January 22, 2014
An untold number of patent applications languish at the USPTO, which refuses to grant or even examine them, either because they are considered too valuable to be granted to a non-corporate entity, or out of sheer spite. Gilbert P. Hyatt, prolific inventor with over 70 issued patents, can't get the patent office off its duff. So he (once again) went to Federal court "to compel the PTO to decide two appealed patent applications, each of which has been pending before the PTO since the early 1970s - over 40 years ago." The U.S. patent system is broken, but in none of the ways that so-called patent reformers, who represent corporate interests, care to address. Instead, well-heeled efforts focus on rigging the game further against inventors like Mr. Hyatt (e.g., the Goodlatte "abusive litigation" legislation currently making its way through Congress). [Hyatt's complaint]
In the continuing campaign to abridge the rights of non-corporate patent holders, the august priests of the plutocracy proclaim through nuance that only pittances are due patent peasants. In Medtronic v. Mirowski, the Supreme Court unanimously rules that patent holders must always prove their patents worthy.
January 17, 2014
Arrogant conceit is a common occupational hazard of Federal district court judges; what the appeals court more benignly observes as "an ambiguity on the grounds for decision." So it was with Judge Donovan W. Frank in Minnesota, who appears to know nothing about patent law. More particularly, "the stipulated judgment provided no factual context for the claim construction issues presented by the parties." Frank flunked by reading the spec into the claims, and by not knowing what a system claim was. On appeal, CAFC chief Judge Rader condescends to point out blackletter law: "a system claim generally covers what the system is, not what the system does." (Superior Industries v. Masaba (CAFC 2013-1302))
January 9, 2014
Sunk By Restriction
A CAFC panel decides that satisfying a restriction requirement by eliminating drawings in a design patent application is prosecution estoppel. "In the design patent context, the surrender resulting from a restriction requirement invokes prosecution history estoppel if the surrender was necessary, as in Festo, 'to secure the patent.'" This continues the judicial trend of chopping away patent rights.