Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

They Invented What? (No. 142)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on June 18, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 6,805,607: Scented doll with the appearance of an aged person.

  olddoll

What is claimed is:

1. A doll comprising: a permeable body covering, wherein said permeable body covering includes a torso portion, a pair of arm portions, a pair of leg portions, and wherein said permeable body covering is sewn to form a closed structure; an internal structure within said closed structure of said permeable body covering emitting a perfume fragrance through said permeable body covering; and a head portion including a core and a flexible cover stretched over said core, wherein said flexible cover includes a lower portion stretched and gathered together to form a narrowed neck attached to said torso portion, and wherein said flexible cover includes external folds emulating an appearance of an aged person including folds formed within said lower portion of said flexible cover.

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David J. Kappos, Nominee for Director of the USPTO.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on June 18, 2009

Per this White House press release today.

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

David J. Kappos, Nominee for Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Mr. Kappos is Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Intellectual Property Law, for IBM Corporation. Based in Armonk, New York, Mr. Kappos directs IBM’s Intellectual Property Law function, providing legal counsel over all facets of protecting and licensing IBM’s intellectual property assets and leading IBM’s engagement of intellectual property law policy issues. In particular, Mr. Kappos is responsible for the management of IBM’s patent and trademark portfolios; protecting and licensing intellectual property (patents, copyrights, trademarks, knowhow and technology) worldwide; directing intellectual property law operations relating to the research, services, consulting, computer systems, storage products, semiconductor and technology development, software, marketing and other groups, divisions, and entities within IBM. In addition, Mr. Kappos has responsibility for IP policy and coordination with IBM’s litigation and corporate development groups in matters relating to intellectual property. Mr. Kappos serves on the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the International Intellectual Property Society. He is also the Vice President of the Intellectual Property Owners Association. He has held various previous leadership positions in intellectual property law associations in Asia and the U.S. He has spoken widely in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. on intellectual property topics. Mr. Kappos received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California Davis in 1983, and his law degree from the University of California Berkeley in 1990. He joined IBM in 1983 as a Development Engineer and has served as an Intellectual Property Law attorney in IBM’s Storage Division and Litigation group, as IP Law Counsel in IBM Software Group, as Assistant General Counsel in IBM Asia/Pacific, IBM Corporate Counsel and as Assistant General Counsel prior to his current position.

Review: Burning the Ships: Intellectual Property and the Transformation of Microsoft.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on June 16, 2009

 burntheships

Burning the Ships, by Marshall Phelps and David Kline, provides a unique, behind-the-scenes insight into the decisions behind Microsoft’s internal evolution in intellectual property policy.  The reasons provided for the demise of the non-assertion of patents or “NAP” clause, for example, is particularly interesting. 

Phelps joined Microsoft after many years at IBM, where he orchestrated their highly successful licensing program.  At Microsoft, he overcame significant internal resistance and succeeded in causing Microsoft to collaborate with other companies.  

Of particular interest to those interested in building a corporate IP program are the objectives set forth in Phelp’s “5-year plan”, namely:

1. Build an outward-facing IP and licensing culture within the company;
2. Play a leading role in the global IP debates;
3. Develop closer coordination between the IP group and the technical development teams in the business units to help guide innovation strategy;
4. Better protect technologies by becoming a top-10 patentee;
5. Maximize the utilization of IP assets to support the companies business goals, standards efforts, and relations with open source and other firms; and
6. Use licensing revenue and cost optimization to fund IP&L’s expanded efforts.

As a negative, the authors’ perspective is certainly (understandably?) biased toward Microsoft.  There is also a lot of name-dropping throughout the book, and a certain amount of unnecessary repetition.  Overall, however, we enjoyed the book and would recommend it to our readers.  

New USPTO Web Site (Beta).

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on June 14, 2009

The USPTO has announced the beta test release of its new web site.  According to the USPTO, the new site has been redesigned to improve the look and feel, as well as to enhance the user experience with improved navigation. The USPTO’s goal is to make the Web site technologically up-to-date, user-friendly, and responsive to customer feedback.

The beta version of the new USPTO website is available here.  Any thoughts from our readers?

They Invented What? (No. 141)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on June 11, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 260,379:  Grave-signal.

 gravehelp

Having thus fully described my said invention, what I claim as new, and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is -

1.  A grave signal the essential features whereof are a tube leading to the coffin or casket, a signal-flag therein, a spring by which said signal-flag may be forced vertically upward above the top of said tube, and means for releasing said spring which may be operated from the inside of the coffin, substantially as set forth.

They Invented What? (No. 140)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on June 3, 2009

U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,089:  Fork with timer.

 forktimer

What is claimed is:

1. A fork with timer for providing a cue to a user after an elapsed period of time for indicating that another bite of food using the fork may be taken comprising, in combination:
         a rigid dinner fork having a head, four spaced and aligned tines extended from the head, and a handle extended from the head remote from the tines for allowing a user a firm grip for taking a bite of food;
         timer circuitry connected to the handle of the dinner fork and adapted for providing a cue after an elapsed period of time for indicating to user that another bite of food using the dinner fork may be taken, the timer circuitry further comprising:
          a countdown timer adapted for counting down a pre-programmed period of time, transmitting countdown signals in sequence during this period of time, and transmitting an event signal when this period of time has elapsed, the countdown timer including automatic reset circuitry for resetting the pre-programmed period of time upon countdown completion for subsequent countdown during a subsequent period of time;
          decoder/driver circuitry coupled to the countdown timer and adapted for receiving the countdown signals and event signals during and upon completion of a period of time, transmitting a “go” signal when an event signal is received, transmitting a “stop” signal when an event signal is not received, and transmitting timer display signals upon receipt of countdown signals;
          a green light emitting diode and a red light emitting diode each coupled to the decoder/driver circuitry with the green light emitting diode activated when the “go” signal is received and deactivated otherwise, the red light emitting diode activated when the “stop” signal is received and deactivated otherwise, whereby when a period of time has elapsed, the green light emitting diode is activated and the red light emitting diode is deactivated, and when a period of time has not elapsed, the red light emitting diode is activated and the green light emitting diode is deactivated; and
         display circuitry coupled to the decoder/driver circuitry with the display circuitry having a numeric display for transmitting a visual indication of elapsed time based upon receipt of timer display signals;
          a replaceable power source connected to the dinner fork and coupled to the timer circuitry with the power source adapted for energizing the timer circuitry; and
          a switch connected to the handle of the dinner fork and coupled between the power source and the timer circuitry with the switch having one orientation for energizing the timer circuitry and another orientation for de-energizing the timer circuitry.

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SCOTUS Grants Cert in Bilski.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on June 1, 2009

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari today (courtesy of SCOTUS Blog) in the case Bilski v. Doll. See previous AT! coverage of Bilski here, here, and here.

In short, the CAFC in Bilski has held that business methods are not patentable unless they satisfy the machine-or-transformation test.  In other words, patentable business methods must either: 1) transform matter into a different state or thing, or 2) be tied to particular machine.  The Bilski decision expressly held inadequate the 1998 ruling in State Street Bank, which had established that business methods were patentable if they produced a “useful, concrete, and tangible result”. 

The questions presented in the petition for U.S. Supreme Court review were:

1. Whether the Federal Circuit erred by holding that a “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing (“machine-or-transformation” test), to be eligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101, despite this Court’s precedent declining to limit the broad statutory grant of patent eligibility for “any” new and useful process beyond excluding patents for “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.”

2. Whether the Federal Circuit’s “machine-or-transformation” test for patent eligibility, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, contradicts the clear Congressional intent that patents protect “method[s] of doing or conducting business.” 35 U.S.C. § 273.

Now the the SCOTUS has granted cert in Bilski, will business methods as patentable subject matter survive?  Any thoughts from our readers?

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