USPTO Introduces New Kind Codes: F, J, K, O

Over the last couple of years the USPTO has introduced several new kind codes on account of changes arising from the America Invents Act of 2011. They are

  1. F, Supplemental examination certificate
  2. J, Post grant review certificate
  3. K, Inter partes review certificate
  4. O, Derivation certificate

These codes are for various types of certificates that are appended to patent documents. Other types of certificates include reexamination certificates, represented by kind code C, and certificates of correction, which are not assigned a kind code.

New certificates are announced in the Official Gazette of Patents. According to the USPTO database, as of September 8, 2014, eight supplemental examination certificates (Fs) and six inter partes review certificates (Ks) have been issued.


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U.S. Patent Statistics and Numbers for 2013

The USPTO issued 305,081 patents in 2013, an increase of 10.2 percent over 2012. The agency also published 347,148 utility and plant patent applications, an increase of 4.7 percent over the previous year. The total number of U.S. patent documents published in 2013 increased to 652,229, another all-time high. Table 1 shows the number of documents by type.

Table 1. US Patents by Type Issued in 2013*

Type Total
Utility patents 279,899
Reissue patents 844
Design patents 23,479
Plant patents 846
SIRs 13
Applications 347,148

*Based on preliminary data from the USPTO website. Totals may change after the fact due to withdrawn patents and published applications.

On August 6, the USPTO reached another milestone, issuing patent no. 8,500,000. Design patents are rapidly approaching the 700,000 mark; it is likely that D700,000 will be issued in February 2014.

The USPTO abolished the Statutory Invention Registration (SIR) Program in March. The number of SIRs published during the 28 years the program was in existence was approximately 2,260. The number of SIRs per year has steadily decreased since the USPTO began publishing applications in 2001. Only 13 SIRs were published this year, almost twice as many as in 2012.

Table 2. US Patent Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013

Type First Number Last Number
Utility patent 8,341,762 8,621,661
Reissue patent RE43,844 RE44,688
Design patent D673,356 D696,835
Plant patent PP23,288 PP24,134
SIR H2,274 H2,287
Utility application 2013/0000001 2013/347149
Plant application 2013/0007930 2013/347159
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Tangle toy puzzle

A few days ago I took my four-year old daughter to get a flu shot. As a reward for being brave and not crying (too much) the nurse gave her a puzzle-toy called a Tangle(R). Turns out it was patented in 1985 (US 4509929) by Richard Zawitz. There are several interesting things about this toy. First, it has one of the least descriptive patent titles I’ve seen since the Koosh ball: “Annular support device with pivotal segments”. Second, prior to filing a patent application, Zawitz filed several copyright registrations under the title “Zawitz tangle ornamental sculpture”. Finally, in 1993 Zawitz was granted a design patent (D334,416) on the individual segments that make up the toy.

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Humble Egg Carton Invented by Canadian 100 Years Ago

Canadian newspaperman Joseph Coyle invented the humble egg carton nearly one hundred years ago. Coyle was not the first inventor to tackle the problem of transporting eggs safely, but his carton design, which he patented in the US (US1269394) and Canada (CA181662) in 1918, was one of the most successful. A number of egg carton designs were patented from the late 1890s forward. These are classified under CPC code B65D85/32+.

Coyle continued inventing well into his 70s and received more than a dozen patents relating to egg cartons, among other things. In 1943, he received his last patent (CA415836) for a carton suitable for holding and transporting fruit.

The iconic 12-egg carton that is still in use today was designed in the 1930s by Francis H. Sherman, who received design patent D95,291 in 1935.

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PatentScope Adds Canadian National Collection

An early Christmas present from the WIPO:
PatentScopenow includes the Canadian national collection from ~1920 forward. No PDFs yet, it appears, but full text (based on OCR) is available for some patents. A few pre-1970s patents have IPC codes, so keyword searching may be required for some types of searches. This gives researchers another option for searching Canadian patents from the early 20th century forward.
Other national collections to be added in the next few months include the Eurasian Patent Office, Germany, and UK.
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USPTO Adopts PDF for Patent Documents

The USPTO has adopted PDF as the default format for displaying patent documents from its databases, making it one of the last (if not last) of the major patent offices to switch to the world’s most popular document image format. Since 1998, viewing US patent documents obtained from the USPTO website required the use of a TIFF plugin such as alternaTIFF or interneTIFF.

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US Patent Milestone: 8,500,000

The USPTO reached another milestone on August 6, issuing patent no. 8,500,000 B2 to Elmer Berendas of Germany for a “Device for locking and unlocking the jalousie (rolling shutter) of a container.”According to the patent, this type of container is commonly used in ATMs.

So far this year the USPTO has issued 173,546 utility patents, putting on track to issue more than 260,000 this year. At that rate the next milestone, patent no. 9,000,000, could be reached by early 2015.

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Obit: Amar G. Bose (1929-2013), Bose

Amar G. Bose, inventor of the audio system that bears his name, passed away on July 12 at the age of 84. In addition to being a successful inventor and entrepreneur, Bose taught acoustics and electrical engineering for 45 years at MIT. Bose received approximately 45 patents during his lifetime. His earliest patent, US2915588, was for a pressure wave (sonic wave) generation system. His most recent application, US2012177215A1, filed in 2011, discloses a transducer with an integrated sensor. The Bose Corp., whose motto is “Better Sound Through Research”, holds more than 1,900 patents and pending applications.

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USPTO Launches Global Patent Search Network

The USPTO has launched a new patent search system called the Global Patent Search Network (GPSN). Initial coverage includes Chinese published applications, patents, utility models from 2008 through 2011. Users can search patent documents in the English or Chinese language and retrieve full-text Chinese patents and machine translations.Additional Chinese patents and other national collections will be added over time.

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Roswell-Inspired Inventions

UFO enthusiasts and true believers are celebrating the 66th anniversary of the Roswell Incident, the alleged crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft outside the small town of Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. The event marked the start of a wave of flying saucer sightings around the world. Inventors were quick to capitalize on the public’s mania for all things alien, filing numerous patent applications for everything from saucer-shaped salt and pepper shakers (USD161683) to advanced aircraft designs like the one above (US2718364). There’s even a CPC patent classification for flying saucers, B64C39/001. UFO hunters looking for evidence of alien technology in the patent record won’t find much. Aliens, it seems, prefer trade secrets.
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