Patent Office Updates

patent (1)Some pretty important changes have come across the news wires lately regarding the US Patent Office.  In order to keep our readers up to date, we thought we’d share some of the highlights:

  1. The US Patent Office has announced a new Commissioner for Trademarks.  Mary Dennison  assumed her new position on January 1, 2015.  In her previous position as Deputy Commissioner, she was known for reaching out to small and medium businesses to help them better understand trademark legislation.  She was an experienced trademark attorney prior to joining the USPTO in 2011.
  1. On January 17, 2015 some filing fees were reduced. The fees for new trademark applications filed and processed electronically dropped to $275 from $325.  The fees for renewal applications dropped to $300 from $400 for those filed and processed electronically.
  1. Patent eligibility guidelines have been temporarily revised. This is in reaction to several Supreme Court rulings related to patents.  These new guidelines revise and further define terms used within the guidelines.  Some terms include:  “abstract idea”, “directed to” and “laws of nature”.  Public reaction is welcome through March 16, 2015 before further revising and making these guideline changes permanent.
  1. Under CIO John Owens (formerly employed by AOL), technology developments will continue to increase. Currently under production are enhanced search tools, document viewing tools, and process efficiencies designed to streamline the patent process and reduce backlog.  Included in the IT release plan is the recent release of the new beta version of the public website.  The new beta site includes user-friendly instructions, tabs and links designed for those who do not normally visit the site.
  1. Guidelines used to obtain patent protection for pharmaceuticals and biotechnological inventions have been refined. These guidelines are designed to help reduce erroneous rejections created when the guidelines were last revised in March of 2014.
  1. The POTUS’s nominee for USPTO director, Michelle Lee has not been confirmed prior to Congress breaking for the holidays. During the confirmation hearings in 2014, no one in Congress seemed to object to Lee, her background or her experience.  Congress simply ran out of time.  Since she was not confirmed during this term, the nomination will be returned to the President, who will have to re-nominate Ms. Lee during the next term of Congress.

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