This past Wednesday, Coke lost its four-year battle against Pepsi over Pepsi's use of its bottle shape. (Coke sued Pepsi back in October 2010). The allegation was pretty straight forward. Coke said that Pepsi was infringing its trademark by copying its iconic waisted bottle, leading consumers to confuse between Coke bottles and Pepsi bottles. Pepsi denied this allegation and said that its bottle shapes were different and that its bottle shape did not confuse the consumers.
Good decision or bad decision? I'm certainly not surprised... mostly because many beverage bottles nowadays have a "waist" around the middle so that it's easier to hold.
I don't know why, but inventors LOVE to focus on the background section of patent applications. And most of the times when they answer my questions about their invention, it almost comes across as a sales pitch. People really say stuff like:
"This innovative product..."
"This is revolutionary because..."
"Nothing like this has ever existed in the market..."
"Isn't this the best idea, like, ever???"
"This reduces the cost of..."
And my response is always the same: "Hey, you don't have to convince me, I just need to know if you've told me everything about your invention and that everything you're telling me is accurate and to the best of your knowledge."
I was looking through some of my previous responses to office actions this weekend on PAIR... And I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that one of the applications went abandoned about a week ago. What sucked even more was that I got this particular application allowed. So what happened?
Well, the inventor never paid the issue fee... It turns out, we had invoiced him multiple times but the inventor decided that he didn't want to pay the issue fee. It's too bad when this happens because you're so close to finally having a registered patent. But there isn't much you can do when people don't want to go forward with their application for one reason or another.
To avoid something like this from happening, I always tell people that preparing and filing a patent application is one thing, but prosecuting a patent is another thing, and then maintaining a patent is yet another thing. And of course there are fees associated with all three stages of the game. It takes commitment people. Commitment.
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One little annoying thing about filing a trademark application is that you start receiving a bunch of random, unsolicited emails. Most of these emails look like they've been sent from the USPTO, but if you look carefully, they're actually not. The ones I get the most often are from veritrademark.com and trademarkia.com, and they look something like this:
Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I'm officially in my holiday-mode. I wanted to write about something related to Thanksgiving, but I couldn't come up with something solid, so I figured I'd wait until something hit me. And it did, at approximately 1 pm today, when I saw this article by Quartz.
Basically, Blue Origin has a registered patent for a system and method for landing rockets at sea. And SpaceX is building a spaceport drone ship, which is basically like a floating dock for rockets or rocket boosters. In August, SpaceX filed a petition for an inter partes review, challenging Blue Origin's patent. Actually, SpaceX filed two petitions: one for the method claims and one for the system claims.
This is sort of old news, and normally I like to talk about things that happened recently, but I have to tell you this one because I came out as a hero.
If you remember from one of my previous posts, I talked about a trademark application that was allowed and eventually abandoned. The title for that post was called "Abandoned Application that was Allowed: My Worst Nightmare." So looking at the title of this article, you could probably guess that this article is about that same application.
I filed a petition to revive that trademark application that was abandoned. I didn't hear from USPTO for a few weeks, but I knew that they had received my petition because: 1) they charged the petition fee from my company credit card; and 2) I received a filing receipt. Then I received a notice from the USPTO saying that my petition was incomplete because I didn't pay the extension of time fees for submitting a statement of use. Well, this was kind of anticipated because I knew I had to pay the extension of time fees when I filed the petition, but USPTO didn't let me pay it at the time.
I went to the Annual Judge's Dinner hosted by Philadelphia Intellectual Property Law Association (PIPLA) last night. It was at The Barnes Foundation and I wanted to live tweet it, but I was busy trying to meet new people and it ended up running pretty late so I was sleepy.
According to Jay (president of PIPLA), more people came to this year's Judge's Dinner than the ones in the years past, and I was lucky enough to snag a ticket. We had a nice reception with an open bar for about 40-45 min. in the beginning. Then we had a little salad, filet mignon and fish (I don't really remember what kind... I guess it was Tilapia?), and chocolate/caramel pudding for dessert. The food was very good and very pretty to look at. Also, everyone received a favor, which turned out to be a paper weight. I liked the paper weight, but I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of all of the glitter that was sprinkled on the box because I got glitter everywhere.
This year, we honored Judge Gregory M. Sleet, a U.S. District Court judge from District of Delaware for outstanding IP achievement. His bio is available here (Thanks Wikipedia... Will I ever have my own bio on Wikipedia someday? Who knows.). I thought it was very interesting that Judge Sleet was the first Black American to be appointed U.S. Attorney in Delaware. Also, Judge Sleet was once a public defender in Philadelphia.
At my table, I met a patent advisor for Technicolor, and a past PIPLA president. This was only my second PIPLA event I've attended, so I still don't know a lot of people, but the people I met were very interesting and knowledgeable. I'd definitely like to return next year.
Have you seen The Dark Knight? I hope so. If you haven't, please stop reading this and watch it immediately.
I bring up The Dark Knight because Senator Patrick Leahy was a cameo in the movie. He was in the scene where he told the Joker (Heath Ledger) "we're not afraid of you thugs."
Today, Senator Leahy proposed a bill that would allow a surviving same-sex spouse to inherit copyright interests. Pretty short article. Check it out.
I was planning on just posting one article for tonight, but I came across this article on Twitter, and I just thought it was too funny not to share.
This guy, Gilbert Hyatt, sued USPTO earlier this year for delaying examination of his 80 patent applications. Then it turns out, Mr. Hyatt actually has 399 patent applications before the USPTO. 399?! Wow. That IS a lot of patent applications. And I have so many questions.
1. How much did it cost to file 399 applications and prosecute them?
2. How many attorneys did he work with over the years?
3. Did he prepare some of the applications on his own?
4. Why did he file so many applications?
5. Just pretending for a minute that all of his applications are registered at some point, is he really going to enforce all of his patents?
6. Who, what, when, where, and why... just in general.
My friend has been prosecuting a weird patent application (well, there are many weird applications out there), so I thought I'd talk about it.
A little background. The patent application talks about all about this electronic tracking device. How it looks, how it works, blah blah blah. Then you get to the claims, and all of a sudden, you're hit with method claims (method of use). There are no claims for the apparatus. Weird, right?