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

Blog Category: Patent and Trademark Office

Rural America: Wellspring of Innovation

Staff seated in classroom listening to instructor

Guest blog post by Robert L. Stoll, Commissioner for Patents, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Looking at today’s sophisticated high-definition television sets it is hard to imagine that their very foundation could have ever been conceived by a rural farm boy. Yet the legendary account of this farm boy’s inspiration for his image dissector occurred as he was plowing a field.  His name was Philo Farnsworth and at that moment the idea that would become electronic television was born. Just like his 19th century counterparts, John Deere, Cyrus McCormick, Eli Whitney and George Washington Carver, one of the fathers of the modern television industry found inspiration from his rural environment. 

That practice remains alive and well today.  We see it in places like Blaine, Minnesota where Pam Turner invented the Spiral Eye™ Sewing Needle; Athens, Texas where Lesia Farmer invented products for the kitchen; Wake Forest, North Carolina where Michael Sykes invented a home building system; and Sonora, California where Julia Rhodes invented KleenSlate Concepts®, dry erase products.  Today, in the age of the Internet, more inventions are collaborative efforts rather than creations in isolation like Farnsworth’s invention.  But even with all that is available at the touch of a keystroke it is still important to have experts readily accessible to support today’s American innovators wherever they may be.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Issues its 8 Millionth Patent

The USPTO issued patent number 8,000,000 to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., for a visual prosthesis apparatus that enhances visual perception for people who have gone blind due to outer retinal degeneration. The invention uses electrical stimulation of the retina to produce the visual perception of patterns of light.

Today the USPTO issued its 8 millionth patent to Second Sight Medical Products, Inc., a California-based company founded in 1998, for a visual prosthesis apparatus that enhances visual perception for people who have gone blind due to outer retinal degeneration. The invention uses electrical stimulation of the retina to produce the visual perception of patterns of light. The now patented Argus® II is currently in U.S. clinical trials and has received marketing approval in Europe.  

It took 75 years to get to patent 1 million in August 1911, yet just six years to get from patent 7 million to today’s 8 millionth patent.

“This kind of innovation is a driver of our nation’s economic growth and job creation,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “The USPTO plays a major role in serving America’s innovators by granting the intellectual property rights they need to secure investment capital, build companies and bring their products and services to the global marketplace.”

The signing and presentation of the 8 millionth patent by Director Kappos will take place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sept. 8, 2011.

Read the full press release for more information on the 8 millionth patent.

Interested in the previous patent milestones? Here's more information on patent milestones at the USPTO.

USPTO Director David Kappos Talks Innovation with Business Leaders in Florida’s Space Coast

Kappos with roundtable participants

This week, the Commerce Department's Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos is in Orlando, Fla., to hear directly from small business leaders as part of the White House Business Council Roundtable series being held across the country. Engaging with innovators and entrepreneurs in the state’s vibrant Space Coast community, Kappos is gaining additional perspective on the regional business climate and using that feedback to identify resources, partnerships and investments that will strengthen the Space Coast economy by boosting its diversity and global competitiveness.

Touring the Kennedy Space Center and the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training, Kappos is observing firsthand how research centers and labs in the region are developing the cutting-edge tools and programs that will inspire the next frontier of innovation and exploration. He is also talking with area businesses about the critical steps the USPTO is taking to streamline the patent system—arming high-tech entrepreneurs in the Space Coast with the strongest and most consistent intellectual property protections to swiftly bring their innovations to the marketplace and jumpstart their companies.

Senior administration officials across the federal government have participated in several business roundtables around the country this summer to determine how the administration can best support the very businesses that are doing the innovating and hiring that will write the next chapters of 21st century growth.

Research and development being unleashed in states like Florida are the building blocks of innovation, Working together, the federal government and local partners can establish an environment ripe for small businesses to flourish, create jobs and help America win the future.

Innovation and Invention: USPTO and Smithsonian Museum Partner in Exhibiting 'The Great American Hall of Wonders'

Kappos at podium

The exhibition, The Great American Hall of Wonders, examining the 19th-century American belief that the people of the United States shared a special genius for innovation, is now open at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It is a collaborative effort between the museum and Commerce's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and explores six subjects – three natural resources, three man-made inventions – that helped shape America during this period: the buffalo, Giant Sequoia, Niagara Falls, the gun, the railroad and the clock. The exhibition will focus on the ways these six subjects brought together artistic, scientific and technological ways of seeing the world.

In addition to providing creative and technical assistance for development of the exhibition, the USPTO has played a part in the public program development by working with the museum to provide:  speakers for university level courses as well as inventors from the National Inventors’ Hall of Fame for a lecture series.   There will also be a day and a half long inventors symposium held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the USPTO will take the lead in providing experts to address the many challenges facing independent inventors and entrepreneurs.

Protecting Innovation to Ensure New Opportunities for American Businesses, Higher Wages, and Greater Economic Security for American Families

Map of U.S. showing distribution of Green Tech patents

Innovation is a principal driver behind our nation’s economic growth and job creation. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) serves America’s innovators by granting the intellectual property rights they need to secure investment capital, build companies, and bring their products and services to the global marketplace. USPTO is an integral partner in President Obama’s drive to create the foundation for our economic future where we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.  USPTO is proud to play a role in accelerating socially conscious technologies in emerging fields like alternative fuels, clean energy, and green technology.

Last fall the USPTO extended the deadline for filing petitions under its Green Technology Pilot Program.  Under the pilot, patent applications involving reduced greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation and environmental quality are accelerated in their review at no cost to the inventor.

Program statistics show that stakeholders participating in the Green Tech Pilot have obtained patents much more quickly as compared to the standard examination process.  Currently, the average time between granting of a green technology petition and first office action on the merits is just 49 days.  In many instances, applicants have had their Green Technology inventions patented in less than one year from the application filing date.

More than 1,900 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants since the pilot began in December 2009. Of the 1,900 petitions granted so far, USPTO issued the program’s 350th patent for a configuration of a wind turbine housing on June 28.

By advancing a commitment to building a more sustainable energy future, USPTO is able to spur additional innovation and promote green collar jobs that provide our world with alternatives to harmful energy practices. This ensures that the U.S. is not just the world’s Chief Global Competitor, but also its Chief Global Citizen.

The ability to develop tools in the name of cause-based enterprising is an endeavor that may still require investment capital, but leaves the rest of the world inspired through human capital—and that’s an example of the sort of nuanced innovation that continues to mark excellence in American leadership.

USPTO Director Kappos Talks Jobs, Innovation and Patent Reform with Kojo Nnamdi

USPTO Director Kappos Talks Jobs, Innovation and Patent Reform with Kojo Nnamdi

Today USPTO Director David Kappos was interviewed by popular Washington, D.C. radio host Kojo Nnamdi for a segment focused on patents as a vehicle to create new jobs, the patent reform legislation currently pending in Congress, and improvements made at the USPTO under Director Kappos’ leadership. 

Topics discussed in the interview included the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act and how a change from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system as called for in the legislation would impact the innovation community. Kappos noted that this is really a first-inventor-to-file system, meaning that the person who files the patent application has to be the inventor. He pointed to this system as one that is more transparent, simple and objective and one that provides greater certainty for inventors.

Using Green Technology to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Cement (and Jobs)

Calera's process - Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation

In order to meet President Obama’s goal of out-innovating the world in the clean energy economy, the United States Patent and Trademark Office extended the Green Technology Pilot Program. Through this pilot, the USPTO expedites patent applications for any invention that will strongly contribute to improving environmental quality; the discovery or development of renewable energy sources; better use of existing energy resources, or reduction of greenhouse gases. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 1,918 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 328 patents have been issued.

Under this program, California-based Calera Corporation has been able to fast track twelve applications for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into green “reactive cements” that replace traditional “portland cement” commonly used in the construction of buildings.

The heart of the Calera process, referred to as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, combines carbon dioxide flue gas from power plants with the Earth’s natural waters and converts the gas into stable solid minerals similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants including metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals. These minerals can then be used to produce high reactive cements akin to portland cement without the negative environmental impacts derived from mining and processing. For those interested in more details, the USPTO's website has a more in-depth webpage about Calera and this process.

Secretary Locke Outlines Administration’s Views on Patent Reform

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today issued a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers outlining the views of the Obama administration on patent reform legislation currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The America Invents Act increases the certainty of patent rights by implementing a first-inventor-to-file system for patent approval, which reduces the need for cost-prohibitive litigation that often ties up new ideas in court, stifling innovation and holding back job creation. It will also allow the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to set and retain the fees it collects from its users. The USPTO is entirely fee-funded, and this fee-setting authority will ensure high-quality, timely patent review and address the backlog of patent applications that is currently preventing new innovations from reaching the marketplace.

Since the beginning of Locke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary, reforming the U.S. patent system to support the acceleration of American innovation and competitiveness and drive job creation and economic growth has been one of his top priorities. In meetings with CEOs and U.S. business leaders from companies of all sizes, the shortcomings of the U.S. patent system and the need for reform has almost always been a topic of conversation.

During the last two years, Locke has worked with bipartisan Congressional leaders as they have crafted legislation that is widely supported by industry experts, universities, independent inventors, and the business community, because it will make it easier for America’s innovators to produce new technologies that drive economic growth and create jobs.

Commerce’s Commitment to Eliminating Regulatory Burdens in Support of Growth, Competitiveness and National Security

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In January, President Obama issued an executive order outlining his plan to create a 21st century regulatory system that encourages job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. The idea was to make it simpler, smarter and more efficient, while still protecting the health and safety of the American people.  As a key part of that plan, he called upon government agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations currently on the books and to remove those that are outdated, unnecessary or excessively burdensome.  

This review has led agencies, including the Department of Commerce, to identify initiatives that have the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens and billions of dollars in regulatory costs. Today, the results of each agency’s review is being made public and posted on Whitehouse.gov. 

Here at the Commerce Department, we focused our plan on those bureaus with the greatest regulatory activity: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).