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Category Archives: Patents

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Turning The Tide on “Trolls”

When a non-practicing entity (NPE) accused 16,000 small businesses of violating its patent by merely emailing scanned documents, the New York attorney general cracked down, forcing a settlement. Then the FTC threatened to sue for deceptive trade practices—prompting the NPE to file a preemptive suit against the FTC. ¶ As NPEs (sometimes known as patent… Continue Reading

Patent Quality: Shining Through

A New Review Process Shows the Importance of a Good Application The newly available procedure for challenging patent validity known as inter partes review, or IPR, is forcing patent players to raise their game—from application through litigation. More than 800 petitions for IPR— many more than the Patent Office itself had expected—have been filed since… Continue Reading

No Patent for You

Patent eligibility restrictions hit life sciences and tech After years of issuing rulings limiting what can be patented, the Supreme Court turned its attention squarely toward patent eligibility in the life sciences and technology fields. Overturning a 30-year practice by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office of awarding patents on isolated DNA sequences, the court… Continue Reading

For Whom the Bell Trolls

Government efforts to block patent troll activity gained momentum this summer, as the White House issued five executive orders and members of Congress fielded no fewer than five bills aimed at such issues as patent quality and frivolous patent litigation. The executive orders are effective immediately. But their impact won’t be known until the PTO issues rules… Continue Reading

One-Two Punch

Stop imitators by combining design patents and trade dress Design patents have gained popularity in recent years among inventors looking to protect their market share.  But they shouldn’t forget trade dress–the distinctive physical appearance or packaging of a product–as a way to ward off copycats as well, says Morrison & Foerster partner Jennifer Lee Taylor. … Continue Reading

Call the Patent Police!

Time to monitor competitors’ filings More companies will likely begin closely monitoring their competitors’ patent filings with the aim of opposing them under new procedures established by the America Invents Act, which went into full effect on March 16. The sweeping patent reform legislation—under which the U.S. switches to a first-to-file from a first-to-invent system—also… Continue Reading

3-D Printing: New Dimension for IP Law?

Just as inkjet printers deposit drops of ink to create a document, 3-D printers lay down bits of plastic, metal, or other material to build an object. But as 3-D printers enter the consumer market, they may also fashion new challenges for intellectual property law. Commercial 3-D printers, which can cost $50,000, are already being used… Continue Reading

Figuring FRAND

In our December post “A FRANDlier Realm” we discussed emerging law relating to patents that are essential to technological standards, like 3G wireless telecommunications. What happens when patent owners and product makers cannot agree on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms? We said then that, rather than issuing injunctions, American courts “are more likely to attempt… Continue Reading

Sharing an Umbrella

Big Pharma and academia cement big deals in the quest for bigger prizes With the patents of many highly profitable blockbuster drugs expiring over the course of a few years, the search is on for new drugs to fill large pharmaceutical companies’ shrinking product portfolios. For years, Big Pharma has turned to smaller biotech companies… Continue Reading

Patent Reform: The Process Is New, But Is It Improved?

In 2011, the sweeping patent reform legislation sought to reduce litigation by creating a new process for challenging patent validity. But the new process will look more like litigation than the old process, says Matthew Kreeger, chair of Morrison & Foerster’s Patent Interferences Group. Under the old opposition proceedings, challenges were decided by U.S. Patent & Trademark Office patent examiners based on the parties’… Continue Reading

A FRANDlier Realm

Europe’s courts take sides in standards patent disputes When a patent becomes essential for a product to operate according to industry standards—say, for a cellphone to connect to a 3G network—patent protection can start looking a bit like monopoly power. To avoid antitrust trouble, holders of these patents regularly pledge to license them on fair,… Continue Reading

Jumping the Line

Generic drug makers aren’t waiting until patents expire Since passage of the Hatch-Waxman Act in 1984, generic drug companies have used its Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) process to bring cheaper versions of brand-name drugs to market after their patents expire. In the past decade or so, generic drug companies have commonly applied for the… Continue Reading

The End of Fishing Season

For companies daunted by the high cost of intellectual property litigation, some relief may be at hand in the form of proposed limits on the discovery process. A council that advises the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last year decried the use of discovery as a “tactical weapon.”  It pinpointed the increasing… Continue Reading

Patent Pending: Shifts in patent law, and their impact extend beyond the America Invents Act

Once upon a time, patents were supposed to reward—and protect—innovation. That was before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (or PTO) got snowed under with applications, slowing the patent process to a crawl.  Before the PTO started issuing streams of patents that many viewed as vague and overly broad.  And before so-called nonpracticing entities, or… Continue Reading

FAQs: The America Invents Act

Could the America Invents Act help reduce the backlog of patents pending before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office? The PTO has long suffered from budgetary shortfalls, resulting in a backlog of some 670,000 applications.  The AIA gives the PTO the right to boost its fees and keep at least some of its own funding. … Continue Reading