Posts in Inventors Information

Legislation Aimed at Fixing Injunctive Relief Would Essentially Codify eBay

In 2015, China launched its 2025 Initiative listing all the technologies and industries it wants to control by 2025. So far, they have been successful in leading 37 of 44 technologies critical to economic growth and national security. The nation that dominates these technologies will determine the fate of all nations. In the past, the United States led the world in technology, but today it is China. How did this happen? This damage was caused by a series of big hits by the courts, congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The first big hit was eBay vs. MercExchange (eBay) in 2006. In order to obtain an injunction, a patent holder must prove that they not only have a patented product on the market, but also the ability to distribute that product. eBay let loose massive predatory infringement, killing off startups, the biggest competitive threat to Big Tech and many other industries.

Black Inventors Hall of Fame Museum: Highlighting the Lost Stories of American Innovation

Some of the earliest chapters in the story of U.S. innovation have been written by Black Americans who not only advanced the state of industry in our country, but also fought to ensure that they were credited for what they achieved. Within the next few years, the city of Newark, NJ, will be the home of a museum properly paying homage to the historic contributions that these inventors have made to medical science, telecommunications, transportation and more.

Company Policy Issues and Examples Relating to Employee Use of AI-Generated Content

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a crucial tool for organizations in various sectors, particularly in the generation of content and code by generative AI systems such as ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, AlphaCode, Bard and DALL-E, among other tools. As the promise of incorporating these generative tools in the corporate setting is all but assured in the near term, there are a number of risks that need to be minimized as companies more forward. In particular, as AI applications grow increasingly sophisticated, they raise concerns with several forms of intellectual property (IP), such as patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. This article aims to discuss these issues and provide a sample company policy for using AI-generated content such as software code.

Precooked Bacon, Artificial Intelligence Patents, and a Defense of the Common Law

Bacon is delightful. And the similarly savory subject of who must be named inventor on a bacon patent was the issue in the recent case of HIP, Inc. v. Hormel Foods Corp., No. 2022-1696 (Fed. Cir. May 2, 2023). HIP claimed that one of its employees materially contributed to the invention of Hormel’s patent on methods for precooking bacon. The question of what makes one an “inventor” was central to whether HIP’s employee should be added to the patent. More broadly, questions about inventorship and authorship have become central to recent commentary and speculation about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property law. While AI did not factor into HIP v. Hormel, the decision provides a useful reminder about the role of the common law in developing answers to these momentous questions.

AI Inventorship: Will Our Patent Laws Stand Up? My Conversation with Dr. Stephen Thaler

The issue of AI inventorship in the United States remains at large following the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in Thaler v. Vidal, meaning that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) finding that AI cannot be considered a named inventor to a patent application remains the law of the land. Now that the agency is seeking public comments on the issue of AI inventorship, I reached out to Dr. Thaler to get his comments on the current AI inventorship debate within the patent space.

Sixth IP Awareness Summit Debunks Stigma Against IP Rights, Urges Efforts to Reach Underserved Innovators

On May 2, Northeastern University hosted the IP awareness and literacy organization The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) for its 6th Intellectual Property Awareness Summit (IPAS), titled Bridges, Not Barricades. The view of Boston’s skyline from the 17th floor conference room on St. Botolph Street served as an appropriate backdrop to a series of expert panels exploring efforts to unleash the next generation of American economic development by accelerating popular understanding of the value of obtaining IP rights.

European Inventor Award Finalists Focus on Sustainability

On Tuesday, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced the 12 inventors and inventor teams that have been selected as finalists for the 2023 European Inventor Award. The EPO placed three finalists each into four groups: Industry, Research, SMEs, and Non-EPO Countries. Members of the public can vote for the winner on the EPO’s website. The finalists hail from 12 countries, Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, and the United States. An independent jury of former European Inventor Award finalists used their expertise to select this year’s finalists.

CAFC Reverses Delaware Court on Question of Joint Inventorship

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in a precedential decision, today reversed a district court holding that an inventor should be added as a joint inventor for his contributions to a patent for methods of pre-cooking bacon and meat pieces. The CAFC said the inventor’s contribution did not satisfy the three-part test articulated in Pannu v. Iolab Corp. because the contribution was “insignificant in quality.”

Speakers Conflict on Urgency of USPTO Changes to Accommodate AI in Invention Process

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) held its East Coast Listening Session on AI Inventorship today, featuring both USPTO staff and patent stakeholder speakers contemplating possible approaches to patenting in a world in which generative artificial intelligence (AI) almost seems to have snuck up on everyone. While many speakers cautioned against moving too quickly to change the rules for AI-generated inventions, others warned that doing nothing could result in chaos for the USPTO and grave economic and innovation losses for the country.

Supreme Court Dodges AI Inventor Question with Denial of DABUS Case

One day before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is set to hold its first public listening session on AI inventorship, the U.S. Supreme Court today denied certiorari in the case of Thaler v. Vidal, which asked the Court to consider the question: “Does the Patent Act categorically restrict the statutory term ‘inventor’ to human beings alone?” Dr. Stephen Thaler lost his case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) last August, when the CAFC said the USPTO’s reading of the statute as clearly referring to inventors as natural person was “unambiguously” correct.

Patent Prosecution Tip: File Your Continuation and Divisional Applications Prior to or With Payment of the Issue Fee

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sent out an email alert on March 16, 2023 about its transition to eGrants for patents. This change to electronic patent grants as opposed to paper patents is in accord with the USPTO’s continued changes to an all-electronic and no paper system. Prior changes have included all-electronic office actions, and of course the USPTO’s EFS-Web system, in which filings are made electronically with the USPTO. One important thing to realize is that a patent may grant very soon after payment of the issue fee, so if the Applicant desires to have a continuation, continuation-in-part (CIP), and/or divisional application filed (all such applications are referred to as “continuing applications”), they should really do so before or at the same time the issue fee is paid, in order to maintain the pendency with the to-be-issued patent.

Can ChatGPT Be Used for Patent Search Work?

Recently, ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot program developed by OpenAI, has become a popular topic, attracting much attention and discussion. Its applications in the fields of natural language processing and text analysis have been well documented and have aroused great interest. It can be used to generate various language models, such as natural language texts, dialogues, and question-answering. It is currently one of the most advanced and efficient technologies in the language field. ChatGPT has a wide range of applications. In fields like medical, financial, legal, and media, ChatGPT can also be used to generate and analyze text data, thereby improving work efficiency and accuracy. Recently, the technology has even been used in the realm of intellectual property, with some having used it to draft patent applications.

A Failure of Fact: What Has Been Missing from the Arguments in Thaler v. Vidal

Whether or not the law recognizes a machine as the inventor-at-law, the facts are indispensable to determination of the true inventor-in-fact. In the case of Stephen Thaler’s attempt to obtain patent protection for a food container and light stick he says were independently invented by his AI machine, DABUS, the inventor-in-fact will be either Thaler or his machine. The procedural posture of Thaler v. Vidal caused the discourse to jump over the facts of how the food container and the light stick were invented by DABUS. These overlooked facts may reveal the true inventor, regardless of whether or not the type of inventor is recognized by the current law. 

The CAFC Hands Down Another Decision Demonstrating Its Misguided View of Obviousness

I attended the hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in Maalouf v. Microsoft on Monday February 6, 2023, and the CAFC issued its opinion in the case this past Thursday. This case has curious origins. Through his company Dareltech, Ramzi Khalil Maalouf, a Lebanese immigrant and U.S. citizen, sued Xiaomi, a Chinese multinational corporation, for patent infringement in New York. The case was dismissed without prejudice because Xiaomi was found not to have a physical presence in New York, notwithstanding their proven secret office.  Later, Microsoft, naming Xiaomi as the real party in interest, filed an Inter Partes Review (IPR) with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). In other words, a U.S. Big Tech multinational acted on behalf of a China-controlled multinational to invalidate the patents of a small American inventor, thus clearing the way into the U.S. market for the China-controlled multinational.

What the Patent Bar is Saying About the USPTO’s Call for Comments on AI Inventorship

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) announcement early last week that it is requesting public comments on artificial intelligence (AI) and inventorship indicates that changes may eventually be implemented with respect to how the Office considers inventions created, or partially created, by AI machines. The Office is asking for input on 11 questions, including “how does the use of an AI system [in the invention process]…differ from the use of other technical tools”; whether AI inventions may be patentable under current patent laws on joint inventorship; and if statutory or regulatory changes should be made to better address AI contributions to inventions.