GAO Makes Seven Recommendations for Improving Prior art Searches

Last month, we summarized and analyzed one of three reports issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this summer, Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity. This month, we summarize and analyze a second report from the GAO, Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners' Work.

Purpose of the Report

GAO Makes Seven Suggestions to Improve Patent Quality

Earlier this summer, the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) completed three reports related to the performance of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The three reports, that were all officially released July 20, are:

1. Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity
2. Survey of U.S. Patent Examiners
3. Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners' Work

This month, we will summarize and analyze for you the first of these three reports.

U.S. Patent Applications Were UP in 2015, but Granted Patents Were Flat

The data for calendar 2015 are in from both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office, and for the first time since 2007, the number of patents issued by the USPTO declined. The Patent Office granted 326,032 U.S. Patents in 2014 and 325,979 U.S. Patents in 2015 – a decrease – but a decrease of just 53 or .01625%, so granted U.S. Patents were essentially flat from calendar 2014 to 2015. As a unit of the federal agency, the USPTO operates on an October 1 to September 30 Fiscal Year, but these numbers are for January through December of 2014 and 2015.

House Judiciary Subcommittee Offers a Solution in Search of a Problem – Part 2

Last month, the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet Subcommittee held a hearing to examine patent litigation activities at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). In last month’s feature article, we summarized the testimony of the first three witnesses who appeared before the subcommittee. This month, we summarize the testimony of the second three witnesses.

The Innovation Continuum: Putting Things in Perspective

At the recent NPE 2016 Conference in New York, a topic that came up repeatedly was the role that NPEs (or PAEs as the Federal Trade Commission calls them) play in the entire innovation experience – what we call in this article the “Innovation Continuum.” For the purpose of this article, we prefer the term “patent licensing company” to describe an enterprise that generates most of its income from licensing patents and other intellectual property.

Out of 2,600 Challenges, Patent Trial and Appeal Board Has Invalidated 571 Patents

Since the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) replaced the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI), a total of 2,600 petitions for Inter Partes Review were filed with the Board. Of these, 571 patents (22%) were invalidated as a result of all claims being ruled unpatentable. There were 114 patents that survived with only some claims ruled unpatentable. And 107 patents survived with all claims intact. We take a look this month at some Patent Trial and Appeal Board statistics, but first a little background.

2015 Was an Up and Down Year for Issued U.S. Patents and Patent Applications

We have seen a steady increase in the number of patents issued each year by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 2009. The statistics are in for calendar year 2015, and it appears that the growth trend is slowing. With a concerted effort by the USPTO to decrease patent pendency, some believed that we would see more patents issued in 2015, but that was not the case. Many see the issuance of U.S. Patents to U.S. businesses and universities as a quantitative indicator of American innovation, so we are analyzing the numbers from that perspective.

Apple v. Samsung: A Dozen Lawsuits, Four Years and 548 Million Dollars

Those who enter into heated money-related disputes will often claim that it is “not about the money, it’s the principle of the thing.” That statement is rarely true. It is almost always about the money. But in the case of the lengthy Apple-Samsung lawsuits that have come to be known as the “smartphone patent wars” it really never was about the money.

No Business Understands the Value of IP Better than Apple

The idiom “beg, borrow or steal” refers to going after something you want and doing anything to get it. In the case of Apple, it craves the latest technologies and does not have to beg or borrow or steal. Apple just pays cash for what it wants, and often pays a premium. With $200 billion in cash (yes, “billion” with a “b”) on hand, Apple has the luxury of just buying the intellectual property it wants.