On September 16, 2012, the America Invents Act is slated to change who is entitled to the title of “applicant” in U.S. national patent applications, removing the requirement that inventors be named as applicants solely for the purposes of US designation. This impacts applicants who have filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and brings the US patent system further into alignment with those of the rest of the PCT signatory nations.
Congratulations to the new USPTO Law School Pilot Program participants! The newly selected schools are:
- Arizona State University School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- California Western School of Law (Trademarks)
- Case Western Reserve University School of Law (Patents)
- Fordham School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- Michigan State University School of Law (Trademarks)
- North Carolina Central University School of Law (Patents)
- University of Notre Dame (Patents and Trademarks)
- University of San Francisco School of Law (Trademarks)
- South Texas College of Law (Trademarks)
- Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- Wayne State University School of Law (Patents), and
- University of Washington School of Law (Patents and Trademarks).
These schools join the law schools that are current members of the program. These existing schools are:
- American University, Washington College of Law (Trademarks)
- Howard University School of Law (Trademarks)
- North Carolina Central University School of Law (Trademarks)
- Rutgers Law School – Newark (Trademarks)
- The George Washington University School of Law (Trademarks)
- The John Marshall School of Law (Patents)
- University of Akron School of Law (Trademarks)
- University of Connecticut School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- University of Maine School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- University of Maryland School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- University of New Hampshire School of Law (Trademarks)
- University of Puerto Rico School of Law (Patents and Trademarks)
- University of Richmond – Richmond School of Law (Trademarks)
- Vanderbilt Law School (Trademarks)
- West Virginia University School of Law (Trademarks), and
- William Mitchell College of Law (Patents and Trademarks).
The law school pilot program promotes affordable intellectual property (IP) legal services to individuals and small businesses. Law schools participating in the program provide IP legal services to clients on a pro bono basis.
The USPTO accepts law schools into the program that demonstrate strong clinic programs. Overall the schools must possess solid IP curricula supporting a participating student’s hands-on learning in the program; a commitment to networking in the community; comprehensive pro bono services; and excellent case management systems. Students in the IP programs can expect to draft and file patent and trademark applications and respond to Office Actions. Each law school clinic program must meet and maintain the requirements for USPTO certification in order for student practitioners to practice before the USPTO.
Factoid: The USPTO has issued millions of patents. Number 8,000,000 will issue in 2011.
The USA is a very, very inventive country. At 8,000,000 patents in just under 200 years, we’ve come a long way since the verdict was issued that “everything that can be invented has already been invented.” We’ll keep on inventing … and inventing … and inventing. That’s how progress is made.
Now isn’t this interesting. China, whose ancient and noble culture does not include much respect for intellectual property, believes that it will be the leader in the world for issuing patents in 2011, outgunning the USPTO, the European Patent Office, and Japan. They say that both number and quality of patents have increased steadily to the point where the Chinese Patent Office will issue the greatest number of patents in 2011.
I never knew it was a race. Patents are good within the geographic boundaries of the sovereign nation that issues the patent during the term of the patent. Therefore, patent offices don’t compete with each other the same way that, say, a car dealership competes with the dealership down the road. You can — and often should — obtain patent protection in more than one country. China cannot grant patent protection in the United States or in Japan or in the European Union or in any other country; the patents issuing in China may well also issue in other countries. Other patent offices might consider hunkering down and getting ready for a blitz of applications based on the number of Chinese patents whose owners may seek foreign protection.
I am delighted, however, to see that China’s Patent Office is so very busy. That says to me that Chinese law recognizes the intellectual property rights of others; the culture, then, should follow suit, though perhaps the culture will move more slowly than does the law in this instance. The fact that they are signatory to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (they entered the treaty on 1 January 1994) says that the laws governing this culture are changing, which will eventually change the culture’s respect for intellectual property.
So, bravo for China!