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Posts Tagged: "independent inventor"

Tillis Backs Vidal for USPTO Head, Dubbing Her a ‘Visionary Leader’

Senator Thom Tillis has come out on the record in support of Kathi Vidal to be the next Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), on the eve of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on her confirmation. Despite recent scrutiny of her ties to big tech and Silicon Valley, Tillis in a statement today said that he was satisfied with Vidal’s responses to his “tough questions” during the confirmation hearing process and feels he has received her commitment that she will continue the reforms implemented by former USPTO Director Andrei Iancu.

Albright Grants Rare Preliminary Injunction Against Fitness Company

On December 1, Judge Alan Albright, sitting in the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas, granted a preliminary injunction (PI) to Gonza LLC, finding that all four factors of the judicial test for injunctive relief favored Gonza. IPWatchdog is told it is one of only a handful of PIs Albright has issued. On July 28, 2021, Gonza LLC sued Mission Competition Fitness Equipment (MCF) in the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas. Gonza sought both injunctive relief and damages arising out of MCF’s alleged infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 11,007,405 (the ‘405 patent). Gonza asserted that it developed the subject matter of the ‘405 patent, which discloses a neck exercise device with resistance bands that can be used to improve neck capabilities, during a period of over two years. In its complaint, Gonza contended that MCF released a knock-off device that used lower quality materials, but nonetheless infringed the ‘405 patent. Gonza argued that MCF’s infringement of their ‘405 patent created a loss of goodwill, eroded the market price, and caused extreme negative consequences for Gonza’s business.

Can You Refile a Provisional Patent Application?

The question that we receive most frequently from inventors, usually independent inventors, relates to whether a provisional patent application can be refiled with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Before giving the correct answer, it is critically important for everyone to understand that if a provisional patent application is refiled it may become impossible for a patent to ever be obtained, period.  Can a provisional patent application be refiled? The short, easy answer to the question is yes, of course you can refile the provisional application. The USPTO will be happy to have you refile the application, take your filing fee, and send you a new filing receipt. The problem for you, as an inventor, however, is the consequence of refiling a provisional application. So, while it may be very easy to do, and seem like you’ve just extended the life of your original provisional application, that is precisely NOT what has happened, and you may have – indeed likely have – made it impossible to ever obtain a patent anywhere in the world.

The U.S. Patent System is Still Worth Saving

Much deserved criticism has been leveled at the U.S. patent system in the last decade or so, from all sides. No one branch of the system seems to much appreciate what the other branches are doing. The Supreme Court and Federal Circuit are issuing decisions that seem innocuous at first, but then inevitably snowball into wrecking balls. Regulatory policies, guidelines and statutory prescriptions that are well intended when the ink dries turn lethal to patents—witness the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). But, despite this situation, in the late summer/early fall of this year, in a brief burst of face-to-face patent events, I began to re-appreciate the value of the system and what it means to the country and our collective future.

Massie Introduces Bill to Repeal PTAB, Abrogate Alice

Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) on November 5 introduced a bill, titled the Restoring America’s Leadership in Innovation Act of 2021 (RALIA), HR 5874, that would repeal the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), return the patent system to a “first-to-invent” model, rather than first-to-file, and would end automatic publication of patents. Inventor groups such as US Inventor and conservative groups are supporting the legislation.

As Raimondo Takes the Helm on Council for Inclusive Innovation, Inventors Have an Unresolved Ask

In a letter provided last week to members of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI), Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced her role as Chair of the Council for Inclusive Innovation (CI2). I congratulate the Secretary for this extremely important role. Innovation should have no barriers, and both of these—a) innovation and b) the breaking down of unjust barriers—stand at the root of America’s success and identity. To aid the CI2 and all who create and execute innovation policy in our government, underrepresented inventors have an unresolved ask, and it involves breaking down a barrier identified by the very people who the CI2 and Congress desire to help. That ask is this: remedy the inventor’s second prong.

Seven Veteran Inventors Named to National Inventors Hall of Fame

The 2022 class of inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), announced earlier this week, includes the inventors of the foundational technology for messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based vaccines, the Super Soaker, and Laserphaco cataract surgery. In all, 29 inductees will be honored at the Annual National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 5 of next year. Twenty-two of these inventors were announced in 2020.

New Tillis-Leahy Bills to Boost Innovation: The Good, the Bad and the Nonsense

Earlier today, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Ranking Member and Chair of the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee, introduced a pair of bipartisan bills that the Senators say are aimed at improving the participation Americans from all backgrounds in the patent system and ensuring that the public knows the true owners of patents. If enacted, the Unleashing American Innovators Act (UAIA) would require the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to establish another satellite office within three years somewhere in the Southeastern region of the nation, which the bill specifically defines as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Of course, given that the main campus of the USPTO is located in Alexandria, Virginia, it would seem unlikely that Virginia would be the final destination of any Southeast Region satellite office. The UAIA would also require the Director to determine within two years whether any additional regional satellite offices are necessary to— in the words of the bill— “achieve the purposes described in section 24 23(b) of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act… and increase participation in the patent system by women, people of color, veterans, individual inventors, or members of any other demographic, geographic, or economic group that the Director may determine to be underrepresented in patent filings.”

A Kinder, Gentler ‘Death Squad’: Ten Years in, Despite Some Reforms, the USPTO is Still Killing U.S. Patents

Now that the 10th anniversary of the America Invents Act (AIA) has passed, we can look back not only at the past decade, but also the reactions of various interested parties and how they responded to that anniversary. There were two revolutionary amendments to U.S. patent laws enacted on September 16, 2011; one relating to the U.S. changing from first-to-invent to first-to-file, the other relating to the creation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and three new procedural mechanisms to invalidate issued patents. While from a philosophical and practical point of view, the change from first-to-invent to first-to-file had the largest impact on patent practice, it has essentially become a footnote in patent history. Yes, the United States had a bizarre system that allowed the second filer in some instances (i.e., the first to invent) to obtain a patent over the first-to-file, but that almost never happened. And now, the United States has a strange, hybrid first-to-file system that still theoretically allows the first-to-invent to prevail in even rarer circumstances, but that change became easily baked into the system, because overwhelmingly, the first-to-invent did file first. The real story of the change to first-to-file is that much more is now prior art, including foreign filed applications as of their foreign filing date, typically, which continues the theme of the last 15+ years of making it harder to obtain and keep patent rights in the United States.

Thomas Edison and the Consumer Welfare Benefits of Patent Enforcement

Would you believe the following scenario could happen under our patent system? An inventor of a fundamental technology receives a patent less than three months after filing; despite the public disclosure of the patent, industry contemporaries fail to appreciate the invention’s significance for nearly two years; once appreciated, widespread adoption and infringement of the patent ensues. Commanding 50% market share in unit sales of the patented product, the patent holder prevails in patent infringement suits obtaining court injunctions against all major rivals and maintaining a strict no-licensing policy. What happens next during the patent enforcement period would defy all conventional anti-patent narratives:

CAFC Dismisses USPTO’s Appeal on Expert Witness Fees in Hyatt II Based on Supreme Court NantKwest Analysis

On August 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in Hyatt v. Hirshfeld (Hyatt II), the latest in a line of court rulings regarding a series of much maligned patent applications filed by prolific inventor Gil Hyatt with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the 1990s. While the Federal Circuit’s most recent decision, which denied the USPTO’s request to shift expert witness fees even while the appellate court vacated attorney’s fees awarded to Hyatt, could be seen as a mixed victory for Hyatt, it continues to shine a light on an unfortunate legal situation in which an independent inventor continues to be denied patent rights despite strong evidence that the USPTO dragged their feet on examining Hyatt’s patents.

Patent Owner Sues Former USPTO Officials for ‘Improperly Stacking the Deck’ Against Him

A patent owner has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee against former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Michelle Lee, and a number of other former USPTO officials, for allegedly depriving the plaintiffs “of their valuable property rights in quasi-judicial administrative proceedings before the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (‘PTAB’).” The complaint further claims that PTAB proceedings have been “tainted by various improprieties and underhanded tactics, designed to stack the deck against [plaintiffs] and in favor of their far more powerful opponents. In short, the system had been rigged all along, due to the unconstitutional actions of the Defendants named herein.”

CAFC Holds Bylaws Failed to ‘Effectuate Present Automatic Assignment’, Thwarting Apple’s Attempt to Dismiss Infringement Suit

On August 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s denial of Apple’s motion to dismiss in Omni MedSci, Inc. v. Apple, Inc. The majority, with Judge Linn writing, determined that the University of Michigan’s (UM’s) bylaws did not effectuate a present automatic assignment of patent rights from one of its faculty members…. The CAFC concluded that paragraph 1 of Bylaw 3.10 does not unambiguously constitute either a present automatic assignment or a promise to assign in the future and is instead best read as a “statement of intended disposition and a promise of a potential future assignment . . .”

A Closer, Evidence-Based Look at ‘Patent Quality’ Advocacy

The Patent Infringer Lobby has ramped up banging the drum about “patent quality.” They dedicated a week-long campaign to questioning “patent quality,” which its constituents regard as a huge problem. Advocates have taken advantage of the vacuum left after U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu left the building. Anti-patent advocates are exploiting the new dynamic of Senator Patrick Leahy, coauthor of the America Invents Act (AIA), who now chairs the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee. Leahy recently did the Infringer Lobby the favor of holding a hearing on this subject.

Did the USPTO Institute Procedural Obstacles to Block Patents for a Particular Applicant?

Gilbert Hyatt filed hundreds of patent applications across fields such as machine control, audio and image processing, and computer technology. While many such applicants can similarly claim to have filed at least so many applications in these areas, Hyatt is perhaps somewhat unique in that: (1) he is a pro-se inventor; (2) he filed the vast majority of the applications shortly before the 1995 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) transition date when patent terms transitioned from 17 years from issuance to 20 years from filing; and (3) his applications are long with complex and extended priority chains. Hyatt has been characterized by some (e.g., Judge TS Ellis) as a “prolific inventor”. For others, Hyatt brings “submarine patents” to mind.