Last week, we in the United States celebrated the Fourth of July, which landed right in the middle of the week on Wednesday. Having a national holiday on a Wednesday typically leads to many taking vacation time and creating their own very long holiday weekend. So while you were away, or perhaps distracted by the scalding hot heat that more than half of the United States suffered from, there were a number of noteworthy patent stories. Yes, decision makers and deal makers did not take a break last week. Not by a long shot.
So while you were otherwise occupied, what did you miss? Here is a run down of five of the most noteworthy stories from last week.
1. WIPO Under Fire For Sending Computers to UN Sanctioned Countries
Earlier this year, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) came under fire for sending computers to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions. See WIPO Embroiled in North Korean Computer Deal. Now WIPO is under fire again. It seems they not only shipped computers to North Korea, but also shipped computers to Iran as well. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) called this latest WIPO transgression “an outrage.” The United States Department of State is attempting to work with WIPO to make sure that new procedures are put into place to ensure this never happens again.
WIPO sending computers to rouge states on the UN sanctions list has been cat-nip for conservatives, with FOX News largely leading the charge in the media. It seems that FOX News has some sources very close to the decision-making process within WIPO because internal memos have leaked showing that at least some within WIPO counseled strongly against sending computers for fear that it would violate UN sanctions with very little, if any, potential upside.
For more on this see:
- State Department Investigating UN Agency (FOX News)
- US Probes UN’s WIPO (Bloomberg)
- State Department, Congress Unhappy with WIPO (IPWatchdog)
2. Federal Circuit Decides General Electric – Mitsubishi ITC Patent Dispute
On Friday, July 6, 2012, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in GE v. ITC. General Electric appealed the decision of the United States International Trade Commission, holding that certain variable-speed wind turbines imported by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, Inc. did not violate section 337 of the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. §1337. At the ITC, the ALJ determined that the ’221 patent is not invalid by reason of obviousness; that the ’039 patent is not invalid by reason of obviousness, written description, or enablement; and that the ’985 patent is not invalid by reason of obviousness or best mode. The ALJ also determined that the three patents were infringed by the imported Mitsubishi wind turbines, and that the intent element of inequitable conduct as to the ’985 patent was not established. The ALJ also determined that the domestic industry requirement is not met as to the ’221 patent, but is met as to the ’039 and ’985 patents.
The Commission held by Final Determination that the ’039 patent is not invalid by reason of obviousness or written description, that the ’039 and ’221 patents are not infringed by the Mitsubishi turbines, and that the domestic industry requirement is not met as to any of the patents.
The ’039 patent expired on February 1, 2011, so the Federal Circuit dismissed that patent and associated issues as being moot. The CAFC then went on to affirm the Commission’s ruling that the ’221 patent is not infringed, but reversed the Commission’s determination of no domestic industry as to the ’985 patent, and remanded for further proceedings with respect to the ’985 patent.
For more see:
3. USPTO Issues Interim Guidelines on Prometheus
On Thursday, July 5, 2012, Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino authored a guest post on the Director’s Blog and announced that Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy Drew Hirshfeld issued a memorandum to all patent examiners implementing a new procedure for examining process claims for subject matter eligibility in view of the Supreme Court decision Mayo v. Prometheus.
According to Commissioner Focarino: “This memorandum is designed to focus on examination of claims most directly impacted by the Mayo decision while the courts continue to address eligibility questions in pending cases, such as Assn. for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics and WildTangent v. Ultramercial.”
For more see:
- USPTO Issues Interim Guidance Under Mayo v. Prometheus (Patent Docs)
- USPTO Issues Patentability Guidelines Under Mayo v. Prometheus (Nutter)
4. Yahoo and Facebook Settle Patent Litigation
On Friday, July 6, 2012, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) announced that they entered into agreements that launch a new advertising partnership, extend and expand distribution arrangements, and settle all pending patent claims between the companies.
“We are excited to develop a deeper partnership with Facebook,” said Ross Levinsohn, interim CEO of Yahoo!. “We are looking forward to building on the success we have already seen to provide innovative new products and experiences for both consumers and sponsors.”
“Yahoo!’s new leaders are driven by a renewed focus on innovation and providing great products to users,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. “Together, we can provide users with engaging social experiences while creating value for marketers.”
For more on this story see:
- Yahoo, Facebook Kiss and Make Up (Wall Street Journal)
- Yahoo & Facebook Settle Patent Battle with Strategic Partnership (IPWatchdog)
5. USPTO Announces Satellite Offices
On Monday, July 2, 2012, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and USPTO Director David Kappos announced three new locations for satellite Patent Offices, which will join the Detroit Patent Office scheduled to open just days from now, on July 13, 2012. The winners in the satellite Patent Office sweepstakes were San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado; and Dallas, Texas.
“By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency’s 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce,” said David Kappos, Director of the USPTO. “These efforts, in conjunction with our ongoing implementation of the America Invents Act, are improving the effectiveness of our IP system, and breathing new life into the innovation ecosystem.”
For more on this see:
- Patent Practitioners: You are Now Free to Move About the Country (PLI Patent Law Practice Center)
Tags: Commissioner Peggy Focarino, Computers, Dallas, David Kappos, Denver, Facebook, Federal Circuit, General Electric, Mitsubishi ITC Patent Dispute, North Korea, Patent Litigation, Prometheus, San Jose, Satellite Offices, UN Sanctioned Countries, USPTO, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Yahoo