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Blog Category: Patent and Trademark Office

USPTO Hosts FIRST Lego League Innovation Award Ceremony

Teasm members seated at table

Yesterday, the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted the second annual First Lego League (FLL) Award Ceremony, where two teams of young inventors ages six to 14 each won an FLL Global Innovation Award and a $250,000 investment to help develop their ideas for the marketplace. Both teams invented products related to this year’s theme: food safety.

The Dublin, Ohio team Moderately Confused, inspired by food spoilage caused during delivery, created the “Erasable Barcode”; if the temperature of an environment becomes unsafe for food, ink attached to the barcode will obscure a portion of the label so that the spoiled product cannot be sold.

Similarly, after witnessing massive power outages caused by natural disasters like Hurricane Irene, the team S.I.S. Robotic Revolution of Shelton, Conn., created a “Smart Sticker” that attaches to food packaging and changes color when the package has been exposed to unsafe temperatures

USPTO: Leading the Way on International Patent Harmonization

Nearly 80 percent of all patent applications filed worldwide are processed through five patent offices: Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO). In 2007, the five agencies formed a group called the IP5, to work on increased cooperation and collaboration. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos and Deputy Under Secretary Teresa Stanek Rea attended the 5th Meeting of IP5 Heads of Offices in Porticcio, France on June 6th.  

As the USPTO implements the America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law on September 16, 2011, by President Obama, America is poised to implement an optimal 21st Century harmonized patent system. This administration is leading the process of reshaping an IP world into one in which national and regional patent systems are coordinated to create an optimal environment for technological innovation.

At this high-level meeting, the Heads of Offices focused on receiving and analyzing input from IP owners regarding how to make the patent process more user-friendly. As part of that vision, they discussed the concept of a “Global Dossier,” aimed at simplifying procedures for patent applicants and improving the efficiency of the offices when dealing with the same patent application.

The IP5 also reaffirmed their commitment to improve the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which already enables patent applicants to seek simultaneous patent protection with a single international application for up to 145 countries.

This was the first-ever IP5 meeting featuring the Heads of Offices. The next meeting of all Heads of Offices will be held in the United States, hosted by the USPTO, in 2013.

Enhancing Global Commerce Through The America Invents Act

Implementation of the America Invents Act--the most significant overhaul to U.S. patent law in more than a century--beyond our borders is an essential response to an evolving intellectual property terrain impacting our global economy. It is a terrain being shaped by cross-disciplinary technologies—from computers to mobile phones to life-saving drugs—that are a growing part of everyday life. And that terrain continues to be shaped by our key trading partners around the world, including China.

These efforts are important in keeping the momentum toward meeting President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) goal of doubling U.S. exports by the end of 2014, which will support millions of good-paying U.S. jobs. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos recently met with China’s leading IP stakeholders, providing an overview of the significant changes to the U.S. patent system resulting from the agency’s ongoing implementation of the 2011 America Invents Act. He outlined the progress the USPTO is making in its implementation; the need for further harmonization of the world’s patent laws; and the benefits of a worksharing process that enables patent applicants to simultaneously pursue patent protection in multiple countries, known as the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH 2.0.

With an increasing emphasis on innovation in the U.S. and China, Kappos noted the importance of harmonizing our patent processes and advancing our worksharing initiatives—not just to ensure the smooth and efficient operation of our respective IP systems, but also to cultivate and commercialize new technologies blooming in the labs of both countries.

Deputy Secretary Blank Advocates Public Service in Commencement Speech

Guest blog post by Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca M. Blank

This morning, I had the privilege of delivering the commencement address to graduate students at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) commencement ceremony.

I was also deeply honored to receive an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree during the ceremony for my work as a public servant, including the leadership I provided in my previous job at Commerce, overseeing the nation’s premier statistical agencies, the Census Bureau (during the 2010 Census) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The commencement speech provided an opportunity to give advice to the graduate students and to encourage them to use their expertise and experience to find solutions to the pressing problems facing our world. UMBC is particularly well-known for its scientific training. Science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields–are particularly important, and it is STEM-related research that will drive innovation in the years ahead. In fact, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than other jobs, indicating the need for more workers with these skills.

Commerce's USPTO Honors Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

Under Secretary Kappos, inductee Barbara Liskov (mentioned in blog post) and Deputy Director General of the Innovation and Technology Sector of the World Intellectual Property Organization Jim Pooley.

Our everyday lives are bettered by visionary inventors, and we were reminded of that on May 2, 2012, when ten new inductees to the National Inventors Hall of Fame were honored by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The 40th annual induction ceremony took place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the site of the historic Patent Office where the Hall of Fame’s first inductee, Thomas Edison, received his patents.

Most of the 2012 honorees were on hand, including Barbara Liskov, whose innovations in the organization of computer programming can be found in almost all modern programming languages; C. Kumar N. Patel, whose carbon dioxide laser developed while at Bell Labs is an essential component in the medical, industrial and military arenas; and Gary Starkweather, who while with the Xerox PARC facility invented the laser printer. They were joined on stage by 21 previous inductees.

Three honorees were inducted posthumously, including Mária Telkes, known as the “Sun Queen” for her pioneering work in solar energy; and Steve Jobs, whose influence spanned personal computing, film animation, consumer technology, and digital publishing.

A list of all ten honorees and their accomplishments can be found on the USPTO web site.

ITA: In Brussels, Assistant Secretary Camuñez Promotes Intellectual Property Rights and Protections

Seated beside Assistant Secretary Camuñez is Marielle Gallo, a Member of the European Parliament representing France.

Guest blog post by Michael C. Camuñez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, International Trade Administration

This past week, I traveled to Europe as part of my ongoing efforts to deepen the already-robust trans-Atlantic trade relationship. One of my stops was in Brussels, Belgium, the home of the European Commission and heart of the European Union. There, I sat down with EU leaders to discuss ways in which the U.S. and Europe can work together to foster greater economic opportunity and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. I was honored to join a lunch with the president of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, and other EU leaders, where I offered them my perspective on the importance of the protection of intellectual property rights to our shared prosperity.

I also participated in a panel discussion on intellectual property rights (IPR) and growth at the 10th Annual European Business Summit, an issue vital to fostering innovation. My participation in the Business Summit was timely. For the past several weeks, IPR policies have been hotly debated across the European Union. The question at the forefront of this debate is: how does one protect and enforce IPR, while at the same time creating an environment that will foster the continued growth of the digital economy?

My remarks offered me an opportunity to talk about the perspective that I bring as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance. My role has given me some insight into the global competition to transform industrial, carbon-based economies into 21st-century knowledge-based economies–to attract and keep talent, to intensify the pace of innovation and commercialization of innovative products and services, and how to gain and keep our competitive edge.

Deputy Secretary Blank Speaks on the Role of Innovation in the U.S. Economy

Deputy Secretary Blank speaks on innovation at National Press Club

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank 

This afternoon, I had the honor of addressing an annual conference on innovation, sponsored by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. Today’s event, entitled “Innovation Policy and the Economy,” provided an opportunity to discuss one of the most important contributors to America’s long-term competitiveness: innovation. 

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks, and copyrights–the main protections in our intellectual property (IP) system–are critical tools that help commercialize game-changing ideas. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize on those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that lead to a stronger economy and the creation of more, good-paying jobs. 

Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy

Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

Today, the U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, our report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive” industries support more than a quarter of all jobs in the United States. Twenty-seven million of those are either on payroll or under employment contracts, working directly for the IP-intensive industries, and nearly 13 million more are indirectly supported through the supply chains that service these industries. In other words, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional job elsewhere in the economy. 

USPTO Under Secretary Kappos Concludes 'European Road Show' on U.S. Patent Reform Laws

Kappos and Miklós Bendzsel signing a memorandum of understanding

Managing significant changes to the U.S. patent system brought about by implementation of last year’s major patent reform law is not just a project that stays within our borders. Since many outside the U.S. seek a U.S. patent, other nations have a keen interest in understanding how the America Invents Act will work and may wish to file comments on the rules packages associated with implementing the biggest overhaul to U.S. patent law since the system was born over 200 years ago.

Recognizing this interest, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos undertook a European “road show” last week, visiting six cities in four days to conduct stakeholder outreach events and meet with the heads of offices from several European intellectual property offices. In conjunction with local chambers of commerce, Under Secretary Kappos covered three important topics during these stakeholder outreach events: an overview of the significant changes being made to the patent system by the America Invents Act and progress in its implementation; the need for further harmonization of the world’s patent laws; and the benefits of a work sharing mechanism known as the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH 2.0.

USPTO in the 1940s

Drawing of Disney camera

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today

On April 10, 1790, President George Washington signed the bill that laid the foundation of the modern American patent system. For over 200 years the patent system has encouraged the genius of hundreds of thousands of inventors.

During the 1940s, several recognizable and valuable patents were issued that have contributed significantly to American culture and society and changed the way we live. One such patent pioneered the way we see animated movies. On May 31, 1940, Walter E. Disney received Patent #2,201,689 for improvements in the art of producing animated cartoons. Disney’s patent was for a multi-plane camera that allowed for a more realistic three-dimensional image as well as depth and richness to the animation. His invention enabled him to move from the standard animated short films to feature-length animation.