Post Trademark Registration Junk Mail

Post Trademark Registration: Beware Fraud, Scam & Junk Mail

What is a Post-Trademark Registration Junk Mail Barrage?

In part, the post-Trademark Registration junk mail barrage is a type of direct mail marketing. (In the US, the estimated response rate for direct mail campaigns is 3.5% to 4.24%. Thus, direct mail can be an inexpensive way to obtain a customer and/or make a sale.) Direct mail campaigns continue to creep into postal boxes, some of which are honest and aboveboard and others that are not.

Following your Trademark Registration, your company may receive legitimate-looking “bills” or “invoices” by mail that appear to be related to your trademark registration. Those may be a scam. Here’s what you need to know:

A Trademark Registration Scenario 

Trademark Registrations are part of the Public Record.

Our marketing department initially filed three US Trademark Applications. About a year after filing the US Trademark Applications for the “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe” Marks, our Louisville Company received three Trademark Registrations from the United States Trademark Office. Marketing and sales quickly added the ® to our labels and continued marketing and selling our products.

Our company’s protocol has been that the mailroom sorts the incoming mail and sends anything appearing to be an invoice to accounting for payment. Accounting was trained to look for suspicious invoices.

Within weeks of receiving our US Trademark Applications, unbeknownst to management, accounting paid several invoices that appeared to be related to United States Trademark Office business.

Those invoices appeared to be associated the US Trademark Office, but were not.

Types of Post Trademark Registration Solicitations

As a general rule, the US Trademark Office will not utilize the postal service to solicit payments from the Trademark Owner.

Under Title 15 of the United States Code, USPTO post Registration fees become due at five years, nine years, nineteen years, twenty nine years, etc. Any USPTO fee requested by a third party not associated with these dates is suspicious.

Solicitations attempting to induce the Trademark owner to pay fees may come in many ways. (Some third parties solicit the transfer of funds outside the United States, others solicit funds to roaming US postal box locations and some have apparent legitimate street addresses.)

  • Some solicitations are for actual services, albeit not those likely needed by the Trademark owner. (These are like the old yellow page ads for a regional rather than a local telephone book.)
  • Other direct mail campaigns induce the Trademark owner to actually pay for something in a country outside the United States while making the payment appear to be for something in the United States.
  • Still others encourage payment for some service in the United States, where the service is not actually needed to maintain the Trademark Registration in full force and effect.

If you have a question about the post-Trademark Registration barrage of mailed materials and junk mail, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC., for guidance.

If you 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.

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.

 

Notice of Abandonment for Patent

Notice of Abandonment

Approximately six months ago, our company’s patent attorney filed our response to the USPTO Office Action. The response was filed within the time period set by the USPTO. We just received a USPTO Notice of Abandonment of our Patent Application.

When receiving a Notice of Abandonment, do not panic. It is not uncommon for the USPTO to take months and sometimes more than a year to reply to an Applicant’s response. Applicants have two months from the date of the Notice of Allowance to file documents in the USPTO.

What Can You Do?

First, let’s determine your particular situation, based on the letter you received…

The Notice of Abandonment identifies the USPTO’s reasons for the abandonment

  • Pursuant to 37 C.F.R 1.135, prepare a complete response for the most recent Office Action that was issued prior to the Notice of Abandonment.
  • Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. 1.137, prepare a Petition to Revive and pay the USPTO fee.

The Reason(s) for the Notice of Abandonment cannot be readily discerned

  • When the Examiner is known, attempt to call the Examiner.
  • Most Examiners are responsive to telephone inquiries.  However, if the Examiner is not responsive to your telephone messages, attempt to call the Examiner’s supervisor.  Supervisors generally return calls.
  • If the Examiner is unknown, search the USPTO database for one or more telephone numbers that can be of assistance in identifying USPTO personnel that may be of assistance.
  • If the Notice of Abandonment is associated with a US National Stage Application, the PCT help desk may be of assistance.

Once you have the evidence required to respond to the Notice of Abandonment:

  • Pursuant to 37 C.F.R 1.135, prepare a complete response for the most recent Office Action that was issued prior to the Notice of Abandonment.
  • Pursuant to 37 C.F.R. 1.137, prepare a Petition to Revive and pay the USPTO fee.

The Code of Federal Regulations

37 C.F.R 1.135 – Abandonment for failure to reply within time period reads:

  • (a) If an applicant of a patent application fails to reply within the time period provided under § 1.134 and § 1.136, the application will become abandoned unless an Office action indicates otherwise.

  • (b) Prosecution of an application to save it from abandonment pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section must include such complete and proper reply as the condition of the application may require. The admission of, or refusal to admit, any amendment after final rejection or any amendment not responsive to the last action, or any related proceedings, will not operate to save the application from abandonment.

  • (c) When reply by the applicant is a bona fide attempt to advance the application to final action, and is substantially a complete reply to the non-final Office action, but consideration of some matter or compliance with some requirement has been inadvertently omitted, applicant may be given a new time period for reply under § 1.134 to supply the omission.

37 C.F.R 1.137 Revival of abandoned application, or terminated or limited reexamination prosecution.

In part, 37 C.F.R 1.137 reads:

(a) Revival on the basis of unintentional delay. If the delay in reply by applicant or patent owner was unintentional, a petition may be filed pursuant to this section to revive an abandoned application or a reexamination prosecution terminated under §1.550(d) or §1.957(b) or limited under §1.957(c).

(b) Petition requirements. A grantable petition pursuant to this section must be accompanied by:

  • The reply required to the outstanding Office action or notice, unless previously filed;

  • The petition fee as set forth in §1.17(m);

  • Any terminal (and fee as set forth in §1.20(d) required pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section; and

  • A statement that the entire delay in filing the required reply from the due date for the reply until the filing of a grantable petition pursuant to this section was unintentional. The Director may require additional information where there is a question whether the delay was unintentional.

Navigating the requirements of protecting your intellectual property can be challenging. If you need assistance, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC.  We provide intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies. 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.

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.

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.

Likelihood of Confusion trademarks service marks

Likelihood of Confusion – Trademarks

“Likelihood of confusion” is a legal test. It is applied by the courts and administrative agencies to contested Trademark/Service Mark proceedings and by United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Examiners during the registration process for Trademark/Service Mark Applications.

Likelihood of Confusion – What Law Applies?

Before a federal Trademark is granted, an Applicant must prove to the USPTO that the Trademark was used on goods and/or services in commerce that the U.S. Congress may lawfully regulate. The geographical limit for a federal Trademark registration is the geographical boundary of the United States and its territories.

Federal Jurisdiction

Federal jurisdiction of Trademarks/Service Marks (hereinafter Trademarks) can be controlled by the precedent of the US Supreme Court or one of the thirteen federal circuit courts sitting beneath the US Supreme Court.

Each of the thirteen federal circuits has its own case law precedent for adjudicating “likelihood of confusion” for contested Trademarks.  Although the case law precedent of the federal circuits is similar, it is not identical.

State Jurisdiction

When a Trademark is granted at the State level, the law of that State controls court and agency proceedings. The laws of the several States are variable on the standards for “likelihood of confusion.” The geographical limit for a State Trademark is the border of the State.

Likelihood of Confusion – USPTO Trademark Applications

For the USPTO, the “likelihood of confusion” precedent for Trademark Examiners is set forth in the case of In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 177 U.S.P.Q. 563 (C.C.P.A. 1973). Today, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction over appeals from USPTO agencies and adopted the du Pont case as precedent.

On page 567 of the du Pont case, the court stated:

“In testing for the likelihood of confusion under 15 U.S.C. § 1052 Sec. 2 (d), the following, when of record, must be considered:

  1. The similarity or dissimilarity of the marks in their entireties as to appearance, sound, connotation and commercial impression.
  2. The similarity of dissimilarity and nature of the goods or services as described in an application or registration or in connection with which a prior mark is in use.
  3. The similarity or dissimilarity of established, likely-to-continue trade channels.
  4. The conditions under which and buyers to whom sales are made, i.e., “impulse” vs. care, sophisticated purchasing.
  5. The fame of the prior mark (sales, advertising, length of use.)
  6. The number and nature of similar marks in use on similar goods.
  7. The nature and extent of any actual confusion. The length of time during and conditions under which there has been concurrent use without evidence of actual confusion.
  8. The variety of goods on which a mark is or is not used (house mark, “family” mark, product mark).
  9. The market interface between applicant and the owner of a prior mark… (e.g., have the interested parties executed a contract to proclaim there is no confusion?).
  10. The extent to which the applicant has a right to exclude others from use of its mark on its goods.
  11. The extent of potential confusion, i.e., whether de minimis or substantial.
  12. Any other established fact probative of the effect of use.”

If the Examiner or the USPTO determines there is a “likelihood of confusion” between Applicant’s Trademark and a prior Registration or pending Application, the USPTO will refuse to register the junior Applicant’s Trademark.

Observations

With regard to the “likelihood of confusion” test, each of the federal circuit courts have adopted precedent similar to the test set forth in the case of In re E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 177 U.S.P.Q. 563 (C.C.P.A. 1973). When possible, parties to an infringement will attempt to try the case in a venue most favorable a party’s evidence and arguments.

Have Questions on Your Trademark?

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 of all sizes.

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.

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.

Interview with Patent Examiner by Video Conference

Your Patent: Office Actions and Examiner Interviews

Office Actions

The Patent Offices of the various jurisdictions around the world issue Office Actions. These actions indicate many things, including the status of the Patent Application. An Office Action reflects the current opinion of one or more Patent Examiners regarding a Patent Application.

Types of Office Actions for Pending Applications

  • Filing Receipt
  • Notices of Abandonment
  • Notices of Allowance
  • Notices of Publication
  • Notice to Correct Application Papers
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty Information
  • Payment of Additional Governmental Fees
  • Substantive Examination by Examiners

What is a Substantive Examination by the USPTO?

A USPTO Substantive Examination Office Action generated by an Examiner’s can include:

  • Under 35 U.S.C. 101, the Examiner concludes if the Application is directed to patentable subject matter
  • Under 35 U.S.C. 102, the Examiner opines if one or more of the claims of the Application are novel
  • Under 35 U.S.C. 103, the Examiner can argue if one or more of the claims of the Application are obvious in view of the prior art
  • Among other things, under 35 U.S.C. 112, the Examiner determines if the Specification enables one in the art to practice the invention and whether the claims particularly point out and distinctly claim the subject matter the Applicant regards as the invention

Applicant Interviews with the Examiner

The USPTO allows Applicants (or their representatives) to conference with Examiners. These conferences can simplify 35 U.S.C. 101-103 and 35 U.S.C. 112 matters propounded by the Examiner and streamline the Applicant’s prosecution and the Examiner’s examination of the Patent Application. Over the years, it is Business Patent Law’s experience that verbal communication between the Examiner and Applicant’s attorney can assist both sides in better understanding the opposing side’s arguments.

Types of Applicant Interviews

There are three primary types of applicant interviews with the examiner for these pending office actions:

  • In-person
  • Telephone conference
  • Video conference

Some USPTO Examiners require the Applicant to use the USPTO Automated Interview Request system to schedule an interview.

Have Questions About Office Actions?

If you need legal assistance in responding to the USPTO Office Action for your Patent Application, please contact Business Patent Law, PLLC. Business Patent Law, PLLC provides intellectual property and business counsel for businesses and companies.

In the meantime, 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.

covid19 response

COVID19 Office Response

Our offices remain open and serving clients. We have only made a few changes to the way we do business. We are able to work with you by phone and email, as always, but are not meeting in person at this time. This is to protect our clients and staff. It will not impact the quality or timeliness of your service and we intend to keep your matters on track and on time.

Since our practice is primarily of national and international scope, changes in operations in the various state court systems will not likely impede most matters managed by us.

Federal Courts and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made some changes to standard operating practices. For example, USPTO offices are closed to the public and some petition fees may be waived and extensions of certain patent and trademark deadlines may be possible. In-person oral hearings and meetings with USPTO employees are not possible at his time.  However, for years, Business Patent Law has used digital technologies to communicate with the USPTO, other federal agencies and our foreign clients and associates.

If you want to know how this impacts your intellectual property and business concerns, please contact us and we can discuss it.