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October 19, 2020by Element IP

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that Mary Critharis has been appointed the USPTO’s Acting Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs.

Ms. Critharis first joined the USPTO as a patent examiner in 1992 before progressing to Assistant Solicitor in 2000. From 2001 to 2002, she served as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee before returning to the USPTO as Attorney Advisor (2002-2004) and Senior Patent Counsel (2004-2011). Most recently, Ms. Critharis served as Deputy Chief Policy Officer and Senior Counsel.

As the Acting Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs, Ms. Critharis will serve as a policy advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, and oversee the USPTO’s domestic and international intellectual property policy activities; legislative engagement, through the Office of Governmental Affairs; education and training, through the Global Intellectual Property Academy (GIPA); global advocacy, through the IP Attaché Program; and economic analysis, through the Office of the Chief Economist.

Ms. Critharis will serve in this role as the USPTO continues the process of identifying a permanent replacement for Shira Perlmutter, who was recently selected to lead the U.S. Copyright Office as the nation’s 14th U.S. Register of Copyrights.

This press release and can be found here.


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October 7, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released a report titled “Public Views on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property Policy.” It takes a comprehensive look at a wide variety of stakeholder views on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) across the intellectual property (IP) landscape, including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret policy, as well as developing issues about database protection. The new report represents the agency’s firm commitment to keeping pace with this rapidly changing and critical technology in order to accelerate American innovation.

“On February 11, 2019, President Trump signed Executive Order 13859 announcing the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, our nation’s strategy on artificial intelligence,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “As artificial intelligence technologies continue to advance, the United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. The Department of Commerce recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic security.”

“The USPTO has long been committed to ensuring our nation maintains its leadership in all areas of innovation, especially in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “We appreciate the thoughtful comments our stakeholders have made to assist the USPTO in this endeavor. We will continue to work closely with the innovation community and experts in AI to encourage innovation and to strengthen the predictability and reliability of IP rights relating to AI technology. We want to ensure that significant innovation in and around this critical area continues.”

This press release and link to the full report can be found here.


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October 1, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is amending the foreign filing license rules to facilitate the use of ePCT (a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) online service) to prepare an international application for filing with the USPTO in its capacity as a Receiving Office (RO/US) under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

While the former foreign filing license rules authorized the export of technical data to ePCT for purposes of preparing an international application for filing in a foreign PCT Receiving Office, they did not authorize the export of technical data to ePCT for purposes of preparing an international application for filing with the RO/US. As a foreign filing license addresses the export of technical data, the USPTO is amending the foreign filing license rules to further provide that a foreign filing license from the USPTO authorizes the export of technical data abroad for purposes related to the use of ePCT to prepare an international application for filing with the RO/US under the PCT.

This final rule is effective on September 30, 2020, and the Federal Register Notice can be found here.


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September 16, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced a collaborative deferred-fee provisional patent application pilot program for inventions that combat COVID-19.

The USPTO recognizes that its mission to issue high-quality patents to inventors goes hand-in-hand with dissemination of important scientific information to the public to promote further innovation. This information flow is now more important than ever in view of the urgent challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the pilot program, applicants may defer payment of the provisional application filing fee until the filing of a corresponding, non-provisional application. To foster dissemination and collaboration, they must agree that the technical subject matter disclosed in their provisional applications will be available to the public on the USPTO’s website. By making their disclosures available, applicants can contribute to the public in the fight against COVID-19 while protecting their patent rights.

To qualify for the program, the subject matter disclosed in the provisional application must concern a product or process related to COVID-19, and such product or process must require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID-19 use, whether such approval has been obtained, is pending, or will be sought prior to marketing the subject matter for COVID-19.

The program is scheduled to accept applications for 12 months beginning on September 17, 2020.

The Federal Register notice can be found here.


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September 15, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today launched a major initiative aimed at expanding invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the United States.

The new National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI), comprised of representatives from industry, academia, and government, will help guide the USPTO in developing a comprehensive national strategy to build a more diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem by encouraging participation demographically, geographically, and economically.

“It is critical that industry, academia, and government work together to strengthen our culture of innovation by encouraging the participation of young people from diverse backgrounds,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Through the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, we plan to develop a national strategy for promoting and increasing the participation of underrepresented groups as inventor-patentees, entrepreneurs, and innovation leaders.”

Secretary Ross will serve as the Chairman of the NCEAI and is joined in his efforts by Vice-Chair Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.

“America’s economic prosperity and technological leadership depend on a strong and inclusive innovation ecosystem,” said Iancu. “That is why it is so important for us to encourage participation in the patent system so that all Americans are inspired to invent, to protect their inventions, to build thriving businesses, and to succeed.”

The press release can be found here.


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August 26, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the latest winners of the Patents for Humanity program, a USPTO initiative promoting game-changing innovations that address long-standing development challenges.

“Throughout history, inventors and entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of innovation to help the less fortunate around the globe,” said Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “I am truly honored to recognize these innovators from across the United States, whose creativity and curiosity dared them to solve some of the toughest humanitarian challenges, and I hope this program will inspire countless more to follow in their footsteps.”

This year’s virtual award ceremony is scheduled for September 17. Scheduled speakers include U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S. Representative Martha Roby as well as Director Iancu.

The USPTO congratulates the 2020 Patents for Humanity winners and honorable mentions, and celebrates the contributions these American innovators have put forth to improve the human condition.

The press release can be found here.


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July 31, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is setting and adjusting Patent and Patent Trial and Appeal Board fees for the first time in almost three years through its Final Rule, effective on October 2, 2020.

Consistent with federal fee-setting standards, in 2017, the USPTO began its biennial review of fees, costs, and revenues, and found that fee adjustments are necessary to adjust to increasing costs and to provide necessary resources for Patent operations, including implementing the USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan.

In 2018, the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) held a public hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, inviting members of the public to submit written and/or oral testimony on fee adjustments. PPAC considered the public comments from this hearing and made them available on the USPTO website. Later, PPAC provided a written report setting forth the comments, advice, and recommendations of the public and the committee regarding the preliminary proposed fees.

The USPTO considered and analyzed all comments, advice, and recommendations received from PPAC and then, on July 31, 2019, published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Setting and Adjusting Patent Fees during Fiscal Year 2020. The USPTO received and considered comments from four intellectual property (IP) organizations and 40 individuals, attorneys, law firms, corporations, and other associations. Responses to the comments are included in the Final Rule.

The press release can be found here.


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July 30, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proposes to amend the Rules of Practice in Patent Cases and the rules regarding Representation of Others before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This rulemaking proposes to align the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct more closely with the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct; to improve clarity in existing regulations to facilitate the public’s compliance, including revising various deadlines, the procedures concerning the registration exam, provisions related to the revocation of an individual’s registration or limited recognition in limited circumstances, and provisions for reinstatement; and to make nonsubstantive changes, increasing the readability of various provisions.

Written comments must be received on or before September 28, 2020.

The Federal Register notice can be found here.


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July 24, 2020by Element IP

Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, called on consumers to fight against counterfeit products. He did so in an address to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) as they released their anti-counterfeiting white paper.

“When we fight counterfeiting, we have to look at both sides—supply and demand,” declared Director Iancu. “And on both fronts, we have the strong support of the entire Administration.”

“A creative, collaborative, and ambitious public-private partnership can harness the particular strengths and reach of the partners undertaking this important work,” continued Director Iancu. “Working together—industry and government in a systemic and sustained manner—we can make a real difference.”

Andrei Iancu’s remarks can be found here.


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July 21, 2020by Element IP

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released “Progress and Potential: 2020 Update on U.S. Women Inventor-Patentees,” a follow-up to its 2019 report on U.S. women inventors. The new report updates the previous findings based on a review of an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data, and it provides further insights into the participation of women in America’s intellectual property systems.

The report’s numerous findings include:

  • More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before.
  • The number of patents with at least one woman inventor increased from 20.7% in 2016 to 21.9% by the end of 2019.
  • The “Women Inventor Rate”–the share of U.S. inventors receiving patents who are women–increased from 12.1% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2019.
  • The share of women among new inventors on issued patents increased from 16.6% in 2016 to 17.3% by 2019.
  • The gender gap in the number of women inventors who remain active by patenting again within five years is decreasing. For the most recent group of new inventors, 46% of women patented again in the next five years versus 52% of men.
  • Among the leading patent filers, the 3M Company showed the largest improvement in the participation of women inventor-patentees: Their average increased from 15.2% over 2007- 2016 to 16.6% for 2007-2019.

“This report is a great achievement for the USPTO and an important steppingstone for women in America’s intellectual property systems,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “The USPTO has remained committed in their efforts to support women in innovation, and this positive momentum will continue to create a more inclusive intellectual property community.”

The full report can be found here.