Thank You Donald Trump

Donald-trumpIn recent weeks there has been excitement surrounding potential candidates for the GOP nomination for President in 2012.   With the absence of a stable, long standing forefront leader, the field is wide open, leaving room for “celebrity” candidates to take the reins.  The Donald seems to be doing just that.  Using a shock and awe approach, he is gaining the most notable attention of late.  Dropping the gloves on taboo subjects and opening up about his true opinions is a fresh and welcomed approach.  Donald Trump does have his weak points however, and many GOP members consider him a “joke candidate”.  We tend to agree with this, although he is a strong business leader, he does not embody the image we desire for our nations leader.  His recent rise to political fame is most welcomed though, as we now have a more interesting train wreck to watch than Sarah Palin.

Barnes and Noble & Spring Design Patent Dispute Settled

Spring Design, a California based technology company, has proven nook-patent-disputevictorious in it’s patent battle against Barnes and Nobles that lasted a little over a year.  Spring Design released it’s competing e-reader exactly one day prior to the Nook launch, resulting in immediate litigation.  Under dispute was the employment of both a LCD and EPD (Electronic Paper Display) screen that both receive data from a single application.  Under the settlement deal, Barnes and Noble will have to license the API from Spring Design.

Patentee Reissue Policy Reversed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has reversed a decision issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) concerning the Ex Parte Tanaka appeal.  The reversal once again gives a patentee the right to obtain a reissue of a patent in order to add a dependent claim.  The USPTO initially denied Tanaka’s appeal as the original independent claim was not cancelled or modified and the error could not be rectified under Section 251.

Charles Gorenstein, a partner at the representing firm, Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch, LLP (BSKB) said the court accepted the argument that the addition of narrower claims to a patent without any other changes warranted a reissue because without those specifications the patent would not protect the whole of the invention.  The case’s outcome gives patent holders, under certain circumstances, the ability to appeal for a reissue of a patent with more properly written claims that pertain to the original invention.

United States Patent Reform

A hot topic of interest  has been the patent reform bill currently under review in congress.  This increased attention to the current aged (and decaying) patent system is a result of the need to foster innovation in the U.S. and reward those seeking to create new technologies and consequently, and more importantly, jobs.  While many oppose the bill, the new reform looks promising to individual inventors and should help level the playing field with larger organizations.

The bill allows the USPTO to determine it’s own fee structure,  giving it power to create new categories and options for inventors to choose from when filing their patent or trademark applications. As implied by David Kappos, the new power would enable the office to cater to small businesses and individual inventors, giving them severely reduced rates compared to larger organizations.  Another focus of the reform is the efficiency of the patent office.  With a backlog of over 750,000 patent applications, the unbridled innovation and economic expansion the U.S.  craves right now is virtually impossible.   An almost comical situation, the USPTO infrastructure which is responsible for protecting the most cutting edge technologies, is one of the most antiquated organizations in the United States government.  A massive overhaul of the patent filing process is long overdue, and will greatly expedite the application and issuance processes.

A misconception regarding this bill is the “First to File” policy change.  Many individuals understand the reform to change the policy from the “first to invent” to a “first to file” system.   In the current patent system, rights are assigned to the first inventor to conceive the idea, not the first to file an application with the USPTO.  The confusion in the change is that the new system will adopt a “first INVENTOR to file” policy.  This means that the patent will be issued to the first inventor who developed the invention.  This change is important for inventors wishing to enter a global marketplace as most other countries use this type of system, and the inventor’s transition to an international product will be much smoother.

Finally the new bill empowers the office to enter a post-grant review policy for challenging patents.  With an efficient means of regulating and controlling patent appeals, inventors and the USPTO will be less tied down with frivolous litigation and remain free to work on new applications.

Although the bill is not expected to pass in it’s current form, any improvement to the current patent system is certainly welcomed.  We hope this reform will yield the benefits Kappos has promised to the individual inventors, but it is in the government’s hands now.

Relief to Inventors affected by Japan Earthquake

Japan-TsunamiGood news for inventors or co-inventors tangled in the catastrophic events surrounding the March 11, 2011 earthquake in Japan.  The United States Patent Office considers the disaster to fall under the “extraordinary situation” clause found in “37 CFR 1.183 and 37 CFR 2.146”.  This means if your correspondence regarding your patent or trademark registration was negatively effected because of circumstances pertaining to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, you may be able to appeal to the USPTO to have the appropriate action taken to rectify the matter.  Whether it be re-issuance of office communication or a waiving of surcharge fees for late payments of maintenance fees, you should be able to work it out with our friends at the patent office.  For detailed information on how exactly to address this issue, see the official USPTO announcement here.

Clean Technology Partnership Meeting

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has set a date for it’s first Clean Technology Partnership Meeting.  Scheduled for April 27th, 2011 at the USPTO office in Alexandria, VA, this meeting will bring together major players in related industries to confer and help the patent office better serve the clean tech sector.

“Green technology innovations can help us protect our environment and improve our planet, and every day that an important new clean tech innovation is held back from the market represents a lost opportunity to create 21st century jobs and businesses. The feedback clean tech stakeholders provide is essential in our efforts to continuously improve the quality of our programs and services.”  said USPTO David Kappos.

The conference will include presentations on the current state of the industry and how the USPTO can expand it’s Green Technology Pilot Program.  Streamlining the process for protecting innovation in this area is essential for the government’s initiative to lead our nation to a greener and economically brighter future.

Cloaking Technology is Here….well almost.

metamaterialWei Xiang Jiang and Tie Jun Cui have been experimenting with altering the electromagnetic image of an object wrapped in newly developed metamaterials.  While this is not intended to remove the object from the visible spectrum of light as depicted in science fiction lore, it is a method of changing the electromagnetic signature of an object when illuminated by radar waves.  This new development has obvious military applications as it would render current radar technology as unreliable at best.  Radar operators essentially could not tell the difference between a flock of birds, or a bomber flying over a metro city.   Metamaterials , or artificial materials, are engineered to inherit certain properties from their structure.   Other areas of research in this technology include materials that modify the acoustic and seismic properties of objects.

2010 Tax Refunds Down

2010 tax refundsAmericans received a slightly lower income tax refund this year.  Down about 1.5% from 2009, the average refund check for this year was $2895, in contrast to last year’s average of $2,940.  The IRS released statistical data including returns filed up to April 8th, 2011.  The refunds have totaled up to 234.2 billion, down 0.1% from the 2009 figures.  Higher refunds, an average of $3100,  were reported for individuals accepting direct deposits instead of a mailed check.

Individuals are more willing to e-file their returns, an increase of 8.1%.  Although the number of taxpayers preparing their own taxes is up this year, 9.8%, most Americans still choose to have their federal returns professionally handled.   Procrastinators were given a couple of extra days this year to delay filing, Emancipation Day fell on the Saturday following the traditional April 15th filling date, therefore pushing the filing date to the 18th so the holiday could be observed on Friday.