Israeli Patent Attorneys Urge Vidal to Reassign Reddit Examiner’s Application

“If some examiners are allowed to do what they want without consequence, we shouldn’t be surprised when they do just that in ways that discriminate based on prejudice and personal animus.”

Israeli patent attorneysRepresentatives of intellectual property provisional organizations in Israel, including the Israel Patent Attorneys Association and the Israeli AIPPI, recently wrote to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal to voice concerns relating to the anonymous examiner who several weeks ago took to Reddit to discuss examining the patent application of an unidentified Israeli defense contractor.

Reddit User Snoo_86350 posted to a patent examiner Reddit group explaining that they had been assigned to an application owned by an Israeli military company and that they had mixed feelings about allowing the application after “watching news about Columbia campus protests” and being unable to stop “thinking of Gaza Strip where about 2 million Palestinians live, can’t escape and bombarded.” (sic)

The Israeli attorneys wrote to thank Director Vidal for her “recent communication to the USPTO Examiners regarding concerns of potential partiality in the examination process.” This referenced communication to examiners is the leaked email from Director Vidal to all examiners in which Vidal explained that it is “our duty to uphold the laws, policies and values of our agency” and reminding examiners of systems in place should they feel “a personal challenge” is present, which presumably would be of the type that could make it difficult for an examiner to impartially exercise their duties.

Sensible Recommendations

The letter went on to thank Director Vidal for “swift action in addressing internal and external concerns” and her “commitment to fortifying the USPTO’s processes and internal quality checks.” But the attorneys also expressed continued concern “about the potential influence that individual political views may have on the examination of patent applications of Israel Applicants.”

Two very sensible recommendations are made in the letter:

  1. The Office should undertake measures to ensure that the specific patent application in question is examined without bias in accordance with applicable USPTO guidelines and legal requirements.
  2. The Office should determine whether statistics demonstrate that Israeli applications or inventors are given worse treatment by USPTO examiners.

“We believe that addressing this matter promptly and transparently is essential to uphold the integrity of the USPTO and ensure fairness for all applicants,” the letter explained.

Obviously, inserting political views or biases of any kind into the examination process is unacceptable, and contrary to U.S. patent laws and the Code of Federal Regulations, not to mention USPTO policy and guidance. The recommendations made by the representatives of Israels intellectual property community are sensible and warranted, and the minimum of what should be expected.

The overwhelming percentage of U.S. patent examiners are dedicated and hard-working. But based on what some examiners themselves tell applicants and patent practitioners, biases, philosophical positions, and personal views about what the law should be can sometimes play a more important role than what the law, rules and Office guidance commands. Having tolerated the inappropriate infusion of personal opinions and sentiment that is at times hostile toward patents for so long, it is hardly shocking that personal political views and prejudice are also at times inappropriately influencing decision-making. Simply stated, if some examiners are allowed to do what they want without consequence, we shouldn’t be surprised when they do just that in ways that discriminate based on prejudice and personal animus.

Identify and Reassign

What can the Office do? They can certainly identify this examiner if they want because we know from other posts on Reddit this individual is a primary examiner with approximately one year experience as a primary and they have in their docket an application from an Israeli company that combines “real battlefield experience with technological innovation.” We also know that this examiner is assigned to an Art Unit that does not typically examine this type of application but has run out of cases to examine and has been assigned this application outside their area of expertise. There are other insights available to narrow down who this examiner is, although those mentioned already should easily be sufficient.

But what can the Office do even if they identify this examiner and the application at issue? At a bare minimum, the application must be reassigned to an examiner who will follow the law and not allow biases and prejudice to influence the examination process. How much else the Office can do is uncertain.

Even the examiner found to have defrauded the Office by submitting 730 hours of unworked time was not fired but instead allowed to resign. Between the examiner union and HR protections afforded all government workers, separating an examiner from the Office after the probationary period is over is virtually impossible. In fact, the only circumstances that ever seem to lead to examiner termination relate to missing production goals or because the examiner has engaged in clandestine representation of clients before the Office.

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Author: Feverpitch
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17 comments so far. Add my comment.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 31, 2024 05:06 pm

    Correction: ALL examiners and their SPEs are allowed to do what they want without serious consequences (at most a slap on wrist) and that is even true if the PTAB tells them to stop doing it! The problem comes down to NO government employees having real accountability and almost all enjoying ‘qualified immunity’ and legal representation by taxpayers. That just begs for all kinds of bad actors, corruption and even fraud.

    Don’t think examiners need to get special security clearances or are ever required to take lie detector tests! So how does the USPTO ever know if it has any spies working there (maybe several at a time)? Does it even care? Does Congress? Does the FBI, CIA or DHS ever conduct investigations there? It’s ‘one stop shopping’ for the latest in new technology and products, including new military technology. How’s it even possible that the PTO has NEVER had spies there, that some type of fraud or corruption has never occurred there, or that bribes have never been paid to anyone working there?!

    Seems impossible, since even the Pentagon has had spies & has been hacked. Not that hard, especially with the PTO’s employees now all working from home! How can you even HAVE ‘any security’ under those circumstances? It’s another ‘absurdity’ there! I’m pretty sure China & North Korea must have hacked them many times now (especially using the highly specialized and effective Israeli software that they have for doing that)! We’re just just never told about it! Congress may not even know. Shouldn’t someone ask them about all this? Is there even any point to IP if it can easily be stolen even before it gets close to getting any patent protection? Doesn’t seem to make much sense anymore.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 28, 2024 02:51 pm

    Shouldn’t examiners and or their SPEs get fired much more often than they are (if ever), if they do things that violate ethics, much less the law? Shouldn’t they be held to the same ethical standards that lawyers are (even if seldom enforced there either)? Should there also be a place where the public can go to file complaints against examiners & SPEs and see the number of complaints filed against each and also allow the assignment of examiners of your preference based on their record and number of PTAB appeals?

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 28, 2024 11:58 am

    @ Gene

    Thanks for posting my ‘rant’, lol! But I think it’s a rather important one, especially since AI is coming to take most of our jobs, possibly including invention too (which in that case might be a good thing too).

    And stay tuned for a possible lawsuit that will be aimed at exposing corruption and fraud (RICO fraud) at the USPTO. Will probably be first filed in STATE court though, not federal court (for various reasons having little to do with IP, just questions of fraud). This could also be followed up with potential criminal charges too, if enough evidence for that is produced in discovery.

    I believe we now have at least 15 years worth of evidence and ‘proof’ of our allegations of ‘intentional fraud’ committed to benefit and protect large corporations and monopolies from competition. This would happen ‘just before’ ALL our term would expire, after which we’ll no doubt be allowed ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘broad patents’ so that at least China and other countries could then use our multi-million dollar technologies, for free! Brilliant U.S. IP policy, eh??? And we bothered to keep our applications secret – for WHAT?!

    Some people may still hold out hope our Congress and the USPTO isn’t made up of totally stupid, clueless and corrupt people (like MTG)! We don’t. China will soon kick our ass ‘in everything’, thanks in large part to our corrupt and incompetent PTO! How I wish we could get simple 1800’s patent laws back!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 27, 2024 10:31 pm

    @ F22strike

    But to be ‘denied’ a patent, you have to first APPLY for one! That can easily cost $15K, $20K or even $50K, or more, with continuations after a first denial, not to mention 1000’s of hours an inventor may work on their invention … all for nothing (how much is THAT worth)?!

    Patent lawyers on the other hand don’t work for nothing. They don’t ‘volunteer’ to work on behalf of an inventor until they are awarded a ‘good’ and ‘strong’ patent (at least very few do). Soon there will NEVER be pro bono lawyers that’ll agree to that, or even agree to issue a partial ‘refund’, should a patent be denied or repeatedly denied! Why should they? That’s why most inventors go broke (and often have their lives destroyed and their marriages ended), while those who chose to become patent lawyers (or any kind of lawyer) do quite well in life!

    Society actively and intentionally disincentivizes people from becoming successful innovators, and incentivizes people to ‘exploit’ creative people instead! It’s why we end up with people like Donald Trump, who start out rich and then only get richer! He’s one of the most famous ‘exploiters’ and cheaters of lower class people in the world (and lost of people seem to LIKE and ADMIRE that now).

    If anything, the government should pay back ‘competent’ and/or ‘highly trained’ inventors, who just strike out a small percentage of the time, or who are able to pass a science, invention & IP ‘competency test’. If you can do that, the government should PAY YOU to become a full-time and official ‘Professional U.S. Inventor’, receiving nominal government support until you become financially successful & self-sufficient (just like all patent lawyers are). Good and talented American inventors would then get a stipend to keep inventing as a safety net for them. Without such safety nets, there will soon cease to be anymore independent inventors, at a time when they are rapidly declining and we will need them more and more to compete with China and other countries, who MAY subsidize or richly reward their inventors in the future. China has no problem helping their companies & individuals succeed, if it comes to that! They might even greatly streamline the patent process, make it much cheaper and much faster (maybe allowing patents in weeks or a few months) and use AI to do all that (replacing ‘human’ examiners & even patent lawyers). I would like the U.S. to do that too and to do it FIRST (not last). Actually hope China is listening to this suggestion, so as to put a fire under the U.S. Congress to insist that the USPTO do this FIRST! In the 21st century, we should have a 21st century ‘system’ for protecting IP, that is equitable & fair to all people, not just the rich and powerful. Who would argue with that goal?

    We won’t be able to get ‘fair’ treatment with biased, overworked, incompetent and UNCARING ‘humans’ anymore! That should be obvious. Humans (including judges) are notoriously ‘unfair’ and even corruptible, by nature! Computers DON’T CARE who your are, or how much money you have (or don’t have)! They could do all patent examination anonymously and search not only patents but ‘all relevant knowledge on Earth’, in any language, analyze and rank its relevance to a particular invention, and do so ‘for free’, 24/7, including weekends and holidays, without fatigue or complaint and ‘best of all’ do all of that in HOURS (at most) not YEARS! It could render its conclusion as to patentability and validity of claims in minutes, provide detailed reasoning as to its conclusions, together with all references relied on and even suggest the BEST and BROADEST legal claims language that an inventor could submit, in order to get the best protection for their invention (without requiring 10-100 applications to do so).

    Those who would make fun of the above suggestion (& prediction) should maybe read this prediction by Elon Musk (who I typically disagree with). Those who think THEIR jobs can never be replaced should also read it. Ironically, among the last to still have a profession and be paid the most out of any profession (while also getting the last laugh) could turn out to be ‘independent inventors’! Ready for ‘patent lawyer’ jobs to become an unpaid ‘hobby’ activity (or game pitting humans against AI)? lol

    https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/ai-will-eliminate-all-jobs-jobs-will-remain-like-a-hobby-elon-musk/ar-BB1mXpLr

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 27, 2024 08:56 pm

    @ F22strike

    Remember saying this? I 100% agree and there may soon be legal action concerning all of this.

    “The US patent system is clearly broken. Big-tech bought off Congress to get the AIA passed in the first place and it has continued to lobby Congress to ensure that there will be no fix.
    The voting public couldn’t care less about the health of the US patent system. Big-tech will make sure that the recently introduced legislation intended to fix the out-of-control abuse of IPRs and the rouge PTAB will either not be enacted, or watered down so much as to make it useless. CEOs and general counsels of US companies will pare back their US patent application filings substantially. Start-ups won’t get funded since they have no way to get a return on investment. It will take longer for foreign companies to get the message that they are, in most cases, wasting their money pursuing and maintaining US patents. The USPTO will eventually raise fees to compensate for the lower rate of filing of US patent applications and the significant decline in the rate of maintenance of issued US patents. The US economy and the standard of living of its citizens will suffer due to the broken US patent system. See Caltech v. Broadcom, Apple, et al. for a poignant example of the inability to enforce US patents. Seven years and 17 IPRs against Caltech’s Wi-Fi patents and still counting.”

    The USPTO is corrupt has has been for at least 20-30 years now, even before the AIA made things 10x worse for most American inventors. And, even longer than that when it comes to women inventors. They should definitely file a massive ‘civil rights’ lawsuit against the PTO & seek 10’s of billions in damages from them! US taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay that and MANY heads would role there as a result as well! Some PTO employees could also go to jail for a long time, if proven! Including any examiners & SPEs involved in discriminating against them, along with unknown higher ups responsible for the ‘unconstitutional’ SAWS program and other ‘secret’ programs that still exist there, which patent lawyers never did anything about, even after learning about them. Are THEY all cowards? Is they why they never did?

    About time such a case is brought, including if necessary before the SCOTUS! We need to root out all fraud & corruption at the PTO, that is taking place ‘on behalf of big corporations & monopolies’ who are not even satisfied with the AIA yet! They want all independent inventors and ‘upstart companies’ rendered completely ‘extinct’ now, so they won’t have anymore infringement lawsuits to deal with, or even competition from smaller entities! They want any & all innovation to be done by them and no one else. They refuse to pay licensing fees to smaller entities (but have to to larger ones) and don’t want to be bothered with the expense & time of litigation (which is not even financially possible anymore for smaller entities – another thing they rely on to always win now).

    Lots of unlawful and ‘dirty tricks” taking place at the PTO now, mainly because Congress doesn’t seem to care, or ‘doesn’t have the balls’ to take on the USPTO (and neither do patent attorneys), since it would mean ALSO taking on the large corporations & monopolies that mainly fund them and now ‘own’ them AND Congress! We need to go back to a ‘government funded PTO’ that will again be impartial to the size, power and identity of invention filers! We need to go back to what the Founders wanted when it came to IP rights! What we have now is a ‘tortured abomination’ of that original intent that no longer even bears any resemblance to it. The possibility of another Bell, Tesla or 100’s others like them, being able to make it in America today, is as likely as gold falling from the sky!

  • [Avatar for Joachim C Martillo]
    Joachim C Martillo
    May 26, 2024 10:26 am

    Has anyone been able to deduce which patent application is the cause of this controversy?

    The description makes me think of an invention that is related to technology of war games or of war simulation.

  • [Avatar for Joachim Martillo]
    Joachim Martillo
    May 26, 2024 07:40 am

    While the world watches the Zionist Holocaust against Gazans, Zionists are desperate to deflect attention from this mass-murder genocide with false allegations of antisemitism and fake anti-Semitic incidents.

    Without some corroboration, I can’t take this anonymous Reddit post very seriously. I can’t help remembering the debunked story of 40 beheaded babies, and the description of the invention seems ridiculous.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 25, 2024 02:24 pm

    @ Julie Burke

    See my comments regarding SAWS too. But it goes far beyond that now (and we have the proof). The PTO now has a new, EVEN MORE, ‘super-secret’ policy that replaces SAWS, goes much farther and is now ‘unwritten’ altogether (so even harder to uncover). It’s being done on behalf of large corporations & monopolies, who are STILL not satisfied with what they got in the ‘traitorous’ AIA, after paying off Congress to get it.

    The PTO is now just a self-paid ‘business’. It now being run like the Mafia. Influence over its decisions can now be bought by the highest bidders. It used to be taxpayer supported and decisions had to be made by Congress. Not anymore. This is what happens when business interests and wealthy corporations take over everything and nothing is equitable anymore! The desires of the Founders go out the window. Things don’t have to be fair anymore. Just goes back to ‘survival of the wealthiest’, not the most deserving. The postal service will probably be next. Then law enforcement. And then someone like Elon Musk can just own it all (and us too)! lol

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 25, 2024 02:01 pm

    @F22strike

    The USPTO is actually BLOCKING (or trying to) tons of ‘small entity’ inventions that ‘ironically’ they deem to be too broad, too valuable and too easily enforceable if issued patents, all to protect their best, most regular and highest paying ‘customers’ from competition or demands for licensing fees (i.e large existing corporations and monopolies – especially the famous ones). That’s what needs to be investigated now. The PTO just REFUSES to allow broad patents anymore, especially to small fry inventors who could get rich if they did. Can’t have that in America anymore! Need to protect the ‘already wealthy’ at all costs!

    I say ‘screw that’ new PTO policy!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 25, 2024 01:53 pm

    How about when they do that ‘under orders’ – for 15 YEARS & counting – solely in order to block a patent having broad claims & significance that would have major impacts on a technology field and existing corporations? How about when they do THAT – under ‘orders’ from higher ups – regardless if the claims satisfy all statutory requirements from their beginning and regardless of whether or not ALL POSSIBLE searches and 103 objections (based on even absurd combinations) have been exhausted (at least 5x over)? What then? What should be done about such ‘secret policies’ (like SAWS was)? Who should be investigated for THAT, Gene? Who should do the investigation of THAT, Gene? The FBI, maybe? Congress maybe? Isn’t it about time SOMEONE does?

    If proven, wouldn’t the above just plain constitute ‘RICO fraud’ by the USPTO? How long has this been going on? Isn’t 15+ years too long for the PTO to keep fighting a single patent, especially given that ‘continuations’ now CAN’T extend a 20 year term on first filing (so in theory a patent could issue ONLY when its term has is down to ZERO)? Would this have happened 100 years ago? Are some of the employees at the USPTO just plain corrupt in putting up with this, if not deciding to do it on their own (or at the ‘demand’ of their SPE)?

    How high up does this ‘unwritten policy’ of BLOCKING very valuable patents to ‘small entities’ go and does Congress even know and approve of it? We need to find out. How many inventors have been DEFRAUDED out of potentially millions & even billions of dollars by this despicable & intentional practice of ‘perpetual denials’? Especially women inventors! Maybe THEY should file a massive class action ‘civil rights’ suit, to find out (and then get 10’s of billions in compensation from the government)?

    Hasn’t anyone else noticed this? Haven’t any attorneys noticed this over the last 15-25 years? We have! It didn’t happen in the past! Certainly didn’t happen in the time of Bell, Tesla & Edison!

    So, could the PTO be sued for ‘RICO fraud’ & assisting in ‘unfair competition’ and also ‘interfering with fair and free trade’? Could they be sued in a STATE court first, where civil RICO can’t be removed, especially if the PTO has an office there? This would be an interesting case, wouldn’t it? Could also be appealed to a state supreme court as necessary & then the SCOTUS if need be. All while ‘discovery’ would be required, that could reveal details & names of all those involved in the SAWS program too, including the name of all the inventors affected by it as well. We don’t have that information yet. I like that idea!

  • [Avatar for Tomasz Barczyk]
    Tomasz Barczyk
    May 23, 2024 02:01 pm

    Super interesting article. Thank you, Gene!

  • [Avatar for F22strike]
    F22strike
    May 23, 2024 12:22 pm

    The USPTO is unwittingly doing independent inventors, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, a favor in denying them patent protection. The same is probably true even for large corporations.

    Except in rare circumstances, such as some patents claiming pharmaceuticals, US patents have become worthless. This is due to: 1) big Tech lobbying Congress to create the IPR process through which 90% of granted patents later have their infringed claims revoked upon the infringer paying the USPTO an exorbitant (but cost saving) fee; 2) anti-patent rulings by the SCOTUS and the CAFC; and 3) IMO, anti-patent bias and corruption, at the USPTO.

    Even in the unlikely event that an invention achieves commercial success, it will be copied by competitors who now follow the widely adopted “efficient infringer” business model. The infringed claims of the patent will eventually be cancelled in an IPR proceeding. Millions in R & D, marketing, and legal expenses incurred by the patent owner will go down the drain. Hundreds of hours of executive time dealing with “defending” the patent will have been wasted.

    The US patent system is broken. The voting public doesn’t know, or care, about this looming disaster for their own economic wellbeing. Congress therefore yields to the lobbying of big Tech which blocks any meaningful fix of the broken US patent system. By way of example, Microsoft has a monopoly on PC operating systems. Its worst fear is that some upstart might threaten its monopoly with a better operating system protected by US patents with claims that cannot be cancelled AND with claims that can be enforced with an injunction.

  • [Avatar for Pro Say]
    Pro Say
    May 22, 2024 08:55 pm

    “The letter went on to thank Director Vidal for ‘swift action in addressing internal and external concerns’ and her ‘commitment to fortifying the USPTO’s processes and internal quality checks.'”

    Nearly feel off my chair.

    Anyone believing Lee … er, um … sorry, Vidal will actually do the right thing here (or anything at all to help inventors and patent owners), I’ve got some great swampland in Florida I want to sell you. Cheap. Real cheap.

  • [Avatar for Night Writer]
    Night Writer
    May 22, 2024 05:47 pm

    So unprofessional. Doesn’t surprise me. In my opinion, the Director’s new statutory double patent rules are motivated by the industry that doesn’t want patent rights and not by her duties as the director. Industry capture. Remember too that Lee now works for Google who benefited greatly from Lee weakening patents. How can you expect examiners to be professional when the Director is not. The whole country is crumpling. Industry capture where the government employee goes and works for the industry and magically is worth $30 million a few years later.

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 22, 2024 04:47 pm

    Seems relevant at this point to revisit the TC1600 “team building” exercise that involved GS15 and SES level personnel – including the corps-wide SAWS administrator who’s currently assigned to OPQA – gleefully deciding to toss the Jewish rabbi overboard to drown since, his work was of no importance, he was sure to go to heaven anyway and if he was truly religious, he’d commit suicide for the good of the group.

    Today, it’s likely that USPTO leadership/management is most unhappy with Snoo_86350 for having said the quiet part out loud.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/julie-burke-492264120_the-lifeboat-game-morality-test-activity-7143042189567082496-niIn?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 22, 2024 04:36 pm

    Seems relevant to revisit the SAWS program which picked winners and losers based upon subjective attributes of both the inventions and inventors.

    Note in ~2011, the SAWS program was expanded to include:

    7. Applications claiming inventions that include explicit recitations of race, ethnicity, origin, or other prescribed populations.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/julie-burke-492264120_excerpts-from-tc1600-saws-memo-2008-activity-7194729200262524929-mLvS?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 22, 2024 04:30 pm

    This seems like an appropriate time to re-visit former APJ William Smith’s 2014 congressional testimony pertaining to USPTO’s telework program: ensuring oversight, accountability and quality.

    Footnote 11 on page 11: “There was a saying during my tenure at the PTO that a patent examiner never got fired for doing bad quality work as long as they did a lot of it.”

    https://docs.house.gov/meetings/GO/GO00/20141118/102756/HHRG-113-GO00-Wstate-SmithW-20141118.pdf

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