The USPTO is setting DOCX as the preferred file format for all non-provisional applications filed on or after January 1, 2022. DOCX filings are presently limited to the specification, claims, and abstract for new non-provisional utility applications filed under 35 U.S.C. Section 111, noting that the USPTO plans to expand their system to accept DOCX for other application papers. It will still be possible to file an application in pdf format, however at an additional cost of US$400. OBWB is presently capable to file in the DOCX format, thus avoiding the unnecessary and unwanted additional fees come January.
In Wastow Enterprises, LLC v. Truckmovers.Com, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reminded that a patent's title can serve as intrinsic evidence during trial in determining the scope of the claims. The court reaffirmed that although the title of a patent is not the sole piece of evidence considered during claim construction, a patent's title may be one evidentiary factor.
Warren Buffett – one of the most famously successful investors of all time -- once said: "Never invest in a business you cannot understand." And Peter Lynch, another one of the world's all-time top investors said: "Never invest in an idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rules that a digital camera is an "abstract idea" and therefore constitutes patent-ineligible subject matter, it is beyond doubt that patent subject matter eligibility law under Section 101 of the Patent Act, Title 35, United States Code, is not susceptible to being "illustrated with a crayon," and has progressed to the point where no rational person can understand it. Will investors follow the advice of Buffett and Lynch, and turn away from patent-reliant businesses? It seems inevitable unless the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress fix the problem.
The Enlarged Board of Appeal, in decision G4/19 issued on June 22, 2021, held that a European patent application can be refused in examination by reason of the prohibition on double patenting, thus excluding two European patents being granted to the same applicant for the same invention. In the case at issue, the scope of a European patent application was identical to the scope of a European patent granted to the same applicant, from which the European patent application-in-suit claimed priority, and was thus refused by the Examining Division.
The requirements to disclose relevant background art or information to the European Patent Office (EPO) are minimal and not comparable to those before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A large number of applicants for European patent are even exempted from these requirements. As of July 1, 2021, applicants claiming priority of a Chinese first filing will be exempted too.
Protective orders in inter partes review proceedings really can be enforced. In One World Technologies, Inc. v. Chervon (HK) Ltd., the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that a patent owner violated the IPR protective order by producing confidential information from the IPR in a co-pending parallel district court action involving the same parties, who were represented by counsel from the same law firms on either side. The Board imposed sanctions on the patent owner, both to warn others about violating protective orders, and to instill confidence in protective orders and in the Board's power to protect confidential information in this and other IPRs.
The hallmark of a good intellectual property litigation settlement is that neither party is totally happy with it. That is the nature of compromise – no one gets everything they ask for. For this reason, the settling parties prefer, and usually agree, that the settlement agreement will be held in confidence by them. But when a subsequent lawsuit involving the same IP rights is filed, the newly-sued defendant wants to inspect and review any previously negotiated settlement agreements. Are confidential settlement agreements shielded from compelled disclosure to other defendants?
While discussions about "patent waivers" have flooded mainstream media outlets and social media posts, these commentaries often fail to recognize that a "patent waiver" does not magically produce vaccines or resolve the actual barriers to vaccine production.
China Issues Interim Measures for Processing Related Examination Matters Regarding Implementation of the Amended Patent Law
On May 25, 2021, the China National Intellectual Property Administration ("CNIPA") issued Interim Measures for Processing Related Examination Matters Regarding Implementation of the Amended Patent Law, effective June 1, 2021. The Interim Measures deal with topics including design patent term, protection of "partial" designs, domestic priority right for design applications, patent term adjustment and patent term extension, and examination of the good-faith requirement for patent applications.