Posts

Showing posts from December, 2018

Filing Third Party Observations

Image
Third-party or preissuance submissions are a tool for third parties to submit patents, published patent applications, or other non-patent literature that may be of potential relevance to the examination of a patent application. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Third-Party Submission Program has been available since September 2012, but has not been frequently used, though the USPTO considers third party submissions to be a valuable tool, as examiners are motivated to apply the best prior art available to make a rejection, regardless of who found the prior art.  However, current U.S. law limits when a preissuance submission can be filed, and thus the owner of the subject patent application is free to work with the U.S. examiner to overcome any submitted references, and the third party cannot participate in the ongoing prosecution. Regardless, third-party submissions can be useful in disrupting the prosecution of competitors’ patents. In regards to filing the submission, the subm…

Steamboat Willie and the Impact of Trademarks on Public Domain Film

Image
On January 1, 2019, for the first time in over 20 years, works published in the United States will fall into the public domain due to copyright term expiration.  After the passage of the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA), copyright on works published before January 1, 1978 was granted a 20-year extension, increasing the term of copyright from 75 to 95 years.  Though all works published in the United States prior to December 31, 1922 were already in the public domain, those scheduled to be admitted on January 1, 1999 (i.e., all U.S. works published in 1923) were to remain bound by copyright protections for another 20 years.
            The CTEA generated controversy during its development, as major media conglomerates, most memorably The Walt Disney Company, had been lobbying for nearly a decade to extend copyright protections.  As a result, the CTEA was derisively referred to as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act” by opponents of the legislation.  Indeed, a major motivation for D…

Making Every Cocktail Neat and Perfect

Image
Learning cocktail making, as with many hobbies, has an inherent barrier to novices guarded by vexing terminology. What does it mean to “muddle” something? Is a “dash” the same amount as a “splash?” How can a cocktail be “dry?” Combined with an array of intimidating contraptions and an overwhelming abundance of complex, multistep recipes, it may be tempting to head out to the bar and put home mixology on the rocks. Somabar® and other companies are seeking to change that. In the age of instant and facile domestic comfort led by smart home technologies, one patentable space remains sparse – the automated home cocktail maker. As can be surmised by anyone who has been to a novelty robot bar, automated cocktail making is known. For example, Smart Bar USA claims to market “the world’s first patented touch-screen bar and automated cocktail dispenser” (see U.S. Patent No. 8,584,900, wherein the inventors recognize “a lack of the ability to provide mixed alcohol drinks” via the beverage dispen…

Precision Farming and Intellectual Property

Image
With all of the intellectual property buzz around self-driving cars and blockchain, those looking for new breakthrough concepts might consider adjacent technologies that typically do not receive the same media attention. One of those areas that shows great promise is precision farming. Precision farming is at the cross-roads of numerous engineering disciplines, including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, mechanical engineering, genetic engineering, control systems, drones, and more. Farms are a business and rely on technology for everything from improved seeds to determining how and when to harvest to pest control. Many of the recent patent filings in this field of technology originate from China. Given that so many Chinese inventors have recognized the value in this field, it may be fertile ground for start-ups if they can get their concepts on file at the patent offices in time.