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USPTO Final Rule Limits a Reduction of Patent Term Adjustment to the Period the Applicant Failed to Undertake Reasonable Prosecution Efforts

USPTO Final Rule Limits a Reduction of Patent Term Adjustment to the Period the Applicant Failed to Undertake Reasonable Prosecution Efforts

On June 16, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a final rule revising patent term adjustment under 35 U.S.C. 154(b) in view of Supernus Pharm., Inc. v. Iancu. In Supernus, the Federal Circuit held that a reduction of patent term adjustment must be equal to the period of time during which the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application. The USPTO thus cannot deduct an amount of time beyond the period during which the applicant failed to undertake reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution. The USPTO revised relevant provisions pertaining to reduction of patent term adjustment, aligning the provisions with Federal Circuit law. Section 154(b)(2)(C) of the Patent Act authorizes the USPTO to reduce the total amount of patent term adjustment for certain delays by deducting the number of days equal to the period of time that “the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application.” The USPTO implemented this section with 37 CFR § 1.704. In 2006, Supernus Pharmaceuticals filed patent applications in both the United States and Europe covering an osmotic drug delivery system. In February 2011, Supernus filed a Request for Continued Examination...

USPTO Takes Measures to Help Small Businesses Patent and License COVID-19 Inventions

USPTO Takes Measures to Help Small Businesses Patent and License COVID-19 Inventions

On May 8, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a new COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. Under this Pilot Program, the USPTO will grant qualified requests for prioritized examination of COVID-19-related patent applications without requiring payment of fees associated with other prioritized examination programs. Why is the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program important? This Pilot Program is the latest measure by the USPTO to spur innovation related to fighting the coronavirus. “Independent inventors and small businesses are often the difference makers when it comes to cutting-edge innovation and the growth of our economy,” said USPTO Director Andrei Iancu. “They are also in most need of assistance as we fight this pandemic.” Iancu continued, “Accelerating examination of COVID-19-related patent applications, without additional fees, will permit such innovators to bring important and possibly life-saving treatments to market more quickly.” Who may participate in the Pilot Program? Applicants of COVID-19-related patent filings who qualify for either small entity (37 C.F.R. §1.27) or micro entity status (37 C.F.R. §1.29) may participate. When can I apply? On May 14, 2020, the USPTO started accepting requests for prioritized examination under the COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program. How long will the Pilot Program...

Organizations Commit to Share Their Intellectual Property to Support the Fight Against the Coronavirus

Organizations Commit to Share Their Intellectual Property to Support the Fight Against the Coronavirus

The Open COVID Pledge calls on organizations around the world to make their patents and copyrights freely available to combat the coronavirus. The Pledge was developed by the Open COVID Coalition (“Coalition”), an international group of scientists and lawyers, seeking to accelerate the rapid development and deployment of diagnostics, therapeutics, medical equipment, and software solutions to this urgent public health crisis. Many major technology companies and academic organizations have “signed onto” the Pledge. The Pledge, however, does not appear to be as popular with biopharmaceutical companies. Am I eligible? How do I make the Pledge? Anyone who holds intellectual property rights is eligible by either issuing a public statement making the Pledge or issuing a press release and notifying the Coalition. What IP is covered? Pledging parties may share any of their intellectual property rights, including patents and copyrights relating to the coronavirus pandemic. The Pledge does not cover trademarks or trade secrets. How do I implement the Pledge? The Coalition has published three standard licenses. A pledging party may adopt one of these standard licenses, adopt its own compatible license, or adopt an alternative license. What are some of the key terms of the standard licenses? Grant: Simply stated,...

Senator Sasse Proposes Legislation Extending the Patent Term for Inventions Intended to Treat COVID-19

Senator Sasse Proposes Legislation Extending the Patent Term for Inventions Intended to Treat COVID-19

On March 30, 2020, Senator Ben Sasse, R-Neb., introduced a bill that would create the Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act. The first part of the legislation would shield healthcare providers from federal, state, and local civil liability if they are testing or treating coronavirus patients in certain circumstances. The second part of the bill would extend patent protection for new and existing medical devices and drugs intended to treat COVID-19. The added patent protection under the bill would only apply to eligible patents. An eligible patent is “a patent issued for a new or existing pharmaceutical, medical device, or other process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof used or intended for use in the treatment of the Coronavirus Disease.” The bill proposes that the term for new eligible patents “not begin until the date on which the national emergency declared by the President …terminates.” Moreover, the bill provides that the term for an eligible patent “shall extend for 10 years longer than it otherwise would under [the Patent Act].” Thus the bill would enhance patent protection for inventions covering technologies created to treat the coronavirus and inventions covering existing technologies adapted to...

USPTO Waives Certain Deadlines in Light of the Coronavirus Outbreak

USPTO Waives Certain Deadlines in Light of the Coronavirus Outbreak

On March 31, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued a notice permitting 30-day extensions to the time allowed to file certain patent-related documents and to pay certain required fees. Gibbons previously analyzed the first USPTO coronavirus guidance. For this second guidance, the USPTO determined, under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), that the COVID-19 “emergency has prejudiced the rights of applicants, patent owners, or others appearing before the USPTO in patent matters, and has prevented applicants, patent owners, or others appearing before the USPTO in patent matters from filing a document or fee with the Office.” The USPTO thus provided parties with the ability to extend certain patent deadlines if the party is personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The USPTO notice expressly provides that three Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) deadlines may be extended for 30 days upon request: a request for rehearing of a PTAB decision; a petition to the Chief Judge under 37 C.F.R. § 41.3; and a patent owner preliminary response in a trial proceeding. “For all other situations, a request for an extension of time where the COVID-19 outbreak has prevented or interfered with a filing...

US Patent and Trademark Office Measures Taken in View of COVID-19 Outbreak: What Applicants and You Should Know

US Patent and Trademark Office Measures Taken in View of COVID-19 Outbreak: What Applicants and You Should Know

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has implemented several measures over the past week to assist patent and trademark applicants in view of the COVID-19 outbreak and its disruption to businesses. The USPTO stresses that, until further notice, USPTO operations will continue without interruption. Below are the key USPTO measures and what you should know if you have a pending patent or trademark application, are planning to file such an application, or are involved actively in a PTAB proceeding. Unlike the European Patent Office and Canadian Intellectual Property Office, which have eased the burden on their patent applicants by extending all deadlines until at least the earliest April 17 and April 1, 2020, respectively, the USPTO has offered more limited relief. On March 16, 2020, the USPTO announced that it will not extend any deadlines, including new and existing patent and trademark application, prosecution, and PTAB deadlines. Instead, the USPTO will waive revival petition fees for those whose patent applications were deemed abandoned or had reexamination proceedings terminated when the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak led to a missed deadline. This waiver will also apply to trademark applications labeled abandoned or whose registrations were canceled or expired based on...

Supreme Court Invalidates Ban on Immoral or Scandalous Trademarks

Supreme Court Invalidates Ban on Immoral or Scandalous Trademarks

In a long-awaited decision, Iancu v. Brunetti, the Supreme Court held – in a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Kagan – that the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registration of “immoral or scandalous” trademarks violates the First Amendment. The decision completes a trilogy of cases that, in recent years, stirred up significant interest on the interplay between freedom of speech and certain Lanham Act trademark prohibitions. Initially, the constitutionality of the bar against registration of disparaging marks was brought to nationwide media attention through the Redskins case (Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc), previously reported on by Gibbons, which culminated the legal effort by Native American tribes to delineate the term “redskin” as an offensive and disparaging racial slur, resulting in the initial cancellation of the eponymous mark owned by the Washington Redskins. Pending review by the Supreme Court, the Blackhorse case was cut short by another case, Matal v. Tam. In that 2017 decision, the Court struck down a Lanham Act provision that prevented registration for marks that are deemed “disparaging,” thus rendering moot any further review of Blackhorse. Because the Court in Matal had already declared the “disparaging” bar unconstitutional, it comes as no surprise that the Section 2(a) prohibition (15...

District Court Must Consider Whether the Patentee Must be Joined Before Dismissing the Case for Lack of Statutory Standing

District Court Must Consider Whether the Patentee Must be Joined Before Dismissing the Case for Lack of Statutory Standing

The question of who must join a patent infringement suit often raises interesting questions of rights, obligations, and control of the litigation. In the global marketplace with increased licensing arrangements, the extent of retaining rights can have a direct impact on the viability of a lawsuit and protecting intellectual property. Recently, the Federal Circuit in Lone Star Silicon Innovations v. Nanya Technology provided further clarification on what meets the standing requirement to bring a patent infringement case, and for dismissing a case for lack of standing. In this patent litigation, the asserted patents (twelve in all) were originally assigned to Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). AMD later executed an agreement purporting to transfer “all right, title and interest” in the patents to Lone Star. The transfer agreement, however, imposes several limitations on Lone Star. For example, Lone Star may only assert the patents against “Unlicensed Third Party Entit[ies]” specifically listed in the agreement. To add new entities, Lone Star and AMD both must agree. If Lone Star sues an unlisted entity, AMD has the right, without Lone Star’s approval, to sublicense the patents to the unlisted entity. Further, AMD can prevent Lone Star from assigning the patents, and AMD and its...

Reversing the First Circuit, the Supreme Court Holds That Rejection of an Executory Trademark License Does Not Bar the Licensee From Continuing to Use the Mark

Reversing the First Circuit, the Supreme Court Holds That Rejection of an Executory Trademark License Does Not Bar the Licensee From Continuing to Use the Mark

In Mission Product Holdings v. Tempnology, the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 opinion delivered by Justice Kagan, held that a debtor’s rejection of a trademark license under Section 365 of the Bankruptcy Code does not terminate the licensee’s rights to use the trademark under the agreement. Tempnology made clothing and accessories designed to stay cool during exercise, and marketed those products under the brand name “Coolcore.” In 2012, Tempnology gave Mission Product Holdings an exclusive license to distribute certain Coolcore products in the United States and granted Mission a non-exclusive global license to use the Coolcore trademarks. The agreement was set to expire in July 2016. In September 2015, however, Tempnology filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, and rejected the license agreement under Section 365(a). The Bankruptcy Court held that Tempnology’s rejection of the agreement revoked Mission’s right to use the marks. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reversed. The First Circuit rejected the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel’s view and reinstated the Bankruptcy Court’s decision. The First Circuit reasoned that Congress, in enacting Section 365(n) in 1988, “expressly listed six kinds of intellectual property,” but not trademarks. The First Circuit thus held that trademark licenses are categorically unprotected from...

Legislators Propose Framework To Reform Patent Eligibility Under Section 101

Legislators Propose Framework To Reform Patent Eligibility Under Section 101

On April 17, 2019, Senators Chris Coons and Thom Tillis, and Representatives Doug Collins, Hank Johnson, and Steve Stivers unveiled a framework to reform 35 U.S.C. §101. Section 101 of the Patent Act currently makes patentable “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” Although the statute is relatively permissive, courts have limited patentable subject matter beyond the statutory mandate by creating judicial exceptions. Under these exceptions as articulated in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable.” The proposed framework seeks to address these exceptions to patent eligible subject matter through statute versus an ever-growing list of case law. Under the lawmakers’ proposed framework, reformed Section 101 would: Keep existing statutory categories of process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any useful improvement thereof. Eliminate, within the eligibility requirement, that any invention or discovery be both “new and useful.” Instead, simply require that the invention meet existing statutory utility requirements. Define, in a closed list, exclusive categories of statutory subject matter which alone should not be eligible for patent protection. The sole list of exclusions might include the following...