Harrity Analytics Presents: 2023 U.S. Patent Office Superlatives

In the dynamic world of patents, it can be difficult to stay informed about the latest trends and statistics. Harrity Analytics has compiled a fascinating series of USPTO Superlatives for 2023, highlighting key players based off of statistics from the United States Patent Office. Let’s dive into these insightful findings:

1. US City with Most Inventors on Granted US Patents (2023):
-San Diego, CA stands out this year with the most inventors! Inventors from this vibrant city have been listed on 18,429 patents granted in 2023. This is an impressive figure, showcasing the city’s thriving innovation ecosystem.
– Historical Leader (Since 1999): San Jose, CA holds the long-term crown. With its deep-rooted connection to Silicon Valley, inventors from San Jose have been listed on US granted patents a staggering 206,363 times since 1999.

2. World City with Most Inventors on Granted US Patents (2023): – Tokyo takes the global lead! This year, inventors from Tokyo have been listed on 25,317 US granted patents. Since 1999, the total reaches an impressive 403,818.
– Runners-up: Beijing and Seoul follow closely, with 22,585 and 22,205 listings respectively, demonstrating the global spread of innovation.

3. US State with the Most Patents Granted (2023):
– California (CA) leads the race in the United States, with CA inventors being listed on 153,141 granted patents in 2023. This reinforces California’s position as a hub of innovation and technological advancements.
– Following CA are Texas (TX) and Massachusetts (MA), with 31,757 and 25,214 patent listings in 2023 respectively, highlighting the diverse geographic distribution of innovation in the US.

4. Country with Most US Patents Listing Foreign Priority (2023):
– Japan is at the forefront in this category. Out of 329,056 US patents granted so far in 2023, 39,919 claim foreign priority in Japan. This is a testament to the strong innovation links between Japan and the US.
– China and Korea are not far behind, with 25,598 and 25,567 patents claiming priority respectively, showing a significant Asian influence in US patent filings.

These superlatives not only reflect the current landscape of patent filings but also highlight the global interconnectivity in the field of innovation and intellectual property. For those interested in diving deeper into these trends and accessing more analytics, visit Harrity Analytics.

Stay tuned for more insights and analyses from Harrity Analytics, as we continue to explore the ever-evolving world of patents and innovation.


Decoding the Art of Machine Learning Patents

In the dynamic and ever-changing world of machine learning (ML), creating a standout patent application is akin to solving a complex puzzle. It’s a landscape where innovation meets the challenge of differentiation. Neil Kardos of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, offers insightful strategies to navigate this complexity, ensuring your ML patents are not just innovative but distinctively non-obvious.

The crux of patenting ML innovations lies in surpassing the “non-obviousness” threshold. This is where Neil’s expertise becomes invaluable, guiding inventors to develop patents that truly stand apart.

Strategy 1: Capitalizing on Unique Inputs

Neil highlights the significance of the inputs used in ML models. The key is in leveraging unconventional inputs that provide predictive insights. Imagine an ML model predicting consumer behavior based on seemingly unrelated data, like time spent in a car. These unique inputs can dramatically strengthen the non-obviousness of a patent application.

Strategy 2: Leveraging Outputs and Actions

The second strategy delves into the outputs of ML models and the subsequent actions they trigger. Neil suggests focusing on how these outputs, often probabilistic, can dictate varied actions at different confidence levels. This nuanced approach adds a layer of sophistication to your patent, exemplified by a navigation system that adjusts routes based on the ML model’s confidence levels.

Incorporating these strategies into your patent claims is essential. Neil advises that if these innovative approaches are central to your invention, they should be included in independent claims. However, if they are supplementary, consider adding them to dependent claims or the specification. This method ensures robustness during the patent prosecution process, especially against potential prior art challenges.

In the intricate dance of ML patenting, it’s the nuanced details and strategic claim drafting that make all the difference. With Neil’s guidance, your ML inventions can transcend the ordinary, securing a place in the ever-growing patent landscape.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Efficient Patent Application Drafting: Minimizing Rework in Inventor Interviews

In the world of patent application drafting, efficiency is key. Neil Kardos offers valuable insights into making the process more streamlined, especially in handling inventor interviews. A common trap many patent practitioners fall into is the inadvertent engagement in rework, particularly in the way inventor interviews are conducted. Transcribing or listening to the entire recording of these interviews, as it turns out, is a significant time sink.

Recording inventor interviews is useful as a backup, but relying on them extensively for information can lead to inefficiency. Instead, Neil advocates for effective note-taking as the cornerstone of efficiency. This involves preparing questions in advance, written in blue ink, and noting down answers in red during the interview. This method is flexible, working well with both traditional and digital note-taking methods.

In this process, strategic note-taking is key. It’s important to avoid noting down information that is already known or included in the invention disclosure form (IDF). The focus should be on clarifying ambiguities and jotting down new insights. If you fall behind in note-taking, marking the time elapsed in the interview can help you quickly locate the needed section later, should you need to revisit the recording.

Modern technology, such as screen sharing, can further enhance the efficiency of reviewing recordings, allowing for quick navigation to relevant sections. A critical aspect of this process is setting aside time for a post-interview debrief. This could range from determining focus areas for claims to drafting the claims and figures. Neil describes this method as “frontloading,” a highly effective strategy that he discusses in more detail in another presentation.

Neil’s advice highlights subtle but impactful methods for refining workflow in patent application drafting. By adopting these strategies in inventor interviews, patent practitioners can transform a routine task into a significant efficiency booster.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Revolutionizing Patent Applications: The Case for Clarity in Language

In the intricate world of patent law, the clarity of legal documents is not just a nicety but a necessity. Neil Kardos, a vocal advocate for more readable patent applications, recently highlighted an issue that’s often overlooked yet crucial. Patent applications, by their nature, are complex. They are technical documents, intricately detailing how new technologies function. However, Neil points out an additional layer of complexity that stems not from the content but from the style of writing.

Patent professionals are experts in their fields, with rich backgrounds in science, math, and engineering. However, Neil observes that this technical focus often comes at the expense of writing skills. The result? Patent applications that are not just technically dense but also linguistically challenging. Adding to this complexity is the traditional use of legal jargon, or legalese, which can make documents even more daunting.

Neil suggests a simple yet effective change: replacing “said” element with “the” element in patent claims. While this might seem minor, the impact on readability is significant. He draws on a Patently-O article, which indicates that in the 1970s and 1980s, about 90% of patent applications used “said”. Today, this usage has reduced to around 20%. Neil argues that even this is too high. By embracing simpler language, the patent community can make these vital documents more approachable and understandable.

What sets Neil apart is his approach to this issue. He doesn’t just propose a change; he invites a discussion. This open invitation is more than a call for change; it’s a call for a community-wide reflection on how the patent world communicates.

Neil’s advocacy for clearer writing in patent applications goes beyond merely suggesting a change; he fosters a dialogue towards a future where legal documents are not barriers but bridges to understanding. By adopting simpler language, the patent community can ensure that these crucial documents are not only legally sound but also broadly accessible.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

The Art of Precision: Enhancing Patent Illustrations with a Touch of Expertise

Navigating the patent process is akin to crafting a masterpiece—each line, shade, and angle contributes to the final depiction of innovation. In this intricate dance, the initial sketches set the stage. Neil Kardos, like a skilled artist, starts with strokes of inspiration, transforming the abstract into tangible hand-drawn figures.

This is where the journey from concept to concrete begins. It’s a pivotal transformation, facilitated by the adept hands of a Visio specialist at Harrity. With an arsenal of tailored templates and precision stencils, these initial sketches are elevated to the standards of professional patent drawings—often within the span of a day.

For many practitioners, however, such in-house luxuries may be a distant dream. Neil advises those in the wider legal landscape to seek out and foster relationships with professional drafters or specialized firms. Particularly for elaborate mechanical applications, where the minutiae matter, these partnerships can be invaluable.

Neil’s strategic advice extends beyond the logistics of drafting—it’s a philosophy of time management and focus. For the modern attorney, particularly in the world of fixed fees, the importance of honing in on crafting claims and the specification is paramount. Neil shares some of his personal tips to cut down on the drafting drudgery: avoid redrawing components that can be pulled from an IDF or another application—simply annotate “copy from slide 7 of the IDF” as a directive. And when it comes to modifications, why not start with a print-out of an existing drawing and manually add your edits?

At the heart of Neil’s methodology is a balance between efficiency and quality. By delegating the drawing process, attorneys at Harrity & Harrity are empowered to dedicate their expertise to the core elements of patent applications. This not only enhances the firm’s productivity but also upholds the high-quality standard that clients have come to expect.

What inventive methods do you employ in your practice to ensure your patent drawings are the epitome of efficiency and precision? At Harrity & Harrity, we’re committed to learning and sharing insights that propel us all towards excellence in the ever-evolving patent landscape.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Streamlining Inventor Approvals in Patent Drafting

As patent attorneys, one of our principal objectives is to draft applications that not only meet legal standards but also receive the nod of approval from the inventors we represent. It’s a delicate balance of interpreting technical ingenuity and presenting it through the stringent lens of patent law. Join us this week in our Practical Patents series, as Neil Kardos offers seasoned advice on how to navigate this process effectively, ensuring that when inventors review our applications, their most frequent response is an affirming “looks good.”

The process begins with the inventor interview—a critical juncture where the foundation for a robust application is laid. Here, we delve into the nuances of the main embodiment of the invention. Yet, it’s not just about the present innovation; it’s about potential future iterations as well. This is where the art of questioning becomes paramount.

Neil advises that to unlock the full narrative of an invention, one must go beyond the surface. It starts with identifying the novel aspects of the technology at hand. The question “What are some other ways this could be done?” not only helps in outlining potential alternatives but also safeguards against future design-around efforts. By brainstorming these alternatives preemptively and discussing them with inventors, we can stimulate a more dynamic and comprehensive exploration of the invention’s scope.

The inquiry doesn’t stop at what exists; it extends to what could follow. Asking inventors to envision further improvements or next steps in their innovation journey can reveal valuable insights into the invention’s future applications or enhancements. This foresight is crucial in crafting a patent application that is not only relevant today but will stand the test of time.

Lastly, a thorough wrap-up question such as “Is there anything we’ve overlooked?” ensures that all relevant details have been captured. It’s an essential part of the interview that can uncover overlooked aspects, leading to a more complete and robust application.

Setting expectations with the inventor is equally vital. The level of detail and focus in the patent application often correlates with the inventor’s experience with the patent process. For newcomers, it’s beneficial to outline what the patent application will include and why certain aspects will be highlighted over others. This clarifies the document’s focus on novel elements and prepares the inventor for the application’s format and content.

By adhering to these strategies, Neil asserts that patent attorneys can significantly reduce the need for subsequent revisions and increase the likelihood of obtaining that initial “looks good” from inventors. This approach not only streamlines the review process but also fosters a collaborative relationship with the inventor, ultimately leading to higher-quality patent applications.

The key is about understanding the inventor’s vision and ensuring that the patent application accurately and effectively communicates that vision within the legal framework. By incorporating these practices, patent attorneys can enhance their drafting process, resulting in greater satisfaction for both the inventors and the legal professionals tasked with protecting their creations.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

The Evolving Landscape of Automotive Patents Among German Automakers

The patent landscape in the automotive industry has been a topic of interest for stakeholders seeking to navigate the technological advancements and innovations shaping the market. A recent analysis by Harrity Analytics illuminates how the tides have turned in patent acquisition among Germany’s top three automakers—Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche—over the last two decades.

In the early 2000s, Mercedes led the pack in annual patent acquisitions. This period can be characterized as one where Mercedes aggressively sought to protect its intellectual property, a strategy that aligned well with the company’s pursuit of technological leadership in the industry.

However, a noticeable shift occurred around 2010. At this juncture, Mercedes began acquiring fewer patents annually, leveling the playing field for BMW and Porsche. Both companies seized this opportunity and started acquiring patents at a rate that put them in line with Mercedes. The trend suggests a strategic repositioning by BMW and Porsche, possibly driven by a need to catch up with Mercedes’ early lead and to solidify their own footing in rapidly evolving areas like electric vehicles, autonomous driving, and connected services.

The most significant transformation has been observed in the past five to seven years. During this phase, BMW and Porsche have not only caught up but have surpassed Mercedes in annual patent acquisitions. This shift signals a substantial realignment in the industry’s innovation focus, with BMW and Porsche ramping up their efforts to secure technological advancements through intellectual property. Conversely, Mercedes has fallen well behind, prompting questions about its long-term strategy in a landscape increasingly defined by disruptive innovations.

Understanding these shifts is crucial for industry players, investors, and policymakers as it provides insights into the competitive dynamics and innovation strategies of these automakers. The data suggests that while Mercedes may have been an early pioneer, BMW and Porsche have been more agile in adapting to new technological paradigms, as evidenced by their more robust patent portfolios in recent years. It will be interesting to observe how technological advances continue to disrupt the automotive industry and whether these three big players will adjust their patent strategies.

Keep an eye on the Patent 300® Dashboard to see how these trends play out!

Check out our other Patent Analytics services HERE.

Understanding the Sequence: Navigating the Nuances of “First” and “Second” in Patent Claims

In the meticulous practice of patent application drafting, the choice of words can be as crucial as the invention itself. Neil Kardos explores the subtleties of using sequential terms in the latest edition of the Practical Patents Series. Clarity and precision in claim language are the cornerstones of a robust patent application, a principle that Neil emphasizes in his discourse.

The common practice of denoting elements or steps as “first” and “second” serves a fundamental role in distinguishing components within patent claims. However, Neil cautions that these seemingly straightforward terms can be a double-edged sword. He presents a scenario that many practitioners encounter: defining a sequence within an invention. The term “first” might intuitively imply the beginning of a sequence, but as Neil elucidates, its interpretation in patent law can be broader.

Neil urges that when the order is pivotal to an invention’s functionality, the terms “first” and “second” should be used with discernment. For instance, if the intention is to specify the very start of a sequence, more explicit language might be warranted, such as “an initial time period” or “the earliest-occurring time period.” These alternatives leave no room for ambiguity and ensure that the claims are understood as intended.

In his practical guidance, Neil also highlights the importance of aligning the specification and drawings with the claims. This harmony across the patent application is vital for delineating the exact meaning of sequence terms, especially when dealing with inventions where timing is key.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Monitoring U.S. Patent Maintenance Fee Data: A Look at Strategy Shifts

Monitoring U.S. patent maintenance fee data provides valuable insights into the behavior and strategies of patent owners. At Harrity & Harrity, we have been actively tracking this information since 2015. Our analysis reveals a consistent pattern in maintenance fee payments, with data generally falling within a single standard deviation. However, 2020 stands as an exception, with activity moving outside this range for the first time. This anomaly could be attributed to various factors, such as the economic uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic or shifts in specific technology sectors.

As we look toward 2024, it becomes increasingly important to observe whether this data will experience further deviations. These trends could indicate either a return to previous payment behaviors or the emergence of new strategic approaches by patent owners. Factors like innovation cycles, market demands, and global crises could all contribute to shifts in data.

For patent owners, the implications of this analysis are significant. A consistent reevaluation of patent maintenance strategies is advisable to ensure alignment with long-term organizational goals and current market conditions. Harrity & Harrity’s commitment to patent analytics and consultative services aims to provide clients with the necessary insights to navigate the complex landscape of intellectual property rights effectively. As we approach 2024, we will continue to monitor these trends closely, offering valuable data to help patent owners stay informed and agile in their maintenance fee strategies.

Check out our Patent Analytics services HERE.

Navigating Patent Prosecution: Understanding Your Examiner for Better Outcomes

In the world of patent prosecution, understanding the intricacies of the process can be the key to success. Neil Kardos shares some invaluable insights into how to achieve better outcomes during patent prosecution. With a background as a former patent examiner at the USPTO, Neil brings a unique perspective that can significantly impact your patent application journey.

Neil’s journey from a patent examiner to his current role at Harrity has given him a unique perspective on the patent world, and he’s here to shed light on a crucial aspect of the process – working effectively with examiners.

When Neil embarked on his career as a patent examiner, he encountered the familiar hesitation that often plagues newcomers in the field when it comes to allowing patent applications. This sentiment was widespread among his peers, and the challenges were amplified by his assignment to a business methods art unit. Neil’s early experiences reflect the reality of the patent landscape, as his examiner score in PatentPrufer started at a modest 56 out of 100.

Experience Breeds Confidence

Time and experience proved to be Neil’s greatest allies. With the accumulation of years spent in patent examination, he gradually became more comfortable with granting patents and, equally crucial, collaborating effectively with applicants to fine-tune claims for a higher likelihood of success. Neil’s journey underlines a universal truth in patent prosecution: grasping the unique dynamics of your assigned examiner is a cornerstone of success.

In the world of patent examination, each examiner brings their distinct perspective, expertise, and approach to the table. Acknowledging and embracing this individuality is pivotal in navigating the intricacies of patent prosecution. At Harrity & Harrity, we recognize this fundamental truth.

Harnessing the Power of Examiner Analytics

Within our firm, we harness the potential of examiner analytics to make well-informed decisions during the prosecution process. A critical judgment involves evaluating whether to request the presence of a primary examiner during inventor interviews. This decision hinges on the experience level of the examiner assigned to your application.

Moreover, you have the opportunity to request a specific primary examiner based on their performance score. This score offers a rough indication of their likelihood to allow your patent application. It’s a strategic move that can significantly impact your prosecution strategy.

In closing, Neil’s remarkable journey underscores a profound truth: the art of patent prosecution is as diverse as the examiners themselves. By delving into the intricacies of each examiner’s approach and leveraging the power of examiner analytics, you hold the key to unlocking a world of possibilities in the ever-evolving landscape of patents. As you embark on your own patent prosecution journey, remember that knowledge truly is power, and harnessing it can lead to transformative success.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Leveraging AI in Gap Analysis Reports

Gap Analysis Reports are instrumental for companies to understand the comparative strengths and weaknesses in their patent portfolios. At Harrity & Harrity, we have begun to incorporate generative AI technology like ChatGPT to rapidly identify and summarize these crucial differences between portfolios, based on data provided by the Harrity Analytics Team. The use of AI in this context is not just an experimental venture; it presents a significant opportunity to make the patent analysis process more efficient, quicker, and potentially less costly, particularly in matters of litigation and licensing.

Our Patent 300® Dashboard helps users easily filter between companies and technology areas for easy to view gap analysis, which AI can then quickly delineate. Let’s take a case study that involved comparing the patent portfolios of NVIDIA and Intel Corporation. This analysis highlighted several interesting differences and competitive focuses between the two tech giants. For example, NVIDIA has a noticeable lead in ray-tracing technology with 33 patents, while Intel trails with only 13. When it comes to learning methods, a domain essential for artificial intelligence, Intel surprisingly leads with 31 patents as opposed to Nvidia’s 14. In the areas of texture mapping and processor architectures, both companies appear neck-and-neck, each holding five patents, suggesting a mutual recognition of the importance of these technologies. Furthermore, while NVIDIA has made some headway in cooling technologies with four patents, Intel has none. On the flip side, Intel dominates in the domain of remote windowing with eight patents, dwarfing Nvidia’s single patent. Lastly, in terms of the organizational structure of processors, Intel holds twice the number of patents that Nvidia does, with six against three.

The potential implications of this rapid, AI-driven comparative analysis are significant. Firstly, by providing quick and accurate insights into patent portfolios, the AI can significantly reduce the time and financial resources usually required for litigation and licensing processes. Secondly, these insights can also be instrumental for a company’s strategic planning, particularly for directing R&D investments and identifying areas for competitive positioning. Finally, when aggregated across multiple analyses, this data may also serve as an industry barometer, signaling where innovation is heating up and where it is cooling down.

Overall, the integration of generative AI technology like ChatGPT in the patent analysis process offers promising advantages. By parsing large sets of complex data with both speed and accuracy, we are poised to provide our clients with more cost-effective and timely solutions without compromising the quality of insights crucial for strategic decision-making. The challenge now lies in considering how to further harness this technology.

Could there be other facets of the patent field where the capabilities of generative AI could be further explored for better efficiency and cost-effectiveness? Let us know your thoughts!

Check out our Patent Analytics services HERE.

Providing Context in Patent Applications: A Strategic Approach to Storytelling and Claiming

Patent professionals understand that the choice of language in patent applications can have far-reaching implications. This week, Neil Kardos explains how one such term fraught with peril is “background.” The concerns around this terminology are twofold:

  1. Admitted Prior Art: Any information presented in a section labeled as “background” may be considered as admitted prior art, which can negatively influence the patent examination process.
  2. Obviousness Rejection: Describing the problem solved by the invention under “background” could provide the examiner with a basis to argue that the solution is obvious, thereby facilitating an obviousness rejection.

Alternatives to ‘Background’

So, how can one maneuver around these pitfalls? Neil explains that there are two strategies that can be employed:

Omission or Renaming

The first strategy is to either omit a section explicitly called “background” or to rename it to something like “Introduction” or “Technical Field.” By doing so, you reduce the risk of the examiner interpreting this section as an admission of prior art.

Contextual Placement

The second strategy involves placing the context or “background” information within the “Detailed Description” section. Here, you can set the stage for understanding the technical problem without overtly admitting it as prior art.

Tailoring Context to the Nature of the Invention

Different types of inventions require different levels of contextual detail:

  • Technical Standards-Related Inventions: For an invention that closely aligns with technical standards, it’s crucial to clarify any standard-specific terminology. Failure to do so could lead to an examiner or court misconstruing your patent claims.
  • Consumer-Friendly Inventions: For inventions that are easier to comprehend, such as extending a phone’s battery life, a shorter, less technical explanation would suffice.

Addressing Section 101 Rejections

For inventions that stand a high chance of facing Section 101 rejections, it’s beneficial to frame the invention as a technical solution to a technical problem. This could make it easier to argue against any 101-based rejections.

In conclusion, Neil explains that choosing the right language and placing it appropriately can make a significant difference in the outcome of a patent application. By considering the nature of your invention and the potential pitfalls surrounding the term “background,” you can craft a more compelling and robust patent application. This strategic approach not only improves the chances of success at the patent office but also sets a strong foundation for any subsequent legal evaluations.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

The Power of Checklists in Patent Application Drafting

When it comes to the intricate process of drafting patent applications, even seasoned professionals can find themselves submerged in a maze of technicalities, client-specific requirements, and meticulous details. Neil Kardos highlights a simple yet effective strategy for navigating this complex terrain: the use of a checklist. This blog post delves into how a well-crafted checklist can not only improve the quality of your patent applications but also bring a new level of efficiency to your work.

The Quality Factor: More Than Just a Safety Net

First and foremost, let’s talk about quality. It may seem like a given, but when you’re working on something as complex as a patent application, it’s surprisingly easy to forget the basics. Running a spell check or utilizing patent proofreading tools might seem rudimentary, but these are the steps that ensure the polished finish of a professional application. Here, a checklist acts as more than just a safety net; it becomes an essential quality control measure. By ticking off these checks as you go, you make sure that no minor or major step gets overlooked, thereby elevating the quality of your entire application.

Navigating Client Preferences: A Customized Approach

In a professional landscape where one size rarely fits all, it’s imperative to cater to the unique needs of each client. Whether it’s about the sequence in which they want to review the application—be it claims, figures, or the entire draft—or the mode by which they prefer to receive submissions, client preferences can vary widely. This is where a customized checklist shines. Not only does it serve as a reminder of the individual needs of each client, but it also acts as a flexible tool that can be adapted to different processes, ensuring you hit the mark every time.

Drafting: An Art and a Science

When it comes to the art and science of drafting a patent application, most of us don’t approach it in a linear fashion. Neil, for instance, prefers to start with the context for the invention and the details of the invention itself. This initial focus allows him to fine-tune the claims, which are the backbone of any patent application. Once the claims are set, he then circles back to complete the summary, flow chart descriptions, and other interconnected sections. Here, the checklist serves as a tactical guide, ensuring that not only do all these pieces get the attention they deserve, but they also follow an optimized sequence for maximum efficiency.

At its core, a checklist is more than just a list of tasks; it’s a strategic tool that enables better planning, higher quality, and efficient execution in the patent application drafting process. Neil recommends creating master checklists that can be customized according to the diverse needs of each client. This approach not only fosters quality and efficiency but also brings a newfound level of clarity to your drafting process.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

The Art of Word Selection in Patent Application Drafting

Drafting a patent application is an art form that requires meticulous attention to detail, especially when it comes to language use. Neil Kardos accentuates this point by highlighting the potential pitfalls of using terms like “first” and “second” in patent claims. Such terms, while seemingly straightforward, can introduce ambiguity that may have far-reaching legal implications.

Neil presents a compelling example to illustrate the complexities involved. Imagine a claim that involves multiple signals, say a “first signal” that generates a “second signal.” If additional claims reference other signals, labeling them as “third,” “fourth,” etc., could create significant confusion. This is not just a theoretical concern; such ambiguity could actually compromise the enforceability or scope of the patent claim.

Strategic Approaches to Resolve the Issue

  1. Specific Labeling: One way to avoid confusion is to adopt specific labels for these signals. However, care must be taken to ensure these labels do not unintentionally limit the claim’s scope.
  2. Dependent Claim Labeling: Another approach Neil recommends is to only use “first” and “second” in the independent claim. This allows for the use of distinct labels for signals in dependent claims, minimizing the risk of confusion.

Considerations for Long-term Strategy

As patent attorneys, agents, and support staff, it’s crucial for us to think beyond the immediate challenges of patent drafting. For instance, how can we adopt an analytics-driven approach to identify common pitfalls in patent application drafting? How could automation aid in standardizing terminology and reducing errors?

Neil’s advice is not just a set of drafting tips but also a call for critical thinking in the patent field. His insights remind us that every word in a patent application carries weight and could have long-term consequences for innovation in the computer, electrical, and mechanical fields. As we continue our pursuit of innovation and quality in patent law, taking heed of such expert advice is indispensable.

Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Mastering the Art of the Inventor Interview: Ensuring Confidence While Asking the Right Questions

Greetings fellow patent enthusiasts! An inventor interview is not just an information-gathering session; it’s an opportunity to build rapport and trust between the inventor and the patent professional. Join us this week as Neil Kardos explains how the nuances of these interactions can significantly impact the inventor’s confidence in your capabilities to represent their interests adequately.

Pre-Interview Research: A Non-Negotiable Step

Before the interview, always take the time to research any unfamiliar concepts in the inventor’s documentation. This not only prepares you for the discussion but also avoids asking questions that could potentially undermine the inventor’s confidence in your expertise. A simple web search for unknown terms or concepts is often enough to provide the necessary context.

Tackling the Unknown: Phrasing is Key

There will inevitably be times when prior research doesn’t yield clear explanations for certain terms or technologies. In such instances, how you pose your questions can make all the difference. Here are some strategies:

1. Acknowledge Your Effort

Example: “I searched the web for XYZ, but I couldn’t find a really good explanation. Can you explain it to me?” This approach shows that you have made an effort to understand but have hit a roadblock, inviting the inventor to fill in the gaps.

2. Draw Parallels with Familiar Concepts

Example: “I’m familiar with how ABC works, but I don’t understand XYZ. Can you explain it to me?” This method acknowledges your expertise in related areas and humbly asks for clarification on the specific topic at hand.

3. Navigate Company-Specific Jargon

Example: “I saw that you’ve used the term XYZ in your documentation, and I couldn’t find a good explanation of what that is. Can you explain that to me, or is there another term for this that I could look up?” When dealing with internal jargon, this approach shows that you are proactive and willing to learn.

The inventor interview is a crucial aspect of patent law practice, requiring a blend of expertise, humility, and strategic questioning. A well-prepared and conscientiously executed interview not only yields the information necessary for drafting a robust patent application but also establishes a positive working relationship with the inventor.

So the next time you’re preparing for an inventor interview, remember these tips. A little preparation and strategic questioning can go a long way in ensuring a productive and confidence-inspiring conversation. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

A Strategic Approach to Preparing Patent Claims for Multiple Jurisdictions

Welcome back, fellow patent enthusiasts! In the dynamic world of patents, one size does not fit all, especially when considering international filings. As a seasoned patent professional, Neil Kardos delves into strategic tips tailored to the unique requirements of several major jurisdictions.

1. Understanding U.S. Application Trends: For U.S. applications, it’s customary to file with 3 independent claims and 20 total claims, maximizing the filing fee benefit without incurring additional charges for excess claims. As an illustration from software patent applications, Neil frequently files:

  • 7 method claims
  • 7 device claims
  • 6 computer-readable medium claims

2. European Patent Office (EPO) Strategies: The EPO permits 15 claims without additional fees. A savvy approach Neil adopts is leveraging method claims to craft a nuanced computer-readable medium claim. This involves:

  • Using the 7 method and 7 device claims from the U.S. application.
  • Adding a unique 15th claim: “A computer program product that, when executed by a processor, causes the processor to perform the method of any of claims 1 to 7.”

Further, utilizing multiple dependent claims, which the EPO allows, can be beneficial.

3. Navigating Claim Filings in China and India: Both China and India allow a filing of up to 10 claims without surplus fees. Given that each additional claim costs under $25, Neil suggests submitting between 10 to 20 claims from the U.S. application. Filing all 20 claims in these jurisdictions would cost approximately $250, a stark contrast to the EPO’s fee structure.

4. The Canadian Perspective: Canada presents a unique scenario, as there aren’t excess claim fees. Neil’s strategy here often involves deferring examination until the entire U.S. patent family (inclusive of parent applications and continuations) is finalized. Subsequently, a Patent Prosecution Highway request is filed with an amendment encompassing all claims from the sanctioned U.S. applications.

In conclusion, effectively preparing patent claims for international jurisdictions demands both a deep understanding of regional nuances and a strategic mindset. Neil’s insights, as presented, provide a robust foundation for such endeavors.

Thank you for reading, we invite you to share your experiences and tips regarding claim preparation in these or other jurisdictions. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Enhancing Claim Readability for a Competitive Edge

Greetings once again, esteemed patent aficionados! We’re back this week with Neil Kardos’ Practical Patent tips, as he shares a valuable tip that can not only enhance the readability of your patent claims but might also bestow a subtle psychological advantage when liaising with a patent examiner.

In the complex field of patent drafting, clarity and precision are paramount. Neil shares a valuable insight into refining the presentation of patent claims. The objective? To make them more reader-friendly and potentially create a positive impression on patent examiners.

Typically, claims are drafted using sizable blocks of text for each step or component. These blocks are neatly separated by semicolons and start on fresh lines with an indent. But what happens when a single step or component spans over four lines or more?

Neil suggests, “If you encounter a step comprising two lines, followed by a ‘wherein’ clause also spanning two lines, it can be cumbersome for readers. Instead of presenting it as a continuous four-line chunk, break it up.” He recommends placing a comma at the end of the first two lines, then initiating the ‘wherein’ clause on a new indented line. This technique breaks the invention down into bite-sized, easily digestible segments.

Possible Psychological Advantage with Examiners

Another potential upside to this approach is its optical effect. The same word count, when spaced out, consumes more lines on paper, possibly giving the impression of a more detailed claim. Kardos, drawing from his experience as a former examiner, expresses skepticism about the weightage of this theory. He says, “In my examiner days, I was mostly hunting for the claimed invention, irrespective of its presentation.” However, if an examiner vacillates about an allowance, and this presentation nudges them towards granting it, then the strategy surely holds merit.

Enhanced Readability Equals Improved Quality

Neil emphasizes that the chief advantage of this technique lies in its improved readability. An easily comprehensible claim not only facilitates the examiner’s job but also ensures that reviewers and inventors can accurately gauge if the invention has been captured aptly.

He concludes, “In the intricate realm of patents, clarity is a boon. By adopting this simple strategy, patent attorneys can significantly enhance the quality and perception of their claims. I genuinely hope practitioners find this tip beneficial.”

Thank you for reading, and we invite you to explore more insights and strategies in the patent field on our Practical Patents blog series. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Honing Business Methods Patent Applications: A Shift Towards Technicality

Welcome back, fellow patent enthusiasts! We’re back this week with Neil Kardos’ Practical Patent tips, as he draws on his experience as a former business methods patent examiner and his extensive work in the field, to offer strategic insights for navigating the complex terrain of business methods patent applications. Neil emphasizes the imperative of transitioning the focus from primarily business methods to technical aspects.

Understanding the Shift

Business methods often grapple with a common conundrum: they are inherently business-centric, which makes them particularly susceptible to invalidity challenges. The magic lies in reframing the invention’s narrative. Neil’s approach hinges on the following:

  • Engaging in Inventor Conversations: Start by discerning the technical elements during initial discussions with inventors. This sets the groundwork for refocusing the application.
  • Identifying Key Technical Aspects: Using an example of a system harnessing transaction data to inform users about sales in nearby stores, Kardos underscores the value of delving into the ‘how’ of the invention. This includes understanding:
    1. The mechanisms behind determining a user’s shopping preferences.
    2. The methodologies for identifying stores with ongoing sales.
    3. The intricacies of location-based messaging.

By interrogating these technical dimensions, the narrative can shift away from targeted advertising to spotlight the innovation’s technical prowess.

Deep Dive into Technicality

To reimagine a business methods patent application with a technical lens, consider the following questions:

  1. Data Processing & Analysis: How is the user data processed? Are there any transformative elements involved? Does the system employ machine learning techniques?
  2. Sales Data Acquisition: Does the system utilize web scraping? Is there an element of natural language processing involved? How are emails analyzed for sales information?
  3. Messaging Mechanism: How is location-based messaging achieved? How does the system discern store locations? What decision-making algorithms are in place for timely and relevant messaging?

Addressing these inquiries aids in capturing the essence of the invention’s technical novelty, presenting it in a light more favorable for patent allowance.


The patent application domain is rife with challenges, especially for business methods. However, with a tactful shift towards highlighting technical components, these hurdles can be effectively navigated. Neil Kardos’s expertise and willingness to share knowledge offer a beacon of hope for those navigating this intricate field.

Thank you for reading, and we invite you to explore more insights and strategies in the patent field on our Practical Patents blog series. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Crafting Single-Party Infringement Claims: A Strategic Approach

Hello there, fellow patent enthusiasts! We’re back this week with Neil Kardos’ Practical Patent tips, as he explains how drafting claims capable of being infringed by a single party (as opposed to multi-party infringement) enhances the enforceability of your patent rights. Neil shares a pattern that he has found immensely useful in drafting such claims, particularly for process-based inventions. The pattern revolves around three key steps: Reception, Determination, and Transmission.

1. Identify the Inventive Device: “Where is this Invention Happening?”

When working with a process-based invention, it is essential to pinpoint the inventive device. This could be a server on the back end, a client device on the front end, or a router. Understanding the core hardware is the foundation for creating robust and clear claims.

2. Determine the Trigger: “What Triggers the Inventive Device to Perform the Invention?”

The inventive process often begins with a reception or “receive” step. Knowing what triggers the inventive device allows you to craft the initial steps of your claim more accurately.

3. The Novelty Lies in Determination: “What Does the Inventive Device Do With the Information?”

This stage often includes one or more “determine” steps and usually houses the novel aspects of the invention. The language here might vary, but focusing on what the inventive device does with the received information is pivotal.

4. Conclude with Transmission: “What’s the Result?”

Often, the inventive process concludes with a “transmit” step. Identifying what the inventive device does with the determination helps in framing the claim in a manner that aligns with single-party infringement.

Neil Kardos’ pattern of (1) Reception, (2) Determination, and (3) Transmission serves as an efficient framework for drafting patent applications for process-based inventions. While not universally applicable, it offers a cohesive approach to ensure claims are infringeable by a single device, and hence, a single party that controls that device.

Understanding the nature of the inventive device, the sequence of steps involved in the invention, and the novelty can streamline the claim-drafting process. This methodology not only simplifies the legal proceedings for clients but fosters innovation by providing a clear pathway to protect new inventions.

Thank you for reading, and we invite you to explore more insights and strategies in the patent field on our Practical Patents blog. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Handling Different Types of Invention Disclosure Forms (IDFs): A Practical Guide with Neil Kardos

Greetings, fellow patent enthusiasts! We’re back this week with Neil Kardos as he shares invaluable insights into handling different types of IDFs in preparation for inventor interviews.

Understanding the “Good IDF”

According to Neil, IDFs commonly fall into three categories: the “good IDF,” the “sparse IDF,” and the “huge IDF.” In this particular discussion, he zeroes in on the “good IDF,” which many practitioners would consider the dream scenario.

With a “good IDF”, you find that the materials clearly elucidate the workings of the invention. You read through them, and you have a lucid grasp of the concept. There might be minor details that elude you, but for the most part, you understand it.

But here lies the pitfall.

The Trap of the “Good IDF”

If you’re operating in a fixed-fee world, it may be tempting to expedite the inventor interview. Neil narrates a familiar sentiment: “Thank you so much inventor. The materials you shared are fantastic, and I understand your invention. I just have two quick questions, and then we can both be on our way.”

This approach, Neil warns, is a grave mistake for two reasons:

  1. The Human Connection: You might perceive yourself to be in the patent business, but, as Neil underscores, you’re really in the people business. This interview might be the inventor’s only chance to thoroughly articulate their invention to someone. Rushing through the process might lead the inventor to think that you’re not giving their project the attention it deserves.
  2. Missing Out on Insights: Without delving into the invention, you may overlook misunderstandings or additional features the inventor wants to emphasize. Moreover, rushing the interview may rob you of the opportunity to brainstorm on the call, possibly missing key aspects that could enhance the patent’s value.

Conclusion: Embrace the Process

Neil’s parting wisdom is this: don’t succumb to the allure of the “good IDF” by thinking that you can bypass the inventor interview. You might save some time, but the loss in understanding and human connection will cost you in the long run.

His advice is not merely about patent law but transcends into the realm of human relations and communication. Thanks for watching, and we hope this guidance from Neil helps those venturing into the complex and nuanced world of IDFs. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Essential Tips for Conducting Inventor Interviews with Minimal Documentation

Greetings, fellow patent enthusiasts! We’re back this week with valuable insight from Neil Kardos as he unveils a strategic approach for acquiring comprehensive information about an invention when faced with limited initial documentation. In scenarios where only the title of the invention or a few descriptive sentences are available, this guide can be instrumental.

Understanding the Challenge

Sometimes, patent professionals receive scant details about an invention before an inventor interview. Reaching out to inventors for more information might be an option, but not always feasible. In such a scenario, Neil has perfected an approach that’s applicable to virtually any technology.

A Generic Outline of Questions

Years ago, Neil created a generic outline of questions, adaptable to different technological contexts. When dealing with a sparse disclosure document, this outline can be supplemented with specific inquiries about the invention.

High-Level Orientation

The outline begins with broad questions to set the context:

  1. What is the background and context for this invention?
  2. What is the problem being addressed?
  3. What are the advantages of this invention over alternatives?
  4. What are the novel elements of the invention?
  5. How does the invention align with business strategy?

Detail-Oriented Approach

After establishing the context, Neil delves into the intricacies. His inquiry typically focuses on two general questions:

  1. How does the invention function step by step? This question seeks to uncover the mechanisms, alternatives, and possibly the independent claims and flowcharts of the patent application.
  2. In what environment does the invention operate? This inquiry aims to identify crucial devices or components that elucidate how the invention functions.

Practical Recommendations

Drawing from his extensive experience, Neil recommends patent professionals to compile their list of questions or adapt his outline to individual needs. Being prepared with these questions ensures that even with minimal information, one can glean everything necessary about the invention during the inventor interview.

In conclusion, navigating an inventor interview with limited information need not be a daunting task. By following Neil’s structured approach, patent professionals can master the art of extracting vital information about an invention. His advice stands as a testament to effective preparation, innovation, and adaptability within the patent field, helping to ensure clarity and thoroughness in each patent application.

Thank you for reading! We hope these tips help you improve your patent drafting skills. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Efficiently Handling Overwhelming Amounts of Invention Disclosure Materials

Greetings, fellow patent enthusiasts! We’re back this week with valuable insight from Neil Kardos on dealing with a common challenge faced by patent practitioners: receiving an overwhelming amount of invention disclosure materials prior to a call with inventors. While most patent professionals might be familiar with handling situations where there is too little material, Neil sheds light on what to do when faced with an abundance of information that can potentially consume an entire day of review.

Navigating the Flood of Invention Disclosure Materials: When confronted with a plethora of materials, Neil advises that the first step is to skim through the documents to get an overall sense of the content. The main objective at this stage is to identify technical information and elements that appear new and innovative. Making a note of the slides or pages that contain interesting technical content is crucial to preparing efficiently for the inventor call.

Framing the Conversation: Once Neil has an idea about the potential new features, he supplements his regular outline of questions for inventor interviews with inquiries specifically related to those features. This tailored approach allows him to focus the conversation on the most relevant and critical aspects of the invention. During the inventor call, he also sets the tone by addressing the abundance of materials and enlists the inventors’ help in identifying content that is pertinent to the patent application, particularly focusing on the novel technical aspects.

Efficiently Capturing the Invention: By framing the conversation around the key features and focusing on what’s new and innovative, Neil ensures that the conversation is purposeful and streamlined. This approach enables him to efficiently capture and flesh out the details of the invention without being bogged down by unrelated or extraneous material.

Confirmation and Adaptation: During the call, if the inventor verifies Neil’s assumptions regarding the new features, he proceeds with his supplemented outline of questions to delve deeper into the invention’s specifics. Additionally, he makes sure to address the slides or pages that he earlier identified as important. However, if his initial assumptions were incorrect, Neil seamlessly transitions back to his original outline of questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the invention.

In conclusion, handling an overwhelming amount of invention disclosure materials can be daunting, but using Neil’s practical approach provides valuable guidance for patent practitioners facing this challenge. By quickly skimming through the materials, focusing on the new and interesting technical aspects, and seeking the inventor’s input, one can efficiently navigate through the flood of information and conduct a productive and insightful inventor call. This not only saves valuable time and effort but also ensures that the patent application process is effective and aligned with the invention’s core features.

Thank you for reading! We hope these tips help you improve your patent drafting skills. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting!

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Boosting Patent Application Drafting Efficiency and Quality

Greetings, fellow patent enthusiasts! Today, we’re excited to share an invaluable tip from Neil Kardos on how to improve the efficiency and quality of your patent application drafting. We’ll delve into the benefits of this approach and explore how it can streamline the patent application process.

When it comes to patent drafting, timing is everything. One of the most significant time-saving strategies Neil employs is to draft claims and figures promptly after conducting an inventor interview. By capturing the essence of the invention while it’s fresh in his mind, he achieves remarkable results.

Here’s how he does it: After scheduling an inventor interview, Neil blocks off a few hours afterward to work on claims and figures. By setting aside a dedicated block of time immediately after the call, you can capitalize on the freshness of the invention in your mind, ensuring top-notch claims and figures. Ideally, he aims to draft the complete set of claims and figures right after the call. In certain cases where he’s deeply familiar with the technology, and the inventors are savvy, he may even prepare an independent claim before the call and get real-time feedback from the inventors—an incredibly beneficial practice.

In the real world, though, urgent tasks can sometimes intervene. Neil has a savvy solution for this too. At the very least, he outlines an independent claim and explores some dependent claim ideas before attending to other pressing matters. This keeps the momentum going and avoids the common pitfall of relearning the invention from scratch later on.

Neil’s method is a game-changer, providing a structured and streamlined approach to patent application drafting. With this technique, you’ll not only increase efficiency but also enhance the overall quality of your work.

Thank you for reading! We hope these tips help you improve your patent drafting skills. Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series. Until next time, happy patenting! ????????

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Improving Patent Application Readability and Avoiding Misinterpretation

Greetings, patent enthusiasts! In this latest blog post, Neil Kardos sharessome valuable tips for enhancing the readability of your patent applications and avoiding potential misinterpretations that could arise due to wordy writing.

As patent lawyers, we often find ourselves delving into complex technical details and intricate legal concepts, which can lead to a natural tendency to be wordy in our writing. However, it’s crucial to remember that great writing is often characterized by its conciseness and clarity. Therefore, we urge you to embrace brevity when drafting your patent applications.

One common issue Neil encountered while reviewing a patent application the other day was the excessive use of the phrase “in order to” instead of simply “to.” It might seem like a minor difference, but it can significantly impact the clarity of your patent application. In fact, Neil firmly believes that you can replace the phrase “in order to” with the word “to” in 100% of cases without losing any meaning.

Let’s take a look at an example to understand the significance of this change:

“The system may process multiple events… In order to save time.”

On the surface, this sentence may appear harmless, and most of us would interpret it as the system processing events to save time. However, if we reevaluate the phrasing, another interpretation becomes possible:

“The system may process multiple events in order… To save time.”

Here, the meaning slightly changes, leaving room for ambiguity. Are the events processed to save time? Or are they processed in a specific order that ultimately saves time? Such ambiguities can introduce uncertainties in your patent application and potentially lead to challenges during the examination process.

To uphold the clarity and precision of your patent application, it’s crucial to be succinct in your writing. As they say in the movie Ocean’s 11, “Don’t use seven words when four will do.” By trimming unnecessary phrases and being concise, you can convey your ideas more effectively and minimize the chances of misinterpretation.

In conclusion, it is strongly recommended to adopt a succinct writing style for your patent applications. Not only will this improve the readability for patent examiners and other stakeholders, but it will also reduce the risk of ambiguity and potential challenges during the examination process.

We hope these tips help you improve your patent drafting skills. Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series.

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Navigating the Pitfalls of “At Least One” in Patent Claims

Greetings, patent enthusiasts! In this latest blog post, Neil Kardos shares some valuable tips on how to avoid common mistakes in patent applications.

When it comes to drafting patent applications, precision in language is crucial. One common mistake is the misuse of the phrase “at least one of.” In patent applications, it is customary to include this phrase to indicate that certain data or elements can be present in different combinations. However, there is a significant distinction between using the word “and” versus “or” in this context.

Let’s consider an example: “Wherein the data includes at least one of a name, an address, or a phone number.” Notice that the word “or” emphasized. Unfortunately, some patent practitioners use the word “and” instead, which can be a mistake.

To illustrate why using “and” can lead to confusion, let’s use a simple analogy. Imagine someone saying, “I’m going to the grocery store, and I’m going to buy at least one of an apple, a banana, and a carrot.” Does this mean they intend to purchase at least one apple, at least one banana, and at least one carrot?

Most patent practitioners would not intend such an interpretation with this statement, but it’s easy to see how this wording could be misinterpreted. In contrast, if the statement were, “I’m going to the grocery store, and I’m going to buy at least one of an apple, a banana, or a carrot,” it would be clearer.

In this revised version, the speaker could buy only an apple, and the statement would still hold true regardless of how you interpret it. Of course, in real-life conversations, nobody talks like this. So, perhaps a simpler approach would be to drop the “at least one of” altogether and say, “I’m going to the grocery store, and I’m going to buy an apple, a banana, or a carrot.”

However, the desire to be explicit about the acceptability of combinations of an apple, a banana, and/or a carrot is understandable. This is where the phrase “at least one of” comes into play. Some practitioners may also include “or a combination thereof” at the end of the list. There are various ways to convey your point clearly, but our recommendation is to avoid saying “at least one of a, b, and c.”

In conclusion, using the word “and” instead of “or” in patent applications when expressing options can lead to confusion and misinterpretation. To avoid this common mistake, it’s essential to choose your words carefully and consider the implications of your language choices. Precision and clarity are key when it comes to drafting successful patent applications.

We hope these tips help you improve your patent drafting skills. Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series.

Note: This blog post is based on the opinions and observations of the author and should not be considered legal advice. Consult a qualified patent attorney for specific guidance on patent application drafting.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Tips for Improving Readability of Patent Claims

Greetings, patent enthusiasts! In this latest blog post, Neil Kardos shares some valuable tips on how to enhance the readability of your patent claims.

As we all know, patent claims can be challenging to comprehend due to the presence of legal and technical terminology. Neil sheds some light on one particular aspect of claim language: antecedent basis and how it affects the readability of your claims.

Antecedent Basis and Awkward Wording: Antecedent basis refers to using the word “the” to refer back to a word or phrase previously introduced in the claims. This practice often leads to peculiar phrasing, making the claims less accessible to readers. To illustrate this point, let’s consider an example. If the phrase “at least one widget” is used, referring back to it would require saying “the at least one widget,” resulting in awkward language.

Simplifying the Language: A simple solution to improve readability by replacing “at least one” with the phrase “one or more.” By using “one or more,” you can refer back to the widgets as “the one or more widgets.” This change brings the language closer to standard usage, eliminating the unusual phrasing of “the at least one widget.” In some cases, an even better alternative is to use the indefinite article “a” or “an.” For instance, instead of “the system includes one or more widgets,” you can state “the system includes a widget” and then refer back to it as “the widget.” In terms of claim interpretation, saying “the system includes a widget” is equivalent to saying “the system includes one or more widgets.”

Avoiding “One of a”: Try avoiding the phrase “one of a,” as it leads to cumbersome wording when referring back to it. For instance, using “one of a plurality of widgets” would result in “the one of the plurality of widgets.” A more concise alternative by rephrasing it as “a widget, of a plurality of widgets.” This way, you can easily refer back to it as “the widget.”

Enhancing Clarity: In general, it is crucial to be vigilant for instances where phrases create awkward wording upon reference. By identifying these situations, you can find alternative ways to make the language more fluid and understandable. The goal is to improve the readability of your patent claims for a wider audience, including examiners, potential licensees, and competitors.

In conclusion: Neil’s tips provide valuable insights into enhancing the readability of patent claims. By simplifying language and avoiding awkward phrasing caused by antecedent basis, you can make your claims more accessible to readers. Clear and concise claims are essential for effective communication and successful patent prosecution.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Unraveling the Intricacies of Negative Claiming

In this latest blog post, Neil Kardos brings to light an essential tip about drafting patent claims – the art of sidestepping negative claiming.

Negative claiming occurs when something that doesn’t happen is claimed, a phenomenon that can make patent claim drafting quite convoluted. For instance, consider the situation where your cell phone receives a specific request from a cell tower and usually responds by sending back a message.

However, imagine if the invention introduces a unique twist where the phone, upon detecting a certain condition that the cell tower isn’t aware of, chooses not to respond as per the norm. For instance, the phone may identify that it’s running low on battery or the request is inapplicable for some other reason, leading to the phone’s decision to abstain from responding.

The traditional patent claim language for this scenario might be: “(1) receiving a request, (2) determining that the request isn’t applicable, and (3) not responding to the request?” However, this formulation feels somewhat cumbersome, and patent examiners are known to frown upon such negative limitations.

Neil has developed a handy workaround for these situations – the use of the word “refrain.” This term implies a deliberate decision to abstain from an action or to halt an event, effectively conveying the same meaning without resorting to negative claiming. Thus, in the given example, the claim could be elegantly rephrased as “refraining from transmitting a response to the request.”

Have you discovered other effective strategies to handle such scenarios? If you’ve encountered similar situations and found effective ways to deal with them, we’d love to hear it!

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to come back for more tips in the next installment of the Practical Patents Series.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

The Global Impact of Pro Bono Intellectual Property Work – Alexander Zajac

Alexander Zajac‘s article, “The Global Impact of Pro Bono Intellectual Property Work,” discusses the significant global effects that pro bono intellectual property (IP) services can have for the American Bar Association’s Landslide Magazine.

Despite the reluctance of lawyers to perform IP services pro bono due to liability concerns and marketing goals, Zajac argues that there are worthy clients with cross-border legal needs that can greatly benefit from such services.

Zajac identifies several impediments to global pro bono services in IP. Lawyers are often risk-averse, fearing malpractice liability from pro bono activities. The decentralized nature of licensure also makes cross-border pro bono work difficult. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these difficulties were exacerbated as more attorneys began working remotely from jurisdictions in which they were not licensed. Additionally, many lawyers look for pro bono opportunities that seem particularly philanthropic, and some believe that IP work does not help disadvantaged people and thus is not philanthropic.

However, Zajac argues that trademarks, patents, and copyrights are not mere tools of profitability. They can be used to fundraise for humanitarian causes or to keep unsafe products off the market, among other philanthropic uses. Even if pro bono IP services are not provided directly to disadvantaged people, social enterprises may benefit from pro bono IP services and use their saved costs and IP rights philanthropically.

The article presents two case studies to demonstrate the global impact of pro bono IP services. The first case study is Shimmy Technologies, a company that uses artificial intelligence to help apparel workers upskill and reskill in light of ongoing automation. The company benefited from pro bono IP work, which helped it protect its inventions, copyrights, and trademarks when it expanded into new countries. The pro bono work also provided peace of mind to the company, allowing it to focus more on developing its products and continuing to roll out upskilling programs.

The second case study is Be Girl, a social enterprise dedicated to providing access to sanitary supplies that are appropriate to cultural practices and socioeconomic conditions. The company’s founder, Diana Sierra, understood the importance of obtaining a patent on her invention and was able to accelerate her fundraising abilities with a pending patent application. As Be Girl grew, it continued to receive pro bono assistance, which helped it expand its patent portfolio and trademark filings. This expanded patent portfolio opened discussions with big players in the sanitary supplies market and allowed Be Girl to insist on the safety and affordability of sanitary supplies before such products are pushed to market.

In conclusion, Zajac emphasizes that providing pro bono IP advice and services can have positive global effects. There are many well-meaning enterprises that would benefit from pro bono IP services, and many of these potential clients have cross-border legal needs. For companies like Shimmy and Be Girl, receiving pro bono IP assistance helped them pursue their goals of upskilling workers and furthering female education around the globe.

Read the full article to learn more about the global benefits of providing pro bono intellectual property work.


Improving Clarity in Patent Applications: The Red Flag of “It”

In this latest blog post, Neil Kardos shares why the seemingly innocuous word “it” can lead to ambiguity and misinterpretation in your descriptions, and offer an alternative approach to improve your patent application writing.

The Ambiguity of “It”: Consider this example sentence: “When the client device communicates with the server, ‘it’ may send a message based on a triggering event.” Now, pause for a moment and ask yourself: What exactly is the subject of the sentence? Is it the client device or the server that may send the message? Unfortunately, the word “it” leaves room for uncertainty, and its usage can create confusion, especially when different interpretations are possible.

Plain English vs. Translations: Even in plain English, determining the intended meaning of “it” can be a challenge. However, when patent applications are translated into languages with different grammar rules, the potential for misinterpretation grows significantly. Each language has its own structure and syntax, and relying on a vague pronoun like “it” may lead to inaccurate translations and misunderstandings.

The Importance of Clarity in Patent Prosecution: In patent prosecution, the clarity and precision of your language are crucial. A well-crafted patent application should support the claims and clearly define the scope of the invention. Using the word “it” can inadvertently weaken your case by introducing ambiguity that could be exploited by competitors or create confusion during examination.

Addressing the Issue: To avoid these complications, it is advisable to replace the word “it” with the actual name of the subject you are referring to. In our example sentence, instead of using “it,” you could specify whether it is the client device or the server that may send the message based on the triggering event. By explicitly naming the subject, you provide clarity and eliminate potential misunderstandings.

In conclusion, the word “it” may seem innocuous, but in the context of patent applications, it can introduce ambiguity and create confusion. By replacing “it” with the actual name of the subject, you enhance the clarity of your writing and reduce the chances of misinterpretation, especially in translations and during patent prosecution. Remember, precision and clear communication are essential in protecting your invention and establishing a strong patent. Thank you for reading, and I hope this tip helps you improve your writing in patent applications.


Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Mastering the Art of List Management in Patent Applications

Neil Kardos covers “Mastering the Art of List Management in Patent Applications”, in this Practical Patents short blog.

Today, we’re diving into the practical patents segment with an essential tip on handling lists in patent applications, particularly in the specification section. In our pursuit to create precise, clear, and efficient patent applications, even the way we handle lists can make a significant difference.

Providing lists of items in patent applications has been a long-standing practice to explain terminology or enumerate examples. For instance, “the sensor data may indicate temperature, pressure, speed, etc.”

Notice the use of the term “etc.”, which is quite prevalent in patent drafting. However, this approach could be improved upon. To illustrate this, let’s understand the intention behind using a list in the specification. There are two key points that we aim to convey:

  1. The items in the list serve as examples.
  2. The items in the list can be applied individually or in a combined manner.

“Et cetera,” or its commonly used cousin, “and so forth,” attempt to encompass both these aspects. However, in reality, they fall short. While they do indicate that the list consists of examples, they don’t explicitly mention that the items can be used individually or in combination.

“Et cetera” translates to “and the rest,” and the usage of “and” in the list might suggest that all items are necessary, which is not our intention. So how do we refine our list handling in patent applications?

To address the first point, it’s crucial to explicitly state that the list consists of examples. You could use phrases like “for example,” “in some implementations,” or “such as.”

For the second point, we want to clarify that the items in the list can be applied individually, in groups, or in entirety. My preferred term for this is “and/or,” as it directly represents the concept we’re trying to express. So our initial example transforms into, “For example, the sensor data may indicate temperature, pressure, and/or speed.”

Now, I’m aware that the usage of “and/or” in patent applications might ruffle some feathers in the patent practitioner community. For those who shudder at its mention, there’s an alternative phrase you could use: “or some combination thereof.”

In conclusion, the way we present lists in patent applications holds more weight than we might initially think. Implementing these strategies can significantly enhance the clarity, precision, and overall efficiency of your patent applications.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find these insights helpful on your patent journey!

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Avoiding Anthropomorphizing in Patent Applications

Neil Kardos covers why “Avoiding Anthropomorphizing in Patent Applications” is important, in this Practical Patents short blog.

Today, we will discuss a term that seems out of place in the sphere of patents, yet often finds its way into the discussion: anthropomorphizing.

At its core, anthropomorphizing involves attributing human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities, including animals, natural phenomena, and yes, even devices. While this can serve as an imaginative exercise in storytelling, it can lead to confusion when applied to technical documents, such as patent applications.

When inventors conceive a novel device, they often inadvertently anthropomorphize it. The device might “know” something, or perhaps it “tells” another device something. This language may work as shorthand for internal discussions and preliminary design documents, but it introduces potential inaccuracies and ambiguities when drafting patent applications.

Consider a simple scenario: An inventor may describe a device that “knows” its location. While this is an easy-to-understand description, it is not technically precise. When translated into patent-speak, the device does not “know” anything – it’s an inanimate object, not a sentient being. Rather, the device may store or process information that identifies its location.

Similarly, if a device “tells” another device about its location, we’re again sliding into anthropomorphizing territory. A more precise technical description might be that the device transmits a location identifier to the other device.

Why does this matter? When drafting a patent application, it’s crucial to maintain technical precision. The words and phrases you use in your specification could later be needed for the claims. You want to ensure you’re using language that will stand up under scrutiny and is as clear and precise as possible.

Moreover, when dealing with patent examiners and courts, using language that attributes human qualities to your device could lead to a misunderstanding of its functionality and scope, possibly impacting your patent’s enforceability.

And here’s a bonus tip: Avoid using jargon or excessively long words, like “anthropomorphizing,” in your patent applications. While they might showcase your expansive vocabulary, they do little to enhance clarity. Use simple, clear language that accurately describes your invention and its unique features.

Remember, the goal of a patent application is to clearly define the unique features and operation of your invention. Avoiding anthropomorphizing language helps to ensure the focus stays on the technical and mechanical aspects of your device, aiding in the creation of a robust, enforceable patent.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

How a Track One Patent Filing Could Increase Your Chances of Getting a Patent

Neil Kardos covers “How a Track One Patent Filing Could Increase Your Chances of Getting a Patent” in this Practical Patents short blog.

Here is a compelling reason for you to consider prioritized examination, known as “Track One,” at the USPTO, beyond simply obtaining a patent more quickly. Were you aware that filing a patent application with a Track One request could potentially enhance your likelihood of securing a patent? Our patent analytics team at Harrity conducted a comparison between Track One and non-Track One filings and discovered that Track One patent applications exhibit approximately a 10% higher allowance rate than non-Track One applications.

In the realm of business methods, the allowance rate for Track One applications is notably 21% higher! Now, the pertinent question arises: Is the Track One request directly responsible for this elevated allowance rate, or are patent applications with inherently higher chances of success, owing to their “more patentable” subject matter, more likely to be filed with Track One requests?

In conclusion, it is presumed that it’s a combination of both factors. Theoretically, Track One applications tend to be assigned to seasoned patent examiners who are more inclined to grant patents. Therefore, if you possess a patent application encompassing a significant technological advancement, it would be wise to consider filing it under Track One to heighten your prospects of securing a patent.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Hindsight Bias in Patent Examination: How Language Models Can Help

Derek Abeyta covers “Hindsight Bias in Patent Examination: How Language Models Can Help” in a featured article for IPWatchdog.com.

The article discusses the issue of hindsight bias in the patent examination process and proposes the use of artificial intelligence (AI) models, specifically large language models, to address this problem. Hindsight bias occurs when a patent examiner unknowingly uses their knowledge of the invention to reject a claim as obvious. This can lead to incorrect determinations of obviousness, prolong prosecution, and result in unfair narrowing of independent claims. AI models can help mitigate this bias by providing an objective and consistent standard for determining obviousness. These models can analyze the examiner’s rationale for an obviousness rejection and identify instances of impermissible hindsight, thereby assisting the examiner in providing a more reliable assessment of patentability.

“Language models have the potential to reduce the likelihood of appeals and legal challenges, streamline prosecution, and lead to more consistent and cost-effective patent examination,” Derek says.

The article also highlights the challenge of determining whether an invention would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill at the time of filing and how to overcome this challenge, the potential benefits of using language models, and whether they outweigh the initial costs and cons.

Read the full article to learn if language models offer a promising solution to mitigate hindsight bias, improve the patent examination process, and ensure consistency and objectivity in determining patentability on IPWatchdog.com.

The Importance of Using Commas After “Such As” in Patent Applications

Neil Kardos covers “The Importance of Using Commas after ‘Such As’ in Patent Applications” in this Practical Patents short blog.

As patent applications are legal documents, it is crucial to draft them accurately and without any ambiguity. A common grammatical error that can lead to unintentional narrowing of the scope of a patent application is the improper use of the phrase “such as.” In most cases, the intention of using this phrase is to provide examples of the items listed after it, but failing to use a comma before “such as” can result in the items being considered restrictive clauses and limiting the scope of the application.

For instance, consider the sentence “the network device may transmit packet data, such as a source address or a timestamp.” Here, the intended meaning is that a source address and a timestamp are examples of packet data. However, if there is no comma before “such as,” it becomes a restrictive clause, meaning that only a source address or a timestamp will be considered as packet data, not any other data like a destination address or a packet header.

Using a comma before “such as” can convert the phrase into a non-restrictive clause and make it clear that the items listed after it are only examples and not the only items that can be considered packet data. Therefore, it is essential to include a comma before “such as” to avoid any unintentional narrowing of the scope of a patent application.

In conclusion, patent applications require careful drafting and precise language to avoid any misinterpretation or ambiguity. Proper use of punctuation, especially commas, can help prevent unintentional narrowing of the scope of the application and ensure that the application provides adequate coverage of the invention.

Want more tips? Check out other Practical Patents videos with Neil Kardos here!

Rocky Berndsen Featured in IAM Article: Covid Impact on US Patent Filings

A recent article by Angela Morris for IAM features patent data and insight from Rocky Berndsen, Head of the Harrity Patent Analytics Team. Using the annual Patent 300® report, Rocky provides reasoning for the apparent decline in patents from major players since the start of Covid.

“The slide in patent grants means something, according to Rocky Berndsen, head of patent analytics at Harrity & Harrity, which conducted the data analysis.

First, it could be indicative of changing prosecution patterns. ‘Thinking back, 2020 was the covid year. It was really when it started hitting and we all had the shut-downs. But some of the impact is showing in the 2021 data. We had a drop-off in 2021 as a result of what was happening in 2020. There is a lag that happens in the patent field with filings and prosecution budgets,’ explains Berndsen.”

Read the full article at HERE.

Learn more about our patent analytics capabilities by visiting the Harrity Analytics site HERE.

Harrity Featured in Bloomberg Law: Moving the Needle

Harrity & Harrity has recently been recognized by Bloomberg Law for our diversity initiatives, specifically with respect to increasing the representation of African-American/Black women within patent law.

The article, Black Women Lawyers Still Sparsely Seen at Federal Circuit, refers to Harrity as a law firm focused on moving the needle by creating programs that target the pipeline problem of a lack of women and minorities sitting for the patent bar, including quotes from Diversity Co-Chair, Elaine Spector, on our Patent Pathways program.

“Harrity & Harrity LP—after conducting a diversity and inclusion study that found that there are more patent attorneys and agents named “Michael” than there are racially diverse women in those roles in the US—launched a program to register more Black women as patent practitioners.

The initiative, called Patent Pathways, starts this summer. Harrity & Harrity will help women who complete the program find law firm jobs afterward. The inaugural program’s 20 participants could ‘move the needle quickly,’ said Elaine Spector, a Harrity partner leading Patent Pathways.

‘We want to make sure that innovation is expanded across all of our populations,” Spector said. ‘Women and racially diverse inventors are inventing or showing up on patents at a lower rate, and there is that correlation, to make sure that they can go to attorneys that represent them.'”

Patent Pathways is a Diversity & Inclusion Program dedicated to increasing numbers of registered African-American/Black women patent attorneys and agents through free patent skills training, mentoring, career counseling, and expenses paid to prepare for and take the patent bar exam. This program was created to help address the significant lack of diversity found in IP Law.

To learn more about the Patent Pathways program, click HERE.

Click HERE to read the full article by Samantha Handler.

Elaine Spector Featured in ChIPs for World IP Day

Harrity’s Elaine Spector was recently featured in a blog by ChIPs in celebration of World IP Day.

The organization shared what World IP Day means to their ChIPsters, and what needs to happen to make the theme of this year, IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future, a reality.

Elaine’s feature can be found below.

What are the opportunities to continue to increase access for young women inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs in intellectual property? 

“In recent years, we have learned through numerous studies that women are not showing up on patents in proportion to their representation in the workforce. And that’s a loss for all of us.  

 In fact, the Hamilton Project found that bringing more women, Black Americans and other underrepresented groups into the innovation process could increase GDP by more than 4%. We all win when these groups are informed about our amazing patent system and given the amazing tools to become a part of the innovation ecosystem.  

 As such, it is important for us in the innovation ecosystem to reach back to young women to provide them with the information, tools, and resources to innovate, create, and protect their intellectual property. Consider hosting an outreach event to expose these young women to intellectual property, whether it be presenting through organizations like the Girls Scouts or Girls Who Code.  To truly make a difference, we need “all hands on deck!” 

Elaine Spector, Member, ChIPs Washington, DC Chapter, Partner, Harrity & Harrity, LLP  

Click HERE to read the full article.

Harrity Recognized for DEI Initiatives

Harrity & Harrity has recently been recognized by IM-Media, in their article “Closing diversity gaps in patenting: current initiatives and the HP perspective” for it’s many DEI initiatives – in particular, the Patent Pathways program which Harrity is helping to launch the first iteration of this program Summer 2022.

Patent Pathways is a Diversity & Inclusion Program dedicated to increasing numbers of registered African-American/Black women patent attorneys and agents. This program was created to help address the significant lack of diversity found in IP Law.

To learn more about the Patent Pathways program, click HERE.

Click HERE to read the full article.

Track One Filings on Faster Track?

Are Track One Filings on a Faster Track?

By Neil Kardos, Partner

Does filing a Track One prioritized examination request increase the chances of getting a patent? I discussed this idea in a recent Practical Patents video, and below is a chart of the data broken down by USPTO technology center.

Track One applications have a higher allowance rate compared to non-Track One applications across all technology centers, ranging from a 7% boost to a 21% boost.

The boost from Track One is particularly significant (16%-21%) in technology areas with lower allowance rates, like chemical, biotech, and business methods.

Of course, correlation is not causation. Does filing a Track One request boost the chances of getting a patent, or are patent applications that already have a higher chance of success being filed with Track One requests?

My guess: it’s a bit of both.

What do you think?

Learn more about our patent analytics capabilities by visiting the Harrity Analytics site HERE.

Harrity Names Ryan Thelen as Newest Partner

Congratulations to Harrity’s newest Partner, Ryan Thelen!

(WASHINGTON, DC)  Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a leading patent law firm based in Fairfax, VA, is pleased to announce the promotion of Ryan Thelen to the position of Partner with the firm. Harrity & Harrity operates nationwide, with 37 total patent attorneys and agents across 26 states. Ryan is Harrity’s 8th Partner and first promotion of 2022.

Ryan has been with Harrity since 2018. His practice focuses on the preparation and prosecution of patent applications in various fields, such as telecommunications, networking, software, semiconductors, cloud computing, automation, data analytics, and security. He has been instrumental in landing, onboarding, and managing one of the firm’s largest clients and is regularly involved in firm innovation and best practice implementation. Ryan is an active member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and PTAB Bar Association.

“It is an honor to be a part of the leadership of such an amazing firm with such a bright future. I could tell right away when I first joined Harrity that this firm was going to be very different from other firms because how amazing the support staff is and the level of training that was provided. Everyone here really cares about the success of others and the firm as a whole. I am really grateful to be given the opportunity to pay it forward and to help the firm continue to grow,” said Ryan of his new position.

Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Ryan practiced in-house at Panduit Corp. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. While in-house, Ryan gained extensive experience in patent portfolio management, product clearance, invention disclosure mining, infringement analysis, and post-grant proceedings before the Patent Trial & Appeal Board. Prior to his work in-house, Ryan worked at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, & Dunner as well as Arent Fox while attending law school in the evenings.

Ryan received his Juris Doctor with honors from The George Washington University Law School (2016) and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Kettering University (2008).  Prior to starting his legal career, Ryan was a project engineer for United Technologies in the UTC Aerospace Systems business unit, where he led teams of engineers in the development of commercial and military aircraft engines.

Ryan works remotely out of Flushing, MI, where he lives with his wife and three young daughters.


About Harrity & Harrity, LLP

Harrity & Harrity is a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm specializing in the electrical and mechanical technology areas, with a focus on giving back through its Harrity 4 Charity program and many diversity initiatives. Harrity is considered a Go-To Firm for the Patent 300™ and their clients trust in their high-quality work, experienced people, industry leading innovation, and outstanding service.

For more information on Harrity’s analytics, automation, and patent services, firm culture, and current openings, please visit harrityllp.com.

Making Technology Part of Your Strategic Planning, Featuring Neil Kardos

Harrity is focused on providing high-quality work to our clients in a timely & efficient manner, a lot of which comes down to our people.

Legal Management, the magazine of Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), recently featured interviews with Neil KardosJohn Remsen, Jr., and other law experts on the implementation of technology in the legal practice as a way to improve efficiency, deliver better service, and increase profitability – and the associated obstacles with making technology part of your strategic planning.

“Having an adaptable workforce is usually the bigger challenge over finding the right tools,” Kardos says.

Check out all of their advice in the full article by Mark Brewer at http://ow.ly/ZyLT50Gu3N9.


Harrity Welcomes Four Outstanding Patent Professionals

Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a leading patent preparation and prosecution firm in the electrical and mechanical space, is excited to announce the addition of four experienced patent professionals. Over the last six months, Harrity has welcomed Jim Nuxoll, Thomas Hartin, Christopher Wen, and Christopher Dawson to the firm. With over five decades of combined experience across a variety of complex technologies, including semiconductors and 5G networks, each hire is a valuable addition to the team. “At Harrity, we handpick every single individual to join our firm. To say that we are excited to have these four superstars on our team is an understatement,” Managing Partner Paul Harrity says of the firm’s recent growth. 

Learn more about the new Harrity team members below.  


Jim Nuxoll | Working remotely from Idaho (Joined June 7, 2021) 

Jim Nuxoll is a registered patent agent has over twenty-five years of experience in the semiconductor industry, including having served on Micron Technology’s patent committee. He is a listed inventor on nine U.S. patents and has extensive experience in drafting and preparing patent applications covering various aspects in the field of semiconductors, as well as prosecuting patent applications in the U.S. as well as non-U.S. jurisdictions.   

Learn more about Jim Nuxoll here. 


Thomas Hartin | Working remotely from New York (Joined August 9, 2021) 

Thomas Hartin is a registered patent attorney and a member of the firm’s patent prosecution team with a focus on helping large technology companies build valuable, high-quality patent portfolios in an efficient manner. In this role, he develops and implements best practices for managing workflow and innovative, data-driven patent prosecution strategies for reaching favorable results at the USPTO. Thomas has 7 years of experience in the patent field, with experience in patent litigation, as well as preparing and prosecuting hundreds of patent applications related to telecommunications, computer software, consumer cable products and technologies, networking devices, data privacy, and the Internet of Things. 

Learn more about Thomas Hartin here. 


Christopher Wen | Working remotely from Michigan (Joined September 27, 2021) 

Chris Wen is a registered patent attorney with nearly a decade of experience whose practice includes assisting clients obtain patent rights in the U.S. and abroad.  His experience covers a variety of technologies, including various types of mechanical and electro-mechanical devices, among others. Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Chris was a partner at an intellectual property boutique firm in the metro-Detroit area where he worked on a wide array of patent and other intellectual property matters. 

Learn more about Chris Wen here. 


Christopher Dawson | Working remotely from Kansas (Joined October 11, 2021) 

Chris Dawson is a registered patent attorney with over a decade of experience in patent preparation and prosecution, intellectual property litigation, and technology transactions. He has extensive experience drafting patent applications directed to computer software, telecommunications, power generation and alternative energy, aerospace, LED and lighting, consumer electronics, and many other technologies. 

Prior to joining Harrity & Harrity, Chris was a partner in a Midwest-based intellectual property boutique firm, where he represented clients through all phases of intellectual property procurement and enforcement. 

Learn more about Chris Dawson here. 


Ask A Mentor: How Do I Negotiate Long-Term Flex Work?

 Ask A Mentor: How Do I Negotiate Long-Term Flex Work? 

By Elaine Spector (September 16, 2021) 

Experts answer questions on career and workplace conundrums in this Law360 Pulse guest column series. Have a question you’re afraid to ask your law firm chair, practice area leader or mentor? Submit it anonymously here. 

In this installment, Harrity & Harrity LLP’s Elaine Spector offers advice on how attorneys can negotiate a flexible work arrangement that preserves their opportunity to advance professionally at a firm and safeguards their partnership prospects.

Q: As a parent who has enjoyed better work-life balance when working from home, how can I negotiate a flexible work arrangement with my law firm, and ensure the arrangement doesn’t hinder my career advancement, as we plan returning to the office? —Associate at midsize firm 

Women have been advocating for change with regard to work-life flexibility for years. Prior to the pandemic, many law firms were reluctant to allow remote work. Often, law firms equate lawyers who want to work remotely with a lack of commitment. As such, if a law firm actually agreed to a remote work arrangement, the lawyer working remotely would often be taken off the partnership track. And then the pandemic hit. Employers, including law firms, were forced to allow their lawyers to work from home. And what did they discover? That lawyers, as professionals, were able to be just as efficient and effective at home. In fact, many firms discovered that billable hours actually increased, as the pandemic eliminated commuting time and other commitments. However, many law firms are still reluctant to embrace the flexibility that would allow working parents, especially women, to thrive both at home and in the office. As offices begin opening back up, here are five tips for negotiating a flexible work arrangement that does not hinder your career advancement.

1. Determine your firm’s revised COVID-19 remote work policy. Before you begin your negotiations, determine your firm’s current remote work policy. Some law firms have taken the initiative to revise these policies prior to opening offices back up. It could be that your law firm has a modified policy that allows for remote work due to health and safety reasons born out of the pandemic, particularly one that does not take you off the partnership track, that you are unaware of. If your firm has not revised its policy or does not formally allow a remote work option, that fact alone doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate one. I was able to negotiate a remote work schedule when my children were very young. It happened during a job transition. A partner that I worked for in the past wanted me to join his new firm. At our first discussion, I asked him if they allowed for a remote work schedule. I was living in Baltimore, and knew that commuting to the District of Columbia five days a week was a deal breaker for me. He said he didn’t know, but that he would find out. The next day he got back to me and indicated that they could accommodate a remote work schedule for my situation. However, if I had not asked, I would not have been offered the option to work from home. So, don’t be afraid to ask about a remote work schedule when it is not clearly offered. You won’t know what options you can negotiate if you do not try.

2. Do exceptional work — become indispensable. It might go without saying that doing exceptional work provides you with a negotiation advantage. Your negotiating power increases dramatically when you do exceptional work and become indispensable to your firm. Not only should your legal work be exceptional, but it is also important to spend time thinking about how you can be a contributor at your firm. Look for high-value, low-commitment opportunities to get involved. This might mean taking on a mentoring role, joining firm committees, planning firm activities, representing your firm in the legal community, participating in external events and more. Designating just 30 minutes per week, whenever possible, to contribute to your firm’s initiatives allows you to maintain work-life balance while making yourself more valuable. Firms are more willing to negotiate with lawyers that they want to keep.

3. Be clear with your intentions. It is imperative to make clear your intentions to stay on the partnership track despite wanting flexibility to work from home after offices reopen. Although I was able to negotiate a remote work schedule, I was not clear with my intention to stay on the partnership track at my previous firm. This led to challenges in my ability to climb the ladder, like many women on flexible schedules face. When I interviewed for my current firm, I explicitly asked how working a remote and reduced-hour schedule would affect my ability to become partner. This outlined my intentions for the interviewer and compelled them to provide a clear answer about whether I would be treated differently based on my flexible status, rather than on my skills. Fortunately, I was told that it would not affect my partnership track whatsoever — a response that held up when I made partner just two years later. Do make it clear in your negotiation that working remotely does not equal a lack of commitment or a desire to abandon the partnership track, or whichever other career goals you are working toward.

4. Stay connected virtually. Relationship-building is the core of culture, inclusion and, ultimately, success at your firm. It is critical to continue to build relationships in the remote work environment. If you plan to work remotely either a few days a week or full time, I recommend having weekly virtual video meetings with the members at your firm you would typically interact with in an office setting. This type of face-to-face interaction is so much more engaging than a telephone call, as we have all experienced during the pandemic, and can allow for better communication through gesture and expression. When holding the video call, put an emphasis on personal connection. You can talk about your life to whatever extent you feel comfortable sharing, whether it be your weekend, your family or a new TV show, just as you would in the office. This watercooler talk, untied to any pressing work matters, will transform your internal relationships.

5. Find a firm that supports your family values and career goals. I began working remotely a few years before the pandemic hit. My firm allows for any lawyer at the firm, regardless of the numbers of hours they work or whether they show the requisite face time in the office, to make partner. And I did — remotely. Many of my female colleagues at other firms have reached out to me to ask: How can we keep the remote work going? How do we continue to develop relationships and culture within our firm? And how can someone make partner while working remotely? It is wonderful to be at a firm that unequivocally supports remote, flexible work. If your firm does not support a remote work schedule and is unwilling to compromise after you have a candid conversation, it may be time to consider switching employers. Regardless of your stature at your current firm, if they do not respect your need for flexibility, it will be hard to be fulfilled. 

Be open about finding a law firm that supports you where you are and what you need to be happy. After all, happy workers are more productive workers. As a mom who just dropped off her first child at college, I know that the time you have with your children is limited. Don’t ever sacrifice that time for a rigid policy of your employer. So many law firms are embracing this new way of working. Why be stuck at firm that is living in the dark ages?

Conclusion It is far past time to shift perspectives from the old, rigid mindset of the traditional firm, to one that embraces a more diverse and flexible workforce — one where we, as parents, don’t have to give up the important job of raising our children, while also providing top-quality service to our clients. Lawyers should not be excluded from partnership because they work remotely or are on flexible schedules. An attorney can contribute just as much to the success and advancement of the firm, its culture and its future without physically being in the office. In fact, the benefits of working a flexible schedule may contribute to more growth and innovation in the firm. Flexibility is essential for advancing talented women and other lawyers seeking balance in their life and careers. Good luck with your negotiations! 

Read more at Law360.com.



Law360 Analysis: Retiring Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley ft. Eli Mazour

In Praising O’Malley, Attys Call For District Judge To Fill Seat

By Ryan Davis

Harrity Partner Eli Mazour is featured in Law360’s recent analysis regarding retiring Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley as an IP expert..

Law360 (July 28, 2021, 9:43 PM EDT) — Retiring Federal Circuit Judge Kathleen O’Malley is the only member of the court who has served as a district judge, a background that attorneys say provided a necessary perspective that informed her incisive decisions and that they hope to see in her eventual replacement…

“Judge O’Malley’s departure will likely be cause for concern among patent owners, said Eli Mazour of Harrity & Harrity LLP, because she was viewed as more pro-patent than other Federal Circuit judges, particularly on the issue of patent eligibility.”

Read more on what Eli and the other experts have to say at Law360.com.



IPWatchdog on Who Should Head the USPTO, ft. Eli Mazour

The Right Choice: IP Stakeholders Emphasize Practical Experience, Strong IP Advocacy in Next USPTO Head

By Gene Quinn

Harrity Partner Eli Mazour is featured in IPWatchdog’s recent article as an IP expert regarding what the profile of the next USPTO Director should look like.

January 26, 2021 (IPWatchdog) At 12:00pm EST on January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th President. Over the next several months he and his staff will be working to fill thousands of positions within the federal government that have become vacant due to resignations. This is normal and expected. At the end of each presidential term all presidential appointees offer their resignation, which can then either be accepted or not at the discretion of the President.

The position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as well as Deputy, is now vacant. Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld has been vested with the authority to act with the powers of the Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and Director of the USPTO, although he has not been given the title Acting Director. This is almost certainly due to the fact that no one in the federal government can hold a title of Acting head of an agency for more than 270 days.

In our space, the position of Under Secretary and Director of the USPTO is a front-line, top-level position. In the greater political scheme, it is likely we will not have an appointee for many months. President Obama did not nominate David Kappos until June 18 and President Trump did not nominate Andrei Iancu until August 26.

There are many capable people—all realistic, based on party affiliation—who should be considered by the Biden Administration for nomination as Under Secretary of Commerce for IP, but in my opinion several names stand out above everyone else based on their background, ties with the tech sector, and what appears to be a preference on the part of President Biden (at least so far) to appoint those with close ties to the Obama Administration and longstanding ties to the Democratic party..

See these suggestions, and what Eli and the other experts have to say on IPwatchdog.com.



IPWatchdog: Wish Upon a Star ft. Eli Mazour

Wish Upon a Star: Experts Share Their Wildest IP Dreams for 2021

Harrity Partner Eli Mazour is featured in IPWatchdog’s recent article as an IP expert.

January 4, 2021 (IPWatchdog) We have already published industry roundups on the biggest moments in IP for 2020 and predictions and thoughts for 2021. But the longest running industry insider feature on IPWatchdog is our annual “wishes” article. Each year, we invite stakeholders to share their wildest IP dreams and wishes for the coming year.

Unlike our Predictions and What Mattered roundups, this series allows our experts to get creative. The responses may have nothing to do with what is likely to happen, but rather gives commenters a chance to explain how 2021 would unfold in their dream scenario. This year, responses remained fairly grounded in reality, with the possible exceptions of hope for clarity on Section 101 law and other issues from the Supreme Court and that Andrei Iancu will remain USPTO Director under future President Biden…

See what Eli and the other experts have to say on IPwatchdog.com.



Patents for Humanity

By Edward Kim, Harrity Associate

Some time ago, in discussing humanitarian efforts and engineering, a friend of mine told me about a concept project he worked on to create a new iteration of the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC), an all-terrain wheelchair manufactured by Global Research Innovation and Technology (GRIT).  The original LFC was created by engineering graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to allow people with disabilities in developing countries to gain mobility and independence.  Conventional wheelchairs didn’t function well on the rugged terrain and rough local roads, and most were difficult and expensive to maintain.  The three-wheeled LFC uses a push-lever drivetrain to help people navigate over rugged terrain with ease and is built from commonly found bicycle parts to allow easy maintenance and repair.  Naturally, being an intellectual property professional, I started looking into patents related to the LFC.

That’s when I first discovered Patents for Humanity, an awards competition hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  The creators of the LFC secured US Patent No. 8,844,959 in 2014 and was awarded a Patents for Humanity award in the subsequent year.  Nearly a decade has passed since the program itself started, but little is known about it.  Given the current situation with the global pandemic, and the season of giving around us, I thought it might be timely to share some information about the awards competition with our network of IP professionals.

Patents for Humanity was launched in February 2012 as part of an initiative to promote “game-changing innovations to address long-standing development challenges” and showcase how patent holders are pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions for the less fortunate.  Awards have been given for innovations that range from Golden Rice that’s genetically enhanced to provide a source of vitamin A for people relying mainly on rice to the LFC to compact human wastewater converters called NEWgenerator.

Two types of awards are given – Patents for Humanity awards and Honorable Mentions awards.  Patents for Humanity award recipients are given an acceleration certificate, and of course, public recognition of their work at an awards ceremony sponsored by the USPTO.  The certificate can be used to accelerate a patent application examination, ex parte reexamination, and ex parte appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.*  Honorable Mentions award recipients receive accelerated examination of one patent application but not other types of matters.

The program is open to patent owners, applicants, licensees (including inventors who haven’t assigned their ownership rights to others), assignees, and exclusive and non-exclusive licensees.  Applicants must describe how they’ve used their patented technology or products to address a humanitarian issue, which, for the competition purposes, is defined as “one significantly affecting the public health or quality of life of an impoverished population.”

Applicants using a patent application as a basis for entry to the competition must show that a Notice of Allowance for one or more claims from that patent application has been issued before any certificate is awarded.  Applicants mainly compete in the following five categories:

  • Medicine: any medical-related technology such as medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, or medical devices.
  • Nutrition: technologies which improve nutrition such as higher yield crops, more nutritious food sources, food preservation, storage, or preparation.
  • Sanitation: improving lives by addressing environmental factors such as clean water, waste treatment, air pollution, and toxic substances.
  • Household energy: technologies providing power to energy-poor homes and communities for household needs like lighting, cooking, and heating.
  • Living standards: technologies that raise living standards to empower people to escape poverty, such as literacy, education, communications, information delivery, access to markets, and microfinance.

Applicants may also team together to submit joint applications explaining actions taken by multiple parties.  However, only one certificate will be issued to the joint applicants, and the certificate can be redeemed for only one matter.

The applications are then judged under one of two criteria: (1) Humanitarian Use (applying eligible technologies to positively impact a humanitarian issue, focusing on demonstrable real-world improvements) and (2) Humanitarian Research (making available patented technologies to other researchers for conducting research with a humanitarian purpose, particularly areas lacking commercial application).

The applications are reviewed and scored by qualified judges outside of the USPTO, and the USPTO forwards the top-scoring applications to participating federal agencies for award recipient recommendations.

As we prepare to bid farewell to a year that will live in infamy, I think it’s fitting to recognize this year’s award recipients: Global Vision 2020; Sisu Global; Sanaria Inc; Flexcrevator; NEWgenerator; Nonspec; Rubitection; and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Congratulations!  Perhaps, now more than ever, we need and should honor more innovation that makes progress in human lives.  Keep an eye out for the next awards competition application period.

More information about the Patents for Humanity awards competition can be found at:


For those interested in the details of the Terms and Conditions:



*Inter partes matters and other post-grant proceedings may not be accelerated with the certificate at this time.


Law360: Harrity & Harrity Launches Academy To Diversify Patent Law

Law360 (December 23, 2020, 4:20 PM EST) — To address some of the issues underlying a lack of diversity in patent law, Harrity & Harrity LLP has announced a new set of free classes the firm hopes will inspire more patent lawyers from underrepresented populations.

The Harrity Academy, which the midsize firm launched this fall, consists of three Zoom classes that will convene throughout 2021. Ranging from four to eight weeks in length, the three classes address different aspects of patent law and range in scope depending on the participants’ experience. Each course will be led by a Harrity & Harrity attorney and has 20 spots available, the press release says. The program also includes mentorship and breakout sessions for more individualized attention…

Read the full article on Law 360 here.



John Harrity Interviewed for Law360: How 7 IP Firms Weathered The COVID-19 Pandemic

Law360 (December 21, 2020, 4:47 PM EST) — Intellectual property firms ranging from just a handful of lawyers to several hundred attorneys said the COVID-19 pandemic was a logistical curveball, but their industry has largely been insulated from the worst of the pandemic’s financial woes.

Law360 spoke with seven IP firms that span in size and location to get a snapshot of how the novel coronavirus pandemic impacted the industry, including Harrity’s John Harrity.

“Harrity & Harrity’s staff was already three-quarters remote before the pandemic hit, said John Harrity.

‘We were ready for it,’ he said. ‘We were already paperless — we had done that several years ago. It was probably as seamless a transition for us as possible.’

He said the firm has been continuously growing, and with a dozen new attorneys added in 2020, it marked its biggest year for hiring.

While Harrity said the firm had always allowed for flexibility with attorneys, such as letting them choose their own hours, it extended that same freedom to support staff during the pandemic.

‘[We’re letting them start] as late as 3 p.m. so that they could do their homeschooling if they have young kids and then start their day after that’s over,’ he said. ‘We’re put in this really awkward position with this, especially with virtual learning. If you have small kids, what are you supposed to do? We didn’t want our parents to have to choose between teaching their kids or working. We gave them an opportunity to be able to keep doing both.’

The patent preparation and prosecution specialists say they’ve seen particular growth in the telecom sector, which has blown up in the remote work environment.

Internally, the firm has used that remote technology to try and keep its employees connected to each other, including with virtual happy hours and live meditation sessions.

‘It’s necessary during a situation [like] we’re in — the inherent stress that’s involved with the pandemic and the uncertainty that’s around it,’ Harrity said.”

Read the full article here.



Joe Lentivech – An Ex-PTAB Judge on Ex-Parte Appeals: Clause 8, Episode 23

How does the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) actually operate? What does it take to win an ex parte appeal? When should you request an oral hearing? What are the chances of the PTAB reversing a Section 101 rejection? How do you become an Administrative Patent Judge?

In this latest episode of Clause 8, I speak with former Administrative Patent Judge Joe Lentivech to get answers to these questions. He’s not only an expert in how the PTAB operates, but also a master storyteller.

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Maximize Your Patent Portfolio Using Helferich-Style Claims

By Michael Woodward, Harrity Associate

Patent owners often obtain patents to protect products, as well as complementary products or use cases associated with those products. However, when selling or licensing the patented products, a patent owner may inadvertently extinguish potential revenue streams associated with the complementary use cases due to the doctrine of patent exhaustion.

Patent exhaustion follows the basic idea that if a company sells or licenses a patented product to a buyer, the company cannot sue the buyer (or a third party that the buyer provides the patented product to under the license) for patent infringement for using the product. Patent owners should take care when preparing and licensing patents to ensure that infringement claims for complementary products or use cases associated with patented products are not exhausted by the sale or licensing of the patented products, as shown by the Federal Circuit case of Helferich Patent Licensing v. New York Times, 778 F.3D 1293 (Fed. Cir. 2015)…

Keep reading on IPwatchdog.com.



Automation in the Patent Field: From Fantasy to Reality

By Robert O’Loughlin, Harrity Associate

Before joining Harrity & Harrity, LLP at the beginning of 2020, I would have summarily dismissed the fairy tale that I could be drafting even half as many patent applications as I am regularly drafting today.  But, alas, here I am, bringing the tale to life.

Harrity, as a firm, has mastered a number of factors that play a large role in taking patent application drafting efficiency from fantasy to reality.  Such factors include, for example, employing a uniform writing style across the firm; utilizing a well-organized and uniform second attorney review structure that serves as the gatekeeper for the high level of quality that Harrity’s clients have come to expect from every piece of work product; having attorneys exclusively draft or prosecute applications to focus on and maximize each attorney’s strengths; and incentivizing efficiency with a pay-per-production compensation model.

One particular factor that deserves attention, however, is Harrity’s development and utilization of proprietary automation software.  It certainly has been no secret, as the decades have worn on, that automating tasks can greatly improve efficiency and, as a result, significantly increase output.  And it is no different in the world of patent application drafting.  Automation also improves the quality of the output, and it frees up an attorney to focus on the more substantive aspects of the application.  The automation software, known as Patent Draftr, at my disposal has been game-changing and has played no small role in making my decision to join Harrity life-changing.

Gone are the days of creating and maintaining folder after folder of template applications, file after file of template drawings, and page after page of boilerplate language.  The automation software (“the tools” as we so affectionately refer to them) takes care of these things.  With two or three mouse clicks to select options from a pull-down menu plugged right into my word processing user interface, I can generate a new patent application document, pre-filled with boilerplate language, templates for frequently used descriptions, client-approved formatting, and flags clearly identifying locations that require my attention.  Indeed, in many cases, even many of the personal preferences of a particular client or in-house attorney may already be incorporated into the document from those first two or three mouse clicks.

A few more clicks of the mouse gets me access to a library of client-specific, frequently-used drawings and drawing descriptions.  In the past, building the skeleton of a patent application meant searching for a previously drafted application that described similar subject matter, skimming the application for relevant language and/or drawings, copying the relevant material, pasting it into the new application, changing reference numbers to match the new figures, and removing material specific to the application from which I copied the material.  That process was only slightly more efficient than writing the entire application from scratch.  Now, a few clicks and I’m off and running.

A click here and a click there is all that is required to cause mirrored claim sets directed to statutory subject matter classes of my choice to appear in the document.  Just as easily, I can cause preliminary descriptions of flow charts to populate the document.  Summary paragraphs and an abstract also are mere mouse clicks away.  Before I even place my fingers on the keyboard, Patent Draftr may have prepared more than half the document for me.

I was skeptical at first, but have come to be a believer in “the tools.”  They fit seamlessly within the Harrity workflow to make my life infinitely easier than the days of old.  But I am not the only one that benefits from the “the tools” and the system in which they are employed.  Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries are the clients.  By automating portions of the patent application preparation process that tend to be otherwise menial tasks, “the tools” allow me to focus my time on the most important aspects of the application preparation – the aspects for which my skills and experience are most useful – understanding the invention, drafting the claims, and carefully describing the details of the invention.  The results: (1) a high quality, valuable, and thorough patent application; and (2) a stress-free patent attorney that can spend the evening resting and looking forward to doing it all over again the next day.



Core Wireless: Parsing the Data on Enforcement Trends Three Years On

By Alexander Zajac, Harrity Associate

To many patent practitioners, the Federal Circuit’s decision in Core Wireless Licensing S.A.R.L. v. LG Electronics, Inc. was a watershed moment. In particular, this decision provided that claims directed to “display interfaces” that “improved” on existing interfaces were patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In other words, Core Wireless decreased the chances of a court finding a graphical user interface (GUI) patent to be directed to ineligible subject matter and therefore invalid.

We don’t have to look far to see the impact that the nearly-three-year-old Core Wireless decision has had. Almost 100 district court decisions have cited the case since it came down in January of 2019, and nearly 30 inter partes review (IPR) proceedings filed after January of 2019 include citations of Core Wireless by practitioners, the Board, or both…

Keep reading on IPwatchdog.com.



Brad Watts – Section 101 Reform Efforts in the 116th Congress: Clause 8, Episode 22

Brad Watts is the Majority Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Under the leadership of Senator Thom Tillis, Brad Watts has led the effort to fix the Section 101 patent eligibility mess.

A series of Supreme Court decisions over the last decade have caused enormous confusion and uncertainty with regard to patent eligibility. After the 2018 midterm elections, to the relief of many in the innovation community, Senators Thom Tillis and Chris Coons requested to reinstate the Senate Subcommittee on IP to fix this issue. The process for reforming 101 included a framework released in April 2019, a bipartisan, bicameral draft bill released in May 2019, and an unprecedented three days of hearings with 45 witnesses representing almost every imaginable view on the subject.

At the end of those hearings, Sen. Tillis said “I want to do this quickly . . . I think we can review the record and make changes, garner consensus, and introduce a final bill sometime after the July 4 recess.”  That never happened.

In an IP Watchdog interview earlier this year, Sen Tillis explained that the Section 101 reform “process stalled because stakeholders refused to compromise.”

What happened? Is the effort to reform Section 101 really over? Why did the effort fail in this Congress? What should the innovation community do help revive the effort? Is there a possibility of a narrow medical diagnostics fix that is likely to lead many others pushing for reform disappointed?

In this episode, I speak with Brad about what really happened during this last attempt at reform, why it wasn’t successful, where to go from here, and much more.

Some of the topics discussed:

  • How Capitol Hill staffers learn about IP issues
  • Influence of Professor David Taylor’s research about the current patent eligibility jurisprudence and its negative impact on investment
  • What prompted Sen. Tillis to focus on patent eligibility reform and restart the Senate Subcommittee on IP
  • Process laid out by Sen. Tillis for patent eligibility reform legislation
  • Why everyone who wanted to engage in good faith was invited to be part of the process
  • Whether goal was to pass bill this Congress or to start a multi-Congress effort
  • Bad faith efforts to stop patent eligibility reform and why even some opponents of patent eligibility reform might have legitimate points
  • How the bipartisan, bicameral draft bill released in May 2019 was drafted – involvement of staffers Jamie Simpson, Phil (Phillip) Warrick, and Tom (Thomas) Stoll and the principals
  • Possibility of narrow diagnostics-only fix for Section 101 and why Sen. Tillis is open to it
  • Why Sen. Tillis never introduced a bill after the 3 day of hearings
  • How stakeholders can reach consensus with regards to patent eligibility to make reform possible
  • Continued work on patent eligibility reform
  • How stakeholders can and should communicate their position and concerns to Sen. Tillis and their own Senators about IP issues in general

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Diversity in Patent Law: A Data Analysis of Diversity in the Patent Practice by Technology Background and Region

Harrity’s Elaine Spector and LaTia Brand provide a deep-dive analysis of the lack of diversity in the patent practice for the American Bar Association’s Landslide® Magazine. Read the full article here:


Diversity in Patent Law

Professor Adam Mossoff – Academics in IP: Clause 8, Episode 21

When Eli first started practicing in the late aughts, he found that a lot of what he was seeing about patents in various academic papers and studies, on Capitol Hill, and even in Supreme Court decisions, didn’t really reflect the reality of what he was seeing in practice, talking to innovators. In contrast, Professor Adam Mossoff’s compelling work, including articles in various general interest newspapers, stood out.  Not surprisingly, he is largely responsible for providing the intellectual foundation that has helped shift the anti-patent narrative.  So, it was a huge honor to talk to someone who not only helped shape Eli’s own thinking about patent and IP policy issues but has really shaped the current debates in Washington, DC about these issues.

Professor Mossoff is currently Professor of Law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, and a Visiting Intellectual Property Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

On this episode, Professor Mossoff and Eli discuss academics’ impact on IP policy and many other subjects, including:

  • how Richard Epstein influenced Professor Mossoff’s scholarship,
  • how the ideals of classical liberalism relate to intellectual property rights,
  • the debate among conservatives and libertarians regarding IP issues,
  • what’s wrong about framing IP rights as being all about providing incentives,
  • the Supreme Court’s approach to patent cases,
  • why Congress and the executive branch – not the Supreme Court – are the better path for improving America’s patent system,
  • “Why Do Law Professors Do What They Do?”
  • how law school professors influence the patent policy debate,
  • how trade organizations try to shape the patent policy debate by using law professors and other prominent attorneys,
  • importance of law school professors making it clear when they’re acting as advocates v. as academics,
  • navigating junk science studies/statistical claims about the patent system,
  • importance of engaging in a positive research agenda about the patent system instead of just reacting to bad scholarship,
  • empirical research overwhelmingly contradicting the patent holdup theory over the last 10 years,
  • educating Congressman Darrell Issa and the importance of having evidence and data on your side,
  • contradiction of China strengthening its own patent system while continuing to steal IP from other countries and having no rule of law otherwise,
  • the unprecedented response by the pharmaceutical industry to the COVID?19 pandemic thanks to the foundation previously created by America’s patent system,
  • how current changes to the patent system can undermine a similar response to the future,
  • and much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Bruce MacEwen – Adam Smith, Esq.: Clause 8, Episode 20

On the latest episode of the Clause 8 podcast, Eli interviews Bruce MacEwen – the founder and president of Adam Smith, Esq. Bruce is recognized as the world’s leading expert on the economics of law firms, has written thousands of articles on the subject, and provides advice to select firms about how to succeed in the changing legal landscape.

The Great Recession spurred lots of talk about innovation, technology, alternative fee arrangements, new compensation structures, and countless of other ways that law firms need to change. However, the economic boom that followed has allowed “Big Law” firms to continue to thrive without making any substantial changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused painful flashbacks for many law firm leaders who previously led their firms through the Great Recession. At the same time, the continued uncertainty and uneven impact on the economy, has made it much more difficult for law firms to decide what steps need to be taken. For example, in the IP field, there was an initial slowdown of litigation work while patent prosecution work remained relatively stable.

Eli reached out to Bruce to get his thoughts about how law firms have been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, what law firm leaders should be thinking about while navigating this moment in time, and the business of law in general.

On this episode, Eli and Bruce discuss:

  • Why Bruce thought there was something off about law firms by Thanksgiving of his first year as an associate
  • How companies select & manage outside counsel
  • Tension of building in-house law departments v. relying on outside counsel
  • Why law firms refuse to do recession scenario planning
  • Surprising nimbleness of law firms
  • Law firms being much more thoughtful and humane in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic than they were during the “Great Financial Reset of 2008”
  • Why successful law firm partners can be dynamite for law firms
  • Rethinking real estate needs of law firms
  • Different law firm models – “Best-in-breed” law firms v. full-service law firms
  • Boutiques and benefits of a lawyer’s practice being at the core of what a firm does
  • Using Net Promoter Score (NPS) to evaluate law firms
  • Law firms deciding whether to invest in a practice area
  • Vision and hunger being the key to starting a successful boutique law
  • Difference between lawyers who succeed v. fail
  • much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Data-Driven Decision Making for Patent Portfolio Managers

By Bret Tingey, Associate | IPWatchdog.com

A patent portfolio can be one of the greatest assets that a company owns. A patent portfolio may boost a company’s valuation for a stock offering or a sale, may be licensed for recurring revenue, may be sold to raise cash, or may be enforced to seek monetary damages or to exclude competitors from the market. However, growing a patent portfolio can be expensive. For this reason, many companies hire a portfolio manager to balance the value and expense of growing and maintaining the patent portfolio.

A portfolio manager may be responsible for making decisions including a total target number of patent filings, target numbers of patent filings for different technology areas of the company, patent firms to use for filing and prosecuting patent applications, or how to manage costs per issued patent. The portfolio manager can improve the decision-making process by using data-driven decision making. This article shows some examples of data-driven decision making.

Keep Reading on IPWatchdog.com


Product Success Can Show Nonobviousness

By Patrick Hansen, Associate

The U.S. Supreme Court’s KSR decision has left an impression that any claimed invention based on a combination of known, related features is likely obvious under 35 U.S.C. § 103.  The recent Fox Factory, Inc. v. SRAM, LLC (Fed. Cir. May 18, 2020) decision is a heartening reminder that is not always the case.  In Fox Factory, the Federal Circuit affirmed a Board holding that claims 1-26 of U.S. Patent 9,291,250 (‘250 patent) are not unpatentable as obvious under Section 103.  What makes this decision reassuring for patent owners and applicants is that the Federal Circuit upheld SRAM’s ‘250 patent based on objective indicia of nonobviousness (also known as secondary considerations).

Fox Factory and SRAM are bicycle competitors, and SRAM’s ‘250 patent is directed to a single chainring of a bicycle that does not switch a chain between multiple chainrings.  The single chainring has teeth that fit more snugly into chain link spaces, and the single chainring (marketed as “X-Sync”) has been praised for retaining the chain in poor cycling conditions.

As shown in Fig. 1 from the ‘250 patent, link spaces alternate in size (D1 or D2) due to the manner in which pieces of a chain are linked.Claim 1 of the ‘250 patent recites a chainring with wider teeth of a first size that alternates with teeth of a second size, in order to snugly fit into respective outer (D2) and inner (D1) link spaces.  In particular, claim 1 recites that a wider tooth is designed to fill, at the midpoint, at least 80% of an outer link space.

SRAM asserted the ‘250 patent against Fox Factory in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  In a corresponding inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, Fox Factory cited Japanese patent publication JP S56-42489 (“Shimano”) and U.S. Patent 3,375,022 (“Hattan”).  Shimano describes a chainring with widened teeth for wider link spaces, and Hattan describes filling link spaces between 74.6% and 96% of a space width at the bottom of a tooth.  Fox Factory argued that it would have been obvious to a skilled artisan to see the utility in designing a chainring with widened teeth to improve chain retention and to look to Hattan for filling the link space at least 80%.  However, the Board found that Hattan’s fill percentages applied to the bottom of a tooth rather than the midpoint of the tooth.  Notably, the Board found that SRAM’s evidence of secondary considerations rebutted Fox Factory’s argument that a skilled artisan would nevertheless find it obvious to modify Shimano’s chainring teeth to fill at least 80% of a wide link space at the middle of a tooth.  Judge Lourie, writing for the Federal Circuit panel that included Judges Mayer and Wallach, affirmed the Board’s decision.

As you may recall, the Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1 (1966) analysis includes four factors: (1) the scope and content of the prior art; (2) the differences between the prior art and the patent claims; (3) the level of ordinary skill in the art; and (4) secondary considerations (also known more favorably as objective indicia of nonobviousness).  All four factors are to be evaluated collectively before a conclusion on obviousness is reached, and the burden of proof remains with the patent challenger.  Fox Factory argued that the only difference at issue is the degree to which a wider link space is filled, measured halfway up the tooth.  Fox Factory also argued that the Board erred in presuming a nexus between the claimed invention and evidence of success, arguing that it is the tall hooked teeth that drove the X-Sync chainring to be successful.

While acknowledging that a mere change in proportion may not meet the level of invention required by Section 103, the Federal Circuit agreed with the Board that SRAM’s design of the X-Sync chainring teeth, as claimed, displayed significant invention.  The X-Sync chainring’s success surprised skilled artisans who were skeptical about it solving the long-felt need of chain retention.  In fact, the industry awarded the X-Sync chainring “Innovation of the Year.”

The Federal Circuit found that the X-Sync chainring and the ‘250 claims met the nexus requirement – that a product from which the secondary considerations arose is “co-extensive” with the claimed invention.  The Federal Circuit also stated that the unclaimed features, such as the hooks and protrusions of the teeth, are to some extent incorporated into the >80% fill requirement.  The Federal Circuit concluded that substantial evidence supports the Board’s determination that a nexus exists between the X-Sync chainring’s success and the teeth profile that is essentially the claimed invention.

While Fox Factory does not present any new rule, it is a reminder that patent owners and applicants should keep records indicating a long-felt need and any industry skepticism, as well as records of subsequent success of a product to which claims are directed.  Claim drafters should learn from inventors which features could contribute to a product’s commercial success or acclamation.  Fox Factory reassures us that objective indicia of nonobviousness can still be a meaningful consideration at the Board and the Federal Circuit, even over what may be argued to be routine optimization.


Sarah Tsou – Patent Litigation Funding: Clause 8, Episode 19

This episode features an interview with Sarah Tsou, who is an investment manager for patent litigation at the world’s leading litigation funder, Bentham IMF (now part of Omni Bridgeway Limited).

The playbook is simple for deep-pocketed defendants facing lawsuits from patent owners with limited resources. Even if a patent owner has a very strong case, the defendant can just drag the case out long enough until the patent owner and his lawyers run out of resources to continue. At best, the patent owners are forced to settle lawsuits for a fraction of what they think they are owed. Patent litigation funders have changed this calculus by providing select patent owners with enough resources.

During this episode, Sarah talks about:

  • becoming a patent litigation partner at Kirkland & Ellis and working with John Desmarais before he started his firm focusing on patent monetization;
  • how patent litigation funding can help in-house attorneys who are facing shrinking patent litigation budgets due to the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • what 1% of cases have the rare mix of merits and economics to receive funding from top litigation funders, including a discussion of specific amounts of potential damages and legal fees;
  • how she finds the cases that she funds;
  • why having the right patent litigation attorneys who are willing to share the risk is crucial;
  • what a Chief IP Counsel should think about when building a patent portfolio if he’s interested in possibly taking advantage of patent litigation funding in the future;
  • the importance of curiosity for junior attorneys who want to enter the litigation funding field;
  • and much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Brian Pomper – The Innovation Alliance: Clause 8, Episode 18

This episode of Clause 8 features an interview with Brian Pomper of the Innovation Alliance.

Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Charles Goodyear are some of America’s best-known innovators. Instead of just making and selling the final products, they obtained patents and licensed their innovations to manufacturers. American companies like IBM, Qualcomm, and Dolby have followed this great American tradition of focusing on innovation.

However, the patent troll narrative has undermined the idea that innovators should be incentivized and rewarded for their efforts. A string of Supreme Court decisions and the passage of the American Invents Act were part of an effort to deal with the so-called “patent troll” problem.

Around the time that the AIA was being debated in Congress, a diverse group of technology companies that focus on research and development formed the Innovation Alliance to educate DC policymakers.

And, Brian – a registered patent attorney who worked for several years on Capitol Hill – became the executive director of Innovation Alliance shortly after it was started.

During this episode, Brian discusses:
• working in Congress and how he became the head of The Innovation Alliance;
• the #1 way to improve the patent system;
• what unites the Innovation Alliance;
• how the Innovation Alliance tried to improve the AIA;
• the Obama administration’s continued efforts to restrict patent rights;
• how DC became more patent friendly;
• the Senate IP subcommittee and why there’s still hope for legislative action to fix patent eligibility;
• importance of having grassroots support for legislative efforts;
• the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the patent policy debate and the Open Covid Pledge; and
• much more!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com or your favorite podcasting app!


Harrity & Harrity’s First Virtual Women’s Workshop

By Elaine Spector

Harrity & Harrity just completed its 3nd Annual Women’s Workshop.  Due to the quarantine, we shifted gears to host our Women’s Workshop virtually for the first time, which allowed us to offer more women seats in our program.  The Women’s Workshop is part of Harrity’s Diversity Initiative, whose Diversity Mission is to “promote and nurture a respectful, highly engaged, family friendly, and inclusive culture that values the diversity of our talented team with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, skills/talents, and capabilities.”  35 women, including recent law school graduates and current law students, participated in a 3 ½ day long workshop. The interactive programs included patent preparation and prosecution skills training, resume and interview preparation, and sessions with prominent women guest speakers in the intellectual property field.  Ed Good joined us this year to provide a ½ day seminar in effective legal writing.

The guest speakers ranged from IP partners at major law firms (both litigation and prosecution partners), former leaders at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Chief IP Counsel and IP Counsel at major corporations, and leaders within Diversity and Inclusion organizations. The speakers included Barbara Fiacco, a partner at Foley Hoag LLP and AIPLA’s President, Barbara Fisher, Assistant General Counsel, Intellectual Property and Technology Law for Lockheed Martin Corporation, Courtney Holohan, Accenture’s Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Mercedes Meyer, a Partner at the law firm Faegre Drinker, Sophia Piliouras, president of MCCA’s Advisory Practice at the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), Teresa ‘Terry’ Stanek Rea, a Partner at the law firm Cromwell & Moring and former acting and deputy director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Ellen Smith, a Partner at the law firm Sughrue Mion.

A favorite session among the participants was the Drafting 101 session with Harrity attorney, Peter Glaser.  The participants were taken through the application drafting process. Another favorite session was led by Harrity attorney, Tim Hirzel, who instructed the participants on patent prosecution.  Both sessions included a hands-on training assignment, which was reviewed by their instructors to maximize learning opportunities.

The session also included two-hour Q & A with Harrity attorneys, which included partners John Harrity, Paul Harrity, and Paul Gurzo.  John and Paul Harrity both agreed that their best career advice includes reading as much as possible with a focus on continued learning.  We hope the participants had a great time, and we are looking forward to next year’s workshop!

Frank Jakes, Legendary Trial Attorney – Clause 8 – Episode 16

This episode of Clause 8 features an interview with trial attorney Frank Jakes – the founder of the Intellectual Property Group at the firm of Johnson Pope in Tampa, FL. There’s a good chance that you have recently seen him questioning Joe Exotic in the Netflix documentary Tiger King. However, even before successfully representing Carole Baskin and Big Cat Rescue, Frank Jakes was already a legendary trial attorney in Tampa who handled lots of cases involving high-profile parties and interesting personalities and won many millions of dollars in verdicts. Many of those cases involved a wide variety of IP rights.

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.


Your Licensees’ Patent Marking Program is Also Your Concern

By McCord Rayburn, Associate

As an in-house IP attorney, you may take comfort in knowing that your patent marking program is thorough, well-established, and properly executed. You have standardized procedures to determine which patents cover which products. You monitor product release dates to ensure appropriate marking. You have set up a “virtual marking” website to take advantage of this form of marking established by the America Invents Act (AIA). You regularly update the virtual marking website to remove expired patents and add newly granted patents. Your patent marking program is a well-oiled machine. But what about your licensees’ programs? Do you know anything about your licensees’ programs? Do you even care about your licensees’ programs? Well, you should, and the Federal Circuit recently provided another opinion to remind patent licensors that a licensee’s failure to mark can be costly.

Continue Reading on IPWatchdog.com.

In Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak, USPTO Extends Certain Patent Deadlines

By Ted Nissly, Associate

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that it has exercised its authority under section 12004 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to make 30-day extensions available to certain patent and trademark-related deadlines.  Prior to the enactment of the CARES Act, the USPTO did not have authority to extend deadlines because most patent and trademark-related deadlines are defined by statute.

Rather than take a uniform approach to extending deadlines for all filings and payments, such as other patent offices have taken across the world, the USPTO has focused on allowing extensions to only certain filings and payments.  Patent application extensions apply to, for example, responses to office actions, issue fee payments, and certain appeal filings that are due between March 27 and April 30, 2020.  Notably, the USPTO has excluded replies to pre-examination notices and maintenance fee payments to most applicants, unless an applicant is a small entity or micro entity.  The USPTO also granted extensions for certain filings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), including requests for rehearing of a PTAB decision.  Any qualifying filing or payment due between March 27 and April 30, 2020, will be extended 30 days from the initial date that it was due.

To qualify for an extension, a delayed filing or payment must be accompanied by a statement that the delay in filing or payment was due to a practitioner, applicant, patent owner, petitioner, third party requester, inventor, or other person associated with the filing or payment being personally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including through office closures, cash flow interruptions, inaccessibility of files or other materials, travel delays, personal or family illness, or similar circumstances.

The USPTO has clarified, in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section of its website that the statement that the delay was due to the COVID-19 outbreak should be a separate statement (e.g., not as part of a response to an Office action) but does not need to be verified or provided in an affidavit or declaration form.  However, the COVID-19 outbreak must materially interfere with a filing or payment to qualify as a delay due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The USPTO’s extension of deadlines under the CARES act is just the latest relief that the USPTO has granted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.  Last month, the USPTO waived fees for reviving applications that became abandoned because of failure to meet a deadline for responding to an Office communication due to the COVID-19 outbreak and waived requirements for an original handwritten signature for certain correspondence with the Office of Enrollment and Discipline and certain payments by credit card.

As of the date of this posting, the USPTO’s extension of deadlines under the CARES act applies to deadlines through April 30, 2020, but the USPTO may extend the time window based on the continuing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The USPTO’s Notice of Waiver of Patent-Related Timing Deadlines under the CARES ACT can be found here.

The USPTO’s FAQs concerning the Extension of Deadlines under the CARES ACT can be found here.


Obvious to Use Common Sense (If You Can Prove It)

By Jafar Ali, Associate

In KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007), the Supreme Court recalibrated the obviousness analysis to (re-)emphasize the relevance of “the background knowledge posted by a person having ordinary skill in the art” when determining whether there would have been an apparent reason to combine and/or modify prior art to arrive at the claimed invention.  Before KSR, the Federal Circuit and lower courts had regularly been applying the so-called “teaching, suggestion, motivation” (TSM) test, which generally required some “teaching, suggestion, or motivation” to combine and/or modify the prior art to support a conclusion of obviousness.  Critically, the Supreme Court held that the TSM test as-applied was a rigid and mandatory rule that improperly limited the obviousness inquiry by denying factfinders (e.g., examiners and juries) recourse to common sense.  KSR changed the obviousness landscape by rejecting the rigidity and formalism of the TSM test and setting forth “an expansive and flexible approach” in which the factual determinations underlying the obviousness analysis could consider “the inferences and creative steps that a person of ordinary skill in the art would employ.”

One question that was not fully resolved in KSR itself, however, was the extent to which a claimed invention could be rendered obvious based on general knowledge or common sense.  Instead, the Court simply stated that the fact-finding supporting an obviousness analysis “should be made explicit” to facilitate review while favorably citing earlier Federal Circuit decisions holding that “there must be some articulated reasoning with some rational underpinning to support the legal conclusion of obviousness.”  In Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Google LLC, 2019-1177 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 30, 2020), the Federal Circuit clarified that the “general knowledge” of a person having ordinary skill in the art can indeed be relied upon to render a claimed invention obvious, even to supply an admittedly missing claim limitation, provided that the record contains a reasoned analysis and evidentiary support for such general knowledge.

In Philips, the Federal Circuit upheld an inter partes decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) finding claims 1-11 in U.S. Patent No. 7,529,806 (“the ’806 patent”) to be invalid as obvious over a single prior art reference.  The representative claim at issue generally related to a method for delivering digital content for playback on a client device.  In particular, the claimed method recited steps to retrieve a next portion of a media presentation during playback of a previous portion, thus reducing delays relative to traditional downloading approaches in which playback cannot begin until the entire media presentation has finished downloading.  Google, in challenging the validity of the ’806 patent, referred to a publication explaining a conventional pipelining scheme to divide a media presentation into multiple segments and play a current segment (Sn) while a next segment (Sn+1) is downloading.  Citing the pipelining scheme and an expert declaration, Google argued, and the Board agreed, that the claimed method was invalid as obvious because the features admitted to be missing from the prior art were within the general knowledge of a person having ordinary skill in the art.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that “the skilled artisan’s knowledge [can be considered] when determining whether it would have been obvious to modify the prior art” regardless of the tribunal.  Indeed, citing KSR, the court stated that the obviousness analysis requires an assessment of the “background knowledge possessed by a person having ordinary skill in the art.”  However, reliance on general knowledge or common sense would be improper if based solely upon “conclusory statements and unspecific expert testimony,” and using background knowledge to supply a missing claim limitation should be reserved to cases where the missing limitation is “unusually simple and the technology particularly straightforward.”  In this case, the background knowledge was sufficient to supply the missing claim features because the Board relied upon expert evidence that was corroborated by the literature establishing that pipelining was within the general knowledge of a skilled artisan.

This case provides important context to further refine the impact that general knowledge has on patentability.  One noteworthy aspect is that, in Philips, the party asserting obviousness presented an expert declaration and supporting documentary evidence rather than simply making conclusory statements that a person having ordinary skill in the art would have known about the missing claim features.  Accordingly, if a patent applicant is faced with an obviousness rejection relying upon general knowledge during prosecution, the applicant can challenge the Examiner to produce supporting documentary evidence.  Furthermore, this case reaffirms the importance of having robust backup positions in a patent application, including dependent claims.  Features of independent claims believed to overcome the prior art might be alleged to be within the general knowledge of a skilled artisan in adversarial proceedings when parties asserting invalidity typically devote more resources to finding evidentiary support.  Strong dependent claims provide an avenue for at least some claims surviving in that situation.


Addressing the Lack of Diversity in the Legal Field

Promoting the culture of diversity is important for all professions, but it is especially lacking in the legal field. In fact, the legal profession is among the least diverse professions in the United States.  Diversity and inclusion in the workplace help to identify and embrace different backgrounds and contribute to the overall advancement of the business.

There are several factors that impede the prevalence of diversity in the legal field.  At Harrity, we are dedicated to overcoming these obstacles by providing opportunities for minorities and developing tools for diverse candidates to succeed.  Although the disparity of minorities practicing law, and especially minorities in equity positions, will take time to overcome, it is an obtainable goal if all firms work to address the problem.

Statistics Talk

The industry needs to recognize the importance of creating an unbiased, equal, and harmonious working environment for all legal professionals.  Unfortunately, the lack of diversity is widespread in the legal field, and the numbers show the industry is moving at a slow pace to address the issue.

In 2018, 85% of lawyers in the U.S. were Caucasian, according to the American Bar Association.  Another report on diversity in U.S. law firms found that racially diverse women are the most underrepresented group in the legal profession.  Other diverse groups underrepresented include LGBTQ2+ lawyers, lawyers with disabilities, and Black/African lawyers.

The Challenges in Recruiting Diverse Workforce

While corporate legal departments and law firms are working on more inclusive recruitment and hiring practices, there is still a need to address the lack of diversity.  Many barriers impede the advancement and retention of diverse lawyers in the legal profession.  Some of the factors that contribute to the lack of diversity include in-group favoritism, stereotyping, unconscious biases, and diversity fatigue.

Law firms should regularly participate in diversity training, utilize a diversity consultant, and review their own Diversity & Inclusion policies.  Firms should also consider concepts such as implicit bias, i.e., attributing certain attitudes or associating stereotypes with a person or group of people without our conscious knowledge, and self-assessment bias, in which females and minority groups tend to rate themselves lower on skill-related surveys than white males.

Other factors that contribute to the lack of diversity in the legal field are the socio-economic circumstances that often hinder minority groups, including limited access to quality education and other resources, and the high cost of pursuing a legal degree.  Outreach programs, financial aid, and internal training opportunities targeting low-income families can help legal professionals address this and ensure all demographics have the same access to a legal career path.

Importance of Diversity in the Legal Field

Law firms must welcome a diverse workforce as it promotes mutual respect, acceptance, and co-existence.  It is crucial to formulate new strategies when working in the legal world.  A diverse group of lawyers, with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and skills, can help each other in building strengths and overcoming weaknesses.

Diversity leads to innovative ideas, opinions, and strategies.  It improves the quality of service and ensures that the voice of marginalized groups is also heard.  A female lawyer or black lawyer can highlight the issues of their respective groups better than others.  Diversity helps law firms to adapt accordingly to unprecedented or less familiar situations.  It allows them to respond to diverse clients more effectively.

Above all, diversity and inclusion in the legal field prevent discrimination against skilled and qualified lawyers.  Many reports and studies show that diverse workplaces are more productive and that they have lower turnover compared to non-inclusive workplaces.

Final Word

Harrity & Harrity strongly believes that the practice of law can advance only when there is a diverse legal team.  Our Diversity Mission is to promote a respectful, family-friendly, and diverse culture that recognizes and values the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, experiences, skills, and talents of each member on our team.

In order to provide equal opportunity to all candidates, Harrity developed the Rooney Rule 2.0 with regard to hiring, which is based off of The Rooney Rule.  The Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview one minority candidate for each head coaching and senior football operation job.  According to The Rooney Rule, only one diverse candidate needs to be interviewed, while there could be hundreds or thousands of non-diverse candidates.  The Rooney Rule 2.0 changes that rule to commit to interviewing a female or minority candidate for every male or non-minority candidate we interview for any position at our firm.

The Harrity Diversity Committee has implemented several other initiatives in order to grow and nurture diversity in the IP legal field.  The Minority Firm Incubator helps train, develop, and launch minority-owned patent law firms in an effort to recruit, retain, and advance attorneys who will contribute to the diversity of the patent field.  The annual Women’s Workshop is a free program that introduces female engineers and law students or recent graduates to the practice of patent law with guest speakers, patent skills training, career mentoring, and more.  The Harrity Academy provides minority candidates with exclusive training and practice materials for drafting high-quality patent applications.

The goal of these programs is to help increase the number of diverse candidates applying to positions within Harrity and the legal field, help improve skillsets and the likelihood that these candidates will succeed in the interview process, and encourage upward movement for minorities within their firms.

If more firms commit to implementing a comprehensive diversity plan, together, we can help bridge the gap by eliminating biases and encouraging diversity within the legal community.  It is vital that the hiring process focuses only on required skillsets and qualifications, regardless of gender, color, race, or religion, and that steps are taken to reduce discrimination and give minorities the opportunity to succeed.

If you are interested in reading the 2018/2019 Harrity Annual Diversity Report, it can be found here.  For more information regarding Harrity’s diversity initiatives, visit harrityllp.com/diversity.


Elaine Spector

Elaine Spector

Elaine Spector is a Partner at Harrity & Harrity, LLP, a boutique firm specializing in intellectual property law. Her practice focuses primarily on the prosecution of patent applications, specifically within electromechanical technologies. Elaine is a driving force in the firm’s diversity and charity initiatives and serves on several committees and boards in relation, including AIPLA’s Women in IP Law’s Global Networking Event & Outreach Subcommittee, IPO’S Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and the non-profit No More Stolen Childhoods.

Bunch O Balloons Inventor Josh Malone – Clause 8 – Episode 16

Tune into Eli Mazour‘s Clause 8 Podcast for an exclusive interview with Josh Malone – the inventor of Bunch O Balloons and America’s foremost advocate for reliable patent rights.

Josh came up with the idea for Bunch O Balloons to help his kids fill up 100 water balloons in less than one minute. It eventually became the most popular toy in America. However, before Bunch O Balloons even came to market, another company copied it and started selling its own versions of the product. Luckily – or so he thought at the time – Josh filed a patent application for his Bunch O Balloons invention. He did not know the enormous amount of time, money, and luck it would take to successfully enforce patents that covered his invention. This episode tells the story of what it took, including taking a trip to Bentonville, AR in the middle of the night to try to convince Walmart to stop selling knock offs of his product.

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.


The Importance of Patent Analytics for Your Business Strategy

When a company or organization launches a new product, a patent is usually the first published evidence of the invention in the public domain. Patents are essential protections for any innovation-driven company that has a substantial Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) culture.

A patent protects the right of the inventor company to use their product, thereby preventing others from using the invention. Today, patents have become critical factors for businesses to get an edge over their competitors. Patent analytic tools are being used by organizations for various purposes, including development of sound business strategy.

How Does Patent Analytics Help Businesses?

Patent analysis helps businesses in many areas, both internally and externally. For instance, internal patent analytics helps organizations assess their own patent portfolio.

Further, it can assist in SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. With patent analytics, companies can make informed decisions regarding licensing and acquisition of advanced technologies.

External analytics, on the other hand, provides information about competitors and the technologies they use.

Let’s discuss the benefits of patent analytics for business strategies in detail.

1.     Portfolio Analytics

To stand out amongst the competition, you must understand your organization’s patent portfolio. Analyzing your company’s portfolio reveals valuable insights; you get a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Doing so allows you to make well-informed business decisions.

2.     Competitor Analytics

Another advantage of patent analysis is that it allows you to compare your own patent portfolio to those of competitors. Competitor analytics offers valuable insight into competitor business strategies and partnerships.  Patent analytics helps you understand what is working for your competitors and what mistakes you should avoid.

3.     Technology Analytics

Analytics tools keep you up to date on where your business and competitors stand in the dynamic landscape of technology. This information allows you to make better decisions regarding portfolio management and fosters stronger client relationships.

Field-relevant technology know-how helps identify market needs. Patent analysis provides researchers and inventors with valuable technological information needed to find innovative solutions to technical problems.

Additionally, patent analytics helps with licensing, mergers, and acquisitions. Patent data can provide a comprehensive, technical portfolio view for technologies and companies in consideration for licensing or acquisition and helps shorten the list of choices.

4.     Cost and Budget Analytics

Budgeting and wise resource-management is crucial to strong business strategy. Analytics provide detailed information on costs occurred during patent prosecution and maintenance periods. This information helps identify problems, cut costs, and spend your budget efficiently.

5.     Automated Portfolio Categorization

Patent portfolio categorization dashboards, such as those created by Harrity Analytics, are automated systems that categorize patent portfolios according to your business’s self-determined technology areas.  These tools can additionally perform a competitive analysis of the key players in your niche industry areas.

Final Words

Whether you are starting a new business, developing a new product, pitching a new client, planning a merger, or just trying to stay ahead of the competition, patent analytics is crucial to ensuring you are on the right track and building a sound business strategy.

Harrity Patent Analytics services can help you manage your patent profile, gain insight into your competitors’ portfolios, and understand patent trends around the world.  Harrity Patent Analytics can help you make patent prosecution decisions and refine your business strategy.  To view a list of Harrity Patent Analytics services or request your own customized reports, visit https://harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics/.


About Harrity Patent Analytics

Harrity Patent Analytics, a team of professionals within the boutique IP law firm of Harrity & Harrity, LLP, uses cutting-edge capabilities to analyze patent data and extract insights for strategic decisions regarding patent portfolios.  Patent 300® companies rely on Harrity Patent Analytics services to better understand their own patent portfolios, those of their competitors, their key technology areas, and to keep track of patent office trends around the world.  For more information, visit harrityllp.com/services/patent-analytics.


Kevin Jakel of Unified Patents Pt. 2 – Clause 8 – Episode 15

Tune into Eli Mazour‘s Clause 8 Podcast for the second and final part of our interview with Kevin Jakel, the founder and CEO of Unified Patents. On this episode, we continue the conversation with Kevin about how Unified Patents operates, discuss Unified Patents’ new program for targeting Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), debate whether the patent troll narrative has been overblown, talk about the patent quality problem, and delve into some other patent policy issues related to IPRs and the PTAB. We also find out what Kevin has in common with George Costanza!

Listen and subscribe on IPwatchdog.com.

$750 Million Dollar Patent Infringement Award May Hinge on Whether a Certificate of Correction was Properly Issued to Fix a “Typo”

By Steven Underwood, Counsel

On December 15, 2019, a Los Angeles jury found that Kite Pharma Inc. (“Kite”) had willfully infringed a cancer-treatment patent licensed by Juno Therapeutics Inc. from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research (collectively, “MSKCC”), and held that Kite should pay MSKCC $752 million.  The litigation (Juno Therapeutics Inc. et al. v. Kite Pharma Inc., case number 2:17-cv-07639, C.D. Cal.) was widely reported in the press as potentially hinging on whether the patent-in-suit (U.S. Pat. No. 7,446,190) contained a simple “typo.”

During the litigation, Kite argued that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) had erroneously issued a Certificate of Correction (CoC) because the “[t]he mistake corrected by the certificate of correction . . . was not of a clerical or typographical nature and was not of minor character,” as required under 35 U.S.C. § 255.  Kite’s position was that the CoC should not have been granted, and that if the CoC had not been granted, Kite clearly would not infringe the claims of the patent.

In order to understand the nature of the mistake corrected by the CoC, we must briefly consider the claims.  Claim 1 of the patent requires a “nucleic acid polymer encoding a chimeric T cell receptor comprising . . . a costimulatory signaling region [that] comprises the amino acid sequence encoded by SEQ ID NO:6.”  Therefore, infringement of claim 1 can be determined only by reference to the definition of SEQ ID NO:6 (which is provided in the specification of the patent) – and that definition was modified by the CoC (seven bases, out of 328, were deleted).

When the application was filed on May 28, 2003, the SEQ ID NO:6 listing was, as explained by MSKCC to the PTO, incorrect.  On September 4, 2007, after receiving a Notice of Allowance, MSKCC submitted a Request for Continued Examination (RCE) with an Amendment that requested the same changes to the specification that were subsequently requested by the CoC.  In the Amendment, MSKCC argued that the changes were not new matter, since one skilled in the art would have recognized, as clerical errors, the errors being corrected.  As required, a copy of the revised sequence listing on a computer-readable disk was submitted with the Amendment.  However, on November 2, 2007, the Amendment was rejected by the PTO, on the ground that the sequence listing disk submitted with the Amendment was “flawed technically.” After two attempts, in April 2008 MSKCC submitted, along with a corrected paper copy of the sequence listing, a copy of the disk that was accepted, and on November 4, 2008, the patent issued.

However, while the April 2008 submission made corrections that were requested by the PTO, those corrections were made to the original, not the amended, specification.  Consequently, the changes requested in the September 2007 Amendment/RCE were undone by the April 2008 submission.  As summarized in MSKCC’s Request of Correction: “Sequence ID Nos. 4 and 6 in the printed patent therefore contain the same errors that the RCE was filed to address.”  Thus, MSKCC argued, “The resubmission of the incorrect Sequence listing occurred through clerical error . . . and was not made in bad faith. The correction requested does not involve such changes in the patent as would constitute new matter . . . as it was the change that was presented to the Examiner in the initial amendment and arguments filed with the RCE.”

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this case (an appeal seems likely), the clear takeaway for clients and practitioners is that a second pair of eyes should carefully review each filing with the PTO, including patent applications and responses.  Such a review will substantially reduce the risk of a patent application being filed with the wrong information, and better ensure that any mistakes are properly corrected.  As this case demonstrates, whether errors are properly (and promptly) corrected during prosecution may affect the validity or enforceability of a corresponding patent.

In Design Patents, Claim Language Matters

By Ryan Thelen, Associate

Often when a design patent application is prepared, the primary focus and effort of the drafting process is given to the drawings, while little thought is given to the wording of the actual claim.  However, the Federal Circuit recently issued a decision in a case of first impression in Curver Luxembourg, SARL v. Home Expressions Inc., 2018-2214 (Fed. Cir. Sep 12, 2019), in which the Federal Circuit highlighted how the words in a design patent claim can limit the scope of a design illustrated in a patent drawing.

Curver is the assignee of U.S. design patent no. D677,946 (’946 patent), which claims an “ornamental design for a pattern for a chair.”  However, the drawings of the ’946 patent do not show a chair and merely illustrate an overlapping Y design.  The term “chair” was added to the claim and title during prosecution as a result of an examiner objection to the use of the term “furniture part.”

Curver sued Home Expressions on the basis that Home Expressions sells baskets that incorporate an overlapping “Y” shape that infringes the ’946 patent.  The United States  District Court for the District of New Jersey first construed the scope of the ’946 patent to include the design illustrated in the drawings as applied to a chair, and then determined that Home Expressions’s baskets do not infringe under the “ordinary observer” test.  The District Court reasoned that the scope of the ’946 patent is limited to the article of manufacture listed in the ’946 patent, and found that an ordinary observer would not purchase Home Expressions’s basket with the ornamental “Y” design believing that the purchase was for an ornamental “Y” design applied to a chair, as protected by the ’946 patent.”

On appeal, Curver took issue with the claim construction aspect of the District Court opinion, arguing that the District Court improperly limited the scope of the claim due to the word “chair” in the claim, rather than focusing on the design shown in the drawings in which no chair is present.  35 U.S.C. § 171 permits patent protection for a “new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture” (emphasis added), yet no article of manufacture was illustrated in the drawings of the ’946 patent.  Thus, the issue before the Federal Circuit is how to construe the scope of a design patent in which the claimed design is illustrated in the abstract (i.e., is not applied to an article of manufacture in the drawings).

The Federal Circuit held that “claim language can limit the scope of a design patent where the claim language supplies the only instance of an article of manufacture that appears nowhere in the figures.”  The Federal Circuit cited various persuasive sources to support its decision, such as Gorham Co. v. White (Sup. Ct. 1871), Ex parte Cady (USPTO 1916), 37 C.F.R. § 1.15, and the MPEP.  The Federal Circuit specifically noted that 37 C.F.R. § 1.15 permits the scope of a design patent to be defined by a combination of the drawings and the language of the design patent.

This case makes clear that when filing and prosecuting a design patent application, applicants and practitioners should ensure that the claimed design is tied to an actual “article of manufacture,” and should carefully choose the words that will be used in the claim, description, and title.

USPTO October 2019 Update On Subject Matter Eligibility

By Tim Hirzel

The PTO’s Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (2019 PEG) has been generally well received for providing a more reliable manner of applying the Alice/Mayo test used by the courts.  Even so, the 2019 PEG still left some matters unclear and the PTO has now responded to public feedback by providing further clarification in the October 2019 Update.  Below, we discuss the updates and how practitioners can use the updated guidance in practice.

Step 2A Prong One

In Step 2A Prong One, the 2019 PEG instructs examiners to evaluate whether a claim recites an abstract idea by a) identifying specific limitations in the claims believed to be an abstract idea, and b) determining whether the identified limitations fall within any of the three specific groupings of abstract ideas (mathematical concepts, certain methods of organizing human activity, and mental processes).

However, there was some question as to how explicitly limitations in the claims have to recite an abstract idea.  The October 2019 Update clarifies that “recites” should broadly be construed to mean that the claims either explicitly set forth the abstract idea or merely describe the abstract idea without explicitly using words that identify the abstract idea.  The PTO further clarifies that claims may recite multiple abstract ideas, which may fall in the same or different groupings, and that the groupings are not mutually exclusive (i.e., a single claim limitation may fall into more than one abstract idea grouping).

The October 2019 Update also provides clarification on what the three groupings of abstract ideas entail.

  • Mathematical Concepts – The 2019 PEG defines “mathematical concepts” as mathematical relationships, mathematical formulas or equations, and mathematical calculations. The PTO interprets the courts as having declined to distinguish between types of math when evaluating claims for eligibility, and the PTO will do the same.  For example, math used to solve a particular technical problem (e.g., an engineering problem) will still be considered to fall within the mathematical concepts grouping.  However, a claim does not recite a mathematical concept if it is only based on or involves a mathematical concept.
  • Certain Method of Organizing Human Activity – The PTO clarifies that not all methods of organizing human activity are abstract ideas, and this grouping is limited to only fundamental economic principles or practices, commercial or legal interactions, managing personal behavior, and relationships or interactions between people.
  • Mental Processes – Under the 2019 PEG, “mental processes” are concepts performed in the human mind, such as observations, evaluations, judgments, and opinions. A footnote in the 2019 PEG indicates that a claim limitation is not a mental process when it “cannot practically be performed in the mind.”  The October 2019 update expanded on this and clarified that this is “when the human mind is not equipped to perform the claim limitations.”  The PTO reemphasized that claims can recite a mental process even if they are performed by a computer in the claim and further clarified that there is no requirement that the claim be performed entirely in the human mind to fall into the mental processes grouping.

The 2019 PEG also allows for the possibility that a claim limitation that does not fall into one of the three groupings of abstract idea may be still determined to be an abstract idea upon TC Director approval.  The October 2019 update indicates that the public will be notified once such an office action issues.  At this time, the PTO has not provided any such notification.

Step 2A Prong Two

In Step 2A Prong Two, the 2019 PEG instructs examiners to evaluate whether the claim as a whole integrates the abstract idea into a practical application and gives several considerations in making this determination, such as: improving the functioning of a computer or a technical field, effecting a treatment for a medical condition, using the judicial exception with a particular machine, or transforming or reducing a particular article to a different state or thing.

The October 2019 Update reemphasized that this analysis considers the claim as a whole, and that the additional elements of the claim (i.e., those not identified as an abstract idea) are not to be evaluated separately from the limitations reciting the abstract idea.  Moreover, the PTO clarified that merely claiming a specific way of achieving a result is not a stand-alone consideration in Step 2A Prong Two and is not enough by itself to integrate the abstract idea into a practical application.  However, the specificity of the claims is relevant to the considerations related to using a particular machine, a particular transformation, and whether the limitations are mere instructions to apply an exception.

The October 2019 Update devotes lengthy discussion to how a claim improves the functioning of a computer or a technical field and provides a two-step procedure for how examiners are to perform this analysis.

  • Step One – Examiners are to evaluate the specification to determine if sufficient details are provided to establish the claimed invention provides an improvement to technology. However, there is no requirement that the specification explicitly recite the improvement.  The improvement is not relative to what is well-understood, routine, conventional activity in the field, but rather relative to existing technology.  Importantly, the PTO noted that an improvement to an abstract idea is not an improvement to technology.
  • Step Two – If the specification sets forth an improvement in technology, the claims must be analyzed to determine if the claims recite features that provide the improvement described in the specification. However, there is no need for the claims to explicitly recite the improvement.

Step 2B

In Step 2B, examiners are to evaluate whether the claims provide an inventive concept by reciting significantly more than the abstract idea.  The October 2019 Update itself provides almost no discussion or clarification of Step 2B other than to reemphasize that well-understood, routine, conventional activity will only be considered under Step 2B and not Step 2A.  However, the PTO provided Example 43 along with the October 2019 Update that shows how a claim can fail Step 2A but still be determined eligible under Step 2B.  Such an example was notably absent from the examples provided with the 2019 PEG.

Example 43 is a hypothetical based on the well-known Diamond v. Diehr case.  Example 43 is directed to a controller for an injection molding apparatus that repeatedly obtains temperature measurements of a mold, calculates an extent of curing completion based on the temperatures and an equation, and determines a percentage of curing completion.  Claim 3 specifies that the controller is connected to a means for temperature measuring (which is specifically interpreted to be an ARCXY thermocouple).  Under Step 2A Prong One, the claim is determined to recite a mathematical concept.  Under Step 2A Prong Two, the step of obtaining the temperature measurements is deemed to be insignificant extra-solution activity of data gathering and does not integrate the abstract idea into a practical application.  Notably, the fact that claim 3 uses an ARCXY thermocouple to obtain the temperature measurements is not considered in Step 2A Prong Two (not even to establish use of a particular machine).  Thus, claim 3 is determined to be directed to the abstract idea.

However, the consideration of whether the ARCXY thermocouple feature is mere insignificant extra-solution activity is reconsidered under Step 2B taking into account whether such extra-solution activity is well-known.  The PTO found that while use of ARCXY thermocouples is known in the aeronautical industry, the use of ARCXY thermocouples was not routine or conventional in injection molding apparatuses.  Because the ARXCY thermocouple resulted in better long-term performance, durability, and response time than other thermocouples, the result of using the unconventional thermocouple in the claimed manner amounts to significantly more than the abstract idea (i.e., mathematical concept) and the claim is patent eligible.

Key Takeaways

The October 2019 Update reinforces the idea that the best practice when drafting a patent application is to describe the invention as providing a technical solution to a technical problem.  In this way, should a Step 2A Prong One argument fail, practitioners can rely on a Step 2A Prong Two argument that the claims improve the functioning of a computer or other technology.  This argument seems to be the argument preferred by examiners and often cited by the courts as a basis for patent eligibility when there is a 101 issue.

Specifically, practitioners should keep in mind that examiners will heavily rely on the specification to determine if such a technical solution or technical improvement is provided.  The improvement should not be merely recited in a conclusory manner (e.g., an unsupported assertion that the invention provides a specific improvement), but should be explained in sufficient detail to tie specific features of the invention to the improvement.  Importantly, the claims should be drafted in such way to include the features that provide the improvement.  Examiners have often requested, or even required, that the claims explicitly recite the improvement to overcome a 101 rejection even though these claim features are often considered intended use or given little patentable weight.  The October 2019 update makes it clear this is not necessary.

The PTO also appears to narrow at least some of the three groupings of abstract ideas in Step 2A Prong One.  Practitioners should use this to their advantage when drafting applications to characterize features that may be arguably abstract in a way that avoids falling into the three groupings of abstract ideas.  For example, when appropriate, the application could describe the complexity of steps that may be arguably mental processes (e.g., determining steps, processing steps, analyzing steps, etc.) to establish that these steps cannot be practically performed in the human mind.  However, practitioners should be careful not to try to game the system by describing a simple step, which truly could be performed in the mind, as a complex step that cannot be performed in the mind because such a characterization could have unintended consequences for potential infringement and claim interpretation.  Moreover, if a feature truly could be performed in the mind, then there is most likely a better way to establish eligibility under Step 2A Prong Two or Step 2B.

The 2019 PEG stripped Step 2B of most of its previous considerations and moved them to Step 2A Prong Two.  While the 2019 PEG indicated that Step 2B was still a viable option to establish eligibility, there was little instruction on how practitioners could actually present a successful argument and no examples of succeeding under Step 2B were given.  Given this, examiners have been reluctant to seriously consider Step 2B arguments.  Although arguments under Step 2B are likely to remain an improbable way to overcome a 101 rejection in view of the of the October 2019 Update, practitioners should keep in mind that new Example 43 provides a manner of establishing an inventive concept and a rationale that can be used as a backup position under Step 2B going forward.  Therefore, practitioners should draft their specifications to highlight how their inventions differ from what is well-understood, routine, conventional in the field, even if it is a feature that is more tangentially related to the core invention that could be considered extra solution activity.

Overall, the October 2019 Update should help the PTO continue to provide more reliable subject matter eligibility analysis and clarify what kinds of arguments will successfully overcome a 101 rejection.

Why a Brief Response is the Best Response to an Office Action

By Rebecca Bachner, Associate

The Federal Circuit recently issued a decision that reminds us of the importance of always remembering prosecution history estoppel when presenting arguments in responses to the USPTO.  Specifically, in Amgen Inc v. Coherus Biosciences Inc., 2018-1993 (Fed. Cir. Jul. 29, 2019)) (“Amgen”), the Federal Circuit highlights how prosecution history estoppel can bar a patent owner from succeeding on its infringement claim under the doctrine of equivalents.

At issue was Amgen’s U.S. Patent No. 8,273,707 which was being asserted against Coherus for infringement.  During prosecution, the USPTO rejected Amgen’s claims as obvious in view of U.S. Patent No. 5,231,178 (“Holtz”).  In response, Amgen presented multiple different arguments.  First, Amgen argued that “the pending claims recite a particular combination of salts. No combinations of salts taught nor suggested in the Holtz et al. patent, nor [are] the particular combinations of salts recited in the pending claims taught nor suggested in this reference.” See Fed. Cir at pgs. 4-5.  Amgen further included a Declaration from the inventor of the ‘707 patent.  “The Declaration did not discuss any salt pairs other than sulfate/citrate, sulfate/acetate, and acetate/citrate—the only claimed pairs in the ’707 patent.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 5.  The Patent Office issued another rejection and, in a final response, Amgen reiterated that Holtz did not disclose a combination of salts nor did Holtz disclose enhancing the dynamic capacity of an HIC column.  The Amgen patent issued after these arguments were filed.

Amgen filed suit against Coherus alleging infringement of the ‘707 patent under the doctrine of equivalents.  Coherus moved to dismiss Amgen’s complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) stating that Amgen argued that Holtz did not disclose “one of the particular, recited combinations of salts.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 7.  A magistrate judge issued a report that recommended that Coherus’ motion be granted due to prosecution history estoppel.  The report stated that Amgen “clearly and unmistakably—and indeed, repeatedly—indicated to competitors that it surrendered processes using combinations of salts different from the ‘particular combinations of salts recited in the . . . claims[.]’”  See id.  Therefore, the report found that “prosecution history estoppel bars Amgen from now attempting to reassert surrendered ground involving other combinations of salts.” See id.  The District Court adopted the magistrate judge’s recommendation and granted Coherus’ motion to dismiss.

At the appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court’s dismissal.   The Court looked at the prosecution history and noted that “Amgen distinguished Holtz on the basis that Holtz did not teach or suggest the “particular combinations of salts” recited in Amgen’s claims.”   See Fed. Cir at pg. 9.  The Court further noted that “Amgen emphasized “particular” and referred to its particular salts three times in the span of two pages.”  See id.  As to Amgen’s argument that it distinguished from Holtz on the basis of increasing dynamic capacity, the Court states that “while Amgen did assert multiple reasons for why Holtz is distinguishable, our precedent instructs that estoppel can attach to each argument.”  See Fed. Cir at pg. 11.  Importantly, the Court stated that “[t]here is no requirement that argument-based estoppel apply only to arguments made in the most recent submission before allowance.”  See id.

This case is a strong reminder that everything written during prosecution can be used against the patent owner in later litigation.  The fact that “this particular combination” was a non-convincing argument, but still was used against Amgen with doctrine of equivalents shows how careful patent practitioners must be in drafting responses to the USPTO.  Each argument written down is part of the record that can be used against the ultimate patent.  As such, a high emphasis must be placed on having successful interviews with the Examiner.  Examiner interviews should be used at every stage of prosecution.  The Examiner interview is an invaluable way to receive feedback from the Examiner without adding to the written record.  Often, an agreement on claim language can be reached during the Examiner interview.  Based on the agreement, a response can be drafted in a way that minimizes the written record.  As such, Examiner interviews not only help with efficiency but are also a crucial part of obtaining high quality patents.

Improving Speed and Quality Using Automation for Patent Application Drafting

Our own Shawn Lillemo writes about how the right automation tools can provide application drafters with extra time that can be spent fleshing out additional details of the invention, exploring alternative embodiments, and telling a good story about how the invention solves a technical problem.  Read more on IPWatchdog.com.

Watch Shawn’s IPO Presentation on Patent Drafting Automation below!

Peter Glaser Team

How the Wrong Applicant Entity Status Can Doom Your Patent

By Peter Glaser, Associate

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, more commonly referred to as AIA, provided the USPTO with fee-setting authority to implement micro-entity status in addition to the previously implemented small-entity status. Both small-entity status and micro-entity status designations reduce fees for some patent filers. In general, small entities are entitled to a 50% reduction in fees and micro entities are entitled to a 75% reduction in fees. For example, the basic Utility filing fee for regular entities, sometimes termed ‘large entities’ is $300.00. In contrast the same filing fees for small entities and micro entities are $150.00 and $75.00, respectively.

The USPTO sets a set of requirements for patent filers to claim small entity status or micro entity status. In short, a small entity may qualify based on organization type (e.g., an entity that is a non-profit organization or that has fewer than 500 employees) and assignee status (e.g., an entity that has not assigned, licensed, or conveyed an interest in the invention to a non-small entity). For micro entities, the USPTO qualifications include each inventor not having been named inventor on more than 4 prior patent applications or have a gross income greater than 3 times the US median household income.

Generally, entity status is a matter of self-certification. For example, a patent attorney may file an assertion of small entity status or micro entity status for an inventor or other entity. However, the entity status must be updated if there is a change. For example, if an inventor files a patent application and qualifies as a small entity at the time of filing, but later assigns the invention to a large entity, a notification of loss of entitlement should be filed and regular fees paid thereafter.

The USPTO provides a good faith error safe harbor, but remedies are not provided for fraudulent or other non-good faith errors. A common way that entity status may change is as a result of a change in size of the patentee. In such a case, the Federal Circuit has held that when small entity status has been established in error and small entity fees have been paid in error, a patent holder can correct a good faith mistake (DH Technology, Inc. v. Synergystex International). Notably, the Federal Circuit indicated that the patent does not lapse as a result of an erroneous payment of fess and become unenforceable.

Another situation where entity status may be in question is when a patent license agreement is entered that could result in an applicant no longer being entitled to small entity status. In Outside The Box Innovations L.L.C. v. Travel Caddy, Inc, a lower court determined that an agreement between a patentee (that was a small entity) and a distributor (that was not a small entity) included a patent license clause that stripped Travel Caddy of small entity status with regard to the patent at issue. Here, the per curiam panel of the Federal Circuit found that it was reasonable for those involved in the patent prosecution to have believed that the agreement did not includes a patent license clause within the meaning of 37 CFR Section 1.27(a)(2). In a dissent, Judge Newman provided instructive guidance that an incorrect filing of small entity status should not be per se material to patentability.

Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, patent prosecutors and applicants can take some of the following steps to ensure an accurate assertion of entity status.

  1. Include questions regarding entity status in an initial invention disclosure interview questionnaire that is provided to inventors and/or applicants. Questions may include questions relating to company size, patent assignment status or licensing status, inventor household income, and the number of patents on which each inventor has been named.
  2. Following up with applicants and inventors regularly to determine whether answers to the above questions have changed.
  3. Maintaining comprehensive records of licensing agreements, joint inventorship agreements, research sponsorship agreements, and the like, and associating these records with patent family numbers.
  4. Performing a final check at issuance and at each maintenance fee payment date as to whether there has been any change to entity status. If a change has occurred, file a notification to indicate the status change.
The Pencil Test

How Reliable is the Pencil Test for Expediting the Patent Prosecution Process?

By Nathan Phares, Associate

Many patent practitioners and Examiners have spoken of the “pencil test,” which suggests that an independent claim is more likely to be rejected or is rejected as a matter of course if the claim is shorter than a pencil laid upon the claim.  Some point to the pencil test as a useful rule of thumb and suggest “padding” the length of the independent claim in hopes of improving the outcomes of prosecution.  However, drafting a lengthy independent claim may unnecessarily narrow the scope of the claim.  Does the length of the independent claim truly impact prosecution outcomes, or is the pencil test a myth?  We’ve analyzed the data, and we provide our conclusions below.

The data set we created for this analysis includes all patents that issued from applications filed post-AIA.  We limited the scope of the data set to electrical, mechanical, chemical, and biotech tech centers (i.e., Tech Centers 1600, 1700, 2100, 2400, 2600, 2800, 3600, and 3700).  For each patent, the data set indicates the number of Office Actions (OAs), the Art Unit and Tech Center, the length of claim 1 in total words and unique words, the length of the specification, and various other data (e.g., number of RCEs, Assignee, Agent, pendency, and so on).  We didn’t filter for unusually long or short claims – the longest claims (topping out at over 8,000 words!) and the shortest claims seem to generally be legitimate.

According to the data, first-OA allowances are slightly more likely with a longer independent claim than with a shorter independent claim, suggesting that the pencil test may be a factor in first-OA allowances.  Figure 1 shows a chart of the average number of total words in Claim 1 for buckets of the number of OAs.  First-OA allowances, which are associated with zero OAs, have a slightly longer first claim on average than second-OA allowances.  This relationship holds across all the Tech Centers we analyzed except TC 1600.  Figure 2 shows a chart of the average number of unique words in Claim 1.  In Figure 2, the same impact is present but is far less pronounced, indicating that total word count is more strongly correlated with first-OA allowance than unique word count.


Figure 1


Figure 2

The pencil test seems not to predict outcomes other than first-OA allowances: as the number of OAs before allowance increases, so does the length of claim 1.  This is the opposite of what the pencil test would suggest and may reflect the tendency to amend features into claim 1 over the course of prosecution in pursuit of allowance.

As the data shows, independent claims that include more total words tend to receive better treatment at the outset of prosecution, but outcomes are not clearly impacted by the pencil test as prosecution continues.  Therefore, the patent drafter should consider lengthening the independent claim if a first-OA allowance is the goal.  However, the data shows that the impact of the pencil test is mild at best, so the drafter should not rely on claim length alone to carry the day.  For example, the art unit where the application is assigned is a powerful predictor of the efficiency of the patent prosecution.  Therefore, the drafter should consider how the language used in the application may impact the assignment of the art unit.

It is important to note the limitations of the data set.  First, the claim lengths shown above are claim lengths of the issued patent, not of the patent application when it is first examined.  Thus, it is hard to tell whether the correlation between claim length and length of prosecution is due to the amendment of features into claim 1.  Second, we omitted patents associated with 8 or more OAs from the charts above, since the data set gets quite sparse after 7 OAs – for example, the 10, 11, 12, and 13 OA buckets collectively represent only 59 patents.  However, the trend shown in Figures 1 and 2 continues through the 9 OA bucket.

Matthew Allen, Harrity Team

Statements in Specification May Harm Patent Eligibility

By Matthew Allen, Associate

The Federal Circuit recently issued a decision that indicates how certain types of statements, made in an Applicant’s own specification, can undermine patent eligibility.  Specifically, in Solutran Inc. v. Elavon, Inc., U.S. Bancorp, 2019-1345, (Fed. Cir. Jul. 30, 2019) (“Solutran”), the Federal Circuit highlights how patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101 might turn based on a specification’s background information and statements regarding proposed advancements, or benefits, of an invention .

At issue in Solutran is claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 8,311,945 (’945 patent), which recites:

A method for processing paper checks, comprising:

a) electronically receiving a data file containing data captured at a merchant s point of purchase, said data including an amount of a transaction associated with MICR information for each paper check, and said data file not including images of said checks;

b) after step a), crediting an account for the merchant;

c) after step b), receiving said paper checks and scanning said checks with a digital image scanner thereby creating digital images of said checks and, for each said check, associating said digital image with said check s MICR information; and

d) comparing by a computer said digital images, with said data in the data file to find matches.

When analyzing the claim under part one of the Supreme Court’s Alice test, the Federal Circuit determined that claim 1 was “directed to the abstract idea of crediting a merchant’s account as early as possible while electronically processing a check.”  In making its determination, the court examined the purported benefits of the ‘945 patent.  Two benefits were identified in the specification: “improved funds availability,” and “outsourcing.”  However, the court noted that while two benefits were identified in the specification, the claims were not limited to an embodiment that resulted in both benefits, stating that “[t]he only advance recited in the asserted claims is thus crediting the merchant’s account before the paper check is scanned.”  In other words, because the claims did not include features that required “outsourcing,” the court considered the only relevant benefit to be “improved funds availability.”

The court determined that the claimed advance (“improved funds availability”) was similar to abstract concepts such as “hedging” and “mitigating settlement risk,” and that “[t]he desire to credit a merchant’s account as soon as possible is an equally long standing commercial practice.”  Thus, the Federal Circuit used the purported advance of the ‘945 patent, as indicated in the specification and supported by the claims, in determining that claim 1 was directed to an abstract idea.  The court also noted that its characterization of claim 1 was appropriate where “the abstract idea tracks the claim language and accurately captures what the patent asserts to be the ‘focus of the claimed advance over the prior art.’”  This further signifies the importance the court placed on the alleged benefits of the application.

When addressing step two of the Alice test, the Federal Circuit used the background of the ‘945 patent against the patentee by stating that “the background of the ’945 patent describes each individual step in claim 1 as being conventional. Reordering the steps so that account crediting occurs before check scanning (as opposed to the other way around) represents the abstract idea in the claim, making it insufficient to constitute an inventive concept.”  In other words, simply re-ordering admittedly known steps will not constitute an inventive concept for purposes of step two of the Alice test.  Thus, the court used the applicant’s own statements in the specification, indicating that certain steps are conventional, to find that the claim was not patent eligible.

This decision provides important lessons about drafting and prosecuting a patent application that may increase the application’s likelihood to survive a §101 challenge.  First, practitioners should make sure that benefits identified in a patent application are exhibited in the claimed embodiments.  The identified benefits should ideally be clearly technical.  Second, practitioners should ensure that the patent application does not include any statements that might be used to argue against the patent eligibility of the claims.  This may include considering whether a detailed background may do more harm than good.

Kenneth Hartmann Harrity Team

Technical Details are Needed to Avoid Patent Eligibility Issues for Patent Applications

By Kenneth Hartmann, Associate

Many patent practitioners have likely found success in overcoming and/or avoiding 35 USC §101 rejections since the USPTO’s Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance was released last January.  However, the Federal Circuit (“the court”) recently made it clear that continued attention and care should be given when drafting patent applications focused on payment systems and/or payment processing.

In Innovation Sciences, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc. 2018-1495 (Fed. Cir. Jul. 2, 2019) (“Innovation Sciences v. Amazon”) the court determined that a claim to an “online method for a payment server to support online buying over the Internet” in U.S. Reissue Patent No. 46,140 (the ’140 patent) was ineligible under Step 2 of Alice.  More specifically, the court agreed with the district court that the claim was directed to the abstract idea of “securely processing a credit card transaction with a payment server” and that the claim lacked an inventive step, stating that the transmission of credit card payment information through the completion of a purchase are the same as those used in a “conventional Internet transaction system having adequate credit card information security” as admitted in the specification of the ’140 patent.

While Innovation Sciences argued that a “wherein” clause indicating the process involved a switch from a server with less security to a server with more security, the court held that that claim is directed to the abstract idea of “switching.”  The court further mentioned that the claim seeks to capture the broad concept of switching to a more secure server, rather than a “specific way of doing so.”  For Step 1 of the Alice test, the court indicated that the claim may have avoided being directed to an abstract idea if the claim and/or specification had indicated a specific way of carrying out the switch from a less secure server to a more secure server.

Patent applications directed to payments or other financial related processes will likely continue to receive the highest level of scrutiny with respect to patent eligibility due to the Alice decision being based on a financial/business method patent application.  The fact is, many of these patent applications and/or patents likely involve novel technical features, communications, and/or processes that were overlooked and/or not considered when the patent application was drafted.  In Innovation Sciences v. Amazon, the court specifically referred to a lack of detail with respect to switching between a less secure server and a more secure server.  In fact, the word “switched” is mentioned only ONCE in the specification and ONCE in a flowchart.  It is no wonder that the court found Innovation Science’s arguments regarding the switch between servers to be futile.

The ’140 patent claims priority to a patent application filed back in April 2000.  That was obviously a different era of patent preparation and prosecution.  Today, patent practitioners should consider and outline the technical aspects of processes (especially business method processes) without taking for granted that one or more steps of the process are inventive, in and of, themselves.  Clearly, the switch between servers, considered to be one step in the overall process for performing an online method for a payment server, involved its own processes and/or steps.  How/when was the decision made to switch the servers?  What parameters were used to select the new server?  How were those parameters analyzed to make the selection? What types of communications (and/or how many) were needed to perform the switch?  Again, it was a different era of drafting patent applications in 2000.  However, if the patent application drafter was able to predict the future, those are just a few example questions that, if answered in the claim and/or specification, would have improved Innovation Sciences’ case for patent eligibility.  Moreover, to have the best chances of success, patent drafters should continue to discuss the technical problems solved by these processes (and/or by the steps of the processes) and any corresponding technical benefits.

Joseph Falkiewicz Harrity Team

How to Protect Your Client’s Reputation While Also Protecting Their Intellectual Property (IP)

By Joseph “Josh” Falkiewicz, Associate

An attorney that drafts a patent application must consider a multitude of issues to provide strong protection for a client’s IP. The patent application should be accurate from a technical standpoint while also satisfying statutory requirements of patentability (e.g., 35 USC §101, §102, §103, & §112). At the same time, the drafting attorney must also consider how the publication of the patent application or patent may impact the client’s reputation.

Journalists often misinterpret the publication of a patent as a statement by the client regarding its current actions or future intentions. This can cause problems with how people perceive the client if statements within the patent mischaracterize the client’s approach to sensitive issues, such as privacy. Therefore, the drafting attorney should write the patent application in a way that positively reflects – or at least avoids negative reflection – on the client.

For example, a patent describing steps for obtaining and storing personal information of individuals might raise a variety of privacy concerns. Therefore, the drafting attorney should also include, as part of the written description, statements explaining that implementations described in the patent are compliant with privacy laws of one or more jurisdictions, that the personal information is collected only after obtaining consent, that encryption is used to protect the security and/or integrity of the personal information, and/or the like. To provide a more specific example, if the disclosed subject matter involves capturing images or video of a particular area (e.g., a loading dock, an office, a home, and/or the like), the drafting attorney should include an example in the specification that illustrates how an individual would consent to being monitored, an example showing how the image data or video data is encrypted before being transmitted over a network, and/or the like.

Furthermore, the drafting attorney may want to include, in the written description, one or more additional examples that describe how the disclosed subject matter handles situations involving non-consenting individuals. For example, a camera or a drone may capture an image of a loading dock to verify whether a product has been delivered. What happens if an image of the loading dock also includes an image of a non-consenting individual that was walking by? By providing a thorough description of these situations in the patent application, the drafting attorney can help create a positive reputation of the client by illustrating that the client cares about privacy of its customers. This approach also reduces the likelihood of a skeptical or an antagonistic reader promoting negative press about the client based on the patent.

Recent Court Decisions Weigh in on Prior Art Standard in Patent Law

By Jonathan Goodman

Is a printed publication that predates a patent application always considered prior art?  Many may think that a reference published, and available to the public, prior to a patent application’s filing date is prior art.  While this is usually the case, recent court decisions have highlighted exceptions to this standard.

Courts Clarify What Constitutes Prior Art

In GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holding LLC,  2017-1894, 2017-1936 (Fed. Cir. July 27, 2018) (“GoPro”), the Federal Circuit determined that a catalog distributed at a trade show open only to dealers of action sports vehicles was prior art to patents relating to action sports video cameras.  Particularly, the Court noted that the trade show’s focus on action sports vehicles did not preclude persons of ordinary skill in the art from attending because a primary purpose of action sports cameras is for use on action sports vehicles.

GoPro clarifies that a printed publication disclosed at a trade show is publicly accessible within the meaning of section 102 even if the trade show is not aimed at persons of ordinary skill in the relevant art.  While GoPro takes an expansive view, practitioners seeking to overcome a printed publication distributed at a trade show, conference, meeting, or similar gathering may still find success arguing that the printed publication was not publicly accessible when there is no credible reason that a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art would have been in attendance.  For example, a slight change to the facts in GoPro, such as the cameras at issue being used for portrait photography rather than action sports photography, may have persuaded the Court to find that the catalog was not publicly accessible.

In Acceleration Bay, LLC v. Activision Blizzard Inc., 2017-2084 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 6, 2018), the Federal Circuit found that an article published on a university website was not prior art to later-filed patents because the website only indexed articles by author and year, and lacked a reliable search function.  Specifically, the Court noted that the test for public accessibility is not whether a reference has been indexed, but whether the reference was indexed in a meaningful way that would permit a person of ordinary skill in the art to locate it.

It is worth noting that the university website at issue in Acceleration Bay was from 1999 and may have lacked competent search functionality that is now commonplace.  Moreover, today, articles published on a website likely would be keyword indexed by a search engine, thus making it difficult to argue against public accessibility regardless of the manner of indexing performed by the website.  Nevertheless, practitioners should be mindful that articles published on a website are not necessarily publicly accessible if it can be shown that no meaningful indexing of the article was performed.  In particular, if an article is not keyword indexed by the publishing website or a search engine—which may occur if the website prevents pages from being indexed by search engine crawlers—it may indicate that the article was not publicly accessible.

Key Takeaways

Although not every printed publication is considered prior art under Section 102, the growing ease with which nearly all printed material is easily accessible online makes that determination less and less likely.  Thus, when filing and prosecuting patent applications, practitioners should be wary of withholding references from the USPTO in reliance on prior art exceptions, such as those implied by GoPro and set forth in Acceleration Bay.

Harrity Womens Workshop 2019

Harrity & Harrity Holds its 2nd Annual Women’s Workshop

By Elaine Spector

Harrity & Harrity just completed its 2nd Annual Women’s Workshop.  The workshop is part of Harrity’s Diversity Initiative, whose Diversity Mission is to “promote and nurture a respectful, highly engaged, family friendly, and inclusive culture that values the diversity of our talented team with diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, skills/talents, and capabilities.”  Nine women, including recent law school graduates, current law students, and one research scientist with a Ph.D in electrical engineering, participated in a 3-day long workshop. The interactive programs included patent preparation and prosecution skills training, resume and interview preparation, and sessions with prominent women guest speakers in the intellectual property field.  The guest speakers ranged from IP partners at major law firms (both litigation and prosecution partners), former leaders at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Chief IP Counsel and IP Counsel at major corporations, and leaders within Diversity and Inclusion organizations.

The participants were particularly interested in how these women navigated their careers in light of gender issues associated with working in a male-dominated profession as well as balancing career with life.  For example, Barbara Fiacco, President-Elect of AIPLA and litigation partner at Foley Hoag, indicated that her love for research and writing led her to a career in IP litigation, where she is thriving.  Ellen Smith, a partner at Sughrue Mion, shared her philosophy from her daughter’s school, “If there is no path, make your own,” as she described her experiences in navigating a different path for herself at Sughrue Mion while she was starting a family.

Cynthia Raposo gave us an inside look on how she helped develop the legal department for Under Armour before Under Armour was a household name.  Interestingly, Cynthia had moved back to a small firm to a part-time position in attempt to achieve a better work-life balance.  She began to do work for Under Armour and soon became their go-to lawyer for legal advice.  When offered the position to go in-house at Under Armour, she indicated it was too exciting an opportunity to turn down.  Cynthia was responsible for developing strategies for securing trademarks worldwide well before Under Armour would even enter those particular countries.

Other sessions included health and wellness issues in the practice of law, top career tips, as well as the very sage advice from our Harrity founders.  John and Paul Harrity both conceded that their best career advice includes reading as much as possible with a focus on continued learning.  We hope the participants had a great time, and we are looking forward to next year’s workshop!

Plan Before You File: 3 Key Considerations in Patent Preparation

By Daniel Jebsen, Associate

It’s Monday, and your client comes to you with an urgent request for help: there will be a disclosure of an invention on Friday, and they’d like to file a patent application before that disclosure.  No problem, you can prepare a patent application for filing in a few days.  Other than the details of the invention itself, what do you need to consider when filing a patent application?  One easily overlooked issue, particularly in such a rush scenario, is the impact of inventor location, residency, and citizenship on your patent application filing.

Many jurisdictions, including the United States (see 35 U.S. Code § 184), impose some type of restriction on first filings outside of the jurisdiction (i.e., foreign first filings).  Such restrictions can be imposed on, for example, applications for inventions made in a given country, applications by inventors who reside in a given country, and applications by inventors who are nationals of a given country.  Note: the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has posted a list describing known filing restrictions for some Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) contracting states.

Some jurisdictions with foreign filing restrictions allow foreign first filing only with permission from the patent office (i.e., after obtaining a foreign filing license).  However, the amount of time needed to obtain a foreign filing license can vary from days to weeks, or even months, depending on the jurisdiction.  Some jurisdictions, such as Russia, do not allow foreign first filings at all and, as a result, do not grant foreign filing licenses.  Therefore, a very early consideration in the patent application preparation process should be whether inventor location, residency, and/or citizenship will dictate timing and/or jurisdiction of your first filing.  These scenarios can become quite complex when inventors are located in, reside in, or are citizens of different countries, and even more complex when an urgent filing is needed.

For example, maybe Inventor A is located in, resides in, and is a citizen of Country X, Inventor B is located in, resides in, and is a citizen of Country Y, and Inventor C is located in and resides in Country X, but is a citizen of Country Z.

Here are three steps to take before filing a patent application that should help preserve your invention’s first-to-file status:

  1. Before filing a patent application, the first step is to identify whether Country X, Country Y, and Country Z impose foreign filing restrictions based on the inventor relationships to the relevant jurisdictions. In this example, assume that Country X imposes a foreign filing restriction on applications made in Country X, Country Y imposes a foreign filing restriction on residents of Country Y, and Country Z does not impose a foreign filing restriction on citizens of Country Z.
  2. The second step is to determine whether permission for a foreign filing can be requested from any of these jurisdictions that impose such a restriction. Here, perhaps permission for a foreign filing can be requested from offices of both Country X and Country Y.
  3. The third step is to determine an approximate amount of time typically needed for a request for a foreign filing to be reviewed and (hopefully) granted. In our relatively simple example, perhaps a foreign filing license can be obtained from the Country X office in 3-4 days, but a foreign filing license from the Country Y office may take 4-6 weeks.  An attorney licensed in a given jurisdiction may have strategies for trying to expedite the review/grant process.

As you can probably imagine, results of these inquiries can dictate where and how quickly the patent application can be filed.  In the above example, if timing is urgent, a first filing in Country Y after obtaining a foreign filing license for Country X may be a workable strategy.  Conversely, if timing is not an issue, a first filing in Country X after obtaining a foreign filing license for Country Y may be the way to go.

Of course, it is advisable to contact the relevant patent office or an attorney licensed in a given jurisdiction in order to ascertain detailed information for a given jurisdiction.

In summary, inventor location, residency, and/or citizenship can have a significant impact on timing and/or jurisdiction for a given filing.  Therefore, foreign filing considerations should be handled as early as possible during the patent application preparation process.

Kris Rhu Harrity Team

Using Data to Improve Patent Prosecution Performance

By Kris Rhu

How many office actions should I expect? Should I file an RCE or a Notice of Appeal? Is it worth filing a Pre-Appeal? These, among others, are common questions that practitioners may ask themselves during patent prosecution. In the past, they were mostly unanswerable questions. Now, using data analytics, we can get a better sense of how the patent prosecution process will go and be able to make an informed decision when a crossroad is reached.  Below, we will explore how to use statistics about a patent Examiner, which are based on public data provided by the USPTO, during patent prosecution.  I have provided example screenshots from Patentprufer, which was developed by Harrity & Harrity.

Examiner’s Allowance Rate

By looking at an Examiner’s allowance rate (i.e. allowance vs. abandonments), we can get a sense of the journey early on.  A high allowance rate is an indicator that the Examiner likely has no qualms about allowing applications, and that the Examiner likely will not stubbornly stick to poor rejections.  For these types of Examiners, if appropriate, it may be worth taking a more assertive initial position, including arguing that the rejections should be withdrawn or offering modest amendments.  If the Examiner’s allowance rate is low, you may want to consider substantial amendments, get the Examiner’s Supervisor involved early in the process, or anticipate the need to possibly file an appeal.

Office Actions per Patent, RCEs per Patent

A high office action (OA) per patent and/or RCE per patent rate may be an indication that reaching allowability will be challenging.  These types of Examiners likely are unafraid to combine three, four, or even five references to make prior art rejections.    To get a patent application allowed in a more efficient manner than an examiner’s statistics suggest, a more proactive posture may be needed from the beginning.

Examiner Interview Statistics

Generally speaking, it is beneficial to interview an Examiner as it gives a practitioner an opportunity to get a better sense of the Examiner’s interpretations of the application and the applied references, and an opportunity to explain the invention.  A high interview success rate (i.e. interviews that lead to an allowance in the next office action) may be an indicator that the Examiner uses interviews as opportunities for compact prosecution.  Some of these Examiners may even provide suggestions for amendments that would lead to allowance.  If the interview success rate is low for the Examiner, consider sending a substantive interview agenda with proposed amendments to maximize the chance of reaching an agreement with the Examiner.

A comparison of a patent Examiner’s final rejection allowance rate with and without AFCP may be an indicator of whether the Examiner takes the AFCP process seriously.  If there is a significant difference with those rates, the Examiner likely uses the allocated 2-3 hours to find a way to allow the application.  However, if the rates are similar, the Examiner likely uses pre-pilot procedures regardless of whether an AFCP is filed.

Pre-Appeal Statistics

Pre-Appeal statistics can be useful when deciding whether to file an Appeal Brief or a Pre-Appeal Brief.  A high rate of allowance and/or re-opening of prosecution when pre-appeals are filed may indicate that it is worth presenting arguments in a Pre-Appeal Brief.  However, a low rate of allowance and a low rate of re-opening of prosecution may indicate that it would be better to forego the pre-appeal process and go straight to appeal.

Appeal Statistics

Analyzing a patent Examiner’s appeal statistics may be useful in determining whether to file an appeal or an RCE.  If the Examiner’s rate of allowance and/or re-opening of prosecution after appeal is high, it may be worth appealing rather than filing an RCE and avoid narrowing claims unnecessarily.

If the Examiner’s board decision success rate is high, it may be an indication that the Examiner goes to the Board only when he/she believes that an examiner’s answer would be particularly strong.  If you receive a compelling examiner’s answer from these types of Examiners, consider filing an RCE rather than going to the Board.


Just like how data analytics has improved efficiency in other industries, using examiner analytics can improve the efficiency of patent practitioners and the patent prosecution process.

Eli Mazour Harrity Team

Why the Revised 101 Guidance Continues to be Important After Cleveland Clinic

By Eli Mazour

After the 2014 Supreme Court Alice decision, the judges of the Federal Circuit failed to reach a meaningful consensus regarding how the subject matter eligibility test set out in Alice should be applied.  As a result, new USPTO Director Andrei Iancu recognized that there was no practical way for examiners to navigate all of the patent eligibility decisions for each individual patent application.  To address this problem, the USPTO released the “2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance.”

In the recent Cleveland Clinic Foundation v. True Health Diagnostics decision, a panel of the Federal Circuit invalidated claims related to cardiovascular testing under § 101 and stated that “[w]hile we greatly respect the PTO’s expertise on all matters relating to patentability, including patent eligibility, we are not bound by its guidance” (Fed. Cir. 2019).  The decision caused consternation among some practitioners regarding the value of relying on USPTO guidance.

Director Iancu’s comments regarding Cleveland Clinic

This past Thursday, at the ABA’s annual IP conference, Iancu addressed those concerns.  First, he pointed out that Cleveland Clinic did not even mention the 2019 revised guidance.  Instead, Cleveland Clinic discussed Example 29 from guidance that was published by the PTO on May 4, 2016, which is almost two years before Iancu became the director.  Second, Iancu noted that Cleveland Clinic just stated that to the extent that Example 29 contradicts a court decision, the court decision controls.  In other words, Cleveland Clinic pointed out facts that were clear before the 2019 revised guidance was even released: 1) courts are not bound by guidance released by the USPTO and 2) incorrect guidance released by the USPTO would not override previous court decisions.  Cleveland Clinic did not in any way directly undermine the 2019 revised guidance.

Moreover, Iancu indicated a change in approach by the USPTO: instead of reacting to each new Federal Circuit decision that deals with § 101, the USPTO is now taking a look at the § 101 issue holistically.  And, Iancu argued that the Federal Circuit should address the § 101 problem through en banc decisions by the full Federal Circuit.  In totality, this suggests that a single Federal Circuit decision by a panel of three judges is unlikely to significantly change the USPTO’s approach set out by the 2019 revised guidance.

Practical tips for drafting & prosecution

As it stands now, USPTO examiners and PTAB judges are expected to apply the 2019 revised guidance for § 101 analysis.  In fact, ex parte appeal decisions that deal with § 101 are currently being reviewed at the PTAB to make sure that the 2019 revised guidance is being applied by PTAB judges.  Therefore, in order to ensure efficient prosecution and positive appeal results, practitioners should primarily rely on the 2019 revised guidance to overcome § 101 rejections.

However, when drafting new patent applications, practitioners should plan for the possibility of the Federal Circuit, the Supreme Court, or even possibly Congress taking a narrower view of patent eligibility.  Therefore, to the extent possible, patent applications should be drafted with all of the relevant court decisions in mind.  The goal should be for an eventual patent to be able to withstand – or even better yet avoid – the most stringent § 101 scrutiny during litigation.

Tim Hirzel Harrity Team

Summary of USPTO Revised Guidance on Subject Matter Eligibility

By Tim Hirzel

The PTO released their highly anticipated revised guidance on subject matter eligibility that take effect on January 7, 2019.  A summary of the guidance is provided below.  A more in-depth discussion can be found on our website HERE.

Summary of Revised Guidance

The revised guidance maintains the two step Alice/Mayo Test but revises the procedure for determining whether a claim is directed to a judicial exception (e.g., an abstract idea) under Step 2A by instituting a two-prong analysis.

  1. First prong of Step 2A – Examiners evaluate whether a claim recites an abstract idea.  Instead of a case law specific approach as previously performed, the PTO newly identified three groups of abstract ideas: mathematical concepts, certain methods of organizing human activity, and mental processes.  If any recited claim limitations fall within the three groups of abstract ideas, the analysis proceeds to the second prong of Step 2A.
  2. Second prong of Step 2A – Examiners evaluate whether the claim as a whole integrates the abstract idea into a practical application. A practical application will apply, rely on, or use the judicial exception in a manner that imposes a meaningful limit on the judicial exception.  The PTO gives examples based on case law that indicate practical applications, such as: improving the functioning of a computer or a technical field, effecting a treatment for a medical condition, using the judicial exception with a particular machine, or transforming or reducing a particular article to a different state or thing.  If the claim does not integrate the abstract idea into a practical application, then the claim is directed to an abstract idea under Step 2A and the analysis proceeds to Step 2B.

Step 2B has not changed under the revised guidance and is still performed pursuant to the Berkheimer memo.

Our Impressions

  1. Under the prior guidance, Examiners would often dismiss any Step 2A arguments because their guidelines simply said a claim was directed to an abstract idea if any part of the claim recited an abstract idea.  The two-prong approach will make it much more difficult for Examiners to simply dismiss an Applicant’s Step 2A arguments.
  2. Applicants should now be able to avoid the necessity of debating case law with Examiners because the Examiners are not required to cite specific decisions in their rejections and only have to identify one of the three newly defined groups of abstract ideas. Instead, Applicants can now focus on the newly articulated “practical application” consideration in the second prong of Step 2A.
  3. While the examples of practical applications given in the revised guidelines are nothing new, the revised guidelines’ focus on the “practical application” consideration may make it easier to use these examples to effectively overcome the 101 rejections (without necessarily having to argue the case law behind the examples).
  4. The PTO broadly describing the case law as establishing a “practical application” consideration gives Applicants more leeway than relying on specific court decisions as done in the past.  For example, it may be easier to convince an Examiner on a technical level that claims “apply, rely on, or use the judicial exception” in a meaningful manner than to convince the Examiner that claims are similar to subject matter previously held by the courts to be directed to statutory subject matter.
  5. Any noticeable change in examination will depend heavily on how Examiners are trained to implement the new guidance.  Accordingly, it may be months before we fully realize how significant the changes will be to 101 rejections in practice.
Kenneth Hartmann Harrity Team

Case Summary of Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC

By Ken Hartmann

Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC, 2017-1135 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 9, 2018) is an appeal from the district court for the District of Delaware (No. 1:14-cv-01115-LPS).  The district court held that the asserted claims of Data Engine Technologies’ (DET) US patents are ineligible under 35 USC §101.  This decision was based on finding that the asserted claims are directed to abstract ideas and fail to provide an inventive concept.

The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. are 5,590,259; 5,784,545; 6,282,551; and 5,303,146.  The first three patents (referred to herein as “the Tab Patents”) are directed to electronic spreadsheets with tabs used to identify the spreadsheets and navigate between the spreadsheets.  The fourth patent (referred to herein as “the ‘146 patent”) is directed to identifying changes to spreadsheets.  This case law study analyzes the decision made by the court regarding the Tab Patents.

The Tab Patents are titled “Systems and Methods for Improved Spreadsheet Interface With User-Familiar Objects” and share a substantially common specification.  The Tab Patents describe a three-dimensional, electronic spreadsheet:

that includes a number of tabs to navigate through different two-dimensional matrices of the spreadsheet:

where each of the tabs include identifiers that enable access to information on the respective spreadsheets.

The Tab Patents describe the tabs as familiar, user-friendly interface objects to navigate through spreadsheets while circumventing arduous process of searching for, memorizing, and entering complex commands.  Accordingly, the Tab Patents present the tabs as a solution to problems that users had 25 years ago when navigating through complex spreadsheets, finding commands associated with the spreadsheets, manipulating the spreadsheets, etc.  Several articles associated with Quattro Pro (the commercial embodiment based on the claimed method and systems) were published that touted the usefulness of the technology in the Tab Patents.

DET filed suit against Google, asserting claims from the Tab Patents.  The district court considered claim 12 of the ‘259 patent as representative of all asserted claims of the Tab Patents.  Claim 12 of the ‘259 patent included the following features:

while displaying [a] first spreadsheet page, displaying a row of spreadsheet page identifiers along one side of said first spreadsheet page, each said spreadsheet page identifier being displayed as an image of a notebook tab on said screen display and indicating a single respective spreadsheet page, wherein at least one spreadsheet page identifier of said displayed row of spreadsheet page identifiers comprises at least one user-settable identifying character.

Google filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), arguing that the asserted claims of the Tab Patents are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under § 101.  The district court granted the motion with respect to the Tab Patents, concluding that representative claim 12 is “directed to the abstract idea of using notebook-type tabs to label and organize spreadsheets” and that claim 12 “is directed to an abstract idea that humans have commonly performed entirely in their minds, with the aid of columnar pads and writing instruments.”  Further, the district court did not find that any features of claim 12 recited an inventive concept.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the Court) analyzed whether the Tab Patents are patent eligible under §101 according to the two-step test of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International (“the Alice test).   In performing this analysis, the Court performed a de novo review of the Tab Patents and the evidence (including the articles about Quattro Pro) submitted to the district court.

The Court disagreed with Google, except with respect to claim 1 of the ‘551 patent.  Claim 1 of the ‘551 patent recites:

In an electronic spreadsheet for processing alphanumeric information, said […] electronic spreadsheet comprising a three-dimensional spreadsheet operative in a digital computer and including a plurality of cells for entering data and formulas, a method for organizing the three-dimensional spreadsheet comprising:

partitioning said plurality of cells into a plurality of two-dimensional cell matrices so that each of the two-dimensional cell matrices can be presented to a user as a spreadsheet page;

associating each of the cell matrices with a user-settable page identifier which serves as a unique identifier for said each cell matrix;

creating in a first cell of a first page at least one formula referencing a second cell of a second page said formula including the user-settable page identifier for the second page; and

storing said first and second pages of the plurality of cell matrices such that they appear to the user as being stored within a single file.

Note that claim 1 of the ‘551 patent does not include an “implementation of a notebook tab interface” as recited in representative claim 12 of the ‘259 patent.

In disagreeing with the district court and Google on representative claim 12 (and the remaining claims of the Tab Patents other than claim 1 of the ‘551 patent), the Court determined that claim 12 recites “a specific structure (i.e., notebook tabs) within a particular spreadsheet display that performs a specific function (i.e., navigating within a three-dimensional spreadsheet).”  The Court asserted that claim 12 claims a particular manner of navigating three-dimensional spreadsheets, implementing an improvement in electronic spreadsheet functionality.  The Court frequently referred to the benefits described in the specification with respect to navigating through the spreadsheets.  For example, the Court identified that claim 12 recited a structure that enables a user to avoid “the burdensome task of navigating through spreadsheets in separate windows using arbitrary commands.”

Further, the Court rejected Google’s notion that the claims merely cite “long-used tabs to organize information” and that such tabs are common in physical notebooks, binders, file folders, etc.  The Court stated that it is not enough to simply point to a real-world analogy of the electronic spreadsheet because eligibility is not based on such concerns.  Notably, the court acknowledged that those concerns are reserved for §102 and §103.  As such, the Court determined that claim 12 was not directed to an abstract idea, and thus was patent eligible according to step 1 of the Alice test.

On the other hand, during review of claim 1 of the ‘551 patent, the Court concluded, under step 1 of Alice test, that the above claim is directed to the abstract idea of “identifying and storing electronic spreadsheets.”  As mentioned above, claim 1 does not recite the notebook tab structure, but simply “associating each of the cell matrices with a user-settable page identifier which serves as a unique identifier for said each cell matrix.”  The Court concluded that claim 1 of the ‘551 patent does not recite the specific implementation of a notebook tab interface.  Furthermore, the Court concluded under step 2 of the Alice test that the additional features did not provide an inventive concept as the claim merely recites “partitioning cells to be presented as a spreadsheet, referencing in one cell of a page a formula referencing a second page, and saving the pages such that they appear as being stored as one file.”

This case provides a few practice insights for practitioners with a noticeable compare/contrast result between claim 12 of the ‘259 patent and claim 1 of the ‘551 patent.  First of all, it is important to identify any functionality that a particular feature of a claim may have.  Though an “identifier” may “identify,” such a feature is considered abstract.  The identifier in the Tab Patents included the function of enabling navigation between the tabs and reference to other information in spreadsheets associated with the tabs.  Including that functionality likely would have swayed the court to find the ‘551 patent eligible as well.  Additionally, the Court frequently referred to the benefits of the tabs.  These benefits included removing burdens on the user.  As such, it obviously would not hurt to acknowledge such benefits when preparing patent applications.  Best practices would also involve including and/or discussing any technical benefits that the tabs may have provided.  For example, among other technical benefits, the tabs may have conserved processing resources associated with navigating to other spreadsheets by enabling a single click of the tab, rather than navigating multiple clicks through menus and/or windows to reach other spreadsheets.

Download Data Engine Technologies LLC v. Google LLC

Elaine Spector, Harrity Team

Elaine Spector on the 2018 AIPLA Annual Meeting and the Women in IP Law Breakfast

By Elaine Spector

The 2018 AIPLA Annual Meeting was held on October 25-27 in Washington, DC, and included the gathering of more than 2,000 diverse professionals in the field of intellectual property.  In addition to the numerous networking opportunities and education sessions, committees within the AIPLA conducted their committee meetings.

Perhaps the most enjoyable of these committee meetings was the Women in IP Law Breakfast meeting.  Despite being held on Friday morning of the conference at 6:45 AM, attendance was certainly impressive.  The full buffet breakfast helped!  But the breakfast is not the only reason we have seen such a surge in attendance.  The leadership of the Women in IP committee is forward thinking and inclusive.  What used to be a small breakfast, has turned out to be one of the most well attended sessions at the AIPLA, likely because of the programming and inclusiveness it provides.  By the way, men are invited too!

During the meeting, we discussed numerous committee issues.  But the one most dear to my heart is the AIPLA Women in IP Global Networking Event which I co-chair with Lucy Samuels.  The Global Networking Event is scheduled for April 4, 2019, of which my firm, Harrity & Harrity, is a proud sponsor in Northern, Virginia.  The Global Networking Event consists of a plurality of events held on the same day in various cities around the world. The hosts are responsible for choosing their type of event, sending out invitations to female AIPLA members in their area (the AIPLA provides a list), and of course inviting anyone else they would like. Each host event can include any activity the host would like such as a cocktail reception, dinner, guest speaker, or panel discussion etc. Each host is asked to join a brief teleconference call to connect and say hello to other hosts in different locations.  It is a wonderful event, and I strongly encourage women IP professionals to attend, or host in your area.

Please contact me if you are interested in attending in Northern Virginia, or if you would like to host in another area.

Ted Nissly, Harrity Team

Case Summary of Natural Alternatives v. Andrei Iancu

By Ted Nissly
October 17, 2018- Case Summary of Natural Alternatives v. Andrei Iancu

On October 1, 2018, the Federal Circuit issued an opinion regarding the removal of a priority claim in an application, of a chain of applications, and its detrimental effect on the priority claims of pending and subsequently filed applications in the chain.  In Natural Alternatives International v. Andrei Iancu, No. 2017-1962 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 1, 2018), the court affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“PTAB”) final determination in an inter partes reexamination affirming an examiner’s rejection of the challenged claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,067,381 (“the ’381 patent”) as anticipated by or obvious over cited prior art, including a parent of the ’381 patent, because the ’381 patent could not claim priority to the parent.

Natural Alternatives International (NAI) filed a chain of eight U.S. patent applications between 1997 and 2011.  NAI filed the first application on August 12, 1997 and included a priority benefit statement under 35 U.S.C. § 120 to the first application in each subsequent patent application of the chain.  On April 10, 2003, NAI filed a provisional application while the fourth application in the chain was still pending.  On November 18, 2003, NAI filed the fifth application as a continuation-in-part of the fourth application.  The fifth application claimed priority to the first through fourth applications and the provisional application.  On August 29, 2008, NAI filed a sixth application that claimed priority to the first through fifth applications and the provisional application.  The court noted that at the time NAI filed the sixth application, the fifth application and the sixth application correctly claimed priority to the August 12, 1997 filing date of the first application.

On September 2, 2008, four days after filing the sixth application, NAI amended the benefit claim of the fifth application to claim priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to only the provisional application as an attempt to extend the potential patent term of the fifth application.  NAI subsequently filed the seventh and eighth patent applications that claimed priority to the first through fifth applications and the provisional application.  The eighth patent application issued as the ’381 patent on November 29, 2011.

In December 2011, NAI and Woodbolt Distributors (“Woodbolt”) became involved in litigation concerning the ’381 patent.  In May 2012, Woodbolt sought inter partes reexamination of the asserted claims of the ’381 patent.  Woodbolt’s request alleged that “the asserted claim to priority of the ’381 patent is defective” because NAI “deliberately and expressly terminated [its] claim to the priority of the first four applications[,]” which thus “broke[] the chain of priority between” the fourth and fifth applications.  NAI did not dispute that it had waived priority to the first through fourth applications when it amended the fifth application, but rather argued that the sixth application maintained priority to the first application because the sixth application’s priority claim was never amended.  Accordingly, NAI maintained that the sixth application became entitled to the first application’s filing date before it amended the fifth application.  The examiner rejected the asserted claims of the ’381 patent in view of prior art that included U.S. Patent No. 5,965,596 (i.e., the patent that issued from the first application.)

NAI appealed the examiner’s decision to the PTAB, which affirmed the examiner’s rejection.  The PTAB determined that because NAI deleted the claim of priority to the fourth application in the fifth application and the eighth application claimed priority to the first application via the fifth application, the eighth application was not entitled to the priority claims of the fourth through first applications.  NAI appealed the PTAB’s priority determination to the Federal Circuit.


Application Chain for Natural Alternatives v. Andrei Iancu

On appeal, NAI asserted four arguments: (1) that priority to the first application “vested” with the sixth application once the sixth application satisfied the criteria of 35 U.S.C. § 120; (2) waiver of priority in an application is limited to the instant application (i.e. that application with the amended priority claim) and does not extend to subsequent applications; (3) priority is not a single growing chain, but rather multiple fixed chains; and (4) the PTAB’s view on priority limits an applicant’s ability to amend a priority claim to gain patent term.

Regarding NAI’s first argument, the court explained that a patent application is “not entitled to an earlier priority date merely because the patentee claims priority,” but rather “the patentee must demonstrate that the claims meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 120.” citing In re NTP, Inc., 654 F.3d 1268, 1276 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (emphasis in opinion).  The court also noted that its decision in In re Janssen Biotech, 880 F.3d 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2018) was instructive.  In that case, where an applicant attempted to delete a priority claim of an application during reexamination, the court explained that amending the priority claim of an earlier-filed parent application may affect the priority of its child applications.  Accordingly, the court here found that the PTAB “did not err in determining that the ’381 patent was not entitled to claim the benefit of the filing date of the first application under § 120, as the priority claim in the ’381 patent was defective from the start.”

Regarding NAI’s second argument, NAI averred that under Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) § 201.11, altering a claim of priority “applies only to the instant application—not other, … applications.”  The court noted, however, that the MPEP “does not have the force of law.” citing Molins PLC v. Textron, Inc., 48 F.3d 1172, 1180 n.10 (Fed. Cir. 1995).  Regardless, the court rejected NAI’s second argument because the text of MPEP § 201.11 does not limit “the scope of waiver to only the instant application.” (emphasis in opinion).  Regarding NAI’s third argument, the court cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Godfrey v. Eames, 68 U.S. 317, 326 (1863), which held that “parent and continuing applications ‘are to be considered as parts of the same transaction, and both as constituting one continuous application” to support the court’s finding that priority is “a single chain, growing with each additional continuation.”

Regarding NAI’s fourth argument, the court noted a natural trade-off exists between priority and patent term.  The court explained that an “uncommon but permissible way for patent applicants to avoid losing term [for a patent application] . . . is to disclaim the benefit of earlier filing dates” which in turn makes the patent application’s “children become vulnerable to rejections based on a larger pool of prior art—including former parent applications in some cases.”  The court therefore rejected NAI’s attempt to gain patent term for the fifth application while maintaining the priority claims of its children.  Accordingly, the court affirmed the PTAB’s final decision invalidating the challenged claims of the ’381 patent.

This case highlights some potential pitfalls to consider when deciding whether to amend a patent application’s priority claim.  A practitioner may understand the limiting effect the amendment has on the priority of the amended patent application, but she must also keep in mind that the amendment may irreversibly limit the priority of any child application of the amended patent application too.  To ensure that a priority claim is not lost, the practitioner should consider maintaining the priority claim in currently pending applications, especially applications with pending child applications, and filing a new continuation and/or continuation-in-part with a different priority claim.  In this way, the claim of priority can be protected for the chain of currently pending patent applications and a longer patent term can be pursued for the new application.

Download Natural Alternatives v. Andrei Iancu

William Gvoth Harrity Team

Case Summary of GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holding LLC

By William Gvoth
September 27, 2018- Case Summary of GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holding LLC

GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holding LLC, 2017-1894, 2017-1936 (Fed. Cir. July 27, 2018) (“GoPro”) is an appeal from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) (Nos. IPR2015-01078, IPR2015-01080). At the PTAB, GoPro, Inc. challenged two patents owned by Contour IP Holding LLC as obvious in light of a GoPro catalog that GoPro distributed at a trade show in July of 2009. The PTAB found against GoPro, Inc. in the challenge. This decision was based on finding that the GoPro catalog was not prior art for the claims of the patents owned by Contour IP Holding LLC.

The patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,890,954 (the ‘954 patent) and 8,896,694 (the ‘694 patent), which have a common specification. The common specification of these patents generally describe video cameras or camcorders that can be controlled remotely (e.g., for remote image capture and/or viewing). Specifically, these patents claim use of global positioning system (GPS) technology to track a location of a camera and/or a camcorder during use and further describe use a wireless connection to facilitate remote control of the camera and/or the camcorder. The common specification of these patents further describe that the claimed device can be deployed in areas that do not permit easy use by an individual, such as in a sports scenario. Both patents claim priority to a provisional application filed on September 13, 2010, resulting in a one year prior art date of September 13, 2009.

In July of 2009, GoPro, Inc. attended the Tucker Rocky Dealer Show (the trade show) hosted by Tucker Rocky Distributing, a trade organization related to off-road, all-terrain-type vehicles and related products (e.g., snowmobiles, ATVs, etc.). The trade show was attended by numerous dealers and there were over 1000 attendees, including some potentially interested in video cameras and/or camcorders. There was no evidence presented to the PTAB that the 2009 trade show was advertised to the public, nor was the trade show open to the public. At the trade show, GoPro, Inc. distributed copies of its catalog for its HD Motorsports HERO camera. The catalog described the camera as a “1080p [high-definition (HD)] wearable camera [with] optional wireless remote with an omni-directional range of 30 feet.” In addition, the catalog included several images of the camera and wireless remote, including an image showing attachment of the camera to a helmet (specifically a motocross/ATV-type helmet).

In analyzing the evidence presented, the PTAB determined that a bachelor’s degree in computer science, electrical engineering, and/or the like and experience with video cameras and/or cameras (e.g., creating, programming, etc.) constituted the ordinary skill in the art. Next the PTAB determined that the GoPro, Inc. catalog was not a prior art printed publication by applying Blue Calypso v. Groupon, Inc., 815 F.3d 1331 (Fed. Cir. 2016). In making this determination, the PTAB found that the trade show at which the GoPro catalog was distributed was not advertised or announced to the public, such that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have known about it, and in addition, the trade show was not publicly accessible and was only open to members of the Tucker Rocky Distributing trade organization. Essentially, the PTAB failed to see how the general public would have obtained the GoPro catalog from the trade show, especially in light of the fact that the trade show was closed to the general public and was for dealers only. Further, the PTAB did not find any evidence that the catalog was distributed at the show to any persons of ordinary skill in the art, or that any one of such skill was actually in attendance (besides

GoPro’s representatives at the trade show) given that the trade show was focused on off-road, all-terrain-type vehicles and related products.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the Court) analyzed whether the catalog constituted a printed publication under 35 U.S.C. 102(b) (Pre-AIA). In performing this analysis, the Court performed a de novo review and reviewed the PTAB’s factual findings for substantial evidence. Under section 102(b), “a person shall be entitled to a patent unless the invention was described in a printed publication more than one year prior to the date of application for the patent in the United States.” Contour IP Holding LLC did not dispute any of the evidence presented regarding distribution of the catalog, nor did they dispute that the trade show occurred more than one year before the application for patent of the ‘954 and ‘694 patents. As such, the issue before the Court was “whether the GoPro catalog was sufficiently accessible as contemplated under 102(b).

The Court agreed with GoPro, Inc.’s argument that the evidence submitted was sufficient to establish that the GoPro catalog was publicly accessible. Citing Medtronic v. Barry, 891 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2018), the Court found that the PTAB relied too heavily on the target audience of the distributed GoPro catalog in finding that the GoPro catalog was not publicly accessible. In addition, the Court stated that the PTAB failed to consider other factors, such as “the nature of the conference or meeting at which material is distributed, whether there are restrictions on public discourse of the information, expectations of confidentiality, and expectations of sharing the information.”

In examining these factors, the Court noted that there was no restriction on distribution of the GoPro catalog at the trade show and that the GoPro catalog was freely on display for anyone in attendance. The Court further rejected the notion that the trade show’s focus on “action sports vehicles is not preclusive of persons ordinarily skilled in the art from attending to see what POV digital cameras were being advertised and displayed.” Similarly, the Court found that the patents at issue described that “a primary purpose of POV cameras is for use on vehicles in extreme action environments, such as the ones advertised at the Tucker Rocky Dealer Show.” With regard to attendees of the of the trade show, the Court determined that nothing about the trade show would have excluded cameras, camcorders, or related products from the trade show, and that it would have been likely for people attending the trade show to be interested in such products. Lastly, the Court determined that the vendor lists for the trade show included a number of vendors that would have likely been involved in selling and/or producing cameras and/or camcorders of the type shown and described in GoPro’s catalog.

Based on these determinations, the Court determined that “a dealer show focused on extreme sports vehicles is an obvious forum for POV action sports cameras,” and that “dealers of POV cameras would encompass the relevant audience such that a person ordinarily skilled and interested in POV action cameras, exercising reasonable diligence, should have been aware of the show,” despite the trade show not being open to the general public or advertised to the general public. In addition, the Court determined that the lack of restrictions placed on the dissemination of the GoPro catalog indicates that the GoPro catalog was “intended to reach the general public.” As such, the Court concluded that the GoPro catalog was a printed publication under 102(b) and that the GoPro catalog was prior art for purposes of the patents at issue. The Court remanded to the PTAB for an obviousness determination in light of the GoPro catalog.

This case provides a few practice insights for practitioners. This case highlights that when working with clients, practitioners should broadly interpret non-confidential disclosures of material as public disclosures. Despite the closed nature of the trade show and the lack of evidence that any persons skilled in the art, outside of GoPro, Inc.’s attendees, attended the trade show, the Court nonetheless found that dissemination of the GoPro catalog at the trade show constituted a prior art reference under 102(b). Similarly, this case highlights that a public disclosure can occur as long as the distributed material is not restricted from reaching the general public. Even if the material is not necessarily distributed to anyone of ordinary skill in the art, as long as there are no restrictions on further dissemination by those individuals, a court may find that such dissemination is a public disclosure as the material could, in theory, reach someone skilled in the art. As such, practitioners should work with clients to determine the exact nature of past or future disclosures of invention-related material for purposes of identifying relevant public disclosures.

Download GoPro, Inc. v. Contour IP Holding LLC

Harrity Blog

September 2018 – Creativity in Enhancing the Quality and Size of Patent Portfolios

By Nathan Phares and Kenneth Hartmann

One of the most challenging choices for an organization’s patent strategy is whether to focus on quality or quantity. A small number of high-quality patents may provide value and solid protection for some inventions, but innovation can occur at a fast pace, which may require rapid filings at a high volume. When presented with the challenge of increasing portfolio size without sacrificing patent quality or ballooning the budget, you, the patent practitioner (whether in-house or in private practice), may need to take creative steps to increase the number of ideas that are harvested from inventors, the number of patents that can be obtained for an idea or group of ideas, and the efficiency with which patents can be drafted. This article discusses several creative strategies to help grow a patent portfolio for your clients, whether they are a business unit of an organization or the organization itself. These creative strategies can be implemented prior to reaching the prosecution phase, both before patent applications are drafted and during the application drafting stage, without simply increasing patent expenditures.


Eli Mazour Harrity Team

Dissecting Dissents for Ex Parte Appeals

By Eli Mazour and So Ra Ko

Dissent is not the highest form of judgment for judges on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  As discussed in further detail below, our own analysis indicates that dissents for ex parte appeals are found in about .5% of decisions issued by the PTAB.  A PTAB judge deciding an ex parte appeal is more than ten times less likely to dissent than a Federal Circuit (CAFC) judge.

The PTAB decides thousands of ex parte appeals per year.  Each appeal is assigned to a panel of three Administrative Patent Judges (APJs).  While one judge is designated to write the initial opinion, all three judges are supposed to take an active role in adjudication before the final decision is issued.


Rebecca Bachner, Harrity Team

Case Summary of SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC

By Rebecca Bachner

In SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC, 2017-2081 (Fed. Cir. May 15, 2018), the Federal Circuit (“the Court”) agreed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (the “District Court”) that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,349,291 (“the ‘291 patent”), were invalid because their subject matter is invalid under 35 U.S.C § 101 (“Section 101”).

The ‘291 patent is directed to calculating and analyzing investment data in order to generate a resampled distribution.  In 2016, SAP America, Inc. filed a declaratory judgment alleging the that ‘291 patent was invalid and moved for a judgment on the pleadings on that ground.  In May 2017, at the judgment on the pleadings, the District Court granted the motion and held all claims ineligible under Section 101 and hence invalid.  The District Court concluded that the claims were directed to performing statistical analysis based on the language in the claims and the mathematical calculations in the written description and dependent claims.  InvestPic, LLC appealed the grant of the motion.

On the merits with regards to the claims of the ‘291 patent, the Court found, as did the District Court, that the claims in the ‘291 patent are ineligible under Section 101.  The Court stated that “[w]e may assume that the techniques claimed are ‘groundbreaking, innovative, or even brilliant,’ but that is not enough for eligibility.” Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics Inc, 569 U.S. 576, 591 (2013).  The Court reiterated that overcoming novelty and non-obviousness is not enough and that “[t]he claims here are ineligible because their innovation is an innovation in ineligible subject matter.”  SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC at p. 3.  The Court said that the subject matter is nothing but a series of mathematical calculations and the presentation of the results in the plot of a probability distribution function.

To make this determination, the Court looked to the patent’s description of existing practices being improved by the ‘291 patent.  The ‘291 patent discusses that conventional financial information websites perform rudimentary statistical functions relying on a false presumption of a probability distribution and that the patent proposes a technique that “utilizes resampled statistical methods for the analysis of financial data.”  The patent then discusses using a bootstrap method and bias parameters.

The Court then looked to the independent claims.  Independent claims 1 and 11 are method claims and claim 22 is a system claim.

Claim 1: A method for calculating, analyzing and displaying investment data comprising the steps of:
(a) selecting a sample space, wherein the sample space includes at least one investment data sample;
(b) generating a distribution function using a re-sampled statistical method and a bias parameter, wherein the bias parameter determines a degree of randomness in a resampling process; and,
(c) generating a plot of the distribution function.

Claim 11: A method for providing statistical analysis of investment data over an information network, comprising the steps of:
(a)storing investment data pertaining to at least one investment;
(b)receiving a statistical analysis request corresponding to a selected investment;
(c)receiving a bias parameter, wherein the bias parameter determines a degree of randomness in a resampling processing; and
(d)based on upon investment data pertaining to the selected investment, performing a resampled statistical analysis to generate a resampled distribution.

Claim 22: A system for providing statistical analysis of investment information over an information network comprising:
a financial data databased for storing investment data;
a client database;
a plurality of processors collectively arranged to perform a parallel  processing computation, wherein the plurality of processors is adapted to:
receive a statistical analysis request corresponding to a selected investment;
based upon investment data pertaining to the elected investment, perform a resampled statistical analysis to generate a resampled distribution; and
provide a report of the resampled distribution.


Upon reviewing the claims, the Court found them directed to abstract ideas.  The Court found this case to be similar to Electric Power Group v. Alstom S.A. 830 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2016) as the claims select certain information, analyze it using mathematical techniques and report or display the results of the analysis.

The Court distinguished this case from McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc., 837 F.3d 1299 (Fed. Cir. 2016) by stating that McRO was directed to the creation of something physical and the improvement was to how the physical display operated.  However, the claims in the ‘291 patent claimed an improvement to a mathematical technique with no improved display mechanism.  The Court further distinguished these claims from McRO stating that McRO had the specificity required to transform a claim from claiming only a result to claiming a way of achieving it.  Similarly, the Court stated that Thales Visionix Inc. v. U.S., 850 F.3d 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2017) taught an improvement of a physical tracking system.

In contrast, the Court stated, the focus of the claims in the ‘291 patent is not a physical-realm improvement, but an improvement in the selection and mathematical analysis of information followed by reporting or displaying the results.  The Court stated that it did not matter as to whether the information claimed is information about real investments as the limitations were not enough to make the collection or analysis of that information not abstract.

Further, the Court also distinguished the claims in the ‘291 patent from the results of the first test of the Alice inquiry in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., 822 F.3d 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2016) and BASCOM Global Internet Services, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC., 827 F.3d 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2016), stating that those claims were directed to improvements in the way the computers and networks carry out their basic functions.  Alice Corp Pty. Ltd v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S.Ct 2347 (2014).  The Court said that the claims of the ‘291 patent are directed to improved mathematical analysis and that the technology used can be off-the-shelf computer technology.  As such, the claims of the ‘291 patent did not meet the first test of the Alice inquiry.

Looking to the second test of the Alice inquiry, the Court concluded that there is nothing in the claims sufficient to transform them to patent eligible and that the claims in the ‘291 patent are merely an advance of mathematical techniques in finance.  As such, the Federal Circuit agreed with the District Court that the claims of the ‘291 patent lack subject matter eligibility.

This case illustrates the importance of having claims that are specific and solve a technical problem.  Furthermore, the decision in SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC emphasizes the importance of having claims focused on advancements in an area of technology.

Download Case Summary of SAP America, Inc. v. InvestPic, LLC.