The Lawyers Collective, a public service interest group in India, has compiled a searchable drug patent status information database for key medicines. The list currently includes about twenty drugs containing information from the following sources.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (USFDA)
- Drug Controller General of India (DCGI)
- Espacenet (European Patent Office)
- European Medicines Agency (EMEA)
- Indian Patent Office
- U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
- PatentScope (World Intellectual Property Office)
A new report from the USPTO discusses the effectiveness of virtual patent marking.
What is virtual patent marking? From the 1920s to 2011, U.S. patent law required patent owners to mark their products with the number or numbers of associated patents. Prior to the 1920s, patent owners were required to mark their products with the the date of the patent. The main purpose of this requirement was to inform the public that the product was patented. Marking also protects the patent owner’s right to recover damages in the case of infringement.
However, marking can be costly for patent owners. Some manufacturers claim that retooling molds and reprinting labels in order to add new patent numbers or remove expired patent numbers is too expensive. Marking also may be difficult if the product is very small or protected by a large number of patents. Companies that continue making products marked with expired patent numbers risk steep fines for false marking.
The America Invents Act of 2011 attempts to address these problems by allowing patent owners to mark their products with a website address where information about associated patents is listed.
One of the long-term problems with virtual marking is that it could make it much more difficult to track down patents associated with a specific product that is no longer produced or from a company that no longer exists. For example, antique collectors often use patent numbers to identify and authenticate old tools, toys, utensils, machinery, etc.
The Globe and Mail has an interesting article about Canadian universities providing training and support to student entrepreneurs (Is University the Place to Learn to be an Entrepreneur?, Oct. 10). This reminded me of an earlier article in the New York Times about a U Penn student who designed a wireless battery recharging system for a campus innovation competition. (An Inventor Wants One Less Wire to Worry About, Aug. 10). She has filed patent applications in Canada, the U.S. and Europe for her wireless power transfer” system.
Entrepreneurship is a hot topic on campus these days. Countless student innovation competitions have sprung up all over North America. Among the best known are the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize. VentureWell (formerly the Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance) sponsors two competitions specifically aimed at biomedial and bioengineering students. Dozens of universities have started student business incubators and entrepreneurship and innovation centers.
Of course, students have been conceiving new products and businesses in their dorm rooms and library study carrels for decades. Here are just a few examples.
- Bill Gates left Harvard in the mid-1970s in order to pursue his dream of starting a software company.
- Michael Dell started Dell Inc. while attending the University of Texas at Austin.
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, co-created the social networking service in his second year at Harvard.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin created the initial version of Google while Ph.D. students at Stanford.
There are no age or educational requirements for filing a patent application, of course. Children as young as three years of age are named inventors on patents. But no patent office that I know of tracks or reports the age or education level of patent applicants. It would be difficult to determine how many university-age inventors file patent applications in a given year and of those how many are active students.
Three scientists, Eric Betzig of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Germany, and William E. Moerner of Stanford University, are the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy. Their technique allows optical microscopes to resolve extremely small structures within living cells, thus enabling researchers to observe molecular processes in great detail.
Dr. Betzig has received several patents related to microscopy (US8629413, US8718106, US8730573). Dr. Hell is listed as an inventor on nearly 100 patent applications; he received his first patent related to SRFM in 2011 (US7894067). Dr. Moerner’s related patents include US8693742.
Microscopes in general are classified in the CPC under G02B 21/00 and fluorescence microscopy is classified under G01N 21/00.
A number of Nobel Laureates have been honored for their contributions to microscopy.
In 1982, Aaron Klug received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in part for his work on the development of crystallographic electron microscopy. Several years later, in 1986, Ernst Ruska received the Nobel Prize in Physics for designing the first electron microscope in the 1930s. He patented his electron microscope in the U.S. (US2268539) and several other countries in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Dr. Ruska shared the prize with Gerd Binning and Heinrich Rohrer who were recognized for their design of a scanning tunneling microscope, which they patented in the early 1980s in the U.S. (US4343993) and elsewhere.
Isamu Akasaki of Meijo University and Nagoya University, Hiroshi Amano or Nagoya University and Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara are the recipients of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing the blue light-emitting diode (LED) in the early 1990s. Blue LEDs combined with green and red LEDs produce white light, thus enabling the production of LED light bulbs. LED bulbs are much longer-lasting, up to one hundred times, and more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Dr. Nakamura filed his first patent application for a “blue color light-emitting diode” in April 1991 and was granted a patent in 1998 (JP2791448 B2). Akasaki and Amano, who began collaborating in the late 1980s, filed their first joint patent application in 1989 for a method of manufacturing a gallium nitride semiconductor LED. Their patent issued in 1994 (JPH069257 B2). Collectively, Akasaki, Nakamura and Amano are the named inventors on dozens of patent applications and authors of hundreds of journal articles.
LEDs are classified in H01L 33/00. According to Espacenet, more than 96,000 patent documents are classified under this code.
The incandescent bulb was developed in the 1870s and perfected by Thomas Edison in 1879 (US 223 898), launching the electrification of the world. For over a century incandescent lighting was the dominant form of lighting in most countries. Today, incandescent bulbs have been replaced in large part by LED bulbs.
The USPTO and KIPO announced today that starting in January 2015 the KIPO will classify its patent applications and utility models under the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system. Korea ranks fourth after China, the U.S. and Japan in the number of patent applications filed annually.
The USPTO and EPO have been developing the CPC, which is based on the International Patent Classification (IPC) and the European Classification (ECLA) systems, since 2010.
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
- F, Supplemental examination certificate
- J, Post grant review certificate
- K, Inter partes review certificate
- 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.