Posts in IPWatchdog Articles

Attorney Marketing and Brand Building 101

Brand building seems like a rather easy task for companies that offer tangible products, but as attorneys, all you have to sell is your time, so things can be a little bit different. You need to also factor in that in many, if not most, instances clients feel they are represented by an individual. Sure, the firm identity is important, but the relationship is with the individual. Thus, for attorneys it is especially important to always keep in mind that You Are Your Brand! As with any industry, you cannot simply create some ads, a website and some social media profile pages and expect people to come to you. Rather, clear goals need to be outlined and a strategy for reaching those goals should be mapped out.

Patent Reform: Expanded Prior Users Rights is a Bad Idea

A prior user rights defense prevents those who have previously used the patented invention from being infringers. In many parts of the world there are strong prior user rights, which allow those who keep innovation as a trade secret hidden away from the public to later use those trade secrets as a defense to a patent infringement lawsuit. You can’t sue me for patent infringement because I have been hiding, using that innovation you patented as a trade secret. So the party that disseminates the information for the benefit of the public loses in favor of the party that kept the innovation a closely guarded secret. This has never struck me as fair, a good idea or even in keeping with the Constitutional purpose for patents.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property in China

The China Road Show is a series of two-day China IP events that the USPTO is hosting across the country to help educate businesses about the realities of piracy and counterfeiting—which cost the American economy approximately $250 billion annually. Day 1 is largely devoted to understanding the patent, trademark and copyright laws in China, as well as enforcement of those rights. Day 2 of the seminar will address § 337 Infringement Investigations by the International Trade Commission (ITC), the challenges presented by counterfeiting and piracy on the Internet and the development of global IP strategies even for small businesses.

Patent Reform in the House. Demagoguing of First to File?

I think those that are against first to file are really most worked up about the loss of the across the board grace period for the statutory bar. If the problem is with the grace period let’s talk about the grace period. Misdirection and demagoguing the first to file issue has lead to the weakness of the arguments being exposed and the likelihood that no meaningful debate on the real issue — the grace period — will be possible. I’m here to tell you that those who are making a big deal out of the loss of the ability to swear behind with 131 affidavits are making a mountain out of an ant hill; not even a mole hill.

Intellectual Property Insurance: What Attorneys Need to Know

Many clients are unaware that the commercial general liability insurance (CGL) policy they hold is not fully protecting their most valuable assets, the ability to sell their products. And, most IP attorneys do not know that IP insurance is available to help fund their client’s IP litigation risks. If a client’s IP becomes involved in litigation, specialized IP Insurance products will help ensure that there are funds available to pay the associated legal expenses. Without specific IP Insurance in place, the client may be left with a less desirable way of protecting their IP assets.

Close but Not Identical, House Unveils Patent Reform Bill

Late in the afternoon on Thursday, March 24, 2011, the purported patent reform bill from the House of Representatives began circulating. The House patent reform bill is largely identical to the Senate version – S. 23. There are some differences, one rather major difference, but the Senate first to file provisions remain intact. The House bill would still grant the Patent Office the right to use all of the funds collected, as did S. 23. The House bill also would grant the United States Patent and Trademark Office fee setting authority, as did S. 23, but then curiously goes on to set the fees that the USPTO charges. It seems unclear why on one hand you would set the fees and in another section of the bill say that the USPTO can vary any fees defined.

Google Patents the Google Doodle

Earlier this week Google received U.S. Patent No. 7,912,915, titled “Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site.” The patent covers what is known as a “Google Doodle.” The patent application was originally filed back in 2001, and due to Patent Office delay Google was awarded a whopping 2,618 days of patent term extension.

Amici Support i4i at Supreme Court in Microsoft Patent Case

What becomes clear in reading these briefs (and the excerpts below) is that despite what you might have heard to the contrary the Supreme Court has already previously addressed this issue and has done so in support of a standard appreciably higher than the mere preponderance supported by Microsoft. The argument of those in support of Microsoft has been that at least some Circuit Courts of Appeal had a lower presumption of validity prior to when the Federal Circuit announced the clear and convincing standard of proof and thereby settled patent law. While that may be true it seems abundantly clear that law setting a preponderance standard was directly in conflict with the clear and unambiguous Supreme Court precedent directly on point. In fact, there is even Supreme Court precedent directly on point saying that more than a mere preponderance is necessary even when the prior art has not been previously considered. So perhaps i4i and the amici, including the U.S. government by and through the Solicitor General and the USPTO General Counsel Bernie Knight can convince the Supreme Court not to overrule its own prior decisions and keep an appropriately high standard.

Federal Circuit Orders Transfers Verizon out of Eastern Texas

With respect to Verizon et al, the petitioners moved to transfer the case to the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, which is approximately 150 miles away from the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. The motion was initially denied by a Magistrate Judge. In his decision, the Magistrate agreed with the petitioners that the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division would likely be more convenient for the parties and the witnesses, and he even noted that a number of party witnesses resided within 100 miles of Dallas and no witness resided within 100 miles of Marshall, Texas. Let’s let that sit for a moment, shall we? It was determined that the Northern District would be more convenient for the parties and witnesses and that not a single witness lived within 100 miles of the Eastern District of Texas, yet the motion to transfer was denied?

Good, Bad & Ugly: Truth About Provisional Patent Applications

There is a terrible injustice done by those non-attorney and/or non-agent services, and it amazes me that individuals are so ready to believe inventors and scientists who have a handful of patents and haven’t read many (if any) cases. You go to an experiences accountant for tax issues, when you feel sick you go to an experienced doctor, if your car breaks down you want an experienced mechanic, yet when you have an innovation that you dream could be worth many thousands, or millions, of dollars you go to an inventor who has little or no experience drafting a patent application? At which point exactly does that start to sound like a good idea? After your third martini at lunch?

What Happened to the Obama Open Source Initiative?

President Obama reportedly asked McNealy to prepare a report on how the federal government could employ open source software, but as yet, some 26 months later there has been no mention of the report or across the board government adoption of open source software. The fact that open source software is given away to be used freely demonstrates the problem with finding a sustainable business model and may explain why the Obama Administration hasn’t yet presented the report on how the government can use open source software to decrease costs. You really have a hard time staying in business and focusing on the research, development and product advancements when the product you offer is given away to be used free, or the underlying code that makes it work can be copied and used by competitors without consequences.

Patent Truth and Consequence: File First Even in the U.S.

The date of invention relates to your conception. This is true whether you are engaging in an interference proceeding seeking to obtain a claim instead of another who is also seeking the claim, or you are attempting to demonstrate that you can get behind a reference used by an examiner because you have an earlier date of invention. The hallmark of a first to invent system is that those who file second can obtain a patent under very strictly limited scenarios. A byproduct of a first to invent system is that if the examiner finds prior art you can “swear behind” the reference using a 131 affidavit to demonstrate that reference is not prior art for your invention. In both the interference context and the 131 affidavit context there needs to be proof of conception that will satisfy the patent laws.

Tricks & Tips for Describing An Invention in a Patent Application

The back bone, however, is made up of many smaller bones. For example, there are seven cervical vertebrae in the necks of all mammals, and these bones together make up a portion of the back bone. Therefore, a more complete description of the backbone would point out that the neck is a part of the backbone. An even more complete description might include saying cervical vertebrae 1 (i.e., C1, which is a part of the neck) is connected to cervical vertebrae 2 (i.e., C2) and so on. The point is that the more description you provide the better, but you absolutely must have at least the big picture overview of how everything fits together, and how to make and use the invention. Therefore, be sure that you have disclosed with as much detail as possible how all the pieces of your invention connect, work together, function and interrelate.

PTO Makes Accommodations Relating to Japan Catastrophe

The USPTO is offering assistance in the form of flexibility on deadlines to the full extent allowable under our laws to Japanese applicants. However, because this catastrophic event occurred outside the United States and did not result in a postal service interruption of the United States Postal Service, the USPTO has no authority to designate a postal service emergency as authorized by 35 U.S.C. 21(a). The fact that the USPTO cannot declare a postal emergency limits what allowances can be made because in the event of a postal emergency the USPTO can treat as filed any paper that would have been deposited with the United States Postal Service but for postal service interruptions or emergencies as designated by the Director.

USPTO Hosts Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium

On Friday March 11, 2011, I attended the Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium in honor of Women’s History Month at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The program was co-sponsored by the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce and focused on women entrepreneurs, the importance of intellectual property protection for their innovations, how to leverage economic opportunities for women-owned businesses and what resources are available exclusively for women-owned small businesses. The topics discussed focused solely on American business.

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