Gene Quinn is a patent attorney and a leading commentator on patent law and innovation policy. Mr. Quinn has twice been named one of the top 50 most influential people in IP by Managing IP Magazine, in both 2014 and 2019. From 2017-2020, Mr. Quinn has also been recognized by IAM Magazine as one of the top 300 IP strategists in the world, and in 2021 he was recognized by IAM in their inaugural Strategy 300 Global Leaders list.
Mr. Quinn founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999, and he is currently President & CEO of IPWatchdog, Inc. According to IAM Magazine, Mr. Quinn “has reshaped the IP debate in the United States in a way that has forced policy makers to carefully consider the macroeconomic effects of IP law and its potential to drive innovation and economic activity.”
Regarded as an expert on software patentability and U.S. patent procedure, Mr. Quinn has advised inventors, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses throughout the U.S. and around the world. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and has represented patent practitioners before the Office of Enrollment & Discipline.
Mr. Quinn began his career as a litigator handling a variety of civil litigation matters, and he has been a patent attorney for nearly two decades. He has previously taught a variety of intellectual property courses at the law school level, teaching courses such as patent law, patent claim drafting, patent prosecution, copyright law, trademark law and introduction to intellectual property at Syracuse University College of Law, Temple University School of Law, The University of Toledo College of Law, the University of New Hampshire School of Law, the John Marshall Law School (Chicago) and Whittier Law School. Since 2000 Mr. Quinn has also taught the leading patent bar review course in the nation.
Mr. Quinn is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney licensed to practice before the United States Patent Office and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has a well-earned and perfectly appropriate problem with perception, and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal seems to be doing her level best to make that problem of perception even worse. It isn’t bad enough that petitioners do not owe the PTAB or the Office itself a duty of candor, but now they can stay in a case as a petitioner even if they are found to have engaged in extortion. There has long been a systemic bias against patent owners, who have for many years suffered through lengthy examinations of their innovations. But ever since former PTAB Chief Judge James Smith embraced the moniker of “patent death squad” as a badge of honor, the PTAB has suffered from a perception problem, and really now lacks all credibility.
January 17 marks the first day in the tenure of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) new Commissioner for Patents, Vaishali Udupa. Udupa, whose appointment was announced in December, comes to the USPTO after serving the last seven years as the head of litigation for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where she was responsible for heading HPE’s intellectual property litigation and formulating case strategies. She replaces Acting Commissioner for Patents Andrew Faile, who served in that role since January 2021 and who will be retiring from the agency after 33 years upon Udupa’s installation as commissioner. Well-known within the patent community as an advocate for diversity and representation issues, Udupa joins the USPTO as a relative outsider. She comes in as the first full Commissioner for Patents since the retirement of Drew Hirshfeld, who served with the agency for two decades before he was first appointed to Commissioner in 2015. Those familiar with recent Patent Office history will recall that Commissioners immediately preceding Hirshfeld included Bob Stoll, Peggy Focarino, John Doll and Nick Godici. Stoll, Focarino, Doll and Godici each served in various capacities at the Office, including in high-level policy and regulatory positions, for more than a generation prior to becoming Commissioner.
The issue of who is the real party in interest in an inter partes review (IPR) filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is a particularly thorny matter. When IPRs were introduced, patent owners were assured that there would be a meaningful estoppel provision, which would prevent those who lost IPRs from challenging the same patents in later proceedings. There was also a statute of limitations, another thorny matter, that would prevent challengers from filing an IPR more than one year after they were sued. The long and short of it is this—real party in interest law and statute of limitations law, which apply in every other legal setting, are interpreted vastly differently at the PTAB. For example, with the statute of limitations, if you are barred from bringing a challenge and someone else brings a challenge, then suddenly you are able to join the challenge, despite being barred. But wait—there is more. If that first party that was not barred settles and leaves the case and the barred party is the only challenger remaining, well the case must go on. A legal absurdity.
Earlier this year, during the first live program held in IPWatchdog’s brand new offices in Ashburn, Virginia, the inaugural inductees to the IPWatchdog Masters™ Hall of Fame were honored as a tribute to their long histories of service to strengthening and protecting U.S. IP rights. The inaugural class of inductees included: Honorable Paul Michel, Retired Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and tireless IP advocate; Sherry Knowles of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies; and Phil Johnson, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and retired Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property Policy & Strategy of Johnson & Johnson’s Law Department.
Wi-Fi has been universally recognized as a term for non-cellular, wireless connectivity to the Internet for at least two decades, and reliance on Wi-Fi has been increasing as more devices become “connected,” such as smart outlets, TVs, audio systems, and the like, in a connected household. Similarly, consumers have become more dependent on the bandwidth of Wi-Fi for bandwidth-intensive activities, such as streaming video, video conferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emerging “metaverse.”
The latest mainstream version of the ubiquitous Wi-Fi standard, known as IEEE 802.11ax or “Wi-Fi 6,” offers substantial technological improvements over traditional Wi-Fi, including Wi-Fi 6’s immediate predecessor—Wi-Fi 5 (IEEE 802.11ac). In particular, Wi-Fi 6 offers faster performance, lower power consumption, and better battery life, all while enabling reduced network congestion and latency. These substantial improvements made over even the immediate predecessor in Wi-Fi technology are made possible by several key technological advances. Wi-Fi 6 has enjoyed good timing as well—its benefits are valuable and necessary improvements as consumers and enterprises increasingly look for high-speed connectivity across a wide and ever broadening array of devices and uses, including the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), and autonomous vehicles.
There is a reason many stakeholders believe the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) has been weaponized against patent owners. From the very outset, the first Chief Judge of the PTAB famously, or infamously, stated that if the tribunal was not doing some “death squadding” they were not doing their jobs; a rebuke to then Federal Circuit Chief Judge Randall Rader’s observation that the PTAB was nothing more than a death squad for patents. But from those early days where patent owners were not even allowed to submit evidence to rebut a petition at the institution stage, to the unbelievable lapse in ethical judgment of one former PTAB judge, there have been numerous reasons to question the tribunal.
On Friday afternoon, the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors (IEEE SA BOG) announced they had taken action to update the Patent Policy for IEEE standards development. The updates, which will not go into effect until January 1, 2023, appear at first glance to be minimal, but will likely have an extraordinarily positive impact for patent owners.