USPTO Seeks Comment on Post Grant Trial Proceedings

The America Invents Act (AIA) provided for a variety of new administrative trial proceedings, including: (1) Inter partes review; (2) post-grant review; (3) covered business method patents review; and (4) derivation proceedings. To bring these new proceedings into being, the USPTO issued a number of final rules and a trial practice guide in August and September of 2012.

During the rulemaking to implement the administrative trial provisions of the AIA, the USPTO held roundtable discussions in a number of cities across the country. The USPTO at that time committed to revisiting the rules and practice guide once the Board and public had operated under the rules and practice guide for some period and had gained experience with the new administrative trial proceedings. With nearly three years of experience with these new proceedings, the time has now come for the USPTO to revisit the rules.

The USPTO began the process of revisiting the AIA administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide by engaging in a nationwide listening tour. The USPTO conducted a series of eight roundtables in April and May of 2014, in Alexandria, New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Dallas, and Denver, to share information concerning the AIA administrative trial proceedings and obtain public feedback on these proceedings.

The USPTO is now ready to take the next steps and is seeking public comment on all aspects of the new administrative trial proceedings, including the administrative trial proceeding rules and trial practice guide. Written comments must be received on or before September 16, 2014, and should be sent via e-mail to TrialsRFC2014@ uspto.gov. Electronic comments submitted in plain text are preferred.

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USPTO Proposes Changes to Patent Term Adjustment in Response to Novartis

Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office proposed changes to the rules of practice pertaining to the patent term adjustment provisions in view of the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Novartis AG v. Lee.

Novartis filed law suits that challenged the determinations by the USPTO of how much time to add to the patent term under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b) with respect to 18 different patents. The district court dismissed 15 of the claims as untimely asserted, and the Federal Circuit affirmed that ruling. With respect to the substantive ruling on the other three patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,807,155; 7,968,518; and 7,973,031), the Federal Circuit in a panel decision by Judge Taranto (joined by Judges Newman and Dyk) concluded that the USPTO was partly correct and partly incorrect in its interpretation of § 154(b)(1)(B).  As a result, the Federal Circuit determined that Novartis was entitled to most, but not all, of the patent term adjustment it seeks.

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Satellite Patent Office Update: Denver Opens June 30, 2014

The America Invents Act furthered the era of the satellite Patent Office. The law signed by President Obama on September 16, 2011, laid the foundation for the establishment of at least three satellite offices in addition to the one already planned for Detroit, Michigan. The cities selected for those three satellite offices were Denver, San Jose and Dallas.

The latest announcement from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on satellite offices came recently with the announcement that its permanent satellite office in Denver, Colorado, would officially open on June 30, 2014. The USPTO Denver satellite office will be located in the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building (pictured left) in Denver’s central business district.

The Byron G. Rogers Federal Building is home to multiple federal agencies and offers convenient access to downtown and suburban sites, including through the metro region’s array of public transportation options. The office will eventually house patent examiners, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges, and outreach officials in a 45,000-square-foot space. There are currently nine PTAB judges working in a temporary location opened in Lakewood, Colorado, in January 2013. In addition to those judges, all of whom will relocate to the new office, the USPTO is currently seeking to hire additional judges and patent examiners for the permanent office, as well as a Deputy Regional Director for Outreach. The USPTO says that  100 examiners, 20 administrative patent judges, and their support staff will eventually be housed at the Denver location. All vacancy announcements are posted on www.usajobs.gov.

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USPTO Issues Design Patent No. 700,000

The Department of Commerce recently had a ceremony at Langdon Education Campus in Washington, DC, commemorating the issuance of the 700,000th design patent (see main image to the left). The design patent, titled Hand-held learning apparatus, was issued to LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: LF) on February 25, 2014, but the celebration ceremony was not held until March 26, 2014.

“Protecting and promoting our idea-driven economy is essential to keeping America open for business,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The USPTO plays a major role in serving our nation’s innovators by granting them the intellectual property rights they need to secure investment capital, build companies and bring their products and services to the global marketplace.”

The ceremony also included the launch of a new Intellectual Property (IP) Patch developed as a joint project between the USPTO, the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, and the Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) Education Foundation.

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CAFC Vacates PTAB Because of New Ground of Rejection

lutz-biedermann-imageThe Federal Circuit recently issued a decision on an appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board where the central question was whether the Board and the examiner properly relied on the same articulated reasoning and factual underpinnings in rejecting a claim, or whether instead the Board made new findings and adopted different reasons to support a new ground of rejection, thus depriving the applicant of both notice and an opportunity to respond. See In re Lutz Biedermann.

Lutz Biedermann and Jurgen Harms (collectively “Biedermann”) appealed a decision of the Board affirming the rejection of claims 32, 33, 35–37, 39, and 48 of U.S. Patent Application No. 10/306,057 (“’057 Application”) for obviousness, 35 U.S.C. § 103(a). Ultimately, the Federal Circuit, per Judge Linn (with Judges Moore and O’Malley agreeing), determined that the Board rejection did constitute a new grounds of rejection. Thus, the Board’s decision was vacated and remanded for further proceedings.

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