- Posts by Rory P. PheifferPartner
Rory P. Pheiffer is a partner in Nutter’s Intellectual Property Department and a member of both the Emerging Companies and Life Sciences and Medical Devices practice groups. His practice covers a broad spectrum of intellectual ...
Now that our readers have had their fill of turkey and all the fixings, they can gorge on an abundance of patent petitions data. Earlier this year, Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee announced a new public, user-friendly tool to obtain information about the abundance and success rate of petitions of every nature. The information generally includes:
- The average number of days a petition is pending before a decision is made;
- The grant rate for a petition; and
- The office within the USPTO that makes the decision on the petition.
Earlier this fall the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the “Streamlined, Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot for Small Entities” program (the Streamlined, Expedited program), which allows small and micro entities to expedite a single ex parte patent appeal pending before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Board). In order to take advantage of this program, a patent applicant must:
- Be a small or micro entity appellant;
- Have only a single ex parte patent appeal pending before the Board as of September 18, 2015;
- Have no claim involved in the appeal that can be subject to a rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 112;
- For each ground of rejection that is applied to more than one claim, select a single claim as representative and only discuss that claim in the appeal for that ground;
- Agree to waive any requested oral hearing; and
- Acknowledge that any oral hearing fees paid in connection with the appeal will not be refunded.
Summary: While the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) brought sweeping changes to the United States patent system, including moving to a first-to-file system and implementing and modifying a number of post-grant proceeding options, one less heralded change is the expansion of the third party preissuance submission process, by which a third party can submit prior art references in a pending U.S. patent application for consideration by the examiner. The revised preissuance submission process is significantly more robust and accessible than its pre-AIA counterpart. Key features of the process such as low cost, anonymity, and preclusion from estoppels make it a potentially attractive tool for challenging pending applications. However, a third party’s participation in the patent prosecution process is still limited and the submitted references may even inadvertently strengthen any patent that issues from the application in which the submission is filed. Accordingly, third parties should carefully consider the limitations and risks associated with the process before filing a preissuance submission.
In the beginning of October, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is extending two programs that patent applicants find useful in the later stages of prosecution—the After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP) and the Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) programs.
Recently the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, upheld the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) interpretation of 19 U.S.C. § 1337 to allow the ITC to prevent goods from being imported into the United States when the infringement does not occur until after importation. Although the panel was split 6-4, the primary practical justification for the majority’s decision stemmed from the determination that if the decision came out the other way, it would effectively make § 1337, and thus ITC cases, inapplicable to any induced infringement claims, as well as potentially all method claims. The case involved the importation of fingerprint scanning devices by the Korean company Suprema, Inc., which were then combined with software by Suprema’s American business partner Mentalix, Inc., before the scanners were actually sold in the U.S. The sole claim of the plaintiff Cross Match Technologies, Inc. that was at issue in the en banc appeal (claim 19) was directed to a method for capturing and processing a fingerprint image.
On July 30, 2015, Drew Hirshfeld was appointed to the position of Commissioner for Patents for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Mr. Hirshfeld reports directly to Michelle Lee, the Director of the USPTO, and according to the USPTO website, he “is responsible for managing and directing all aspects of this organization which affect administration of patent operations, examination policy, patent quality management, international patent cooperation, resources and planning, and budget administration.”
Nutter’s series on building a brand began with the selection of a mark and the process of formally protecting it via trademark registration. At this point in the series, the mark is registered and ready for use and investment to elevate it into a brand. Moving from a mere “mark” to a lauded “brand” takes us into the realm of marketing, as most of what makes a mark into a brand is the result of marketing investment around the mark. However, there are still many legal considerations to keep in mind as you begin using your mark and building it into your brand.
As discussed in the previous article in Nutter’s IP Branding Series, monitoring competitors’ use of your marks and marks possibly akin to your marks, and enforcing your rights in your marks against those competitors, is an important aspect of protecting and building your brand. Equally important is policing your own use of the mark, the use of your mark by licensed third parties, and the use of the mark by third parties that are neither competitors nor licensees. The graveyard of brands that were arguably too successful because the brand name became genericised is fraught with lessons to be learned in protecting the use of your mark. Dilution is also a concern, although it is becoming increasingly more difficult to successfully show that your mark is being diluted or tarnished.
Following the conclusion of trademark prosecution, your certificate of registration has arrived in the mail. Now what? Some lawyers still advise their clients to keep the certificate “in a safe place,” but one wonders how much longer paper certificates will even be prepared and issued. Maybe they will last as long as (paper) newspapers. After all, the information contained on the paper certificate is readily available online at the web site of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and either a link to the USPTO web site or a printout of the online record will serve the same evidentiary purpose as the paper certificate.
The articles in our earlier editions of the IP Bulletin addressed eight of the most commonly asked questions that arise when completing a U.S. trademark application filing. Once the application has been filed with the USPTO, substantive examination by an examining attorney from the USPTO will commence in due course. In stark contrast to the long waits experienced by patent applicants, the average time between application filing and the issuance of a first Office Action is only 2.8 months at the time of this publication. The average total pendency for a trademark application is only 10.3 months, which indicates that the application is either accepted or rejected by the examining attorney in less than a year.
Maximizing the protection and value of intellectual property assets is often the cornerstone of a business's success and even survival. In this blog, Nutter's Intellectual Property attorneys provide news updates and practical tips in patent portfolio development, IP litigation, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and licensing.