Posts Tagged: "patent office"

As USPTO Begins Accepting Applications for PTAB Pro Bono Program, Inventor Community Calls for Stronger Action to Curb PTAB Abuses

On June 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) Director’s Blog published a post authored by USPTO Director Kathi Vidal announcing that the agency is now receiving applications from inventors seeking free legal assistance to bring ex parte appeals of patent examiner rejections to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). While Vidal’s announcement is certainly welcome news to many inventors who are in financial need, it fails to address larger issues faced by inventors at the PTAB that have been voiced by members of Congress and the inventor community alike in recent months.

DOJ, USPTO and NIST Withdraw SEP Policy Statements

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have announced that they are officially withdrawing the 2019 Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments. However, the withdrawal does not reinstate the 2013 Policy Statement on Remedies for Standards-Essential Patents Subject to Voluntary F/RAND Commitments, which had been harshly criticized by many in the IP community. It also seems to scrap the Draft 2021 Statement, which also drew the ire of the IP world. The DOJ – Antitrust Division issued a request for public comment on a new iteration of the Policy Statement in December 2021. The announcement came in response to President Joe Biden’s July 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, which asked the three agencies to review the 2019 statement.

Vidal to Review Institution of Cases Against VLSI Under Interim Director Review Process

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal has intervened in two Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) cases that have caused much controversy in the patent world. Vidal yesterday granted Director Review in both OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01064 and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC, IPR2021-01229, both of which have been the subject of scrutiny by members of Congress and patent practitioners, since the petitioners involved were incorporated after Intel was found to have infringed VLSI’s patents in district court and have no discernable business operations beyond challenging VLSI’s patent claims. The two entities’ petitions were also nearly identical to inter partes review (IPR) petitions previously filed by Intel that had been rejected by the USPTO.

After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0: A Patent Examiner’s Perspective

When the After Final Consideration Pilot Program 2.0 (“AFCP 2.0”) first launched in May of 2013, the program was lauded by both patent practitioners and USPTO officials as an effective tool to reduce pendency by advancing prosecution while reducing the number of Requests for Continued Examination (RCE’s). Since then, the USPTO has renewed the program multiple times and is still active. Essentially, the program provides another bite of the apple for the applicant by giving some time for the patent examiner to consider additional claim amendments after prosecution has closed without charging the applicant any additional fees. However, many patent practitioners today are finding little value in the program. Is AFCP 2.0 beneficial for advancing prosecution without filing an RCE? As a former primary examiner with ten years at the USPTO, I have a unique insight into the program and how it should be properly utilized.

Hirshfeld Announces Timeline for Departure from USPTO

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Deputy Director Drew Hirshfeld will step down from a nearly 30-year career with the Office on June 21, the USPTO announced today. Hirshfeld became Commissioner for Patents with the USPTO in 2015. He was appointed to a second five-year term in that role in July 2020. Before that, he served as Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy, and for two years as the USPTO Chief of Staff for David Kappos. He also served as a Supervisory Patent Examiner, as well as a Group Director of Technology Center 2100, overseeing Computer Networking and Database workgroups. Hirshfeld first joined the agency in 1994 as a patent examiner.

One Inventor’s Story and Hopes for Kathi Vidal

On Wednesday, May 25, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal and a panel of academics from Silicon Valley participated in a 90-minute, live Q&A webinar regarding the state of the USPTO. I attended virtually. I am a five-time world jump rope champion and the only jump roper to design and patent a jump rope handle technology. I was granted my two patents (US 7,789,809 B2 and US 8,136.208 B2) in 2010/2012. I started my jump rope manufacturing business, JumpNrope, in 2010 here in Louisville, Colorado. I am proud to also say that I source all my jump rope parts and pieces from U.S. vendors. We make all our jump ropes by hand in Colorado. My technology not only changed the sport of jump rope by offering a precision speed jump rope handle, but it also changed the fitness industry. To date, hundreds of companies have infringed on my patent, including Rogue Fitness, the largest fitness distributor for CrossFit and Strongman. As detailed in my case, I believe that Rogue has willfully infringed on my patent since 2012 by selling tens of millions of dollars’ worth of infringing jump ropes per year.

CAFC Clarifies Analysis of Intrinsic Evidence on Indefiniteness, Affirms PTAB’s Denial of Sanctions

On June 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a precedential decision in ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc. affirming a final written decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which found that a substituted claim  offered by the patent owner, Shure, was not invalid due to an indefinite claim term. The Federal Circuit also affirmed the PTAB’s decision denying ClearOne’s request to file a motion for sanctions against Shure for the patent owner’s alleged violation of the duty to disclose material prior art.

Vidal Tells Tillis and Hirono She’s Working to Curb IPR Abuse

Following a late April request by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)  to then newly-confirmed United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal asking her to respond to a number of questions surrounding abuse of the inter partes review (IPR) system, Vidal last week sent a letter explaining she is working on the problem. The senators’ April letter had expressed concern over Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions to institute inter partes review (IPR) proceedings in OpenSky Industries, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC v. VLSI Technology LLC. “The facts and circumstances around these proceedings suggest petitioners OpenSky Industries, LLC (OpenSky) and Patent Quality Assurance, LLC (PQA) brought the proceedings to manipulate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their own financial gain,” explained the letter.

Interim USPTO Process Moves the Needle on Transparency – But Predictability May Suffer Without Further Guidance

In a blog post on May 24, just over a month after being sworn in, Director Kathi Vidal stated that one of her priorities is to “accelerate change and communications by adopting interim processes and procedures while [the USPTO] work[s] to finalize.”  A mere two days later, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued one such interim process for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decision circulation and internal PTAB review. In addition to speed, this interim process is consistent with Director Vidal’s emphasis on transparency by ensuring that the parties to a proceeding and the public know the identity of the decision-makers. Nevertheless, as discussed further in this article, Director Vidal and PTAB Executive Management must be proactive in identifying areas for further publicly-issued guidance. Otherwise, consistency in PTAB decision-making is likely to suffer.

Protecting Intellectual Property in Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (“AR”), along with Virtual Reality (“VR”), is rapidly growing in prominence and will be transformative to the way we live, work, learn and play. Both AR and VR will undoubtedly bring a whole set of novel IP issues for individuals, companies, IP practitioners and the courts. Like any new technological area, such as cyber law for the nascent internet technology in the early 1990s, many legal issues need to be addressed and many more are yet to be discovered as this area evolves.  

In Arthrex II, CAFC Rejects Arthrex’s Constitutional and FVRA Arguments Challenging Denial of Director Review

On May 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. (Arthrex II) affirming both a final written decision issued by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) invalidating patent claims owned by Arthrex, as well as several arguments raised by Arthrex challenging the denial of Director review decided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Commissioner for Patents. The opinion, authored by Chief Judge Kimberley Moore, reasoned that the USPTO did not violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate in Arthrex I despite the fact that no presidentially-appointed, senate-confirmed Director was in place at the USPTO when the agency denied Arthrex’s request for Director review.

IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters: Waving a Wand to Fix U.S. Patent Litigation

Day two of IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters Program yesterday included panels on IP Finance, Mega Verdicts in Patent Litigation, Expert Witnesses and the Fintiv Saga. During the latter panel, former U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley joined other speakers to discuss the effects of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (PTAB’s) Fintiv decision, a controversial precedential PTAB opinion that outlined factors for the Board to consider in choosing whether to discretionarily deny institution of an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding. Todd Walters of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney presented statistics showing that the rate of denials due to Fintiv has recently fallen off a cliff.

CAFC Affirms PTAB Ruling on Motivation and Expectation of Success Over Newman’s Dissent

On May 23, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) from an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding where the PTAB concluded that the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 9,844,379 B2 (the ‘379 patent) were unpatentable as obvious. Ethicon on appeal contended that the PTAB improperly placed the burden of proof on them and that the PTAB’s finding of reasonable expectation of success when the asserted prior art was combined was unsupported by substantial evidence. Ethicon owns the ‘379 patent, which relates to an endoscopic surgical stapling tool. The supposed novelty of the ‘379 patent is “the use of both an I-beam firing member and a no-cartridge safety lockout, such that the lockout blocks the advancement of an I-beam firing member when there is no staple cartridge loaded in the stapling assembly.” The safety mechanism is particularly helpful for endoscopic procedures that require a surgeon to work with reduced visual and tactile feedback when compared to open surgery.

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.

Day One of Patent Litigation Masters: We Must Become Ambassadors for the U.S. Patent System Again

Speakers on day one of IPWatchdog’s Patent Litigation Masters program acknowledged that it’s easy for patent owners to become frustrated and disconsolate about how far the pendulum has swung away from encouraging effective patent protection but urged attendees to continue speaking up. As program sponsor and co-chair David Henry of Gray Reed put it, “I think we all have to become ambassadors for the patent system.” Henry spoke Monday on a panel about the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s recent habit of granting petitions for writ of mandamus to order Judge Alan Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas to transfer cases out of his court, largely to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Panelists speculated about the motivation for this focus on both the Eastern and Western Districts of Texas, with several agreeing that at least part of the trend is rooted in anti-patent sentiment. “Every time there’s a favorable forum for patentees, it gets harder to get into,” Wendy Verlander of Verlander LLP said.