Patent Searching Through the US Patent Classification System

During my time as a patent professional, I have been able to gain a fair amount of experience conducting patent searches. Although searching through the USPTO database for a specific disclosure can be more of an art than science, I have come up with a relatively easy method that takes advantage of the USPTO's patent index system. In this post, I'm going to briefly describe the index that the US Patent and Trademark Office uses to classify all patents. Then I'll provide my method for using that system to conduct a patent search.

How to Accelerate Examination of your Patent Application

The United States Patent Office prioritizes certain application types. The USPTO's priorities are manifest in its "Petition to Make Special" program, which will be described in this post. The Petition to Make Special is a program that allows patent applicants to get special status and skip ahead of other applications waiting in line--the result being that the "special" application can issue as a patent much quicker than it otherwise would.

Increased USPTO Fees on the Horizon

Back in November, I posted about the new micro entity fees that will eventually be available to qualifying entities as part of the America Invents Act. In that post, I discussed how the micro entity fees will only go into effect after the USPTO has followed the fee-setting process. Here is a recap of the fee-setting process from that post:

Patent Maintenance Fees

A patent is valid for twenty years after its filing date (plus any patent term adjustment granted as a result of USPTO delays, of course). However, a patent will expire before its twenty years are up if the patent owner fails to pay maintenance fees. When speaking with my clients, all of them exhibit awareness of the obvious initial costs to prepare, file, and prosecute a patent application. Many, however, are unaware of the continuing duties a patent holder has to pay maintenance fees.

How to Calculate Patent Term Adjustment

I recently assisted a client in paying his issue fee—the last step in patent prosecution before a patent is granted. Along with the notice that the issue fee was due, the USPTO provided notice of its determination of patent term adjustment ("PTA"). Since the USPTO has been known to err on its PTA calculations, it may be good practice to at least review the application timeline and determine whether the PTA was correctly calculated. I thought that a blog post about PTA may be useful. So how is PTA computed?

Reduced Patent Filing Fees for Micro Entities

One of the changes brought about by the America Invents Act is a new status of patent applicant called the "micro entity." The idea is similar to the current "small entity" status granted to certain applicants--but instead of reducing fees by 50% (as for small entity applicants), the Act reduces certain patent fees by 75% for those applicants that qualify. So, who can qualify as a micro entity, and when do the changes go into effect?

USPTO Steve Jobs Exhibit

Steve Jobs Photo (Credit: Matt Yohe)Today is the opening of a new exhibit at the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in Alexandria, Virginia titled The Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World. According to the USPTO's press release, the exhibit will feature more than 300 patents granted to Jobs as well as many of Apple's trademarks.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Backlog Prediction Model

A couple of years ago, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released its Patent Pendency Model (PPM) Simulation Tool, a spreadsheet that outputs the predicted total number of unexamined patent applications in inventory at the end of each fiscal year and the predicted ratio of first actions compared to filings (a number which shows if/how much the patent application backlog has been reduced that year). I thought it would be interesting to compare the predictions to the USPTO's actual performance over fiscal year 2011.

National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum

As one who works with patents and trademarks on a daily basis, I enjoy learning about intellecual property that helped shape history. A current exhibit at the USPTO Museum called Exercising Ingenuity displays just that--"inventions, patents, and trademarks that have emerged from the fitness, nutrition, and exercise industries."

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