In New Jersey, legislators are contemplating making changes in legal regulations regarding patents. In January 2019 and February 2019, Sen. Thom Tillis and Sen. Chris Coons held meetings about patents and the law. The senators are proposing to make new rules similar to those invented by Francesco Ruffini in 1923. At that time, Ruffini, an Italian senator, wanted to allow scientific researchers rights to patent their discoveries.
Some New Jersey medical researchers may be affected by a federal appellate court decision on Feb. 6 regarding diagnostic test patenting. Rather than providing clarification about this type of patenting, the decision instead increased the pressure on Congress to provide guidance.
New Jersey readers may be interested to learn that another trial involving Qualcomm Inc. and Apple Inc. kicked off before the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 17. The two technology giants are squabbling over Apple's right to import certain iPhone models into the U.S. This is the second patent infringement case between the companies to go to trial this year.
New Jersey consumers may be wondering about the ongoing legal dispute between the tech companies IBM and Groupon over the latter's alleged use of four protected e-commerce patents. IBM claims that Groupon illegally used several of its proprietary technologies without permission. Other tech companies pay millions of dollars in licensing fees for the rights to use the same patents.
Not all enterprising New Jersey inventors are ready to jump right into the process of seeking a long-term patent. Instead, patent-seekers may wish to consider a provisional patent application, or PPA. It's essentially a short-term way of protecting an invention in a way that does not require the same effort or expense typically associated with a standard patent. Having a PPA on file can also allow an applicant to use the filing date of the PPA if a non-provisional application is filed within a year.
New Jersey residents have come to rely on their iPhones, and Apple Inc. continues to pursue new technological innovations. In a single week, the company filed five patent applications. The technical details of the filings hinted at camera improvements, sleep tracking, more flexible screen displays and perhaps augmented reality.
The patent landscape has changed dramatically since the first patent law was passed by Congress in 1790. There are some patent-related issues that anyone in New Jersey looking to protect intellectual property or secure a patent should know about. For starters, the America Invents Act has made it easier, faster and cheaper for challenges to patent validity to be initiated in the Patent Office instead of district courts. Consequently, many claims are now dismissed at the PO level.
Every day, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is inundated with patent applications, totaling to an average of 600,000 per year. This large number of requests combined with pressure from patent holders to speed up the deliberation process has led to an estimated 70 percent of patent examiners spending less time than they should on each application. The result has been an increase in erroneously granted patents. However, residents of New Jersey should know that there is a review system in place meant to address this problem. However, it soon may either be upheld or declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
New Jersey residents may be surprised to learn that some of the nation's largest companies routinely ignore patents in their rush to enter emerging markets. These companies produce similar products and then make it difficult for patent holders by using their legal departments or hiring attorneys to challenge the validity of the patent or patents involved. Litigation can be costly and protracted, and these companies hope that market dominance will have been won before it is resolved.
Companies in New Jersey and around the country are often fiercely protective of their intellectual property, but they may find it difficult to determine how much these crucial business assets are actually worth. Patents for inventions that have never been put into production will generally be less valuable than those for devices that sell well, and patents may increase in value over time as the products they protect gain in popularity. Patents may also lose value if new technology emerges or consumer preferences evolve.