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Posts Tagged: "Senator Mazie Hirono"

Coons and Hirono Raise Concerns Over Pride in Patent Ownership Act Penalties

During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s IP Subcommittee today, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) were the only senators present to question the Pride in Patent Ownership Act’s (PPOA’s) approach to penalizing patent owners who fail to record accurate ownership information within 90 days after the issuance date. The hearing included testimony from four witnesses on the topic of the PPOA introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) in September. Leahy explained in his introduction that the same fundamental principle of disclosure that underpins issuance of a patent should extend to patent ownership information. There is presently no requirement that ownership information be publicly available after a patent issues.

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.

USPTO Responds to Patent Bar Gender Gap Inquiry, Mulls Changes to Registration Process

The 2020 “Progress and Potential” report produced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) focused on women and inventorship. Recently, however, members of Congress asked the USPTO to consider a gender gap in patent practitioners, rather than inventors. This request is based on an article authored by Mary T. Hannon of DePaul University that argued that there is a formidable gender gap in individuals eligible for the patent bar, primarily based on the categories of technical background required to sit for the exam. Last week, the USPTO replied to the December letter—which was sent by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE)—citing statistics that found 29.22% of the 397 applicants that have taken and passed the registration examination since October 2019 selected the “Ms.” field on their applications and that, of the 1,937 applicants who have submitted applications electronically since October 19, 2019, 65.67% chose the “Mr.” salutation while only 34.33% chose “Ms.”

Solving the Patent Bar Gender Gap Without Lowering the Bar to Eligibility

“Qualified women are unnecessarily excluded from membership in the patent bar,” wrote Mary T. Hannon in a recent law review article seen by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE), who promptly sent a letter to United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Andrei Iancu demanding answers. A scandal of epic proportions in 2020 if an agency of the executive branch is actively excluding women from the ranks of patent practitioners. But it’s just not true.

The Comments Are In: More Have Their Say on USPTO Discretion to Institute AIA Trials

Submissions in response to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) “Request for Comments on Discretion To Institute Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board” were received through the deadline of December 3, 2020. The Request was published in the Federal Register on October 20, 2020 and a total of 843 comments were received. IPWatchdog previously highlighted comments from individuals and organizations including Senator Thom Tillis, Robert Stoll, Conservatives for Property Rights, US Inventor’s Randy Landreneau and the Small Business Technology Council. Below are some additional highlights from the many submissions.

Professors Expand Upon Proposals to Senate IP Subcommittee for Improving Patent Quality

On October 30, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property heard from five witnesses on ways to improve patent quality at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Subcommittee subsequently posed questions to the witnesses, including professors Colleen Chien, R. Polk Wagner, and Melissa Wasserman, to supplement their testimony. Those witnesses have now submitted their responses, which expand upon their various suggestions for improving patent quality.

Bipartisan Effort to Resurrect Office of Technology Assessment Introduced

Yesterday, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Representatives Mark Takano (D-CA) and Bill Foster (D-IL) introduced the Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act, which if enacted would introduce enhancements to the existing Office of Technology Assessment statute codified at 2 U.S.C. §472. According to the sponsors, this bipartisan legislation would improve and enhance the existing Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) by making it more accessible and responsive to the needs of Members of Congress. The OTA, which existed for a generation spanning three decades in the 1970s, 80s and into the mid 1990s, became defunct when Republicans took control of Congress after the 1994 midterm elections. A draft funding bill released by House Democrats this spring first showed interest in resurrecting the OTA.

Chief Points from Responses to Senator Hirono’s Questions to Section 101 Panelists

Yesterday, we ran a series of excerpts from responses to Senator Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) questions for the record to panelists following the June hearings on U.S. patent eligibility law, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Tillis and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) also posed several questions to the participants in the 101 hearings. Hirono’s questions overall demonstrate a good faith desire to get to the heart of the problems in search of real solutions.

As Stakeholders Await New 101 Bill, Responses to Tillis Underscore Need for Movement

Last month, we reported on the responses submitted to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) by panelists who participated in the June hearings on the state of U.S. patent eligibility, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by certain participants. While movement on the bill appears to be stalled for the time being, with reports that Tillis and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) have reinstituted the stakeholder roundtables that led up to the draft bill and hearings in the first place, it’s worth reviewing some of the responses to Tillis’ questions as the IP community waits for the next move. From David O. Taylor’s statistic that 62% of investors he surveyed said they were less likely to invest in companies where patent protection is not available, to Bob Armitage’s characterization of the draft bill’s revision to Section 112(f) as “perfect,” to the Cleveland Clinic’s statement that they are currently less likely to make the necessary investments to bring new advances in diagnostics to market, these responses are a reminder of what’s at stake.

How Senate IP Subcommittee Witnesses on Patent Eligibility Responded to Questions from Senator Blumenthal

Through the first half of June, a series of hearings on the state of patent eligibility in America held by the Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee rendered a variety of interesting exchanges regarding current U.S. subject matter eligibility under Section 101 relating to various important sectors of the U.S. economy. During the second hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) talked to panelists regarding his concerns about patent abuses in the pharmaceutical industry. During his period of questioning, Blumenthal grilled witnesses on the subject of whether the expansion of subject matter eligibility that would result from the proposed Section 101 draft text would exacerbate issues related to “patent thicketing,” a process by which drug companies attain large patent portfolios covering various aspects of a single drug formulation. Along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Senator Blumenthal entered a series of questions for the record to be answered by panelists attending the recent patent eligibility hearings. Although the questions don’t overtly single out the pharmaceutical industry, panelist answers largely indicate that this sector was on most people’s mind while responding.

Senate IP Subcommittee Hears Testimony from Iancu, Debates Hot-Button IP Issues

On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property held an oversight hearing of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office featuring testimony from and questioning of USPTO Director Andrei Iancu. While this hearing was relatively short by Congressional standards, the Senate IP Subcommittee explored recent changes instituted during Iancu’s tenure as USPTO Director and also got into the debate on pharmaceutical patents—a topic that has been front and center for both houses of Congress in recent weeks.

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu Discusses Patentability of Algorithms, PTAB Proceedings at Senate Judiciary Committee

Sen. Harris followed up by asking whether algorithms were mathematical representations of laws of nature. “You’re getting right to the heart of the issue,” Iancu said. What Iancu said after that should be a major breath of fresh air to inventors and patent owners frustrated by Section 101 validity issues in the wake of Alice and Mayo: “This is one place where I believe courts have gone off the initial intent. There are human-made algorithms, human-made algorithms that are the result of human ingenuity that are not set from time immemorial and that are not absolutes, they depend on human choices. Those are very different from E=mc2 and they are very different from the Pythagorean theorem, for example.”

A section-by-section look at the STRONGER Patents Act introduced in the Senate

In late June, the Support Technology and Research for Our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act of 2017 was introduced into the U.S. Senate by co-sponsors Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AZ), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). The bill’s purpose is “to strengthen the position of the United States as the world’s leading innovator by amending title 35, United States Code, to protect the property rights of the inventors that grow the country’s economy.”

Increasing Number of Women Patent Holders Can Spur U.S. Innovation, Grow the Economy

On Thursday, December 1, I attended the Innovation Alliance’s panel on Closing the Patent Gender Gap: How Increasing the Number of Women Patent Holders Can Spur U.S. Innovation and Grow the Economy. The panel, which was moderated by the Licensing Manager for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Jennifer Gottwald, Ph.D discussed the recent findings of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and their report on Equity in Innovation: Women Inventors and Patents that was released on November 29, 2016, which explores how women are “underrepresented” among patent holders as well as their relative success in being granted patents when they do apply for them.

A Good Opportunity to Reframe the Patent Reform Debate

Corrosive changes in patent law are undermining research university commercialization of patented, federally-funded basic research, endangering our nation’s innovation ecosystem. Mounting uncertainty repels private investment needed to convert new discoveries into innovative public benefits. Prominent investment destabilizers include: post development invalidation, big-tech’s efficient infringement, increased costs of patent enforcement, looming congressional patent reform, and foreign IP theft and price/access manipulation. Collectively these uncertainties can crumble our country’s world-class innovation ecosystem. We must use the limited time left to reverse that catastrophic outcome by seizing every opportunity to do so.