Tag Archives: USPTO

Financial services IP is focus of July conference in NYC; IPCU readers receive a $200 discount

FinTech, blockchain, cybercrime – intellectual property for the financial services industry today requires a balance of emerging technologies and rights, including patents and trade secrets. 

On July 24-25 in New York World Congress is holding the 16th annual “Protecting Innovations in the Financial Services Industry.” It will be convened at the Intercontinental Barclay, between Park and Lexington Avenues.

Speakers include USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Microsoft Chief IP Counsel, Erich Andersen (pictured) and IP executives from American Express, MasterCard and Wells Fargo.

Hon. Joy Flowers Conti, Chief Judge United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, also will present.

Program highlights include:

  • Discuss implications of the USPTOs recently announced guidance for subject matter eligibility under Section 101
  • Assess the impact of the revised guidance on Federal Court cases
  • Determine patentability of AI and blockchain technologies: Gain strategies to overcome patent eligibility rejection
  • Explore innovations in FinTech and their impact on financial services IP
  • Hear updates on CBM and IPR proceedings
  • Foster a culture of innovation and strengthen the IP ecosystem

 

For the full program, go here.

For the list of speakers, here.

To register, go here. IP CloseUp readers receive a $200 discount by including conference code, CLOSEUP.

 

Image source: worldcongress.com

 

Video: IP leaders provide their take on the importance of IP rights at Columbia Journalism School event

IP executives, experts and owners from leading businesses and organizations gathered at Columbia University’s School of Journalism late last year at the IP Awareness Summit (IPAS) to identify ways of improving IP literacy.

There responses to why should IP taken seriously and taught in schools has been made into a video produced by London-based Ideas Matters.

The respondents included United States Patent and Trademark Office Director, Andrei Iancu, IBM Chief Patent Counsel, Manny Schecter, and Brian Hinman of Aon IP Solutions, formerly head of IP business at Philips, Verizon and IBM, and founder of Allied Security Trust and Unified Patents.

Also conveying their perspective were Maysa Razavi, Manager, Anti-Counterfeiting, the International Trademark Association (INTA), Scott Frank, CEO, AT&T IP, Professor Ruth Soetendorp, Professor Emeritus, Bournemouth University and former chair of the IP Awareness Network (IPAN) and Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law at George Mason and founder of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property.

To access the Center for IP Understanding (CIPU) YouTube Channel, visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZk165UL2V8fNiJjVcQtnmQ

IPAS 2018 was held by the Center for IP Understanding in conjunction with Columbia Technology Ventures and other partners at the Columbia School of Journalism. More 125 IP owners, organizations, educators, creators and investors attended.

Scott Frank, President & CEO, AT&T IP

 

Image source: CIPU/understandingip.org

 

Inventor who said $17M is the real cost of obtaining his patent, wins $24.5M suit

How much does it cost to obtain and use a U.S. patent? The depends who you ask.

The price to obtain an invention right can range from $6,000 for a very basic one with few claims to $50,000 of more for a more complex application that requires significant back and forth with the Patent Office.

A successful inventor, Josh Malone, creator of Bunch O Balloons, says the true cost of obtaining his patent and using it to defend his invention has been $17 million, thus far, and it could easily grow to $50 million. (For Malone’s reasoning, go here.)

Bunch O Balloons, a consumer product that can fill 100 water balloons in 60 seconds, has had to defend itself against TeleBrands Corp, which has repeatedly infringed it with different businesses over a period of years.

Last week, Bunch of Balloons, originally a crowd-funded company, won a $24.5 million patent suit against TeleBrands Corp.  $4.75 million was added for attorney’s fees.

The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,242,749 and 9,315,282.

Makeover?

Jay Walker, founder of Priceline.com, one of the most prolific US inventors, has called the U.S. Patent System dysfunctional and is in need of a major makeover. Not all patent holders would agree, but for many inventors, the cards are increasingly stacked against them. (Hear the audio file of Walker’s speech about the patent system at the 2018 IP Awareness Summit at Columbia University.)

At the heart of the problem is uncertainty about what can, in fact, be patented and licensed. Patents in new areas of invention or art can be overly ambitious. Some may be too broadly drawn and claim more than the invention covers in hopes of keeping others from doing something similar.

In an over-reaction to that possibility lawmakers and courts have made it difficult to rely on many patents, despite the extensive examination process they go through. As a result, many issued patents are, in effect, still applications.

Uncertainty

There is little agreement on an acceptable level of uncertainty. If virtually any patent issued that is enforced can be routinely challenged, what is the point of issuing it in the first place?

Critics say that an inventor should not be able to claim what can amount to an entire industry, as opposed being granted a patent on a specific invention. The patent office often does not realize it may be granting rights too broadly.

Image source: wgno.com; ipwatchdog.com

 

 

 

China is source of 43% of world’s patent applications; 60% of trademark apps

China may not yet be on an equal footing with the leading industrialized nations in terms invention quality and brand recognition, but according to a recent study by the World Intellectual Property Organization, it is feverishly trying to show it is.

In 2017 China filed more than twice the number of U.S. patent applications globally; more than ten times the number of trademarks; and about 14 times the number of design patents.

China was responsible for 43.5% of all patent applications and about 60% of trademarks filed worldwide. It is responsible for 90% of the growth in trademark filings. It also filed about 70% of the industrial design patents.

This is according to a report published by WIPO, the UN-supported World Intellectual Property Organization, “World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018.”

IP rights have become something of a numbers game in China, encouraged by the government, which is eager to compete in technology and commerce and willing to offer attractive incentives.

IP quantity can only take businesses so far, and there are many weak or questionable patents and trademarks held by Chinese entities, including universities, that never should have been issued. However, it is clear that China no longer wants to be considered a “copycat” nation and is taking what it believes are the right steps to assure that. It means to catch up with global leaders and quickly.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations: “The Chinese government has launched ‘Made in China 2025,’ a state-led industrial policy that seeks to make China dominant in global high-tech manufacturing. The program aims to use government subsidies, mobilize state-owned enterprises, and pursue intellectual property acquisition to catch up with—and then surpass—Western technological prowess in advanced industries.”

Chinese companies and universities are likely to have at least some quality patents and marks and, unlike Japanese IP holders which were high active U.S. filers starting in the 1980s, are more likely to enforce them.

Asia Tops Global IP Activity

According to the WIPO report, China recorded the highest application volume for both patents and trademarks inside the country, as well as among other nations, and seeks to protect and promote their work in one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies.

Asia has strengthened its position as the region with the greatest activity in patent filings. Offices located in Asia was responsible for 65.1% of all applications filed worldwide in 2017 – a considerable increase from 49.7% in 2007 – primarily driven by growth in China.

While China claims more patents than any other nation, Bloomberg News says that “most are worthless.” The lapse rate is extremely high, with more than 50% of the five-year old utility patents abandoned and 91% of design patents.

“The high attrition rate,” says Bloomberg, “is a symptom of the way China has pushed universities, companies and backyard inventors to transform the country into a self-sufficient powerhouse.”

Subsidies and other incentives are geared toward making patent filings, rather than making sure those claims are useful. So the volume doesn’t translate into quality, with the country still dependent on others for innovative ideas, such as modern smartphones.

Still Learning

Bloomberg’s analysis may not be entirely fair. IBM, for example, consistently the top annual U.S. patent recipient, permits a huge number to lapse. Many of those that remain are quite valuable. Some patent strategists in tech believe that it is effective to patent broadly to prevent some inventions from becoming proprietary and then pare back as sectors and products evolve.

A handful of great patents can be more valuable than thousands of mediocre ones, as the pharmaceutical companies have proven. It takes a lot of work – and some luck – to identify them. China is still learning what IP is and how to use it. Japanese companies patented very aggressively in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s when they were being sued by American tech companies, sometimes with the threat of injunction. Many of the patents were said to be of questionable quality but they were able to generate more IP respect for Japanese companies and made them somewhat less vulnerable to U.S. enforcement.

China Foreign Filing Up 15%

China reported a 15% growth in filings abroad, which is far above that of Japan (+2.1%) and the U.S. (+2%). Both Germany (-0.6%) and the Republic of Korea (-4.1%) had fewer filings abroad in 2017 than in 2016.

 

Total patents in force worldwide grew by 5.7% to reach 13.7 million in 2017. Around 2.98 million patents were in force in the U.S., while China (2.09 million) and Japan (2.01 million) each had around 2 million.

No data was provided about the percentage of foreign patent applications in China.

The IP office of China had the highest volume of trademark filing activity with a class count of around 5.7 million, followed by the U.S. (613,921), Japan (560,269), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO; 371,508) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (358,353).

The top 10 patent applicants worldwide, based on total number of patent families from 2013 to 2015 were Canon (Japan); Samsung Electronics (South Korea); State Grid Corporation of China; Mitsubishi Electric (Japan); International Business Machines (US); Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan); Huawai Technologies (China); Toshiba (Japan); LG Electronics (South Korea); and Robert Bosch (Germany).

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 191 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs.

For the full WIPO report, World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018, go here

For the summary, interactive charts and key facts and figures, go here.

 

Image source: wipo.int

U.S. Trademark head, PTAB Chief Judge to speak about IP eligibility – $100 discount for IPCU readers

Intellectual property and IP law are in a constant state of flux. For those interested in keeping up with recent changes the 11th annual Corporate IP Counsel Forum is time well-spent.

Corporate speakers include Seagate Technology, MasterCard, American Express, Raytheon, NCR Corporation and SAS Institute. Law firms include Ropes & Gray, Fish & Richardson and Finnegan Henderson.

Mary Boney Denison, U.S. Trademark Commissioner and Mark Powell, Deputy Commissioner of International Patent Cooperation, USPTO, will address “Recent Innovations in Technology and the Resulting Effects on Eligibility.”

IPCCF is being held at the Westin New York Times Square, March 28-29.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Judiciary, in-house, and external counsel perspectives
  • Procedural changes at the PTAB
  • Venue and litigation strategy in the wake of TC Heartland
  • Legal implications of AI
  • Employee trade secret theft
  • Round table break-outs including, understanding blockchain, combating counterfeits & promoting diversity

IP CloseUp readers use code CLOSE to receive a $100 discount. 

For the conference agenda, go here.

For the full list of speakers, go here.

To register, please visit this link.

Image source: uspto.gov; inta.org

 

 

U.S. patent grants down the most since 2009; China is only nation up

U.S. patent grants were down 3.5% in 2018 over 2017, only the second decline in the past decade, but the largest. 

All nations experienced a decline in grants, except China, which was up 12%.

The reasons for the declines are unclear. They range from

  • Over-patenting in prior years
  • Uncertainty of newly issued patents
  • Lower return on patents
  • Insufficient R&D
  • Growth of businesses in which patents are difficult to secure, e.g. software, algorithms and business methods

According to this year’s report from patent analytics firm IFI Claims:

  • The USPTO issued 308,853 Utility Grant patents in 2018. This represents a 3.5% decline from 2017’s record year.
  • US companies received 46% of these patents. Asian companies received 31% and European companies received 15%.
  • Chinese companies represent only 4% of 2018 US Grants, but their total of 12,589 US patents is an increase of 12% over 2017.

2017 was the 26th year that IBM received the most U.S. patent grants, 9,100.

Google, Samsung and Sony were down 14%, 16% and 21% respectively. Ford Global Technologies and Huawei were both up 14%.

Samsung: Still Largest U.S. Holder

The world’s largest “active” U.S. patent holders and their subsidiaries convey a somewhat different picture. Samsung is first, according the IFI Claims Ultimate Owner ranking, with 61,608 and IBM is third with 34,376. (Canon is second just ahead of IBM.)

The reasons for the significant difference is unclear. They likely have to do with owners’ perceived need to maintain patents they may not use and whether the patents are being used to out-license for revenue or defensively to mitigate risk and maintain market share.

Image source: IFI Claims Patent Service   

A responsive patent system requires time and participation: a response to Jay Walker’s IPAS 2018 speech

GUEST COLUMN:

At the IP Awareness Summit held at the Columbia University on November 29 Jay Walker, entrepreneur, prolific inventor, TEDMED curator and founder of Priceline.com, spoke about a “broken” patent system and need for a Constitutional Convention to fix it. In the following response to Walker’s speech, Brenda Pomerance takes a different view. 

 

Improving the Patent System:

Independent Inventors Need Apply

By Brenda Pomerance

At the IP Awareness Summit held by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding on November 29, 2018 at the Columbia School of Journalism, Jay Walker gave a keynote presentation asserting that the Patent System was irreparably broken for individual inventors lacking “deep pockets.” He based his position on five problems, and called for an entirely redesigned Patent System.

In fact, two of these problems are features, not problems. The existing Patent System can be tweaked to provide individuals with a fairer playing field for the other three problems.

First, clarity: Walker says that patent claims are impossible for him to understand.

Lack of clarity, for laypersons, is due to the need for a claim to only distinguish from the prior art, not to explain how to make an invention and to distinguish that invention from the prior art.  Walker can eliminate his clarity problem by telling his patent attorney to write claims that are essentially a production specification for the invention, but the scope of these claims will be much narrower than is needed. Examiners will love these production specification claims and prosecution will be faster.

Also, the Patent System enables a claim to encompass something that the inventor did not specifically think of when the patent application was filed, if claims are suitably written and there was no discussion of this issue in the prosecution history, but an inventor can relinquish this flexibility via clearer claims that are limited to exactly what the inventor invented.

Second, reliability: Walker says that because so many patents are invalidated, a patent is not a reliable property.

Walker can hugely improve validity by telling his patent attorney to write claims that will survive most litigation challenges (a very high standard), rather than claims that an examiner will allow (a lower standard). But, the inventor will have to (a) do the comprehensive prior art search that litigation defendants do (costing up to $100,000 for the search), then (b) figure out why it would not be obvious-to-try to combine this prior art to arrive at the invention, and finally (c) explain non-obviousness in the disclosure, which requires a detailed in-context understanding of each piece of prior art and vastly more care expended on the background section of a patent application.

An excellent prior art search along with an explanation distinguishing the claims from the prior art will speed up prosecution, but will substantially increase the cost of patent application preparation, possibly making it too costly for shallow pocket individuals.

Third and Fourth, cost and time: Walker says that it is too expensive and takes too long to enforce a patent.

Here are some tweaks to address enforcement cost and time problems:

(A) Require that all prior-art based challenges to a patent be presented in an IPR Request that is filed within nine months (not one year, to reduce gamesmanship of multiple IPR filings) of the lawsuit’s filing, unless plaintiff consents to addressing prior art invalidation in litigation, with a prohibition on staying the lawsuit for the IPR until the IPR Request is granted, and an automatic lawsuit stay after the IPR Request is granted unless the parties agree to concurrent litigation.  During litigation, this would leave mainly inequitable conduct available to invalidate a patent during litigation unless and until defendant negotiates for prior art, perhaps via accelerated discovery or payment.  It requires that the PTAB consider as prior art more than merely printed publications.

(B) If PTAB denies the IPR Request (the current PTAB denial rate is 40%), the patent is presumed valid over prior art against the challenger in all Patent Office and court proceedings.   This will speed up enforcement against defendants who make only small changes but keep infringing to force patent owner to file new lawsuits.

(C) If all claims, asserted in litigation at the time of IPR Request filing, are invalidated in an IPR based on a prior art rejection (references and motivation to combine) that the patent owner was notified of by the patent challenger at least three months prior to the filing of the IPR Request, then the patent owner has to pay the challenger’s attorney fees for preparing and filing (but not prosecuting) the IPR Request.  This encourages defendants to quickly share their most relevant invalidity arguments, and punishes plaintiffs who ignore relevant prior art and waste defendants’ resources in an IPR, but the punishment is limited by not including prosecution costs so as not to be too scary for good faith plaintiffs.

(D) After an IPR Request has been disposed of via denial or an IPR, a deep pocket defendant must begin paying half of the monthly cost of litigation attorney fees for a shallow pocket plaintiff based on redacted attorney invoices.   If the judge or jury finds the defendant is not liable for any infringement damages, then the plaintiff must repay the attorney fee payments.

(E) For a patent that has survived IPR, via IPR Request denial or an IPR, and that a defendant has been shown to infringe, restore the presumption of irreparable damage for patent infringement that was destroyed by eBay v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388 (2006), leading to an injunction absent exceptional circumstances, regardless of whether patent owner licenses or practices the patent.

(F) Provide a rebuttable presumption that the patented technology is frequently used by all accused products and services of an infringer, and require that damages be based on how often a technology is actually used to provide a product or service, so that rarely used features have relatively small damages awards, while frequently used features can have large damage awards.   The incentive of rebuttal should encourage defendants to provide discovery, instead of the current gamesmanship of withholding discovery.

(G) For a prevailing shallow pocket individual plaintiff, a deep pocket defendant must pay 200% of the plaintiff’s attorney fees absent exceptional circumstances.  This penalizes deep pocket litigants for litigation gamesmanship.

Fifth, price discovery: Walker says that it is difficult to predict what infringement damages will be.

The pre-litigation part of this difficulty is because parties like to keep confidential the cost of licenses and settlements; but confidentiality should be their right.

The litigation part of this difficulty is because defendants are extraordinarily reluctant to provide discovery on what portion of their business infringes and the revenue associated with doing so; D-G above, especially F, will reduce such reluctance.

Conclusion

I agree with Walker that, at present, the enforcement part of the Patent System is hostile towards under-funded individual inventors.  However, the Patent System is still quite viable and can evolve to be friendlier towards individuals. Independent inventors are a fabulous source of ideas and patents reflect the diligence to make the fruits of their ideas available in commerce, which benefits all of us.

_____________________

The audio file for Jay Walker’s speech can be found at https://www.ipawarenesssummit.com/recorded-speakers

Brenda Pomerance has almost 30 years of experience in prosecution of approximately 2,000 patents, including Appeal, Ex-parte Re-examination, Reissue, Inter Partes Review and Interference. Clients have included Research in Motion (now Blackberry), MIT, AT&T, Lucent, IBM, Sony and Canon. Ms. Pomerance has represented clients in licensing, in several patent infringement lawsuits and in a software copyright infringement lawsuit. She is a solo patent attorney in the Law Office of Brenda Pomerance in New York City. b.pomerance@verizon.net

Image source: canadaipblog.com

To encourage investors the IP system must provide stability and predictability, says USPTO head

IP is the engine that makes economic and cultural developments work and the USPTO keenly focused on facilitating this goal.

That was the message delivered by Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Andrei Iancu, at the Second Annual Intellectual Property Awareness Summit in New York on November 29.

CIPU, CTV, Columbia University

IPAS was held by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU), an independent non-profit, in conjunction with the Columbia Technology Ventures, at the Columbia University’s School of Journalism.

“For the IP system to work as intended,” Director Iancu told the audience of IP owners, creators, executives and educators, “we must make sure future IP laws are predictable, reliable and carefully balanced.”

Director Iancu, who holds degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering and who has taught at UCLA, said he believes that it is really important for new members of congress coming into office in January, as well as existing ones, be informed about the importance of intellectual property.

“They should be aware why IP is important to the economy and to America’s standing in the world and competitive position.”

“I would urge folks in this room,” he said referring to the IP professionals and educators present, “to talk about these issues with members [of Congress] in ways that relate to their priorities and constituents.”

A Different World

The Director told the audience that the battle for 5G is not likely to be limited to giant American companies but is international and being waged by the smallest and biggest countries; from Singapore, for example, to China.

“We live in a different world,” he concluded. “For the United States to maintain its competitive leadership it is critically important that we have an IP system and innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem that encourages innovation; that provides stability and predictability, so folks can invest here in the U.S. confidently.”

The audio file of Director Iancu’s remarks and q&a is available at www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

IBM, Priceline, George Mason University

Other featured speakers at IPAS 2018 included Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel of IBM and a member of the board of directors of the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU); Jay Walker, inventor, entrepreneur, TEDMED curator and founder of Priceline.com; and Adam Mossoff, Director of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) at George Mason University College of Law.

IPAS also included 17 other speakers, four panels and three workshops focused on the IP literacy requirements of IP owners, creators, educators, investors and the public. For the full IPAS 2018 program, presenters and partners go here.

Image source: Russell Cusick Studio 

USPTO Director Iancu, top-ten inventor Jay Walker and IBM’s patent chief + surprises set for IP Awareness Summit this week

The IP Awareness Summit 2018 – IP literacy matters

The second annual Intellectual Property Awareness Summit is being held at Columbia University in New York this Thursday, November 29.

The Summit is being held by the Center for IP Understanding (CIPU), an independent non-profit. This year year’s theme is IP literacy in a digital world.

Featured speakers at IPAS 2018 include United States Undersecretary of Commerce and Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu, whose recent remarks in favor of more certain patents and less rhetoric about patent licensing have been favorably received by IP owners.

Jay Walker one of the most prolific American inventors, curator of TEDMED and founder of Priceline.com will follow Director Iancu. Leading the group of featured speakers is Manny Schecter, IBM Chief Patent Counsel and a proponent of a clearer and more consistent definition of what is patentable.

Scholar and proponent of IP rights as property, Adam Mossoff, Executive Director of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP), will round out the line-up of featured speakers.

A representative from the International Trademark Association (INTA) will speak about the growing problem of counterfeits and ways of addressing it through public awareness.

A few registrations are still available, here. 

Other Speakers & Panelists

Speakers from the International Trademark Association, Bloomberg Law, the Kellogg School fo Business, the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, the Global Innovation Policy Center (United States Chamber of Commerce), the rock band Cracker and other organizations from the US and Europe will be speaking and networking.

For the program, presenters and partners go here:

IPPro recently spoke with CIPU about IPAS 2018 and why today more than ever audiences need to understand the purpose and impact of IP rights. Excerpts follow (the entire article, “IPAS 2018: Why IP literacy matters,” is available, here).

What is the Intellectual Property Awareness Summit?

IPAS is an annual gathering of IP organizations, holders, educators and thought-leaders who believe that IP rights are frequently misunderstood and have come to be seen by many as unfair and unnecessary. IPAS 2018 is open to any interested party.

What is the goal of IPAS 2018?

At IPAS 2017 in Chicago, participants identified that there is a significant disconnect between how people see and use intellectual property. The problem is a result of confusion about why IP rights exist and who they benefit. A combination of inaccurate media coverage and vested interests are responsible for this false impression.

At IPAS 2018 we will “dig down” and start to identify whether or not there needs to be a set of basic standards for IP awareness for various audiences. What are the basics? How are they best communicated?The theme of IPAS 2018 is “IP literacy in a digital world.”

Information moves so much faster today. It is more accessible than anyone would have believed twenty years ago. Many businesses and individuals believe that basically “everything” accessible is available, and ideas are there for the taking.

Some U.S. lawmakers and courts have over-reacted to patent and other patent holders who wish to license their rights or enforce them, rendering many patents valueless. Some even believe that infringing IP causes no major harm and is a part of modern life.

A basic awareness of what IP rights are and do, and what is appropriate IP behavior, is something everyone needs – and it should come from a trusted source.

Why is IP awareness important?

The lines of IP ownership are sometimes poorly drawn and frequently misunderstood.

We need to start with IP professionals. They must recognize there is a problem outside of the IP community and even within it. There are intelligent people who believe that IP theft is not stealing.

Then, we need to identify the key audiences for better IP understanding: college students, educators, business schools, lawmakers, K-12 teachers, parents, investors, journalists.

What three or four basic IP principles do they need to know? Why? When should they be imparted? How?

It is no accident that the U.S. is the greatest nation when it comes to innovation, technology and authorship, including films and music. But that is changing.

The fast pace of communication and easy access to data do not let users off the hook when it comes to acknowledging IP rights. Respecting IP rights today may be more inconvenient for some than others, but it should not be more acceptable.

_____________________________

For more information about IPAS 2018, including registration information, please visit www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

To learn more about the Center for IP Understanding, go www.understandingip.org.

Image source: CIPU; understandingip.org

Et tu, TechCo? Some potential patent licensees should be outed for abusive behavior

What is the appropriate response to a legitimate request for patent licensing?

If you are an information technology company comfortable taking full advantage of confusion in the patent system, and unfettered by business ethics, it may be tossing the offer in the garbage can — just because you can.

Can a business simply ignore a reasonable licensing offer or does it have an obligation, ethical or otherwise, to take seriously a reasonable request to consider a license to an invention it requires or may already be using?

For an executive at one inventor-owned business, Personalized Media Communications, being totally ignored when a legitimate request to discuss a patent license is presented is an abusive practice and a threat to innovation that must be stopped.

The Real Issue

“Too often, this abusive behavior is conflated with ownership models to deflect attention from the real problems,” said Aaric Eisenstein, VP Licensing Strategy. “PR efforts targeting ‘trolls’ have warped stories of threats to mom & pop businesses to cast large companies as the equally helpless victims of these ruthless predators… the real issue is abusive behavior, and that’s what needs to be targeted…

“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves. The stakeholders cannot simply complain and lobby for one-sided solutions. They must work together to improve the system upon which they all depend.

“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves.”

“Following these rules eliminates both problems: skimpy-to-ridiculous notice packages and throwing legitimate packages in the trash.  It doesn’t matter whether the companies are large or small or whether they’re direct operating competitors or have completely different ownership models. The critical point is that these standards are targeted to prohibit abusive behavior per se

“The US patent system was the envy of the world for generations.  It can be again if we’re honest about its shortcomings and address them in direct and balanced ways.”

The TROL Act in the House of Representatives reintroduced legislation with apparent bi-partisan support that would give the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general authority to issue civil penalties up to $5 million for sending misleading or bad faith letters demanding patent licenses.

There is no indication that penalties will also be instituted for bad faith on the part of businesses that ignore legitimate offers to license good patents, forcing owners to file suit.

Eisenstein is grateful to USPTO Director Andrei Iancu for having “reminded patent system stakeholders what US inventors have given the world and the right way to enhance the system.”

For the full article, go here.

Image source: seapine.com

Costs to establish clear patent ownership are soaring – Here’s why

It has never been easy for American innovators hoping to generate a return on their inventions, but new hurdles have made it impossible to license even the best patents.

Despite increased availability of capital and access to data, IT patents today have a much more difficult time proving themselves than a decade or a century ago. The vast majority of the public, stakeholders if indirectly, are not aware of the situation or its impact.

With the enactment of the American Invents Act (AIA) in 2012 and several supreme court decisions setting an ambiguously higher bar for patent certainty, licensing began to resemble scaling a high peak, with enough challenges even the most innovative business or inventor.

Two such obstacles are the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and inter partes reviews, created to validate patents already issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Until the AIA came along, USTPO-issued patents had enjoyed a “presumption of validity,” the standard since 1952.

Second Look

In theory, a “second look” for issued patents is not a bad idea. Examinations are not always as thorough as they could be. If it were fairly applied, these re-examinations would kill any dubious patents that should not have been issued by time-constrained examiners, and affirm those that deserve to be. This would make it easier for owners to license without resorting to costly litigation. In practice, however, is not the case.

Patents that the PTAB chooses not to review, and even those whose reviews are instituted and claims affirmed, still, are rarely seen as licenseable, and are subject to subsequent IPRs and/or protracted litigation. New and even more onerous obstacles to patent certainty have added to the time and cost of resolving disputes. How much time and cost?

 

Steep Climb

The illustration on this page, courtesy of Brody Berman Associates, IP communication specialists, is an illustration of the just how difficult patent licensing has become. That is not to say that every licensor must go through all of the steps, all of the time, but many do, especially those who believe the infringement warrants significant damages or a potential licensor believes the royalty costs outweigh the expensive legal ones. Many accused infringers have the capital and constitution to withstand a protracted dispute, which can last five years or more.

Defendants who take their time engage in what is known as “efficient” infringement. For a patent holder to prove patentability, validity, infringement and damages is frequently too costly and time-consuming a climb, so why bother? For many IT patent holders, licensing without litigation is no longer an option.

From Edison to Alexander Graham Bell to Nicola Tesla, market leaders have been reluctant to accept new ways of solving old problems if it may hurt their bottom line. An expensive challenge with many impediments along the way is one way of mitigating a threat. Patents that are held by businesses and individuals but are not used (enforced) are seen as less threatening to established businesses. To them, the best patents are seen but not heard.

An overly arduous path to patent certainty not only tilts the playing field, it dissuades competition and dims the future.

Image source: Brody Berman Associates, Inc.

 

IP Awareness Summit update: keynotes to include top-ten inventor, Jay Walker, USPTO Director Iancu and IBM’s Schecter

Priceline.com founder and one of the most prolific and successful U.S. inventors in history will join USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and IBM Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter as featured speakers at the IP Awareness Summit in NYC on November 29.

The Summit will is being held by the Center for IP Understanding, an independent non-profit, at Columbia University’s famed Pulitzer Hall in the School of Journalism in conjunction with Columbia Technology Ventures.

Mr. Walker, an owner of TEDMED, which bridges the gap between science and the public, has long held that despite increases in U.S. technology and innovation, the patent licensing system is broken.

“The fact is that without a functioning licensing system we really don’t have what need to compete,” Mr. Walker, a former member of the Forbes 400, has stated. “Licensing is the way that inventions get into the economy; it’s the way they get used and brought into the marketplace and creates jobs and helps our economy to be more competitive.”

Mr. Walker is number eight on the U.S. all-time U.S. inventor list with 950 issued utility patents. Thomas Edison had 1,084. At the current pace, Walker will surpass Edison sometime in 2023. Many of his patents cover gaming and risk calculation.

Iancu and Schecter, too

Joining Mr. Walker as an IPAS 2018 featured speaker is USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, who will present at 1:30 and is likely to touch upon U.S. and China IP issues. Another featured presenter is Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel of IBM, who will speak about the impact of a faster, more digitized world on IP and how it is seen.

Other speakers and panelists include a range of IP thought-leaders, owners, educators and organizations from the U.S., Europe and Asia, who will present and serve on panels. Luncheon breakout sessions will permit IP holders, creators and others to consider specific IP leadership challenges. Registration for IPAS 2018 is now open to the public but space is limited.

The IPAS 2018 theme – IP Literacy in a Digital World will be the basis for examining the impact of information and speed on how intellectual property is seen and often taken for granted, as well as ways to address the disconnect through education and the media.

To view the IPAS 2018 program and event website, visit www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

To register, go here.

The current list of IPAS 2018 participants and partners can be found on the home page. Persons who wish to apply for a discounted registration, contact explore@understandingip.org.

To learn more about the Center for IP Understanding, www.understandingip.org.

Image source: bloomberg.com; TEDMED

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