Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Patent and Trademark Office

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

Annual funding for the government expired on September 30. The Administration strongly believed that a lapse in funding should not occur. The Department is prepared for a lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations. Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations (PDF) in the absence of appropriations (a “shutdown plan”).

The plan may be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant. This plan (PDF) complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. All employees who are Presidentially Appointed, Senate Confirmed will remain on duty.

In compliance with the restrictions of the Anti-Deficiency Act, the Department of Commerce will maintain the following services and activities during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Weather, water, and climate observing, prediction, forecast, warning, and support
• Law enforcement activities for the protection of marine fisheries
• Fisheries management activities including quota monitoring, observer activities, and regulatory actions to prevent overfishing
• Essential natural resource damage assessment activities associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident
• Water level data for ships entering U.S. ports, critical nautical chart updates and accurate position information.
• Patent and trademark application processing
• Operation of the national timing and synchronization infrastructure as well as the National Vulnerability Database
• Maintenance, continuity and protection of certain research property and critical data records
• All services of the National Technical Information Service
• Export enforcement – the ongoing conduct of criminal investigations, and prosecutions, and coordination with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies in furtherance of our national security
• Budget operations required to support excepted activities under a shutdown, such as tracking of obligations and funds control.

The following services and activities will not be available during a lapse in FY14 appropriations:

• Most research activities at NIST and NOAA (excluding real-time regular models on research computers used for Hurricane and FAA flight planning)
• Assistance and support to recipients of grant funding
• Technical oversight of non-mission essential contracts
• Services and activities provided by:
−Bureau of Economic Analysis
−Economic Development Administration
−Economics and Statistics Administration
−Minority Business Development Agency
−Bureau of the Census
• Most services and activities provided by the International Trade Administration

USPTO Marks Second Anniversary of Milestone Patent Law—The America Invents Act

Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea of the United States Patent and Trademark Office provides opening remarks at a public forum marking the 2nd anniversary of the America Invents Act, the biggest overhaul of the nation’s patent laws since the 19th century.

When President Obama took office, he made overhaul of the patent system one of his top priorities. New innovations and ideas play a crucial role in creating American jobs, stimulating our economy, and remaining globally competitive.

And it was two years ago today that the president signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law, setting in motion the most significant changes to the U.S. patent system since 1836. In just two years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) implementation of AIA has contributed to a more internationally harmonized, more predictable, and more flexible patent system for the United States, and one that is much more responsive to 21st century realities.

USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea marked the anniversary during a public forum at USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Va., today. The meeting served as an opportunity to bring stakeholders together with USPTO experts to address and answers questions on AIA provisions.

Secretary Pritzker Tells Employees in the Northwest their Efforts are Key to American Innovation

Secretary Pritzker today in Seattle kicked-off her first visit to the Northwest as Commerce Secretary by visiting with EDA employees and employees from U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), part of the International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and Office of Inspector General (OIG). The secretary's visit is part of her latest stop on a nationwide listening tour and was an opportunity to thank the employees for their work for the Department of Commerce. 

At the meeting, the Secretary told employees gathered at the EDA regional office that the common thread in the bureaus throughout the department is working together to protect, promote, anticipate and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century. This is the mission of the Commerce Department.

Secretary Pritzker praised the agencies in attendance for the great work they are doing in the region.

  • U.S. PTO patent examiners were spotlighted for helping Americans turn ideas into businesses quickly, even as PTO has had several straight years of 5 to 7 percent increases in patent applications.
  • The Seattle U.S. Export Assistance Center was praised by the Secretary for their work in industries like aerospace and defense which has proven to be crucial in growing exports and reaching record breaking numbers in the first half of this year. Recent Commerce data show that exports support nearly 40% of all manufacturing workers in Washington.
  • EDA’s regional office was acknowledged for their efforts in serving 8 states and a number of territories. EDA funds helped build a Pipeline Training Center in Alaska, expand a fiber optic network in California and launched several of new Jobs Accelerators. 
  • And, the Inspector General’s office was recognized for the crucial role they play. From reviewing NOAA’s fisheries enforcement efforts, climate monitoring systems, and other NOAA programs, their work ensures the Department is doing the best possible job.

Secretary Pritzker concluded her visit by encouraging the employees to continue their great work. She believes America is more competitive than ever before. Over the past 41 months, 7.3 million jobs were created. She said the Commerce Department’s goal is to accelerate that momentum through the great work of Commerce employees in the Northwest region, throughout the country, and across the world.

Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force Releases Report on Digital Copyright Policy

Report cover

Department Publishes Green Paper on Updating Copyright Policies for the Internet Age

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released a green paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy (Green Paper) to advance discussion on a set of policy issues critical to economic growth. The Green Paper discusses the goals of maintaining an appropriate balance between rights and exceptions as the law continues to be updated; ensuring that copyright can be meaningfully enforced on the Internet; and furthering the development of an efficient online marketplace.

The Green Paper released today is the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of digital copyright policy issued by any administration since 1995. The report is a product of the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) with input from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Through the IPTF, the USPTO and NTIA will solicit further public comments and convene roundtables and forums on a number of key policy issues.

“Copyright law strikes a number of important balances in delineating what is protectable and what is not, determining what uses are permitted without a license, and establishing appropriate enforcement mechanisms to combat piracy, so that all stakeholders benefit from the protection afforded by copyright,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Ensuring that our copyright policy provides incentives for creativity while promoting innovation on the Internet is a critical and challenging task. The Green Paper released today is an important step toward ensuring that the United States’ creative industries continue to have a substantial impact on strengthening our nation’s economy.” 

Copyright has been a vital contributor to U.S. cultural and economic development for more than two hundred years, fostering the production and dissemination of the valuable expression that has put America at the forefront of the global creative marketplace. Maintaining a balanced and effective copyright system should continue to drive the production of creative works while at the same time preserving the innovative power of the Internet and the free flow of information. The Green Paper provides a comprehensive review of current policy related to copyright and the Internet, and identifies important issues that call for attention and development of solutions. The solutions may entail a combination of legal remedies, technology, private sector cooperation, and public outreach and education, along with the continued development of options to legally access copyrighted works.

Readout of U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s Visit With Commerce Employees in Denver, Colorado

Secretary Penny Pritzker Meets with Commerce Employees in the Denver Office

While in Denver, Colorado, as part of her nationwide listening tour, Secretary Pritzker met with the heads of the Commerce Department’s local offices, including: International Trade Administration’s U.S. Export Assistance Center (USEAC), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Inspector General (IG), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). In addition to these meetings, she also spoke to employees about their work and ways in which their efforts are supporting economic growth and development in Colorado.

Today’s discussion in Denver served as an extension of an employee town hall she held yesterday in Boulder. The secretary emphasized how their work is crucial to creating a better quality of life for Americans and more opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses. She also asked employees for their input in the department’s ongoing efforts to protect, promote, and inform what America needs to be competitive and innovative in the 21st century.

These employee engagement opportunities are part of the secretary’s overall efforts to serve as a bridge to the business community so that the public and private sectors can work together to create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.

Spotlight on Commerce: Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, USPTO

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Frederick Steckler, Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

As the Chief Administrative Officer for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) I am responsible for the delivery of all administrative service support functions for the USPTO including human capital strategy, human resource management, telework policy and programs, facilities management, safety and security, transportation, asset and records management.  I am fortunate to work with a team of nearly 200 professionals in the delivery of these vital services to our colleagues at the USPTO.  My team and I pride ourselves on being a customer-centric and service-oriented team.  

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and when I was nine years old, after one particularly bad Cleveland winter, my mother, grandmother and I moved to Boca Raton, Florida. So I really grew up there.  I am a proud graduate of Boca Raton Community High School.  

After high school, I attended Duke University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics. Growing up near the water led to being interested in a career with the U.S. Navy. I was a member of the Duke Navy ROTC battalion and upon graduation was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. My first station was as part of the commissioning crew of the USS Vandegrift (FFG-48). I later went on to serve as Second Company Officer at the U.S. Naval Academy and Executive Assistant to The Commandant of Midshipmen. I left the Navy in 1989 and went to work as a junior consultant for Coopers & Lybrand and while working earned a Master of Business Administration from The George Washington University. Today, I am married to my partner of 20 years, Robert Murphy, and we live in the District of Columbia with our black lab, Sammi Jo.

Commerce Bureaus Play Key Role in Intellectual Property Accomplishments and Future Priorities

The Obama administration today released its 2013 Intellectual Property Enforcement Joint Strategic Plan. Since the issuance of its first Joint Strategic Plan for Intellectual Property Enforcement three years ago, the administration has made major accomplishments toward strengthening intellectual property (IP) enforcement, including increasing its use of trade policy tools, reducing online infringement and supporting American entrepreneurs and intellectual property-intensive industries that strengthen our economy.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), International Trade Administration (ITA) and the Office of General Counsel's Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) all play important roles in these efforts.

The USPTO undertakes a wide range of policy, legal, operational and regulatory efforts and initiatives that enhance intellectual property protection both at home and abroad. For example, USPTO provided technical assistance to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to ensure that Colombia, Korea and Panama implemented IP rights enforcement provisions in our free trade agreements with the three countries. USPTO has also conducted several capacity building initiatives and training programs, including several with foreign judges, countries and organizations to facilitate more effective IP rights enforcement systems abroad.

To help small and medium-sized American businesses interested in doing business in China, the USPTO has conducted several events nationwide providing information on patents, trade secrets, trademarks, copyright and enforcement. The USPTO also has IP attachés who actively work to improve the protection of U.S. intellectual property rights overseas. In addition to experts in the U.S., these attachés have sponsored training seminars teaching best practices in applying and enforcing intellectual property laws with representatives from nearly 20 countries. To assess the impact of intellectual property on the U.S. economy, the USPTO collaborated with Commerce’s Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA) to publish the Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus report, which found that the top IP-intensive industries in the U.S. support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion to U.S. gross domestic product.

Spotlight on Commerce: Vikrum Aiyer, Special Adviser, USPTO

Portrait of Vikrum Aiyer

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Vikrum Aiyer, Special Adviser to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, USPTO

Some of the most disruptive solutions to the world's most pressing challenges are laid out in applications submitted to our office. And through the review of over half a million proposals for new products and technologies annually, I have the privilege to work alongside a team that helps protect those cutting-edge innovations in the global marketplace, with intellectual property rights.

We all know that the United States faces genuine economic competition in more sectors, from more companies, and from more places than ever before. But in order to write the next chapters of growth and remain the world’s chief global competitor, we must smartly and immediately invest in the very infrastructure that fosters American inventive potential. That’s why the agency has been hard at work to retool our nation’s patent laws from the ground up, making it easier, more cost effective, and more efficient for businesses of all stripes to protect their products and services. 

Being raised in Silicon Valley, and as the son of a physicist spearheading his own enterprise, I recognize that there is no shortage of great ideas in America, but there are barriers to getting those ideas off the ground. So the opportunity to serve as a Special Adviser to the Under Secretary hits especially close to home for me, as I help assess challenges start-ups and technologists face by spearheading our public partnerships with key stakeholders around the country. The role gives me the chance to advise the Under Secretary on how to connect inventors with the tools they need to protect their companies, while also empowering me to publicly frame and communicate how the administration’s intellectual property priorities drive export and manufacturing possibilities in America. 

USPTO Honors Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Inventors Hall of Fame 2013 Class of Inductees (seated) with living inductees attending the 41st Annual Induction Ceremony held at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, Virginia. USPTO photo by Amando Carigo

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had the exciting privilege of honoring 17 of America’s greatest innovators Wednesday night, when they were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in ceremonies held at the USPTO’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters. Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea conferred induction medals to visionary inventors whose patented innovations include the electronic synthesizer, flat panel plasma display, iris recognition technology, and the code providing the foundation for 3G cellular systems.

Garret Brown was honored for inventing the Oscar-winning Steadicam camera stabilizer, which made Rocky Balboa’s run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum one of the most iconic moments in movie history. Emmy award winners Don Bitzer, Gene Slottow, and Robert Willson were recognized for their invention of the flat-panel plasma display, which revolutionized home entertainment. Samuel Alderson was honored posthumously for developing the crash test dummy. From its beginnings, the dummy has proven invaluable to designing and testing advances in fields of automobile safety, aviation, and medical technology.

A complete list of the honorees and their revolutionary patented inventions is located on USPTO's website.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is the premier non-profit organization in America dedicated to honoring legendary inventors whose innovations and entrepreneurial endeavors have changed the world. Founded in 1973 by the USPTO and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Association, the Hall of Fame has 470 inductees with its 2013 induction. You can visit the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus in Alexandria, Va., Monday through Saturday. Admission is free.

U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Patents for Humanity Winners

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaking during the Patents For Humanity Awards Event

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the winners of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patents for Humanity pilot program during an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges, Patents for Humanity is a competition recognizing patent owners and licensees who address global challenges in health and standards of living.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith and Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Teresa Stanek Rea delivered remarks at the awards ceremony.

“A strong patent system is crucial to supporting our continued economic growth, and its benefits don’t stop at our borders. Patented inventions are bringing longer, healthier, fuller lives to people across the globe,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. “As part of the President’s global development agenda, the Patents for Humanity program is a great example of how American innovation is helping solve critical global challenges and creating prosperity in emerging economies.”