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Spotlight on Primary Patent Examiner Angela Nguyen
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of current and past members of the Department of Commerce during Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
Guest blog post by Angela Nguyen, Primary Patent Examiner, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Angela Nguyen, APANET President (second from left) with APANET executive board members Nasir Ahmed, Susannah Chung, and Harshad Patel
As a Primary Patent Examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), I am responsible for delivering high quality and timely examination of patent applications in computer networking at the USPTO, but I also promote diversity, professional development, and outreach as a board of director for various affinity groups. Currently, I serve as President of the Asian Pacific American Network (APANET) at the USPTO, and with approximately 900 members, it is the largest Asian American affinity group in the federal government.
Reflecting back on my path to public service, I believe my parents have been my greatest influence. They fled war torn Vietnam to start a new life in the U.S. where they found freedom, safety, a better life for themselves and more opportunities for their children. They faced challenges such as learning English as a second language, overcoming cultural barriers, and facing the pain of leaving their families indefinitely. Most importantly, they instilled in me the values of hard work, ambition, commitment, family, love, respect, and empathy.
During the last few days of the Vietnam War, my parents escaped separately and were reunited through the help of Americans at a refugee camp in Arkansas. They acquired engineering degrees in Texas, where I was born, and we later moved to Orlando, where they pursued their careers. While attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando, I found that I also had an interest in science, math, and technology, and graduated with a degree in computer engineering. During college, I worked as a computer technician for a wholesale computer retail and consulting company and a junior software developer intern for a defense contractor, which inspired me to apply and work as a computer engineer for the Navy. Upon graduation, I moved to Virginia to work for the Navy, and during that time, I earned my master’s degree in systems engineering at George Mason University.
I’ve always been very active in extracurricular activities and affinity groups, so when I joined the USPTO, I became involved as a board member with the Patent and Trademark Office Society (PTOS) and APANET. These groups have provided a valuable way to connect with others at the agency and also give back.
My parents instilled strong values in me from a young age. They have taught me the value of hard work and dedication, which are reflected in my work as a Federal employee. I am honored to be in public service and feel privileged to work at such a diverse agency. As a board member of both APANET and PTOS, I hope I can lead by example and encourage not only Asian American and Pacific Islanders, but all federal employees to get involved and active in their agencies.
2017 Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Honored at the National Building Museum
On May 4, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) inducted fifteen of America’s greatest innovators into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., CBS News correspondent and television personality Mo Rocca moderated the event, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee gave remarks, and Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld presented induction medals. Seven living inventors were inducted, and another eight were named posthumously.
Director Lee lauded the new inductees, stating, “Among them all, tonight's Inductees, collectively, hold almost 550 patents. In and of itself that’s an impressive number. But more impressive are the innovations behind those patents. They have transformed how we communicate; how we manufacture; how we remember; and even how we explore the vast reaches of space.”
2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees and prior winners
This year’s class of inductees includes Beatrice Hicks, inventor of a device for sensing gas density used in the ignition systems that launched the Apollo moon missions; Marshall G. Jones, a pioneer in using lasers for industrial materials processing; Tom Leighton and Daniel Lewin for a content delivery network for a faster internet; and Carolyn Bertozzi, a pioneer in DNA-cell conjugates. Learn more and watch a video on the inspiring work of all the inductees.
Since 1973, the USPTO has partnered with the nonprofit National Inventors Hall of Fame, an organization that also educates more than 100,000 grade-school and middle-school students every year through interactive programs such as Camp Invention. To be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, one must hold a U.S. patent, as well as contribute significantly to the nation's welfare and the advancement of science and the useful arts.
The induction ceremony on May 4 was part of a series of events to honor both the new and previous inductees, which kicked off with an illumination ceremony on May 3 at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia.
Intellectual Property Resources for Small Businesses
Helping small businesses and independent inventors with limited resources is an important goal of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as they serve a vital role in our country’s economy. The USPTO has several free or reduced fee programs to assist independent inventors and small businesses in securing patent protection for their inventions, including the Patent Pro Bono Program, Pro Se Assistance Program, and Certified Law School Clinic Program. In addition, the USPTO helps small businesses by offering reduced fees for micro entities, protecting U.S. companies’ intellectual property abroad, and fighting fraudulent trademark solicitations.
Under-resourced independent inventors and small businesses may secure free legal representation to help them protect their inventions through the USPTO’s Patent Pro Bono Program. Located across the country, each pro bono program matches independent inventors and small businesses with volunteer patent attorneys to help them navigate the process for obtaining a patent. To date, more than 800 attorneys have volunteered through the program, and in order to assist even more independent inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2017, the USPTO is looking for more attorneys to participate.
Another way for small businesses to secure free legal services is through the Law School Clinic Certification Program. The USPTO has partnered with 45 law schools to offer programs through which law students draft and file either patent applications or trademark applications for clients under the supervision of law school faculty. Since its inception, over 2,700 law students have participated in the program and have filed more than 540 patent applications and more than 2,000 trademark applications for clients.
USPTO attorneys advise Law School Clinic Certification Program students
Many independent inventors and small businesses file patent applications without the assistance of a registered patent attorney or agent—also known as "pro se" filing. The USPTO has tools to assist pro se filers, as well as a dedicated team available to answer filing questions and simplify the process. To learn more, visit the Pro Se Assistance Program page of the USPTO website or read a recent blog on the positive impact the program has made.
The USPTO also offers independent inventors and small businesses reduced patent filing fees for “micro entities” and “small entities.” Entities that meet the micro-entity requirements are eligible for a 75 percent reduction on most fees, and small entity status offers a 50 percent fee reduction. View the full USPTO fee schedule.
Independent inventors and small and medium-sized entities may lack the in-house resources and expertise they need to deal with foreign intellectual property (IP) regulations. The USPTO’s IP Attachés are stationed at select U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, working directly with U.S. businesses on IP issues—including helping to stop counterfeiting and piracy—while supporting U.S. efforts to improve IP laws internationally. And today, looking after those IP assets is more important than ever: according to a recent estimate from the International Chamber of Commerce, the global value of counterfeit and pirated products could be as high as $1.8 trillion a year. This represents a huge loss of revenue.
In addition, the USPTO protects U.S. businesses by fighting solicitations from companies fraudulently promising to protect trademarks. In order to limit the number of victims defrauded, the USPTO frequently informs customers of how to avoid these schemes, and has several online resources alerting the public about the fraudulent entities that have already been identified. Read about a recent case where the USPTO partnered with other federal agencies to combat the problem.
These are only some examples of the many services the USPTO offers to help American inventors and small businesses protect their products and IP domestically and abroad. Visit the Inventors and Entrepreneurs page of the USPTO website to learn about even more resources.
Patent Pro Bono Volunteer Attorneys Assisting Inventors Across the Country
Guest blog by Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld and Deputy General Counsel William R. Covey
The USPTO has worked closely with intellectual property law associations to establish a network of independently operated regional Patent Pro Bono programs to provide under-resourced inventors and small businesses who lack the financial resources to file a patent application with legal assistance to secure protection for their inventions. Through these programs, those independent inventors and small businesses can connect with volunteer registered patent practitioners across the entire United States who can assist them with navigating the process for obtaining a patent.
Coverage of the Patent Pro Bono Program
Needless to say, volunteer patent practitioners are integral to the success of the Patent Pro Bono Program, and we wish to thank them for their time and dedication. Participation requires a tremendous amount of commitment on the part of the volunteer patent practitioners, who are already heavily involved in the rigors of daily patent prosecution activities for their paying clients. The volunteer practitioners are tasked with the challenge of balancing their existing work load and providing the additional time needed to support and assist their pro bono clients. Even faced with these demanding constraints, to date, over 800 patent professionals have volunteered their availability, time and resources to help make the Patent Pro Bono Program a success. Read more about the inventors and entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of the program.
To encourage future participation in the program and to acknowledge those that have provided their services in support of the program, the USPTO is pleased to announce a Certificate Recognition Program for 2017. For those volunteer patent practitioners who report 50 or more hours of patent pro bono service in 2017 to their regional Patent Pro Bono Program administrators, the USPTO will provide them with a certificate recognizing their accomplishment and will add their names, with their consent, to the Patent Pro Bono Program of the USPTO website.
Providing patent filing and prosecution services, pro bono, supports patent quality and ensures that no worthwhile invention is left unexamined due to lack of financial resources. For more information on participating or volunteering for the program, visit the Patent Pro Bono page of the USPTO website and click on your state to identify your regional program, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Through the Patent Pro Bono Program and the hard work of patent pro bono practitioners, we look forward to assisting even more independent inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses in 2017.
Patents and Trademarks of World War One
This month marks the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I on April 6, 1917, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has taken a look back into its archives of patents and trademarks from that era.
World War I, and the years that came after it, resulted in a surge of American ingenuity and technological innovation. As soldiers faced different types of warfare, new technologies emerged such as the gas mask. One early version was a breathing device patented by African-American inventor Garrett Morgan in 1914, and subsequent inventors built on his work to create masks that protected soldiers from poisonous gases during WWI.
Father of the modern submarine, John Phillip Holland designed and built the first underwater vessel for the U.S. Navy in the late 1800s. His submarine design would become the model for the Navy's fleet of submersibles for the next several decades.
Certain items developed for troops in WWI went on to become part of everyday life for Americans. One example is the “hookless fastener” or zipper, patented by Gideon Sundback in 1916, which the U.S. military incorporated into uniforms and boots, and also caught on quickly in civilian clothing.
Diagram from the patent application of G. Sundback's "seperable fastener."
Another is the wrist watch. Before WWI, most people didn’t wear them, instead relying on clocks at home or pocket watches. But following the need for wristwatches for soldiers in the field during WWI, they became popular with the general public after the war.
During the WWI years, many products were also trademarked that are still in use today. For example, Dixie®, trademarked in 1917, developed a paper cup to prevent the spread of germs, and the company still produces an array of paper products today. Many companies included symbols of patriotism in their advertisements during the war, and WWI lore even made its way into pop culture, such as Snoopy’s Flying Ace.
Some WWI veterans were also notable inventors, such as Frank J. Sprague and Leroy Grumman, currently featured in the Visionary Veterans exhibit in the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) Museum at the USPTO in Alexandria, Va. Sprague, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, developed the electric railway, early electric elevators, and the commercial electric motor. Grumman, a Navy pilot, invented a unique folding-wing mechanism for naval aircraft and later established the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, now part of the Northrop Grumman Corporation.
Celebrating World IP Day
On April 26, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) celebrated World Intellectual Property (IP) day in Washington D.C., as well as across the country in Houston, Chicago, and Silicon Valley. The theme of this year’s World IP Day is “Innovation – Improving Lives.”
One program which is a prime example innovation improving lives is Patents for Humanity, the USPTO’s awards competition recognizing innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges. This year’s winners found new and innovative ways to administer and provide health care solutions in some of the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Watch the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity video to learn more about the program’s mission and impact.
“We have seen the profound impact that good ideas, protected through a world-class IP system, can have on humanity. From new and powerful technology that we can wear on our wrists and carry in our pockets, to new methods of diagnosing and treating disease, intellectual property can not only improve lives, it can save lives. It can also create new jobs and grow our economy, which is why we must always ensure that our IP system supports small businesses, startups, and individual inventors.”
Co-founder of GRIT demonstrates the all-terrain Freedom Chair for the disabled.
Featured speakers for World IP Day also included Jeanine Hayes, Chief IP Officer of Nike, Inc., who discussed Nike’s FlyEase technology, a line of footwear built for athletes with disabilities, and Mario Bollini, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Global Research Innovation and Technology, Inc. who demonstrated the company’s all-terrain Freedom Chair for the disabled.
Spotlight on Pam Isom, Director of the Office of Application Engineering and Development
Guest blog by Pam Isom, Director of the Office of Application Engineering and Development, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
As Director of the Office of Application Engineering and Development (AED), I oversee all aspects of next generation systems engineering, development and implementation at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I am also responsible for hiring, budget formulation, planning and execution, and laying a foundation for the retirement of legacy systems.
My office is large and our initiatives are complex. As a result, we have frequent working sessions (standups are not uncommon) where we break problems into manageable components, brainstorm ideas and address. I value my team. Together we are building systems that protect the nation’s intellectual property (IP) through the consistent application of DevOps, user centered design, and advanced agile principles. We have fun, succeed, make mistakes, learn, and get better.
I joined the USPTO in 2015 with over 25 years of IT experience, and as an industry veteran I recall the process of evolving ideas into inventions, and then patents. This process was not easy - it required extensive dialogue, much patience, sometimes rejection and yes, determination. Anxiety would sometimes set in and I would wonder, “What do the reviewers think of my invention? I should have explained things better. Sigh…What now?” Fast forward to today, five patents later, and numerous publications including a book. I am delighted that these experiences contributed to my interest in serving as an employee and representative of the USPTO. Now I sit on the other side - one of the best choices of my career!
Pam Isom holds a standing meeting with her team
Women’s History Month is a great time to reflect on the influence of women around the globe. In college, I remember being the only African American woman in computer classes and early in my career, the only one in many job assignments. I wasn’t surprised since many of my peers chose alternate fields of study. I once asked a manager of an all-male computer programming team how she felt about being the minority. She expressed that she doesn’t dwell on it, that she focuses on the job at hand. That stuck with me. I decided that my circumstances were attributes of a trail blazer. So while it didn’t matter to me then that I was the minority, it’s nice to see more women in technology each day and I hope that I have, in some way, been of influence.
My role model is my mom. She taught me so much. She is the one that encouraged me to believe in myself and to value others. She lived “it will be alright in a minute.” As a young girl, growing up in Oklahoma, I was quite the curious one, inspired to study math, science and music. In the summer months I eagerly attended youth programs so as not to become idle. I am also grateful for the support my husband, who is also my best friend, has provided me along the way and throughout my career.
I respect my leaders and admire the representation of women at the Department of Commerce (DOC) and the USPTO -- a diverse group with many talents -- and it is no surprise to find leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) here. I was invited and remain a board member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) affinity group since its inception in 2015, supporting the mission of inspiring women executives and promoting STEM. I was grateful yet humbled to serve as a panelist at the DOC’s Hidden Figures event this month, and also to be recognized in the Women of Innovation exhibit at the USPTO.
There are significant opportunities at the USPTO and in particular the Office of the Chief Information Officer and AED. To the rising and the more experienced women who may have faced some challenges and/or who may tempted to second guess yourself, I have some advice for you that I apply to my own life. Purpose is important. Your purpose in life will open doors. When that happens, be ready and cross the threshold. Go Forward. Keep the passion. Obstacles may get in the way but not in your way.
Celebrating Women of Innovation
Women inventors and scientists have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, but why is it that many people are unable to name one female inventor, but can easily recall male inventors and scientists such as Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein?
Take one woman inventor for example. Actress Hedy Lamarr was best known for her work in Hollywood during MGM's Golden Age, starring in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), White Cargo (1942), and Samson and Delilah (1949). But Lamarr also worked with Hollywood composer George Antheil to invent and patent a frequency hopping technique that today is referenced as an important development in the field of wireless communications. Lamarr and Antheil's frequency hopping reduced the risk of detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.
Commemorating Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme of “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) long-time private sector partner, has developed an impressive display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The colorful pictorial exhibit highlights the accomplishments of ten innovative women for their breakthrough contributions and inspiration, empowering current and future generations of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA
In addition to inventors such as Hedy Lamar, the exhibit showcases women innovators of all ages, from Made by Girls Scholar Landri Drude, who participated in Camp Invention, to Elizabeth Hunter, who was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventors Competition. These women are vital role models and contributors to the fabric of American innovation and technology.
In today’s innovation-based economy, it is important to remove barriers and expand opportunities for women in STEM. Through the All in STEM Initiative, the USPTO is encouraging women at all stages of their lives to pursue STEM degrees and work in STEM careers for the benefit of our economy and society. Follow the USPTO on Twitter and keep up with our efforts through #AllinSTEM and #PeopleofPTO.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame is dedicated to ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of coming generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and challenging collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. NIHF has served more than one million children and 125,000 educators and interns, and awarded more than $1 million to college students for their innovative work and scientific achievement through the help of its sponsors. Visit the NIHF Museum located at the USPTO in Alexandria, VA, renovated last year, and discover more inspirational stories of invention.
2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees Announced
Guest blog by Commissioner for Patents Drew Hirshfeld
Recently, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in partnership with the USPTO, announced the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees. These visionary inventors each patented inventions that revolutionized their industries and changed people’s lives. Of the fifteen new inductees, eight will be honored posthumously.
The criteria for induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame requires candidates to hold a U.S. patent that has contributed significantly to the nation's welfare and the advancement of science and the useful arts.
This year’s class of inductees includes Earl Dickson, inventor of the Band-Aid® Adhesive Bandage, Augustine Sackatt, inventor of drywall, Marshall G. Jones, responsible for laser welding aluminum to copper, and Carolyn Bertozzi, a pioneer in DNA-cell conjugates. Read more about the inspiring work of all the inductees.
Both the new and previous inductees will be honored in a two-day event series. It will kick off with an illumination ceremony at the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia on May 3, 2017 followed by the 45th Annual National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 4 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Illuminated wall of icons at the National Inventors Hall of Fame
The National Inventors Hall of Fame, located in the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Virginia, was established in 1973 and honors monumental individuals who have contributed great technological and scientific achievements and helped stimulate growth for our nation and beyond. The museum reopened last year to the public after renovations, with some new interactive installations. These include the chance to take a seat in a one-of-a-kind ride, a 1965 Ford Mustang merged with a 2015 Ford Mustang, plug into the story of Qualcomm’s smartphone technology, powered by the patent system, see the progression and development of the camera, courtesy of the George Eastman Museum, and discover the inspirational stories of past inductees on the illuminated gallery of icons.
Posted at 02:16PM Mar 13, 2017 in patents |
More New Ways to Explore Patent Data
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee
Making patent data accessible to the public has been a cornerstone of this agency’s policy since its inception. I’m pleased to announce yet another step we’ve taken at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make such data even easier for the public to understand and use, namely the addition of new features to our patent data visualization and analysis tool, PatentsView. First launched in 2014, PatentsView provides the public a variety of ways to interactively engage, through a web-based platform, the highest-quality patent data available. The underlying database connects 40 years’ worth of information about inventors, their organizations, and their locations in unprecedented ways. PatentsView is a key component of our open data efforts to improve the accessibility, usability, and transparency of U.S. patent data.
PatentsView’s newly revamped interface presents three new user-friendly starting points:
From these starting points, users can further explore comprehensive detail views for each patent, inventor, firm, and location. These interactive detail pages emphasize the interconnectedness of inventions, people, and firms. You can also access the data directly through an intuitive search and download system, via an application programming interface (API), or through bulk downloads.
You could argue that the innovations documented in our records may very well, collectively, constitute the world’s largest repository of scientific and technological knowledge. But the larger a data set, the more challenging it is to find useful information or trends or, put another way, to separate the signal from the noise. This collaborative tool, developed by the USPTO’s Office of the Chief Economist in conjunction with the American Institutes for Research, New York University, the University of California at Berkeley, Twin Arch Technologies, and Periscopic, aims to make that sorting and separation possible. The shared public and private effort in creating and improving the platform is symbolized in the “.org” domain of http://www.PatentsView.org.
By providing new tools and data to the public, PatentsView demonstrates this agency’s continuing commitment to open data, open government, and evidence-based policymaking.
MyUSPTO: Your Personalized Homepage for USPTO Tasks
Guest blog by Chief Information Officer John B. Owens II
The USPTO recently launched a new tool to improve how you manage your intellectual property portfolio. With one single sign on, you can now track your patent and trademark applications, receive alerts when they are updated, and get other news from the USPTO.
MyUSPTO is your personalized homepage and gateway to all your USPTO business needs, and there is no cost to sign up and use the site. MyUSPTO allows you to access your patent and trademark applications in one central location, and also receive email notifications when the status changes on those applications. The site also allows you to save USPTO webpages as bookmarks, so you won’t need to save them separately in your own browser. Additionally, you can learn about current news, upcoming events, and connect with our Facebook and Twitter accounts on the MyUSPTO homepage. The site uses “widgets,” which are small applications that display snippets of important information; aka shortcuts to larger USPTO applications and affiliated sites. The entire site is fully customizable so you can add a little or as much as you prefer.
MyUSPTO simplifies, personalizes, and streamlines the public’s interactions with the USPTO. Future releases will gradually replace many of the credentials you use to sign in to our other systems with one secure, consolidated sign-in. The accounts are designed for individuals; however, future updates will add the ability for organizations to share information between colleagues.
Let us know your suggestions on how we can further improve the site through our MyUSPTO feedback forum on IdeaScale. I invite you to visit MyUSPTO, create an account, and check it out for yourself. I’m positive that it will be useful for your business needs. You can also visit our “What’s New” page to find out about future updates and improvements.
Posted at 02:51PM Jan 09, 2017 in USPTO |
USPTO Releases its 2016 Performance and Accountability Report
Guest Blog by Chief Financial Officer Tony Scardino
I’m pleased to announce that the USPTO has published its Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The PAR serves as the USPTO’s annual report, similar to what private sector companies prepare for their shareholders. Each year the USPTO publishes this report to update the public on our performance and financial health.
Our PAR charts the agency’s progress toward meeting goals outlined in our 2014-2018 Strategic Plan: optimizing patent quality and timeliness; optimizing trademark quality and timeliness; and providing domestic and global leadership to improve intellectual property policy, protection, and enforcement worldwide. These goals govern the quality and quantity of our service to intellectual property stakeholders. In addition, the PAR provides information on the USPTO’s progress towards a broader management goal: achieving organizational excellence.
Here at the USPTO, we take pride in producing a PAR that meets the highest standards of transparency, quality, and accountability. The PAR contains a wealth of data and historical information of interest to our stakeholders, including data on patent and trademark examining activities, application filings, and agency staffing levels. This information is conveniently presented in the Workload Tables section at the end of the PAR.
On the issue of financial performance, FY 2016 marks the 24th consecutive year that the USPTO’s financial statements have received an unmodified audit opinion. Our clean audit opinion gives the public independent assurance that the information presented in the agency’s financial statements is fairly presented and follows generally accepted accounting principles. In addition, the auditors reported no material weaknesses in the USPTO’s internal controls, and no instances of non-compliance with laws and regulations affecting the financial statements.
While the PAR is a record of our achievements, it is also an honest discussion of the challenges we face as an agency moving forward in FY 2017. We will continue efforts in the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, which is a multifaceted initiative that builds on past efforts and includes future programs aimed at improving the accuracy, clarity, and consistency of patents; continue implementation of the patent dispute resolution portions of the AIA; meet the wave of legal challenges to the USPTO’s interpretation of the AIA and its regulations implementing the statute; develop outreach at both headquarters and regional offices; expand on dissemination of data; attain and maintain full sustainable funding; and provide IT support for a nationwide workforce with a “24/7/365” operational capability.
The PAR is a faithful snapshot of the USPTO’s FY 2016 performance. I hope you find value in this document, and that it allows you to glean greater insights into the agency’s activities and achievements.
Posted at 01:35PM Jan 04, 2017 in USPTO |
Better Protection for Industrial Designs through International Cooperation
Guest blog by Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs Shira Perlmutter
Representatives from the USPTO and the intellectual property offices of the European Union, Japan, Korea, and China—which together account for more than 90 percent of the world’s design patent filings—convened in Beijing, China, November 1–2, 2016, for the second annual meeting of the Industrial Design Forum, or ID5.
The ID5 was formed in December 2015, with its inaugural meeting held at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. Its goal is to improve consistency in registration policies for industrial designs and to facilitate progress on a range of matters that stakeholders around the world would like to see addressed. These include grace periods, partial designs, graphical user interfaces and icon designs, implementation of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Digital Access Service, and the standardization of design representations.
Because these offices handle such a large proportion of global industrial design filings, the ID5 forum can serve as an incubator for developing innovative responses to existing or future developments in the design area. Its work will promote greater efficiency, consistency, and effectiveness across the globe—both for applicants seeking protection for their industrial designs and for the offices tasked with administering the system.
The ID5 partners took an important step forward in November when they approved 12 projects aimed at studying key aspects of industrial design practice in each of their jurisdictions and coming up with concrete, user-friendly deliverables. The USPTO is co-leading four of the projects, including those on grace periods, partial designs, emerging technological designs, and the implementation of the WIPO’s Digital Access Service.
The ID5 partners also signed a joint statement affirming their commitment to further the development of improved industrial design protection systems, and unveiled the ID5 website, which will serve as a source of information for the public on ID5 projects, statistics, and events.
Since its launch a year ago, the ID5 forum has already proven to be a successful vehicle for enhancing the global industrial design framework. With industrial design having an ever-increasing importance in innovation, business, and trade, the USPTO’s work with its ID5 partners will enable a coordinated effort to address whatever challenges that owners and users of designs may confront.
USPTO Fights Fraudulent Trademark Solicitations
Guest blog by Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison
The USPTO has worked hard to fight solicitations from companies fraudulently promising to protect trademarks, and we have taken a number of steps to help raise awareness of these schemes in an attempt to limit the number of victims defrauded. Our agency works closely with federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, and the United States Postal Inspection Service to combat the problem.
The Department of Justice announced last week that two California men pled guilty in a mass-mailing scam that targeted owners of U.S. trademark applications. The men, Artashes Darbinyan and Orbel Hakobyan, admitted to stealing approximately $1.66 million from registrants and applicants of U.S. trademarks through companies called Trademark Compliance Center (TCC) and Trademark Compliance Office (TCO). The USPTO is proud to have cooperated with law enforcement agencies in the California case.
Trademark solicitations have been a global problem for decades, including for USPTO customers, and we have implemented several measures to protect our customers against them.
First, the USPTO includes a warning and a link to our Non-USPTO Solicitations page in each office action, urging our customers to carefully review all correspondence regarding their application to ensure that they are responding to an official document from the USPTO rather than a private company solicitation.
Second, a similar warning, on bright orange paper, is sent to every registrant when the USPTO mails the paper registration certificate to the registrant.
Third, the USPTO has several online resources alerting the public to these non-USPTO solicitations on our Non-USPTO Solicitations page, including a frequently updated list of fraudulent entities we’ve already identified. If you receive an invoice from a company not appearing on this list, we encourage you to email us copies of the notice and the envelope it came in at TMFeedback@uspto.gov so that we may assess whether to add it to the list.
A registered trademark is a valuable asset, and where there’s money, unfortunately, there are bound to be criminal elements lurking. The USPTO continues to provide its ongoing full support to U.S. law enforcement officials working on this issue.
Trademarks Coast to Coast
Guest blog by Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison
USPTO regional offices support the agency’s mission of fostering innovation by serving their regions’ intellectual property (IP) communities, assisting local businesses, and educating the public about the importance of IP. Regional office staff, in addition to USPTO trademark staff from headquarters, provide the public with full access to trademark information and resources in their local communities. This year, I visited all four regional offices: Denver and Silicon Valley in the fall, and Dallas and Detroit earlier in the year. During these visits, I had the chance to meet with USPTO employees, hear from local businesses, inventors, and IP practitioners about their concerns, and hold events on the importance of trademarks.
In September, I visited the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver, where I got to see firsthand the vibrant IP community in the region, as well as the tireless work done by Director Molly Kocialski and the Denver office staff. I was excited to host the first interactive webcast trademark session in the Rocky Mountain region with USPTO trademark experts. With the help of representatives from the USPTO’s Trademark Assistance Center, we provided an overview of the trademark registration process and answered participants’ trademark questions. I also led an American Intellectual Property Association (AIPLA) Practitioner Roundtable, participated in a company listening tour, and provided important USPTO updates to area businesses.
I then visited the Silicon Valley Office in San Jose, California. Led by Director John Cabeca, the office has been busy supporting the active IP community and holding a variety of trademark events, from monthly lunch and learns to lectures on how to file international trademark applications under the Madrid Protocol. While in San Jose, I led an International Trademark Association (INTA) roundtable with Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) judge Francie Gorowitz, designed to offer insights into USPTO operations and help us better understand the needs of those using our services. I also spoke at World Congress’ Corporate IP Counsel Forum conference on updates to trademark law, and met with Playstation,® Visa,® and Carbon3D, a cutting edge 3-D printing company.
In February, I visited the Texas Regional Office in Dallas, led by Director Hope Shimabuku. The office has already been holding monthly “Meet the Trademark Experts” to address trademark questions from the community. With Director Shimabuku, I participated in the office’s first all-day trademark workshop for the public, where we discussed Trademarks 101, filing options, the petitions process, and recent Trademark Office developments. Over the summer, the Texas Regional Office also held an all-day conference in San Antonio for independent inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Trademark’s Managing Attorney for Educational Outreach Craig Morris and several other USPTO representatives participated in the event, where they discussed the trademark process, what happens after a trademark registers, and pitfalls to avoid when filing for a trademark registration.
In March, I visited the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office in Detroit, which regularly holds trademark-focused lunch and learn events, and workshops on the basics of trademarks, trademark searching, and the Madrid Protocol. The office has also frequently held outreach events with representatives from the TTAB, including Chief Judge Rogers. During my visit, I joined Detroit’s Regional Director Dr. Christal Sheppard at the State Bar of Michigan’s Spring IP Seminar at Michigan State University. While in East Lansing, I spoke with students and professors at the Michigan State College of Law, and then held a Trademark Lunch and Learn in Detroit with sixty entrepreneurs.
Just like USPTO staff here at headquarters, regional office staff are dedicated, hard-working employees committed to the mission of the USPTO. During my trips this year, I’ve met with a number of USPTO trademark employees in the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (TEAPP), learned about their day-to-day work to help the public, and also heard their valuable suggestions on improving the services the USPTO provides. Meeting with inventors, businesses, and IP practitioners in innovation communities across the country, I have gained a better understanding of the issues and challenges they face. I look forward to another great year working with the USPTO regional offices to support innovators even further.
Posted at 10:38AM Dec 08, 2016 in trademarks |