportunity to engage with a different decision-maker. That is, the applicant can appeal a pending rejection to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), and at least three PTAB judges will then evaluate the rationale provided by the examiner and applicant (referred to as an “appellant” when the PTAB is handling a matter). Alternatively, the applicant can continue to engage with the examiner (which may require filing a Request for Continued Examination and paying the associated fee) or can let the application go abandoned.
On September 2, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a decision granting a Motion for Summary Judgment for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and upholding the Office’s view that AI algorithms cannot be listed as inventors on U.S. patents. The court pointed to the Administrative Procedures Act’s (APA’s) strong deference to final agency decisions, barring any egregious errors. DABUS generated outputs corresponding to (1) a fractal design for food container surfaces that may help prevent stacked containers from sticking together and (2) a technique for controlling the timing of flashing warning lights to help attract attention. Dr. Stephen Thaler (DABUS’s creator and owner) filed patent applications on these inventions that were filed around the world, listing Thaler as the applicant and listing only DABUS as the inventor.
Laches is an equitable defense that may be raised in a patent-related proceeding. If a defending party can show that a patent holder exhibited unreasonable delay that caused prejudice to the defending party, the patent holder may be barred by laches from asserting the right.While the examples of “reasonable” and “unreasonable” delay provided in Symbol Techs. are informative (as are the fact-specific analyses from the other cases), a bright-line test for “unreasonable delay” had yet to be established in the prosecution laches context. That is, until the June 2021 decision of Gil Hyatt v. Hirshfeld (Fed. Cir. 2021). This case pertained to the laches defense raised by the USPTO when Hyatt filed an action under 35 U.S.C. § 145 to obtain four patents subsequent to receiving an affirmance of rejections of various claims at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).