USPTO

Study Shows that Recent Guidance Documents Published by USPTO Regarding Subject Matter Eligibility are Proving Effective in Reducing Uncertainty

June 18, 2020

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently published a study titled “Adjusting to Alice” that provides the results of an examination of patent examination outcomes after the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice. This study found that recent efforts by the USPTO to provide greater clarity to issues regarding subject matter eligibility have been effective in decreasing uncertainty. To access a link to the study and read the full article, visit: IndyBar

Webinar: Copyright basics and considerations for entrepreneurs and small businesses

June 9, 2020

Entrepreneurs and small businesses owners – Register to attend a free webinar about the basics of copyright and receive insights into copyright registration and enforcement.

The 90-minute program is on Tuesday, June 16, from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

Specifically designed for the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses, the webinar will feature presentations by copyright experts from the USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs. For more information and to register, visit: USPTO


Changes in USPTO Rules Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak

April 6, 2020

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has made several temporary rules changes in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These rule changes include:

Extension of patent and trademark related deadlines. On March 31, the USPTO announced extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent and trademark related documents and to pay certain required fees. This extension adds an additional 30 days for the due date for most responses to USPTO notices that are due between March 27, 2020 and April 30, 2020 as long as the filing is accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to the coronavirus outbreak. An acceptable reason for delay could be office closure, cash flow interruption, inaccessibility of files, travel delays, illness, or any other similar circumstance. A full list of the types of actions for which an extension is available can be found at the USPTO website at https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Patents%20CARES%20Act.pdf for patents and https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/TM-Notice-CARES-Act.pdf for trademarks.

USPTO offices closed to the public. Until further notice, all USPTO offices have been closed to the public. However, all USPTO operations continue to function without interruption. All examiner interviews, oral hearings in front of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), and other in-person meetings are being conducted solely by video or by telephone.

Waiver of petition fees. The USPTO considers the coronavirus outbreak to be an “extraordinary situation” for patent and trademark applicants, patentees, and trademark owners under the Code of Federal Regulations. Therefore the USPTO has waived petition fees in certain situations for customers that have been impacted by the coronavirus. These petition fees that have been affected include petitions to revive for patent applicants or patent owners who were unable to timely reply to a USPTO communication which resulted in the application being abandoned. Additionally, the USPTO is waiving the petition fee to revive for trademark applications and registrations that were abandoned, canceled or expired due to an inability to timely responds to an Office communication as a result of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Waiver of original handwritten signature requirement. The USPTO has waived the requirement of an original handwritten signature for correspondence relating to: registration to practice before the USPTO in patent cases, enrollment and disciplinary investigations or disciplinary proceedings, and payments by credit cards where the payment is not being made via the USPTO’s electronic filing system.


USPTO Gives New Guidance on Software Inventions

January 25, 2019

Earlier this month, the United State Patent and Trademark Office released new guidance for its Examiners to help them better determine when an invention is too abstract to be patentable. This latest effort by the Patent Office brings more clarity and predictability to the examination process for inventors seeking patent protection for software and business methods.

To be patentable, an invention must be new, useful, and unobvious. The courts have also recognized that abstract ideas and laws of nature are also not eligible for patent protection. Predicting which inventions are too abstract for patent protection has been a challenge in the past, and has become more difficult since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank (March, 2014). The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has so far attempted to follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines on a case by case basis giving us clues as to the kinds of inventions that are too abstract to be patented. This effort has created some clarity in specific cases, but it has also created additional confusion where the Federal Circuit has given differing opinions for similar inventions. This raises the possibility that different Examiners in the same technology area may pick and choose how to handle similar inventions thus arriving at different conclusions for similar subject matter.

The Patent Office has responded with this latest guidance for the Examiner corps that attempts to synthesize the case law into a more practical legal framework that may be applied in a more predictable manner. Although they do not have the force of law, the guidelines offer valuable insights into how Examiners will determine whether the subject matter in a given application is unpatentably abstract.

Looking briefly at the substance of the latest guidance, the USPTO is revising its examination procedure by: (1) Providing groupings of subject matter that it considers to be an abstract idea; and (2) clarifying that a claim is not ‘‘directed to’’ a judicial exception if the judicial exception is integrated into a practical application of that exception.

On the first point, the Patent Office sees three separate categories of material that are unpatentably abstract:

  1. Mathematical Concepts: Mathematical relationships, mathematical formulas or equations, mathematical calculations
  2. Methods of Organizing Human Activity: Fundamental economic principles or practices (including hedging, insurance, mitigating risk); commercial or legal interactions (including agreements in the form of contracts; legal obligations; advertising, marketing or sales activities or behaviors; business relations); managing personal behavior or relationships or interactions between people (including social activities, teaching, and following rules or instructions)
  3. Mental Processes: Mental processes—concepts performed in the human mind (including an observation, evaluation, judgment, opinion).

According to the guidelines, concepts that do not fit one of these categories are probably not abstract ideas. The Patent Office does leave open the possibility that exceptional cases could arise where the concept is too abstract to be patented, but also does not fit into one of these categories.

On the second point, the Patent Office explains that even if the claims do fall within one of the three groupings above, they may still be eligible for patent protection if the abstract concept is integrated into a practical application of that concept. A “practical application” is one that applies, relies on, or uses the concept “in a manner that imposes a meaningful limit on the abstract concept.”

The new guidance represents a noteworthy change in the way applications will be handled by Examiners, and it marks the latest attempt by the Patent Office to bring clarity and predictability to the process. It is also important to note that this is not a change in the statute approved by Congress, nor is it a change to the legal framework that has been endorsed by the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court. It remains to be seen then, what the long-term effect of this change will be on applications currently under examination, and what affect, if any, it will have on patent litigation going forward.


USPTO Increasing Patent Fees for 2018

November 16, 2017

The USPTO has issued a final rule, “Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees during Fiscal Year 2017” to set or adjust certain patent fees. Notably, the rule increases a large number of fees including filing fees, search fees, examination fees, and issue fees as well as fees for RCEs, PGRs, IPRs, Appeals, and Petitions. These fee increases will take effect on January 16, 2018.
For the full list of the patent fees that are changing and more information on fee setting and adjusting at the USPTO, please visit https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/performance-and-planning/fee-setting-and-adjusting.


Inventor Info Chat “How to File a Patent Application” Webinar

April 17, 2017

On April 20, 2017, the USPTO Office of Innovation Development will be presenting an Inventor Info Chat on “How to File a Patent Application.” The chat will be held online from 11 a.m. – noon.

Topics included in this chat will be:
• Methods of filing an application
• Different types of applications that can be filed
• Resources available to aid in the filing process

To sign up, click on the link below:
Join the Live Online Web Chat


Dept. of Commerce Blog: Celebrating Women of Innovation

March 22, 2017

Women inventors and scientists have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, but why is it that many people are unable to name one female inventor, but can easily recall male inventors such as Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein?

Take one woman inventor for example. Actress Hedy Lamarr was best known for her work in Hollywood during MGM’s Golden Age, starring in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), White Cargo (1942), and Samson and Delilah (1949). But Lamarr also worked with Hollywood composer George Antheil to invent and patent a frequency hopping technique that today is referenced as an important development in the field of wireless communications. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency hopping reduced the risk of detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.

Commemorating Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme of “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) long-time private sector partner, has developed an impressive display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The colorful pictorial exhibit highlights the accomplishments of ten innovative women for their breakthrough contributions and inspiration, empowering current and future generations of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In addition to inventors such as Hedy Lamar, the exhibit showcases women innovators of all ages, from Made by Girls Scholar Landri Drude, who participated in Camp Invention, to Elizabeth Beatie, who was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventors Competition. These women are vital role models and contributors to the fabric of American innovation and technology.

Read More on the Department of Commerce blog


Inventor Info Chat “How to Search and Why You Want To” Webinar

March 15, 2017

Join the USPTO Office of Innovation Development (OID) on Thursday, March 16, 2017  from 11 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET for our Inventor Info Chat webinar, “How to Search and Why You Want To.
Performing a search can help prevent a person from submitting an application with an invention that is already described in existing patents.

This presentation will cover such topics as:
• Prior art – what it is and why search for it
• Tools and resources available for searching
• Text and classification search strategies
• Understanding the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system and how to use it

Participation Link will be provided 24 hours before the program.
Register in advance to attend. For assistance, please contact oidevents@uspto.gov.


Nominations Sought for National Medal of Technology and Innovation

March 10, 2017

The Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking nominations for the 2017 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is presented each year by the President of the United States and is this country’s highest award for technological achievement.

The medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams (up to four individuals), companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental and social well-being. By highlighting the national importance of technological innovation, the medal also seeks to inspire future generations of Americans to prepare for and pursue technical careers to keep America at the forefront of global technology and economic leadership.

The USPTO administers the medal program on behalf of the Secretary of Commerce. Detailed information about the requirements for submission of a nomination as well as a nomination form is available at NMTI Nominations. All completed nominations must be submitted to the USPTO by midnight (ET), April 7, 2017.

For more information about the process, please contact: nmti@uspto.gov.


Learn about Patents and Trademarks March 23 in Indianapolis

March 7, 2017

On March 23, 2017, there will be a free program at the Indianapolis Public Library (Central Library) on the Gender Gap in Patents followed by an educational training session to learn the basics about patents and the trademarks and what resources are available for you. Staff from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be available to help answer your questions about your ideas and protecting your intellectual property.

You may register for the program here.

  • 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM — Registration
  • 1:10 PM – 2:00 PM — Keynote on Gender Gap in Patenting
  • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM —Winning Strategies: IP Overview: How to Get Started: A Focus on Patents
  • 3:00 PM – 3:05 PM —Break
  • 3:05 PM – 3:55 PM —A Focus on Customer Service—USPTO Programs and Web Resources
  • 4:00 PM – 4:55 PM —Trademark and Branding Strategies
  • 5:00 PM – 5:30 PM —Limited One on One Sessions
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