April 21, 2010

On April 15 and 16, 2010, the IP5 met to discuss a series of Foundation Projects geared toward creating a work-sharing environment and improvements to expedite the IP prosecution process. The IP5 is comprised of five patent offices, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO). As noted in a recent EPO press release (available HERE), the heads of the IP5 "reaffirmed their commitment to collaborating with WIPO to improve the PCT system, so that its role could be further strengthened as the vehicle for efficient work-sharing, and also reconfirmed its 2008 vision, namely "The elimination of unnecessary duplication of work among the offices, enhancement of patent examination efficiency and quality, and guarantee of the stability of patent right." More information on the IP5 can be found at the Five IP Offices Web site, available HERE.

April 20, 2010

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office has recently announced a series of updates for visitors and users of its Web site:

1. The Trade-marks Opposition Board (TMOB) has a new "Decisions" page that provides hyperlinks to final decisions reached in section 45 proceedings along with a new schedule of upcoming hearings (available HERE).

2. A series of new Web pages for intellectual property professionals, including an Industrial Designs Professional Web page (available HERE), a Trade-marks Professional page (available HERE), and a Patents Professional page (available HERE).

3. As noted by the CIPO (link HERE, under March 30, 2010), its Web site "has added an improved bilingual search capability to help you to conduct searches in both English and French on the Basic Search pages of the Canadian Patents Database, the Canadian Trade-Marks Database and the Canadian Industrial Designs Database. This feature will help to ensure that your search query includes more terms; thereby you should have an increased results list."

April 16, 2010

On April 1, 2010, a series of patent practice changes at the European Patent Office (EPO) took effect, including new search and examination rules, as well as new timelines for filing divisional applications. As noted in a recent summary announcement (available HERE), the EPO notes that the changes "relate to the filing of divisional applications, pre-search communication between examiner and applicant, obligatory response to the search opinion prior to entry into substantive examination, a requirement for applicants to identify and indicate the basis for amendments and a clearer restriction of examination only to the subject matter searched." A summary entitled "Realigning the European patent grant procedure" (available HERE) is also provided by the EPO, as is a Web page with links to each rule change (available HERE) and a Web page entitled "New edition of the EPO Guidelines for Examination" (available HERE) with several embedded links. I personally have received a number of notices from my European agents advising me of these changes. If you manage an international portfolio with pending European applications and have not been advised by your respective agents, consider reaching out to them so that they can advise as to any deadlines or practice changes that may impact your pending portfolio.

April 14, 2010

On April 7, 2010, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced that its Arbitration and Mediation Center and the Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA) will be combining their efforts to provide "alternative dispute resolution services to address problems of format plagiarism or the unauthorized copying of television (TV) formats, such as those used for game, reality or talent shows and sitcoms." As noted in the WIPO announcement (available HERE), "the format industry is flourishing and the trade in TV formats is growing, the industry is characterized by fierce competition and frequent disputes," and that "[t]hese disputes often relate to the unauthorized use of formats owned by third parties and can be difficult to resolve in court because of differences in relevant national laws in this area." Specifically, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center will take on the existing mediation activity of FRAPA and will administer disputes relating to TV formats filed under the WIPO Mediation and Expedited Arbitration Rules for Film and Media, which were launched this past December and are "tailored to the specific characteristics of disputes arising in the film and media sectors." Additional information on this new service offering, as well as links to the two organizations and the applicable rules, are available at the link above.

April 13, 2010

The USPTO recently announced that it has initiated the Trademark Information Network (TMIN) to provide information to first-time trademark applicants. The TMIN (USPTO Web site link HERE), currently offers the first of a series of videos relating to trademarks (called "Newsflash: Before You File"), as well as a timeline of trademark processing activities, a transcript of the video, and a list of topics from the video itself. Future "Newsflash" videos will be available on other trademark preparation and prosecution topics, including "Searching," "Applicant Information," "Drawing Issues," "Goods and Services Issues," "Basis Information," "Specimen Issues," "After You File," and "Post-Registration Issues." The TMIN Web site also provides a series of useful trademark links, including "Trademark Basics," "Search Marks," and View Documents," to name a few. The first video is available HERE (in .wmv format), with a transcript available HERE (in .doc format).

April 09, 2010

On Tuesday, April 6, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it has launched a new Ombudsman Program "designed to provide patent applicants with more assistance in handling application-processing problems if the normal channels have not been successful." This announcement (link HERE) identifies this new one-year pilot program as being "intended to provide applicants with additional resources to ensure application-processing problems are handled in a more efficient way, thereby saving applicants and the Agency both time and resources and improving patent quality," whereby "applicants, attorneys or agents who have application-processing concerns, and haven’t been able to get the assistance they need through normal channels in the Technology Center (TC), can contact the ombudsman representative for the TC through the USPTO Web site." After contacting an ombudsman representative, the applicant (or his/her agent) will receive a call within one business day to discuss the specifics, whereby the representative will work with TC staff to address the applicant’s concerns "and try to get the application back on track." Additional information is available at the announcement link above.

April 08, 2010

In a recent Law.com article (link HERE), Facebook, Inc. was identified as again being a potential active defendant in an infringement lawsuit initiated by Cross Atlantic Capital Partners (XACP), who claims to own the rights to a patent for an Internet-based "community for users with common interests to interact in" invented a decade ago. In 2007, XACP filed suit against Facebook regarding U.S. Patent No. 6,519,629 (entitled "System for creating a community of users with common interests to interact in," available HERE), which lead to an inter partes reexamination of the patent. According to the Law.com article, "the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] examiners issued a decision that reaffirmed the validity of XACP's patent. And in late March 2010, the examiners issued a right of appeal notice, effectively finalizing their decision and clearing the way for Facebook to challenge the decision before the Patent Office Board of Patent Appeals" The patent at issue was filed in February 2000, issued three years later on February 11, 2003, and contains 32 system and method claims. As invalidity defenses are now off the table (according to the article referenced above), counsel for XACP is considering a request to lift the stay and allow the case to proceed to trial, presumably should no settlement be reached between the parties before then. The docket for the 2007 case, including over 175 docket entries, is available HERE via Justia.com.

April 06, 2010

On Friday, April 2nd, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it is seeking public comment on its proposal that would effectively provide a 12 month extension period to the current 12 month provisional patent application period. This announcement (available HERE, with a Federal Register excerpt available HERE) states that the proposal "would benefit applicants by giving them additional time to determine if patent protection should be sought – enabling them to defer additional fees and enabling applicants to focus efforts on commercialization during this expanded provisional period," noting further that "[t]he proposal would benefit the USPTO and the public by adding publications to the body of prior art, and by removing from the USPTO’s workload those nonprovisional applications for which the applicants have decided not to pursue examination." As noted in the announcement, applicants would be allowed to file a nonprovisional application after the initial 12 month period provisional period, paying the filing fee and submitting an oath or declaration. This application would then be published, and after an additional 12 month period, applicants would pay a surcharge (tied to missing parts practice) and the remaining fees should they wish to proceed with their applications. Comments on this proposal must be received by the USPTO on or before June 1, 2010.

April 05, 2010

Tens of millions of people will be tuning in this evening to watch the NCAA basketball finals, being held here in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recognizing how this sport has changed history, I wanted to share a few basketball related patents with you. Enjoy!

U.S. Patent No. 1,563,243 (issued on November 24, 1925 to E. K. Van, link HERE) - "BASKET-BALL GOAL." Claim 1 of this patent claims "In a basketball goal, in combination, a ring, an arm secured to said ring, a supporting foot secured to said arm, and a brace secured at one end to said ring and at the other end to said foot."

U.S. Patent No. 1,718,305 (issued on June 25, 1929 to George L. Pierce, link HERE) - "BASKET BALL." This patent claims a "case for a game ball, composed of panels, each of which has a length equal to a major part of the ball circumference, one continuously curved side edge, opposite, shorter, separately curved side edges, a convexly curved polar projection intermediate the separately curved side edges, and concavely curved ends to fit portions of the polar projections of another panel, the panels being connected together in pairs along said continuously curved side edges, and separately curved side edges of the panels of one pair being connected to similar edges of panels of another pair, and the concavely curved ends of the panels of one pair being connected to the polar projections of panels of another pair." Yes, that is claim 1.

U.S. Patent No. 2,162,085 (issued on June 13, 1939 to E. F. Hoppes, link HERE) - "BASKETBALL BACKSTOP APPARATUS." Claim 1 reads "In a basketball backstop apparatus, overhead supports, a rigid backstop supporting frame hingedly carried at its upper end by said supports, a rigid bracing frame having its lower end hingedly connected to a lower portion of said backstop supporting frame, means for movably supporting the upper end of said bracing frame on said supports, and means for releasably latching the upper end of said bracing frame to said supports."

March 30, 2010

On March 23, 2010 the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced that more cybersquatting complaints were filed under procedures of the Uniform Domain Name Resolution Policy (UDRP) in 2009 than ever before. This WIPO article (link HERE) references an overall decrease in the UDRP caseload of about 10% from 2008, but that the 2009 caseload covered the highest number of individual domain names in a year (4,688) since the launch of the UDRP in December 1998. As referenced within the article, "[t]he UDRP has become accepted as an international standard for resolving domain name disputes outside traditional courts," which "is designed specifically to discourage and resolve the abusive registration of trademarks as domain names, commonly known as cybersquatting." The 2009 caseload comprised parties from 114 countries, which were handled by 310 WIPO panelists from 46 countries.

WIPO Press Releases

WIPO General News

Patent References

Click HERE to search issued U.S. Patents

Click HERE to search published U.S. Patent Applications

Click HERE to browse the MPEP (E8r6 in HTML and PDF, and E8r7 in PDF)

Click HERE to search patent assignments recorded with the USPTO

Click HERE to search Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (rev. 7/1/08)

Click HERE to browse Title 35 of the U.S. Code

Click HERE to view current USPTO fees


Copyright 2006-2010, Mark Reichel. The Daily Dose of IP is my personal website, and I am not providing any legal advice or financial analysis. Any views expressed herein should not be viewed as being the views of my employer, Ice Miller LLP. Any comments submitted to this blog will not be held in confidence and will not be considered as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Information submitted to this blog should be considered as being public information, and the submitter takes full responsibility for any consequences of any information submitted. No claims, promises, or guarantees are made or available regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information contained in this blog or otherwise available by searching from or linking away from this blog.

EPO Updates

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Click HERE to search issued and pending U.S. Trademarks

Click HERE to search TTAB proceedings (via TTABVUE)

Click HERE to search trademark assignments recorded with the USPTO

The DDIP Author

Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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