Post-Grant Review Proceeding For "Covered Business Method Patents"

Beginning September 16, 2012, some patents can be challenged under the transitional post-grant review proceedings for "covered business method patents."  We now have a better idea of what types of patents the USPTO will initially accept in the proceedings.

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Patents for Humanity

The USPTO has announced a competition designed to encourage research and development that targets challenges humanity faces worldwide.  Winners will receive a certificate for accelerated examination of their patent application. 

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Federal Circuit Says Software Is Unpatentable When It Merely Implements Mental Steps

On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Patel's grant of summary judgment of invalidity of software patent claims asserted in CyberSource v. Retail Decisions.  In its Decision, the Federal Circuit explains that a method that can be performed purely mentally is unpatentable under 35 U.S.C.  § 101, even if the claim is tied to computer hardware.

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Earth Day-Friendly Patenting

Just in time for Earth Day 2011:

General Motors announced last week in a press release that it "received more clean-energy patents last year than any other organization, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index of U.S. patents. GM’s 135 patents represent nearly 14 percent of the total 1,881 received by 700 entities."  Among these 135 patents are several that are directed to electrically operated vehicles.  That's no surprise because, according to the press release, "GM believes electrically driven vehicles offer the most long-term benefits to customers around the world."

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The IP World Is Shrinking (But We Already Knew That)

Last, week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a press release indicating that it had "hosted a two-day meeting with representatives from Asia-Pacific economies to discuss the importance and future of substantive patent law harmonization."

Next month, Commissioner Robert Stoll will be speaking at a conference in Bangalore, India.  When I spoke at an International Technology Law Association's conference in the same city last month, I was surprised to see so many practitioners from the United States as well as several European and Asian jurisdictions -- both speaking and attending.

Many countries -- including the United States -- are attempting to harmonize patent laws, and these cross-jurisdictional meeting opportunities facilitate that goal.

Canadian Government Appeals Amazon "One-Click" Decision

On November 15, 2010, the Attorney General of Canada and Canada's Commissioner of Patents filed a Notice of Appeal in Canada's Federal Court of Appeal in a case involving the patentability of Amazon's "One-Click" invention.  If the Court of Appeal overturns the earlier decision, it could make Canada's patent law diverge from U.S. patent law regarding the patentability of some (or potentially all) software.

Software Is Not Abstract

Earlier this year, I wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Bilski's claims were abstract, and that abstract claims are unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  According to the Federal Circuit in Research Corp. Tech. v. Microsoft Corp., software-related claims are not abstract.

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Pilot Program to Defer Prosecution of Non-Provisional Patent Applications

Some patent applicants file a provisional patent application to defer filing a non-provisional patent application for up to a year.  Yesterday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a new pilot program to defer prosecution (and payment of some fees) for the non-provisional patent application by up to a second year.

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Beacon Power's Smart Grid Patent

Beacon Power reported last week that its patent application directed to smart grid technology has been allowed.  The patent will issue on Tuesday as U.S. Patent No. 7,834,479, and is directed to controlling the frequency of power on a mini-grid that is disconnectable from a utility grid.

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USPTO Expands "Green Technology Pilot Program"

The USPTO today announced an expansion and extension to the "Green Technology Pilot Program."  Under the program, patent applications pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources, and greenhouse gas emission reduction can be accorded special status and prosecuted more quickly than other applications.

This pilot program will run until December 31, 2011, but the USPTO will accept only the first 3,000 grantable petitions to make special under the Green Technology Pilot Program.