USPTO seeks comment on post grant initiation pilot program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a request for comments on a proposed pilot program pertaining to the institution and conduct of post grant administrative trials. The America Invents Act (AIA), which was signed into law on September 16, 2011, provides for the following post grant administrative trials: Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post-Grant Review (PGR), and Covered Business Method Review (CBM). These new administrative procedures became available on September 16, 2012, one year after the signing of the AIA.

The USPTO currently has a panel of three Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) determine whether to institute a trial, and then normally has the same panel conduct the trial, if a decision is made to institute a trial. The USPTO is now considering a pilot program where the determination of whether to institute an IPR would be made by a single APJ. If the decision is to institute a proceeding, two additional APJs would be assigned to the IPR, joining the APJ who decided to institute the trial. (more…)

Honeywell Patents: From Aircraft Systems to Rechargeable Fuel Cells 

flight plan deviationA variety of technologies are covered in patents issued in recent weeks to Honeywell.

U.S. Patent No. 9086280, titled Aircraft Display Systems and Methods with Flight Plan Deviation Symbology, protects an aircraft system with a deviation module that receives a flight plan to a waypoint and compares a predetermined time of arrival to the estimated time of arrival as well as a visual display coupled to the deviation module which can indicate lateral, vertical and/or time deviation in respect to the flight plan. This technology supposedly improves upon conventional aircraft systems which can detect lateral and vertical deviation but do not take time deviation into account so well.

A system designed to reduce the risk that aircraft can collide while being taxied on the ground is at the center of U.S. Patent No. 9082299, entitled Methods and Systems for Taxiway Traffic Alerting. The patent claims a method performed by a system located on an airplane which involves determining whether the aircraft is on the ground, determining that the airplane is in motion, receiving information from a ground control vehicle which indicates when the ground control vehicle will pass the airplane, and generating a potential collision alert if the determined distance is less than a safe distance threshold based upon the wingspans of both the ground control vehicle and the airplane. This innovation for preventing ground aircraft collisions should improve upon radar monitoring systems which can have a multitude of blind spots.

breathing airHoneywell is also developing technology for emergency responders ready to jump into dangerous situations to save lives, described in U.S. Patent No. 9032952, which is titled Apparatus Having Cross Conditioned Breathing Air. The self-contained breathing apparatus disclosed here includes a tank of compressed air, a face mask, a coaxial conduit extending from the tank to the mask, two valve assemblies coupled to the coaxial conduit and another conduit extending from the second valve assembly and connected to a protective garment. The innovation defines flow paths for inhaled and exhaled air in such a way that helps to cool air from a warm environment prior to being breathed in by a firefighter.

diagnosis buildingBuilding maintenance staff should find that their jobs are made a little easier through the Honeywell invention protected by U.S. Patent No. 9070174, titled Providing a Diagnosis of a System of a Building. The computer-implemented method claimed here involves displaying an identified system of a building, identifying a number of related components within that building system and identifying a relationship between those components that includes an operational status of the component. This invention allows building maintenance staff to better identify an operational issue with any building system while minimizing the staff expertise and the amount of time it takes to address such an issue.

Fuel cell technologies are also being developed by Honeywell. The company received U.S. Patent No. 9065128, which is titled Rechargeable Fuel Cell. The power generator protected by this patent is comprised of a container holding a flexible fuel cell stack, a metal hydride fuel for producing hydrogen within the container, a perforated anode support surrounding and in close thermal contact with the fuel and a perforated cathode electrode, and an anode both supported by the container and exposed on the container’s outside. The new configuration supposedly supports a more stable temperature for the power generator, improving the production of hydrogen fuel from metal hydride.

Honeywell also recently received U.S. Patent No. 9039917, titled Methods for Manufacturing Components from Articles Formed by Additive-Manufacturing Processes. The method for manufacturing a component claimed here involves forming a diffusion coating comprised of an additive surface layer covering a diffusion layer on a first intermediate article and removing the coating from a first intermediate article to form a second intermediate article. This novel additive manufacturing process purportedly produces components with improved structural integrity, mechanical properties and other characteristics that make it better prepared for hot isostatic processing that removes internal defects.

PTO Hopes New Patent Application Alert Service Will Increase Third-Party Submissions

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced a new service called the Patent Application Alert Service (PAAS). The PAAS is a result of a partnership between the USPTO and Reed Tech, a LexisNexis company. Substantively, the PAAS is a system that provides customized email alerts to the public for free when a patent application is published. Users of the system create an account and then save one or more searches.

“The purpose of the tool is to find out about the latest happenings, it is not about being able to search going back, it is about what is current,” explained Dave Abbott, Vice President for Government Solutions at Reed Tech. “There was never an intent for the Office to compete with the commercial providers.”

According to the USPTO, the Patent Application Alert Service enables individuals to stay up-to-date with potentially relevant pre-grant publications of patent applications at the USPTO. Through customizable alerts, individuals who sign up and create a search will be notified when a patent application is published by the USPTO, together with a concise description of the asserted relevance of each document reported.

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Apple Patents: From Vehicle Locators to Viral Social Network Campaigns Management

locating vehicleIn recent weeks, Apple has added to its generous patent portfolio with a variety of interesting patents covering location-based services implemented through the electronic devices produced by the company. The enhancement of location-based services available through mobile devices is at the center of U.S. Patent No. 9066199, which is titled Location-Aware Mobile Device. The method claimed here involves determining a location of a mobile device, controlling a client to display visual indications associated with the device’s location and transmitting information regarding the selection of a visual indication to a network resource. This innovation is designed to increase the opportunities for providing location-based services by enabling the activation of multiple location-based clients directly on a mobile device instead of accessing mapping resources over a network.

Apple is also trying to make it easier for you to locate your car with the technology described in U.S. Patent No. 9041556, titled Method for Locating a Vehicle. The method for locating a vehicle in a parking structure claimed here involves receiving a vehicle signal from a low-power wireless transmitter in the vehicle, determining the vehicle’s location based on the sensor transmitting the vehicle signal, receiving a wireless signal from a device, determining that the device is associated with the vehicle and transmitting information on the vehicle’s location to the device. This invention would leverage the low-energy device communications enabled by Bluetooth, which is becoming an incredibly important technology thanks to the growing Internet of Things sector. (more…)

USPTO and JPO Announce Patent Cooperation Treaty Agreement

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO) have recently announced an implementation agreement under which the JPO will act as an available International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) for certain international applications filed with the USPTO as the Receiving Office, under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The USPTO and JPO are two of the intellectual property offices authorized to conduct international searches and international preliminary examinations in the PCT system.

The PCT is an international agreement that simplifies the filing of patent applications in its contracting countries. A PCT application has the effect of a national application for a patent in any of the designated PCT countries. International applicants receive an International Search Report and an International Preliminary Report on Patentability to help them determine if an application meets basic patentability criteria before committing to the high cost of translating and entering the national stage in one or more PCT countries.

The agreement took effect on July 1, 2015.  The agreement is intended to end on June 30, 2018, but as is typical with these types of bilateral agreements, the USPTO says that it may be continued by mutual written consent.

The addition of JPO as an available ISA and IPEA will allow applicants additional flexibility in choosing an international authority based on the technology disclosed in the international application.

“This latest collaboration between USPTO and JPO exemplifies the cooperative spirit between our Offices and benefits applicants by providing an additional option for examination of their international applications directed to green technology,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee.

Under the agreement, JPO may act as an available searching authority and preliminary examining authority, provided that:

  1. The applications are submitted in the English language.
  2. The claims of the application are directed to the field of green technology as defined by certain International Patent Classification classes.
  3. The JPO has not received more than 5,000 international applications from the USPTO during the three-year period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018, and not more than 300 applications per quarter during the first year, and not more than 475 application per quarter during the second and third years.
  4. The JPO is chosen as a competent authority by the applicants.

Further details on the use of JPO as an ISA/IPEA for applications filed in the US receiving office, including the International Patent Classification classes which define the field of green technology according to this agreement, will be made available on the USPTO Web site.

While 5,000 international applications seems like a small number, the USPTO has in recent years overestimated the popularity of this type of program. Thus, bandwidth to participate shouldn’t be an issue, at least if past history is any guide.