Last fall, the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, announced that they would make drastic changes in the rules concerning patent applications. Briefly, the USPTO rules mean that the applicant’s rights to file different forms of continuation applications are severely limited.
The rules were meant to become effective on 1 November 2007. Tons of companies and organizations protested against the new rules, and one inventor, Dr Triantafyllos Tafas, even went so far as to sue USPTO in a federal district court. Eventually, he was backed by the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline.
On 31 October 2007, on the eve of the new rules taking effect, the federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against USPTO, inhibiting the new rules. This verdict was followed by a permanent injunction in the final decision issued 1 April 2008. In brief, the judge has determined that the USPTO has tried to exceed their authority, since the rules affect the basic rights of patent applicants. All patent applicants (and their representatives!) heaved a sigh of relief.
One could of course have hoped that this was the end of the story. However, on 7 May 2008, USPTO filed a Notice of Appeal against the verdict with the appellate court, CAFC, in Washington, DC. The schedule for the appeal case has just become official, and it looks as though a final verdict may be expected around the end of 2008. We’ll keep you posted…
Niklas Mattsson, European Patent Attorney