Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Patent Law

Patent Pilot Program in Certain U.S. District Courts

On December 17, 2010, Congress approved H.R. 628, a bill for a decade-long pilot program in which certain U.S. district courts will encourage enhancement of expertise in patent cases among district judges. During the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association Federal Judges Appreciation Luncheon & CLE Program’s Federal Judges Roundtable Discussion on March 16, 2011, Chief Judge Lancaster stated that he put in a request for the Western District of Pennsylvania to be one of at least six district courts that will be selected for the program.

The pilot program will allow district judges to request to hear patent cases. Those district judges who request to hear patent cases are then designated by the chief judge to hear them. In a participating district, a patent case will be able to be removed from a non-designated judge’s case load and then randomly re-assigned to a district judge designated to hear patent cases. The program is intended to “create a cadre of judges who gain advanced knowledge of patent and plant variety protection through more intensified experience in handling the cases, along with special education and career development opportunities” co-sponsor Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-GA) remarked.

The courts that are eligible to participate in the program are either: (1) the 15 district courts with the largest number of patent and plant variety protection cases filed in calendar year 2010; or (2) district courts that have adopted or certified the intention to adopt local rules for patent and plant variety protection cases. The Director of the Administrative Office will select at least: (1) three district courts with at least ten authorized district judgeships in which at least three judges have made a request to hear patent cases; and (2) three district courts with less than ten authorized district judgeships in which at least two judges have made a request to hear patent cases. During the ten year pilot program, periodic reports to the House and Senate will be made including comparison data between designated and non-designated judges on issues such as their reversal rates by the CAFC.

- Katie Cooper

The USPTO’s 2010 Performance and Accountability Report

The USPTO recently released its Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year 2010. The Report provides a summary of program and financial results to assess the USPTO’s performance. This article will summarize some of the statistics that were provided in the Report.

At the end of fiscal year 2010, the USPTO work force included 9,507 federal employees. Of those 9,507 employees, 6,225 were patent examiners and 378 were trademark examining attorneys.

The Report provided statistics on the target and actual number of months from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010 for (1) Patent Average First Action Pendency, which measured the average time in months from filing until an examiner’s initial determination on the patentability of an invention; and (2) Patent Average Total Pendency, which measured the average time in months from filing until the application is issued as a patent or abandoned by the applicant.
(1) Patent Average First Action Pendency (in months)
Fiscal Year - Target – Actual
2006 - 22.0 - 22.6
2007 - 23.7 - 25.3
2008 - 26.9 - 25.6
2009 - 27.5 - 25.8
2010 - 25.4 - 25.7

(2) Patent Average Total Pendency (in months)
Fiscal Year - Target – Actual
2006 - 31.3 - 31.1
2007 - 33.0 - 31.9
2008 - 34.7 - 32.2
2009 - 37.9 - 34.6
2010 - 34.8 - 35.3

The results from 2010 in the two categories above were slightly below target.

The Report also included statistics from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010 on the percentage of patent applications that were filed electronically. The number of patent applications filed electronically has continued to increase as follows:
Patent Applications Filed Electronically
Fiscal Year - Target – Actual
2006 - 10% - 14.2%
2007 - 40% - 49.3%
2008 - 69% - 71.7%
2009 - 80% - 82.4%
2010 - 90% - 89.5%

Similarly, the Report provided information on the target and actual number of months from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2010 for: (1) Trademark Average First Action Pendency, which measured the number of months from the date of application filing to the first office action; and (2) Trademark Average Total Pendency, which measured the average number of months from date of filing to notice of abandonment (unless a notice of allowance was issued), notice of allowance, or registration for applications based on use in that month.
(1) Trademark Average First Action Pendency (in months)
Fiscal Year - Target - Actual
2006 - 5.3 - 4.8
2007 - 3.7 - 2.9
2008 - 2.5 to 3.5 - 3.0
2009 - 2.5 to 3.5 - 2.7
2010 - 2.5 to 3.5 - 3.0

(2) Trademark Average Total Pendency (in months)

Fiscal Year - Target – Actual
2006 - 16.3 - 15.5
2007 - 14.8 - 13.4
2008 - 14.3 - 11.8
2009 - 13.0 - 11.2
2010 - 13.0 - *

* The average total pendency including suspended and inter partes cases was 13 months. Excluding applications that were suspended or delayed for inter partes proceedings, the average total pendency was 10.5 months. The above 2010 trademark targets were met.

The number of trademark applications filed electronically has also continued to increase:

Trademark Applications Processed Electronically

Fiscal Year - Target - Actual
2008 - Baseline
2009 - 62% - 62.0%
2010 - 65% - 68.1%

The data in the Report will be finalized and reported in the USPTO’s 2011 Performance and Accountability Report.

- Katie Cooper

Michael Jackson’s Patented Move

Patent figure

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is hosting an exhibit displaying material from Michael Jackson’s Patent and Trademark Applications.

The exhibit will include Jackson’s U.S. Patent No. 5,255,452 for a “system for allowing a shoe wearer to lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity by virtue of wearing a specially designed pair of shoes which will engage with a hitch member movably projectable through a stage surface” which he used in his “Smooth Criminal” music video. Jackson is listed as a co-inventor on the Patent. The display also shows an original signature by Jackson on the Application.

Jackson also had various Trademarks Registrations including U.S. Registration No. 1,908,209 for the mark “MICHAEL JACKSON” for use on “sound recordings; namely, pre-recorded phonograph records, audio tapes, compact discs, videotapes, and motion picture films featuring music and entertainment.” In addition to Registrations there are several Trademark Applications which include Serial Nos. 77/480,301 and 77/480,413 for “THRILLER 25 THE WORLD’S BIGGEST SELLING ALBUM OF ALL TIME,” both of which are still pending.

The exhibit opened on July 15, 2009 and will run through Labor Day of this year. It is free and open to the public.

Jackson’s manager, Frank DiLeo, is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Point Breeze) and went to Central Catholic High School.