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This week in Other Barks & Bites: the Department of Commerce outlines plans to establish a new R&D Center dedicated to semiconductor technology; the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announces record participation in patent pro bono program; and the European Commission proposes new patent rules to reduce friction between EU countries.
European Commission Proposes Controversial New Patent Rules
On Thursday, April 27, the European Commission proposed new rules that purport to help small and medium-sized companies use new technologies to make the most of their inventions. The Commission said the changes to standard-essential patents (SEPs) “will create a more transparent, effective and futureproof intellectual property rights framework.” The proposed changes will be complementary to the upcoming Unitary Patent System and attempt “to make the patents system more effective by further eliminating Single Market fragmentation, reducing red tape, and enhancing efficiency.” The proposed changes will next be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Members of Congress Send Letter to USPTO Demanding Action to Lower Drug Prices
On Thursday, April 27, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent a letter to Kathi Vidal, Director of the USPTO calling on the office to take action to help lower drug prices. The letter outlined six steps the USPTO should take including revising the practice of granting obvious patents by rejecting additional obvious patents filed by pharmaceutical companies for a single drug product and increasing filing fees. “For decades, powerful pharmaceutical companies and other large corporate actors have repeatedly abused the patent system to stifle competition and prolong their market power, showing no regard for the harm done to patients through sustained high prices,” wrote the lawmakers.
U.S. Outlines Plans to Create R&D Center Dedicated to Semiconductor Technology
On Wednesday, April 26, the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released an outline of its plans to create the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC). The NSTC would be a research and development program established using funds appropriated by President Biden’s CHIPS and Science Act. The center would have the goal of increasing U.S. competitiveness in the semiconductor field and supporting research and manufacturing in the country. “The NSTC will be an ambitious public-private consortium where government, industry, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors will come together to innovate, connect, and solve problems,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.
Government Agencies Commit to Enforcing Rules and Responsible Innovation with AI
On Tuesday, April 25, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a joint statement that set out the United States government’s intention to tackle bias and discrimination created by the use of artificial intelligence. The statement was released in conjunction with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “Today, our agencies reiterate our resolve to monitor the development and use of automated systems and promote responsible innovation,” clarified the agencies in the statement. The statement also summarized recent accomplishments the agencies have made to combat illegal behavior that utilizes AI.
USPTO Announces Record Number of Recipients of the 2022 Patent Pro Bono Achievement Certificate
On Monday, April 24, the USPTO announced the recipients of the 2022 Patent Pro Bono Achievement Certificate, which celebrates individuals and law firms that have volunteered significant time to aid financially under-resourced inventors. Over 90 patent practitioners received the certificate which required 50 hours or more of patent pro bono services. 25 law firms also received the award, a record number. we are heavily invested in this program because there is a crucial need for all of us to unite in helping every potential innovator in our country bring their innovation to impact,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.
Apple Asks for More Time to Request Rehearing of APPLE MUSIC Trademark Ruling
Apple, Inc. filed a motion on Monday, April 24, asking for a 29-day extension of time to file a petition for panel rehearing and/or rehearing en banc of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s (CAFC’s) April 4 decision reversing the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB’s) dismissal of Charles Bertini’s opposition to Apple’s application to register APPLE MUSIC. Bertini, who owns the mark APPLE JAZZ, opposed Apple, Inc.’s application to register the mark APPLE MUSIC. The CAFC ultimately said the TTAB legally erred in allowing Apple to claim absolute priority for all of the services listed in its application based on a showing of priority for one service.
USPTO Requests Public Comments on Changes to Patent Fees
On Thursday, April 27, the USPTO invited members of the public to comment on its proposed changes to patent fees. The adjustments of the patent fees will be posted to the public by May 4, 2023 at the latest. If you wish to provide feedback you can either testify at the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) public hearing on May 18 or submit a written comment by May 25.
EUIPO Study Finds Women Designers Underrepresented in the EU
On Wednesday, April 26, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) published a study that found women designers are underrepresented in the European Union. The study was released on World Intellectual Property Day, and it found that only 24% of designers are women and that these women make 12.8% less than their male counterparts. “We hope to bring attention to the existing gender gap and to inspire more women to pursue careers in the field of design, promoting a more diverse and inclusive profession,” said EUIPO Executive Director, Christian Archambeau.
C4IP Appoints Jamie Simpson as New Chief Policy Officer and Counsel
On Wednesday, April 26, the Council for Innovation Promotion (C4IP) announced Jamie Simpson will be the organization’s Chief Policy Officer and Counsel. Simpson has nearly 20 years of experience in policy and served as Chief Counsel on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the Internet; Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee while on detail from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; and Associate Solicitor at the USPTO. “Jamie’s combination of talent and experience will be enormously impactful in our mission to promote strong and effective intellectual property policies,” said Frank Cullen, executive director of C4IP.
Ed Sheeran Takes the Stand in Copyright Trial
On Tuesday, April 25, Ed Sheeran appeared before a New York court to defend himself against accusations that he infringed on Marvin Gaye’s copyright by copying the song “Let’s Get It On.” The lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Structured Asset Sales, a company that acquired part of the estate of Marvin Gaye collaborator Ed Townsend.
District Court Rules Voting Machine Patent Invalid
On Tuesday, April 25, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware ruled a patent from Election Systems & Software was invalid. The company had sued Smartmatic USA accusing it of patent infringement. The district judge ruled that the claims in the patent “are directed to an abstract idea and do not recite an inventive concept.”
This Week on Wall Street
British American Tobacco Agrees to $629 Million Settlement to Resolve Bank Fraud and Sanctions Related to North Korea Sales
On Tuesday, April 25, the DOJ agreed with British American Tobacco that the tobacco company would pay $629 million in penalties related to sanctions violations. The UK conglomerate used its subsidiary in Singapore to sidestep U.S. sanctions against North Korea and sell tobacco products to the country. British American Tobacco and its subsidiary engaged in an elaborate scheme to circumvent U.S. sanctions and sell tobacco products to North Korea, allowing funds to illegally flow into the coffers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen.
FAA Temporarily Halts SpaceX Rocket Program
On Monday, April 24, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded SpaceX’s rocket launch program, according to CNBC. The FAA stated that the grounding is routine as part of an investigation into the explosion created by SpaceX’s launch of the largest rocket ever built. However, there are concerns that the explosion was larger than predicted and released particulate matter that could impact surrounding towns and the habitats of endangered species.
Quarterly Earnings – The following firms identified among the IPO’s Top 300 Patent Recipients for 2022 are announcing quarterly earnings next week (2022 rank in parentheses):
- Monday: NXP Semiconductors (91), Stryker (97), ON Semiconductor Corp. (196)
- Tuesday: Ford (27), Advanced Micro Devices (98), Illinois Tool Works (157), Eaton Corp. (165), Uber (214), Ecolab (298)
- Wednesday: Qualcomm (10), Emerson Electric Co. (131), Stellantis (205)
- Thursday: Apple (14)
- Friday: Berkshire Hathaway (239), Novo Nordisk (277)
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