The Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus is one of eight sites nationwide to host a public roundtable with officials from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office regarding the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which includes a procedure allowing the public to challenge patents after they have been approved.
“One complaint people had prior to the America Invents Act was that there were too many weak patents out there,” says David C. Berry, director of Cooley’s graduate program in intellectual property law. “And the only way to challenge them effectively was to start a federal court lawsuit, which could take two to three years and cost several millions of dollars in attorney fees. So one thing Congress did in the (America Invents Act) was create a shorter, cheaper way for people to challenge patents without having to get involved in a full-fledged lawsuit.”
Since the review process launched in September 2012, at least 1,000 procedures have been filed to bring a patent before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, Berry says. “The process takes about a year to get from beginning to end, so we’re starting to get the first decisions about the proceedings that began in (late 2012). The patent office figured now would be a good time to go around the country and provide the public with more information,” he says.
The Cooley roundtable will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 24 and will include a lecture about the trial process, lessons learned, and mock conference calls where patent judges will identify good techniques for winning a motion. The event also offers the public the opportunity to provide feedback regarding trial procedures.
“These roundtables are a part of USPTO’s ongoing efforts to provide more opportunities for the public and other key stakeholders to share ideas, feedback, experiences, and insights on additional ways we can improve our processes,” says Michelle Lee, deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which in 2012 opened the first center outside of Washington, D.C. at Detroit’s Stroh River Place.