In my last column, I discussed the first argument that should be made in overcoming an obviousness rejection made by the patent examiner in a patent application.  If possible, the applicant should argue that the examiner has failed to establish a prima facie case of obviousness because the examiner did not make the required factual findings.  However, there are several additional arguments that may be applicable.

First, in relying on prior art references for the rejection, the examiner cannot pick and choose only one aspect of a prior art reference and exclude other aspects of the reference or ignore the central teaching of the reference.  “It is impermissible within the framework of section 103 to pick and choose from any one reference only so much of it as will support a given position, to the exclusion of other parts necessary to the full appreciation of what such reference fairly suggests to one of ordinary skill in the art.”  In re Wesslau, 353 F.2d 238 (CCPA 1965).
Continue Reading More Ways to Overcome Obviousness

There are a number of requirements that must be met for an invention to be patentable. The invention must be novel (unique) and nonobvious (i.e., a person skilled in the field of the invention would not have found the invention obvious based on the existing knowledge in the field). In addition, the patent application must meet other requirements, including written description (the application must contain a detailed, clear, and definite written description of the invention) and enablement (the application must describe how to make and use the invention). If the patent application satisfies all of the requirements, a patent is issued.

A third party can challenge an issued patent on several different grounds, either in litigation or in the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). If the challenge is successful, some or all of the patent’s claims will be invalidated. If only some of the claims are invalidated, those claims will be canceled from the patent and the remaining claims will be enforceable.
Continue Reading IPRs Cannot Be Used to Challenge Patents for Indefiniteness

The priority date of a patent is an important aspect in protecting intellectual property. The priority date is the earliest possible filing date that a patent application is entitled to rely on; it is based on the filing dates of any related patent applications that were filed before the application (the priority chain).  This date determines which prior art can be used by the Patent and Trademark Office to determine patentability of the invention and which prior art can be used by competitors to challenge the patent’s validity.
Continue Reading Patent Priority Dates Must Be a Priority!

Patent law is a complicated area of law governed by a confusing set of statutes and regulations that are interpreted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and the federal courts.  Patents themselves are sometimes almost unintelligible and, if intelligible, may require many hours of reading to understand.  It is no wonder that there are a lot of misconceptions or myths about patents.

This is the first of two columns in which I will discuss a few of the most common aspects of patent law that are misunderstood.

1.       Ideas Are Not Patentable.

Clients often want to patent an idea.  Ideas are not patentable – inventions are patentable.
Continue Reading Patent Myths Corrected – Part One