PTRCA Newsfeed

Happy 200th birthday to Eunice Foote, hidden climate science pioneer

 

Inventor and suffragist Eunice Foote held patents for non-squeaking shoes and improved paper mills. She was also the first to explain the concept of global warming. Her experiments in the 1850s demonstrated the thermal effects of carbon-dioxide-rich air when exposed to sunlight.  Although Foote published the results of her experiments, she was not properly credited with this discovery. A male colleague had to present her findings at the 1856 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the society omitted her work in their annual report. No further recognition and no complete report of Foote’s findings appeared until the latter part of the 20th century. Foote shifted her focus to invention and innovation, receiving her two patents in 1860 and 1864.  Learn more about Foote’s work in #climate science from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): https://bit.ly/3uwM8A1
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COVID fast-track appeals pilot program

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) will soon accept petitions for expedited resolution of ex parte appeals for COVID-related inventions. There is no cost for appeals related to COVID-19 in this pilot program, which starts on April 15, 2021.

A COVID-related appeal for eligibility into the pilot program must relate to a product or process that is subject to an applicable U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for COVID-19 use.

Petition grants for fast-track review of COVID-related ex parte appeals will be limited to a maximum of 500, and the USPTO has a goal to issue a decision for these appeals within six months of entry into the pilot program. In order to keep appeals on schedule, oral hearings under the program will be expedited and, once scheduled, will not be rescheduled or relocated.

For additional information on the pilot program, visit the COVID fast-track appeals pilot program page on the USPTO website.

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Boardside Chat: PTAB webinar about remote hearings

Join the next Boardside Chat webinar on Thursday, April 22, from noon to 1 p.m. ET, for a discussion about remote hearings.

Chief Clerk Erica Swift will address procedural and technical aspects of video and telephonic hearings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Lead judges Georgianna Braden and Jessica Kaiser, Deputy Chief Clerk Kulunie Cannon, and PTAB practitioners David McCombs (Haynes and Boone, LLP) and Pauline Pelletier (Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.) will provide their perspectives and recommendations for presenting effective oral arguments in remote hearings.

There will be a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. Please send questions in advance or during the webinar to PTABBoardsideChat@uspto.gov.

Register in advance. The webinar is free and open to all.

More information is available on the PTAB Boardside Chat page of the USPTO website.

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Maintenance filings, COVID-19, and excusable nonuse (Trademark)

Are you a trademark owner with an upcoming deadline for a registration maintenance filing? If COVID-19 has directly impacted you or your business and temporarily prevented you from using your trademark, you may request to be temporarily excused from using your trademark. 

If you think this applies to you, when you file your section 8 or section 71 declaration, you must provide a statement that includes the following:

  • An explanation of how COVID-19 has affected you or your business and caused you to temporarily stop using your trademark for the products and services covered by your registration
  • The date your trademark was last used
  • The steps you're taking to resume use, and
  • The approximate date you expect to resume using your trademark.

For more information on excusable nonuse, please see Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP) sections 1604.11 and 1613.11, and our Keeping your registration alive webpage for general information on how to maintain your trademark registration.

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TEAS and TEASi unavailable Saturday, April 24

What's happening 

The Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) and the Trademark Electronic Application System International (TEASi) will be unavailable due to system maintenance on Saturday, April 24, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET. We're updating the online forms to fix bugs and incorporate enhancements based on customer feedback. 

What you should do 

To avoid losing work, submit any completed and saved TEAS and TEASi forms, including e-signature forms, by 7:59 a.m. ET on Saturday, April 24. You will not be able to access previously saved forms or e-signature forms after the system maintenance.  

Next steps

To find out more about changes we’re making to TEAS and TEASi, read the release highlights on the TEAS and TEASi maintenance and enhancement page of the USPTO website. 

See the USPTO systems status and availability page on the USPTO website for the latest information on the operating status and availability of our online business systems.

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Patent Center beta webinars, including DOCX filing

Patent Center beta is available for all users for electronic filing and management of patent applications in a single unified interface.

Join us for a training webinar on how to use various features in Patent Center, including filing in DOCX. Filing in DOCX provides many benefits in the patent application process, including:

  • eliminating the need to convert structured text into a PDF for filing
  • instant feedback analysis to detect common errors that may otherwise delay processing an application
  • automatic metadata detection and removal to support the submission of only substantive information in the file

Webinar Information:

The eCommerce Modernization (eMod) team will provide information and conduct a demo, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Register to attend an April training webinar:

You will receive instructions for joining the webinar via email prior to your registered session.

For more information and to view frequently asked questions, visit the DOCX page of the USPTO website.

For assistance, questions, or feedback, please contact eMod@uspto.gov.

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Save the date: World IP Day is April 26

Join the USPTO and its partner organizations for a special program to celebrate World Intellectual Property (IP) Day 2021 on Monday, April 26, from 3-4:30 pm ET. This annual international event is an opportunity to learn about the role that IP rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Intellectual property and small businesses: Taking big ideas to market.” The program will consist of two live panels: the first will include representatives of small businesses who will share their IP stories; the second will focus on the resources available to assist small businesses with their IP needs.

Organizations participating in this event include the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the International Trademark Association, the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law, the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center.

Learn more and register today.

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April 7: Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program

The 28th Annual Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program, “A Chance to Survive,” will be held virtually tomorrow, April 7, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. The program occurs during the 2021 Holocaust Days of Remembrance. Watch the webcast.

Guests

The program will feature two Holocaust survivors, Alfred Munzer of the Washington, D.C. area, and Max Glauben of Dallas, Texas.

Phil Rosenfelt, Deputy General Counsel for Program Service at the U.S. Department of Education, and Esther Safran Foer, author of "I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir," will moderate the program. Bismarck Myrick, the Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, will give opening remarks.

For more information about this annual event, visit the Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program webpage.

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USPTO announces special Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category

Parties developing technologies related to COVID-19 are eligible for this award after filing a patent application.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced that it will be launching a special category of its Patents for Humanity Program for inventions that address the COVID-19 pandemic. This new award category will provide business incentives for patent applicants, holders, and licensees whose inventions track, prevent, diagnose, or treat COVID-19.

“The Commerce Department is committed to supporting the groundbreaking work of the inventors and companies creating the new solutions we need to overcome the pandemic and other global challenges of the future,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The Patents for Humanity program stands as a testament to the strength that human ingenuity can bring to solving humanity’s most pressing problems.”

“Our nation’s innovation community is playing a crucial role in devising creative solutions to the ongoing pandemic,” said Drew Hirshfeld, performing the functions and duties of the USPTO Director. “Innovation is central to alleviating the difficulties COVID-19 has brought upon the public, and this new Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category allows us to provide special recognition to innovators tackling this unprecedented challenge.”

Patents for Humanity Award winners receive a certificate to accelerate USPTO processing for one eligible matter (such as an ex parte reexamination proceeding or a patent application), as well as public recognition of their work. The certificate now has more options for use than those given in previous competitions. Under the Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, award winners now may transfer their acceleration certificates to third parties, including for compensation. Winners can now leverage the acceleration certificate to obtain funds to help transform their inventions into deliverable goods and services.

Launched in February 2012, the Patents for Humanity Award is the USPTO’s top honor for patent applicants devising game-changing innovations to address long-standing development challenges. Their success stories can inspire others to harness innovation for human progress. Interested parties who are developing or who have developed technologies related to COVID-19, including those that track, diagnose, prevent, or treat the disease, are eligible to submit an application for this award once they file a patent application.

The USPTO is now accepting applications for the Patents for Humanity COVID-19 category. For more information about how to apply, visit the Patents for Humanity page on the USPTO website.

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New trademark basics webpages

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has released newly redesigned trademark basics webpages on the USPTO website.

The new content is easier to read and understand, more visually appealing, and more intuitive to navigate.

What’s trademark basics?

Trademark basics content is intended for those new to the trademark application process and for returning customers who need a refresher. Customers will learn:

  • What a trademark is
  • Why a trademark is important to protect
  • An overview of the registration process
  • How to prepare their application

Read through all of the 22 new webpages or select which information you want to explore.

Comments?

To comment on the new webpages, scroll to the bottom of any page and either: 

  • Click on the Helpful or Not Helpful buttons. 
  • Click on Trademarks in the sentence “this page is owned by Trademarks.”

Questions?

Contact the Trademark Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 (press 1).

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Check out the USPTO's Texas Regional Office's budding lineup of spring events

Join USPTO's Texas Regional Office for our signature monthly programming for small businesses, independent inventors, and entrepreneurs—all available virtually. The eight-part Path to a Patent series kicks off this spring season starting April 2, followed by the eight-part Trademark Basics Boot Camp series starting on April 6. Be sure to check our event listings for updates and new programming planned throughout the region.

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U.S. lawyers: Beware of solicitations asking to use your bar credentials

The USPTO recently learned that U.S. attorneys are again receiving emails from unlicensed individuals offering to pay to use the attorney’s bar credentials in trademark filings. These solicitations are a direct attempt to circumvent the U.S. counsel rule.

Although we believe that only a small percentage of practitioners are engaging in this practice, the USPTO would like to remind U.S. attorneys that such an arrangement would likely be aiding the unauthorized practice of law and also a violation of federal rules, including the USPTO’s Rules of Professional Conduct, 37 C.F.R. Part 11.

Scams can adversely impact the integrity of the trademark register. If you receive a solicitation asking to use your bar credentials, please forward it to TMScams@uspto.gov.   

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Women's History Month: Valiant Women of the Vote -- Fannie Lou Hamer

Following the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, many women remained unable to exercise their right to vote due to systemic racism, voter suppression, and discriminatory laws and practices. Community organizer Fannie Lou Hamer’s work with both voting rights and the Freedom Farm Cooperative highlighted this continued fight for a more equitable society.  In 1962, Hamer led seventeen volunteers to a local courthouse to register to vote. After being denied the vote on the grounds of a discriminatory literacy test, Hamer was fired by her employer and evicted from her home. Already involved in the Civil Rights Movement through her work with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Hamer’s experience drove her to advocate further for voting rights for African Americans in the South. In 1964, she helped organize Freedom Summer, a volunteer campaign to register Black voters in Mississippi.  In addition to the vote, Hamer saw economics as a path towards racial equality. In 1968, she started a program called the “pig bank,” which provided pigs to Black farmers. This was the precursor to Hamer’s Freedom Farm Cooperative (FFC). She purchased 640 acres to allow African American families to collectively own and farm land. In addition to 200 units of housing, the cooperative also included businesses and services such as a garment factory, coop store, and pre-school Head Start program. At its peak, the cooperative was one of the largest employers in Sunflower County, Mississippi.  Learn more about Fannie Lou Hamer’s work and legacy: http://bit.ly/3bYoDJQ #WomensHistoryMonth #ValiantWomenOfTheVote
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USPTO to host NCEAI Innovation Chat on April 1

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host a National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI) Innovation Chat on Thursday, April 1, from noon to 1 p.m. ET. The virtual discussion will focus on the topic of creating innovators. Watch the chat online. 

The first portion of the Innovation Chat will be a panel discussion moderated by Wayne Stacy, Director of the USPTO’s Silicon Valley Regional Office. The panel will include Dr. Javier Diez, Inventor, CEO of SubUAS, LLC, and Professor at Rutgers University; Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, President of Iowa State University; and Tiki Dare, Vice President of Trademark & Copyright at Oracle Corp. 

During the second portion of the chat, the USPTO will take questions from the audience. Submit questions in the chat function during the webinar or in advance to NCEAI@uspto.gov

NCEAI is comprised of representatives from industry, academia, and government, and it was established to help guide the USPTO in developing a comprehensive national strategy to build a more diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem. The Innovation Chat series of webinars is meant to further the discussion on how to increase the opportunities for all Americans to participate in innovation.

For additional information, visit the NCEAI page of the USPTO website and join the conversation on social media with #ExpandingAmericanInnovation.

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Federal Register Notice: Administrative updates to the General Requirements Bulletin

On March 23, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on administrative updates to the General Requirements Bulletin (GRB) for admission to the examination for registration to practice in patent cases before the USPTO. These proposed changes would serve to streamline the application process for certain applicants and help bring more qualified practitioners into the patent system.

As explained in the GRB, there are three categories of technical and scientific qualifications that typically make applicants eligible to sit for the registration examination:

  • Category A for specified bachelor’s degrees,
  • Category B for other bachelor’s degrees with technical and scientific training, and
  • Category C for practical engineering or scientific experience.

Based on the USPTO’s ongoing evaluation of the criteria, the USPTO is seeking comments on potentially changing the criteria to:

  • Add common Category B degrees to Category A,
  • Accept advanced degrees (i.e., master’s and doctoral degrees) under Category A, and
  • Accept a combination of core sciences under Category B, Options 2 and 4, so long as one of the core science courses has a lab component.

Comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. Comments will be accepted through May 22, 2021.

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