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Posts Tagged: "Patent Reform"

Looming Leahy Bill Would End Fintiv Practice at PTAB

IPWatchdog has obtained a draft summary of the “Restoring the America Invents Act” bill that Senate IP Subcommittee Chair, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is purportedly expected to introduce shortly. Several other outlets have reported that either Leahy himself or sources on the Hill confirmed such a bill is in the works and will address discretionary denial practice at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) under the PTAB’s precedential Apple Inc. v. Fintiv, Inc. decision, which sets out a list of factors that the Board will evaluate in deciding whether to discretionarily deny instituting a petition due to parallel district court litigation. The draft explains that the bill would require the USPTO to institute a proceeding if it meets the statutory standards, “with discretion to deny institution based on statutory considerations, so only one action goes forward at once.”

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:

FTC’s Antitrust Complaint Against Facebook Highlights Another Missed Opportunity to Address Big Tech’s Anticompetitive Activities Through Patent Reform

On August 19, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a first amended complaint for injunctive and other equitable relief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking a judgment that would split Instagram and WhatsApp away from Facebook as punishment for the social media giant’s alleged violations of antitrust law. The complaint, which traces many of the same arguments raised in a previous FTC suit that was dismissed by the District of Columbia this June, is yet another reminder that the current wave of antitrust enforcement against Big Tech has been an inevitable result of abysmal reforms of the U.S. patent system that have taken place since the mid-2000s, especially those reforms creating the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and turning Section 101 subject matter eligibility analysis into “validity goulash.”

Note to Congress: Resist Big Tech Pleas to Weaken Strong Patents in Light of Recent Losses

In recent days, both Google and Apple have lost big patent cases. On August 13, Apple lost a $300 million jury verdict to PanOptis. Also on August 13, Google was found to infringe five Sonos patents at the International Trade Commission (ITC) in an initial determination by Judge Charles E. Bullock, which, if upheld by the full Commission, would block the importation of Google hardware, including Chromecast and Pixels. This likely means that Apple, Google and their big tech allies will use these instances, as well as other recent high-profile patent losses, as evidence of the need for yet more innovation-crippling patent reform. That would be a huge mistake for America at a time when we find ourselves locked in a race for technological supremacy with the Chinese.

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.

USPTO Delivers on Senators’ Request for Patent Eligibility Jurisprudence Study

In March of this year, a bipartisan group of senators asked Drew Hirshfeld, who is Performing the functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action. The letter gave a deadline of March 5, 2022 to submit a report on the topic. Now, a Federal Register Notice (FRN) scheduled to be published July 9 is requesting answers and input from stakeholders to 13 questions/topics to assist in that effort, according to a publicly posted draft of the FRN.

Bipartisan Group of Senators Asks Hirshfeld to Gather Info on Eligibility Law by Next Year

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Coons (D-DE) sent a letter on Friday to the Acting Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Drew Hirshfeld, asking him to “publish a request for information on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence in the United States, evaluate the responses,” and provide the senators with a detailed summary of the findings in order to assist them as they consider appropriate legislative action.

Twist Emerges in Senate IP Subcommittee Leadership for 117th Congress

On Sunday, February 14, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced the Subcommittees and Subcommittee Chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee for the 117th Congress. Many in the IP universe had hoped Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), the Ranking Member of the Senate IP Subcommittee for the 116th Congress, would be appointed the IP Subcommittee Chair, considering his strong support for various IP reforms along with the previous IP Subcommittee Chair, Thom Tillis (R-NC). Tillis will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee this Congress, but Coons was not selected to serve as Chair.

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.

Innovation Alliance Urges Biden Administration to Support Patent Rights

On January 11, Brian Pomper, Executive Director of the Innovation Alliance, sent a letter to President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris urging support for strong patent rights and outlining Innovation Alliance’s recommendations with respect to the U.S. patent system and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The letter emphasized the importance of a strong patent system that incentivizes technological advancement in order to effectively compete with China and explained that the current system is in distress and strong leadership is needed.  

Tillis Report Sums Up Senate IP Subcommittee’s Work on U.S. IP and Innovation

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Chair, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), who was re-elected to a second term this November with about 49% of the vote, last week released the Subcommittee’s 116th Congressional Report. According to the report, Tillis held over 90 stakeholder meetings in 2019 and over 50 meetings in 2020, when discussions had to be moved to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tillis has also held 17 Senate hearings since January 2019 on topics ranging from USPTO oversight to reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and led or co-sponsored 11 intellectual property (IP)-related bills.   

Judge Michel, Panelists Contemplate the CAFC Past, Present and Future on Day Two of CON2020

Headlining day two of IPWatchdog’s CON2020 was Retired U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Chief Judge Paul Michel, who offered attendees 12 “perspectives” on the present-day Federal Circuit to provide context for some of the Court’s current problems. Ultimately, said Michel, these problems need to be fixed via legislation, not the courts, and the key to speeding up that legislative process is for individuals and companies to become involved and proactively advocate for patent reform at the local level.

Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act— Legislation That’s a Mixed Bag

Draft legislation has emerged that ostensibly would boost rapid innovation to combat the coronavirus. Bottom line: The bill is a mixed bag with a lot of questions… The Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act appears to be an attempt to bring any and all viable medical inventions to bear, as quickly as possible, in our fight to defeat COVID-19, which is absolutely to be commended. Despite attempts to mitigate the harm that outright eminent domain on patent rights (vigorously advocated by some) would certainly cause, the legislation needs more work.