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

The intermediary role of patent assertion entities

Back in December 2014, at Michelle Lee’s first confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee,  Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) succinctly pointed out that “one person’s patent troll is another person trying to protect his or her patent.” Thus, as like so many issues in the law, the questions surrounding the so-called patent troll debate are not nearly as straightforward as you may have otherwise been lead to believe.

In order to bring some empirical rigor to the debate, Stephen Haber, a political scientist from Stanford University, recently published the results of a study he completed that explains exactly why so-called patent trolls play a vital role in the innovation ecosystem. He explains that patent assertion entities, who are the ones most often labeled as patent trolls, play a vital role as an intermediary. Essentially, Haber explained to me that when an intermediary ceases to provide value, the intermediary ceases to exist. Thus, the very fact that an intermediary does exist in the marketplace suggests some valuable role.

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