Posts in Patent Drafting Basics

Can You Refile a Provisional Patent Application?

The question that we receive most frequently from inventors, usually independent inventors, relates to whether a provisional patent application can be refiled with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Before giving the correct answer, it is critically important for everyone to understand that if a provisional patent application is refiled it may become impossible for a patent to ever be obtained, period.  Can a provisional patent application be refiled? The short, easy answer to the question is yes, of course you can refile the provisional application. The USPTO will be happy to have you refile the application, take your filing fee, and send you a new filing receipt. The problem for you, as an inventor, however, is the consequence of refiling a provisional application. So, while it may be very easy to do, and seem like you’ve just extended the life of your original provisional application, that is precisely NOT what has happened, and you may have – indeed likely have – made it impossible to ever obtain a patent anywhere in the world.

Ten Common Patent Claim Drafting Mistakes to Avoid

Drafting a patent application is a complex task that involves dealing with several critical components of the patent application. If one must ask any patent attorney about the crucial aspect of a patent draft, the answer will always be “the claims”. Even the simplest of mistakes in claims can pose risk to a patent application. In light of this, the following article highlights some potential pitfalls to avoid while drafting patent claims.

It’s All in the Hardware: Overcoming 101 Rejections in Computer Networking Technology Classes

Technologies such as computer networking, which, unlike software inventions, typically incorporate at least some hardware elements, may be less vulnerable to rejection under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. However, responding to these rejections when they are issued still requires some finesse. In these cases, rejections usually revolve around whether the hardware included in the claims serves as an improvement over existing hardware or is merely used as a tool for a mental process or other abstract idea. If the examiner concludes that the networking hardware merely serves as a tool, the claims usually fail the Alice/Mayo test. However, if you can show that the networking hardware either presents novel features or is improved by the invention to become a more effective tool, you may overcome the rejection.

Two Key Steps to Overcome Rejections Received on PCT Drawings

A large number of patent applications are rejected in the initial stage of filing via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) route. One of the most common reasons for such a rejection is an error in the drawings appended to the patent applications. Notably, patent drawings not only enhance the visual appeal of an invention but also help in better understanding the invention. As per the PCT guidelines, patent drawings should be included wherever applicable. This implies that it is essential to submit the appropriate formal patent drawings with a patent application. Failure to do so can result in patent rejection followed by an office action (OA) from the designated patent examiner. But here are the two key steps for overcoming rejections received on PCT drawings.

Drafting Lessons from a 101 Loss in the Eastern District of Texas

On March 30, Judge Sean D. Jordan of the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, issued a rather atypical Order, at least for the Eastern District of Texas. A defendant prevailed on a motion to dismiss. See Repifi Vendor Logistics, Inc. v. IntelliCentrics, Inc., Civil No. 4:20-CV-448-SDJ. Those familiar with patent litigation know that, over many years, the Eastern District of Texas has been a notoriously favorable venue for patent owners to pursue patent infringement lawsuits against alleged infringers. One of the things that has made the Eastern District of Texas so compelling from the patent owner perspective is the extraordinary reluctance of judges to rely on procedural motions to dispose of lawsuits in favor of defendants. It is no exaggeration to say that virtually everything that is filed in the Eastern District of Texas will go to trial unless it settles, which can raise the pressure on defendants to settle, sometimes for nuisance value alone.

From Agent to Examiner and Back Again: Practical Lessons Learned from Inside the USPTO

As a Patent Agent, the work product coming out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) seemed random to me. This article shares what I learned as a USPTO Patent Examiner that lifted the veil and shed light on that randomness. As a Patent Examiner I learned a powerful lesson: the approach that a Patent Examiner takes in interpreting claim language is learned by “on the job” training while working with USPTO trainers and other experienced USPTO examiners. The USPTO does not give new Patent Examiners detailed training on how to interpret claim language. Understanding the unique lens through which each examiner is viewing the application and prior art is critical to working effectively with Patent Examiners. Some Examiners interpret very broadly and allow fewer applications, while other examiners interpret more narrowly and allow more applications.   

Understand Your Utility Patent Application Drawings

While it has been said that the how and why of patent application drawings are usually best left to the professionals, I do think it is important for everyone – from the solo inventor to the big firm practitioner – to have a general understanding of the basics of utility application drawings. It is nice to be able to rely on an illustration service to get everything right for you; however, as the person with the name on the patent application, you are ultimately responsible for the content and form of the drawings that are submitted. This article will touch on the fundamentals of a utility drawing. While you may not be creating the drawings, it is crucial that you have an idea of what to look for in order to be compliant with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) guidelines.

Getting a Patent: The Devastating Consequences of Not Naming All Inventors

Naming the correct inventors is critical when drafting a U.S. patent. Patents must have all inventors properly named. Deciding who is an inventor is a complicated task and great care must be taken to not add or omit people who are not inventors. It is possible that failure to properly name the inventors could result in losing your patent or its value. If inventors have been improperly added or omitted, the patent must be corrected or it could be declared invalid.

Getting A Patent: Who Should be Named as An Inventor?

Every time a patent application is filed, we have to ask, “Who are the inventors?” It is a simple question, but the answer can be complicated. And there can be severe consequences if you get it wrong. You could lose your patent. As the Grail Knight in the Indiana Jones movie stated so well, “You must choose, but choose wisely.” As you know, patents typically have a number of claims broken down into independent and dependent claims. So, you have to look at each of the claims and determine who conceived the invention. There can be cases where different inventors conceived different parts of the invention in different claims. What’s important to understand is that you must include as named inventors anyone who conceived of an invention in any claim – even dependent claims.

Make Your Disclosures Meaningful: A Plea for Clarity in Patent Drafting

Legal writing has long attracted criticism. In Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift complained of lawyers’ “peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand.” (p. 317.) More recently, Loyola Law School professor Robert Benson lamented how “[l]egalese is characterized by passive verbs, impersonality, nominalizations, long sentences, idea-stuffed sentences, difficult words, double negatives, illogical order, poor headings, and poor typeface and graphic layout.” Robert W. Benson, “The End of Legalese: The Game is Over,” 13 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 519, 531 (1984). Ouch. Patent disclosures often reveal the same warts. But if “[t]he purpose of the written description requirement is to assure that the public receives sufficient knowledge,” Zoltek Corp. v. United States, 815 F.3d 1302, 1308 (Fed. Cir. 2016), why must we suffer such side effects? Drafters guilty of these crimes must’ve forgotten the public’s right to “receive meaningful disclosure in exchange for being excluded from practicing the invention.” Enzo Biochem, Inc. v. Gen-Probe Inc., 323 F.3d 956, 970 (Fed. Cir. 2002).

Avoid the Patent Pit of Despair: Drafting Claims Away from TC 3600

I’ve recently hosted two webinars on patent classification, taking a look at how contractors for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) determine where to route each patent application within the Office after filing. One webinar dealt with classification generally and a second dealt specifically with classification relating to computer implemented inventions. These webinars were fascinating on many levels. Did you know that the old patent classification system plays an important role in determining which Art Unit is assigned an application? And you probably thought you could forget about class 705! Not so fast! A sparsely populated technical disclosure in the specification with an inartful claim set is still a recipe for characterization in class 705, which still must be avoided at all costs if possible.

A Tale of Two Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Drafting Lessons for the New Eligibility Reality

While perusing the Patent Gazette looking for interesting, recently issued patents to discuss during Intro to Patent Prosecution, I stumbled across U.S. Patent No. 10,668,819, titled Enhanced wireless charging. Issued on June 2, 2020, this patent was filed on May 22, 2017. The reason this particular patent caught my attention as I was looking for software patents and other high-tech patents and claims I could dissect for students was because the invention is to a wireless vehicle charging station. Those familiar with the Federal Circuit’s decision in ChargePoint, Inc. v. SemaConnect, Inc., 920 F.3d 759 (Fed. Cir. 2019), will recall that Chief Judge Prost (joined by Judge Chen) ruled that the claims directed to a wireless vehicle charging station of U.S. Patent No. 8,138,715, were abstract and patent ineligible. A review of the disclosure and claims of the recently issued ‘819 patent and the now several years old ‘715 patent tell the whole story and offer a valuable drafting lesson in this new age of eligibility uncertainty.

Background Pitfalls When Drafting a Patent Application

Generally speaking, the first section of a patent specification will be the Background. The Manual of Patent Examination and Procedure (MPEP) recommends that the Background be broken up into two sections: (1) Field of Use Statement; and (2) Background of the Prior Art. These sections are recommended, not mandatory. Indeed, the Background itself is recommended and not mandatory. If you are going to have a Background it needs to be short, sweet, completely self-serving, must never actually describe the invention and it cannot ever use the term “prior art.” One big mistake inexperienced patent practitioners and researchers tasked with creating a first draft will make is they will go on page after page in patent applications about the history of the invention and the prior art. Indeed, there are some popular books on the market that recommend that this material be filed in patent applications. Including that type of information in an application that is filed is simply inappropriate. You do not see the best lawyers at the best law firms who represent the largest patent acquiring companies write patents like that, so why should you?

Eight Tips to Get Your Patent Approved at the EPO

Patent prosecution can sometimes seem to be a rather byzantine process. As with anything, the more you understand, the better prepared you will be for the strategic decisions that lie ahead, some of which will result in a streamlined patent approval, but which will also raise the overall cost of obtaining the protection desired. In this regard the patent process is full of trade-offs. For many, getting a patent quickly is very important, as is the case with high-tech start-ups and SMEs seeking reputational advantages, additional funding, licensing opportunities and partnerships. With this in mind, here are eight helpful tips co-authored with the Morningside IP team and specifically aimed at those applicants filing at the European Patent Office (EPO) who are hoping to obtain a strategically reasonable set of patent claims with a streamlined patent application approval process. Of course, following these eight tips can and should also pay dividends with respect to getting your patent approved in other patent offices around the world.

What to Know About Drafting Patent Claims

In order to obtain exclusive rights on an invention, you must file for and obtain a patent. Many inventors will initially opt to file a provisional patent application to initiate the application process, which is a perfectly reasonable decision to make, and will result in a “patent pending” that can even result in a licensing deal. Ultimately, if a patent is desired, a nonprovisional patent application must be filed, and it is this nonprovisional patent application that will mature into an issued patent. U.S. patent laws require that the patent applicant particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter which the inventor regards as his or her invention. Any patent, or patent application, contains a variety of different sections that contain different information. Generally speaking, a patent is divided into a specification, drawings and patent claims. Only the patent claims define the exclusive right granted to the patent applicant; the rest of the patent is there to facilitate understanding of the claimed invention. Therefore, patent claims are in many respects the most important part of the patent application because it is the claims that define the invention for which the Patent Office has granted protection.


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