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Blog Category: Patents

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.

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.

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.

Safeguarding 21st Century Innovation

Stanek Rea, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Guest blog post by Teresa Stanek Rea who is Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The economic security and vitality of the United States has always been deeply rooted in American innovation. Time and time again, the story of our growth has been written by the daring drive of entrepreneurs, willing to roll the dice on a great idea. Today, I had the privilege to hear from a group of such bold thinkers in Minneapolis, Minn., and I learned that instrumental to 21st century growth is a 21st century infrastructure that readily allows small businesses to protect their ideas and move them to the marketplace swiftly and cost-effectively.

That’s why the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been working diligently with the White House to build a stronger, more efficient patent system.

Commerce Department Highlights the Role of Intellectual Property in U.S. Innovation, Competitiveness

Kappos on podium at the Newseum in Washington with U.S. Capitol in background

The Commerce Department’s David Kappos, Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), stressed intellectual property’s vital role in the innovation economy and its importance to increasing America’s global competitiveness today at a Patents, Innovation and Job Creation conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Patent-related industries make up the most dynamic parts of our economy, he said, and as a share of gross economic value, the United States invests more in intangible assets than any of its major trading partners.

As our country seeks to regain the jobs lost during the recession, inventions that could spark new businesses and jobs are waiting in the USPTO’s backlog. The Harvard Business Review recently described the USPTO as “the biggest job creator you never heard of.”  Reducing the time it takes to examine those applications is one of the highest priorities for Director Kappos and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Kappos and the USPTO have launched several initiatives to shorten patent pendency and improve patent quality, and the agency will soon outline yet another plan that would give applicants the option to accelerate examination of a patent application. In his remarks today, Kappos also applauded the efforts of Congress to continue pushing for bipartisan legislation that would help the USPTO improve the patent system, expressing the agency’s strong support for patent reform.  |  Director's remarks

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Web Chat with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke

This afternoon, Secretary Locke participated in a live, online web chat hosted by the White House as part of its “Open for Questions” series to help commemorate National Entrepreneurship Week. Questions were submitted through the Fast Company website and the White House blog, and discussion focused on the administration's role in promoting innovation-based, high-growth entrepreneurship.

Watch this video and many others on the White House video page.

Commerce’s USPTO Extends Deadline to Participate in Green Technology Pilot Program

Green Technology Pilot ProgramThe United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced today that the deadline for filing petitions under the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program is being extended until Dec. 31, 2011. The program allows for expedited processing of patent applications related to green technology and was originally set to expire on Dec. 8 of this year.  

Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 790 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 94 patents have been issued. Program statistics show that applicants who use the program can obtain a patent much more quickly. Currently, the average time between the approval of a green technology petition and the first action on an application is just 49 days, and in several cases, patent applications in the green technology program have been issued within a year of the filing date.

“We’ve seen great results so far for those applications in the Green Technology Pilot Program, so we want to extend it for another year and open the program to additional green inventions,” said David Kappos, under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the USPTO. “By doing so, we hope to help stimulate investment in green technology, bring more green inventions to market, and create jobs.”

Pending green technology related patent applications filed with the USPTO on or after Dec. 8, 2009, will now be eligible for consideration under the program. Petitions seeking expedited processing of new green patent applications may also now be filed simultaneously with the patent application.

More information on the Green Technology Pilot Program.

Patent and Trademark Office Incentivizes the Creation and Distribution of Technologies That Address Humanitarian Needs

Humanitarian healthcare workers with childAs world leaders prepare to meet in New York City for the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to discuss ways to solve the critical challenges that face our world, the Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has launched an effort to incentivize the creation and distribution of technologies that address humanitarian needs both domestically and internationally.

The USPTO is seeking comments on a proposed pilot program that would allow patent holders who make their technology available for humanitarian purposes to be eligible for a voucher entitling them to an accelerated re-examination of a patent.Because patents under re-examination are often among the most commercially valuable patents, fast-track re-examination of a patent allows a patent owner to affirm the validity of his or her patent more quickly and less expensively.  This voucher could then be used on any patent owned by the patent holder or transferred on the open market.

Technologies that address humanitarian needs among impoverished populations, such as treatments for tropical diseases, diagnostic medical tools, crops with higher yields or better nutritional value, and treatments for sanitation or clean water, would be considered eligible for the program.  Participants could qualify for the proposed pilot in two ways: by making their patented technologies available to impoverished populations for humanitarian use, or by making their patented technologies available to researchers who are developing technologies that address humanitarian needs.

Learn more about the pilot project and offer your comments (PDF).

National Inventors Hall of Fame Has Sixteen New Members

Kappos prepares to bestow a medal on an inductee.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame has sixteen new members. At a ceremony held at the Department of Commerce, the 2010 Class was formally inducted. David Kappos, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, said during the ceremony that, “The 2010 Class of Inductees have collectively amassed 387 patents. Their innovations have saved millions of lives, improved the quality of life for countless others and transformed the way just about everyone on the planet communicates, navigates and entertains themselves.” (More) (Induction information)

Commerce's USPTO to Accelerate Review of Green Technology Patents

Kappos, Locke, Chu and Arun Majumdar anwer questions from the press.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a program to accelerate the examination of certain “green” technology patent applications, Secretary Gary Locke announced today. The new initiative, coming days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, will accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector. (More) (Remarks) (Energy Announcement)