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Posts Tagged: "inventor"

The PTAB Desperately Needs Reform, Not Preservation

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), created by the America Invents Act (AIA) just over 10 years ago, is the most electrifying lightning rod in the industry. As explained repeatedly by Members of Congress at the time the AIA was enacted, the purpose was to create a streamlined, less expensive, alternative administrative means to challenge the invalidity of issued patents. Sadly, with that being the stated purpose, the creation of the PTAB can be objectively characterized as nothing other than an abysmal failure. What has evolved is anything but streamlined, and certainly not inexpensive, even compared with district court litigation.

Vidal Confirmation Hearing Should Provide a Hint at What’s Ahead for Patent Owners

IPWatchdog has been told that Kathi Vidal, who is President Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will have her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, December 1. As of the time of publication, the Senate Judiciary Committee, to which the Vidal nomination has been referred, lists a confirmation hearing for the full Committee at 10am on December 1, but provides no additional information. It is believed Vidal will share the hearing with several nominees for federal judicial positions.

Stakeholders Speak: Leahy Bill to ‘Restore the AIA’ is Too Unbalanced to Pass

Last night, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released the text of the “Restoring America Invents Act”, which is meant to “support American innovation and reduce litigation,” according to the headline of the senators’ joint statement on the legislation. Many in the patent community, however, are not as optimistic. As reported previously, the bill would essentially end discretionary denial practice under precedential Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases such as Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc. and limit denial to petitions where “the same or substantially the same prior art or arguments previously were presented to the Office,” among other changes. Here is what a handful of stakeholders who have had a chance to review the bill had to say so far.

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.

Celebrating (?) the America Invents Act: Ten Years On, Many IP Stakeholders Say it’s Time for a Second Look

During IPWatchdog LIVE 2021 in Dallas, Texas, I asked a handful of willing attendees for their thoughts on the impact of the America Invents Act (AIA) in anticipation of today, the ten-year anniversary of the day President Barack Obama signed the AIA into law. I began writing for Managing IP magazine in 2007 and remember well the lead-up to the law. The discussion centered mostly on the change from a first-inventor-to-invent to a first-inventor-to-file system, which was seen as a way to harmonize the United States with the rest of the world, but which many feared would be detrimental to U.S. innovation. Some of the most controversial provisions were ultimately dropped in order to get the law through Congress, and overall, the IP world was celebrating on September 16, 2011, that at least some action had been taken on reforming, and ostensibly strengthening, the U.S. patent laws.

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:

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.”

‘AISITAs’ and Written Description Requirements: Considerations and Guidance for AI Patent Applications

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, touching nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including how we work, communicate, shop, travel and more. The term “AI” is generally understood to encompass computerized systems that perform tasks ordinarily perceived as requiring some form of human intelligence. Many AI-based systems are able to recognize trends, patterns and connections, test hypotheses using available data sets, and continuously improve decision trees based on user input. As such, AI has been shown to have near endless applications, driving a surge of inventions and related patent application filings.

In Arthrex Ruling, SCOTUS Says Director Review of Decisions, Not Power to Remove APJs, is What Matters

The Supreme Court has issued its ruling in Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew, taking a different approach to curing the statute than did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in 2019, and ultimately vacating and remanding the case back to the Acting Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). While the CAFC held that the statute could be severed and rendered constitutional by making Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) removeable at will, the Supreme Court said that remedy was not sufficient. The Court said: “[R]egardless whether the Government is correct that at-will removal by the Secretary would cure the constitutional problem, review by the Director better reflects the structure of supervision within the PTO and the nature of APJs’ duties.”

Tillis Tells PTAB Masters™ Day Three Attendees Congress Should Codify Iancu’s Reforms

In his keynote video address to PTAB Masters participants today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) championed the record of former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu, and said that Iancu’s successful attempts to address many of the complaints with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) during his tenure should be codified into U.S. law. Changes such as harmonizing the PTAB claim construction standard with that of the district courts and making significant changes to the PTAB’s Standard Operating Procedures that have helped to create uniformity and instill transparency, all helped to provide more certainty for inventors, Tillis said.

Industry Groups Urge Quick Passage of Reintroduced IDEA Act

Representative Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) yesterday reintroduced the Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement Act (IDEA Act), which seeks to direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) “to collect demographic data – including gender, race, military or veteran status, and income level, among others – from patent applicants on a voluntary basis.” Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Rethinking USPTO Applicant Diversity

The Day One Project recently released over 100 proposals for the Biden-Harris administration  to use as roadmaps in crafting science and technology policy. One of those proposals, a Transition Document for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), recommends an important and specific step forward for the growing policy agenda on diversity in U.S. innovation. The USPTO should undertake a pilot program for mandatory collection of demographic data from patent and trademark applicants. This recommendation is a conscious break from past public commentary, which has often urged data collection on a purely voluntary basis.

How Patents Enable Mavericks and Challenge Incumbents

Advocates for “patent reform” have long argued that reducing patent protection will open up markets and accelerate innovation by lowering entry barriers and expanding access to existing technologies. Yet, over 15 years of patent reform since the landmark 2006 decision in eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange LLC, followed by enactment of the America Invents Act in 2011, we have witnessed the rise of a technology ecosystem led by a handful of dominant platforms. In my recently published book, Innovators, Firms and Markets: The Organizational Logic of Intellectual Property, I show that this outcome should not be surprising. Almost 120 years of U.S. patent and antitrust history (1890-2006) indicate that reducing patent protection can often shield incumbents against the entry threats posed by smaller firms that have strong capacities to innovate but insufficient resources to transform innovations into commercially viable products and services.

Inventors Have Their Say on PTAB at SCOTUS in Arthrex Amicus Briefs

Eleven amicus briefs were docketed during the last two business days of 2020 in United States v. Arthrex, Inc., et al., which is scheduled for oral argument on March 1, 2021. Several of the briefs were filed by independent inventors, who implored the Court to acknowledge the stories of entrepreneurs and small inventors who have been adversely impacted by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), in part because Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) are presently unaccountable.

One Entrepreneur’s Story: Snapizzi Gets Caught in the Section 101 Snare

In 2015, Randy dela Fuente launched Snapizzi. Randy had bet big, putting his career, savings, and company at risk. Later, Randy brought in a business partner, Chris Scoones, who cleaned out his savings and mortgaged his house. But they believed in the patent. On the patent’s government-issued cover, it stated that Snapizzi would have the “right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention. This meant that U.S. Patent No. 8,794,506 would protect their company from infringers and give them enough time to carve a toehold in the market. That patent cover also said that the patent was “granted under law”, which meant that it was a legally granted and presumed valid property right. In America, we are a nation of laws. Randy trusted the U.S. government, and this made the burden of huge risk much more tolerable. But in December 2019, a court held that the claims are all ineligible for patenting because they are “abstract ideas”.