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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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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USPTO embarks on patent quality initiative

“The innovation that is fostered by a strong patent system is a key driver of economic growth and job creation.” That is how the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began the Federal Register Notice announcing the patent quality initiative back in early February 2015. While it may seem like the drive for patent quality is a brand new initiative at the USPTO, the truth is that Director Michelle Lee (pictured, left) has been talking about patent quality ever since she assumed the role of Deputy Director and de facto head of the Patent Office nearly 18 months ago.

On Wednesday and Thursday, March 25 and 26, the USPTO took the first public steps on the road to enhancing patent quality by hosting a Patent Quality Summit at the Office’s main campus in Alexandria, Virginia.

Leading up to the event, I spoke with Valencia Martin-Wallace, who was recently named to the newly created position of Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality. I asked her about what the Office hoped to accomplish with the Summit.

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USPTO Releases 101 Guidance and Illustrative Examples

Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released several patent eligible subject matter examples, which together with the recently released patent eligibility guidance will give applicants, patent prosecutors and patent examiners more information about how the USPTO interprets the state of the law in this all-important area.

To recap, in December 2014, the USPTO released Interim Eligibility Guidance, which provided information about how the Office interprets 35 U.S.C. 101 in light of recent Supreme Court decisions.  This latest interim guidance supplements the guidance given by the office in June 2014 relative to the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. __, 134 S. Ct. 2347 (2014). This guidance supersedes the March 4, 2014, eligibility guidance for claims involving laws of nature, natural phenomena and natural products, which was issued relative to the Supreme Court’s decisions in Mayo Collaborative Serv. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 566 U.S. __, 132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012) and Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U.S. __, 133 S. Ct. 2107 (2013).

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The Future Software Patent Application

In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, many in the patent community are starting to realize just how different things will be moving forward. Initially, some convinced themselves that nothing had really changed substantively, which was bolstered by the initial USPTO guidance. But quickly that bubble burst as the Patent Office started issuing supplemental office actions and even withdrawing notices of allowance, all to issue Alice rejections. So what will a software patent application look like that has allowable claims? That is a very good question.

U.S. Patent No. 8,515,829 (“the ‘829 patent”) may provide some answers. It is a patent issued to Google, which is titled Tax-free giftingSee Google Patents Tax-Free Gifting. Generally speaking, the invention relates to a system and related techniques for gifting, and paying for, digital content, including media, such as audio and video. The core of the invention, as suggested by the title, relates to giving someone something tax-free. The invention relates to a method that allows for the giver of the gift to pay for the tax imposed by the jurisdiction where the gift (i.e., gift card) is redeemed.

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