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Intellectual Property Links – Copyright and Trademark

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office  and the Copyright Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

 

The United States Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations concerning the recordation of transfers of copyright ownership and other documents pertaining to a copyright under 17 U.S.C. 205, and notices of termination under sections 203, 304(c), and 304(d).

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) seeks comments from stakeholders, mark owners, and all those interested in the maintenance of an accurate U.S. Trademark Register, on the establishment of a streamlined version of the existing inter partes abandonment and nonuse grounds for cancellation before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”).

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

Intellectual Property Links

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office  and the Copyright Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

 

Hasbro, Inc. has filed a trademark application on the smell of its popular Play-Doh.  Can you put a value to a certain smell?  For more information, please read this article by Katherine Escalante entitled The ‘Nonvisual Play-Doh Scent Mark’: Can it Really Be a Source Identifier?

 

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

Intellectual Property Links

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office  and the Copyright Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

Please find below, links to new rules and/or practice tips for intellectual property:

New website for U.S. Copyright Office: www.copyright.gov

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

Intellectual Property Links

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office  and the Copyright Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

Please find below, links to new rules and/or practice tips for intellectual property:

Copyright Office Technical Amendments To Regulations: Final Rule
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-02-06/pdf/2016-29625.pdf

Copyright Office Interim Rule To Implement the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016
https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-02-07/pdf/2017-01770.pdf

 

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LINKS

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

Please find below, links to new rules and/or practice tips for intellectual property:

Request for Comments Regarding the Continuation of the Accelerated Patent Examination Program

https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og/2017/
week06/TOC.htm#ref11

Informational Matter Incapable of Trademark Registration

https://www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/
Incapable_Informational_Matter_Exam_Guide.doc

Final Rule Adopted to Remove Personally Identifiable Information from Copyright Registration Records

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-02-02/pdf/2017-02238.pdf

Copyright Office Initiates Study on the Moral Rights of Attribution and Integrity

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-01-23/pdf/2017-01294.pdf
https://www.copyright.gov/policy/moralrights/

 

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

 

North Carolina’s Laws on Patent Trolls

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the state of NC for IP related news.  Please find his most recent news link below:

North Carolina’s anti “patent troll” legislation has some interesting laws.

The following article in the North Carolina Bar Association blog by Daniel Walker Cole discusses this topic.

Beware Pitfalls in North Carolina’s Patent ‘Troll’ Law

The following is an exert from this article:

“Suppose you are a small company in California asserting a patent against a North Carolina-based company. You gathered finances, hired a lawyer, and filed a complaint. Now you are ready to start litigating your patent infringement case, but you receive a summons for violating NC 75 Article 8. This may seem utterly fantastical, but under North Carolina’s anti “patent troll” legislation it is not.

Next to issues surrounding 35 USC section 101, the supposed abusive litigation by “patent trolls” is one of the most discussed issues in patent law. North Carolina, along with several other states, has enacted laws aimed at curbing this practice. The law, however, suffers from several potential pitfalls. It gives North Carolina courts personal jurisdiction over anyone who sues a North Carolina based entity for patent infringement, even if the patent infringement suit takes place in another state. Lack of contacts, other than serving a North Carolina based entity, are irrelevant. Accordingly, a discussion on the likelihood of federal preemption follows.”

 

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

Design Patents for User Interfaces

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for news.  Please find his most recent news link below:

User interfaces is an emerging field with a lot of technologies and products, even more so in the design patent area of patent law.  In fact, the fastest growing segment of design patent filings is user interfaces.

The following article in The Crunch by Beth Ferrill, Lauren Dreyer, Erik Dreyer and John Sanchez discusses this topic.

Swipe to Patent: Design Patents In the Age of User Interfaces

The following is an exert from this article:

“User experience and user-interface design is an emerging field in the technology industry, even more so in the legal world of patents. (Sometimes this field is known by the shorthand UX/UI.) It might surprise you to know that the fastest growing segment of design patent filings is in the UX/UI space.

In the past, companies that manufactured a physical object, like a sneaker, often protected their designs with design patents. For a company like Nike, design-patent protection is important to preventing competitors from copying their shoe designs. But, the same is true for companies invested in UX/UI.

The surge in UX/UI design has created iconic features that cause consumers to immediately associate a design with a particular brand. From cell phones to remote controls, gaming devices to virtual reality headsets, modern products are carefully designed with the user in mind.

Because a product’s success often depends upon these creative design choices, protecting the design is critically important to differentiating your product from a competitor’s product.

Some of the top filers of UX/UI design patents include Samsung, Microsoft and Apple. With more and more innovation happening in non-traditional digital spaces, like wearables, smart watches and even home appliances, user interfaces and experiences are becoming a key segment of a company’s overall brand and should be considered part of their overall IP portfolio. This is true for established companies and startups.

Nonetheless, there remains some skepticism and misconceptions about design protection in the UX/UI area. We all sat down to talk about why design patents matter for UX/UI.”

 

Call Jeff Watson for a Free patent consultation (704) 625-7747 or email me at jwatson@GWpatent.com

Trademark Fee Changes

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for news.  Please find his most recent link below:

Trademark Fee Changes

https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/fees-payment-information/trademark-fee-changes

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LINKS

By Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson is a patent attorney with 11+ years of experience.  He tracks the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for news.  Please find his most recent update below.

Please find below, links to new rules and/or practice tips for intellectual property:

Extension Of the Extended Missing Parts Pilot Program
https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og/2017/week03/TOC.htm#ref11

Summary of changes in TTAB final rule became effective on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017
chart

New Trademark Fee schedule
Trademark fee changes page

New TM rules texts
Trademark Laws and Regulations page. 

Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) Reformatted Declarations
TEAS Reformatted Declarations Effective January 14, 2017

Retirement of Trademarks legacy ID Manual
https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/trademark-updates-and-announcements/retirement-trademarks-legacy-id-manual

Continuation of the IP5 Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Program with the IP5 Offices
https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og/2016/week52/TOC.htm#ref16

Consolidated Listing Of Official Gazette Notices  Re Patent and Trademark Office Practices and Procedures
https://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/og/2016/week52/TOC2016CN.htm

Copyright Office Releases Report On Software-Enabled Consumer Products
http://copyright.gov/policy/software/

THE REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING A PATENT

The United States patent process works under a first to file system and thus an inventor who first files for a useful, new and non-obvious machine, manufacture, composition of matter or any new and useful improvement before others may obtain a patent.  However, there are very specific conditions under which a patent is granted.  The object of this article is to provide a brief explanation of those requirements, although contacting a patent attorney or patent agent for clarification is always recommended.

There are four substantive requirements for patentability: patentable subject matter, utility, novelty, and non-obviousness.  Patentable subject matter is almost always easily fulfilled if the invention is a machine, manufacture, composition of matter since patentable subject matter has been found to include practically everything man-made; however, there are some important exclusions.  Specifically, abstract ideas, laws of nature, mathematical formulas and physical phenomena cannot be patented.  While a mere concept of an idea itself cannot be patented without a reduction to practice, this does not mean an inventor must have an actual reduction to practice or a working prototype, but must only be required to describe his/her invention.  Laws of nature, mathematical formulas and physical phenomena cannot be patented because they are considered to inherently exist and thus cannot be invented.

The second requirement for patentability is utility and this is also generally easily satisfied.  The utility requirement ensures the patented invention will serve a useful purpose.  This has also been extended to include operativeness.  Thus if an invention will not operate to perform its intended purpose then it would not be useful.  However, utility and usefulness has been interpreted very broadly.  Thus, inventions for things such as games or other entertainment devices have been found to be useful and therefore patentable.

The third requirement of patent law is that the invention be new or novel.  Specifically, an invention cannot be patented if: “(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent,” or “(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States…”  35 U.S.C. §102  More generally speaking this means that if all of the features of your invention are found in a device used in this country, or disclosed in a patent or printed publication (including on the internet), then you may not obtain a patent because the invention already exists.  The majority of the time this is determined if a patent attorney, during a patent search, or an Examiner at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, during prosecution of the patent, finds a previously filed patent which discloses all of the features of your invention.   Additionally, if you have been marketing your invention and offering it for sale for more than a year, or have published its details such as in an advertisement or article or other publishing means, then it is no longer considered new and novel and thus is not patentable; however, small improvements in the invention which have not been offered for sale for more than a year may still be patentable.

The fourth requirement for obtaining a patent is referred to as non-obviousness and is generally viewed at the most difficult hurdle to overcome in getting a patent.  The test is whether a person of ordinary skill in the art or field of the patent as filed would find it obvious to solve the problem by using essentially the same means or mechanisms.  This is easily illustrated by a case in which a company attempted to patent peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with crimped edges instead of crust; they were awarded a patent, but subsequently, competitors complained and a reexamination was undertaken – during the reexamination, the patent was disallowed.  Since crimping is often used in creating ravioli to prevent the stuffing from falling out and ravioli and sandwiches are both food, and thus in the same field of art, it would have been obvious to apply the process of crimping from ravioli to sandwiches.  This situation most often arises when two or more issued patents or published patent applications contain all of the elements of the invention which is being filed (bearing in mind that if one invention contained all the limitations then it would relate to novelty).  For example, if your invention comprises parts A, B and C in a specific field, one source of prior art in the same field contains elements A and B, and a second source of prior art in the same field contains parts B and C, then an Examiner is likely to conclude that your invention is not patentable because it would be obvious it combine the first (A, B) and second (B, C) sources to arrive at your invention (A, B, C).

If your invention is patentable subject matter, useful, novel and non-obvious then you would be able to obtain a patent.  However, reasonable minds can often disagree over these terms, particularly what would be obvious to combine, and thus obtaining a legal opinion is always recommended.

When you obtain a patent, the United States government is effectively granting you a monopoly, since you have the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing your invention into the United States.  In return for this grant of patent rights, which extend from the date of filing of your patent application for 20 years, you are required to fully disclose your invention such that anyone could make it from your description and drawings.  Further, you must disclose within your patent application the ‘best mode’ of making your invention; that is, at the time of the application what is known to you as the best and complete way of practicing (making or using) your invention.

If you have any questions about this article, or are interested in obtaining a patent or having a patent search conducted, please feel free to contact Grell & Watson Patent Attorneys of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Alternatively, feel free to read other articles on similar subjects relating to both foreign and United States patent, trademark and copyright law.

The content of this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice and does not create attorney-client privilege. Consult the attorney of your choice before embarking on any legal matter or any document preparation/filing.

Jeffrey C. Watson is a Patent Attorney practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Grell & Watson Patent Attorneys LLC
3911 Carmel Acres Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28226
704-625-7747
http://www.gwpatentattorney.com
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