Posts in Government

Commerce Department Announces NIST and USPTO Actions on AI

President Biden issued an executive order (EO) on artificial intelligence on October 30, 2023,  announcing a series of agency directives for managing risks related to the use of AI technologies. Now, the Department of Commerce (DOC) has announced several new actions aimed at implementing that order. On Monday, April 29, the DOC said the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released four draft publications on improving safety and security of AI technologies and also launched a program that will help to distinguish between content produced by humans and content produced by AI. Additionally, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published a request for comment (RFC) on “how AI could affect evaluations of how the level of ordinary skills in the arts are made to determine if an invention is patentable under U.S. law.”

Words Matter: A Proposal to Change the Vocabulary of IP

When the Center for Strategic and International Studies recently hosted a forum on IP, innovation, national security and geopolitical competition, there was an active discussion about the role of IP – intellectual property – in achieving those other outcomes. An interesting debate emerged over the words that describe those IP functions, suggesting that policy can be ill-served by some habitually used, but perhaps not descriptively accurate, vocabulary. The upshot: words matter.  

FCC Restores Net Neutrality Regime Amid Criticism

On Thursday, April 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held an open meeting during which the agency’s commissioners voted 3-2 to restore net neutrality rules that reclassifies Internet broadband providers as common carriers, dramatically increasing regulatory oversight on such companies operating in the United States. This partisan victory for the Democratic Party membership of the FCC is raising opposition from taxpayer advocacy groups and Republican lawmakers who believe that the return of net neutrality rules will do much to harm America’s leadership in broadband Internet.

Nautilus or Packard: A Recent PGR Petition Highlights Perils of USPTO Flip-Flops

A recent Post Grant Review (PGR) petition raises several interesting questions, including whether the crossing of two varieties of corn previously crossed and already owned by the patent owner results in a non-obvious claimed invention. See Inari Agriculture, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., PGR2024-00025. But as interesting as that obviousness question may be, and how easy it seems it is to get a utility plant patent issued, the question of greater concern for the system relates to which test for indefiniteness the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should be using, and why.

Apple Watch Patent Wars Create a Defensive Roadmap for ITC Respondents

Late last year, , the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it would issue a limited exclusion order (LEO) and cease and desist order (CDO) against Apple, Inc. prohibiting Apple from importing and selling its Apple Watch (Series 6 and 7) products in the United States. The case was Certain Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices and Components Thereof, Investigation No. 337-TA-1276 (“Light-Based Physiological Measurement Devices”), a “Section 337” patent infringement investigation before the ITC that was initiated by Masimo Corporation. Adding insult to injury, the ITC refused to stay these remedial orders pending appeal, putting at immediate risk continued sales of the Apple Watch in the United States. These decisions sent shock waves across both the tech industry and the legal community.

Vidal Says PTAB Improperly Expanded Discretionary Denial Principles

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal on April 19 vacated a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that had denied institution of an inter partes review (IPR) for a lighting system patent owned by Rotolight Limited. Videndum Production Solutions challenged claims 1–19 of U.S. Patent No. 10,845,044 B2 via IPR and Rotolight argued the petition should be discretionarily denied under the factors set forth in General Plastic Industries Co., Ltd. v. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha.

Updated WHO Pandemic Accord Retains Commitments for Non-Exclusive Licensing and Royalty Waivers

On April 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) released an updated draft proposal of an international agreement on the global response to future pandemics. While the WHO pandemic agreement has been met with widespread support from many of the international agency’s member nations, including the United States, it retains provisions limiting intellectual property (IP) rights that have encouraged opposition from lawmakers and pharmaceutical innovators alike.

FTC Approves Final Rule to Ban All New Non-Compete Agreements in 3-2 Vote

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today voted in a Special Open Commission Meeting to publish and approve a final version of the January 2023 proposed rule that would ban employers from using clauses for their employees. Today’s rule allows existing non-competes to remain in force for senior executives but bans new non-competes for all workers and makes existing non-competes for all other workers unenforceable after the effective date, which is 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Unveiling The Untapped Potential of Brazil’s Solar Energy Market

Brazil, a country known for its abundant natural resources, is emerging as a significant player in the global renewable energy sector. Brazil has one of the highest levels of insolation in the world (ranging from 4.25 to 6.5 sun hours per day according to the Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment Project – (SWERA) and is therefore uniquely positioned to harness the power of the sun.

Chamber Appeals Decision to Deny Expedited FOIA Request on March-In Proposal

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) has filed an appeal with the U.S. Department of Commerce, which denied the GIPC’s January 2024 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking more detail about the working group behind the Biden Administration’s draft framework for considering the exercise of march-in rights. The proposed framework was published in the Federal Register in December 2023 by the Department of Commerce and the National Institutes for Standards and Technology (NIST) and included suggestions on whether and when to exercise “march-in rights” under the Bayh-Dole Act that would arguably significantly broaden the criteria for compulsory licensing of patented technology developed with federal funding.

EUIPO Implements Common Practice on Objectionable Trademarks

On April 19, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) formally began implementation of Common Practice 14 (CP14) governing the agency’s treatment of applications of trademarks that are contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality. The EUIPO’s common communication on CP14 seeks to establish a uniform understanding of the EU Trademark Directive’s prohibitions against registering such marks in light of increased numbers of trademark applications filed that have arguably triggered this statute.

Young Sheldon’s Inventorship Woes: Important Lessons for All Young Inventors

As the hit sitcom Young Sheldon comes to an end next month, a look back at the series offers an opportunity for young inventors to learn about inventorship. The coming-of-age show centers around a boy genius, Sheldon, who has run the gamut of growing up in expedited fashion—experiencing high school, college dorm life, and even a first (failed) kiss (attempt), all before being eligible to drive. Another milestone in Sheldon’s life—his first inventorship dispute—shows that it doesn’t take a boy genius to become a young inventor.

Thoughts on the USPTO’s NPRM: Not Bad But the Big Challenges Remain

Times are changing at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB)! Not only are there rumors that the Senate IP Subcommittee may be a matter of several weeks away from marking up the PREVAIL Act and voting it out of committee, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has finally issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) relating to several changes to the Code of Federal Regulations as they pertain to patent challenges at the PTAB.

USPTO Publishes Long-Awaited Proposed Rule on PTAB Changes

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that will be officially published in the Federal Register tomorrow and that addresses a subset of issues from the controversial April 2023 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). USPTO Director Kathi Vidal received criticism following the ANPRM, most notably from Congress. In a House IP Subcommittee meeting held last year, members of the Subcommittee expressed confusion about the ANPRM and suggested Vidal may have been exceeding her authority with some of the proposals.

Patent Filings Roundup: Slow Week in PTAB and District Court, Ideahub Subsidiary Challenges Instituted; Patent Armory Continues the Offensive

It was a slow week for new patent filings at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and in the district courts. This week saw only 18 new filings at the PTAB—one of which was a Post Grant Review, while the remaining were inter partes reviews (IPRs). Texas Instruments, Inc. continued challenging Greenthread LLC patents, filing four IPRs against  four patents (bringing the total number of IPRs Texas Instruments has filed up to seven). Amazon filed two IPRs against one Nokia Technologies Oy [associated with Nokia Corporation] patents; Apple filed five IPRs against three Resonant Systems Inc. (d/b/a RevelHMI) patents; and Micron filed two IPRs against two Yangtze memory Technologies Company Ltd.

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