Two relatively new post grant proceedings took effect on September 16, 2012 that may be useful for businesses that wish to invalidate troublesome and overly-broad patents. More specifically, these proceedings provide a challenger an opportunity to invalidate already issued patents. For example, businesses may utilize these post grant proceedings to potentially invalidate troublesome patents when bringing products to the marketplace. These changes were instituted under the America Invents Act (AIA), which included other major changes to the patent system – including a shift from a first-to-invent system to a first-inventor-to-file system.
Once relegated to the back waters of intellectual property, design patents have become an important asset in many intellectual property portfolios since Apple’s design patents took center stage in Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Apple owned design patents that were directed to the ornamental appearance of a front face for smartphones, to the overall appearance of a table, and to graphic design of the user interface. During the 2012 trial, the jury considered four of Apple’s design patents (along with three utility patents) deciding a $1.05 billion dollar verdict in favor of Apple.
Inventors – if you are not practicing your sprint drills…you should be. General Counsel – if you are not exploring internal speed tactics for your research and development groups…you ought to. General practice firms – if you are not coaching your technology clients for the 40 yard dash…you might want to start. The race to the Patent Office is about to begin and there will no longer be any ribbon when you come in second place.