.The USPTO has a very cool article on its site. It seems former #NFL cornerback Shawn Springs holds a patent on helmet foam technology that minimizes the effects of those skull-crushing impacts that football players suffer as part of the game. The technology is adapted from a child safety seat used in automobiles.
If you’ve invented something, or are even thinking about inventing something, the US Patent and Trademark Office’s 2020 Invention-Con is The Place To Be. It started yesterday (8/20/2020) and continues through tomorrow (8/22/2020). This year’s theme is Your IP: A power tool for building success.
…and Delain Law Office, PLLC congratulates them.
The National Patent Drafting Competition is a competition that the US Patent & Trademark Office holds for law students to introduce them to issues arising in US patent law. The point of the competition is to develop each team’s drafting, amending and prosecuting skills working with a hypothetical invention statement.
Competitions like this one vastly improve the quality of the work that a new law-school graduate can produce right out of the gate. Patent drafting is one of those things where practice makes perfect; the more practice a student gets, the more professional his or her initial work will be. The law students who have the opportunity to participate in competitions such as this one will join the ranks of the legal profession with some degree of experience under their belts … and this experience is invaluable to them and to their clients.
Under the CARES Act, the US Patent and Trademark Office has the (temporary) authority to “manage” … postpone … certain statutory deadlines in patent matters.
The CARES Act, H.R. 748 116th Cong. (2020), gives the USPTO the authority during the emergency period to “toll, waive, adjust, or modify any timing deadline established” in the Patent Act or Trademark Act, including any regulations implementing these timing deadlines.” The Act is in effect from 27 March 2020 (the date the legislation was enacted) until 60 days after the state of national emergency is resolved.
There are only certain criteria under which the USPTO can waive statutory deadlines.
- The timing deadline materially affects the functioning of the USPTO.
- The timing deadline prejudices the rights of applicants, registrants, patent owners or others appearing before the office.
- The timing deadline prevents applicants, registrants, patent owners or others appearing before the office from filing a document or fee with the office.
Once the director determines such a waiver is appropriate, the USPTO has to publish a notice to implement the waiver.
Within 20 days of issuing the notice, the CARES Act also requires the USPTO to report to Congress for any waiver that adjusts due dates for more than 120 days. Furthermore, the USPTO’s authority to alter these due dates during the emergency period expires two years after the date of enactment.
Until the USPTO issues such a notice, patent and trademark applicants and owners must still comply with the timing deadlines.
SCOTUS granted certiorari to and recently heard arguments on the case of a guy trying to register FUCT as a trademark. The question: Can a phonetically profane word be registered as a trademark?
The US Patent & Trademark Office denied registration of the mark based on its obvious similarity to the past participle of a verb commonly recognized as profane. The case has wended its way through the appellate process (US District Court for DC, Federal Circuit) and now sits before the Nine Wise Ones where it asks them to decide whether a long-standing rule prohibiting the registration of profane words interferes with the trademark holder’s First Amendment free-speech rights. They heard oral arguments on 15 April 2019.
The Roberts Court has a history with disparaging marks, having allowed SLANTS (which the USPTO denied based on its derogatory reference to Orientals) only last year. But SLANTS is not outright profanity. FUCT, phonetically, is. It’ll be interesting to see what this blatantly conservative Court does with FUCT. Seems to me that either the trademark holder will be FUCT or the public will be.
The US Patent and Trademark Office issued a proposed fee adjustment today. The large-entity fees are going up.
That, of course, impacts the small- and micro-entity fees, since those fees are expressed as a percentage of the large-entity fees (50% reduction for small entities, 75% reduction for micro entities). The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking won’t be officially published until Monday, 3 October, but the unofficial version is available now. The increases (and, of course, the fee adjustments are mostly increases) aren’t big, but they are there. It’s important for the patent applicant to be aware of them.
From the US Patent and Trademark Office:
The USPTO will host a three day training course on examination practice and procedure for members of the public as part of the Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) program. The training will be held November 15 – 17 on the USPTO’s Alexandria, Virginia campus.
This training is intended for those who have recently passed the Patent Bar for the purpose of practicing before the USPTO. The training will make use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO. The course is led by USPTO trainers and is based on material developed for training patent examiners and other employees. More information and a proposed upcoming course schedule is available on the USPTO STEPP program web page
I was present in the Courtroom for the announcement of the Cuozzo decision by SCOTUS. This decision makes it clear that inter partes review by the USPTO is not appealable, and that the USPTO can institute such review sua sponte (by its own initiative). It’s an interesting decision.
35 USC §314(d) says that the “determination by the [Patent Office] whether to institute an inter partes review under this section shall be final and nonappealable.” (Emphasis added.)
35 USC §312 says that petitions must be pleaded “with particularity.” Those words, in its view, mean that the petition should have specifically said that claims 10 and 14 are also obvious in light of this same prior art. Garmin’s petition, the Government replies, need not have mentioned claims 10 and 14 separately, for claims 10, 14, and 17 are all logically linked; the claims “rise and fall together,” and a petition need not simply repeat the same argument expressly when it is so obviously implied.
The “No Appeal” provision’s language must, at the least, forbid an appeal that attacks a “determination . . . whether to institute” review by raising this kind of legal question and little more. §314(d).
Moreover, a contrary holding would undercut the Patent Office’s significant power to revisit and revise earlier patent grants. Congress would not likely have granted the Patent Office this reexam authority if it had thought that the agency’s final decision could be unwound under some minor statutory technicality related to its preliminary decision to institute inter partes review. Congress has told the Patent Office to determine whether inter partes review should proceed, and it has made the agency’s decision “final” and “nonappealable.” §314(d). SCOTUS’s conclusion that courts may not revisit this initial determination gives effect to this statutory command.
However, the Court limits its green-lighting of the USPTO’s unappealable reviews: “… we need not, and do not, decide the precise effect of §314(d) on appeals that implicate constitutional questions, that depend on other less closely related statutes, or that present other questions of interpretation that reach, in terms of scope and impact, well beyond “this section.”” The Court does not “…categorically preclude review of a final decision where a petition fails to give “sufficient notice” such that there is a due process problem with the entire proceeding, [or] enable the agency to act outside its statutory limits by, for example, canceling a patent claim for “indefiniteness under §112” in inter partes review.”
From the USPTO’s website:
“The Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) program is administered by the Office of Patent Training (OPT) under the third pillar (Pillar 3, Excellence in Customer Service), of the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI) and is a new and important part of the USPTO’s mission to deliver intellectual property information and education to external stakeholders.
Training delivered through STEPP is designed to provide external stakeholders with a better understanding of how and why an examiner makes decisions while examining a patent application. In person courses are led by USPTO trainers and based on material developed for training employees of the USPTO.
Currently, it is anticipated that courses provided through STEPP will be free to attend. In addition, the USPTO is in the process of determining the applicability of providing CLE credits for attending STEPP courses; however, CLE credit cannot be earned for the first scheduled training session.”
The first scheduled training session is July 12-14 at the USPTO’s campus in Alexandria, VA.
For more information, see the USPTO’s website.
From the USPTO:
“The new Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront is now available. Customers can look up and pay patent maintenance fees using the patent number and patent application number, as in the retired system. We recommend reviewing the information here and on the Fee Payment Transition Resources page to learn more about the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront’s enhanced features.”