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

Blog Category: Patent and Trademark Office

Honoring Invention: the World’s Only Inexhaustible Resource

President Obama with receipients at Meddal Award ceremony.

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary For Intellectual Property and Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Department of Commerce

At a ceremony at the White House Friday, I had the pleasure to join President Obama as he honored recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation—the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on our nation’s brightest innovators and inventors.

Whether unraveling the information intertwined in a DNA helix, improving the safety of air travel, or digitizing the way we capture memories of loved ones—the medal recipients have offered humanity new tools to tackle some of the toughest challenges we confront as a planet. Moreover, by improving our understanding of the world around us, they have rewritten textbook fundamentals—and inspired a new generation of thinkers to explore unfamiliar terrain.

Much like the thousands of patent and trademark applications, the Commerce Department's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) carefully examines each and every day, the National Medal of Technology & Innovation serves as a reminder that our nation continues to be built by those willing to challenge traditions—willing to push the boundaries of convention and willing to test new limits in design and thought.

That ® Means More Than You May Think

Chubby Checker along with the Pillsbury Dough Boy and a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at the USPTO 2011 National Trademark Expo

Guest blog post by Debbie Cohn, Commissioner for Trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Learning about the value of intellectual property may not sound like fun and games, but for more than 15,000 people who visited the United States Patent and Trademark Office last Friday and Saturday, that’s exactly what happened.

The 2011 National Trademark Expo featured exhibits and seminars designed to educate the public about the importance and value of trademarks in the marketplace. Trademarks help inspire confidence in a brand and build an identity for thousands upon thousands of companies making products and providing services across America. Brand and identity are both vital components for spurring growth and promoting economic development.

The United States has been registering trademarks since 1870. Through the federal registration system, the USPTO is able to assist business in protecting their valuable investments, promoting goods and services and safeguarding consumers against confusion and deception in the marketplace.

At the National Trademark Expo, the public learned about intellectual property rights for small businesses; counterfeiting and piracy; filing for a trademark registration with the USPTO; and why trademarks are important to business. And they learned this firsthand from the many exhibitors showcasing their marks and discussing the critical role they play.

And while children and adults were wowed by a variety of characters most Americans would immediately recognize as trademarked, special guest Chubby Checker sang and spoke with the audience about how important his trademarks are to him. Checker leveraged his “Twist” to build a successful business in the food industry.

The 2011 National Trademark Expo was a successful event highlighting the powerful role that trademarks play in the global economy.

Patent and Trademark Office Announces 2011 National Trademark Expo

Five images of Chubby Checker doing the Twist

Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the 2011 National Trademark Expo on Friday, October 14th from 10 am to 6 pm, and Saturday, October 15th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.  The free, two-day event is designed to educate the public about the value of trademarks in the global marketplace.  Last year’s Expo attracted over 10,000 visitors of all ages.

The Expo will highlight such themes as “Unusual Trademarks” and “Brand Evolution,” and will feature educational workshops for adults and children, exhibits of authentic and counterfeit goods, and costumed characters, including Pillsbury's Doughboy, Popeye and Olive Oyl, the Pink Panther and Barbie.

The opening ceremony on October 14, 2011 featured music by the U.S Air Force’s rock band, Max Impact, and a guest appearance by Chubby Checker.  |  Read morePast Expo photos

Building a 21st Century Patent and Trademark Office

Director Kappos takes questions while at the Brookings Institute

Today, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos addressed the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, outlining how comprehensive patent reform, signed into law by President Obama two weeks ago today, impacts American innovation, American jobs and American leadership. Representing the most significant overhaul of the U.S. patent system in a generation, the America Invents Act (AIA) transforms how patents are obtained, challenged, and valued in acquisition, licensing, and litigation settlement discussions.

In the centuries since the first patent examiner—Thomas Jefferson—reviewed and granted the first U.S. patent, our nation has observed sweeping revolutions in the pace of innovation—but with no comprehensive legislative adjustment in patent policy.

By building out the world’s only 21st century Patent and Trademark Office, equipped to manage the demands of a globalized economy, this new law enables a better resourced USPTO to grant intellectual property rights with greater speed, greater quality, greater clarity and greater enforceability. It also advances the President’s overall strategy of deploying American innovation to build businesses and build jobs.

Acting Secretary Blank Encourages Innovation in Green Energy Technologies

Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address at a green energy conference today hosted by Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Brookings Institution and the Clean Energy Group at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. The conference was held for policy makers from federal, state, and foreign governments, and industry and academia. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos, EDA Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy also participated.

In her remarks, Blank focused on issues facing clean energy development today and ways to overcome obstacles through more strategic state and federal policy. Blank highlighted efforts by Obama administration initiatives aimed at creating jobs, increasing exports and securing America’s energy future. Topics at the forum included technology transfer and commercialization, public investment, procurement and policy, federal and state economic support for clean energy industries, and international collaboration on clean energy technologies.  Remarks

Acting Secretary Blank and USPTO Director Kappos Join President Obama at the America Invents Act Signing Ceremony

President Barack Obama signs the America Invents Act into law at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, Sept. 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

At a ceremony at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia, President Obama today signed the America Invents Act into law, representing historic patent reform legislation that will help American entrepreneurs and businesses bring their inventions to market sooner, creating new businesses and new jobs. Passed with the president’s consistent leadership and strong bipartisan support, the America Invents Act represents the most significant reform of the Patent Act since 1952, and will help American companies and inventors who have suffered costly delays and unnecessary litigation focus on innovation and job creation.

Innovation is the primary source of economic growth, job creation,
and U.S. competitiveness in today’s global economy. An efficiently operating intellectual property system is critical to our ability to spur innovation and bring new services and products to the marketplace faster. For investors, patents are strong indicators of market potential for new companies; and for inventors, they are often vital to attracting investment. 

"Our success in creating the conditions that spur new ideas, and our commitment to investing in the education, research and development priorities that help shape our country’s innovation infrastructure, will determine the opportunities of future generations,” Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said. “These issues will determine whether or not America is home to the industries that will fuel economic growth–and the jobs that come with it - in the 21st century.”

Aneesh Chopra, on the White House Blog, said, "By transitioning to a simpler, more objective, and more inventor-friendly system of issuing patents, the new Act helps ensure that independent inventors and small entities have greater clarity and certainty over their property rights and will be able to navigate the patent system on a more equitable footing with large enterprises."

The Act also establishes a new in-house review process for challenging patents—a process that is faster and significantly cheaper than litigation, which too often stymies technological growth. By resolving disputes about patent rights earlier, more efficiently, and at lower cost, we can  add greater certainty to—and cultivate greater confidence it—the American patent system."

United States Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra hosted an Open for Questions event on WhiteHouse.gov at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, September 16th. If you missed it, you can watch the entire Q&A session on the White House blog.

Acting Secretary Blank Celebrates Patent Number 8,000,000, Calls for Congress to Act Swiftly to Pass Patent Reform

Acting Secretary Blank Celebrates Patent Number 8,000,000

Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos today presented patent no. 8 million 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. Following the signing, company President and CEO Robert Greenberg demonstrated the new product, Argus® II. 

The ceremony underscored the critical role the U.S. patent system plays in fostering American innovation and economic competitiveness and comes as Congress is acting to make the most significant reforms to the system in more than half a century. Patent reform legislation currently before Congress – the America Invents Act – will help create new jobs by simplifying the process inventors face for getting a patent, while making the system more transparent and reducing costly and time-consuming litigation. 

The bill is an essential tool to bring the patent system and the USPTO into the 21st century and to continue to unleash the innovation, ingenuity and creativity that has made America the envy of the world. Strong and clear patent rights are especially vital to small and new businesses, which create 2 out of every 3 American jobs. Successful inventors need to secure patent rights to access capital, hire employees and lift their companies off the ground. Put simply, patents are crucial to creating new jobs, new industries and new economic opportunities for Americans.

Specifically, the America Invents Act:

  • Allows the USPTO to set its own fees to recover the actual costs of the services it provides, and keep and reserve those fees exclusively for the USPTO’s use – a major part of ensuring that the agency has sufficient funding; 
  • Enables the USPTO to hire more examiners and bring its IT system into the 21st century so it can process applications more quickly and produce higher quality patents that are less likely to be subject to a court challenge;
  • Decreases the likelihood of expensive litigation because it creates a less costly, in-house administrative alternative to review patent validity claims;  and,
  • Adopts the “first-inventor-to-file” standard as opposed to the current “first-to-invent” standard. First inventor to file is used by the rest of the world, and would be good for U.S. businesses, providing a more transparent and cost-effective process that is consistent with the practices of our economic competitors.

Taken together, the reforms outlined in the America Invents Act create a better architecture for fostering American innovation and accelerating the delivery of innovative goods and services to the marketplace. It also gives the Patent Office the tools and resources it needs to serve America’s innovators by granting high-quality patents in a more timely fashion.

The White House's National Science and Technology Council Recognizes NIST and USPTO for Open Innovation Efforts

The White House's National Science and Technology Council Recognized Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their open innovation efforts [PDF]. NIST's efforts to encourage market transparency and USPTO's leadership in public/private data access have the potential to scale within and across Federal agencies through interagency policy and implementation groups. By leading in this open government initiative, NIST and USPTO set the stage for entrepreneurs to out-innovate our international competitors and win the future.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was recognized for its efforts in democratizing government data, supporting President Obama's initiatives to usher in a new era in which the gap between the American people and their government would close. USPTO initially faced some problems in its effort to publish its data online in a free and open format. The Office had traditionally been providing data through a paid subscription service. It also didn't have funding for technology to publish information online in an open format that could easily be retrieved, downloaded, indexed and searched by commonly used web search applications.

The USPTO opted to partner with Google in a no-cost agreement in which Google agreed to disseminate USPTO's bulk electronic patent and trademark data to the public at no charge. The electronic data includes images and text of patent grants and published applications, trademark applications, patent classification information and patent and trademark assignments.

In the end, nearly two terabytes of data, representing patent and trademark data back to 1790, is now available to the public free of charge on Google, with some 13GB of new data added weekly.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology also received recognition for its efforts in encouraging market transparency with its ongoing coordination of standards for the Smart Grid, the next-generation U.S power grid currently under development. After being called upon by Congress in 2007 to take responsibility for this task, NIST, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, faced the challenge of ensuring the myriad products and services that could connect to the Smart Grid would be able to operate together seamlessly.

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.