A few weeks ago I joined Kathleen Fonda, Ph.D., J.D., Senior Legal Advisor in the USPTO’s Office of Patent Legal Administration, and Gary Ganzi, J.D., Senior Counsel and Head of Intellectual Property for Evoqua Water Technologies, on an IPO Chat Channel program on the use of Rule 130 declarations to disqualify prior art under the America Invents Act (AIA). Even though I played the role of outside counsel “expert” on the topic, there were a few things about Rule 130 declarations I had forgotten since I first studied the USPTO’s rules and guidelines 5 years ago.
A new USPTO fee schedule took effect on January 16, 2018, which usually means that all fees must be paid at the new (higher) rate. However, thanks to revisions to 35 USC § 151 effected by the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, applicants paying an Issue Fee need only pay the amount set forth on the Notice of Allowance.
Enforcing a patent with claims that raise the specter of divided infringement can be a difficult plight for patent owners. Even under the more liberal standard set forth in the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in Akamai v. Limelight, it has proven difficult for patent owners to establish the necessary levels of control or cooperation between two or more parties who together perform the steps of a method claim. However, the Federal Circuit decision in Travel Sentry, Inc. v. Tropp suggests that the requisite level of cooperation or control should be considered broadly. This recent interpretation of the Akamai test may at the very least make it more difficult for accused infringers to have divided infringement cases dismissed at the summary judgement stage.
Although non-precedential, the Federal Circuit decision in Aptalis Pharmatech, Inc. v. Apotex Inc. is worth a read to see how the court “tiptoes” the “fine line between reading a claim in light of the specification, and reading a limitation into the claim from the specification.” Here, the court also notes that the prosecution history can inform claim meaning even without clear and unmistakable disclaimer of claim scope.
It’s that time of year when we make resolutions to improve our health, our relationships, our careers, or other areas of our lives. I’m not starting a new diet today (although if I were, the invention described in this patent application could be helpful), but I have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions for the U.S. patent system.