Hip Replacements – A Brief Patent History

Nearly one year ago, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I had a total right hip replacement. The surgery went very well. The biggest problem I encountered was nearly non-stop hiccups for the first week, which was likely due to the anesthesia. I was walking the next day, and I am now walking normally and continue to strengthen my leg muscles. With this personal anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the evolution of hip replacement technology through the lens of issued U.S. patents.

Hip surgeries have been taking place for at least 300 years, and have progressed from rudimentary surgeries to the sophisticated total hip replacement (i.e., total hip arthroplasty or THA) surgeries that are so commonplace today. According to the CDC, during 2010 there were 332,000 in patient total hip replacements performed in the U.S. Indeed, hip replacement surgery today is widely recognized as one of the most successful surgical interventions ever developed. See Early Attempts at Hip Arthroplasty.

Modern hip replacement surgery really dates back to the 1960s, with the development of new devices that reduced the wear sustained by artificial hip joints over time, and which provided more predictable outcomes.

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04.15.15 | Biotech, Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

Software Patents and the Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” is a concept that just a few years ago seemed like science fiction, but today seems to be an impending science reality that promises to change the way that we are connected to and use information.

The speedy evolution of the“Internet of Things” (“IoT”) is why the phrase is frequently called a concept, but it really is much more than that. IoT is used to describe the not-too-distant future where ordinary, everyday objects are connected to the Internet. That means that those objects, which can range from wearable devices to washing machines to lamps and coffee makers, will not only be able to relate to the user, but will be able to relate to one another and act in unison.

As with any technology market predicted to rapidly grow, there has been a lot of innovation from a variety of leading technology companies, including IBM, Apple, Google, Samsung, Intel, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and many more. There have also been many exciting innovations from both individuals and start-up companies. Of course, patents can be found whenever there is a technology revolution, and connecting the world through both traditionally high-tech and low-tech devices is absolutely a revolution. But it is a revolution where the technical magic, such as it is, will come in the form of software.

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USPTO Still Accepting Applications into Glossary Pilot

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced that it is continuing to accept applications into the Glossary Pilot. The Glossary Pilot will run until June 2, 2015, or until the USPTO accepts 200 grantable petitions, whichever occurs first. To date, the USPTO has granted more than 100 petitions and has more than 50 others pending.

Beginning on January 2, 2014, the Patent Office initiated the so-called “Glossary Pilot Program” to study how the inclusion of a glossary section in the specification of a patent application at the time of filing the application would improve the clarity of the patent claims and facilitate examination of patent applications by the USPTO. There is no requirement that a glossary section be provided by an applicant as part of the patent application specification, and terms that are not defined are given their ordinary plain meaning as would be understood by one of skill in the art. In order to participate in the Glossary Pilot Program, an applicant is required to include a glossary section in the patent application specification to define terms used in the patent application. Applications accepted receive expedited processing by placing them on an examiner’s special docket prior to the first Office action, and will have special status up to issuance of a first Office action.

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Understanding the Rules of the Game for Doing Business in China

There are significant hurdles to doing business in China. But with a population over 1.4 billion people, the Chinese marketplace is one that rightfully attracts attention from those interested in doing business abroad.

If your business does not quality as a “small entity” at the USPTO, then you absolutely should be doing business in China. But if you own a truly small business or start-up company, you almost certainly do not have the resources necessary to be doing business in China in a proper and responsible way. Where the threshold is between too small for China and too big not to be doing business in China is hard to say, but it is fair to say that all businesses of all sizes should at least investigate the realities of doing business in China and have a China strategy in place.

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04.7.15 | Patent Issues, posts | Gene Quinn

Making the Decision to Appeal vs. Another RCE

Knowing when to give up on a patent application is particularly important for any patent applicant, but when is enough really enough? When should a patent practitioners advise the client to either walk away or file an appeal? Financial resources are limited even for the largest corporations, and throwing good money after bad is not a strategy for success, or a recipe for keeping your clients happy.

When you do not want to give up on a patent application, filing a request for continued examination (RCE) pursuant to 37 CFR 1.114 can be an attractive option compared with the cost and delay associated with filing an appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The filing of the first RCE for a small entity costs $600, and the cost of filing a second or subsequent RCE for a small entity costs $850. Those amounts are doubled for large entities. But filing an RCE also gives the applicant two more bites at the apple in order to try and convince the patent examiner to allow at least some claims. That is, of course, provided that the same rejection cannot be made in the RCE. If the same rejection could be made in the RCE, then the first action could be made final. Assuming you make a proper submission, which  includes, but is not limited to, an information disclosure statement; an amendment to the written description, claims, or drawings; new arguments; or new evidence in support of patentability, you should get at least two additional office actions.

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04.6.15 | Patent Issues, USPTO | Gene Quinn

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