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Posts Tagged: "thomas jefferson"

Balancing Innovation and Competition: Thomas Jefferson’s View of Obviousness for Mechanical Inventions

You cannot get a patent for an invention if it would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time. This is as true today as it was at the founding of our nation. The reason for this rule is clear—the obviousness-bar is necessary to balance rewarding innovation with free and fair competition. The Supreme Court has observed, alluding to the Constitution’s authorization for federal patents, “[w]ere it otherwise, patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts.” KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 427 (2007). While we all agree that obvious inventions should not be patented, the devil is in the details on how to draw that line between the obvious and the nonobvious.

The Categorical Imperative for Innovation and Patenting

In his Categorical Imperative, Kant simplifies a moral argument position for an individual by asking a question: if you thought that your position or Statement would be Universal, i.e., applicable to all people, it would have the stance of a Categorical Imperative and thus you must do it. A proposed Categorical Imperative is the following Statement: creators should be protected against the unlawful taking of their creation by others… Allowing the free taking of ideas, content and valuable data, i.e., the fruits of individual intellectual endeavor, would disrupt capitalism in a radical way. The resulting more secretive approach in support of the above free-riding Statement would be akin to a Communist environment where the State owned everything and the citizen owned nothing, i.e., the people “consented” to this.

Nothing artificial about this intelligence: AI meets IP

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a plot point in futuristic sci-fi novels and films. In many aspects of our lives, machines are increasingly performing tasks previously handled by human intelligence. The current and potential applications of AI span a breadth of industries… Whether it’s patent search, online advertising or aviation, AI helps by acting as a multiplier for human function and creativity. As humans continue to innovate, producing an overwhelming amount of work which translates into an incredible amount of data, AI will be the key to decoding and uncovering necessary information.

‘Y’ Patent on Presidents Day? Jefferson’s Revenge

Under President Jackson America rebooted the patent system and started numbering patents from 01. The prior patents under the Jeffersonian registration system were re-designated with the letter X. Since the American Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, we now have a Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) within the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This PTAB has the authority to hold administrative trials for the purpose of stripping property rights from patent owners. Perhaps we should once again re-designate all issued patents, this time with the letter “Y” after they survive what is essentially a de novo redo by the PTO. Why “Y”? “Y bother to patent anymore”? Or perhaps “Y bother to spend the time and money for a lengthy and onerous examination process that seems to mean nothing”?

Why it is unnecessary to open the patent system

Chien argues that it is impossible for someone to donate their technology without fearing that another will get a patent on it and defeat the well-meaning donation to the public. Such a statement plays into urban mythology and preys upon those who are convinced that patent applicants can and do steal innovations and get patents instead of the rightful inventor. If that were actually true I’d be all in favor of opening up the patent system, whatever that means. Unfortunately, Chien builds her argument on a factually erroneous foundation.

The Day that Changed the World: April 10, 1790

To patent folks April 10, 1790 is the day that the earth shook, the heavens opened, and history was forever altered. 225 years ago, on April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the first version of the U.S. patent act. It was the third Act of Congress. Madison, through a series of letters back and forth between Jefferson, who was in France helping Ben Franklin secure French support for the nascent US revolution, persuaded Jefferson that a limited monopoly on an inventor’s own creations was a good idea.

For Whom the Bell Tolls: The US Patent System

An infringer can drag you through endless PTO rounds of attack, if necessary (taking into account the current stats, 1 round is likely enough!), and now the Judge will be equipped to create a series of high hurdles followed by summary execution. You think Tech Transfer has trouble with a Valley of Death attracting capital and enthusiasm now; just take their patents out and shoot them… that ought to help. Start-ups will have absolutely no basis in value except for a popularity contest. Whatever the IP is or was, is worthless, and can never be sold for any value because it can never be enforced. Take that ….tech transfer.

Setting the Record Straight: Patent Trolls vs. Progress

Mr. Kessler believes that Mr. Madison did not understand what he was doing or, at best, did not foresee the expense that patent litigation would involve in the 21st century. In fact, the founding fathers knew exactly what they were doing when writing the intellectual property clause into the U.S. Constitution. They were protecting the individual from the overwhelming power of large entities. They were enacting the very principles of American society for which we fought the Revolutionary War. Since 1790 the U.S. patent system has contributed to America becoming the most innovative society in the history of the world. Fundamentally changing the system in the ways suggested by Mr. Kessler would stifle that innovation.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is Hiring Patent Examiners

The fiscal year 2011 results are now in and the backlog of untouched patent applications as of the end of FY 2011 was 669,625, so there is plenty of work to be done and hiring more patent examiners has to be a part of the solution. But did you know that Albert Einstein was a patent examiner? How about Thomas Jefferson? Jefferson is largely regarded as the first U.S. patent examiner. Thomas Jefferson (then Secretary of State), along with Secretary of War Henry Knox, and Attorney General Edmund Randolph, made up the first patent examination panel for the United States of America. Einstein, on the other hand, worked for the Swedish Patent Office. It was while working for the Patent Office that Einstein came up with his theory of relativity.

First U.S. Patent Laws Were First to File, Not First to Invent

The reality is that from 1790 to 1836 patents were given to the first to file. Between 1836 and 1870 a panel of arbitrators would decide disputes between conflicting patents and patent applications, but were not required to grant the patent to the first and true inventor. Moreover, even with the passage of the Patent Act of 1870, the first act that specifically and unambiguously gives the Patent Office the authority to grant a patent to one who is not the first to file, the power to grant to the first to invent is conditional, not mandatory. This permissive language persists through the Patent Act of 1939, and ultimately into the regime we have today, which was ushered in by the 1952 Patent Act.

PTO Announces Austerity Measures in Face of Financial Crisis

The last Continuing Resolution (or CR) ran out on April 8, 2011, with a 11th hour agreement, which was ultimately passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama the following week. When the dust had settled the United States Patent and Trademark Office did not fare well at all, with $100 million be diverted from the Patent Office. That lead to the Office today announcing severe austerity measures because they don’t have the funds available to operate as a going concern.

Happy Anniversary: USPTO Celebrates 30 Years of Bayh-Dole

Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the most forward thinking patent legislation since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Patent Act in 1790, which was the third Act of Congress. Truthfully, the Bayh-Dole legislation is likely more forward thinking and inspired than even Jefferson’s work, given that the patent law written by Jefferson was merely an attempt to codify and improve upon the patent regime of Great Britain. The Bayh-Dole Act, which was enacted on December 12, 1980, has lead to the creation of 7,000 new businesses based on the research conducted at U.S. universities. As a direct result of the passage of Bayh-Dole countless technologies have been developed, including life saving cures and treatments for a variety of diseases and afflictions.

Groundhogs Day: Speculating on No Bilski Decision this Term

Last week when I wrote Broken Record, No Bilski for You Today, which was a fun combination of Soup Nazi meets LPs, I dangled the thought that perhaps the Supreme Court would not decide Bilski this term and might hold the case over. I said I refused to speculate at this point, but some of those commenting on that article asked me to engage in the speculation, as did others via e-mail and some that I have encountered in the industry since then. I still think it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will hold Bilski over, just because it is an extraordinarily rare occurrence, but with only two more decision days this term (i.e., Monday June 21 and Monday June 28), it seems appropriate to at least ponder the rare occurrence of the Supreme Court holding a case over, which the Court did in Marbury v. Madison and Brown v. Board of Education.