Monday, December 17, 2012

China Leads US in Patent Applications

In 2011 China surpassed the US in patent application filings, according to data compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization and reported in the Economist. The State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO) received 526,412 applications in 2011, compared to slightly more than 500,000 at the USPTO and approximately 340,000 at the Japan Patent Office. In related news, the European Patent Office and SIPO recently announced that Chinese to English machine translation is now available in its Patent Translate service, which is integrated with Espacenet. An additional four million Chinese patent documents are now available in Espacenet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pfizer`s Viagra Patent Invalidated Due to Failure to Disclose

The Supreme Court of Canada has invalidate Pfizer's Canadian patent on Viagra, citing the drug-maker's failure to disclose essential information about the main ingredient, sildenafil citrate, in the original application, which was filed in 1994 and granted in 1998. (CA 2163446) The appellant in the case was generic drug maker Teva Canada Ltd.
Pfizer holds several other patents related to Viagra, all of which are listed in the Canadian Drug Patent Register.

Here are a couple of stories from the Globe and Mail:


Supreme Court backs Canadian firm’s bid to make generic Viagra

Friday, October 19, 2012

Swiss Patent Office Adopts CPC

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the Swiss Patent Office will classify patents using the CPC. This might be the first office (except for the EPO and USPTO) to officially adopt the CPC as its national classification.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Cooperative Patent Classification Available

The USPTO and EPO have released the new Cooperative Patent Classification system ahead of the January 1, 2013 implementation date. Details are available at the CPC website. Documentation includes the entire CPC scheme, an initial set of definitions and CPC concordances.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New: FreePatentsOnline Adds DE Patent Data, Other Resources

FreePatentsOnline has updated its interface and added some new resources. One of the most interesting developments is the addition of German patent data. Other new features include blogs, a version of the MPEP and a case law database containing Federal appellate cases referenced in the MPEP.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

PatentScope Has JP Data

Japanese patent documents are now available in PatentScope. The JP national collection is the 29th added to the system and includes more than 3 million records from January 2004 through July 2012. New data will be added weekly.

JP documents can be searched by number or IPC classification. But in order to search by name or keyword, one has to use PatentScope's Cross Lingual Expansion search mode.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Canadian Invents Device to Help Cystic Fibrosis Patients Breath

Interesting story about a Canadian man suffering from cystic fibrosis who patented a device that helps him breath. His patents for a "chest vibrating device" include US7416536 (B2) and CA2563723 (C).
Medical devices are a bit more challenging to commercialize because they require the approval of various government agencies. In this case, Health Canada approved the device late last year, almost ten years after the first patent application and four years after the US patent was granted. 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Tonight millions of Americans will enjoy firework shows in celebration of Independence Day. Millions more may even set off a few firecrackers and bottle rockets in their backyards. Many of these pyrotechnics can trace their origins to designs patented decades ago. Patents for fireworks and other pyrotechnics are found in the U.S. Patent Classification under 102/335. Firecrackers specifically are found under 102/361. The oldest patent in this subclass was issued on August 7, 1883 to Jinta Hirayama of Yokohama, Japan (US 282,891). Hirayama's invention, described as "day-light fireworks", consisted of a shell packed with powder and paper cutouts of birds, animals and people. Once lit, the shell would explode and shower the immediate area with paper confetti.

Happy 4th of July!

RIM's Troubles and Canadian Patents

Reports of RIM's demise may be premature but the company's precarious situation might be a concern for officials at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. For the better part of a decade, RIM has been one of CIPO's best customers; since 2005-2006 it has consistently ranked as the top patent applicant in Canada. Last year RIM filed 569 new patent applications and received 244 patents. RIM's application and examination fees and the maintenance fees its pays on its large portfolio of patents represent a fair bit of income for the CIPO. The current standard filing fee for a patent application is $400, so RIM's 569 applications last year would have cost at least $227,000. If RIM dramatically reduces the number of applications it files, or stops filing altogether, it will cost the CIPO hundreds of thousands in lost revenue. If RIM sells all or part of its patent portfolio, then presumably the new owners would continue to pay the maintenance fees in order to prevent the patents from expiring.

USPTO satellite offices; European patent moves forward

Big patent news from Europe and the US:

The USPTO is planning to open three new satellite offices in Dallas, Denver and Silicon Valley, bringing the total number of regional offices to four. The first USPTO satellite office will open in Detroit on July 13. By coincidence, July 13 is also the 176th anniversary of the first patent issued under the Patent Act of 1836, US 1. In establishing regional offices the USPTO hopes to make it easier for applicants to obtain patents in a timely manner and reduce its backlog of pending applications.

Across the Atlantic, negotiators agreed that the European patent court should be located in Paris with offices in Munich and London. This decision moves Europe one step closer to establishing a single European patent granted by the EPO.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lobster Lure Saves Money

A Nova Scotian inventor has designed a device that will allow lobster fisherman to leave their traps in the water for longer periods of time, thus reducing the number of trips they have to make to check them. The device is a container that releases bait after a biodegradable fuse breaks down. It`s not clear if the inventor has filed a patent application, but a Canadian trademark for the name BAIT SAVOUR was registered in 2010.

The catching and eating of lobsters (and other crustaceans) has inspired thousands of patented inventions over the decades. An early version of the classic lobster pot, seen in thousands of souvenir shops throughout New England and the Canadian Maritimes, was patented by Joseph Steward of Boston in 1887. (US363858). Alexandre Cormier of Montreal patented an improved version in the 1920s. (US1607443)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hockey Players Protect Their Noggins

A group of Canadian businessmen have launched a new product that they claim will protect hockey players from concussions.The Noggin is a form-fitting skull cap kitted out with gel pads intended to be worn under a regulation hockey helmet. Medical experts are skeptical about the product`s claims, however. According to the CIPO`s Canadian Trademark Database, an application for the mark Noggin was filed on April 10, 2012.

Over the years inventors have filed hundreds of patent applications for inventions designed to protect the heads of athletes from blows. More than 1,700 patent documents are classified in IPC A63B71/10, which covers protectors for the head. Designs include shock absorbing headbands and protective golf hats. One of the earliest designs is an 1895 patent (US532567) for a head protector for football players.

2012 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees

Ten inventors were inducted into the U.S. National Inventors Hall of Fame earlier this month. The inductees included Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and holder of more than 100 patents, and Nobel Laureate (Physics) Dennis Gabor.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free Patent Tools from MaxVal

MaxVal, an IP research and services firm, offers a suite of useful (and free) patent tools. The graphical patent family tree generator is especially nice. The USPTO widget is also useful for compiling data about a specific patent from various USPTO databases.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

PatentScope Improvements

The latest improvements to PatentScope include faster query response time, new and enhanced Boolean operators, improved search term highlighting and query tree displays. The operator NEAR can now be used with other Boolean operators and a new operator, BEFORE, can be used to search words in a specific order, e.g. fuel BEFORE cell.  

Thursday, April 05, 2012

USPTO Launches IP Awareness Tool

The USPTO and NIST have launched a new IP Awareness Assessment Tool aimed at helping small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent inventors improve their knowledge of all forms of intellectual property.

Awareness of IP rights among entrepreneurs and inventors is low in many countries. In 2009 the Canadian Intellectual Property Office conducted a survey of small and medium-sized businesses and found that 62% of the respondents could not name a single form of IP. Copyright was identified by 20%, followed by patents at 16%, trademarks at 10% and designs and trade secrets at 1% each. 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Improved Peanut Butter Jar?

A pro-hockey player and inventor from Alberta thinks he's solved a problem that has plagued kids forever: how to get the last bit of peanut butter out of the bottom of the jar without getting it all over your fingers. The Toronto Star reports that Darren Kramer has applied for a patent on an improved peanut butter jar. The jar's top half twists off to allow easier access to peanut butter in the bottom.Kramer isn't the first inventor to tackle this problem. In 2009, Ryan Coffey of Wisconsin filed an application (US2009261098  A1) for a jar (that closely resembles the peanut butter kind) with lids at both ends, presumably to allow for easier access to the peanut butter at the bottom. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great Canadian Inventions Profiled in Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail has launched a new monthly feature profiling great Canadian inventions and inventors. The first inventor profiled is Al Gross (1918-2000) who pioneered the development of two-way radio systems (walkie-talkie) in the 1930s. Mr. Gross, who was also known as Irving J. Gross, received several radio-related patents in the 1940s and 1950s which were assigned to the Stewart-Warner Corp. of Chicago. (See US2698380, US2760058, etc.) "The Innovators" series is located at

Monday, March 19, 2012

PatentScope Adds PCT Licensing Information

PatentScope now includes licensing information for PCT applications. PCT applicants who wish to make their applications available for licensing may request so by filing the appropriate forms. (See the December 2011 PCT Newsletter.) As of March 19, only a handful of published applications have licensing information.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Divine Inspiration

Today's Globe and Mail carried a death notice for a Lawrence Abello SJ, a Jesuit priest who passed away on January 22 at the age of 80. According to his obit, Abello earned a PhD in physics from Wayne State University and was an inventor. In 1975 he obtained US and Canadian patents for a device for enabling a gasoline engine to run on hydrogen. His patents were assigned to the Canadian Jesuit Missions of Toronto.

The notion that a priest might be interested in patenting an invention is not that unusual. There are many examples in the patent record. Some have even achieved fame from their inventions. For example, Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland of the University of Norte Dame is an inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Nieuwland, a chemist, invented and patented the first synthetic rubber, neoprene, in 1931.

The California and Chicago provinces of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) own several patents; US5054310, related to ultrasonic beams; US4970907, transducer holder; and US4403916, wind turbine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Changes to US Patent Law - New Rules for Prior Art

There's a nice summary of the recent changes in U.S. patent law in the Jan. issue of Physics Today, and their relevance to academic scientists and engineers. The American Invents Act moves the U.S. from a first-to-invent system to a (modified) first-to-file system. Under the pure first-to-file system used by most countries, publication of an idea or invention prior to filing a patent application will prevent an inventor from obtaining a patent. The AIA retains a one-year grace period for publications authored by the inventor (the inventor's own work) or derived from the inventor's work. The article has a nice flowchart that explains how the one-year grace period works.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Wikipedia References in US Patents Increase in 2011

Wikipedia continues to be a favorite source of prior art references for inventors filing patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The number of issued U.S. patents that cite Wikipedia articles increased by 26.3 percent in 2011, reaching an all-time high of 2,425. This is roughly one percent of all patents issued in 2011, a small but growing fraction. 

The top ten assignees shown in the table below hold approximately 17.65 percent of the 2011 patents that cite Wikipedia, which is off 5 percent from 2010. Once again, ICT firms dominated the top ten, which suggests that computer and telecommunications patents are more likely to cite Wikipedia than patents related to other technologies. The top three assignees (IBM, Microsoft and Google) account for nearly 10 percent of the total. Google jumped from 7th to 3rd place. Apple, which was in the top three last year, dropped to 5th place in 2011. Approximately 5 percent of the patents citing Wikipedia were unassigned, which is unchanged from 2010.

The second table below shows the top ten primary U.S. patent classes assigned to patents that cite Wikipedia. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the classes relate to information and communication technologies (ICT). However, four classes in the top ten, 514, 424, 435 and 463, cover technologies (pharmaceuticals and games) not directly related to ICT. In most cases, the percentage of patents in each class that cite Wikipedia exceeds the percentage of patents in that class. For example, Class 707 accounts for 7.67 percent of the patents that cite Wikipedia articles but only 2.16 percent of all patents issued in 2011.