Posts Tagged: "examiners"

Tips From a Former Examiner: Pre-Appeal Brief Review

After two or more U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) office actions on the merits, a patent applicant has the option to appeal the patent examiner’s decision rejecting one or more claims to a higher forum, i.e., the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Since 2005, the USPTO has provided an ongoing pilot program in which an appellant, upon the filing of a notice of appeal, may also request a pre-appeal brief review. Why make this request? What are the pros and cons? What are the risks? In this article, I will explore these issues from my perspective as a former USPTO patent examiner.

Does the USPTO’s Roadmap to Improved Patent Quality Lead to Lake Wobegon?

The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property recently held hearings on the topic of Protecting Real Innovations by Improving Patent Quality. The Subcommittee is to be commended for seeking practical solutions to improve patent quality. To this end, the author respectfully recommends that the Subcommittee and the intellectual property (IP) community take a close look at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s revised Performance and Appraisal Plan (PAP) for patent examiners.

Green, Yellow, Or Red: What Color Is Your Patent Examiner and Why Should You Care?

Examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can be categorized into three different “types,” namely, green, yellow and red Examiners. Knowing the type of Examiner assigned to a particular U.S. patent application can help in strategizing on prosecution tactics, crafting responses, and anticipating costs and timing needed to obtain a U.S. patent. For each year from 2009 to 2019, data was gathered for Examiners in each of eight non-design Tech Centers at the USPTO from the LexisNexis PatentAdvisor® patent prosecution analytics database. Examiners are categorized into three different types (so-called green, yellow, and red Examiners), and the data show that certain types of Examiners allow and examine disproportionately more U.S. patents each year than other types of Examiners, resulting in few allowing many, and many allowing few.

Patent Office Insights from Two Former Examiners

In the United States patent system, patent applications are handled by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the patent practitioners, who prepare and prosecute applications on behalf of inventors or their assignees; and the patent examiners, who examine the applications for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for patentability under U.S. patent law. Ryan Potts worked at the USPTO for over seven years, including several as a primary examiner, before joining Lando & Anastasi. Rob Lichter worked at the USPTO as a junior patent examiner before becoming a law firm associate. The following is a list of tips and insights to understanding and interacting with U.S. patent examiners.

Why We Need USPTO Examiners to Attend Inter Partes Reviews

Whoever wrote the America Invents Act (AIA) left out the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) examiners. The examiner on any given patent at issue in an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) agreed with the patent holder that the patent claims, as amended, were valid. Examiners are specialists, working under Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPEs), who are even more experienced, though in very narrow fields. As such, they knew the state of the art at the time a patent was being prosecuted.

Artificial Intelligence Will Help to Solve the USPTO’s Patent Quality Problem

About a month ago, Steve Brachmann authored an article concerned with a brief given to Capitol Hill staff by Professors Frakes and Wasserman. The article highlighted fundamental, as well as practical, problems with Professors Frakes’ and Wasserman’s proposal (i.e. doubling the number of patent examiners as a means to reduce the number of invalid patents and thereby prevent societal harms) and how it could be detrimental to the U.S. patent system. The IPWatchdog article points to several issues with Frakes’ and Wasserman’s proposal, but does not discuss other approaches or options, such as using artificial intelligence tools to improve the patent application review process—an option that USPTO Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld said in a recent Senate IP Subcommittee hearing that the Office is actively pursuing. According to PWC, 72% of executives testify that AI improves internal operations while freeing up workers to perform more creative and meaningful tasks. In fact, while some might fear that “robots” will take human jobs, technological innovation has been proven to generate more jobs than it takes, while automating tasks, like patent search.

How to Help an EPO Examiner and Improve Your Odds of Patenting a Computer-Implemented Invention

I recently had the opportunity to speak on the record with three examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO) about their advice, pet peeves, and approaches to examining computer implemented inventions, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), and how the EPO compares with the U.S. patent examination system. It was a wide-ranging and thoroughly enjoyable conversation with three professionals who obviously know this area very well, and who were willing to provide keen insight into ways applicants can and should improve technical disclosures to maximize the likelihood of obtaining a patent.

How to Be an Effective Advocate When Responding To Examiners

You’re a patent prosecutor. You’ve just received an office action. The examiner has rejected your claims. You think the examiner got it wrong. On the technical issues, it looks like the examiner is off base, pointing out elements in the prior art that aren’t really there, and finding motivation based upon the flimsiest bases. Also troubling is that the examiner has based some of the rejections upon rules or precedent that you think are incorrect, both on their face and as applied to your claims. So, it’s time to prepare an office action response. Hopefully this will change the examiner’s mind and will allow your client to receive a patent. Your response may include some preliminary matters, perhaps some claim amendments and recitation of the prosecution history, and the status of various claims. Then you come to the arguments. You want to argue with the examiner’s decisions, to be sure, but that does not mean that you want to be disagreeable. Your job as an advocate is to help the examiner understand your client’s position. There are numerous techniques you can apply in order to argue your case in a more effective manner. Effective advocacy is not limited to legal documents filed in court or an administrative appeal. Even when you are arguing to an examiner, your arguments can be made more effective by the manner in which those arguments are presented.

Winning Strategies for Getting Past the Five Types of Patent Examiner

Any patent attorney knows that each patent examiner can vary greatly in approach to examination. In this article, five different types of patent examiners and suggest prosecution strategies for each to help you get better outcomes for your clients.

Director Iancu Should Personally Conduct Video Training Explaining Section 101 Guidance

During the interview with Technology Center Director Tariq Hafiz we discussed whether it is realistic to expect patent examiners to perform a complete Section 101 analysis, including comparing a claimed invention to concepts that have been found patentable and not patentable under Section 101 in Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decisions. Unfortunately, this has often involved examiners pigeonholing claims at issue into completely unrelated court decisions that found claims to be directed to an abstract idea. In the new guidance, the USPTO plainly states that the approach of examiners comparing claims to a growing number of court decisions involving Section 101 has “become impractical.”