Obit: Inventor of Computer Mouse, Douglas C. Engelbart

Douglas C. Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse, died this week at the age of 88. He patented his simple but highly innovative invention, called an “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System”, in 1970. (US 3541541) Engelbart’s invention helped launch the age of the personal computer. Millions of mice are produced each year. Engelbart’s mouse patent has been cited in 137 patents. The CPC classification for computer mice is G06F3/03543.

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Statutory Invention Registration Abolished

On March 16, 2013, the Statutory Invention Registration was abolished under the provisions of the America Invents Act. The purpose of the SIR was to allow an inventor who did not wish to get a patent to disclose their invention in a published document, thus preventing others from patenting it. The USPTO has published approximately 2,500 SIRs since the program was established in the mid-1980s as a replacement for the Defensive Publication Program. The number of SIRs per year has steadily decreased since the USPTO began publishing applications in 2001. Only seven were published in 2012.

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Patent Milestone in August?

The USPTO is on track to issue patent no. 8,500,000 later this summer. At the current rate of about five thousand new patents each week, no. 8,500,000 should appear sometime in August. Patent no. 8,000,000 was issued on August 16, 2011, just two years ago. It took over 100 years, from 1790 to 1911, for the U.S. to issue its millionth patent. Since that time, the interval has been steadily decreasing. At the current rate patent no. 9,000,000 will issue in 2015.

U.S. Patent Milestones

Year No. Interval
2011 8,000,000 5 years
2006   7,000,000 7
1999 6,000,000 8
1991 5,000,000 15
1976 4,000,000 15
1961 3,000,000 26
1935 2,000,000 24
1911 1,000,000 121

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US Patent Statistics for 2012

The USPTO issued 276,820 patents and published 331,583 applications in calendar year 2012, 7 percent more than in 2011 and an all-time high of 608,403 patent documents.Table 1 shows the number of documents by type.

No milestones were reached in 2012, but in 2013 it’s virtually guaranteed that the USPTO will issue patent no. 8,500,000. And design patents are rapidly approaching the 700,000 mark.

Table 1. US Patents by Type Issued in 2012*

Type Total
Utility patents 253,178
Reissue patents 822
Design patents 21,952
Plant patents 860
SIRs 8
Applications 331,583

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

Table 2. US Patent Number Ranges, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2012

Type First Number Last Number
Utility patent 8,087,094 8,341,760
Reissue patent RE43,053 RE43,883
Design patent D651,376 D673,345
Plant patent PP22,428 PP23,287
SIR H2,266 H2,273
Utility application 2012/0000001 2012/321207
Plant application 2012/0005794 2012/331605
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Jury Awards Carnegie Mellon University $1.16 Billion in Patent Lawsuit

A jury has awarded Carnegie Mellon University more than $1.16 billion in a patent infringement lawsuit against a tech firm based in Santa Clara, California. An appeal is expected, but if the verdict stands this could be the largest patent infringement award in U.S. history.

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China Leads US in Patent Applications

In 2011 China surpassed the US in patent application filings, according to data compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization and reported in the Economist. The State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) received 526,412 applications in 2011, compared to slightly more than 500,000 at the USPTO and approximately 340,000 at the Japan Patent Office. In related news, the European Patent Office and SIPO recently announced that Chinese to English machine translation is now available in its Patent Translate service, which is integrated with Espacenet. An additional four million Chinese patent documents are now available in Espacenet.

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Pfizer`s Viagra Patent Invalidated Due to Failure to Disclose

The Supreme Court of Canada has invalidate Pfizer’s Canadian patent on Viagra, citing the drug-maker’s failure to disclose essential information about the main ingredient, sildenafil citrate, in the original application, which was filed in 1994 and granted in 1998. (CA 2163446) The appellant in the case was generic drug maker Teva Canada Ltd.
Pfizer holds several other patents related to Viagra, all of which are listed in the Canadian Drug Patent Register.
Here are a couple of stories from the Globe and Mail:
Supreme Court backs Canadian firm’s bid to make generic Viagra
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Swiss Patent Office Adopts CPC

As of Jan. 1, 2013, the Swiss Patent Office will classify patents using the CPC. This might be the first office (except for the EPO and USPTO) to officially adopt the CPC as its national classification.

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Cooperative Patent Classification Available

The USPTO and EPO have released the new Cooperative Patent Classification system ahead of the January 1, 2013 implementation date. Details are available at the CPC website. Documentation includes the entire CPC scheme, an initial set of definitions and CPC concordances.

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New: FreePatentsOnline Adds DE Patent Data, Other Resources

FreePatentsOnline has updated its interface and added some new resources. One of the most interesting developments is the addition of German patent data. Other new features include blogs, a version of the MPEP and a case law database containing Federal appellate cases referenced in the MPEP.

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