Thursday, December 29, 2011

USPTO Series Code 13

The USPTO is now using series code 13 for patent application serial numbers assigned from the end of 2010 forward. The first application in the series, 13/000,001, was published on May 26, 2011 (2011/0121738A1). Series code 12 was in use from December 2007 to early 2011.

2011 U.S. Patent Statistics

In 2011 the USPTO issued 225,777 patents and published 321,181 applications for a total of 568,577 patent documents, a 1.5 percent decrease from 2010. The USPTO has published approximately 2.9 million utility and plant patent applications since March 15, 2001. Published applications now account for about 30 percent of all U.S. patent documents.

On August 16, 2011, the USPTO issued patent 8,000,000 to Second Sight Medical Products for a visual prosthesis apparatus. Patent 7,000,000 was issued on Feb. 14, 2006. The time interval between "millionth" patents has decreased to 5.5 years.

Table 1. Quarterly Patent Document Counts*
2011 ..... Patents (B) ..... PGPubs (A) ..... Total (A + B)
Q1 ..... 62,132 ..... 78,828 ..... 140,613
Q2 ..... 58,915 ..... 83,279 ..... 142,194
Q3 ..... 62,365 ..... 77,221 ..... 139,586
Q4 ..... 64,331 ..... 81,853 ..... 146,184

Table 2. Patent Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2011*

Utility patents ..... 7,861,317 - 8,087,093 (225,777)
Reissues ..... RE42,020 - RE43,052 (1,033)
PGPubs ..... 2011/0000001 - 2011/0321,207 (321,181)
Designs ..... D629,996 - D651,375 (21,380)
Plants ...... PP20,816 - PP22,427 (1,612)
SIRs ..... H2,251-H2,265 (15)

*Based on preliminary weekly data from the USPTO website. Number totals may change due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Friday, December 23, 2011

USPTO Resdesigns Website

The USPTO has updated its homepage, the first major redesign in more than five years. The new design is modern and eye-catching. Unfortunately, the search interface of the USPTO patent database looks like it did in 1999. 

Strong Growth in Patent Applications Worldwide

Applications for patents and other forms of IP rebounded strongly in 2010, so says a new report from WIPO.
Inventors and companies filed 1.98 million patent applications worldwide in 2010, a new record. China and the U.S. accounted for about 80 percent of the growth. Canada experienced a slight decline of 5.1 percent; however, residents of Canada filed more than 80 percent of their patent applications in other countries.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

PatentScope Adds Russian/Soviet Patents

PatentScope now includes records for Russian and Soviet patent documents from 1919 to 2010, about 1.4 million patent documents. Full-text is not include, but abstracts are available from 1960 forward.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cooperative Patent Classification Project

The USPTO and EPO have launched a website for information about the Cooperative Patent Classification Project, which aims to create a shared patent classification system based on ECLA.

New Bio: Inventor Hedy Lamarr

Inventor/actress Hedy Lamarr is the subject of a new bio by Richard Rhodes:

In 1942 Lamarr and composer George Antheil patented (US 2292387) a "secret communication system" designed to prevent enemies from jamming radio-controlled torpedoes. The invention was based on radio "frequency-hopping" and forms the basis of modern wireless communications systems. Lamarr's patent has been cited in 36 patents since 1976, including most recently in US 8031129, and in ~70 documents indexed in Google Scholar.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ed Pauls, Inventor of the NordicTrack

Ed Pauls, inventor of the NordicTrack cross-country ski exerciser, died last month at the age of 80. He patented his ski machine in 1977 (US 4,023,795). Pauls was not the first inventor to conceive of an exercise machine that simulated skiing. However, his design was small and portable enough to be used in most homes.  

The success of the NordicTrack inspired numerous other designs. In 1980, just a few years after Pauls received his patent, the USPTO issued just 179 patents for exercise machines (Class 482). By the end of the 1990s the USPTO was issuing more than 350 patents for exercise machines per year. In 2010, the USPTO issued 736 patents for exercise devices. The top patent owners include Nautilus, Icon IP and Brunswick Corporation.

There are more than 17,000 patents classified in Class 482, 33 percent issued since 2000. The earliest patent in the class was issued on Sept. 9, 1825 to John Tustin of Philadelphia for a railroad turntable design. The first patent for a true "exercising machine", US 3,480, was issued on March 13, 1844 to Oliver Halsted of New York.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Statistical Country Profiles from WIPO

Statistical country profiles for more than one hundred countries are now available on the WIPO website. Each profile provides information on patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs from 1995 to the present. Patent applications by the top fields of technology are given.This is a very useful resource for librarians, researchers, and students looking for national IP statistics.

Monday, October 03, 2011

PatentScope Adds Kenyan Patents

The national patent collection of Kenya (KE) is now available in PatentScope. Bibliographic records for about 323 patent documents published from May 1996 to Jan. 2011 are included. Full-text documents are not available at this time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

USPTO Rebrands Library Network

The USPTO's national network of libraries that provide patent and trademark information to the public has a new name. The libraries formerly called Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries will know be known as Patent and Trademark Resource Centers. There are currently more than 80 PTRCs in 46 states and Puerto Rico.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Patentscope 1.0 Retires on Oct. 13

WIPO will phase out its PatentScope "Classic" search system on Oct. 13, 2011. All searches will be directed to the new PatentScope, which was introduced in 2009. WIPO launched the original PatentScope in 2003.

Australia and New Zealand Agree to Streamline Patent Applications

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to implement a streamlined patent application process that would allow inventors in both countries to file a single patent application by 2013 and request a single patent examination by 2014. Details about the Trans-Tasman Patents Plan were announced in July.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Patent Library in Iowa

The Davenport Public Library is the newest member of the USPTO's library network and the first new site to be designated a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC). There are now 81 libraries in the network, which was formerly known as the Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) Program.

Reinventing the Paperclip

Office supply geeks around the world are abuzz over a new paperclip called the Acco Klix. The metal, jaw-type, multicolored clips are said to be an improvement over traditional wire and sheet-metal paperclips, although they are much more expensive (10 for $3.99).

Paperclips are classified in ECLA under B42F1, "Sheets temporarily attached together without perforating; Means therefor". The code for jaw-type clips is B42F1/00C.

Illinois-based Acco holds more than 400 U.S. patents for office supplies and equipment.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs's Patents

The NY Times has an interesting pictorial overview of 300+ patents credited to Steve Jobs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

US Patent 8,000,000

On Tuesday, August 16, the USPTO issued patent no. 8,000,000 to Second Sight Medical Products for a visual prosthesis apparatus. The provisional application was filed on Oct. 19, 2006. Second Sight's patent portfolio consists of about 90 U.S. patents and published applications, plus more than 250 worldwide.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

US Patent Counts, Q2 2011

The USPTO issued fewer patents but published more applications in the second quarter of 2011. The number of patents declined by 5.1 percent to 58,920. The number of published applications increased by 6.1 percent to 83,279. The USPTO has issued more than 120,000 patents in the first six months of 2011, a slight increase over the same period last year.

Table 1. Quarterly Patent Document Counts*
2011 ..... Patents (B) ..... PGPubs (A) ..... Total (A + B)
Q1 ..... 62,132 ..... 78,481 ..... 140,613
Q1 ..... 58,920 ..... 83,279 ..... 142,199

*Based on preliminary weekly data from the USPTO website. Totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Table 2. Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through June 30, 2011

Utility patents ..... 7,861,317 - 7,971,266 (109,316)
Reissues ..... RE42,020 - RE42,509 (488)
PGPubs ..... 2011/0000001 - 2011/0078,838 (78,481)
Designs ..... D629,996 - D640,855 (10,843)
Plants ...... PP20,816 - PP22,000 (397)
SIRs ..... H2,251-H2,258 (8)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy 175th, U.S. Patent No. 1

July 13, 2011 was the 175th anniversary of the granting of U.S. patent no. 1, issued to Senator John Ruggles of Thomaston, Maine. Senator Ruggles was chair of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office and the chief framer of the 1836 Patent Act, which came into force on July 4. The Act abolished the old patent registration system that had been in force since 1793 and re-introduced an examination system based on novelty and non-obviousness. Senator Ruggle's invention was a wheel traction system for steam locomotives. It has been cited in several patents including US 6,725,751, issued in 2004 for a "rotary punching apparatus".

Friday, July 15, 2011

USPTO Public Training Portal @ NTIS

NTIS is now offering public access to USPTO training materials used to train patent examiners and trademark attorneys. The catalogue includes about 70 modules of varying lengths.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

PAIR Enhancement: Display References

The USPTO has enhanced its PAIR system (Patent Application Information Retrieval) by adding a tab for cited references under which is listed all references cited by the examiner and application, including patents and NPL (non-patent literature) documents. Cited US and foreign patent documents may be downloaded but not NPL (for copyright reasons).

Frisbee False Marking Case

Interesting article in the WSJ about a false patent marking case involving Wham-O, maker of frisbees. The company is the latest defendant in a string of lawsuits against firms accused of marking their products with patent numbers that are long expired. The frisbee or "fying disc" was conceived by Walter F. Morrison in 1938. He patented the design in 1958, D183,626, and then sold the rights to Wham-O. There are over 200 patents classified in USPC 446/46, the main class for flying disc toys.

Friday, June 17, 2011

PatentScope Mobile

PatentScope now offers a mobile search interface. As far as I know, this is the first patent office database optimized for mobile devices.

Also read that WIPO is planning to add "the bulk" of patent data from the IP5 patent offices, e.g. EPO, USPTO, JPO, SIPO and KIPO, to PatentScope in 2011. The EPO data was added a couple of months ago.

This will be a great addition to an already excellent tool.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Patent Update @ Chemistry Librarians' Workshop

A couple of weeks ago I gave a brief update on patent search tool developments at the Chemistry Librarians' Workshop at the University of Toronto. One of the topics I covered was the recent addition of Markush searching in SciFinder. I'm still trying to figure out how to promote this powerful tool to faculty and grad students, most of whom are not too keen on reading patent documents.

Beach Chair Breaks New Ground

The first rule of inventing might be: no matter how commonplace a device is, someone will always think of a way to improve it. Take, for example, award-winning industrial designer Larry Laske's new beach chair. It's basically a chair backrest molded in plastic with two spikes to anchor it in the sand. Laske filed a U.S. application in 2004 and was awarded a patent in 2007 (7178875B2). According to the patent, Laske's intent was to create a chair that is "lightweight, easy to carry and simple to use." You can buy them in blue, green, yellow and orange on Laske's website With the exception of the elimination of one of the handholds, the finished product is identical to the patent drawing.

The beach chair has been reinvented many times over. One of the earliest patents, which the patent examiner cited in his review, was issued in 1919 (1312774). 

Friday, May 27, 2011

ECLA Change Reports

The European Patent Office is now publishing a monthly report on changes to the European Classification system (ECLA). ECLA has about 140,000 sub-classes, making it on par with the US Patent Classification. Changes are grouped in three categories: Added, Deleted and Updated. The reports are available at

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Common Patent Classification Project

Interesting story in IP Frontline about the development of a common classification scheme by the EPO and USPTO. The project is one of ten joint initiatives announced last year by the USPTO, EPO, JPO, KIPO and SIPO. (See the Five IP Offices website). Initial planning is well underway at the EPO and USPTO, but that most of the work will be done in 2012-13. According to the report, the USPTO will abolish its own classification system when the new common system is operational.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Plastics Archive at Syracuse Univ Library

Syracuse University Library's Plastics Collection is a great source of information on all things plastic from the late 1800s to the present. Many objects in the collection have patent references.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Patents for a Royal Wedding

Since an estimated 2 billion people will watch Prince William marry Kate Middleton tomorrow, I thought a royal wedding themed patent story was in order.

Flowers play a prominent role in weddings, so I searched for plant patents named for members of the royal family. Sure enough, in 1987, Thomas Watson of Wisconsin received three plant patents for varieties of Amelanchier, a shrub, which he named in honor of Prince Charles (PP6,039), Princess Diana (PP6,041) and Prince William (PP6,040).

Lowell Hoy of Indiana patented a new variety of rose named "Lady Diana" (PP5,360) in 1983.  

And in 1999, Robin Marks of Aylesbury, UK filed a plant patent application (2001/0100101) for a dahlia variety named Diana, Princess of Wales.

There are no plant patents named in honor of Kate Middleton, but I suspect that we'll be seeing some soon.

US Patent Counts, Q1 2011

In the first quarter of 2011 the USPTO issued 62,132 patents, an increase of 1.7 percent from the previous quarter and 11.9 percent from the same period last year. The number of published applications declined by 4 percent from the previous quarter and was essentially unchanged from a year ago.

The USPTO is fast approaching its 8 millionth utility patent, which is likely to be issued in the second half of the year, probably in August. Patent 7,000,000, for a new type of polysaccharide fiber, was issued five years ago on February 14, 2006 to Dupont.

Patent No. 6,000,000 was granted on December 7, 1999 to inventors Jeff Hawkins and Michael Albanese. Their invention was a system for synchronizing files on two computers, the core technology of the Palm Pilot PDA, the first commercially successful hand-held electronic organizer. Palm was purchased by H-P for about $1.2 billion in 2010.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the first published patent application on March 15, 2001. Since that date the USPTO has published approximately 2,706,056 utility and plant patent applications. Published applications now account for about 30 percent of all U.S. patent documents.

Table 1. Quarterly Patent Document Counts*

2011 ..... Patents (B) ..... PGPubs (A) ..... Total (A + B)
Q1 ..... 62,132 ..... 78,481 ..... 140,613

*Based on preliminary weekly data from the USPTO website. Totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Table 2. Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through Mar. 31, 2011

Utility patents ..... 7,861,317 - 7,917,966 (56,331)
Reissues ..... RE42,020 - RE42,264 (243)
PGPubs ..... 2011/0000001 - 2011/0078,838 (78,481)
Designs ..... D629,996 - D635,325 (5,326)
Plants ...... PP20,816 - PP21,833 (18)
SIRs ..... H2,251-H2,252 (2)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

World Cities Ranked by Patent Productivity

Today's Globe and Mail published an interesting list of 24 cities ranked by the number of U.S. patents per 100,000 population. The top ranked Canadian city was Vancouver (11th), followed by Toronto (12th), Calgary (13th), Montreal (15th) and Halifax (20th). Seven of the top ten cities were in the U.S. There were some surprising omissions. Houston, for example, didn't make the list despite its high patent output. And San Diego and the Research Triangle area in North Carolina, home to many research universities and biotech companies, were also missing.

It's easy to dismiss such rankings as U.S.-centric because they're based only on USPTO data. But the fact is that many Canadian inventors and companies file applications first in the U.S. According to the USPTO's Fiscal Year 2010 annual report, Canadians filed 11,250 applications in 2009. In comparison, the CIPO received 5,215 patent applications from Canadian residents in 2009-2010.

It would be interesting to re-calculate this list based on PCT data from PatentScope. Cities with high filings of PCT patent applications per 100K pop. might indicate concentrations of companies with global rather than national or regional patent strategies.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

FPO Adds Non-Patent Literature Collection

FreePatentsOnline (FPO) has added a full-text collection of non-patent literature to its suite of patent databases. Not much is stated about the collection, but according to the copyright notice that appears in each record it appears to be sourced from Gale Cengage Learning, a producer of full-text and bibliographic databases. The NPL collection can be searched alone or with the patent collections.

NPL records include bibliographic data, full-text and tables, but not images. Date coverage appears to start as far back as the early 1980s up through March 2011. In addition to full-text searching, it is possible to limit searches to specific fields such as author name (use IN), article title (use TTL) , and full text (use SPEC). Searching by patent classification is not possible as none of the articles appear to have USPC or IPC codes.

Earthquake-proof Buildings

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 is a massive natural disaster and human tragedy, but it could have been much worse. News reports have credited Japan`s strict building codes with saving countless lives. Thanks to Japanese engineering, thousands of buildings and other structures survived the initial earthquake and numerous aftershocks. Japan`s leadership in earthquake resistant technologies is evident in the patent record. Japanese engineers and scientist have filed almost 70 percent of the patent applications related to protecting structures from earthquakes. 

The main IPC codes related to earthquake-resistant structures are: 
  • E04H 9/02 - Buildings .. withstanding earthquakes or sinking of ground
  • E02D 27/34 - Foundations for sinking or earthquake territories
In espacenet there are 15,180 patent documents classified in E04H 9/02, 71 percent (10,816) of these are JP documents. About 4,159 patent documents are classified in E02D 27/34, 60 percent (2,479) are JP documents.

Some of the leading patent assignees in this field are Japanese corporations, including Kajima, Oiles, Shimzu, and Nippon Steel.

PatentScope Adds EPO Collection

The EPO patent document backfile, which includes bibliographic data from 1978 through mid-2010 and full-text data from 1996 through mid-2010, is now available in PatentScope. With this addition, the WIPO's patent search system has 7.7 million patent documents from 21 regional and national patent offices.

Earlier this year PatentScope added the national patent collections of Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. Search interfaces in Korea, Russian and Spanish have also been deployed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

One Classification to Rule Them All?

The USPTO and EPO have agreed to create a new Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) based on the IPC. You can read the press releases here and here. The new system will be based largely on ECLA, the European version of the IPC, but incorporate the best practices of the U.S. Patent Classification system.

The IPC was created in the 1960s as a common classification system intended to replace the numerous national patent classification systems then in existence. The official treaty creating the IPC system, the Strasbourg Agreement, was signed in 1971. There are now 61 countries party to the agreement. Few national classification systems are still in use. The Canadian Patent Classification system was abandoned in the early 1990s.  

US Patent Counts, 2010

The USPTO issued 244,421 patents and published 333,210 applications in 2010, an all-time high of 577,631 patent documents. The number of patents issued in Q4 dropped to 61,037, a slight decrease from the previous quarter. The number of published applications also declined in Q4 to 81,787.

It has been ten years since the USPTO began publishing utility and plant patent applications. In that time, the USPTO has published about 2.6 million applications.

Table 1. Quarterly Patent Document Counts*
2010 ..... Patents (B) .....PGPubs (A)..... Total (A + B)
Q1 ..... 55,488 ..... 77,520 ..... 133,008
Q2 ..... 64,037 ..... 84,919 ..... 143,069
Q3 ..... 63,859 ..... 88,984 ..... 152,843
Q4 ..... 61,037 ..... 81,787 ..... 142,824

Q1-Q4 ..... 244,421 ..... 333,210 ..... 577,631

*Based on preliminary weekly data from the USPTO website. Totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

Table 2. Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2010

Utility patents ..... 7,640,598 - 7,861,316
Reissues ..... RE41,067 - RE42,019
PGPubs ..... 2010/0000001 - 2010/0333245
Designs ..... D607,176 - D629,995
Plants ...... PP20,622 - PP21,603
SIRs ..... H2,234 - H2,250

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Wikipedia References Increase 81 Percent in 2010

The number of US patents that cite Wikipedia increased again in 2010. Approximately 1,461 patents issued last year contain one or more references to Wikipedia articles, 81 percent more than in 2009. Although this is a tiny fraction of the total number of patents issued (roughly half a percent), it is still an impressive increase. In fact, because of variations in how Wikipedia articles are cited in patents (for example, in the specification rather than the list of references) the actual number may be higher. Wikipedia was first cited in a US patent in 2003. In 2006, the USPTO banned patent examiners from citing Wikipedia articles as prior art.

The top ten assignees shown in Table 1 hold nearly 23 percent of patents that cite Wikipedia. Technology firms dominate the list, which suggests that computer-related patents are more likely to cite Wikipedia than patents related to other technologies. Indeed, the top three assignees, Microsoft, IBM and Apple, account for almost 12 percent of the total. Three of the top ten, Intel, Infineon and Micron, are manufacturers of semiconductors and other computer hardware. Two of the top ten assignees, Boeing and JPMorgan, are not directly involved computer-related technologies. Only 5 percent of patents that cite Wikipedia are unassigned.

Table 2 shows the top ten primary patent classes assigned to patents that cite Wikipedia. The majority of the classes relate to information and communication technologies (ICT). Only two classes in the top ten, 514 and 424, cover technologies (drugs and pharmaceuticals) not related to ICT. As the data shows, the percentage of patents in each class that cite Wikipedia exceeds the percentage of all patents issued in 2010. For example, Class 707 accounts for 7.21% of patents that cite Wikipedia articles but only 2.18% of all patents issued in 2010. This is true for all classes with the exception of Class 370.