Patents & Inventions Law & Lawyers

A patent is a right granted for any device, substance, method or process which is new, inventive and useful.

A patent is legally enforceable and gives the owner the exclusive right to commercially exploit the invention for the life of the patent. This is not automatic-you must apply for a patent to obtain exclusive rights to exploit your invention.

There are two types of patents in Australia;

  • a standard patent gives long-term protection and control over an invention for up to 20 years.
  • an innovation patent is a relatively fast, inexpensive protection option, lasting a maximum of 8 years. The innovation patent replaced the petty patent on 24 May 2001.

Patents give effective protection if you have invented new technology that will lead to a product, composition or process with significant long-term commercial gain.

In return, patent applicants must share their know-how by providing a full description of how their invention works. This information becomes public and can provide the basis for further research by others.

Australian patents are administered by the Patent Office of IP Australia, a Federal Government Organisation.

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An outline of the patent system

Historical origins

Patents are the oldest form of intellectual property, but their historical origins are obscure. In England, in the fifteenth century, the monarch began to grant monopoly rights as a means of attracting new industries from continental Europe, but these were more in the nature of a royal licence to avoid the effects of guild regulations than a true grant of exclusive rights to carry on an activity.[4] It was only in the following century that patents began to be granted in respect of inventions, and the patent system was put on a statutory basis for the first time in the seventeenth century with the passage of the Statute of Monopolies 1623 (Statute of Monopolies). Despite its age, this English statute continues to have relevance to Australian patent law today.

As it first developed, the English patent was a slow, costly and cumbersome procedure for encouraging and protecting inventions. The procedure was described in derisory terms by Charles Dickens in a short story published in 1850, ‘A Poor Man’s Tale of a Patent’. Over the years there were many piecemeal reforms to the system, but it was the Patents Act 1883 (UK) that provided the basis of modern patent law.

Patent legislation in Australia has always been closely modelled on that of the United Kingdom. Prior to Federation, each of the Australian colonies had its own legislation based on the Patents Act 1883 (UK). In 1901, the Australian Constitution gave the newly established Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to ‘copyrights, patents of invention and designs, and trade marks’.In 1903, this power was exercised with the enactment of the Patents Act 1903 (Cth).

As in the United Kingdom, there have been many amendments to Australian patent legislation in response to formal commissions of inquiry. The 1903 Act was re-enacted with substantial changes in 1952 and again in 1990. The Patents Act 1990 (Cth) (Patents Act) provides the current legislative framework governing the grant and administration of patents in Australia.

See also our Intellectual Property Law & Lawyers Section by clicking here.

Functions of patents

Patent law has been described as a ‘stressful if fertile union’ between certain contradictory principles: self-interest and the common good; monopoly rights and liberty; the ownership of ideas and public disclosure of knowledge. This union results from the dual goals of patent law—to benefit society by encouraging the provision of new and useful goods, and to encourage and reward inventiveness.

These goals are achieved by providing incentives for innovation and knowledge sharing by granting monopoly rights, for a limited period, to exploit a new product or process. Monopoly rights encourage investment by providing an opportunity to recoup the financial outlays involved in developing an invention. They also reward the inventor by allowing a return to be made on the time and resources expended on research and development.

The limited duration of the monopoly means, however, that the patented invention eventually will be available for free and unrestricted use when the patent term expires: the compromise is thus ‘a way of securing future benefits for the common good’.In addition, patents promote knowledge sharing during the term of the patent by requiring the patent holder to place the details of the invention in the public domain. As one United States judge has stated:

The purpose of the patent system is not only to provide a financial incentive to create new knowledge and bring it to public benefit through new products; it also serves to add to the body of published scientific/technological knowledge. The requirement of disclosure of the details of patented inventions facilitates further knowledge and understanding of what was done by the patentee, and may lead to further technologic advance.

Exploitation of patents

A patent gives the inventor the right to stop others from exploiting the invention for a limited period. However, a patent does not grant an absolute right to exploit an invention in any way the inventor may choose. A patent holder may have to satisfy regulatory requirements in order to exploit the patented product or process; for example, a patented pharmaceutical compound may need approval under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) before it can be marketed lawfully and sold as a treatment for a particular condition. Similarly, the use of a patented invention is subject to the general law; for example, the components required to manufacture a car may be the subject of many patents, but the car must still be used in accordance with motor traffic laws.

A patent holder is not obliged to exploit a patented invention, but the failure to do so may have implications for the patent holder’s rights. For example, the patent could be subjected to compulsory licensing, or it could be used or acquired by the Crown under relevant provisions of the Patents Act. A patent holder may authorise others to exploit the patent by granting a licence on agreed terms. This may be on an exclusive, sole or non-exclusive basis, and almost certainly will require the licensee to pay royalties or other fees to the patent holder.

It is important to note that while patents are a form of intellectual property, they do not confer ownership in the physical material described in the claims for a patented product or process. Thus, a patent over a genetic sequence does not amount to ownership of the sequence itself.

Criteria for patentability

Although there is considerable variance in detail from one jurisdiction to another, most countries apply similar tests for patentability: an invention must be novel (that is, new), must involve an inventive step, and must have a useful application. In addition, the description of an invention in a patent application must be sufficient to allow a person skilled in the relevant art to create the invention independently.

Briefly, the Patents Act provides that an invention will be patentable if it is a ‘manner of manufacture’ within the meaning of s 6 of the Statute of Monopolies; is novel; involves an inventive or innovative step; is useful; and has not been used secretly within Australia prior to filing the patent application.

Certain inventions are expressly excluded from patentability. Australia has relatively few express exclusions, but they include inventions involving ‘human beings, and the biological processes for their generation’, as well as inventions the use of which would be contrary to law. Other jurisdictions recognise a broader range of exceptions, including inventions involving diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical methods of treatment of humans and animals; and inventions whose commercial exploitation would be contrary to morality or public order.

Australian Patent Law

Australian patent law operates within an international legal framework, which shapes certain procedural and substantive aspects of the patent system.

Australia has enacted legislation that regulates patenting practices within the Australian ‘patent area’ with respect to inventions involving any type of technology. The procedures for obtaining a gene patent in Australia are, broadly speaking, the same as those that apply to patents claiming any other type of technology.

Patents Legislation

Section 51(xviii) of the Australian Constitution grants the Commonwealth Parliament power to make laws with respect to ‘copyrights, patents of inventions and designs, and trade marks’. Pursuant to this power, the Parliament has enacted the Patents Act 1990 (Cth) (Patents Act) and the Patents Regulations 1991 (Cth) (Patents Regulations).

Patent protection in most countries is available for inventions that are new, involve an inventive step, and have a useful application.

In Australia, the Patents Act provides that an invention is patentable if it:

  • is a ‘manner of manufacture’—that is, the invention is appropriate subject matter for patent protection;
  • is novel;
  • involves an inventive or innovative step;
  • is useful; and
  • has not been used secretly within Australia before the priority date of the patent application.


Administration

The Australian patent system is administered by the Patent Office of IP Australia. IP Australia is a division of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, but operates independently and reports directly to the Minister.

Under the Patents Act, the Commissioner of Patents has the power to grant a patent upon an application being filed with and examined by the Patent Office. IP Australia has developed the Patent Manual of Practice and Procedure (the Manual) to assist Australian patent examiners in applying the Patents Act and Patents Regulations.

State and federal courts and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) also have a role in administering the patent system. Decisions of the Commissioner of Patents may be subject to review by the AAT or the Federal Court of Australia. The AAT may undertake merits review of the Commissioner’s decisions with respect to certain procedural matters prescribed by the Patents Act. A direct application may be made to the Federal Court for judicial review in relation to other decisions of the Commissioner; essentially those related to the grant of patents or matters closely allied to the grant (for example, amendments to patent specifications and revocations).

The Federal Court and state and territory Supreme Courts share original (first instance) jurisdiction over matters relating to the exploitation and enforcement of patent rights, including challenges to patent rights, infringement proceedings and compulsory licences. The AAT has no jurisdiction in relation to such issues.

Types of patents

Australian patent law recognises two principal types of patents:

(1) standard patents and

(2) innovation patents.

An applicant for a patent may elect to obtain protection for an invention under either system. Table A below outlines the key features of, and the difference in the scope of protection conferred by, standard and innovation patents.

Standard patents

A standard patent is the basic form of patent protection for inventions under Australian law and is consistent with the minimum requirements for patent protection under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 1994 (TRIPS Agreement). Unless otherwise indicated, references to an Australian patent and discussions of patent rights in this Report relate only to the standard patent system.

Innovation patents

The innovation patent is a ‘second tier’ of protection, which was introduced in 2001 to replace the petty patent system.  Innovation patents are intended to provide protection for ‘lower level’ inventions for which standard patent protection is not available and which are not covered by the designs legislation.

Patents of addition

The Patents Act also provides for the grant of a ‘patent of addition’ for an improvement in, or modification to, an invention claimed in a standard patent that has already been granted.[21] A patent of addition may be obtained only by the owner of the earlier patent, or a person authorised by the owner. The term of a patent of addition expires at the same time as that of the patent on the main invention.

Table A - Features of standard patents and innovation patents

Features

Standard patent

Innovation patent

 

Term

20 years (s 67)

Extension of up to 5 years   available for certain pharmaceutical patents (ss 70–79A)

8 years (s 68)

Number of claims

No   limit

Maximum of 5 claims   (s 40(2)(c))

 

Inventions excluded from   patentability, or excludable at the discretion of the Commissioner of Patents

Human beings and the biological   processes for their generation (s 18(2))

Inventions whose use would be   contrary to law (s 50(1)(a))

Inventions capable of application   as a food or medicine that are a mere admixture of known ingredients   (s 50(1)(b))

Same as for a standard patent, and

Plants and animals and the   biological processes for the generation of plants and animals (s 18(3),   (4))

Level of invention required

‘Inventive step’ over the prior   art (s 7(2)–(3), sch 1)

‘Innovative step’ over the prior   art (s 7(4)–(6), sch 1)

Review by Patent Office prior to   grant

Substantive review for compliance   with the requirements for patentability (ss 44–49)

Formalities check only; no   substantive review unless requested (ss 52, 120(1A))

If you have a matter involving a Patent or invention, then please complete your free Legal Enquiry Form to request immediate legal assistance on your legal matter.

Procedure for grant of a patent

Patent rights do not arise automatically. A patent can be obtained only by following the procedure set out in the Patents Act and Patents Regulations. An understanding of the procedure for obtaining a patent is important to understanding Australian patent law generally. The steps in obtaining an Australian patent are described below.

Filing an application

For a patent to be granted, an eligible person must file an application in the form prescribed by the Patent Office. Eligible persons are the inventor of the invention claimed in the application, or a person to whom the inventor has assigned his or her rights in the invention. A patent application must include a specification of the invention, which contains instructions adequate to enable a skilled person in the relevant area of technology to produce or perform the invention. The specification must also indicate the ‘claims’ that define the invention; that is, the scope of protection that the applicant is seeking.

Australian patent law recognises two types of patent applications—provisional and complete. Provisional and complete applications may be filed to obtain either a standard patent or an innovation patent.

A provisional application need only contain a description of the invention. Often, an inventor files a provisional application before all the details of an invention are known. The applicant then has 12 months to file a complete application.

A complete application must contain a full description of the invention, together with claims, and an abstract summarising the invention being disclosed. A complete application may be based on one or more provisional applications, and only those claims that are ‘fairly based’ on the relevant provisional application will be entitled to the priority date of the provisional application.

The ‘priority date’ of a patent claim is important in determining whether the requirements for patentability of an invention have been met. The requirements of novelty and inventive step are assessed against the prior art as it existed before the priority date. The priority date is typically the date on which a provisional application is filed in Australia, or the date on which an application is filed in another participating jurisdiction.

An applicant may also elect to file a complete application with the Patent Office under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). A PCT application designates all the jurisdictions that are parties to the PCT (including Australia), and secures an international priority date.

PCT applications that have entered the national phase (and will be processed as a complete application) are the main type of applications received by IP Australia. In 2002–03, 16,278 PCT applications selected Australia as one of the jurisdictions in which an applicant wished to obtain patent protection and entered the national phase in Australia. During the same period, 5,694 non-PCT applications for standard patents were filed with IP Australia.

Divisional applications

Each patent application may claim protection only for a single invention. If, following assessment of a patent application, a patent examiner finds that an applicant has claimed more than one invention in the application, the applicant may elect to file a ‘divisional application’—that is, a new application divided from the original or parent application. A divisional application allows an applicant to continue to benefit from the priority date of the original application.

Divisional applications may claim subject matter not contained in the original application so long as all the features of at least one of the claims were disclosed in the original application. There are no statutory limits on the number of divisional applications that may arise from a single complete application.

The Patents Act restricts the subject matter that may be claimed in a divisional application, depending on the time at which it is filed. However, a divisional application, once filed, is subject to the same procedural requirements, including examination, as any other complete patent application.

In its submissions to the Inquiry, IP Australia indicated that divisional applications are currently ‘open to abuse’. In practice, such abuse may occur only in a small number of cases. However, IP Australia suggested that patent applicants are able to make strategic use of divisional applications in order to delay determinations by the Patent Office as to the proper scope of patent claims, or as to whether a patent should be granted. IP Australia commented that the Patents Act allows an applicant to use a divisional application to obtain a de facto monopoly by extending the period within which to respond to an examiner’s adverse report. While this use of divisional applications may be legitimate in some circumstances, IP Australia suggested that it might be used tactically by an applicant in ‘newly developing areas of technology, such as genetics, where there is a question of [the] patentability of the subject matter’. Further, an applicant might avoid a decision in an opposition proceeding by withdrawing the opposed application and refiling it as a divisional application. To address these issues, IP Australia suggested that limitations could be imposed on the circumstances in which divisional applications are available.

However, the majority of submissions and consultations on this issue did not support imposing additional limitations either on the period within which a divisional application may be filed or on the subject matter that may be claimed in a divisional application. Submissions and consultations questioned whether divisional applications are being misused, and commented on the lack of evidence that divisional applications claiming genetic inventions present a special case.

Examination

Once an application has been filed with the Patent Office, a number of additional steps must be followed before a patent may be issued. An applicant must file a request that the Patent Office examine the application. Examination is not automatic and a request for examination must generally be filed within five years of the date of filing a complete specification. However, IP Australia’s standard practice is to direct applicants to file a request for examination, if no request has been received, at approximately 32 months from the priority date, although this period may vary according to IP Australia’s workload. An abbreviated examination may be requested if an Australian patent application is related to a patent that has already been granted by the patent office in a prescribed foreign jurisdiction.

The purpose of examination is to determine whether the invention meets the statutory requirements for patentability set out in the Patents Act. The Patent Office carries out searches of previously published documents—including scientific and patent literature (‘prior art information’)—to determine the prior art material relevant to the claimed invention. In addition, an applicant must disclose to the Patent Office the results of searches carried out by or on behalf of foreign patent offices in respect of the invention claimed in an Australian application, or in a corresponding patent application filed overseas. An examiner with expertise in the relevant area of technology then examines the application, taking into account the information contained in the results of these searches and any other prior art information.

Examination of a patent application typically involves an exchange between the examiner and the applicant about the appropriate scope of the specification and the claims in light of the relevant prior art. This process is known as ‘prosecution’ of a patent application.

Following receipt of a request for examination, an examiner will make an initial assessment of an application for a standard patent and either accept the application as filed or issue a ‘first report’ detailing the procedural and substantive grounds for objecting to the application. An applicant then has a period of 21 months to address the objections raised by the examiner. The examiner may issue further reports for each response by the applicant that does not satisfy the objections raised. An application for a standard patent will generally lapse if it is not in order for acceptance within 21 months after the date of the first report.

Acceptance, publication and sealing

The Commissioner of Patents must notify an applicant of the decision to accept or refuse a patent application, and must publish notice of the decision in the Official Journal of Patents (Official Journal). Formal refusal of an application is rare. More commonly, applications for standard patents lapse for failure to obtain acceptance within the prescribed 21 month period following a first report. The Official Journal also publishes notices of lapsed applications.
Publication of a notice of acceptance in the Official Journal should be distinguished from the publication of a complete specification for a standard patent. This typically occurs 18 months after the earliest priority date for the application, and is also advertised in the Official Journal. An application is confidential prior to publication of the complete specification, and only bibliographic details—such as the applicant’s name and title of the invention—are made available by the Patent Office.

A patent is granted when the Commissioner of Patents causes the patent to be sealed with the seal of the Patent Office. For a standard patent, this will occur within six months of the date of publication in the Official Journal of the notice of acceptance of the application, unless the application is opposed.

If you have a matter involving a Patent or invention, then please complete your free Legal Enquiry Form to request immediate legal assistance on your legal matter.

International legal instruments

Australia is a party to a number of international legal instruments relating to intellectual property. The major international instruments that affect patent laws and practices in Australia are:

  • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property 1883 (Paris Convention);
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty 1970 (PCT);
  • Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure 1977 (Budapest Treaty); and
  • Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 1994 (TRIPS Agreement).

Australian domestic law has given effect to significant provisions of each of these instruments.

See also our Intellectual Property Law & Lawyers Section by clicking here.

 

Links to further resources - Patents & Inventions Law & Lawyers

 

Patents & Inventions Law & Lawyers News

Rights of a patent holder

The Patents Act provides that the grant of a patent confers upon a patent holder the exclusive right to exploit, or to authorise another person to exploit, an invention during the patent term. ‘Exploit’ is defined in the Act to include:

(a) where the invention is a product—make, hire, sell or otherwise dispose of the product, offer to make, sell, hire, or otherwise dispose of it, use or import it, or keep it for the purpose of doing any of those things; or

(b) where the invention is a method or process—use the method or process or do any act mentioned in (a) in respect of a product resulting from such use.

A patent does not, however, grant an absolute right to exploit an invention. A patent holder may have to satisfy other legal requirements in order to exploit the patented product or process. For example, a patented pharmaceutical compound may need to be approved under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) before it can lawfully be marketed and sold as a treatment for a particular condition. In addition, a patent holder’s ability to exploit the invention may be subject to earlier patents not owned by the patent holder.

A patent holder may assign or license its patent rights to a third party. An assignment of a patent results in the transfer of all of the rights owned by the patent holder to a third party (the assignee).

A licence of a patent does not transfer ownership of any patent rights; rather, it establishes terms upon which a third party (the licensee) may exercise certain patent rights without such use constituting infringement.

A patent holder is not obliged to exploit an invention claimed in a patent at any time during the patent term, nor to license or assign its patent rights.

However, the failure to exploit the invention may encourage others to invoke the Crown use or compulsory licensing provisions in the Patents Act.

Patent rights remain subject to challenge even after the Commissioner of Patents accepts a patent application and after the patent is sealed. Section 20 of the Patents Act expressly states that nothing in the Act or in the PCT guarantees that a patent is valid.

Duration of patent protection

A standard patent generally has a term of 20 years, commencing on the date of the patent; an innovation patent has a term of 8 years. The term of a standard patent relating to ‘pharmaceutical substances’ may be extended in certain circumstances.

Art 33 of the TRIPS Agreement requires member States to provide patent protection for a term of not less than 20 years from the filing date. Article 27(1) requires member States to make patent protection available for all inventions, without discrimination as to the field of technology to which an invention relates. The Patents Act was amended in 1994 to extend the term of protection for a standard patent from 16 years to 20 years in order to bring Australian patent law into conformity with the TRIPS Agreement.

While the TRIPS Agreement provides some flexibility to member States in developing their own patent laws, the minimum term of patent protection is not subject to exceptions or qualifications. The TRIPS Agreement does, however, permit member States to require compliance with reasonable procedures and formalities as a condition of the acquisition or maintenance of intellectual property rights. Such procedures and formalities include the payment of fees for the filing and processing of a patent application, and for maintaining existing patent rights.

In addition, the Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement contains a provision that might affect the term of patent. Article 17.9.8 provides that, if there are unreasonable delays in a Party’s issuance of patents, that Party shall provide a means to adjust the term of the patent to compensate for the delay. If, in the future, there is evidence of unreasonable delay in the grant of Australian patents it may be necessary to amend the Patents Act to provide an extension of the patent term.

If you have a matter involving a Patent or invention, then please complete your free Legal Enquiry Form to request immediate legal assistance on your legal matter.

See also our Intellectual Property Law & Lawyers Section by clicking here.

Patents & Inventions Law & Lawyers Updates

MPEP Q & A 99: Types of Information Considered Status Information

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 14:04:38 +0000

Question: List two types of information that are considered status information. Answer: Status information of an application means only the following information: whether the application is pending, abandoned, or patented; whether the application has been published; the application number or the serial number plus any one of the filing date of the national application, the […]

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MPEP Q & A 98: Fees Reduced by 75% for Micro Entities

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 14:04:16 +0000

Question: List at least 2 fees that are reduced by 75% for micro entities. Answer: The fees which are reduced by 75% for micro entities include filing fees (nonprovisional and provisional), search fees, examination fees, issue fees, and appeal fees for utility, design, plant, and reissue patent applications. Also included are patent maintenance fees including […]

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MPEP Q & A 97: Nonstatutory Double Patenting Rejection Made Under Obviousness Analysis

Tue, 04 Jul 2017 14:04:56 +0000

Question: What must any nonstatutory double patenting rejection made under the obviousness analysis make clear? Answer: Any nonstatutory double patenting rejection made under the obviousness analysis should make clear: (A) The differences between the inventions defined by the conflicting claims — a claim in the patent compared to a claim in the application; and (B) The […]

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MPEP Q & A 96: When a Nonpublication Request is Not Appropriate

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 14:04:35 +0000

Question: When is a nonpublication request not appropriate? Answer: A nonpublication request is not appropriate if applicants have already filed a counterpart foreign or international application in another country, or under a multilateral international agreement, that requires publication of applications at eighteen months after filing. Chapter Details: The answer to this question can be found in […]

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MPEP Q & A 95: What an Examiner May Do After Considering the Issues on Appeal

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 14:04:11 +0000

Question: What may an examiner do after he or she has considered the issues on appeal? Answer: After an appeal brief has been filed and the examiner has considered the issues on appeal, the examiner may: reopen prosecution to enter a new ground of rejection with approval from the supervisory patent examiner ; allow the […]

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MPEP Q & A 94: When a Concurrent Conflict of Interest Exists

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 14:04:45 +0000

Question: Except as provided in 37 C.F.R. 11.107 (b), a practitioner shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. When does a concurrent conflict of interest exist? Answer: A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: The representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or There […]

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MPEP Q & A 93: What is Essential Material

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 14:04:17 +0000

Question: What is essential material? Answer: “Essential material” is defined as that which is necessary to: provide a written description of the claimed invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the art to which it […]

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MPEP Q & A 92: Statutory Requirements to be Met Before Certificate of Correction for an Applicant’s Mistake to Issue

Tue, 30 May 2017 14:04:52 +0000

Question: What are the two statutory requirements that must be met before a Certificate of Correction for an applicant’s mistake to issue? Answer: Two separate statutory requirements must be met before a Certificate of Correction for an applicant’s mistake may issue. The first statutory requirement concerns the nature, i.e., type, of the mistake for which […]

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MPEP Q & A 91: Non-Limiting Examples of Types of Characteristics Considered by the Courts to Determine Marked Difference

Tue, 23 May 2017 14:04:23 +0000

Question: List three non-limiting examples of the types of characteristics considered by the courts when determining whether there is a marked difference. Answer: Non-limiting examples of the types of characteristics considered by the courts when determining whether there is a marked difference include: Biological or pharmacological functions or activities; Chemical and physical properties; Phenotype, including […]

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MPEP Q & A 90: Conditions an Examiner Should Check for Before Requiring Applicant to Add Claim to Provoke Interference

Tue, 16 May 2017 14:04:55 +0000

Question: What 5 conditions should an examiner check for before requiring an applicant to add a claim to provoke an interference? Answer: The 5 conditions an examiner should check for before requiring an applicant to add a claim to provoke an interference include:  that the application is otherwise completed  that the required claim does not […]

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These news come from Patent Education Series.

ABOTA defends Judge Gilstrap in response to political pressure from Darrell Issa

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 13:15:51 +0000

Issa decried Judge Gilstrap’s “overreach” in denying a motion to transfer venue in a case coming after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, a decision which restricted the venue statute for patent infringement cases. “It is, in fact, an act that I find reprehensible by that judge,” Issa said... American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) noted that Issa’s further assertion that Judge Gilstrap was motivated by personal bias to promote community...

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Ensuring a robust defensive portfolio: A Prepared Counter-Assertion Strategy

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 11:15:29 +0000

The required number of patents in a given playbook varies based on both the size of company of concern and our exposure to it. The general goal of a playbook is to shift the licensing amount purportedly owed by LinkedIn by $20 million to $200 million in our favor. In order to achieve this, we have found that a good playbook should contain between three and 10 patent families, with evidence of use for key patents. The goal of each playbook is to show infringement by the asserter’s products and...

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Evolution of Gas Sensors: Beatrice Hicks creates device to measure gas in critical industrial applications

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 09:15:12 +0000

Inventor, Beatrice Hicks, is both a 2017 inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame as well as one of America’s truly trailblazing women engineers, one of the first to enter the field of technological development in the mid-20th century. Hicks would go on to become instrumental in the founding of the Society of Women Engineers and her story is a wonderful reminder of the power of both a good education and the ability to believe in one’s self... Hicks’ major innovation in gas sensor tech...

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A Call for Enacting Urgent Patent Reform: A New Patent System for Securing U.S. Technological Leadership

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 15:00:02 +0000

The U.S. patent system is the primary contributor for the U.S. economy. Since the foundering of the nation, the patent system has fostered an innovation culture that is directly responsible for making inventions that are more than all inventions accumulated in all major civilized regions in several thousands of years. However, the U.S. has inherent disadvantages in the political system and court systems... After the irreparable damages of public trust in the patent system, overhauling the...

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Chinese President Xi Jinping says infringers should be punished and pay a heavy price

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 12:30:30 +0000

“Wrongdoing should be punished more severely so that IP infringers will pay a heavy price,” Xi said. At a time when President Xi is actively moving China’s IP policy to a place where infringers are met with harsher penalties, U.S. leadership in Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, seems to be opening their arms yet again to the efficient infringer lobby. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of...

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In the Era of Spotify and Pandora Where Do ASCAP and BMI Fit?

Sun, 23 Jul 2017 10:30:52 +0000

In traditional music recording, artists have had to choose to license their music through major music industry organizations like ASCAP and BMI. In the age of streaming music through Spotify, Pandora and other services what is the purpose of these organizations? The licensing groups have served as clearinghouses for smaller players in the music industry who cannot feasibly deal with multitudes of licensees on their own. But with Taylor Swift and other “major” artists choosing to deal—or not...

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Learning from common patent application mistakes by inventors

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 13:45:40 +0000

The goal in a patent application is to provide a full, clear, and exact description of the invention in a way that particularly points out and distinctly identifies what the inventor believes he or she has invented and wants the patent to cover. Unfortunately, while articulating an invention many inventors fall victim to a host […] The post Learning from common patent application mistakes by inventors appeared first on IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law.

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The PTAB: Number One Enemy of Inventors

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 10:30:02 +0000

When we apply for a patent, we are sharing our secret, our discovery, with the world. In exchange for sharing our secret we are promised 20 years of exclusive rights, a promise signed and sealed by the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But with the PTAB, it means nothing. No guarantee. No warranty. Arguably a fraud. It will be revoked – by the same agency that issued it – at least 90 percent of the time. The post The PTAB: Number One Enemy of Inventors appeared first...

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Now a Big Company Wants You to Take a Patent License…

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 20:54:42 +0000

  This is going to be a different ride Most high technology companies have a good grasp of the challenges and solutions for dealing with patent trolls. However, successful high technology startups face a threat beyond patent trolls: large corporate patent asserters looking to license their patents. Companies like Microsoft, Qualcomm, and IBM regularly assert […] The post Now a Big Company Wants You to Take a Patent License… appeared first on IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent...

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Breadth through Specificity: Supporting Alternative Embodiments with Multiple Examples in Patent Applications

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:15:47 +0000

Two recent cases, The Medicines Co. v. Mylan, Inc and Skedco, Inc. v. Strategic Operations, Inc., illustrate that the patentee’s specification is key to determining whether an alleged infringer has practiced an alternative embodiment or a non-infringing invention... The specifications at issue in Skedco and Medicines took different approaches to the phrasing of example components, and thus led to different results against infringers. The CAFC in Skedco used several example embodiments in the...

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The Ninth Circuit Writes the Script on Pleading and Proving Reverse Confusion Claims

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:15:18 +0000

The Ninth Circuit clarified the requirements for pleading and establishing a trademark infringement claim under a reverse confusion theory in Marketquest Group v. BIC, Case No. 15-55755 (9th Cir. July 7, 2017). The court relieved plaintiffs from having to specifically plead reverse confusion if it is compatible with the theory of infringement alleged in the complaint, and supported a more malleable standard for proving intent in reverse confusion cases. The court also held that good faith is an...

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Ninth Circuit Confirms Willfulness is Required to Award Profits in Trademark Cases

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 11:15:43 +0000

As Stone Creek deepens the divide among circuits, the issue of whether willfulness is required for disgorgement of a defendant’s profits in trademark cases is ripe for Supreme Court review... The Stone Creek decision solidifies the Ninth Circuit’s position that willfulness is required for a recovery of profits in trademark cases. This approach is consistent with equitable principles because disgorgement is generally used to deter culpable behavior and deterrence would not be necessary, and...

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These news come from IPWatchdog.com | Patents & Patent Law.

ITC Commissioner F. Scott Kieff to leave International Trade Commission

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:40:11 +0000

ITC Commissioner F. Scott Kieff has publicly announced that he will be leaving the International Trade Commission and returning to his academic posts as a Professor at George Washington University Law School and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Kieff’s last day at the ITC will be June 30, 2017. Kieff, a Republican, […]

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Trump’s proposed budget would give PTO $3.6 billion for FY 2018

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:39:41 +0000

Several weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump released his proposed FY 2018 budget under the title A New Foundation for American Greatness. A review of the budget and supporting Commerce Department Appendix suggests the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has received everything it requested, and will not suffer fee diversion during the next […]

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Invention details need not be public to be prior art under AIA

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:51:16 +0000

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued a major decision interpreting provisions of the America Invents Act (AIA), specifically the AIA on-sale bar provisions. In Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., the Federal Circuit panel of Judges Dyk, Mayer and O’Malley determined: “after the AIA, if the existence […]

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SCOTUS takes IPR constitutionality challenge in Oil States

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:50:55 +0000

To the surprise of many, the United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Oil States vs. Greene’s Energy Group, et al. From a substantive standpoint, this dispute is between the parties to an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding conducted by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). By taking this case, the Supreme Court […]

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Supreme Court reverses 25 years of Federal Circuit patent venue law

Wed, 31 May 2017 20:00:47 +0000

On May 22, 2017, the United States Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC. In a unanimous decision of the Court delivered by Justice Thomas (minus Justice Gorsuch who did not participate in consideration of the case), the Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit and ruled that 28 […]

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Modern patent practice is all about prior art

Fri, 26 May 2017 14:37:06 +0000

The patent process can be expensive, so the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money preparing and filing an application when there is “knock-out” prior art easily found that will prevent a patent, or at least make any patent that is obtained extremely narrow. For this reason, many choose to begin […]

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Will the Supreme Court ruling on venue really matter?

Wed, 24 May 2017 14:36:29 +0000

Almost two months ago, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Brands LLC. In deciding to hear this patent venue case, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether 28 U.S.C. § 1400(b) is the sole and exclusive provision governing venue in patent infringement actions. Pursuant to § […]

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USPTO undertakes review of PTAB, IPR proceedings

Tue, 23 May 2017 13:34:50 +0000

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced that, at the direction of USPTO Director Michelle Lee (shown left), the Office is launching an initiative “to further shape and improve Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) trial proceedings, particularly inter partes review proceedings.” According to the USPTO, the purpose of the initiative is […]

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PTAB may invalidate claims federal courts confirmed valid

Mon, 22 May 2017 16:22:48 +0000

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently issued an opinion in Novartis AG v. Noven Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) invalidation of claims in related inter partes review (IPR) proceedings. The IPRs related to U.S. Patent No. 6,316,023 and U.S. Patent No. 6,335,031. Patent owners […]

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PTAB ineffective at eliminating low-quality patents

Sat, 29 Apr 2017 14:44:30 +0000

Those who engage in patent assertion activity are not per se bad actors, or patent trolls, simply because they choose to exercise the exclusive rights granted by the federal government. In fact, the FTC recently acknowledged the term “patent troll” isn’t helpful. “In the Commission’s view, a label like ‘patent troll’ is unhelpful because it invites […]

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These news come from Patent Law Practice Center.

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