It’s Never Too Late to File an Inventorship Dispute

Exchange of ideas between InventorsEarlier this month, the Federal Circuit revisited the issue of inventorship disputes and iterated in a nonprecedential opinion that proving nonjoinder of inventors in an issued patent is a difficult threshold for a challenger to meet. In doing so, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court holding that the challenge to correct inventorship of two issued patents was not supported by evidence that rose to the “clear and convincing” standard required to prevail on a 35 U.S.C. § 256 claim.

Continue reading

Court Silences Sound Spark Studios’ Trademark Claims

In the summer of 2012, Jeremy Southgate applied with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to register a design mark for “Sound Spark Studios.” A little over a year-and-a-half later, Southgate formed Sound Spark Studios, LLC, and he registered it in Delaware. He characterized the entity as a “music and entertainment company.” The Sound Spark Studios design mark was registered on September 16, 2014.

Continue reading

New Website Provides Useful Examiner Data for Free

ExaminerNinja

A website recently launched that aggregates individual examiner data in real-time to provide practitioners with information they may find helpful in determining prosecution strategies that may be effective in achieving allowance before a particular examiner. The website, known as Examiner Ninja, allows a user to look-up data about any examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The website presents data about allowance rates when various prosecution strategies are utilized, and also provides data about how quickly an examiner takes particular types of action during prosecution. The data is provided for each examiner, and each individual examiner’s data is compared to the same data for all examiners in that particular examiner’s art unit, and to all examiners at the USPTO.

Continue reading

U.S. Trademark Opposition/Cancellation Rule Change Proposals of Special Interest to Non-U.S. Companies

On April 4, 2016 the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that details proposed changes to the USPTO’s rules of practice for trademark application opposition and registration cancellation proceedings. Public comments are due by June 3, 2016. While it is possible that the rules will be modified further before being finalized based upon public comment, it is likely that the rules ultimately will take effect substantially in the form published. Continue reading

Supreme Court Ruling on at Least Five Patent-Related Cases

To date, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari (commonly referred to as cert) to five patent-related cases this term, which will result in three oral arguments likely to be decided before the end of the term. Two of the cases were consolidated into a single argument, while another case was subject to a Grant-Vacate-and-Remand (GVR) order, meaning the previous decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has been vacated by the Supreme Court and the case must be reconsidered by the CAFC. There are also over 20 pending Petitions for Writ of Certiorari, which may result in additional patent matters being heard by the Court this term.

Continue reading

Foreign Filing License in a Nutshell

Globe with world map and circuit board in background (Digital)

Foreign filing licenses do not typically require much attention in daily practice since the license is routinely applied for and granted as a matter of course in new application filings. However, in certain situations ignoring the license may cause severe damage.  35 U.S.C. § 184 states that a person shall not file or cause or authorize to be filed a patent application (among other things) in any foreign country unless six months have passed since the United States application was filed unless otherwise authorized by a license obtained from the Commissioner of Patents, i.e., unless a foreign filing license is received from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A purpose for this rule is that it allows the U.S. government to protect national security by approving or disapproving the export of sensitive technologies, such as technology associated with warfare, nuclear, or security-related measures.

Continue reading

Significant Changes to the Rules Related to European Trademarks – Three Things You Should Know

The European Union’s (EU) trademark regulations are undergoing a significant overhaul as of March 23, 2016. For starters, the terminology is changing: the title “Community Trade Mark” or “CTM,” will be replaced by “European Union Trade Mark,” or “EUTM.”

There are more changes than can be fully summarized within the scope of this blog post. Here are three changes in particular that brand owners should be mindful of: Continue reading

When Are Method/Device Hybrid Claims Indefinite?

The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in UltimatePointer v. Nintendo (Fed. Cir. Mar. 1, 2016) provides a reminder of the need to use caution when drafting a claim that could be read to cover both a device and a method of use.

UltimatePointer is the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 8,049,729 (the ‘729 patent), which is generally directed to a handheld pointing device that can be used to control the cursor on a projected computer screen, thereby improving a presenter’s ability to control the cursor while making a presentation to an audience. UltimatePointer asserted several claims of the ‘729 patent against Nintendo, with Nintendo’s Wii remote being the accused product. A key issue in the litigation was whether the asserted claims were invalid for impermissibly reciting both a device and a method in the same claim.

Continue reading

New Dangers at the TTAB

Trademark

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has recently become a more dangerous place.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board—usually referred to by its acronym “TTAB,” which is spoken (most often) as four separate letters (tee, tee, ay, bee) rather than the obvious and more concise vocalization of “tee-tab”—is the tribunal where you can go on appeal if you do not like the examiner’s rejection of your trademark application. It is also the tribunal that hears and adjudicates “Oppositions” filed by third party “opposers” against “applicants” seeking registration and “Petitions for Cancellation” where third party “petitioners” proceed against “respondents” registrations they feel were improvidently granted.

So TTAB is a busy place, even though it has a relatively circumscribed brief. TTAB decides only a single ultimate issue: whether any given applied-for mark is going to attain registration or any given registered mark is going to be stripped of registration. Continue reading

PTAB Reaffirms High Bar for Patent Eligibility under Alice

Recently the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) invalidated three patents held by Audatex North America, Inc. finding that the claims are not subject matter eligible under 35 U.S.C. §101 in view of the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014). The three patents were generally directed towards “a method and system for entering data relating to an insurance claim for a damaged vehicle.” In each case, the PTAB sided with the Petitioner, finding that the claims were directed towards the abstract idea of valuing a damaged vehicle based on information about that vehicle and therefore not patent eligible.

Continue reading

LexBlog