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Brian Downing


Stellar Patent

Brian Downing founded Stellar Patent to help clients obtain patents while giving clients more freedom and control over the patenting process. Brian is former artificial intelligence (AI) patent examiner (AU 2121) at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Before transitioning into patent law, Brian had over 17 years experience in analog and mixed signal integrated circuit (IC) design, electronic design automation (EDA) software, software development, web application development, and motorsports. Brian specializes in electronics, software, and artificial intelligence patent preparation and prosecution. Brian’s passion is helping start-ups obtain patents. Brian loves the startup environment, where passion is abundant, paradigm shifting technology is everywhere, quality is admired, and every penny gets stretched to it’s limits. Having been in the seat of the inventor and the patent examiner, Brian is efficient at going from an inventor’s idea to an issued patent.

Besides patent preparation and prosecution, Brian’s interests include using and developing software tools to speed up and improve quality of patent drafting and patent prosecution. Additionally, he enjoys applying big data techniques to patent data and applying a common sense filter to find the best path forward for clients.

Brian holds a Master of Engineering from Northern Arizona University, Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and an Associate of Science from Isothermal Community College.

Recent Articles by Brian Downing

An Alternative to Claim Mirroring in Initial Patent Application Filing

While working as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Art Unit 2121 (artificial intelligence, or AI) I noticed that the typical patent application that I examined had seven method claims, seven apparatus claims, and six computer-readable medium (CRM) claims. In the typical application, the method and apparatus claims were mirrors of each other, and the first five CRM claims were mirrors of claims 1-5 and the last CRM claim combined the subject matter of claims 6 and 7. While examining a typical patent application, I only had to find prior art that taught these seven unique claims to reject the entire patent application. This led me to ponder why applicants are wasting the 13 other claims included with the standard filing fee with mirrored claims. Though best practice is to have multiple statutory categories with mirror claims by the time of allowance for enforceability reasons, there is a potential advantage for the applicant to file fewer mirror claims initially.

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.