Perhaps after their favorite theory was blown apart again, as it has been every time it’s been trotted out over the past 20 years, the critics of the Bayh-Dole Act learned a painful lesson. Their carefully constructed thesis that the law contains a hidden provision allowing the government to set prices on successfully commercialized products has been summarily rejected by every Democratic or Republican Administration which has considered it. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result. But that didn’t keep the proponents from refiling the same petition which was rejected three times in the Obama-Biden Administration. So once again, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) denied the request that it should “march-in” under the law against the prostate cancer drug, Xtandi, because critics felt it is not “reasonably priced.” Apparently, the petitioners thought that the fourth time would be the charm. Now they know better. And this time, NIH included a subtle, but fatal blow to attempts to go down this path again.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) publishes the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) (currently electronically, but spanning thousands of pages in printed form) to provide examiners and patent practitioners with guidance on the patent statute, USPTO regulations, and patent prosecution practices and procedures. USPTO regulations are promulgated pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which requires a process that includes publication of proposed rules and a public comment period and are binding on the public. The 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) strengthened the USPTO’s already-considerable policymaking powers. In a recent law review article addressing the USPTO’s post-AIA policymaking powers, William Neer recognized the USPTO’s AIA-empowered potential to engage in retroactive substantive rulemaking and determined that the USPTO promulgated more rules post-AIA than it did pre-AIA. This article discusses substantive MPEP procedural changes implemented retroactively by the USPTO.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sent out an email alert on March 16, 2023 about its transition to eGrants for patents. This change to electronic patent grants as opposed to paper patents is in accord with the USPTO’s continued changes to an all-electronic and no paper system. Prior changes have included all-electronic office actions, and of course the USPTO’s EFS-Web system, in which filings are made electronically with the USPTO. One important thing to realize is that a patent may grant very soon after payment of the issue fee, so if the Applicant desires to have a continuation, continuation-in-part (CIP), and/or divisional application filed (all such applications are referred to as “continuing applications”), they should really do so before or at the same time the issue fee is paid, in order to maintain the pendency with the to-be-issued patent.
At today’s hearing in Jack Daniel’s v. VIP Products, the U.S. Supreme Court Justices suggested to both sides that there might be an easier way out on the facts of this particular case than either party is proposing, but weighed the need to overturn the Second Circuit’s test in Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994 (2d Cir. 1989), which some of the Justices characterized as injecting unnecessary confusion. Though the Court seemed equally concerned about retaining a way for defendants making clearly parodic use of a mark to get out of litigation quickly, which Rogers is intended to do, they questioned both sides about why in this case they couldn’t either find for Jack Daniel’s by just saying that VIP is clearly using a source identifier on a commercial product, or remand to the district court to say they failed to properly weigh the parody or proximity factors of the product, for instance. Overall, the Justices seemed skeptical that the product in question represents a non-commercial use.
Litigation finance trends, Supreme Court decisions on patent enablement and copyright fair use, the launch of the Unified Patent Court, more cases dealing with the intersection of IP law and AI— and continued uncertainty. These are some of the key issues to watch in 2023, according to the readers below. As we do each December, IPWatchdog asked its IP community what they will be paying attention to as we enter the new year; hopefully their responses will help prepare you for what’s ahead.
On Friday, February 3, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal issued an order in the ongoing Director Review of OpenSky v. VLSI, restoring OpenSky as a party to the inter partes review (IPR) and awarding reasonable attorney fees to VLSI as sanctions against OpenSky. Vidal had dismissed OpenSky from the proceedings in December after first merely relegating OpenSky to be a “silent understudy” to the proceedings. In Friday’s order, following briefing from OpenSky and VLSI on her order to show cause as to why OpenSky shouldn’t have to pay compensatory damages to VLSI, Vidal held that VLSI was entitled to attorney fees for the time it spent addressing OpenSky’s abusive behavior, “including the Director Review process in its entirety.”
Taking a look back at the previous year of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) always affords an interesting view of the state of technologies being developed around the world. At the end of each calendar year, IPWatchdog puts together a list of the Top 10 most interesting patents granted by the USPTO during the previous 12 months. Many of this year’s choices involve major patent or IP stories from 2022, including our top selection, which claims a technology implicating artificial intelligence creatorship issues. Other patents selected for this year’s list protect advancements representing our society’s increased reliability on virtual environments for gaming and even business activities. We hope you enjoy this Top 10 list, and feel free to leave suggestions for honorable mentions in the comments to this article. Here’s to a happy and innovative 2023!
In early March, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the final batch of comments for its “Request for Comments on USPTO Initiatives to Ensure the Robustness and Reliability of Patent Rights.” In total, the USPTO received 227 comments, after extending the deadlines for submissions twice. There were some concerns that the repeated extensions of the submission deadline created uncertainty. When IPWatchdog reached out to the USPTO, the organization had no official comment other than to note that a number of stakeholders had asked for more time to finalize and submit comments, and the Office wanted to hear from as many parties as possible.
Standard-documentation from online sources maintained by standard setting organizations (SSOs) is usually an important source of relevant prior art. Such prior art can include technical specifications, technical reports, change requests, liasioning statements, work item descriptions, study documents, recommendations and RFCs. However, accessing this documentation available in SSO websites is often not easy.
The U.S. Supreme Court today heard oral arguments in Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc., which asks the Court to consider whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit erred in applying the Lanham Act extraterritorially to Abitron’s foreign sales, “including purely foreign sales that never reached the United States or confused U.S. consumers.” The Justices struggled with the appropriate reach of the Lanham Act and whether reversing the Tenth Circuit would require overruling Steele v. Bulova Watch Co., 344 U.S. 280, 282-285 (1952), but overall seemed to be considering the need for a new or narrowed test to account for the realities of modern commerce.
As each year dwindles to a close, IPWatchdog puts together a list of Iconic Toys and Games that have become wild commercial successes, thanks in large part to the patents, trademarks and copyrights protecting the commercial sale of those products. This year, we’re taking a more modern approach by looking at games and toys that are currently popular, rather than honoring those treasured gifts from Christmases past. From Roblox to Activision Blizzard to Crazy Aaron’s, this year’s list of iconic toys and games includes some of the most popular entertainment properties for children and adults. Taking a look at the IP rights underpinning many of those properties gives us an interesting perspective on recent developments in both technological improvements as well as new branding for famed superhero characters.
Venable LLP’s Patent Prosecution and Counseling group seeks a patent agent with a background in mechanical or aerospace engineering to join the group in the Washington, D.C., New York, NY, Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, or San Francisco, CA office. This is a full-time, permanent position. The ideal candidate holds undergraduate and/or graduate degrees in mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering or computer science. Strong preference for previous experience as a patent examiner and for PTO registration. Industry experience is a plus. The qualified candidate has one to three years of patent prosecution experience at USPTO or in a law firm setting. Candidates must have excellent academic credentials, strong writing skills, and sharp analytical ability.
January 17 marks the first day in the tenure of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) new Commissioner for Patents, Vaishali Udupa. Udupa, whose appointment was announced in December, comes to the USPTO after serving the last seven years as the head of litigation for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where she was responsible for heading HPE’s intellectual property litigation and formulating case strategies. She replaces Acting Commissioner for Patents Andrew Faile, who served in that role since January 2021 and who will be retiring from the agency after 33 years upon Udupa’s installation as commissioner. Well-known within the patent community as an advocate for diversity and representation issues, Udupa joins the USPTO as a relative outsider. She comes in as the first full Commissioner for Patents since the retirement of Drew Hirshfeld, who served with the agency for two decades before he was first appointed to Commissioner in 2015. Those familiar with recent Patent Office history will recall that Commissioners immediately preceding Hirshfeld included Bob Stoll, Peggy Focarino, John Doll and Nick Godici. Stoll, Focarino, Doll and Godici each served in various capacities at the Office, including in high-level policy and regulatory positions, for more than a generation prior to becoming Commissioner.
This is the best way to stay informed. We send a daily roundup of our latest news, press releases, and events.Get Email Updates