After more than a year, USPTO still hand-keying patent issue information

A year ago I reported that USPTO’s then-new system for paying patent issues fees was a disappointment.  That then-new system was a web-based system in which the practitioner could provide issue information in character form.  The hope of course is that USPTO would auto-load the issue information into USPTO’s systems.  For example if the practitoner correctly typed the assignee name into the web-based system, then the hope is that the assignee name would be correctly spelled on the front page of the issued patent.  And similarly if the “attorney, agent or firm” information were correctly typed into the web-based system, then the hope is that the “attorney, agent or firm” information would be correctly spelled on the front page of the issued patent.

And as of a year ago, the disappointing news was that the USPTO was hand-keying this issue information into USPTO’s systems.  The result at that time for our office was a discouraging 20% error rate.

I had hoped that in the year that has passed since USPTO’s release of this web-based system for paying patent issue fees, USPTO would finally have gotten around to setting it up so that the issue information would auto-load into USPTO’s systems. Continue reading

Improved image searching for trademarks

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (the office formerly known as OHIM) has released a fascinating new image searching system for trademarks. You can upload an image and the system will look for similar images, based upon some sort of AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm.  I decided to try it out.  I uploaded the familiar image that you see at right.  Here is a small portion of what the system found:

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Late Outgoing Correspondence Notifications from the USPTO

What one would hope is that the USPTO would send its Outgoing Correspondence Notifications promptly.

In our office we look closely at each OCN email closely.  We receive several of them each day from the USPTO, one for each of our customer numbers in which there has been outgoing correspondence from the USPTO.  One reason the OCNs are important is that they prompt us to set dockets in our docketing systems.  A second reason the OCNs are important is that we assign tasks to people within our office, to attend to the various items of outgoing correspondence.

Sometimes we have a file in which we are waiting anxiously for USPTO to do something or another, so that we can take some related action.   In such a file the OCN is an important trigger for us to take the related action.

What’s unfortunate is that in recent weeks we have run into many instances where, for a particular item of outgoing correspondence from the USPTO, its associated OCN is late.  Continue reading

Cambodia joins the Hague Agreement

Cambodia deposited its instrument of accession to the Hague Agreement on November 25, 2016.  This event brings the number of Hague Agreement members to 66.

Cambodia now belongs to all three of the filing mechanisms — Madrid Protocol (as of June 5, 3015), PCT (as of December 8, 2016), and the Hague Agreement (as of February 25, 2017).

The two-letter code for Cambodia is KH.

Latest country ranking for science and math school teaching

The latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results are in, and as usual the United States ranks embarrassingly poorly.  The every-three-years PISA test, administered to 15-year-olds all around the world, measures math, science, and reading skills.

As reported in The Economist, this time the US ranked fortieth in math, twenty-fifth in science, and twenty-fourth in reading.  Higher-ranking countries for math and science include Japan, Korea and China as well as most countries in Europe.

Fifteen years of PISA testing have gone by during which the US has ranked poorly again and again.  The hope that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training could improve in the US remains unfulfilled.

Money alone is not the answer.  Per-pupil spending in schools in the US is much higher than that in most of the higher-ranked countries, and yet the results are poorer.

What does work?  In the top-performing countries, teachers are treated as professionals and are given time to prepare lessons and learn from their peers. Their advancement is determined by results, not teachers’ unions.  In the top-performing countries, school culture and budgets recognize classroom accomplishments by students more than, say, sports accomplishments.

But of course educational achievement begins at home.  It might sound old-fashioned, but in the top-performing countries, parents tend to encourage their children to study hard and to do their homework.

A reminder to re-register your DMCA take-down agent or lose protection

It will be recalled that to secure safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is necessary for the operator of a web site to designate a “take-down agent” by means of a registration filed with the Copyright Office.  For the past eighteen years, the Copyright Office had provided only a cumbersome and expensive method of paper filing for this registration process.

Alert copyright listserv member Sophilia Wu recently posted a very helpful reminder that the Copyright Office has now released an e-filing system for such designations.  She quotes the Copyright Office:

Transition period: Any service provider that has designated an agent with the Office prior to December 1, 2016, in order to maintain an active designation with the Office, must submit a new designation electronically using the online registration system by December 31, 2017. Any designation not made through the online registration system will expire and become invalid after December 31, 2017. Until then, the Copyright Office will maintain two directories of designated agents: the directory consisting of paper designations made pursuant to the Office’s prior interim regulations which were in effect between November 3, 1998 and November 30, 2016 (the “old directory”), and the directory consisting of designations made electronically through the online registration system (the “new directory”). During the transition period, a compliant designation in either the old directory or the new directory will satisfy the service provider’s obligation under section 512(c)(2) to designate an agent with the Copyright Office. During the transition period, to search for a service provider’s most up-to-date designation, begin by using the new directory. The old directory should only be consulted if a service provider has not yet designated an agent in the new directory.

Alert listserv member has blogged about this new registration system in a very helpful article entitled All About the Copyright Office’s New DMCA System.  As he points out, the new system is less expensive and less cumbersome to use as compared with the old system.

Thanks as always to Sophilia and Doug for posting.  (If you have not already done so, you should probably join the Copyright listserv.)

Who was quickest to report the Supreme Court design patent decision?

Old-timers like me will recall the old days when, to keep up to date about important developments like court decisions, the only choice was to subscribe to BNA’s PTCJ (Patent Trademark and Copyright Journal), a weekly print publication that at that time cost about $1000 per year.  The average delay between an important event and a subscriber’s learning of the event was on the order of 7-10 days.

Nowadays of course we get our news via the Internet.  But it is interesting to see the great variation in how long it takes for news of an important event to get around depending upon the particular distribution channel.

I’ll take as an example yesterday’s important Supreme Court decision in Samsung v. Apple.  This is the first time in decades that the Supreme Court has taken up a design patent case, and the outcome is an important one for the world of design patents.  (I blogged about the decision yesterday.)

The first place that this event got reported was the mailing list of the AIPLA Industrial Designs committee, at 9:34 AM Mountain Time.  The poster was James Aquilina, vice-chair of that committee, and the result was that all of the members of that AIPLA committee learned of this development within minutes of the Supreme Court’s release of the decision.

The second place that this event got reported was the Industrial Designs listserv, at 10:46 AM Mountain Time.  The poster was alert listserv member Margaret Polson, and the result was all of the members of that listserv learned of this development.  (If you have not already done so, you should join the Industrial Designs listserv, which is free of charge.)

The third place that this event got reported was the Patentpractice listserv (sponsored by Washburn University School of Law), at 11:11 AM Mountain Time.  The poster was alert listserv member Rick Neifeld, and the result was that all of the members of that listserv learned of this development.

James, Margaret and Rick were each filing US design patent applications for clients long before it was fashionable to do so.  They scooped every mainstream publication including the New York Times and USA Today (mentioned below).

The fourth place that this event got reported was the email newsletter of the firm of McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP (“MBHB Snippets“).  This was at 1:56 PM Mountain Time.

The fifth place that this got reported was the Ant-Like Persistence blog, in its industrial designs section, at 4:29 PM Mountain TIme.   (If you’ve not already subscribed to that blog, now is the time to do so.)

The sixth place that this got reported was the email newsletter of the firm of Maier & Maier PLLC.  This was at 4:53 PM Mountain Time.

By that point the news had reached the mainstream media, with articles in the New York Times, USA Today and elsewhere.

US Supreme Court decides a design patent case

It’s not so very often that the US Supreme Court gets an opportunity to decide a case about a US design patent.  Some months ago the Court granted certiorari as to one of the sub-issues in the smartphone litigation by Apple against SamsungToday the Court decided this sub-issue.  The decision, which I discuss below, comes nowhere near to bringing an end to that litigation.  Perhaps more importantly for the world of design patents, the decision has ramifications for design patent law generally.

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