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Oct 25, 2019

Can AI own a patent?

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The question has arisen as to whether AI can own a patent. In August 2019, a British university filed for patents on inventions it claims were created solely by artificial intelligence. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) now grapples with the question of whether a machine can be an inventor.

USPTO Director Andrei Iancu asked "Is it a machine that’s the owner? Is it the owner of the machine? Is it the folks who created the machine or fed the data into the machine? Who is it? What are the disclosure requirements?".

For now, it seems unlikely that a machine will be granted a patent. However, the question may not be so easily answered in the future.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Oct 8, 2019

Can I Patent My Idea?

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Yes, with a little work. Inventions are patentable whereas ideas are not. The difference between the two is sometimes subtle. The standard that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses is whether a person having ordinary skill in the subject matter of the invention could read your description and recreate it. Oftentimes a patent application can take an idea and turn it into an invention. This is because a patent application must be detailed enough to enable the device. The application itself can force an inventor to think through the details of their idea and connect the dots that otherwise weren’t connected.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Sep 9, 2019

Can You Patent Software? Yes

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After the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Alice v. CLS Bank, software patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) sharply declined. That decision emphasized that abstract ideas are not patentable. The application of that decision was then applied against software. However, in the past couple of years the court system has carved out enough exceptions to the general rule to safely say that software is in fact patentable so long as that software meets certain criteria. An amalgamation of case law has formulated a two-part test to help fine tune that criteria, although the test is not bright lined.

In an attempt to codify the case law and bring clarity to the two-part test, on January 7, 2019 the USPTO issued guidelines that added a "practical application" question to the analysis. Meaning, according to the USPTO, if otherwise abstract ideas have a practical application, they may be patentable. While many practitioners rejoiced, that celebration was premature.

On Monday, April 1, 2019 the Federal Circuit, which is the high court for patents, ruled in Cleveland Clinic Foundation et al. v. True Health Diagnostics LLC that the court system is not bound by the USPTO guidelines. The court made it clear that the status of the law still rests with the court system itself.

So, what does this mean? We are back to a system where case law and a mastery of the legal issues is paramount when prosecuting a software patent application. Having a patent attorney with a computer science background as well as a litigation and trial background to help navigate a USPTO 35 USC 101 rejection based on abstractness is key.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Sep 3, 2019

Recent Medical Device Inventions

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Several companies have revolutionized the medical device industry with breakthrough technology. This article highlights a recent few.

Virtual Reality Surgical Simulator

FundamentalVR has developed a way to train surgeons using a combination of virtual reality and haptic feedback to provide the look and feel of real surgery without a patient. The company offers pricing plans intended to make the product accessible to all surgeons.

Handheld Brain Scanner

BrainScope has developed a handheld device for physicians to quickly assess both traumatic brain injury as well as concussions. The device measures and interprets brain activity and neurocognition without invasive procedures.

Smart Watch Blood Pressure Monitor

Omron has reduced the component size of traditional blood pressure measurement methods and has incorporated an inflatable cuff in the watch band. Wearers can take individual readings as well as monitor their blood pressure range.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Sep 2, 2019

Protecting Your Software User Interface

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The recent scrutiny of software patent applications has resulted in more creative lawyering to protect software. In particular, design patents are now being used to protect the look of a software owner's user interface. Most marketing experts agree that the usability and aesthetics of software contribute to a more positive user experience, which translates to more commercial viability. Therefore, protecting the look of software in some instances can be as important as protecting its functionality. A design patent protects the ornamental features of an invention. Traditionally design patents have been used for things like furniture and cars. However, a recent shift in thinking has now expanded the reach of design patents to include software user interfaces.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Aug 28, 2019

Passenger Playlist Software Patent

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The popular ride-hailing company Lyft has just received a software patent on a driver jukebox system. The system allows a passenger to control the car's music for the duration of the passenger's trip. It works by having the driver and the passenger both participating in a third-party service whereby the passenger's playlist controls the driver's phone. The playlist is then played through the driver's phone, which should be connected to the car's audio system via Bluetooth or other means.

This is yet another step forward in the pursuit of broader patentability for software.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Aug 27, 2019

Can you Copyright that Banana Suit? Yes.

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Silvertop Associates, Inc. went bananas when they realized another company slipped up by selling knock-off banana costumes that were eating profits. They made a split decision to serve the company with a suit.

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court laid out a two-part test for whether an artistic feature of a functional work is copyrightable. The test is:

(1) can the artistic feature of the article be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the article? and
(2) would the feature qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work either on its own or in some other medium if imagined separately from the article?

In Silvertop Associates Inc. (d/b/a Rasta Imposta) v. Kangaroo Manufacturing Inc., the Third Circuit peeled back layers of the Supreme Court's test to find the Plaintiff's banana outfit copyrightable.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


Apr 9, 2019

Can You Trademark a Smell?

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It may not be the type of smell that perfumes a room. However, the smell of Play-Doh is a distinctive one that has conjured up playful memories from over 3 billion cannisters over the past 60 years. The "scent of a sweet, slightly musky, vanilla fragrance, with slight overtones of cherry, combined with the smell of a salted, wheat-based dough" overcame rejections from the U.S. Trademark Office to become registered as a non-visual scent mark. Very few such marks have been registered by the Trademark Office because of the difficult task of concretely describing an abstract concept and attaching it to a product. Furthermore, the smell cannot be a part of the product's functionality. It will be interesting to see how the company enforces its Trademark.
If you have questions regarding protecting your intellectual property, contact Patent Attorney Stephen Bullock at 877-354-0809.


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