Posts in Interviews & Conversations

Cheekd Follow-Up: Pirri Responds, Cheek Implores Nadler to Help Curb U.S. Patent Abuses

Earlier this week we reported on Lori Cheek, an independent inventor who is defending herself for the second time against accusations brought by Alfred Pirri, Jr. of fraud and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other claims, and who feels like the U.S. patent and legal systems have done her few favors thus far. Following publication of the article, Pirri’s lawyer, Steven Fairchild, sent a letter to IPWatchdog claiming that, since the previous suit was thrown out in pre-trial conference, before discovery or a decision on the merits, the “present suit will uncover the truth of what happened with Mr. Pirri’s invention.” Fairchild specifically points to notarized documents from 2006 that he claims prove Pirri invented the dating cards and their spin-off use for business, which Fairchild says Cheek copied in her other company, Networkd. As mentioned in the previous article, Cheek denies she has ever met Pirri’s therapist, Joanne Richards, whom Pirri claims told Cheek about his idea. She and Richards have signed sworn affidavits attesting to as much, and Cheek insists there is simply no way she could have come in contact with Richards.“Discovery will reveal the truth of the relationship between Ms. Richards and Ms. Cheek,” wrote Fairchild in his letter to IPWatchdog.

How U.S. Patent and Litigation Abuse Can Deter Small Inventors: The Story of Cheekd

In one more example of ways the U.S. patent system can be stacked against the small inventor, we have the story of Lori Cheek, who more than ten years ago had an idea for a unique dating service that she dubbed Cheekd. In 2008, still just prior to the age when people existed via smartphone, the patent she applied for covered a card-based dating system. Cheek decided to leave her steady job as an architect to pursue the idea of a business centered around pre-printed dating cards featuring clever pick-up lines and held a brainstorming session with friends on February 22, 2008. On March 7, 2008, she registered the URL Youvebeencheekd.com (now cheekd.com) with GoDaddy, and officially founded her company, Cheekd, on April 20, 2009. She applied for a patent in 2010 and it was granted on September 24, 2013. A few years later was when the trouble started for Cheek, and today, she is embroiled in her second lawsuit over a patent on a business she is no longer pursuing, both brought by a man, Alfred Pirri, whose first suit was dismissed in pre-trial conference.

Scott Elmer, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital On the ‘Sea Change’ in Diagnostics Patent Strategies

Scott Elmer is Director, Office of Technology Licensing, at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the leading pediatric cancer hospitals in the country. The institution is focused on treatment of and research on children’s catastrophic diseases, particularly leukemia and other cancers. The hospital costs about $2.8 million a day to run and is 100% free to patients. St. Jude and more than 46 of its staff have been the recipients of prestigious awards and achievements, including the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which went to St. Jude faculty member, Peter C. Doherty. Recently, Elmer read Sherry Knowles’ John Marshall Intellectual Property Law Review article, Unconstitutional Application of 35 U.S.C. §101 by the U.S. Supreme Court and was inspired to write her in support of her argument that the Supreme Court’s misreading of the patent statute is causing real harm to inventors and industry on the ground. “I reached out to Sherry because I thought her article was well written and took a different approach to something that’s been a concern for a long time,” Elmer told IPWatchdog. “Sherry made the point that the Supreme Court’s more recent patent eligibility decisions have failed to recognize the patent statute’s reference to the term ‘discovery’ as a basis for the generation of patent-eligible subject matter, which particularly impacts diagnostics.”

Judge Paul Michel: Look to Congress, Not Courts, to Fix the U.S. Patent System

During a break at IPWatchdog’s recent Patent Masters™ Symposium, former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel went on record to express his grave concerns about the U.S. patent system and where he believes it’s headed. Like many of the Patent Masters, Michel’s view was decidedly grim, but he did express optimism about the new IP leadership in Congress. Following are Judge Michel’s remarks in full.

IBM Calls for an End to the ‘Legal Fiction’ of Current 101 Law

This marks the final installment in my four-part interview with IBM’s Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Mark Ringes and Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter. I found our conversation fascinating and want to thank them both again for their time and insight. Below, we conclude with an in-depth discussion on how the U.S. patent system is affecting startups and the state of enforceability following Director Iancu’s Section 101 Guidance.

IBM: Patent Troll Problem is ‘Just Noise’ Post-America Invents Act

This marks Part III of my four-part interview with IBM discussing the state of innovation and the U.S. patent system from the standpoint of a company that has obtained the most U.S. patents for 26 years in a row. Below, I continue the conversation with Mark Ringes, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel for IBM, picking up on the topics of prior art and patent trolls, moving on to a comparison of the U.S. patent system with the rapidly evolving systems of China and Europe and, finally, examining how companies are refining patent prosecution practices to address the Section 101 chaos.

IBM: Software Patent Exceptions Make No Sense in a World Where “Software is Ubiquitous”

In Part I of my recent interview with IBM, I spoke with Mark Ringes, IBM Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel, about the company’s commitment to innovation and approach to patenting. Our conversation took place at the IBM offices on Madison Avenue in New York City and touched on topics ranging from Section 101 to startups to the USPTO. Below, the conversation continues with an in-depth discussion of Section 101 law, software patents, and how the Federal Circuit and Supreme Court have contributed to the situation in which we find ourselves today.

In Pursuit of the Hardest, Riskiest and Most Valuable Innovation

As IBM was preparing to announce yet another milestone achievement, this year receiving 9,100 U.S. patents in 2018, I had the opportunity to sit down for an on the record conversation with Mark Ringes, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for IBM, and Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel for IBM. Our conversation was wide-ranging, but what appears below specifically relates to IBM’s innovation leadership and quest to patent as much of its technology and innovation as possible. We discuss how IBM’s commitment to innovation and how the company is unafraid of pursuing the hardest, riskiest innovations because those will be the most valuable innovations in the future. Of course, even IBM is constrained with a budget, and must report to shareholders, so the philosophy is to obtain patents in a variety of areas and allow the research, technology and market realities dictate where future resources, and company efforts, are placed.

Exclusive: A Conversation on Self Driving Vehicles at the EPO with Roberta Romano-Götsch

During our previous interview Ms.Romano-Götsch mentioned that the EPO would be soon releasing a study on self driving vehicles. I expressed interest in speaking with her again once that study was published, and she agreed. Our conversation discussing this EPO study follows. In this wide-ranging conversation we discuss how traditional auto companies and big tech companies are both competing in the self driving space, and how the EPO is seeing an increase in applications from SMEs as well. We also discuss how the political climate in Europe surrounding a push for greater fuel efficiency and environmental concerns are a driving force behind autonomous driving initiatives across Europe.

Brave New World: Blockchain, Mobility and the Intersection Between AI and Automotive

Roberta Romano-Götsch: “Imagine for example that in future you can have a truck where the driver does the difficult task of getting the truck outside the city, to the highway where the artificial intelligence takes over, and then you will have an autonomously driven truck that goes across the countryside to the center close to the next city, where a driver will pick it up and take it to the next destination. Blockchain will make sure that all the records are kept and secured, so you will know how much you load into the truck, the temperature, etc., and you will make sure that it arrives at its destination. There is no way to counterfeit that. You see how artificial intelligence, computer-implemented inventions and finally blockchain are all playing a role in this disruptive technology.”

Exclusive with Roberta Romano-Götsch, Chief Operating Officer of Mobility and Mechatronics at EPO

I recently had the opportunity to go on the record with Roberta Romano-Götsch, the chief operating officer of Mobility and Mechatronics at the European Patent Office (EPO). In a wide ranging, two-part interview we discussed the new technology areas at the EPO, autonomous driving, engineering education, examiner training, what quality means to the EPO and more.

USPTO begins process for finding new leadership at the PTAB

Just days prior to our interview an announcement was made that PTAB Chief Judge David Ruschke would be stepping down and assuming new responsibilities. “At the PTAB, we will have new leadership. For now, come September 2nd, the acting chief will be Scott Boalick, and the acting deputy chief will be Jackie Bonilla,” Director Iancu said. “We’re going to post the position, the vacancy. I want to encourage everybody out there, both inside the PTO and from the outside, who is interested, and thinks will do an excellent job, to apply. We are at the beginning of the process for finding new leadership at the PTAB.”

Exclusive Interview: PTO Director Andrei Iancu and OED Director Will Covey on Practitioner Dues, CLE and Unauthorized Practice

The focus of this interview was OED generally, but more specifically why they Office felt it was necessary to begin charging annual dues to practitioners and what those funds would be used for. I indicated leading up to the interview that I would specifically like to discuss the issue of unauthorized practice of law, explaining that I personally was not philosophically opposed to dues but that as a registered patent practitioner myself I would like to see OED do more than just reciprocal discipline, which appears to be the overwhelming portion of their work, at least if you look at the OED Reading Room of published decisions. Director Covey came with statistics and followed up after the interview with the chart included below. While it may appear OED focuses overwhelmingly on reciprocal discipline, that is a tiny fraction of what they do.

12 Questions with Karin Seegert, COO Healthcare, Biotechnology and Chemistry, EPO

Karin Seegert studied pharmacy and received her PhD from the University of Munich in 1985. Following several years working in R&D in industry, she joined the EPO in 1991. During her time at the EPO, she has worked as Examiner and then beginning in 2002 as Director in the pharmaceutical area and as Director in Patent Administration. In 2010, Karin became Principal Director with responsibility for various technical fields, mainly in Electro Physics and Chemistry, before being appointed as Chief Operating Officer in 2017 she was leading the cluster Technical Chemistry (TeC).

IPBC 2018 to Focus on Creating and Harnessing IP Value

How do you create – how do you harness that value and how do you turn it into something that is meaningful for the people that own the intellectual property? We have sessions looking at specific industries, so we’re looking at things like semiconductors and the rise of artificial intelligence. We’re looking at how big data can be used to harness IP value. We’ve got two really interesting sessions that I’m looking forward to where we’re putting different scenarios to panels of chief IP officers and asking them how they would react to those scenarios.

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