Category:Patents

1
PayPal Inc. [2023] APO 54: PayPal Machine Stalls in the Face of Intangible Resistance
2
New Accelerated Patent Grant (APG) Program Enhances Opportunities for U.S. Entities
3
Hydrogen Storage, Distribution, and Transportation: Developments in Hydrogen Carriers
4
In Starch Contrast: Australian Patent Office Makes key Finding on use of Trade Marks in Patent Specifications
5
UK Trade Mark and Design Reform Consultation
6
U.S. Supreme Court to Review “Trump Too Small” Trademark Refusal
7
A Lidl Decision with big Implications – UK High Court Finds that Tesco’s Clubcard Logo Infringes Lidl’s logo
8
Proposed PTAB Rules up for Comment
9
Technical Effect Embodied in Technical Teaching
10
H2 Production: A Shift Towards Electrolysis

PayPal Inc. [2023] APO 54: PayPal Machine Stalls in the Face of Intangible Resistance

The recent refusal of a patent application by PayPal Inc. at the Australian Patent Office sheds light on the challenges surrounding the patentability of AI and machine learning systems (PayPal Inc. [2023] APO 54). The rejected application, which proposed a system for generating more accurate recommendations using AI machine learning, faced scrutiny on the grounds that, while the combination of machine learning models was innovative, it did not offer a substantial technical contribution beyond standard computer usage.

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New Accelerated Patent Grant (APG) Program Enhances Opportunities for U.S. Entities

On November 13 2023, the Mexican PTO (“IMPI”) released guidelines for the Accelerated Patent Grant (“APG”) Agreement. This is a patent work-sharing arrangement allowing qualifying USPTO patent holders the option of expediting prosecution for a corresponding Mexican patent application. The USPTO has been partners with Mexico through the Prosecution Highway (“PPH”) since 2010. PPHs are bilateral agreements among participating nations allowing qualifying patent applicants from one patent office to request expedited prosecution in a participating office. PPH programs have successfully reduced examination time and costs for clients by allowing examiners in later examining offices to utilize the search results from the earlier examiner. While the USPTO has a PPH partnership with IMPI, the APG Program is a new program giving USPTO applicants another opportunity to expedite a counterpart application in Mexico.

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Hydrogen Storage, Distribution, and Transportation: Developments in Hydrogen Carriers

According to the joint EPO-IEA report summarizing patent trends in the hydrogen economy  (summarized here), technologies related to storage, distribution, and transportation of hydrogen are among the most critical challenges for large-scale deployment. Standardized infrastructure for hydrogen trade is essential to allow the market to function and flow.

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In Starch Contrast: Australian Patent Office Makes key Finding on use of Trade Marks in Patent Specifications

In the field of intellectual property, the interplay between trade marks and patent claims is very rarely discussed, given the distinct scope of protection provided by each. In Australia and New Zealand, patent examiners tend to raise an immediate clarity objection when a trade mark finds its way into a claim. This concern arises from the fact that a trade mark is an identifier of origin, and products bearing them can undergo variations across jurisdictions and time frames. This makes the intended scope of the claim unclear in many situations. Consequently, Australian and New Zealand examiners commonly raise objections based on clarity when trade marks feature in patent claims during the examination process.

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UK Trade Mark and Design Reform Consultation

The UKIPO Transformation Programme

The UKIPO launched a transformation programme to modernise their trade mark and design services by the end of 2025. The aim is to replace their existing processes with a fully digitalised system in line with increased volume of work and customer demand.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Review “Trump Too Small” Trademark Refusal

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) refusal to register the trademark “Trump too small” violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

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A Lidl Decision with big Implications – UK High Court Finds that Tesco’s Clubcard Logo Infringes Lidl’s logo

In a recent decision, the High Court of England and Wales has found that Tesco’s use of the yellow and blue Tesco Clubcard logos (reproduced below) infringed Lidl’s trade marks (see the relevant Lidl marks below) and also gave rise to copyright infringement and passing off.

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Proposed PTAB Rules up for Comment

The USPTO on April 21, 2023 proposed a variety of changes to the pre-institution requirements and briefing process for post-grant proceedings, including both IPRs and PGRs. Among the proposed changes are broad amendments to the discretionary denial frameworks, which are intended to provide clarity, curb abusive litigation tactics, and generally align procedure with the objectives of the AIA. The deadline for submitting comments and suggestions related to these rules is June 20, 2023. The proposed rules provide valuable insight into the future of post-grant proceedings before the PTAB. An overview of these changes is outlined below, and additional details follow.

  • Parallel Proceedings – The USPTO is considering changes to the Fintiv framework, including the elimination of current factors 1, 2, and 5, a requirement for a Sotera stipulation, and a grace period that would exempt petitions filed within 6 months of service of the complaint from being discretionarily denied under this rule.
  • 325(d) Framework – The USPTO is considering a rule that would reign in the application of discretionary denial under 325(d) by limiting its application to art or arguments that had been “previously addressed,” or actually evaluated by the patent office as articulated on the record, such as in a rejection, notice of allowance, or examiner interview. Mere citation in an IDS will no longer meet the standard. Prior art will only be considered “substantially the same” where it contains the same teaching relied upon in the petition, and that teaching was addressed by the patent office. 
  • Serial Petitions – The USPTO is considering replacing the existing framework for serial petitions with a rule that will deny any serial or follow-on IPR petition filed by: (1) the same petitioner; (2) a real party in interest to that petitioner; (3) a party with a significant relationship to that  petitioner; or (4) a party who previously joined an instituted IPR filed by that petitioner. There will be an exception where the earlier petition was not resolved on the merits of the petition, or where exceptional circumstances are shown.
  • Prior Adjudications – The USPTO is contemplating stricter requirements where a prior final adjudication by a district court or in a post-grant proceeding upheld the validity of claims that substantially overlap the challenged claims, essentially requiring the petitioner (1) either has standing to challenge the validity of the patent in district court or intends to pursue commercialization, (2) was not a real party in interest to the party who unsuccessfully challenged the claims, and (3) meets the heightened burden of compelling merits.
  • Micro and Small Entities – The USPTO is mulling changes that would protect under-resourced entities by denying institution where the patent owner (1) claimed micro or small entity status at the time of filing; (2) did not exceed a gross income cap in the calendar year preceding filing of the petition; and (3) was commercializing a product covered by the challenged claim at the time of filing.
  • For-Profit Entities – The USPTO is contemplating a rule that would deny any IPR or PGR petition by a for-profit entity that has not been sued or threatened with infringement of the challenged patent, is not otherwise practicing in the field of the challenged patent, and is not in “substantial relationship” with an entity to which the rule would not apply.

The USPTO has also proposed changes to the disclosure requirements, what constitutes compelling merits, and termination by settlement filing requirements. An in-depth discussion of each suggested change is included below.

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Technical Effect Embodied in Technical Teaching

European Patent Office: Enlarged Board of Appeal decision G2/21

The Enlarged Board of Appeal EBoA is the highest judicial authority under the European Patent Convention. It handles patent examination for about 37 member states including the EU. The EBoA has recently published its decision G2/21 dealing with the principle of free evaluation of evidence in the context of inventive step. This decision is relevant for patents in the pharma, biotech and life science field.

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H2 Production: A Shift Towards Electrolysis

Hydrogen production technology, according to the joint EPO-IEA report summarizing patent trends in the hydrogen economy (summarized here), accounts for the largest percentage of patenting activity since 2011 among the three primary stages of the hydrogen value chain (i.e., (i) production, (ii) storage, distribution, and transformation, and (iii) end-use industrial applications). Trends show a shift in hydrogen production from carbon-intensive methods to technologies that do not rely on fossil fuels. The bulk of recent increased patent activity is directed to electrolysis development, while patent activity related to production from biomass and waste has decreased.

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