Patent Office Fiscal Year Ends

Today is the last day in the US Patent & Trademark Office’s 2010 Fiscal Year, which runs from October through September, rather than a calendar year.  As anyone who has worked at the Patent Office can attest, this is a very busy time of the year.

It should be interesting to see whether the Patent Office has met its stated goal of having fewer than 700,000 pending applications.  As of last year the number of pending applications was about 750,000.

Unfortunately, today’s continuing resolution (HR 3081) which provides stopgap funding to the federal government did not include a provision for the Patent Office to keep $70 million in fees collected… as reported here.

See you next year!

The Patent Dashboard

Credit must be given to Director David Kappos of the US Patent & Trademark Office for introducing the “Patent Dashboard”.   

The way it works is to provide visual indicators for key measures, such as number of months to a first action examination (26.2), number of applications not yet examined (728,055), staffing level (6,038 examiners), etc.

The really great part of this is that as data changes, the gauges show this… in a visually pleasing and informative manner..

So far, the key indicators are:

First Office Action Pendency — average Number of months from patent application filing date to mailing date of firsst Office action

Traditional Total Pendency — average number of months from filing date to final disposition (e.g., issue, abandonment)

Patent Application Backlog — number of new patent applications in the pipeline

Utility, Plant, and Reissue (UPR) Patent Application Production Units — total number of production units (i.e., first action + number of disposals / 2)

Average Actions Per Disposal — average number of actions until final disposition

Utility, Plant, and Reissue (UPR) Patent Applications Allowed — allowance rate

Patent Examiners on Staff — total number of patent examiners

Patent Examination Quality — a measure of quality based on a random review of cases

Pendency Including Requests for Reconsideration (RCE) — pendency measurement including RCE’s

Inventory Position — number of months it would take to examine every unexamined application currently pending

Pendency from Application Filing to Board Decision
– number of months from filing date to final Board decision

Pendency of Requests for Continued Examinations (RCEs) — pendency from filing date to final disposition of the RCE

Pendency of Continuation Applications — pendency from filing date of parent to final dispostion of the continuation application

Pendency of Divisiional Applications — pendency from filing date of parent to final dispostion of the divisiional application

To see the current Patent Dashboard, visit the US PTO’s Data Visualization Center.

Miscelaneous IP Nuggets #1

A few items of interest that have passed by my radar screen in the last week or so.

1.  IHOP v. IHOP.

International House of Pancakes announced that it is suing a different IHOP, the International House of Prayer, claiming the church is taking advantage of the company’s famous trademark.  According to the law suit, IHOP (the restaurant) is concerned that IHOP (the church) would dilute its trademark.  The amended complaint is available here.

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2.  Looks like the US Patent and Trademark Office is starting to hire new examiners again.  This is good news for inventors frustrated with the long wait times because of the lack of available examiners.

3.  Want a free textbook on the subject of intellectual property law?  Well, as strange as it may seem, Prof.Tom Field, a leading expert on the subject, is giving away a PDF version of his 470-page textbook, Fundamentals of Intellectual Property, fo FREE!

Closer Look at the Interval Licensing LLC Patents (Part 4 of 4)

In a previous post, the patent infringement law suit filed by Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC against numerous technology companies, including AOL, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Netflix, was noted. We decided to take a closer look at each of the patents asserted to be infringed in the case.

6,757,682Alerting users to content of current interest


This is a very interesting patent!

Essentially, it is a method that allows users to submit items of interest.  The items of interest are assembled by category and are then presented to other users who have elected to receive such notifications.  In particular, the items of interest can include a URL to the item.

An example provided in the application is to a Webcam in a nature preserve showing a watering hole.  Most of the time, the Webcam shows only the watering hole.  But when users see a rhino at the watering hole, they submit this in real time, and other users are alerted to this fact.

The claims are broad.  For instance, claim 1 recites:

1.         A system for disseminating to a participant an indication that an item accessible by the participant via a network is of current interest, comprising:

a computer configured to receive in real time from a source other than the participant an indication that the item is of current interest; process the indication; determine an intensity value to be associated with the indication and an intensity weight value, and adjusting the intensity value based on a characteristic for the item provided by the source; and inform the participant that the item is of current interest; and
    a database, associated with the computer, configured to store data relating to the item.

Closer Look at the Interval Licensing LLC Patents (Part 3 of 4)

In a previous post, the patent infringement law suit filed by Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC against numerous technology companies, including AOL, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Netflix, was noted. We decided to take a closer look at each of the patents asserted to be infringed in the case.

6,788,314Attention Manager For Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device


This patent is a continuation of U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, which was discussed in the previous post. A continuation application is a patent application  to pursue additional claims to subject matter disclosed in an earlier application of the applicant.

In this case, the claims focus on a method for providing content from more than one remote source to a computer system having a “content display system” that can display the content to the user.   Along with the content, each content provider can “control at least one of the duration, sequencing, and timing of the display”.  Interestingly, the claims set forth that “each content provider provides its content data to the content display system independently of each other content provider and without the content data being aggregated at a common physical location”.  This means that there is no third party data aggregation of the content.

Claim 1 recites:

    1.          A method for engaging the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device, comprising the steps of:
    providing one or more sets of content data to a content display system associated with the display device and located entirely in the same physical location as the display device;
    providing to the content display system a set of instructions for enabling the content display system to selectively display, in an unobtrusive manner that does not distract a user of the display device or an apparatus associated with the display device from a primary interaction with the display device or apparatus, an image or images generated from a set of content data; and

    auditing the display of sets of content data by the content display system;

    wherein each associated content provider is located in a different physical location than at least one other content provider and each content provider provides its content data to the content display system independently of each other content provider and without the content data being aggregated at a common physical location remote from the content display system prior to being provided to the content display system, and wherein for each set the respective content provider may provide scheduling instructions tailored to the set of content data to control at least one of the duration, sequencing, and timing of the display of said image or images generated from the set of content data.