Alchemy Asset Services, Inc., a Pennsylvania corporation, filed a false patent marking suit against Procter & Gamble in the Western District of Pennsylvania on May 12, 2010. The complaint alleges that Procter & Gamble marked, advertised, and marketed various products with expired patent numbers and/or marked, advertised, and marketed such products as patent-protected in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 292 with intent to deceive the public.
Alchemy Asset Services requests damages against Procter & Gamble equal to a fine in the amount of $500 for each instance of false marking. One-half of the damage award would be paid to the United States and the other half would be paid to plaintiff. The specific products named in the complaint include:
1. “Ultra Downy” fabric softener;
3. “Always Maxi”; and
4. “Puffs” facial tissues.
An answer has not yet been filed.
The USPTO announced in an April 6, 2010 Federal Register Notice that it is launching the Patents Ombudsman Pilot Program for a period of one year.
The Program is intended to provide patent applicants, attorneys and agents with assistance with application-processing issues regarding concerns with advancement of prosecution. Applicants, attorneys or agents who have application-processing concerns, and haven’t been able to get the assistance they need through normal channels in the Technology Center (TC), can contact the ombudsman representative for the TC through the USPTO website (www.uspto.gov). The applicant is expected tol receive a phone call within one business day for a discussion of the specifics of the issue. From there, the ombudsman representative will work with TC staff to address the concerns expressed by the applicant and try to get the application back on track.
“This program is a direct response to feedback we’ve received from members of the patent community who have told us that they need a dedicated resource they can turn to when they have concerns about the prosecution of their application,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “We are always striving for ways to improve the quality and efficiency of patent examinations, and we believe this initiative is an important step forward on both these fronts.”
After the one-year period the USPTO may extend the pilot program with appropriate modifications based on the feedback from participants, the effectiveness of the pilot program, and the availability of resources.
– Katie Cooper