Posts Tagged: "Director Andrei Iancu"

Drew Hirshfeld Appointed to Second Five-Year Term as USPTO Commissioner for Patents

This morning, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross reappointed Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld for a second five-year term. Commissioner Hirshfeld’s original term was set to expire this month. Hirshfeld began his career with the USPTO in 1994 as a Patent Examiner, became a Supervisory Patent Examiner in 2001, and was promoted in 2008 to Group Director in Technology Center 2100 (Computer Architecture Software and Information Security).

Iancu at U.S. Chamber Event: ‘Choose Your Partners Carefully’

Last night, February 4, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) held a reception to launch its eighth annual International IP Index, Art of the Possible. The event featured remarks from U.S. Patent and Trademarks Director Andrei Iancu, who touted the results as a win overall for the United States in particular, as well as for the global economy, but also explained to attendees that the upcoming WIPO elections for Director General will be key in signaling to the global community that respect for IP protections and enforcement is paramount to economic development. While Iancu stopped short of endorsing any of the ten candidates the WIPO General Assembly is considering, he said the next Director General must come from a country and respects intellectual property rights. Read his remarks in full below.

Gene Quinn Named One of the 50 Most Influential People in IP by Managing IP

Managing Intellectual Property Magazine has named IPWatchdog Founder and CEO as one of its 50 Most Influential People in IP for 2019. Managing IP’s write-up pointed to IPWatchdog’s 20th anniversary celebration as evidence of the considerable influence Quinn, who was named as a “Notable Individual,” has had on the IP community. “[An IPWatchdog post honoring the two-decade milestone] includes commendations from none other than three former judges and two previous USPTO directors,” the Managing IP blurb noted. The 50 Most Influential People in IP list includes figures ranging from USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) to Lord Justice Richard Arnold of the England and Wales Court, China’s President Xi Xinping and Banksy.

One Way or Another, Arthrex Promises to Put the PTAB on Trial

For weeks now I have been asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to confirm how many Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) are currently employed by the Office, a request that predates the Federal Circuit’s controversial Arthrex decision, but which was renewed after the decision issued. For reasons that I cannot explain, the Office refuses to provide an answer to what seems to be a straightforward and legitimate question: How many APJs are currently employed by the USPTO? Regardless of the USPTO’s reluctance to identify the number of APJs employed, it seems safe to say that the employment rights and futures of several hundred APJs hang in the balance as the result of the Federal Circuit’s decision in Arthrex, which found that the hiring of APJs violated the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Federal Circuit did, however, attempt to provide a gift to the Office by rewriting the section of the America Invents Act (AIA) they found to create the problem, and by so doing turned APJs into inferior officers. In order to do so, the Federal Circuit turned those uncertain number of APJs into employees-at-will, which allows for them to be fired by the Director of the USPTO. This is significant because certain APJs have not been willing to get on board with changes implemented by Director Iancu. The belief of those APJs who have not been “team players” is that they are judges and are not controlled by and do not answer to Director Iancu. Well, with the Federal Circuit’s decision in Arthrex that employment dynamic changed overnight.

The Honeymoon is Over: Time for Iancu to Take Action on PTAB Harassment of Patent Owners

Just over 18 months ago, Andrei Iancu assumed control of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As the Director of the USPTO, Iancu has changed the tone of the conversation over patents in America. During President Obama’s second term the USPTO became aggressively anti-patent and anti-innovator. The speeches, policies and inaction of Director Michelle Lee led innovators and observers to correctly claim that the Obama Administration had come to champion the viewpoints of infringers, not the technology innovators. Director Iancu changed that almost overnight. Where Director Iancu has failed, however, is with respect to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). With great fanfare, Director Iancu created a Precedential Opinion Panel (POP) that we were told would result in more decisions of the PTAB being declared precedential on the entire PTAB. There was hope that the POP would address the most important issues, such as serial challenges to the same patent over and over again, the use of the same prior art over and over again, and once and for all require the PTAB to apply the Federal Circuit view of what it means to be a real party and interest. Unfortunately, real reform of the PTAB has not happened despite tinkering with the Trial Guide. In important ways the PTAB is worse, and the efforts that have been undertaken incorrectly form the appearance of reform.

Pinning False Blame of Lack of Enablement In Issued Patents On the USPTO

Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, held an oversight hearing on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) with Director Andre Iancu as the sole witness. A particular inquiry from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) regarding the USPTO’s allegedly lax examination quality under 35 U.S.C. § 112 caught my attention. She remarked [at 1:33:30]:  “Theranos, the blood testing company whose founder is being investigated for fraud, was granted nearly 100 patents based on an invention that didn’t work; and it concerns me that a patent application for an invention that doesn’t work gets approved.”  She generally questioned examiners’ attention to Section 112 requirements. Rep. Lofgren’s statement was no doubt primed by information from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the Ars Technica blog post titled “Theranos: How a broken patent system sustained its decade-long deception.” In this article, the author, who was introduced as holding the “Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents” at EFF, declares with no evidence or proof, that the “USPTO generally does a terrible job of ensuring that applications meet the utility and enablement standards.” The article cited no study, identified no patent, nor any claim to any “invention that didn’t work.” This outrageous, baseless allegation is outright reckless and irresponsible.

A Plea to All IP Stakeholders: Support Director Iancu’s Efforts to Restore the Value of U.S. Patents

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance promises to virtually eliminate the greatest patent problem of our time. If implemented properly by the examiners and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges, the guidance could solve the 101 mayhem and the incredible harm that it has done to inventors of computer implemented inventions. The guidance will also increase the value of patents, since strategic infringers will not be able to use the PTAB as the killing ground for patents using subject matter eligibility. Director Iancu needs us to support him with positive public comments as justification for his guidance and, very importantly, to suggest improvements to his guidance for its final/future version(s) and its implementation. Please send the following text with any of your edits to Eligibility2019@uspto.gov by the March 8, 2019 deadline.

Is 2019 the Year Clarity Returns to Section 101? Judge Paul Michel Is Hopeful

For almost ten years, U.S. patent law has experienced extraordinary confusion and uncertainty about what types of inventions and discoveries are patent eligible. The U.S. system changed from offering strong protection for novel and nonobvious inventions to questioning whether groundbreaking technologies are even the type the Founders thought would promote the progress of the “Useful Arts.” But recent developments, including the USPTO’s 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (Section 101 Guidance), suggest that winds of change may clear the fog and bring back some clarity to U.S. patent law.

The Year in Patents: The Top 10 Patent Stories from 2018

Before proceeding it is worth noting two things. First, that my list focuses on specific and identifiable events. Second, there are a number of stories worth mentioning, but which just missed the cut for one reason or another. The two that will probably be most glaring omissions are the Federal Circuit’s decision in Vanda Pharmaceuticals v. Westward Pharmaceuticals, 887 F.3d 1117 (Fed. Cir. 2018), and the final rules implementing the Phillips claim construction standard. With respect to Vanda, while it is a pro-patent decision, the claims found eligible are virtually indistinguishable from those held ineligible in Mayo, so it seems virtually certain a different panel of the Federal Circuit would have ruled differently. Thus, all Vanda did was seem to create uncertainty, which may be good for settlements, but likely not a repeatable decision. As for the Phillips standard, while it makes perfect sense for the PTAB to be using the same claim construction standard as used in federal district courts, many have questioned whether it will make any real difference in outcomes. Still, it is a big event and would have been 11th on my list. Had a chance to Phillips been accompanied by patent claims being presumed valid and requiring clear and convincing evidence to be declared invalid at the PTAB, that would certainly be worthy of top 10 inclusion. Alas, that would require an amendment to the statute and beyond the powers of Director Iancu. Thus, the banishment of BRI, while important, finds itself on the outside looking just in at this year’s top 10.

USPTO Releases 2018-2022 Strategic Plan to Optimize Timeliness and Quality

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently released its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, setting various goals to ensure high quality services for the agency’s customers and stakeholders aligned with the Department of Commerce’s strategic objective to strengthen intellectual property protection… “We are confident in attaining the goals set out in this plan and look forward to the continued engagement and feedback from our stakeholders and employees,” Director Andrei Iancu is quoted as saying in a press release issued by the USPTO upon the release of the new strategic plan. “Together we celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship—we are very proud of the men and women who stand behind a well-balanced American intellectual property system.”

Iancu Proposes Overcoming 101 ‘Morass’ by Strictly Following Supreme Court Precedent

Director Iancu’s remarks gave a first look at what his reforms will look like, and by all indications these changes will be extremely innovator friendly… What has made the quartet of patent eligibility cases so devastating is how they have been stretched and pulled, twisted and manipulated to invalidate (and prevent) patent claims on innovations of entirely different magnitudes than those contemplated by the Supreme Court. Director Iancu understands that what the Supreme Court has actually said is quite limited. Director Iancu proposes that the USPTO strictly follow the Supreme Court, and nothing more.

Managing Trademark Clutter in a Busy IoT World

The default position of brands has often been to protect as many marks as possible, driving other applicants out and helping establish a well-known and profitable identity. When names can make or break a brand, a significant number of trademarks are created purely for protection. However, these protective practices lead to a systemic problem. When new entrants to a market are faced with trademark clutter, their only choice is to adopt equally aggressive application strategies. This behavior leads to more clutter and further reduces the available pool of marks for the next generation of applicants.

Why Non-Practicing Entities (NPEs) Are Good For China

In the U.S., the risks of frivolous patent lawsuits is greater because the merits are decided by a group of jurors who lack patent expertise and can incorrectly conclude that a patent is infringed. In China, however, these inefficiencies and imbalances do not exist. The specialized intellectual property courts and tribunals in China are equipped with specialized judges who are able to quickly and accurately identify frivolous lawsuits. Because there is no discovery process and a decision on the merits can often be achieved within one year, the abusive tactics employed by patent trolls in the U.S. can be avoided in China.

Iancu: Major PTAB Initiatives Rolled Out, Time to Assess Changes and Stakeholder Reaction

Director Iancu did not make much, if any, news speaking at PPAC today. He did, however, indicate that at least for now his major initiatives to reform the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) have been rolled out, albeit with the last phase still in proposed rule form. Director Iancu indicated that he believes it is necessary now to carefully assess the implementation of these PTAB reforms and consider stakeholder reaction to the changes.

A Patent Dream Come True

The US Patent Office – of which the PTAB is a part – issues patents.  That’s why it exists.  So if the PTAB finds an error in a granted patent, fix it.  Maybe that fix renders the patent so narrow it’s worthless in the market.  If so, that’s the applicant’s issue.  The point is that all the components of the Patent Office should be resources for inventors, not adversaries, working to issue valid patents.  As Director Iancu says, “It is a new day at the PTAB! All these enhancements advance Dir. Iancu’s underlying theme, forcefully emphasized at numerous venues over the last months:  Cherish our patent system’s enabling capabilities, and as necessary, propose narrowly-tailored solutions that address actual shortcomings.  In other words, ex ante, would anyone have seriously proposed the Alice decision as the most surgical way to deal with abusive demand letters sent to coffee shops?