January 29, 2010

Earlier this month, the Financial Services Commission ("FSC") of the British Virgin Islands ("BVI") announced its plan to revise its existing intellectual property laws. As noted in a recent Mondaq article (available HERE), the BVI has become increasing popular with global trade and investment, and in attempt to assist its more than 60,000 new companies per year facilitate business innovation, the FSC will establish a specific focus group to address the BVI’s current Intellectual and Industrial Property ("IIP") laws. According to the FSC’s January 5, 2010 press release (available HERE in .pdf format), the focus group will review "all current IIP Law and treaties, considering the operation of modern IIP laws in other jurisdictions and preparing new and or revised legislation for the consideration of the Commission," making specific reference to BVI’s Patents Act, registration of United Kingdom Trade Marks, the United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Act, and the Merchandise Marks Act. The focus group will likely be inaugurated next month and will have a goal of completing its review by the end of 2010.

January 28, 2010

On Wednesday, Apple Inc. launched its anticipated iPad handheld device, which appears to have the functionality of an iPhone and more with nearly a ten inch screen. The day before, however, is also notable as U.S. Patent No. 7,653,883, entitled "Proximity detector in handheld device," was issued to Apple by the USPTO. According to the patent, the invention relates to an I/O platform having an I/O surface with I/O devices, including "a proximity detection system configured to detect when a finger is in close proximity to but not contacting the I/O surface," and in another embodiment, the invention relates to a portable computing device having such a proximity detection system. As noted by a recent PC Magazine article (available HERE through Yahoo! News), "the patent in question…doesn’t cover the tablet itself, but a means of data entry within it." If you have an interest in following Apple’s new patents, Jack Purcher’s Patently Apple blog (available HERE) may be of interest to you.

January 27, 2010

Last week, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office ("CIPO") announced that it is now offering an e-mail subscription service to its Trade-mark News offering. As noted within the CIPO’s What’s New webpage (link available HERE, with this particular offering under the January 18, 2010 heading), the CIPO’s Trade-marks Branch and Trade-marks Opposition Board will provide information in connection with updates to the CIPO’s Wares and Services Manual (available online HERE), new trade-marks consultations and practice notices, and the "What’s New" announcements relating to trademarks available on the CIPO’s website. E-mail registration is available at this LINK. If you decide to subscribe, please feel free to provide feedback via comment to this blog article.

January 26, 2010

The European Patent Office (EPO) has recently announced that it is launching a new follow-up survey to determine how the public does, or does not, use available patent information. As noted within the EPO’s announcement (link HERE), the last survey was performed in 2002-03, and identified that 70% of surveyed companies in Europe actually didn’t even use patent information. This new survey will be carried out in all of the current EPO member states (current list available HERE) plus the United States. According to the EPO, "Our target group is the innovation sector at large - including industry, public sector research, and academia. We are not especially focusing on patent applicants or patent attorneys, although some may get into the study because of the randomized sampling procedure." The private surveyor plans to conduct all surveys via telephone, which will be available in 25 different languages.

January 25, 2010

On January 20, 2010, the USPTO moderated a public roundtable discussion to obtain public comments on the proposed rules modifications in connection with ex parte appeals before the USPTO’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI). As noted in a recent USPTO release (link HERE), the USPTO has a goal of reducing the pendency of its ex parte appeals, noting that the time from when a patent applicant files a notice of appeal until the time the BPAI renders its decision now averages nearly 2 and a half years (29.3 months), an increase from the 27.5 month pendency calculated at the end of FY2009. Sharon Barner, the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, Deputy Director of the USPTO, and moderator of the roundtable, stated that "[t]his roundtable was an important step to gather valuable insight from the public on these proposed modifications and to work together with stakeholders toward a more efficient appeal process and more timely Board decisions."

The proposed rules were published in the December 22, 2009 Federal Register (excerpt link HERE). As noted within the USPTO press release, the proposed rule change objectives are "to provide clarity so that appellants know exactly what the rules require, and so that examiners know what they need to do; to streamline the process so that cases move from notice of appeal to decision in a more efficient and timely manner; to allow appellants and examiners an opportunity to fully respond to each other’s positions; and to ensure the appeal process allows for issues to be crystallized so that the Board receives fully-developed issues to be decided." A list of roundtable participants is available HERE, noting that Dennis Crouch, a fellow blogger and University of Missouri School of Law faculty member, was among the participants. If you are interested, you can review the PowerPoint slides used with the roundtable by clicking HERE.

January 22, 2010

A recent series of cyber attacks, appearing to originate from China, have demonstrated how powerful malware can even compromise high technology companies. As referenced in a recent San Jose Mercury News article (link available HERE), Google admitted to being the victim of a series of cyber attacks that were strong enough to steal some of its own intellectual property and negatively impact between 20 and 30 other high-tech companies in Silicon Valley. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken a leadership role regarding internet security and commerce, and recently gave a foreign policy address in Washington D.C. discussing, in part, the impact of malware and its ability to breach even highly-secured corporate systems. As noted in the San Jose Mercury News article, the rapid increase in the volume of malware is indicated by Symantec’s collection of malware, whereby 60% of all of its collected malware code (5.9 million pieces) was created in the last 15 months.

According to DailyFinance (article link HERE), the cyber attack against Google may have even involved some Google employees in China. As mentioned therein, "The news certainly adds a new wrinkle to cyber-espionage. It means that employees, who are either bribed or have conflicting loyalties to their employers, may pose the single most dangerous threat to the security of servers that hold data for companies ranging from search engines to government sites to e-mail operations handling the communications of hundreds of millions of people."

January 21, 2010

On January 25-29, 2010, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will be hosting its Fourteenth Session of the Standing Committee on the Law of Patents. The following items will be discussed, with links to the various handouts in PDF format:
  • Agenda (PDF)
  • The Client-Advisor Privilege (PDF)
  • Technical Solutions to Improve Access to, and Dissemination of, Patent Information (PDF)
  • Transfer of Technology (PDF)
  • Opposition Systems (PDF)
  • Report on the International Patent System: Revised Annex II of Document SCP/12/3 Rev. 2 (PDF) (and PDF of Annex I)
There are also additional documents available, including patent standards and exclusions of patentable subject matter, available at the WIPO link HERE.

January 20, 2010

The Toronto Sun has recently reported that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, will be offering a series of consultations available to the public specifically addressing how social networks function as repositories for data collectors and consumer profilers. The Toronto Sun article (link HERE, with content provided by The Canadian Press) states that Ms. Stoddart "is examining the privacy risks associated with the online tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers, in the lead up to a review of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act." According to Ms. Stoddart, and as referenced within a recent CNW Group Ltd. Article available HERE, "The consultation will equip the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada with a deeper understanding of the practice of tracking, profiling and targeting consumers online," and "[i]t will also provide a forum for the exploration of the privacy implications related to this modern industry practice, and the protections that Canadians expect." The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (website link HERE) is soliciting written submissions from interested parties through March 15, 2010, and is also seeking interested potential panelists to participate in open discussion panels the following two months in Toronto and Montreal.

January 19, 2010

We have all been reading and hearing about the recent NBC shakeup regarding Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, and now we have an interesting intellectual property ownership twist. Aside from the many millions of dollars changing hands and the desire to maintain a coveted time slot for late-night television, Conan O’Brien is seeking to keep certain intellectual property made famous during his tenure on NBC. The IP concern relates to several characters, including Pimpbot 5000 and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, as well as at least one other character not mentioned here but available at this LINK to Movie|Line’s article as well as this LINK to TMZ’s take on the story. Although Robert Smigel is the man literally behind Truimph, that character had its humble beginnings with Mr. O’Brien but has also gained notoriety with various television specials, videos, CDs, and several YouTube clips. Apparently these characters will live on with Conan wherever he may go, but there will also be strings attached, not limited to a well-publicized non-disparagement clause.

** UPDATE ** - Perhaps Conan's famous characters may not follow him to his new gig, as per this more recent TMZ article available HERE.

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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.

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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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