Rebecca Tapscott is an intellectual property attorney and freelance writer for IPWatchdog. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Central Florida and received her Juris Doctorate in 2002 from the George Mason School of Law in Arlington, VA.
Rebecca has worked as a senior associate attorney for the Bilicki Law Firm and Diederiks & Whitelaw, PLC. Her practice has involved intellectual property litigation, the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in the chemical, mechanical arts, and electrical arts, strategic alliance and development agreements, and trademark prosecution and opposition matters. In addition, she is admitted to the Virginia State Bar and is a registered patent attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. She is also a member of the American Bar Association and the American Intellectual Property Law Association.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal on August 22 issued a decision granting sua sponte Director Review and Affirming the Decision on Institution in Zynga Inc. v. IGT, IPR2022-00199, U.S. Patent No. 7,168,089 B2. Vidal determined that the interference estoppel provision of 37 C.F.R. § 41.127(a)(1) does not apply to trial and preliminary proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the PTAB was correct in holding that Petitioner should not be barred from pursuing inter partes review based on interference estoppel.
Its Christmas time again and IPWatchdog is back at it, compiling a list of iconic patented toys and games. This year, we have added some iconic trademarks to round out the list. This tradition was originally made popular in 2018, and updated in 2019, with a holiday feature by IPWatchdog Founder Gene Quinn: The Most Iconic (and Patented) Toys and Games of All Time. The original post included iconic toys such as “the Video Game Console, Barbie doll, Monopoly, Rubik’s Cube, Battleship, Super Soaker, Hoola Hoop, Slinky, Play-Doh, Easy Bake Oven, Game-Boy Frisbee, YoYo, Lego blocks, Transformers, Tricycles, Bicycles, Scooters, Tonka trucks, Rocking Horse, Twister, Simon, Magic 8 Ball, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Bunch-o-Balloons and Mr. Potato Head.” Here are a few more that have brought smiles to the faces of so many on Christmas Day over the years.
Last week, the Regulatory Transparency Project of the Federalist Society released a paper titled “Holding States Accountable for Copyright Piracy.” The paper was authored by Alden Abbott, Kevin Madigan, Adam Mossoff, Kristen Osenga, and Zvi Rosen and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “copyright is the engine of free expression that supplies the economic incentive to create and disseminate ideas.” However, citing Allen v. Cooper, the paper explained that a recent Supreme Court decision has jeopardized the U.S. copyright system by “severely limiting” the ability of creators and copyright owners to hold states accountable for infringement by holding that states can escape accountability for intentional acts of infringement by invoking the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The paper further emphasized the injustice that Allen has brought forth, since current law allows states to claim the benefits of copyright protection for their own works and works transferred to them, while escaping liability when they infringe the copyrights of others. Solutions were proposed to level the playing field, including Congress enacting a law validly abrogating state sovereign immunity and waiving sovereign immunity for states acting as market participants.
Last week, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced six U.S. researchers as finalists for the European Inventor Award 2021. The EPO began the prestigious European Inventor Award in 2006 to honor individual and teams of inventors in five categories, i.e. Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury of experts in the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research. In addition, a Popular Prize is awarded based on a public vote wherein the public selects a winner from among 15 finalists through online voting. U.S. researcher Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic was nominated for a lifetime achievement award for devoting her career to “developing an ex vivo tissue engineering technique for more precise tissue cultivation.” The remaining U.S. finalists were nominated in the “Non-EPO countries” category. In particular, Kim Lewis and Slava S. Epstein were nominated for their development of a device for separating and incubating single strains of bacteria in nature, Sumita Mitra was nominated for pioneering use of nanotechnology in dentistry, and Bo Pi and Yi He were nominated for developing the first fingerprint sensor capable of detecting both a fingerprint’s pattern and the presence of blood flow.
In an appeal from the United States Court of Federal Claims (Claims Court), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) last week affirmed a decision granting summary judgment in favor of the U.S. government with respect to a nonexclusive trademark license between the Department of the Army and an apparel company (Authentic Apparel Group, LLC v. United States). In the March 4 opinion, the CAFC agreed with the Claims Court that a license agreement’s provision giving the Army broad approval discretion over Authentic’s requests to use the Army’s trademarks on proposed products or marketing materials was not at odds with the principles of trademark law. The CAFC also held that Authentic did not present any legal or factual reasons to deviate from a plain reading of the license agreement’s exculpatory clauses.
Throughout February, we have recognized some of the earliest Black women inventors, beginning with Martha Jones in 1868 and her patent directed to a corn husker, ending with Sarah Boone’s 1892 patent for the Ironing Board. Black women have continued to play an important role in driving innovation during the twentieth century and through today.
Sarah Boone is believed to be the fifth African-American woman to be awarded a U.S. patent Her invention, U.S. Patent No. 473,653, issued in 1892 and was directed to an improved ironing board. The object of her invention was “to produce a cheap, simple, convenient, and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.”
In August 1888, Ellen Elgin, a black woman housekeeper, invented a clothes wringer which allowed clothing to be washed and dried faster by feeding clothes through two rollers to wring out the clothing, thereby making them easier to hang and dry. Elgin sold her patent to a white person because she felt it would have a better chance at success than if people knew the inventor was a woman of color. Thus, U.S. Patent No. 459,343 lists Cyrenus Wheeler, Jr. as the inventor.