Posts Tagged: "ex parte reexamination"

New Patent Fees: USPTO Exercises Fee Setting Authority

The final rules on patent fees will publish in the Federal Register on Friday, January 18, 2013. Fees are going up for most, but not as much as feared. It will be more expensive to file a utility patent application, except for micro-entity applicants (see Utility Filing Fees Table), but it will be less to pay the issue fee once you get a Notice of Allowance (see Issue Fee Table). It will cost 29% more to file the first RCE for large and small entities (see First RCE Fees Table), and 83% more for subsequent RCE filings for large and small entities (see Subsequent RCE Fees Table). The ex parte reexaminations fees are much lower, down 32% and 66% respectively for large and small entities (see Reexam Fees Table), but are still much higher compared to where they were prior to them being raised over 600% recently. Of course, cutting ex parte reexamination fees means the overall cost is still roughly 250% higher for small entities and 500% higher for large entities than this time last year.

The Enforcement of Bad Patents is the Problem

Right now the best business to be in at the moment is the patent enforcement business, at least if you are concerning yourself with low-risk monetization with high reward. Between the legacy issue of bad patents, patent auctions and the many who purchase patents, what has started to happen is that the patent system rewards those who have the finances and ability to game the system. But the problem is extraordinarily complex.

AIA Rules: Citation of Prior Art and Estoppel in Reexamination

In order for one to file a statement of the patent owner in Federal court the submissions must: (1) Identify the forum and proceeding in which patent owner filed each statement, and the specific papers and portions of the papers submitted that contain the statements; and (2) explain how each statement is a statement in which patent owner took a position on the scope of any claim in the patent. See Section 1.501(a)(3). The required explanation must include discussion of the pertinence and manner of applying any prior art submitted to at least one claim of the patent. See Section 1.501(a)(b)(1). The explanation may also include discussion of how the claims differ from any prior art submitted or any written statements and accompanying information submitted under paragraph.

Supplemental Examination at the USPTO

At the conclusion of the supplemental examination if the certificate issued indicates that a substantial new question of patentability is raised an ex parte reexamination will be ordered by the USPTO. The resulting ex parte reexamination, which will address each and every substantial new question identified, will substantially be conducted according to the rules and procedures associated with ex parte reexamination. Notwithstanding, there is one very notable exception — the ex parte reexamination is not limited to patents and printed publications. Additionally, a less consequential procedural distinction is that the patent owner will not have the right to file a statement pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 304.

USPTO Proposes Significantly Higher Patent Fees

The recurring theme will be decreased fees for those who qualify for micro-entity status, but increased fees for everyone else. That is great, but micro-entity status will not even apply to all independent inventors, but only a subset of independent inventors who are at the lowest end of the income scale and who have had very few patents or patent applications. Thus, even the professional garage inventor will be a small entity and will pay more — in some cases substantially more — than they pay now. Not to mention the small businesses that are the engine of the U.S. economy. These fees will be a real and substantial impediment to the patent process for those individuals and businesses that we need to be encouraging and incentivizing the most.

What Do the Proposed Patent Fee Changes Really Mean?*

Let’s first consider one of the “bread and butter” components of patent prosecution, the utility application filing fee. Actually, this basic fee comprises three components: the filing fee, the search fee, and the examination fee. In the proposed fee changes, this utility application filing fee will increase from $1250.00 to $1840.00 (or from $625.00 to $920.00 for those qualifying as “small entities,” which get a 50% reduction in this fee). The biggest portion of this increase is reflected in the examination component, which has increased from $250.00 to $780.00 (or from $125.00 to $390.00 for those qualifying as “small entities”). Excess claim fees (total claims in excess of 20 and independent claims in excess of 3) have also gone up significantly, from $60.00 to $100.00, and from $250.00 to $460.00, respectively. (I’ll let you do the math for those qualifying as “small entities.”)

CAFC: PTO Has Power to Reexamine Already Adjudicated Patents

The CAFC’s split panel decision this past week – In re Construction Equipment Company – extends the PTO’s authority to reexamine a patent even where its validity has already been adjudicated and confirmed by the courts. Yet the CAFC once again fails to explain how a PTO reexamination finding that a patent is invalid effects an earlier judicial determination that the same patent is valid and infringed.

America Invents: The Unintended Consequences of Patent Reform

Notwithstanding the inherent unreliability of legislative history and the truly scary prospect of trying to get inside the head of Members of Congress, it seems fairly clear to me that the America Invents Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on September 16, 2012, contains at least a handful of things that can only be characterized as unintended consequences. Among them are: (1) U.S. patents issued from foreign filings will be prior art as of the foreign filing date; (2) commonly owned patent applications cannot be used against each other for novelty purposes; and (3) the creation of an post grant challenge limbo because of the delay in initiating post-grant review procedures.

What’s Wrong with Reexamination and How to Make it Better

The real sin is that reexamination could be a much better process. Those in Congress talk about alleviating the burden on the district courts by having a reexamination proceeding available, but they don’t seem to appreciate why it is that reexamination is under utilized. On top of that, patent reform circulating in Congress does absolutely nothing to revamp reexamination in a way that would streamline the process and make it more appealing. What patent reform does do, however, is add yet another procedure to bog down the Patent Office while not allowing the Patent Office to set fees and keep those fees they collect to do the work that is promised when they accept those fees. So if patent reform passes you can anticipate that the reexamination pendency numbers will get even more ugly, making the option even less appealing.

Torpedoing Patent Rights

The vast number of America’s companies that need patents to prosper and grow should fear the post-grant provisions for challenging patents in H.R. 1249, the patent reform bill passed last month by the House of Representatives. In a system already plagued by delays in granting patents, they threaten to delay courts from enforcing patents once finally granted. This threat has received little attention, perhaps because advocates of the bill promise promptness that they cannot deliver.

Inter Partes Reexam: Under Utilized Patent Litigation Defense

In almost all cases, inter partes reexamination is better than ex parte reexamination, except of course where the requester wants to stay anonymous or the application from which the patent issued was filed before November 1999. The opportunity to reply to the patentee’s arguments and to address the specific concerns of the examiner is quite valuable. This is especially true where the examiner cites his or her own prior art. Issues commonly evolve over the course of reexamination, so that arguments in an ex parte request often are no longer persuasive by the end of the proceeding. I would add that some of the frequent users of reexamination, such as Apple and Google, almost always select inter partes reexamination when it is an option.

USPTO to Revise Reexam Practice, Is Patent Reform Dead?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking public comment on a proposal to streamline the procedures governing ex parte and inter partes patent reexamination proceedings. The timing of this announcement, which appeared in the Federal Register on April 25, 2011, seems curious to me. With patent reform circulating in the House of Representatives does this signal a belief that on the part of the Patent Office that patent reform is dead? The patent reform passed by the Senate and that being considered by the House has revised post-grant review proceedings, so wouldn’t it be wise to wait to revamp reexamination until after patent reform passes, that is if it seems likely to pass?

Kodak Facing Patent Defeat to Apple & RIM, Patent Reaffirmed by PTO in Reexam Falters at International Trade Commission

The final decision in the ITC case brought by Kodak is expected by May 23, 2011, after deliberation of the full ITC Commission. As we wait for the full ITC Commission decision we are left to wonder. The patent at issue relates to a technology invented by Kodak for previewing images on a digital camera-enabled device and the claims of this particular Kodak patent were recently confirmed as valid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So it would seem that the ITC may be poised to issue a ruling contrary to the determination of the Patent Office during reexamination proceedings.

Patent Office Orders Reexamination of Tax Related Patent

Typically the Patent Office allows patent owners and third parties to sort out whether a reexamination is necessary. The thought process is that there is no need to waste precious examining resources to reexamine a patent that no one cares about or is enforcing. Thus, something out of the ordinary happened here, although what exactly is impossible to tell. Perhaps the Patent Office was taking some heat on Capitol Hill for these types of patents or perhaps someone just stumbled on something that made them scratch their heads and wonder. It is all just a matter of speculation.

Smucker Loses Reexam Battles, But May Win Litigation War

The Board’s analysis might interest patent prosecutors who routinely face rejections based on “applicant’s admissions,” not to mention the applicants who feel obliged to submit hundreds of litigation documents to comply with the duty of disclosure. Similarly surprised will be the litigators who ask whether admissions in pleadings are binding or can be withdrawn, not whether they are admissible. The Board’s refusal, because of lack of resources, to compare Smucker’s accused commercial squeeze bottle with the disclosure of the Seaquist reference is also open to question, especially since there does not appear to be any dispute regarding the structure of Smucker’s commercial nozzle. Reexamination practitioners take note.