When I take my car to the shop these days, the “tech” mechanic hooks it up to a computer and the analysis system displays the exact status of all the onboard system elements. When I apply for a patent, one of 9,000 patent examiners formulates their own written opinion of why they believe my invention is obvious and not patentable.
On January 16, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) raised a number of fees that are estimated to increase annual revenue by about $400 million. For utility patents, the combined filing, search and examination fees increased from $1,600 to $1,720 for large entities. For every independent claim over three, the fee increased from $420 to $460; for each claim greater than 20, the fee increased from $80 to $100. The Issue fee also increased from $960 to $1,000.
Early in my career, an inventor came to my office to talk about patenting his invention. After I advised him about having a patentability search conducted and then explained all that is involved in preparing and prosecuting a patent application, he had one question: “When can I make some money on this?”
The main purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to establish the basic rights of all American citizens and provide direction on how the government should work. During the colonial era, intellectual property (IP) in America was actually owned by Great Britain.
On January 31, 2011, the White House announced the launch of the Startup America initiative and noted that the Department of Commerce was “finalizing a plan to allow entrepreneurs to request faster review of their patents, an initiative that should lower patent pendency times overall and speed the deployment of new ideas to the marketplace.
Once the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues a Final Rejection, a patent applicant is faced with an important decision regarding what to do next. Options include: filing a Notice of Appeal, filing a Request for Continued Examination (RCE), filing an after final response or amendment, or abandoning the application.
From 2008 to 2012, the percentage of examiner interviews conducted for U.S. patent applications nearly doubled from about 15 to 30%. In 2012, 90% of applications in which examiner interviews were conducted were allowed, compared to a 61% allowance rate for patents in which no interviews were conducted. These trends have continued.
More than 30 years ago when I started my career as a patent examiner in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there was a common phrase that went something like this: “Patents are not valid until they are litigated.”
Last year saw 5,769 new patent suits filed in federal district courts, representing a 15% increase over the previous year, with non-practicing entities (NPEs) filing two out of every three of these suits.