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July 2016 Patent Prosecution Lunch Update

July 25, 2016

The July 2016 patent section of the prosecution lunch featured a discussion the newly introduced Post-Prosecution Pilot (P3) program. Other topics included end-to-end e-filing at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and authorizing internet communications in a patent application. The presentation concluded with a demonstration of the website examiner.ninja, which provides free statistical information about USPTO examiners. The presentation may be downloaded here.


Fast Track for Cancer Applications – Limited Time

July 12, 2016

The USPTO recently established Patents 4 Patients, also known as the Cancer Immunotherapy Pilot Program, to speed up prosecution of cancer related patents. The goal of Patents 4 Patients is to reduce the time the USPTO takes to review patent applications pertaining to cancer immunotherapy in half by issuing final decisions in 1 year or less after special status is granted. Unlike other fast track applications, there are no additional fees required to participate in the program. The USPTO will advance these applications out of turn (accorded special status) for examination if the applicant files a petition to make special under the Patents 4 Patients Program.

The Patents 4 Patients program is open to any applicant, regardless of the nationality of the patent applicant or its agents. The location where the underlying research was undertaken or the technology was developed does not matter nor does the location where the invention may be produced or manufactured.

The Patents 4 Patients program requires at least one or more claims to a method of treating a cancer using immunotherapy. Most importantly, if the application does not contain a method claim that complies with the USPTO eligibility requirements, the petition will be dismissed, and the applicant will not be given an opportunity to correct the deficiency.

The patent application must be a non-reissue, non-provisional utility application, or an international application that entered the US national stage. The maximum total claim limit is 20 with 3 independent claims and no multiple dependent claims. Applications that have been previously granted special status are not eligible for the Patents 4 Patients program. A petition for the program must be filed either (i) at least one day prior to the date of a first Office action or (ii) with a proper request for continued examination (RCE).

For patent applicants whose claimed cancer immunotherapy both (i) meets the eligibility requirements for the Patents 4 Patients Program and (ii) is the subject of an active Investigational New Drug (IND) application filed by patent applicant at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that has entered phase II or phase III clinical trials, the petition may be filed any time prior to an appeal or a final rejection if patent applicant certifies both (i) and (ii) in the petition. For an application that has an outstanding Office action, patent applicant must file a complete response together with the petition.

Publication of the patent application is a requirement of the Patents 4 Patients program. If a nonpublication request was previously filed, applicant must file a rescission of nonpublication with the petition.

According to the USPTO, the 1 year goal is achieved when one of the following final dispositions occurs within twelve months from the grant of special status: (1) The mailing of a notice of allowance; (2) the mailing of a final Office action; (3) the filing of an RCE; (4) the abandonment of the application; (5) or the filing of a Notice of Appeal.

The Patents 4 Patients program will run until June 29, 2017; therefore applicants must file a petition before then. The USPTO may or may not extend the Patents 4 Patients program with or without changes. To learn more about Patents 4 Patients program and the eligibility requirements, feel free to contact one of our attorneys.


USPTO Updates Examiner Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility – Section 101

May 20, 2016

The last update to the USPTO’s guidance to examiners on patent subject matter eligibility was issued in July of 2015. The USPTO recently provided the next iteration, which includes a new set of life science examples, a memorandum to the patent examining corps with instructions on formulating subject matter eligibility rejections and responding to applicant’s replies, an index of eligibility examples, and an appendix of subject matter eligibility court decisions. Copies of these documents can be obtained from the USPTO’s Subject Matter Eligibility page.

The new life science examples use hypothetical fact scenarios (such as vaccines and diagnostics) to illustrate exemplary analyses for subject matter eligibility in view of the Supreme Court decisions in Alice Corp., Mayo, and Myriad. The examples are designed to show various ways that patent claims can be drafted for eligibility, and thus assist patent applicants and patent examiners in resolving subject matter eligibility issues in the life science areas.

The examiner memorandum lays out what is required for a proper rejection and provides guidance to the examining corps on how to effectively communicate that rationale to the applicant. The memorandum also reinforces that examiners must carefully consider all of an applicant’s arguments and evidence rebutting the subject matter eligibility rejection, and either withdraw the rejection when the response is persuasive, or provide a rebuttal when the rejection is maintained.

In addition to this new update, the USPTO has stated that it will continue to conduct interactive workshops where examiners will receive hands on experience evaluating eligibility and have the opportunity to facilitate discussions with subject matter experts. The life science training will follow the same format as the abstract idea workshops given this past year, using worksheets to analyze the eligibility of claims from select life science examples.

The ultimate goal is to efficiently issue subject matter rejections where appropriate and provide a sound basis for those rejections, but also to remove those rejections where appropriate arguments and/or amendments are presented. As the post-Alice case law continues to evolves, this is certainly a difficult task.

To learn more about subject matter eligibility and how it can affect currently issued patents or the pursuit of future patents, feel free to contact one of our attorneys.


House Passes Federal Trade Secret Bill

April 28, 2016

The House on Wednesday passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 which would allow individuals and companies to fight trade-secret theft in federal court. The Senate already voted to approve the bill earlier this month, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Trade secrets include customer lists, recipes, procedures, blueprints, and other accumulated proprietary knowledge that provides businesses with a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Such proprietary information provides hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue and millions of jobs.

Currently, federal trade secret protection is only available by requesting the Justice Department to intervene. Companies or individuals cannot file a federal lawsuit and must therefore address the issue in state courts. This can mean added complexity and expense when dealing with various state courts with differing laws, particularly when a trade secret case involves multiple states.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act would authorize individuals and companies to file a civil lawsuit in federal court for the misappropriation of a trade secret that is related to products or services involved in interstate or foreign commerce. Besides the potential for reduced cost and complexity, the law provides options for enforcement that are beyond what state courts are typically willing to do. For example, a seizure provision allows a company to ask for the government to seize its trade secrets prior to giving any notice of the lawsuit to a potential defendant.

The Obama Administration has thus far supported the Defense of Trade Secrets Act. In a statement released earlier this month, the President said he “strongly supports” the legislation and its effort to make trade secret protection “more uniform, reliable, and predictable.”

Contact us if you have any questions on this or any other aspect of intellectual property protection.


New Rules May Alter Patent Litigation

March 31, 2016

On December 1, 2015, new amendment to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure went into effect. For intellectual property practice, the most significant change may be the elimination of the “Forms” section of the rules and Rule 84. Previously, pleadings similar to Form 18 for direct patent infringement were sufficient to satisfy the pleading standards in federal court. Now, based on previous decisions of the Federal Circuit regarding indirect infringement, commentators suggest that patent complaints will need to provide more specific factual information in order to survive early motion practice. The Federal Circuit has not yet addressed this question, but early district court decisions appear to be applying the amendments inconsistently. Some decisions have ruled that more specific fact-based allegations are required, while others have noted that the Advisory Committee comments state that the amendments were not intended to alter existing pleading standards and therefore continue to use Form 18 as the benchmark.

Although an initial complaint is one of the first steps in a patent lawsuit, it has significant procedural and substantive consequences depending on how it is drafted. Pending bills in the current Congress, the Innovation Act (H.R. 9) and the PATENT Act (S. 1137), would change patent infringement pleading requirements by amending the patent statutes in Title 35 of the United States Code.

Additional changes to the Rules relate to the scope of discovery (Rule 26), timing and objections relating to requests for production or inspection (Rule 34), and sanctions relating to electronically-stored information or “ESI” (Rule 37). Download the presentation from here.


January 2016 Trademark Prosecution Lunch Update

March 6, 2016

The January 2016 trademark section of the prosecution lunch featured updates concerning changes to the NICE classifications, recent updates to the Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure (TMEP), and the December 2015 United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shutdown. In addition, there is discussion of the recent B&B Hardware case that concerns the preclusive effect of an opposition as to priority of use. There is also discussion of the recent non-precedential Tekni-Plex, Inc. v. Selig Sealing Products, Inc. case which concerns the requirements for showing a bona fide intent to use a trademark. As noted recently in the In re Apple, Inc. (nonpresidential) case, the USPTO refused to register the IPOD mark for user manuals because it was not used for “goods in trade.” A case concerning the evidence required to show proof of use of the mark in interstate commerce is also highlighted. A copy of the presentation can be downloaded here.


Federal Circuit Finds the Disparagement Provision of the Lanham Act Unconstitutional

February 29, 2016

This presentation provides information concerning the recent In re Tam case in which the Federal Circuit held that the disparagement provision of §2(a) of the Lanham Act is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment right of free speech. It also discusses the impact of this holding on the currently pending Redskins case. A copy of the presentation can be downloaded here.


January 2016 Prosecution Lunch

February 3, 2016

The January 2016 patent prosecution lunch featured a discussion of the recent December and January outages at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) PAIR and EFS systems. In addition there was discussion regarding the Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee case in which the United States Supreme Court is reviewing inter partes review (IPR) proceedings as to claim interpretation standards and statutory authority to review institution of proceedings. There was also discussion regarding a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court case concerning subject matter conflicts. In addition the web-based Application Data Sheets (ADS) now available on the USPTO website were discussed. The presentation can be downloaded here.


Primer on International Copyright Protection

November 19, 2015

Below is a presentation that provides information concerning international protection for copyrights. The presentation includes a discussion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and an in-depth explanation of copyrights from an international perspective. In particular, the presentation has information concerning what copyrights protect, examples of copyright protection, and the treaties involved such as the Berne Convention. Details are provided on how to obtain international copyright protection, including the point of attachment requirements, the prohibition against formalities, and independent treatment requirements. In addition, it contains information on the retroactivity concerning the WTO (TRIPS) agreement and of neighboring rights as well as ownership of copyrights. Also included is a discussion about international copyright term (i.e., length of protection) as well as the discussion concerning the rule of Shorter Term under Article 7(8) along with an explanation on how the Trans-Pacific Partnership impacts copyright term in participant countries. The presentation can be downloaded here.


The Story of the Coca-Cola Bottle

November 16, 2015

Today marks the 100th Anniversary of the design patent covering the classic Coca-Cola bottle. Developed in Terre Haute, Indiana, by the Root Glass Company, the classic Coca-Cola bottle was developed to provide a distinctive package for the popular drink. Versions of the original bottle are still available to this day and continue to provide a way to identify the popular Coca-Cola brand. For more information on this piece of intellectual property history, visit: http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/the-story-of-the-coca-cola-bottle/

Coca Cola Bottle

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