Sunday, January 07, 2007

Greatest Canadian Invention: Insulin

Last week the CBC aired the results of its "Greatest Canadian Invention" poll. The top three picks were:

1. Insulin (1921) - Banting and Best
2. Light bulb (1874) - Woodward and Evans
3. Telephone (1876) - Bell

Americans might be surprised to see the light bulb and telephone, two quintessentially "American" inventions, topping a list of Canadian innovations. But both have connections to Canada.

Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was born in Scotland and moved to Canada in 1870 at the age of 23. In 1872 he moved to Boston to take a teaching job and pursue his interest in telephony. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1882 but spent most of his later life at his estate in Nova Scotia. He died and was buried there in 1922. In 1874 Thomas Edison bought the patent rights for a carbon filament light bulb from two Canadians, Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans, for $5000. His famous 1879 patent was an improvement on their design. The number 1 invention, insulin, was first isolated and produced in 1921 by Univ. of Toronto researchers Charles Best and Frederick Banting.

See for details about all 50 inventions in the poll, a teacher's resource guide and numerous facts about inventing and patenting.

Some other quick facts about Canadian patents:

  • The first "Canadian" patent was granted in 1791 by the Legislature of Lower Canada to American inventor Samuel Hopkins.
  • Canada's first federal patent statute was enacted in 1869. Canada's first federal patent was issued on August 18, 1869.
  • Canadian inventors file more patent applications abroad (primarily in the U.S.) than at home. In 2005, Canadian inventors filed 5,102 patent applications in Canada and 8,309 applications in the U.S. They received 1,461 Canadian patents and 3,368 U.S. patents.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Patent Caselaw Site

The guys over at phosita(R), an IP law blog, have just announced the release of According to their Jan. 2 posting, FedCirc is...

..."a website that allows patent professionals and other patent stakeholders to access, digest and manage patent caselaw information. The site is built on a foundation of timely, accurate, and considered reviews of patent decisions from the Supreme Court of the United States and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit."

Why did they do it?

"Three factors are coming together - now - to create an environment that begs for revolution: chaos in the law, an intense and sudden focus on patent law by non-patent professionals, and a technology tipping point that's been exposed by the runaway success of patent blogs over the last several years."

U.S. Patent and PGPub Q4 Report and 2006 Review

2006 was a record-breaking year for patents and pre-grant publications. In the final quarter of 2006 the USPTO published 76,032 applications, an increase of 1.49 percent over the previous quarter and a new record high. The total for the calendar year was 294,674, an increase of just 1.75 percent over 2005 but the highest annual total since the USPTO began publishing pending applications in 2001. Approximately 1.3 million applications have been published to date. Despite a slow start, 2006 was also a banner year for patents. The total for the year was 196,613, a whopping increase of 24.58 percent over 2005. The previous highest total (187,147) was set in 2003. The increase was due to very high outputs in Q2 and Q3. There was some slippage in Q4 with the USPTO issuing 46,912 patents, a decrease of 6.64 percent from the previous quarter. With the pending application backfile now over 1 million, the USPTO is expanding its workforce in order to deal with the increasing workload. According to the USPTO's FY2006 annual report, the agency hired approximately 1,218 new patent examiners this year, bringing the total to 4,779. Current plans call for the USPTO to hire 1,200 examiners per year through 2011. 2006

Quarterly Patent and PGPub Counts*

Patents PGPubs Totals

Q1 44,699 70,147 114,846
Q2 54,749 73,593 128,342
Q3 50,253 74,902 125,155
Q4 46,912 76,032 122,944

196,613 294,674 491,287

*Based on weekly data from the USPTO's PatFT and AppFT databases. Weekly totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Average Weekly Totals for 2006

Patents 3,811

PGPubs 5,674

Number Ranges for 2006

Patents 6,981,282 - 7,155,745

Reissues RE38,928 - RE39,451

PGPubs 2006/0000001 - 2006/0294,631

Designs D513,356 - D534,0330

Plants PP16,176 - PP17,325

SIRs H2,137 - H2,176

Predictions for 2007

Series Code 12
Given the huge number of new applications in 2005 (410,000) and 2006 (443,000), it is likely that the USPTO will introduce series code 12 sometime in 2007. Series codes are two-digit numbers prefixed to application serial numbers. The USPTO assigns application serial numbers from 1-999,999. Series code 11 was introduced in December 2004.