Monday, July 18, 2016

USPTO Keeps the Door Locked for Marijuana-related Services

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Calif. Universities Top in U.S. Utility Patent Grants
The University of California system and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took the top two slots in a 2015 ranking of U.S. utility patents granted to universities.

By Joseph Marks

July 12 — The University of California system and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology took the top two slots in a 2015 ranking of U.S. utility patents granted to universities.

Stanford University, the University of Texas and Tsinghua University in Beijing round out the top five on the list, which is based on Patent and Trademark Office data and published by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association.

This is the third year the organizations have published the list. The California system and MIT have taken the top two slots all three years.

Universities and their related research foundations frequently patent new inventions and license the technology to companies.

Universities and their licensees have also not been shy about pursuing infringement cases. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation won $234 million in damages from Apple in 2015, after proving the company incorporated chip technology developed by university researchers into its iPhones and iPads (201 PTD, 10/19/15).

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. settled an infringement case brought by Carnegie Mellon University for $750 million in February. The settlement came after a federal appeals court overturned a $1.54 billion jury award. Carnegie Mellon ranks 63rd on the 2015 patent recipient list (32 PTD, 2/18/16).

Top 10 Largely Unchanged

Collectively, the top 10 universities or university systems on the list were granted 2,070 patents in 2015, compared with 2,016 in 2014 and 1,818 in 2013. UC system patent grants grew from 399 to 489 during that period.

The list's top 10 slots have remained largely consistent in its first three years. Positions six through 10, in 2014 and 2015, were filled by the California Institute of Technology, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the University of Michigan.

Georgia Tech Research Corp., which holds patents for the Georgia Tech Research Institute, edged out Johns Hopkins in 2013.

“The rate at which our universities are producing groundbreaking technologies is growing faster than ever,” Paul R. Sanberg, president of the inventors' academy, said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph Marks at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at

Thursday, June 30, 2016

IBM, Samsung, Canon Lead IPO's 2015 Top 300 Patentee List

The top 10 U.S. patent grantees in 2015 was virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Associations' annual list.

By Tony Dutra

June 29 — The top 10 U.S. patent grantees in 2015 was virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Associations' annual list.

IBM Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Canon K.K. remain the top three, with 16,738 patents among them. IBM was granted over 7,000 patents for the second consecutive year.

Intel Corp. replaced Panasonic Corp. in the top 10. The others in the top list are Qualcomm Inc., Google Inc., Toshiba Corp., General Electric Co., Microsoft Co. and Sony Corp.

The IPO split Panasonic into two intellectual property management divisions. Together, they received 1,932 patents, good enough for a 13th place finish if they had been combined.

Beijing, China-based BOE Technology Group, with 276 patents granted, is the highest-ranked organization new to IPO's top 300 list.

A first-time appearance on the list, at No. 183, of Elwha LLC, is also notable. Bloomberg identified the Bellevue, Wash.-based firm as a unit of non-practicing entity Intellectual Ventures well known for buying patents, but also does its own research. NPE tracker PlainSite says that Elwha is the assignee of over 22,000 patents. But IPO's list looks only at assignments upon issuance, suggesting the 176 patents resulted from Elwha's own research and development.

The Patent and Trademark Office issued 298,407 utility patents in 2015, by the IPO's count, with more than 50 percent going to the companies on the list. A total 35 companies received over 1,000 patents. The four companies tied for the last spot on the list were each granted 107 patents.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Dutra in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduces: FINANCIAL MANAGER

What is Financial Manager?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched Financial Manager, a new, easy to use online fee payment management tool. 

Key Features:

* Store Payment Methods
* Assign User Permissions
* Receive Email Notifications
* Generate Custom Reports

Financial Manager will be released phases. The first has just occurred. When Financial Manager goes live, the current Financial Profile system and Office of Finance On-Line Shopping Page will be turned off and replaced with Financial Manager and the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront.

Future releases will continue to improve your online fee payment management options.  By the final release of Financial Manager, you will be able to complete most of your financial activities with the USPTO online with speed and accuracy.

Financial Manager will provide you with new capabilities to:

Store and Manage Payment Methods
* Maintain credit/debit card, deposit account, and/or electronic funds transfer EFT) information for use in future payments.

Assign Secure User Permissions
* Provide customizable access to your stored payment method(s), assigning other Financial Manager
users one or more of the following permissions:
   * Administrator
   * Fee Payer
   * Funds Manager
   * Reporter

Receive Administrative Notifications
* Receive administrative email notifications based on your permission(S) for each stored payment method.

General Custom Reports
* View recent transactions and administrative history; view and export transaction searches and monthly statements as PDF, Excel, and/or CSV files.

Any questions you may have can be sent to

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Alibaba's Jack Ma: Better-Than-Ever Fakes Worsen Piracy War

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma said Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than the genuine article, complicating the effort to root out fakes on the country's largest online shopping services.

By David Ramli and Lulu Yilun Chen

June 14— Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma said Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than the genuine article, complicating the effort to root out fakes on the country's largest online shopping services.

Global brands have long relied on China and other low-cost manufacturing bases to beef up margins. But those same factories have gotten savvier over the years and are now using the Internet—including Alibaba's platforms—to sell their own products straight to consumers, Ma told the company's investor conference on June 14. Still, Alibaba is the best in the world at fighting the sale of counterfeits, he added.

“The problem is that the fake products today, they make better quality, better prices than the real products, the real names,” Ma said in Hangzhou, China. “It's not the fake products that destroy them, it's the new business models.”

“The exact factories, the exact raw materials, but they do not use their names.”

Alibaba is drawing scrutiny

Failing to clean up online bazaars like Taobao could alienate merchants and shoppers abroad, particularly at a time when Alibaba is drawing scrutiny from both investors and international brands over its reputation as a haven for knock-offs. Its membership in the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit global organization that fights counterfeit products and piracy, was suspended in May after questions were raised about conflicts of interest involving the coalition's president. That's after its inclusion in the group irked some members who said the company wasn't going far enough to cull fakes from its marketplaces.

Right or wrong, Ma's comments on the caliber of counterfeits may not sit well with those trying to tackle an endemic problem that's tarred China's image abroad.

“It's inappropriate for a person of Jack Ma's status to say something like this,” said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center in Hangzhou. “For some individual cases what he's saying might be true, but it's wrong to generalize the phenomenon.”

Ma wants to get more than half the company's revenue from outside China within a decade and a cooling domestic economy makes the fight against counterfeiters more pressing.

Alibaba pleaded its case to hundreds of members of the IACC that it has the data, technology and desire to help keep fake brands off its online marketplaces. Its collaboration with Chinese law enforcement in 2015 resulted in the arrest of 300 people, the destruction of 46 places where counterfeits are made and the confiscation of $125 million worth of products, President Michael Evans told the group in May.

“We would love to work with the branded companies,” Ma said, adding that the company had around 2,000 staff working on the problem. “We cannot solve the problem 100 percent because it's fighting against human instinct. But we can solve the problem better than any government, any organizations, any people in the world.”

Bigger Than Amazon and Ebay

Alibaba handles more e-commerce than Amazon and eBay combined. It expects to reach 423 million online shoppers around the world this year, mostly through its and Taobao Marketplace sites. It aims to have 2 billion consumers by 2036 and double gross merchandise volume to 6 trillion yuan ($911 billion) by fiscal 2020.

“Alibaba has a remarkable amount of big data at their disposal and I believe there are many triggers which could help them identify fakes better than they are doing at present,” said Mark Tanner, managing director of the China Skinny, a research firm in Shanghai. Those included price variances, reviews, and selling patterns, he said.

While battling the immediate problem, Ma is also keeping an eye on the longer term. Ma said his goal of reaching 2 billion users would require more success in rural China, which he estimated had 700 million people. While there is merit in calls for expansion in Malaysia, Indonesia and India, Ma said the domestic approach would be more successful because his company understood the local market better.

And he already has an eye to posterity, telling investors that over 90 percent of key company meetings, decisions and events have been recorded on video to be analyzed by future generations studying Alibaba.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Ramli in Hong Kong at; Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Fenner at Edwin Chan

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Census Gets New CIO From Patent Office

By Aaron Boyd, Federal Times
June 6, 2016

After almost a year without a permanent IT leader at the helm, the Census Bureau finally has a new CIO, stealing an information security officer from another Commerce Department component.
Kevin Smith, who until recently served as the CISO at the Patent and Trademark Office, is taking over as Census CIO this month, the agency said in a June 6 release. In this role, Smith will lead the bureau’s IT modernization efforts, including preparing for the 2020 decennial census.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fashion Brands Top List of Most Active Trademark Lawsuit Filing Parties

Fashion brands have earned prominent placement on a list of companies that are most consistently monitoring unauthorized uses of their names and logos (read: trademarks), and initiating legal action in connection therewith. According to a report published compiled by legal analytics data firm, Lex Machina, which released its second annual trademark litigation year in review report. The findings, which analyze U.S. district court filings from from January 2009 through March 2016, put fashion brands in positions of reaping the greatest rewards in connection with their trademark policing efforts.
Lex Machina's report put high fashion houses in the spotlight in terms of their trademark efforts. In terms of case filings, Coach led the pack, with 730 filed cases. Chanel came in second with 330 cases, and tech company, Microsoft, came in third, filing a total of 203 cases during the period (2009 through Q1 of 2016). Deckers Outdoor Corp., parent company to Ugg Boots, was high on the list, as well, with 164 cases filed. Another fashion firm that rather unsurprisingly made the list: Louis Vuitton Malletier SA, which had 81 cases.
Measuring by damage amounts awarded (as distinct, of course, with dollar amounts collection, as in counterfeiting and cybersquatting cases, in particularly, the damages amount collected from international defendants is almost always only a fraction of the court-order award), Chanel was awarded the most damages, nearly $1 billion. Burberry Ltd. came in second with $523.1 million and Burberry Ltd. U.K. was awarded $416.6 million.
Gucci America Inc. followed at $207.7 million. Also on the list were Coach Inc. at $180.3 million, Nike Inc. at $170.6 million and Converse Inc. at $166.2 million. The amounts are the aggregate totals based on awards mostly from default judgments or consent judgments, and where damages were from decisions on the case merits, the report noted that juries have awarded more damages than judges.
The study also found that in cybersquatting cases (those stemming from the registering and/or using of an Internet domain name with the bad faith intent of profiting from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else), Chanel, Deckers, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Coach were the companies most likely to win ownership of a domain name by way of a court proceeding.
As for forums: Lex Machina found that the Central District of California was the most popular district for trademark filings (4,164 cases filed from 2009 through Q1 of 2016), although it has seen a decline since 2015 corresponding to an overall decline in all trademark cases filings.Among the other top districts, the Northern District of Illinois is notable for seeing some growth during the same period.
Brian Howard, coauthor of the report and Lex Machina’s data scientist, said the compilation of data began as a public interest project at Stanford University 10 years ago. The data analysis can provide information on who is filing, how long the cases take and how they turn out, factors that can impact a company’s litigation strategy. “It’s important to defend your marks, but data can make sure it’s being done effectively and on budget,” Howard said.