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Countdown to the Unified Patent Court, Part I: The Judges

On February 17, 2023, Germany ratified the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court. This means that the Unified Patent Court (UPC) will definitely go live on June 1, 2023. Thus, it’s time to get one’s ducks in a row and to prepare for this new court system, which provides for a new pan European injunction in patent matters. In order to faciliate such preparation, we will be providing a series of five articles over the coming months until the system starts that will deal with the most important aspects of the UPC.

Assessing PTAB Bias Via Analysis of ‘Dueling Expert’ IPRs

Patent owners think Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) are a fixed game. Their concern goes beyond structural and procedural aspects of the IPR process; patent owners also believe that Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges are hostile to patents. Their concerns are particularly pronounced because their opportunities for appellate review of those PTAB judges’ decisions is limited. This article examines whether this concern is justified.

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.

Looking to the IP Register to Predict Foreign Companies’ Confidence in Ukraine’s Future

A company’s trademark activity is a very telling indicator of whether it is interested in a particular country’s or region’s market. Often, a national intellectual property (IP) office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) IP registry can speak loudest about a company’s true intentions. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. It is instructive to examine how foreign companies behaved with respect to IP registration and renewal in Ukraine to predict how they view business prospects in Ukraine going forward.

Other Barks & Bites: CAFC Affirms Ineligibility Holding at Rule 12(b)(6) Stage in Precedential Decision; DOJ Argues Government Liable for Potential Patent Infringement in Vaccine Case; Sohn Faces Third Nomination Hearing for FCC Seat

This week in Other Barks & Bites: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) holds that a district court committed harmless error in granting a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because Hawk Technology Systems’ patent claims were directed to ineligible subject matter under 35 USC § 101, ultimately affirming the decision; ASML says former employee stole data related to proprietary chip technology; the U.S. Department of Justice states that the U.S. government, not Moderna, bears liability for potential patent infringement in ongoing COVID vaccine case; and Canada Announces funding restrictions to protect IP.

Proposed FTC Ban on Non-Competes: Considerations for Companies to Protect Trade Secrets

In January 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unveiled a proposed ban on non-compete clauses that prohibits employees from joining or forming competitive firms following the termination of their employment. According to the FTC, non-compete clauses unfairly and unnecessarily stifle employees’ ability to pursue better employment opportunities. While this criticism may ring true in the case of lower-wage workers, such as restaurant and warehouse employees, even the staunchest critics of non-compete clauses will typically acknowledge that they can — and often do — play a legitimate role in the protection of trade secrets. This is why the FTC’s proposed rulemaking is causing consternation in the intellectual property community.

Why Does the USPTO Keep Extending the Deadline for Comments on Robust and Reliable Patents?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced on Tuesday that it is once again extending the deadline for submissions on its “Request for Comments on USPTO Initiatives to Ensure the Robustness and Reliability of Patent Rights.” The Office originally published the Federal Register Notice on October 4, 2022, with a deadline of January 3. That deadline was then extended to February 1 in November, with a note that “this will be the only extension of the comment period.” But on Tuesday, the Office said it will extend the deadline a second time “to ensure that all stakeholders have a sufficient opportunity to submit comments on the questions presented in the October 4, 2022, notice.” The announcement also asserted that “this will be the last extension of the comment period.”

Report Finds 68% of Respondents Have Seen Products Counterfeited Online

A report released  Wednesday by MarqVision found that 68% of direct-to-customer (DTC) brands have had their products counterfeited. The report surveyed 295 representatives from DTC brands across the world. The report also provides information about how worried DTC brands are about IP infringement and counterfeiting. The DTC market has tripled over the last five years, accounting now for $1 of every $7 spent, according to the report.

What Brand Owners and Platforms Need to Know for Compliance with the INFORM Consumers Act

Any brand owner with an anticounterfeiting program will tell you that one of their biggest frustrations with online enforcement is that the information online marketplaces keep on third-party sellers is not always accurate or complete. Counterfeit sellers will do anything they can to fly under the radar online, often providing false names, addresses, and other contact information in their online marketplace profiles. Accordingly, it is quite common for brand owners to reach a literal dead end in their investigations of third-party sellers. The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers Act (the “INFORM Consumers Act”), recently signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, aims to make it more difficult for counterfeit sellers to fly under the radar by requiring online marketplaces to collect, verify, and disclose certain information from high-volume third-party sellers to consumers.

The Secrets Behind an Alleged Patent Quality Assurance-Intel Connection

Does Patent Quality Assurance (PQA) have a relationship with Intel? That is fast becoming the question du jour relating to the saga over the VLSI patents, to which Intel is on the hook for over $2 billion after losing a patent infringement action in district court. The factual predicate for the belief that there may be some relationship between PQA and Intel stems from the filing of an inter partes review (IPR) challenge on the part of PQA against the VLSI patents responsible for the $2 billion verdict against Intel. There has been a question in whispers behind the scenes about whether and to what extent the PQA challenge to the VLSI patents is a subterfuge because Intel could not challenge the patents in an IPR itself.

Federal Circuit Clarifies Public Use Bar Requirements in Win for Hologic Against Minerva

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Wednesday issued a precedential opinion clarifying the requirements for the disclosure of technology that is ready for patenting at a public event to qualify as being “in public use” for purposes of the pre-America Invents Act (AIA) public use bar under 35 USC 102(b). The appeal stems from Minerva Surgical, Inc.’s suit against Hologic, Inc. and Cytyc Surgical Products, LLC for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,186,208, titled “Systems for endometrial ablation.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted summary judgment for Hologic that the relevant claims were anticipated under the public use bar of the pre-AIA Section 102(b).

A Follow Up on ‘Patent Durability’: A Way to Ensure Just Compensation for Inventors

Inventions are secrets, at least until they are divulged to others. It would be lovely if an inventor could simply tell their secret to the world and receive just compensation in exchange. However, human nature tells us that people are reluctant to pay for something they are using unless someone makes them pay for it. When an inventor files a patent application, the secret of their invention is instantly shared with the world via public disclosure. As a result of the speed with which the inventor’s secret is shared with the world, receiving just compensation from users of that secret is particularly difficult.

CAFC Reverses District Court Claim Construction in Fuel Tank Sensor Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued a precedential opinion on Monday that reversed and vacated in part a previous lower court ruling in a patent case related to fuel tank sensors. In 2020, SSI Technologies filed a lawsuit against Dongguan Zhengyang Electronic Mechanical LTD (DZEM), alleging infringement of two patents that covered fuel tank sensor technology. SSI accused DZEM of producing systems to reduce emissions for diesel truck engines that infringed U.S. Patent Nos. 8,733,153 and 9,535,038. In September 2021, a Wisconsin district court dismissed the patent infringement claims by SSI, as well as DZEM’s counterclaims that the patents were invalid.

Clause 8 Podcast: How the PTAB Killed Molly Metz’s Patents

The copy writes itself: “Five-Time Woman World Jump Rope Champion Transforms Fitness Industry after Securing Patents.”  However, you’re unlikely to find a glowing profile of Molly Metz on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website anytime soon. That’s because, after the fitness industry embraced Molly’s invention as the gold standard for speed jump ropes, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the USPTO invalidated the claims of the patents based on prior art from 1978 and 1979. 

USPTO Asks Whether AI Inventorship Uncertainty Requires Change

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is requesting public comments on artificial intelligence (AI) and inventorship via a Federal Register Notice published today, February 14. The Office has sought comment on the topic before, but not since its decision to deny patent protection to inventions created by Stephen Thaler’s artificial intelligence (AI) machine, DABUS. That decision was upheld by the district court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on appeal, but the CAFC in its decision left open the possibility that inventions made by human beings with the assistance of AI may be eligible for patent protection.