Posts Tagged ‘japan’

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By: Mark R. Malek

As you may read in my last post I was interviewed recently regarding a trademark dispute between the great and powerful North Carolina State University and Loyola.  The interviewer, Tom Breen, is an AP reporter and emailed me shortly after I tweeted an article about the situation.  I was pretty impressed at how fast he found me after I had tweeted the article, and I was even happier about being quoted in an article that gave my firm exposure outside of Central Florida.

So how did Tom find me?  Well, I am a tweeter.  Follow me if you want to @PTOLawyer.  At the time of writing this article, I have 13,309 followers on twitter.  I try to tweet a few times a day on some intellectual property issues, and there are plenty of them.  Twitter is also great to get in touch with other intellectual property professionals around the world and get their views on some issues.  Through my time on twitter, I met a patent attorney, and subsequent friend, Patrick Anderson.  He is a patent attorney in Texas, and blogs at GametimeIP.com.   Funny, but as I was writing this article, I was contacted by a young man that follows me on twitter.  He is an aspiring law student from Japan and wanted some insight on US intellectual property law.  Can you tell me another way that I might ever have been able to communicate, and hopefully inspire, a future professional in a foreign country?

I also have a LinkedIN account where I am able to connect with business professionals.  At the time of writing this article, I have 1,020 connections on LinkedIn.  Feel free to connect with me by clicking here.   My LinkedIN account is connected to my twitter account so that when I post a new tweet, the tweet posts as an update to my LinkedIn account.  This feature of LinkedIn is great because it gives my content a bigger audience, i.e., those without twitter accounts on LinkedIN.

I also have a Facebook account and that is strictly for personal purposes.  I conduct absolutely no business on Facebook, and you would be hard pressed to find a client that is in my friends list.  There is a simple reason for that.  Facebook is the place where people, me included, generally vomit whatever is on their mind, or whatever it is that just happened, or whatever it is that one of my kids just did/said.  First and foremost, I try to keep business and personal apart.  It’s difficult at times, but I try nonetheless.  Secondly, and most importantly, the last thing that I need, or that any lawyer needs, is a client commenting on my Facebook page something that would have otherwise been privileged.  For example, maybe a client posts something on my Facebook page about case strategy or, worse yet, maybe a client decides to check on the status of a patent application that I am drafting and writes, “can you please be sure to add the flux capacitor into the disclosure of the time machine that you are writing a patent application for?”  Holy nightmare on so many levels!

With the above example in mind, however, there is a place for Facebook in the business world.  We here at TacticalIP maintain a fan page.  Please become fans of TacticalIP by clicking here.  We post links to these stories on our fan page, and the links to the articles will show up in your news feed.  It is just another avenue for us to get the word out.

In short, social networking can be a great tool to connect with many people and businesses that you would not normally have access to.  When using social media, however, you have to be careful, especially attorneys, to maintain certain confidential obligations that you have.  My friend Renee Quinn writes some really good articles on using social media on IPWatchdog.  Check them out if you get a chance.

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By: Mark R. Malek

In a recent release the United States Patent and Trademark Office has announced accommodations for patent and trademark owners and applicants affected by the recent tsunami in Japan.  For patent applicants for which a response to an action by the PTO has been issued which requires a response, the action will be withdrawn and reissued.  This will provide the applicant with more than the statutory period allowed for reply.  Similarly, for patentees that are unable to timely pay their maintenance fees, a six month grace period will be provided so that the patent will not go abandoned.

For trademark applicants and owners, the same deal applies.  If there is an outstanding action, or something that requires a response, the action will, at the applicant’s request, be withdrawn and reissued so that the applicant will have a bit more time to respond without their trademark application going abandoned.  If a trademark application has gone abandoned, the Trademark Office will waive the petition fee associated with reviving the patent application.

My prayers go out to the victims of the tsunami and I hope for a speedy recovery for Japan.

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By Scott Nyman

During the past few articles, I have been discussing different aspects of the Patent Reform Act of 2011, as part of a series covering the Act. As a refresher, Senate Bill 23 is currently making its way through Congress, otherwise known as the Patent Reform Act of 2011, with the hopes of reforming the way the U.S. examines, allows, and enforces patents.

Last time, I covered the proposed transition to from the traditional U.S. “first-to-invent” system to a simpler “first-to-file” system, which is followed by Europe and the rest of the world. Today, I was planning on discussing the new provisions of the Patent Reform Act of 2011 related to damages. But, since there has been such a tremendous buzz circling the internet lately about the “first-to-(fill in the blank),” I feel that this topic deserves some additional discuss before I can file it away as “covered.”

Patrick Anderson, who runs another quality intellectual property blog GametimeIP.com, has noted in one of his articles, “changes to the treatment of inventors (such as ‘first to file‘ and changes to the inventor’s oath provisions) at a minimum send the wrong message to innovators, and potentially threaten to harm innovation and progress.” (source) Likewise, Gerry Elman of GEN Magazine commented, “without a transformation of the information technology supporting patent examiners, patent reform would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.” (source)

A recent article posted at PatentlyO discusses the implications the Patent Reform Act of 2011 would have on obviousness (or inventive step, to the rest of the world). In this article, the author raises the issue that the contents of a previously filed, yet unpublished, application could be use to make an obvious-based rejection during prosecution by the USPTO, creating a “secret prior art”. In other words, the USPTO could find it obvious for an inventor to combine prior art references, which references are being withheld from him by the USPTO. Make sense? I do not think so either. The last time I tried to make sense out of the “you should know what we won’t tell you” line if thinking, I was in law school.

The article at PatentlyO also brings up an interesting point that the Patent Reform Act of 2011, as it currently stands, would actually cause the U.S. patent system to overshoot the harmonization of patent priority laws to that of the rest of the world, making the new U.S. law more prohibitive for inventors. As said best in the article, “under our current invention-date-focused system, some inventions are patentable in the US that would not be patentable in Europe and Japan. On the flip-side, once the bill is passed, there will be a new set of inventions that are patentable in Europe and Japan, but not patentable in the US.” (source)

As you can imagine, people haven’t been shy about voicing how they think the current U.S. patent system should be reformed without stripping the law of its inventor-focused roots. One of the best suggestions I’ve encountered was from Bruce Hayden, chairman of the intellectual property committee of the IEEE, a group comprised of electrical engineers such as myself. Mr. hayden suggested, “rather than pursuing questionable reforms in S.23, we urge [Congress] to turn instead to a bill that would command immediate and universal support—a bill that adequately funds the PTO and allows the agency to retain the fees that it collects,” said Hayden. (source)

I completely agree.

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By: Aaron B. ThalwitzerIt’s never been easy being green, and it still isn’t, but it did just get a little bit faster.  The  World Intellectual  Property Organization (WIPO) recently issued a Notice that it gives (free!) accelerated prosecution to ‘green patents’. The usual costs still apply, but using the Green Channel scheme means that your application could get granted in as little as nine months.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is also jumping on board the green bandwagon, and recently issued a Notice requesting comments on its plan to extend and expand the Green Technology Pilot Program, which provides accelerated examination for patent applications relating to green technologies.  See our previous article on accelerated examination of “green” patents here.

According to the Notice, the USPTO plans to extend the program to December 31, 2011; it had been scheduled to end December 8, 2010.

In addition, in a welcome eligibility change, the USPTO plans to expand the program to include green patent applications filed on or after the December 8, 2009 program launch date; previously, only applications filed before that date had been eligible.

What is ‘green’ is ultimately a judgment call, so you’ll need to demonstrate that your application relates to a ‘green’ or environmentally-friendly technology. A statement explaining how your invention is environmentally friendly may be sufficient, however, if it is not clear how your invention gives an environmental benefit, a more detailed explanation may be necessary.

A detailed investigation into assertions that a technology is “green” will not be conducted.  Inventions that are clearly unfounded, such as a perpetual motion machine, for example, will be refused.

Since launching the “green” scheme,  WIPO has been lobbying other countries to implement similar schemes. The US, Australia and South Korea have launched similar schemes, whilst China, Japan and Brazil have expressed interest.

Patents already filed under this scheme have included water reclamation, treatment and saving devices, electric generators, battery powered vehicles and climate control devices. The IPO could care less the area of technology when considering whether to allow a request for acceleration under the Green Channel. It just has to be ‘green’.

WIPO created a database that enables a search for published applications and granted patents, which have been accelerated under the Green Channel. However, there are no plans to publish a separate list of all environmentally friendly patents. The database contains details of Green Channel Patent Applications which have been published.  Here is a link to the database.

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A USA and China population comparison.

By Aaron B. Thalwitzer

Many Westerners view China as little more than the world’s factory (albeit a threatening one). While there’s some truth to the notion they China will merrily manufacture just about anything with little regard to patents, copyrights and trademarks, things are changin. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the company that applied for the most patents in 2008 was not an American or Japanese company but China’s Huawei Technologies. And China has made up astonishing ground recently, moving up to third place with 203,257 patent applications, behind only Japan (500,000) and the United States (390,000). It remains to be seen if these patents applications will come to fruition for China, but it is evident that they are focusing on a new image as a leader in research and development.

It’s been said that China ignores foreign patents in order to acquire those ‘illegal’ patents for use against foreign firms. However, those days are more likely over or nearing their end. Europeans accused the U.S. of doing the same things when it was industrializing, but eventually the U.S. started inventing its own unique designs. At that point, the U.S. started truly enforcing I.P. rights. I believe that China will join the I.P. mainstream once it has truly unique inventions to protect, and I believe that time is nearing, if not here already.

If China does end up owning legitimate I.P. and keeps producing everything, they may be in line to control the whole megillah, from idea to end product. Or so goes the story. However, China might not be as much of a juggernaut as the hype would indicate. The U.S. still has the best engineering schools in the world, and (believe it or not) at least as many new engineers per capita as China.

The U.S. graduates about 140,000 engineers each year. China graduates about 375,000. The consensus is that the average U.S. engineer is much better than is his Chinese counterpart. It makes sense that a country with more than four times as many people would produce more patents, especially if the I.P. protections are more lax. So, take a deep breath. We’re doing fine and so is China.

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