Monday, November 26, 2007

2007 Best Inventions

What do you think is the best invention of 2007? The iPhone took top honors in TIME magazine's 2007 best inventions list. TIME also listed other great inventions by the following categories: cars & buses, aircraft, space, robots, entertainment, law & order, living, environment, architecture, fashion, computers, health, tech buyer's guide, and gadget of the year.

TIME did not stop with this year, however. The best inventions page includes a list of all-time best inventors from Archimedes (circa 287-212 B.C.) to Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell, the modern-day cloners of Dolly the sheep.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turkey Patents

As thoughts turn to a yummy Thanksgiving dinner, did you realize that the turkey has been the subject of many patents? If you enjoy hunting your own turkey or game, there are numerous patents for turkey call devices (D554,017; D553,532; D553,040; and D511,471 to name a few) as well as for decoys that mimic a turkey in order to attract other animals (7,287,352 - Decoy with movable head and/or tail portions; 7,076,909 - Decoy sled). When you are ready to cook the bird there are methods and equipment to help (6,939,217 - Method of preparing a bird for grilling and resulting bird product; D503,068 - Turkey fryer stand). If you are a non-hunter who favors quick preparation perhaps 7,131,906 (Ready-to-cook bird product) is for you.

Once the dishes from the feast have been cleared away and you are looking for entertainment, for the kids try patent 1,678,226 (Toy representing a turkey Gobbler) or for Fido try the turkey-inspired D554,812 (Pet toy ) or 7,087,260 (Animal chew toy with flossing ribs/projections).

If you are celebrating at someone else's home and want to bring a turkey-themed gift, you are in luck. Patents exist for dinnerware or silverware (D164,113 or D167,472 - Plate or similar article; D22,778 - Design for a spoon). If art or jewelry is more to the taste of your hostess, consider a figurine with a turkey design (D148,147) or a decorative turkey brooch (D104,925 ).

Thanks to Margaret J. Collins, Library Program Specialist, Patent and Trademark Depository Library,Illinois State Library for supplying the idea and many of the patent numbers for this entry.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Little Shop of Patent and Trademark Horrors

Are you suffering from Halloween withdrawal? Visit the USPTO's Little Shop of Patent and Trademark Horrors . Designed with kids in mind, the site can be fun and informative for adults too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Collegiate Inventors Competition

The 2007 Collegiate Inventors Competition Awards will be presented at the California Institute of Technology on November 1, 2007. Joining the U.S. undergraduate and graduate student finalists this year is a team from Canada. The competition is sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)and the Abbott Fund. Entries are judged on originality and usefulness to society. For more information about the contest, past winners, and future contests visit

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trademark Tribal Insignia Database

According to an announcement in the Oct. 12, 2007 Federal Register, the USPTO has created a database containing the official insignia of all federally- and state-recognized Native American tribes. Tribes can voluntarily submit insignias to this database. The database serves as a reference to help determine the "the registrability of a mark that may be similar to the official insignia of a Native American tribe." An FAQs page is available with further information including how to search for tribal insignias in the larger USPTO Trademark Database.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Obvious or Not?

"Is an invention obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the field?" is a question that plagues inventors and even patent examiners. To address this problem the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is publishing examination guidelines to help determine obviousness according to requirements expressed in 35 U.S.C. 103. The guidelines will take effect Oct. 10, 2007 and are intended as internal office help. Rejections will continue to be based upon the substantive law instead of the guidelines. For more information, access the Federal Register, Oct. 10, 2007 (Vol. 72, No. 195, p.57526-57535).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Display Your Trademark at the USPTO

In an effort to educate consumers about the global economic importance of trademarks, the USPTO will host a trademark display at its Alexandria, Virginia headquarters on April 10-12, 2008. Companies with a registered trademark are encouraged to apply for one of the exhibit spots.The deadline for applying is December 15, 2007. Those chosen to exhibit will be notified by January 15, 2008.

The USPTO's criteria for selecting the exhibitors are:

  • Brand recognition - How well-known is the mark?

  • Educational value of the proposed exhibit - How would the trademark holders participation help educate the public about trademarks?

  • Category diversity - Does the applicant's participation help ensure the Expo has a wide selection of trademarks?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Worried about an expired patent?

According to the USPTO, an applicant may submit through EFS-Web a "Petition to Accept Unintentionally Delayed Payment of a Maintenance Fee in an Expired Patent." The patent can be reinstated immediately if the petitioner uses the electronic petition from 37 CFR 1.378(c) found under "Existing Application/Patent" in EFS-Web. More information is available under the Quick Start Guide for Petitions at

Japan and European Patent Office Filing Problem

If you plan to file a patent application with the Japan Patent Office and/or the European Patent Office, when you file your U.S. application be sure to include Form SB-39 which allows the USPTO to release a copy of the unpublished US application to foreign offices. Both the Japan and European Offices have strict deadlines for submission of priority documents.

Patent Application Correspondence by Email

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is initiating a pilot program for customers to receive an email notification that new outgoing correspondence related to a patent application has been placed in Private PAIR. A limited number of participants will be able to register for this e-Office Action pilot program starting August 31, 2007. If you would like to participate, email your Customer Numbers to the PAIR team at

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

New Patent Claims and Continuations Rules

The United States Patent Office (USPTO) has made available on-line until Feb. 1, 2008 a recording of its Aug. 23rd webcast (reading of PowerPoint slides) explaining the new claims and continuations rules. The USPTO has posted additional information about this topic on the following pages:

For additional questions about these new rules, contact the USPTO by e-mail at or by phone at (571) 272-7704.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Higher Patent Fees

According to a final rule in the Federal Register, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be raising a few patent fee rates to match fluctuations in the Consumer Price Index. The most current fee amounts are available at the USPTO's Web site.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Proposed Rules Change May Reduce Pendency

Proposed changes in the examination of patent applications that include claims containing alternative language (Markush claims or others using alternative language) may improve patent quality and reduce pendency. The proposed change would especially affect the pharmaceutical, chemical, and biotechnology fields where "multi-invention alternative" claims are common. For the text of the proposed changes see Friday's Federal Register.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

US Colleges and Universities - Utility Patent Grants

Did you know that Rice University received at least 79 patent assignments between 1969 and 2005? Additional Rice patent assignments can be found by searching the USPTO Patent Database.

From the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program Office:

The 2005 PTMT report profiling patenting by U.S. universities ("US Colleges and Universities- Utility Patent Grants, 1969-Present") is now available on the USPTO Web Site ( as is the 2006 update of the report that profiles utility patent applications by country of origin ("Number of Utility Patent Applications Filed in the United States By Country of Origin, Calendar Years 1965 to Present").

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Science Channel Celebrating Green

Do you have an ingenious solution to an environmental problem? If so, the Science Channel is seeking out grassroots "green" inventors for a new show entitled "Trippin' the Green Fantastic." The show will feature two hosts "passionate about green" who will use an SUV fueled by veggie-oil to travel across America in search of "homemade eco-inventions."

Fakes and Plagiarisms

The Plagiarius Museum in Solingen, Germany has a unique mission - to education the public about the negative impacts plagiarisms and fakes have on the world's economy. Each year the museum gives a negative gnome award to companies judged to be guilty of making the "most flagrant" design imitations. Access the website to see this year's winners.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Patent Concerns

Dissatisfaction with the current U.S. patent system is being expressed by various groups. Several patent lawyers and inventors from California have filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia contending that Margaret J.A. Peterlin, the recently appointed Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, does not have the qualifications to move the USPTO forward.

Congress is also concerned about patent issues. On Feb. 15, 2007 the Committee on the Judiciary: Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property held an oversight hearing entitled American Innovation at Risk: The Case for Patent Reform. Suzanne Michel, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel and the Deputy Assistant Director for Policy Coordination, FTC testified as did public witnesses from Brandeis University, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Public Patent Foundation. Additionally, Congressman Howard L. Berman sponsored The Patent Reform Act of 2007 with thanks to Senator Leahy, Congressman Rick Boucher, and Congressman Lamar Smith. The act expresses concern about a "decrease in patent quality and an increase in litigation abuses."

On July 9 Business Week published "Look Who's Fighting Patent Reform" which reveals that universities, venture capitalists, and trade groups are concerned that "Big Tech" firms ( America's largest software and computer companies) are trying to rewrite patent law to lessen litigation from smaller entities.

Friday, July 6, 2007

One Million for Wearable Power Supply

The Department of Defense is offering a $1,000,000 prize to the inventor(s) (individual or teams) of a wearable power supply for soldiers that will provide 96 hours of equipment operation and weigh 4kg or less.The contest includes a $500,000 2nd place prize and a $250,000 3rd place prize. Rules of the contest are available at Registration for the contest ends Nov. 30, 2007..

Monday, June 18, 2007

Be a Community Patent Reviewer!

The Peer to Patent Project, a community patent review pilot project, went live on Friday, June 15. This pilot project depends on community reviewers (yes, you can be one too!) to review patent applications in the area of computer architecture, software and information security. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published guidelines for the project and the New York Law School created the website for the project. Participants hope to show whether the collaborative submission and review of prior art documents will contribute to better patent examination results. The project is schedule to run for a year or until 250 applications have been selected and reviewed. Community reviewers will be asked to review and discuss submitted patent applications; locate and share prior art; comment on each other's prior art submissions; and help create up to 10 prior art references to be forwarded to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with the patent application.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Patent Reexamination Certificates Available

The Reexamination Certificates File
(zipped file) is now available on the USPTO website. The certificates reveal claims that have been cancelled, confirmed, or newly incorporated for normal or reissue patents.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Patent Application Survey Comments

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is soliciting comments on or before August 3, 2007 on its proposed Patent Application Survey as discussed in the Federal Register. Two different versions of the survey will be disseminated, one for large domestic corporations and small and medium-size businesses, and another for universities, non-profit research organizations, and independent inventors. Although the survey is primarily a mail survey, participants will have the option to complete it electronically or by phone.

According to the USPTO, comments are invited about:

  • a) Whether the proposed collection of
    information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of
    the agency, including whether the information shall have practical

  • (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden
    (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information;

  • (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the
    information to be collected; and

  • (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of
    information on respondents, including through the use of automated
    collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

Comments may be sent the following ways:
  • E-mail: Include ``0651-0052 comment'' in
    the subject line of the message.

  • Fax: 571-273-0112, marked to the attention of Susan Fawcett.

  • Mail: Susan K. Fawcett, Records Officer, Office of the Chief
    Information Officer, Customer Information Services Group, Public
    Information Services Division, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O.
    Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Inventors Congress

The 50th Annual Minnesota Inventors Congress (MIC) will be held in Redwood Falls, Minnesota, June 9-11, 2007. Speaking about how to avoid being scammed by fraudulent invention promotion firms will be Anthony Knight, a Supervisory Patent Examiner from the USPTO. Other topics include the inventing process, preliminary patent searching, market assessment, and licensing versus manufacturing. Access the MIC website for more information and/or to register.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Fraudulent Invention Promotion

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a civil contempt action against four individuals and eight business entities for alleged fraudulent business practices involving invention promotion. According to an FTC press release, "the Commission initiated contempt proceedings against (Julian) Gumpel and eight corporate entities under his control: Technical Lithographers Inc., d/b/a Patent and Trademark Institute of America (PTI), United Licensing Corporation, International Patent Advisors Inc., Datatech Consulting Inc., International Product Marketing Inc., Unicorp Consulting Inc., d/b/a/ UNI Corp. Inc, Azure Communications Inc., and London Communications Inc."

The FTC has established a phone line (202-326-2926) for consumers who have complaints against the Patent and Trademark Institute of America (PTI) for promising to help consumers objectively evaluate and/or license their inventions and earn royalties, none of which allegedly occurred.

Small Business Seminar June 13, 2007

The USPTO, the United States Chamber of Commerce, and the state of North Carolina are hosting a free conference on counterfeiting and piracy from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 13 at the McKinnon Center on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Topics to be covered include how to work with law enforcement officials to safeguard intellectual property, how to protect the supply chain here and abroad, how to protect brands using state and government resources, and what the USPTO and Chamber of Commerce are doing to defend American business. Register at (shortened URL that goes to the USPTO site) using REGISTRATION CODE:June 13.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Peterlin Appointed USPTO Deputy Director

Margaret J.A. Peterlin has been named Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to Jon Dudas, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO, "Margaret's leadership will be instrumental in the USPTO's efforts to work with applicants to enhance the quality of their applications, process patents and trademarks in a timely manner, and operate in a way that motivates our employees and inspires our international partners.”

Ms. Peterlin earned a law degree from the University of Chicago, clerked on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for Judge Jerry E. Smith, acted as General Counsel to Richard Armey, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and served as Counsel for Legal Policy and National Security Advisor for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Obviousness Test for Patents

In KSR Int'l Co. v. Teleflex Inc. the Supreme Court has invalidated the old interpretation of the "obviousness" test for granting patents. The new interpretation of the obviousness test should make it easier to deny or invalidate patents.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Happy World Intellectual Property Day

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has declared April 26, 2007 as World Intellectual Property Day. Countries around the world are celebrating with a wide variety of activities ranging from intellectual property contests for students to seminars to on-line chats.

For universities and research and development (R&D) organizations in developing countries, WIPO has recently launched the WIPO University Initiative. This program uses Intellectual Property (IP) Coordinators who provide information and advice about IP matters to enable these organizations to implement IP policies, analyze IP information, develop IP assets, and make wise decisions about technology transfer and licensing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Proposed Changes - USPTO

The USPTO has recently published in the Federal Register several proposed changes to patent procedures.

First, the USPTO is piloting a program that will allow customers to access and manage their financial activity records online.

Next, regarding ex parte and inter partes reexamination proceedings, the USPTO proposes to add two items, an electronic version of the Issue Fee Transmittal (Form PTOL-85B) and a petition to request an extension of time.

Likewise, the USPTO posted a final rule pertaining to ex parte or inter partes reexamination designating the correspondence address for the patent as the correct address for all communications. It also specifies the use of a single mail stop address to file ex parte reexamination papers (as is already the case for inter partes reexamination papers) and prohibits supplemental patent owner responses to an Office action in inter partes reexamination proceedings without sufficient cause. The USPTO, however, is not implementing a proposed rule "to newly provide for a patent owner reply to a request for reexamination, prior to the Office's decision on the request."

Finally, as of Oct. 31, 2007, the USPTO will cease accepting correspondence sent to the previous location of the Madrid Processing Unit (MPU) in Arlington, Virginia. The current address is: Madrid Processing Unit, 600 Dulany Street, MDE-7B87, Alexandria, VA 22314-5793.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Accelerated Review of Patent Applications

On March 13 the USPTO granted the first patent under its new accelerated review program. The patent was granted 6 months after the application was filed, 18 months earlier than the usual 2 year pendency. Accelerated review means that the applicant will have a final decision with 12 months of filing.

Per the USPTO Guidelines for Applicants Under the Accelerated Examination Procedure, to qualify for accelerated review, an applicant must:
  1. Submit the petition and fee (where appropriate)
  2. File the request with respect to an application filed under 35 USC 111(a)
  3. File the application via the EFS or EFS-Web; also all follow-on submissions
  4. File a complete application complying with 37 CFR 1.51
  5. File 3 or fewer independent claims and no more than 20 claims total
  6. File an application for a single invention or agree to elect without traverse a single invention for examination
  7. Agree to an interview with the examiner to discuss any outstanding issues arising in the examination process
  8. Conduct a pre-examination search
  9. Provide an accelerated examination support document

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Vote on What Patents Should be Approved

According to this Washington Post article, the USPTO is piloting a new project in which the general public can comment on pending patent applications.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Federal Register Notices Re. Paperwork Reduction

The February 26, 2007 (Vol. 72, No. 37, p.8355) Federal Register contains a submission to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by the USPTO regarding Initial Patent Applications. Since electronic filing is fairly new, the USPTO does not yet have an accurate estimate of the time it takes to fill out an electronic application. Until USPTO personnel can reevaluate the timing with more data, they have indicated to OMB that it takes about the same amount of time to fill out the electronic application as it does the paper version.

Comments and recommendations about this submission can be addressed to David Rostker, OMB Desk Officer, Room 10202, New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503 to be received on or before March 18,2007.

Another USPTO entry in the February 26, 2007 (Vol. 72, No. 37, p.8356-8357) Federal Register invites comment about the USPTO's efforts to reduce paperwork as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The entry focuses on practitioner records maintenance, disclosure, and discipline before the Patent and Trademark Office.

Written comments about these procedures must be submitted on or before April 27, 2007 by any of the following methods:

  • Include
    ``0651-0017 comment'' in the subject line of the message.

  • Fax: 571-273-0112,
    marked to the attention of Susan Brown.

  • Mail: Susan K. Brown, Records Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Architecture, Engineering and Technical Services, Data Architecture and Services Division, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trademark Request for Reconsideration/Final Refusal

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has proposed to amend the Code of Federal Regulations (37 CFR 2.64) "to require a request for reconsideration of an examining attorney's final refusal or requirement to be filed through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) within three months of the mailing date of the final action." The change proposes to streamline the trademark process once a final action has issued. It will reduce the need for remands and transfers between the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) and the examining attorney.

Email comments about the proposed rule to TM RECON COMMENTS@USPTO.GOV or submit written comments to Commissioner for Trademarks, P.O. Box 1451, Alexandria, VA 22313-1451, attention Cynthia C. Lynch. Comments must be received by April 16, 2007.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Worldwide Patent News

If you are interested in keeping up with world-wide patent information, EPO's Patent Information News (formerly EPIDOS News) available in German, English and French versions is a rich source. For example, an article in the latest (4/06) issue entitled "Are You Fit for Asia" contains the following statistics and information together with further explanation and links:
  • approximate one quarter of all PCT applications in 2005 were written in Japanese, Chinese or Korean
  • the total number of foreign patent filings in India rose to 19, 984 in 2005, a 44% increase on 2004
  • the Korean Intellectual Property Rights Information Service (KIPRIS) now also offers online file inspection
  • draft amendments to the Chinese Trade Mark Law were published for public consultation in April 2006.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Slate on Google Patent Search

To those that missed it, a few weeks ago Slate ran a fun and interesting article on the newly released Google patents search. While noting his amazement at the sheer amount of information contained in online patents databases (both through google and the USPTO), the author questions both the efficacy of google's search system and the usefulness of the patent system in general.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

2007 National Inventors Hall of Fame Winners

The National Inventors Hall of Fame (founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Association) announced its 2007 winners today (2/8/07). To be eligible for the honor inventors must hold a U.S. patent and their invention "must have contributed to the welfare of society and have promoted the progress of science and the useful arts."

Posthumous awards will recognize the following inventors at the awards ceremony on May 4th and 5th at the Hall's home in Akron, Ohio : Allen Breed for the automotive airbag; David Cushman and Miguel Ondetti for captopril (medical Ace inhibitor); Donald Davies for digital packet switching; William Goddard and John Lynott for magnetic disk storage; Peter Goldmark for the long playing (LP) record; Maurice Hilleman for vaccines including the MMR; Godfrey Hounsfield for the CAT scanner; Arthur Nobile for prednisone (steriod); and Otto Wichterle for the soft contact lens.

The living inventors to be inducted are: Paul Baran for digital packet switching; Emmett Chappelle for bioluminescence techniques; John Franz for Roundup® herbicide; Leroy Hood for the DNA sequencer; Paul Lauterbur for magnetic resonance imaging—MRI; Peter Mansfield also for magnetic resonance imaging—MRI; and Robert Metcalfe for the Ethernet.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Patent Searching Classes

The patent and trademark depository library at Fondren Library, Rice University has scheduled 2 patent searching classes for February:

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007 4:00-6:00
Saturday, Feb. 24, 2007 2:00-4:00

The classes covers preliminary patent searching using both Internet resources and resources available at the library. There is a $5.00 fee and registration is required.

Please call 713-348-6212 for additional information. Additional sessions will be added on our website.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

PubWest Downtime

From the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program:

PubWest will not be available between 6:00-7:00 PM EST tomorrow,
Wednesday, January 31. The firewall server that handles the
authentication to USPTO will be replaced during this time. You will
need to reauthenticate after 7:00 PM, and access to PubWest will then
again be available.

Disclosure Document Program to be Eliminated

Effective February 1, 2007, the Disclosure Document Program will be eliminated. The Program was started by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 1969 as a way to provide a form of evidence of the date of an invention. In the U.S. patents may be granted to the first person(s) to invent "...any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof", so proving the date of conception can be very important. Through the program, an inventor could have a description of an invention date stamped and filed at the USPTO for a period of time as a way of showing evidence of invention by that date.

Insufficient benefit to inventors and frequent confusion about the nature and effect of a Disclosure Document were cited as reasons for eliminating the program. The Final Rule eliminating the Program was published on November 3 in the Federal Register. All documents not received by January 31, 2007 at the USPTO will be returned to the application filer.