Federal Trade Commission Non-compete Ban

What is the FTC Non-Compete Ban?

Partial Summary of the FTC Ban

The Federal Trade Commission adopted a comprehensive ban on new non-competes with all workers, including senior executives. The final rule provides that it is an unfair method of competition—and therefore a violation of Section 5—for employers to enter into Non-competes with workers.

Unless a court intervenes, the new rule becomes effective 120 days subsequent to April 23, 2024.

Here are some of the legal parameters of the FTC non-compete ban:

Non-Compete Defined (16 CFR Part 910.1)

(1) A term or condition of employment that prohibits a worker from, penalizes a worker for, or functions to prevent a worker from:

(i) seeking or accepting work in the United States with a different person where such work would begin after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition; or

(ii) operating a business in the United States after the conclusion of the employment that includes the term or condition.

(2) For the purposes of this part 910, term or condition of employment includes, but is not limited to, a contractual term or workplace policy, whether written or oral.

Definitions of Persons Affected by the Ban – Abbreviated

Officer: A president, vice president, secretary, treasurer or principal financial officer, comptroller or principal accounting officer, and any natural person routinely performing corresponding functions with respect to any business entity whether incorporated or unincorporated.

Person: Any natural person, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity within the Commission’s jurisdiction, including any person acting under color or authority of State law.

Preceding Year: A person’s choice among the following time periods: the most recent 52-week year, the most recent calendar year, the most recent fiscal year, or the most recent anniversary of hire year.

Senior Executive: A worker who:

(1) Was in a policy-making position; and

(2) Received from a person for the employment:

(i) Total annual compensation of at least $151,164 in the preceding year; or

(ii) Total compensation of at least $151,164 when annualized if the worker was employed during only part of the preceding year; or

(iii) Total compensation of at least $151,164 when annualized in the preceding year prior to the worker’s departure if the worker departed from employment prior to the preceding year and the worker is subject to a non-compete clause.

Worker: A natural person who works or who previously worked, whether paid or unpaid, without regard to the worker’s title or the worker’s status under any other State or Federal laws, including, but not limited to, whether the worker is an employee, independent contractor, extern, intern, volunteer, apprentice, or a sole proprietor who provides a service to a person. The term worker includes a natural person who works for a franchisee or franchisor, but does not include a franchisee in the context of a franchisee-franchisor relationship.

Unfair Methods of Competition (16 CFR Part 910.2) – Abbreviated

(a) Unfair methods of competition—(1) Workers other than senior executives. With respect to a worker other than a senior executive, it is an unfair method of competition for a person:

(i) To enter into or attempt to enter into a non-compete clause;

(ii) To enforce or attempt to enforce a non-compete clause; or

(iii) To represent that the worker is subject to a non-compete clause.

Exceptions to the FTC Non-Compete Ban (16 CFR Part 910.3)

(a) Bona fide sales of business. The requirements of this part 910 shall not apply to a non-compete clause that is entered into by a person pursuant to a bona fide sale of a business entity, of the person’s ownership interest in a business entity, or of all or substantially all of a business entity’s operating assets.

(b) Existing causes of action. The requirements of this part 910 do not apply where a cause of action related to a non-compete clause accrued prior to the effective date.

(c) Good faith. It is not an unfair method of competition to enforce or attempt to enforce a non-compete clause or to make representations about a non-compete clause where a person has a good-faith basis to believe that this part 910 is inapplicable.

Ask Us Anything… about Intellectual Property!

If you or your business are located in the greater Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington, or Louisville standard metropolitan statistical areas and have a topic or question you would like Business Patent Law, PLLC to address in the blog, please send us an email.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting

What is the Beneficial Ownership Information Report?

Beneficial Ownership Information Report

The Beneficial Ownership Information Report, which went into effect on January 1, 2024, is authorized by the 2021 National Defense Authorization (Pub.L. No. 116-283, 134 Stat. 338). It contains anti-money laundering provisions and also includes the Corporate Transparency Act.

It is the United States Department of the Treasury that enforces the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA).

Unless a company has an exemption from the CTA, the company must file a Beneficial Ownership Information Report (BOIR) with the Department of the Treasury.

What Entities Must File The Beneficial Ownership Information Report

As a general rule, reporting companies are corporations, limited liability companies or professional limited liability companies that have filed one or more documents with a State’s Secretary of State or a similar office of an Indian Tribe.

A reporting company can be a domestic or a foreign jurisdiction company and must file a BOIR.

What Entities Are Exempt From Filing The BOIR

There are some business entities who are exempt from filing the Beneficial Ownership Information Report. They include:

1 Securities reporting issuer

2 Governmental authority

3 Bank

4 Credit union

5 Depository institution holding company

6 Money services business

7 Broker or dealer in securities

8 Securities exchange or clearing agency

9 Other Exchange Act registered entity

10 Investment company or investment adviser

11 Venture capital fund adviser

12 Insurance company

13 State-licensed insurance producer

14 Commodity Exchange Act registered entity

15 Accounting firm

16 Public utility

17 Financial market utility

18 Pooled investment vehicle

19 Tax-exempt entity

20 Entity assisting a tax-exempt entity

21 Large operating company

22 Subsidiary of certain exempt entities

23 Inactive entity

When Must File The BOIR Be Filed

For a company created before January 1, 2024, the BOIR must be filed by December 31, 2024. For a company created after January 1, 2024, the BOIR must be filed with 90 days of the company’s creation.

If your company needs assistance with its BOIR, please contact Business Patent Law.

Ask Us Anything… about Intellectual Property!

If you or your business are located in the greater Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington, or Louisville standard metropolitan statistical areas and have a topic or question you would like Business Patent Law, PLLC to address in the blog, please send us an email.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

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Patent rights transfer around the world - Patent Rights

Patent Assignments

What are Patent Assignments?

What is a patent assignment? In general, a Patent Assignment transfers ownership of the entire patent right, title, and interest owned by one party to a second party.

Patent Assignments are a type of contract between the Assignor (current holder) of Patent rights and the Assignee (new owner) of Patent rights. Recording an executed Assignment in the Patent Offices gives notice of the change in the Patent owner.

Recording ownership of a Patent is similar to recording a deed for real property — like your house. The recording of the deed to your house gives notice of your current ownership and specifies the location of that home in the State. Recording a Patent Assignment gives notice of ownership and the location of your intangible Patent rights.

National and Regional Patent Offices

The European Patent Office is a regional Patent Office and the Japanese and United States Patent Offices are national Patent Offices.

Each national or regional jurisdiction has specific formats and rules associated with recording the ownership of Patent rights. European, Japanese, and United States Patent Offices have required wording and procedures for recording an Assignment in the European, Japanese, or United States Patent Office.

  • For an English language Assignment of Patent Rights, the Japanese Patent Office will accept a Japanese/English bilingual Assignment to record.
  • The European Patent Office will accept an English, French, or German language Assignment. After the European Patent is granted, assignments of the Validations of the European Patent are required in most member states’ Patent Offices where the current owner asserts the European Patent’s rights.
  • The USPTO accepts English language Assignments. (Non-English Assignments must be translated/transliterated into English.)

Patent Applications

Assignments of Patent Applications can also be recorded in Patent Offices. Each jurisdiction will have different rules for recording ownership of Patent Applications. In the United States, when the US Patent Application issues as a US Patent, the ownership of the Patent Application applies to the US Patent until the ownership is assigned to another person/entity.

35 United States Code (U.S.C) 261 Ownership; assignment, reads:

“Subject to the provisions of this title, patents shall have the attributes of personal property. The Patent and Trademark Office shall maintain a register of interests in patents and applications for patents and shall record any document related thereto upon request, and may require a fee therefor.

Applications for patent, patents, or any interest therein, shall be assignable in law by an instrument in writing. The applicant, patentee, or his assigns or legal representatives may in like manner grant and convey an exclusive right under his application for patent, or patents, to the whole or any specified part of the United States.

A certificate of acknowledgment under the hand and official seal of a person authorized to administer oaths within the United States, or, in a foreign country, of a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States or an officer authorized to administer oaths whose authority is proved by a certificate of a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, or apostille of an official designated by a foreign country which, by treaty or convention, accords like effect to apostilles of designated officials in the United States, shall be prima facie evidence of the execution of an assignment, grant, or conveyance of a patent or application for patent.

An interest that constitutes an assignment, grant, or conveyance shall be void as against any subsequent purchaser or mortgagee for valuable consideration, without notice, unless it is recorded in the Patent and Trademark Office within three months from its date or prior to the date of such subsequent purchase or mortgage.”

For Assignments of US Patents and US Patent Applications – because of 35 U.S.C. (U.S.C) 261, Business Patent Law, PLLC advises its clients:

  • In the United States to execute Assignments of Patents or Patent Applications before a notary public.
  • In a jurisdiction other than the United States, to execute the Assignments before the appropriate apostille.

Assignments can become complicated. If your company needs assistance with its Patent Assignments, please contact BPL.

Are you or your business located in the greater Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lexington, or Louisville areas? Do you have a topic or question you would like us to address in the blog? Please send us an email!

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you want to stay up-to-date with the news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Do a Claims Check on Your Patent

Claims Checks Are Important  

Claims Checks

Doing claims checks of  your Patents are essential because they define the scope and boundaries of the Patent.

Claims are Legal Boundaries

As previously indicated in this Blog on Patent Infringement: “A deed for real property determines the real property’s boundary and what constitutes a trespass. In a similar vein, Patent claims define the intellectual property boundary of the Patent and what establishes an infringement.”

The Situation

Approximately five years ago, our company filed three Patent Applications for three separate products that our company continues to market and sell to our national and international customers.

Our attorneys and the USPTO examiners had several rounds of arguments regarding the patentability of claims of our three Patent Applications. Over this timespan, some of the as-filed claims of the three Patent Applications were amended, canceled and/or re-amended by our attorneys. Before the end of the patenting process, our attorneys also added some new claims not previously set forth in the as-filed claims. Even the examiners made some examiners’ amendments to the claims.

After all the arguments, the USPTO issued Notice of Allowances. We paid the Issue Fees and we eventually received the three granted Patents.

The claims of two of the Patent we received were perfect. However, the claims checks revealed that about half of the claims of the third Patent were incorrect.

What should we do?

Actions: When a Claims Check Reveals Errors

  • Although not recommended, a few Patent owners do not attempt to correct the incorrect claims.
  • Review the USPTO file wrapper and your files to determine where and when the claims errors occurred. If the errors were caused by the USPTO, the USPTO requires no additional fees to correct the incorrect claims. If the errors were caused by the Applicant(s), the USPTO requires the payment of a government fee to correct the errors.
  • Sometimes, other parts of a Patent contain errors that need correction.
  • Submit a Certificate of Correction (PDF) to the USPTO.

Claims can be considered the heart and soul of the Patent, so it’s essential that yours be correct.

Need More Information?

If you have a question about Claims checks, please get in touch with Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Have another topic or question you would like Business Patent Law, PLLC to address in the blog? Please send us an email!

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with the news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

foreign patent protection

How Much Does a Foreign Patent Cost?

Contemplating Patent Protection in Foreign Jurisdictions

During management’s last meeting, it was clear that our international sales have tripled over the last few years. Some of us expressed concern about potential “knock-offs” in other countries. Some of our suppliers are in Asia and the Pacific. We talked to other friendly companies about the costs of foreign Patents. The information provided by our friendly contacts about costs varied. Their common denominator was conjunctive – but the foreign Patent costs!

Should Our Company File Foreign Patent Applications?

It depends. As a general rule, Business Patent Law advises clients:  If a foreign Patent will not make money for the Company or prevent the Company from losing money, there is no business reason for filing one.

Patent rights create a limited monopoly in the foreign jurisdiction granting the Patent.

General Observations on the Costs of Foreign Patents.

  • Applications that can be filed in the English language tend to cost the least
  • Applications that must be transliterated from English into a non-Roman alphabet language tend to be the cost the most
  • Applications that can be translated into a foreign language using the Roman alphabet tend to cost somewhere between an English language Application and a transliterated language foreign Patent Application
  • Usually, the Parent Patent Application is a United States Patent Application prepared by Business Patent Law. When Business Patent Law’s foreign associates opt to utilize most of Business Patent Law’s United States Parent Patent Application, costs to our clients tend to be less than when foreign associates do not use BPL’s Parent Patent Application

Rankings of Costs of Procuring and Maintaining Foreign Patents in Select Foreign Jurisdictions*

  1. European Patent Office                                            14-17 x USPTO costs
  2. Japan Patent Office                                                   2.5-3 x USPTO costs
  3. Korean Intellectual Property Office                       2-3 x USPTO costs
  4. China National Intellectual Property Admin.      2-2.5 x USPTO costs
  5. Mexican Patent Office                                              1.5-2 x USPTO costs
  6. Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Prop.  1-2 x USPTO costs
  7. Australian Patent Office                                           1.0-2 x USPTO costs
  8. Russian Patent Office                                                1.0-1.5 x USPTO costs
  9. Philippines Patent Office                                          1.0-1.5 x USPTO costs
  10. Canadian Intellectual Property Office                   1.0-1.5 x USPTO costs
  11. Indian Patent Office                                                   1.o-1.5 x USPTO costs

* Estimates are based on Business Patent Law’s experience, and due to other countries’ Patent Office and foreign associates activities, fees can be outside of the above estimated ranges. Ranges are based on everything proceeding smoothly in the other Patent Offices.

If we can assist your Company with developing a foreign strategy, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Office Action Made Final Patent Law

Office Action Made Final

What is an “Office Action Made Final” from the Patent Office?

Our Company received an Office Action Made Final from the Examiner, what does it mean and what do we do now?

In the Office Action Made Final, some of the Patent claims were allowed and some the Patent claims were rejected.

How Can We Respond to an Office Action Made Final?

In responding to the Office Action Made Final, some of the options for your business are:

  • Cancel the rejected claims and have your Patent Issue on the allowed claims
  • Cancel the rejected claims; have your Patent issue on the allowed claims; and file a Continuation-Type Application directed to the previously rejected claims before the Patent is granted
  • If circumstances permit, cancel the rejected claims; have your Patent issue on the allowed claims; and file a Divisional Application
  • File a Request for Continued Examination
  • Initiate an Appeal directed toward the rejected claims
  • Allow the Application to go abandoned

Another Option: The Pilot Program

37 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) §1.116 provides for the filing of a Request for Consideration under the After Final Consideration Pilot Program.

If the required conditions of 37 C.F.R. §1.116 are met, it provides a potentially less expensive route for responding to an Office Action Made Final than the above options.  Some of the conditions for using the Pilot Program are:

  • There must be an Office Action Made Final
  • Applicant must amend at least one independent claim that narrows the scope of the claim
  • A USPTO Certification and Request for Consideration under the After Final Consideration Pilot Program 2.0 Form must be filed with Applicant’s Response
  • Applicant’s Response must be filed using EFS-Web
  • There is no USPTO fee to request consideration under AFCP 2.0, but any other USPTO fee that is due must be paid at the time of the request consideration under AFCP 2.0
  • Applicant must to participate in any interview requested by the Examiner

The Law – 37 Code of Federal Regulations 

37 C.F.R. 1.116 reads:

Amendments and affidavits or other evidence after final action and prior to appeal.

 

(a) An amendment after final action must comply with §1.114 or this section.

 

(b) After a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113) in an application or in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913, but before or on the same date of filing an appeal (§ 41.31 or § 41.31 of this title):

 

(1) An amendment may be made canceling claims or complying with any requirement of form expressly set forth in a previous Office action;

 

(2) An amendment presenting rejected claims in better form for consideration on appeal may be admitted; or

 

(3) An amendment touching the merits of the application or patent under reexamination may be admitted upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the amendment is necessary and was not earlier presented.

 

(c) The admission of, or refusal to admit, any amendment after a final rejection, a final action, an action closing prosecution, or any related proceedings will not operate to relieve the application or reexamination proceeding from its condition as subject to appeal or to save the application from abandonment under § 1.135, or the reexamination prosecution from termination under § 1.550(d) or § 1.957(b) or limitation of further prosecution under § 1.957(c).

(d)

 

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, no amendment other than canceling claims, where such cancellation does not affect the scope of any other pending claim in the proceeding, can be made in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the right of appeal notice under § 1.953 except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.

 

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section, an amendment made after a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113) in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913 may not cancel claims where such cancellation affects the scope of any other pending claim in the reexamination proceeding except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.

 

(e) An affidavit or other evidence submitted after a final rejection or other final action (§ 1.113) in an application or in an ex parte reexamination filed under § 1.510, or an action closing prosecution (§ 1.949) in an inter partes reexamination filed under § 1.913 but before or on the same date of filing an appeal (§ 41.31 or § 41.61 of this title), may be admitted upon a showing of good and sufficient reasons why the affidavit or other evidence is necessary and was not earlier presented.

 

(f) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (e) of this section, no affidavit or other evidence can be made in an inter partes reexamination proceeding after the right of appeal notice under § 1.953 except as provided in § 1.981 or as permitted by § 41.77(b)(1) of this title.

 

(g) After decision on appeal, amendments, affidavits and other evidence can only be made as provided in §§ 1.198 and 1.981, or to carry into effect a recommendation under § 41.50 (c) of this title.

If the law excerpt above seems confusing, we can help. We can assist your Company to understand what the notice you received says and what your options are under the law. Together we can develop a Response to the Office Action Made Final, for your best outcome.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.  If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Patent Law

Notice of Allowance – Patents

The Question

Our Company received a Notice of Allowance on our Nonprovisional Patent Application. What are our next steps?

Consider: If the invention claimed by the Nonprovisional Patent Application is a “core” technology or a money maker for your company, it is wise to keep an Application pending.

More information you need: 35 United States Code 151 gives the Applicant a maximum of three months from the date of mailing of the Notice of Allowance for the Applicant to pay the Issue Fee. (Note: If the Issue Fee is not paid, the Patent Application will be abandoned.)

Tech Sufficiently Different

If the newer technology is sufficiently different from the structures of the pending Nonprovisional Patent Application, a Provisional Patent Application can be filed. (Inventions can consist of biological, chemical, electrical or mechanical structures or combinations thereof.)

Tech Sufficiently Similar

If your newer technology is sufficiently similar (or incorporates many of the structures of the pending Nonprovisional Patent Application) and certain conditions are met, a Continuation-Type Application (claiming priority to your pending Nonprovisional Patent Application) can be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 151, in part, reads:

(a)     In General.—

If it appears that an applicant is entitled to a patent under the law, a written notice of allowance of the application shall be given or mailed to the applicant. The notice shall specify a sum, constituting the issue fee and any required publication fee, which shall be paid within 3 months thereafter.

There are Two Continuation-Type Applications (in USA)

  • A Continuation Application – this claims priority to the pending Nonprovisional Application, utilizes the Specification of the Nonprovisional Patent Application, and includes new claims.
  • A Continuation-in-Part Application – claims priority to the pending Nonprovisional Application, adds “new matter” (structures) to the Specification of the Nonprovisional Patent Application, and includes new claims.

Child Patents Used to Broaden a Parent Patent

Seasoned Applicants frequently file a Child Patent Application claiming priority to the Parent Application. If you opt to use this procedure, make sure you file the Child Patent Application before the Patent flowing from the Parent Application is granted. If the Patent is granted before the Child Patent Application is filed, Patent Examiners may be able to use the Parent Patent to prevent the Child Patent Application from succeeding.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 102, in part, reads:

“(a)Novelty; Prior Art.—A person shall be entitled to a patent unless—

(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention…”

Terminal Disclaimers and Your Patent Application

Use of Continuation-Type Patent Applications may require that any future Patent granted be limited by a Terminal Disclaimer. As a general rule, a Terminal Disclaimer causes the term of the Children Patents to expire on the same day as the Parent Patent.

The Law

35 U.S.C. 120 reads:

“An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385, which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application. No application shall be entitled to the benefit of an earlier filed application under this section unless an amendment containing the specific reference to the earlier filed application is submitted at such time during the pendency of the application as required by the Director. The Director may consider the failure to submit such an amendment within that time period as a waiver of any benefit under this section. The Director may establish procedures, including the requirement for payment of the fee specified in section 41(a)(7), to accept an unintentionally delayed submission of an amendment under this section.”

Don’t Delay Your Response to a Notice of Allowance!

You should not delay initiating your company’s strategy, since a Notice of Allowance requires your action, as an applicant.

  • Issue Fee must be paid within three month of the Notice of Allowance – There are no time extensions
  • Grant of Patent can be delayed as much as 4 months from date of Notice of Allowance
  • It can be quite time-consuming for your Attorney to prepare the Continuation-Type Application or the Provisional Patent Application, so don’t delay
  • Assembling the required inventor’s declarations and assignments can also be time-consuming (even more so when when inventors in different time zones and multiple jurisdictions are involved
  • Preparing the required USPTO documents that accompany the Continuation-Type Application can be tedious
  • A Continuation-Type strategy can often be used for several years before it is no longer cost-effective for the Company

Questions? We Can Help!

If your company is developing a post Notice of Allowance strategy, we can help. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies. If you need assistance, please contact us.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Lexington Kentucky Trademark Bananas

Lexington Trademarks/Service Marks

Will the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grant a federal Trademark/Service Mark Registration for the term “Lexington?” It depends on the goods or services with which the Trademark or Service Mark are associated.

The Statutory Law

15 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 1052, in part, reads:

No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it—

(e) Consists of a mark which, (1) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of them, (2) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically descriptive of them, except as indications of regional origin may be registrable under section 1054 of this title, (3) when used on or in connection with the goods of the applicant is primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive of them, (4) is primarily merely a surname, or (5) comprises any matter that, as a whole, is functional.

When certain facts are in evidence, under 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(e), the Trademark Examiner can reject the Applicant’s Application as “primarily geographically descriptive.”

The USPTO Examiner’s Geographically Descriptive Marks – Test

The Examiner is to consider:

  • (1) the primary significance of the mark is a generally known geographic location
  • (2) the goods or services originate in the place identified in the mark; and
  • (3) purchasers would be likely to believe that the goods or services originate in the geographic place identified in the mark. Note: If the mark is remote or obscure, the public is unlikely to make a goods/place or services/place association.

Illustration 1 – Refusal

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky restaurant filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “The Lexington” for restaurant services

Pursuant to the USPTO test, the Examiner would argue that “The Lexington” for restaurant services is “primarily geographically descriptive” and refuse registration of the Service Mark.

Illustration 2 – Approval

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky banana store filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “Lexington” for bananas

Pursuant to the USPTO test and the case law, the name of a geographic location that has no significant relation to commercial activities or the production of the relevant goods or services, such as Lexington for bananas, is treated as an arbitrary mark because it is unlikely that consumers would believe that the mark identifies the place from which the goods originate.  The Examiner would likely conclude that the Trademark “Lexington” for bananas sold by the Lexington banana store should be granted.

Illustration 3 – Refusal

The Owner of a Lexington, Kentucky saddlery shop filed an Application for Registration in the USPTO for “Lexington” for saddles, bridles, and other equipment for horses

Pursuant to the USPTO test, the Examiner would argue that “Lexington” for saddles, bridles, and other equipment for horses is “primarily geographically descriptive” and refuse registration of the Trademark because Lexington, Kentucky is world renown for thoroughbred horses.

Conclusion

For Applicants, the federal registration process can be somewhat confusing.  By way of illustration, when a potentially “geographically descriptive” mark overcomes the 15 U.S.C. Section 1052(e) bar to registration, the applicant must still overcome the 15 U.S.C. § 1052 Sec. 2 (d) “likelihood of confusion” bar and other 15 U.S.C. § 1052 bars to registration.

Business Patent Law, PLLC assists companies and individuals with the procurement and management of their Intellectual Property portfolios.

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents, Copyrights or Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

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USPTO Notice to Correct Application Papers -Patent Law

Notice to Correct Application Papers

What is a Notice to Correct Application Papers?

The notice means United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has found an issue with the  filing (the way the paperwork looks, or what’s included in, or a clarification is needed your application) and is asking you to correct them and resubmit. Your time in which to do so is limited, if you want to retain the original filing date (and we know you want to keep that earliest date!)

A Notice to Correct Application Papers can be issued anytime during the pendency of a Nonprovisional Patent Application, but it will usually be sent shortly after your Patent Application is filed.

Your Filing May Be Considered “Informal”

Section 506 of the USPTO Manual of Patent Examining Procedure reads:

“III. INFORMAL APPLICATIONS

An application is informal if it is typed on both sides of the paper, or is not permanent, legible, or reproducible. If such informalities are timely corrected, the application is given the filing date on which the original informal papers were filed.

OPAP accords a filing date, as of the date indicated by the “Office Date” stamp (see MPEP 505), to application papers which include a specification containing a description and at least one claim (nonprovisional applications filed under 37 C.F.R. 1.53(b) prior to March 18, 2013 and design applications), and a drawing, if necessary under 35 U.S.C. 113 (first sentence) and 37 C.F.R. 1.53(b), but are informal because they do not comply with the rules or notices. In such applications, OPAP will send a Notice (e.g., Notice to File Corrected Application Papers) requiring correction of the informality. Failure to correct the informality within the specified time results in abandonment of the application.”

Case Study: The Situation

  • Our company’s Dallas R&D department filed a US Provisional Patent Application for one the company’s electromechanical gadgets. Before the expiration of the Provisional Patent Application, our company filed a US Nonprovisional Patent Application claiming the benefit of the US Provisional Application. Our in-house patent attorney located at our principal office in Houston had previously used this strategy to procure several US Patents.
  • Among other things, the Nonprovisional Patent Application included: an Abstract, Claims, a Specification and black and white line Drawings.
  • After filing the Nonprovisional Application, the USPTO generated a Notice to File Missing Parts because one of the inventor’s Declarations was missing from the as-filed Application. After receiving the Notice to File Missing Parts, our in-house counsel timely supplied the missing inventor’s Declaration to the USPTO.
  • Over the subsequent three and one-half years, our in-house counsel argued back and forth with the Patent Examiner, and eventually, the Examiner issued a Notice of Allowance for our electromechanical gadget Nonprovisional Patent Application.
  • More than a month after receiving the Notice of Allowance, the Examiner issued a Notice to File Corrected Application Papers.

Our Company’s Notice to Correct Application Papers

The Notice, in part, read:

“Notice of Allowance Mailed

This application has been accorded an Allowance Date and is being prepared for issuance. The application, however, is incomplete for the reasons below.

Applicant is given two (2) months from the mail date of this Notice within which to respond. This time period for reply is extendable under 37 CFR 1.126(a) for only two additional MONTHS.

The informalities requiring correction are indicated in the attachment(s). If the informality pertains to the abstract, specification (including claims) or drawings, the informality must be corrected with an amendment in compliance with 37 CFR 1.121…

Figure numbers are missing or duplicated. FIGS 21-24.”

Notice to Correct Application Papers: Our Next Steps

Since our company had never received a Notice to Correct Application Papers, we looked to a law firm to manage this matter for us. Amended Drawings were filed and the Patent issued in due course.

Do You Need Help From a Lawyer Specializing in Patent Law?

If you have received a Notice to Correct Application Papers, or have other questions or concerns about filing and protecting your intellectual property, we are here for you. General or in-house counsel is great for many of the legal questions or tasks your company may need, but questions about working with the Patent and Trademark Office and responding to their notices, may require someone with more specialized experience.

Protect Your Valuable Intellectual Property

If your enterprise needs legal assistance procuring/managing/enforcing your Patent Applications, Patents of Trademarks/Service Marks, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.

Racing to the Patent Line - Priority Date Filing USTPO

What is a Priority Date for Patents?

The priority date, under US law, is the filing date of the first Patent Application (Provisional or Nonprovisional) to which a Nonprovisional Patent Application claims benefit. Depending on the facts of each case, the claim of priority must be established prior to the expiration of the Provisional Application, abandonment of the Nonprovisional Application, or the grant of the Patent.

Why is a Patent’s Priority Date a Big Deal?

Among other things, the USPTO can only use references that were available prior to the priority date to reject the claims of the Nonprovisional Patent Application.  In other words, the USPTO cannot use inventions filed after this priority date to reject the claims of a Nonprovisional Patent Application. So if a competitor invents something while you are waiting for the Patent Office’s review, the earlier the filing date or priority date, the less prior art the Examiner can use to reject your Patent Application.

This matters because it may be two, four, or more years after you file your Nonprovisional Application before the USPTO starts detailed examination of your application.

What If I Made Earlier Filings?

A Nonprovisional Patent Application can claim the benefit of an earlier Provisional Application or a previously filed Nonprovisional Application. If a Nonprovisional Patent Application doesn’t claim the benefit of a Provisional Application or priority based on a previously filed Nonprovisional Application, the priority date is the filing date on the original Nonprovisional Patent Application.

What the US Code Says

35 United States Code (U.S.C.) 120

35 U.S.C. 120, in part reads, “An application for patent for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in an application previously filed in the United States, or as provided by section 363 or 385 which names an inventor or joint inventor in the previously filed application shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the prior application, if filed before the patenting or abandonment of or termination of proceedings on the first application or on an application similarly entitled to the benefit of the filing date of the first application and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the earlier filed application…”

35 U.S.C. 119(e)

35 U.S.C. 120(e), in part reads, “(1) An application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 for an invention disclosed in the manner provided by section 112(a) (other than the requirement to disclose the best mode) in a provisional application filed under section 111(b), by an inventor or inventors named in the provisional application, shall have the same effect, as to such invention, as though filed on the date of the provisional application filed under section 111(b), if the application for patent filed under section 111(a) or section 363 is filed not later than 12 months after the date on which the provisional application was filed and if it contains or is amended to contain a specific reference to the provisional application…”

Examples: How Priority Date for Patent Applications Works

  • Our Provisional Application was filed July 4, 2020 and on January 15, 2021 our company files a Nonprovisional claiming the benefit of our Provisional Application. The priority date is July 4, 2020.
  • Our company filed a Nonprovisional Application on March 15, 2020. We opt to file a PCT Application. The priority date is March 15, 2020.
  • The Provisional Application was filed on September 15, 2019. Our company filed a Nonprovisional Application on September 12, 2020 claiming the benefit of the Provisional Application. Our engineers invented an improvement to the invention that was disclosed in the Nonprovisional Application but not in the Provisional Application. We opted to file a Continuation Nonprovisional Application. The priority dates are September 12, 2020 for the improvement and September 15, 2019 for the remainder of the invention disclosed in the Provisional Application.
  • Our company filed a Provisional Application directed to a mousetrap on January 12, 2017. On January 9, 2018, we filed a PCT Application directed to the mousetrap. In March 21, 2019, our engineers invented a device for use with the mousetrap. The device is used for sampling the DNA of the mouse restrained in the mousetrap. On May 15, 2019, the company files a US Continuation-in-Part Application claiming both the mousetrap and the device for sampling DNA. The priority dates are January 12, 2017 for the mousetrap and May 15, 2019 for the device for sampling DNA.

Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies. If you need legal assistance in preparing Patent Applications, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.

If you would like to stay up-to-date with news that impacts your business and intellectual property, sign up for Business Patent Law’s Monthly Mailer™ newsletter.