Posts in Holiday Posts

Celebrating U.S. Trademark Law: Happy 75 to the Lanham Act

As the United States today celebrates the 245th anniversary of its independence, the intellectual property (IP) community will tomorrow be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Lanham Act, which was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on July 5, 1946. The Lanham Act was introduced by Fritz Garland Lanham, who was born in Weatherford, Texas in 1880. He was elected to Congress in 1919 and reelected 13 times before he retired in 1947, the year the Lanham Act was enacted. Lanham’s father was a lawyer and served as a Congressman as well as the 23rd governor of Texas.

Iancu Weighs in on IP Waiver, Critical Role of Patents for SMEs at World IP Day Event

“Property rights are not just good for the economy, they save lives”, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform said, speaking at Innovating the Future: Celebrating 2021 World IP Day, sponsored by the Property Rights Alliance. Norquist would go on to conclude his brief opening remarks by lamenting, “the damage that would be done if some of the critics of intellectual property have their way.” Norquist was implicitly referring to an IP waiver proposal by South Africa and India, which would allow nations to ignore patent rights relating to COVID-19 related innovations, particularly vaccines. This waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is a truly bad idea, and one addressed head on by Andrei Iancu, senior adviser to the Renewing America Innovation Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Survival Strategy: Supporting SMEs to Leverage IP for Growth in Uncertain Times – A Perspective from Ireland

World IP Day may not have fully captured the public imagination yet, but it is increasingly an important moment to reflect on a topic that impacts all of our lives in more ways than are widely recognized. In Ireland for example, like many other modern open economies, IP plays a significant role in how we participate in the global marketplace. In addition, it is the intrinsic intangible nature of IP that allows us to play a role that is many times greater than our relative size would seem to allow. For example, in 2019, the European Patent Office (EPO) and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) jointly published a report on “Intellectual property rights intensive industries and economic performance in the European Union”. According to that report, IP rights (IPR) intensive industries account for 45% of GDP, on average, across the EU. In Ireland, however, the share attributed these industries was 65% of GDP—a good 20 points ahead of the next highest.

Open for Business: How Intellectual Property Supports Our Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is steeped with uncertainty, especially during a global pandemic. Small business owners are constantly running through the scenarios: Can I make payroll? Will I recoup my investment? Can I change my community for the better? There are plenty of systems at play that tell them, “No.” It’s too difficult to get a loan; the commercial real estate market is too competitive; advertising and marketing is too expensive. Even so, there’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!” That’s America’s intellectual property system.

Copyrights Help SMEs Bring Their Ideas to Market – Especially if They’re Registered

Discussion around intellectual property strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often focus chiefly on patent and trademarks. But the benefits of copyright to a small business should not be underestimated. Copyrights protect the expression of ideas in works that are tangible. Copyrightable subject matter is very broad—all “original works of authorship, fixed in a tangible medium” are protected immediately from creation. The U.S. Copyright Office lists these categories as subject to copyright protection: literary works, musical works, performing arts, visual arts, other digital content (including computer software code), motion pictures, photographs, sound recordings, and architectural works. 17 U.S.C. Section 102.

None of the Top 20 U.S. Business Schools Require Students Learn About IP to be Awarded an MBA

Students at prestigious universities in the United States are not required to take even a single intellectual property (IP) course to fulfill the requirements for a graduate business degree. Course offerings in 2021 remain elective at all of the elite management programs, and the coverage varies by school, department offering them and the background of the instructor. These and other findings about IP education at business schools are contained in a report compiled by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) that will be announced on Thursday at the 4th Intellectual Property Awareness Summit. The report, “Intellectual Property at Business Schools: An Evolving Landscape,” looks at the state of IP education at the top 20 U.S. programs, as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, and comes away with decidedly mixed findings. While some 44 courses are offered by the leading programs, almost one-third offer a single elective course, and none are compulsory. This is particularly pertinent on World IP Day, the theme of which this year focuses on the importance of IP rights for small and medium businesses, and the problems that a lack of IP understanding can lead to.

World IP Day 2021 Roundup: Spotlight on SMEs in Commercializing Innovation and Creativity

Today is World Intellectual Property Day; the theme for the 21st annual celebration raising awareness for the role of various forms of IP in supporting strong economies is “IP & SMEs: Taking Your Ideas to Market.” Events all over the world are planned for this week to highlight the crucial role that small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play in commercializing intellectual properties, using the protections afforded by IP to translate engineered improvements and creative expression from the minds of inventors into marketable products that are commercialized so the whole world can benefit and enjoy.

World IP Day 2021: Reflections During a Global Pandemic Year

Never more than in this past year has reflection and introspection been important to cope with the isolation and stress brought by a raging pandemic. As I look back at World IP Day last year, I immediately recognize how much we have learned and evolved since the beginning of this aggressive and deadly disease. In little more than a year, the outlook is significantly more positive: vaccines are being rolled out in vast quantities, their effect in curbing infections and deaths starts to be recognized, the economy is showing signs of recovery, schools are reopening and there is finally more optimism.

Lack of Internet Access Threatens American Innovation

As we celebrate World IP Day this week, the theme of which is “IP and SMEs [small and medium enterprises]”, we must remember that – from its founding – the United States’ economic success has depended on fostering an environment where innovators and entrepreneurs can dream big and achieve success. But that success is now at risk because our nation is lagging behind others in ensuring that everyone, everywhere, can access the most important tool of our time – the internet.

‘Moving Beyond Words’ to Action: Women in IP Share Real-World Tips to Close the Gender Gap

Gloria Steinem wrote Moving Beyond Words: Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking Boundaries of Gender in 1994. Steinem was an iconic figure in a movement that began several decades earlier and continues today to close the gender gap and ensure women have equal pay for equal work, among many other issues. In the intellectual property world, this movement is presently playing out in efforts to bring more women into STEM fields, as well as the patent bar and inventorship. There has been much debate about whether these efforts are misguided and how we should proceed, so IPWatchdog reached out to the experts—women at the top of their fields in IP—for their take on the challenges that they’ve faced and ways forward. From personal experiences to practical advice, here is what they had to say.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: USPTO Events Highlight Women in STEM and Business

Last week the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held the first of five discussions that will take place every Wednesday in March during its Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium series. While participants discussed the challenges they’ve faced as women in leadership, they also noted that the USPTO has been ahead of the curve when it comes to promoting women into executive positions and shared tips to help more women rise to the top.

From Home Security to VoIP: Honoring Black Women Inventors of the Last Half-Century

Throughout February, we have recognized some of the earliest Black women inventors, beginning with Martha Jones in 1868 and her patent directed to a corn husker, ending with Sarah Boone’s 1892 patent for the Ironing Board. Black women have continued to play an important role in driving innovation during the twentieth century and through today.

Sarah Boone: the ‘Ironing Table’, Perfected

Sarah Boone is believed to be the fifth African-American woman to be awarded a U.S. patent Her invention, U.S. Patent No. 473,653, issued in 1892 and was directed to an improved ironing board. The object of her invention was “to produce a cheap, simple, convenient, and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.”

Eighteen Dollars for Her Patent: Ellen Elgin and the Story of the Clothes-Wringer

In August 1888, Ellen Elgin, a black woman housekeeper, invented a clothes wringer which allowed clothing to be washed and dried faster by feeding clothes through two rollers to wring out the clothing, thereby making them easier to hang and dry. Elgin sold her patent to a white person because she felt it would have a better chance at success than if people knew the inventor was a woman of color. Thus, U.S. Patent No. 459,343 lists Cyrenus Wheeler, Jr. as the inventor.

Signed with an ‘X’: Judy Reed, Improved Dough Kneader and Roller

Judy W. Reed, one of the first recorded African American women to receive a U.S. patent (No. 305,474), is known for her invention titled “Dough Kneader and Roller”, which was granted patent protection on September 23, 1884. The invention improved upon existing dough kneaders and rollers and included a box for receiving dough and a crank that causes the dough to be drawn between corrugated rollers, whereby the dough is kneaded and rolled into a continuous sheet or ribbon.