On November 1, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court engaged in a thought-provoking deliberation concerning the intersection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and U.S. trademark law, Vidal v. Elster, Supr. Ct. Case No. 22-704. The case considers whether the refusal of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to register the phrase TRUMP TOO SMALL as a trademark violates the free speech right under the First Amendment. The case highlights the ongoing debate surrounding political expression and government regulation.
Though the USPTO typically examines trademark applications in the order received, special circumstances can from time to time justify examination out of order. The USPTO has determined that the COVID-19 pandemic is such a special circumstance, recognizing the need to bring COVID-19-related medical products and services to market as quickly as possible.
Given the growth of investments in and shift of regulatory views regarding cannabis-related products, many companies in industries like medicine, lifestyle and foods/beverages are looking to carve out niches and be leaders in the relatively new space. As with any new technology space, it is essential to have a robust intellectual property protection strategy to both establish and preserve one’s position as a dominant player in an emerging market. One important step that a company may take when creating such a strategy is applying for patents.
On January 7, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released new guidance for how patent examiners should evaluate patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. In “Evaluating the Evaluation: Breaking Down New USPTO Guidance for Patent-Eligible Subject Matter,” colleagues Jack S. Barufka, Ngai Zhang, and Matthew W. Hindman examine the new guidance—and what it means for patent eligibility going forward.
The President’s January 23, 2017, executive memorandum implemented a federal hiring freeze. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is one of those agencies affected by the President’s memorandum. While such a hiring freeze may not have an immediate impact on patent application pendency and/or examination quality, due to the relatively high attrition rate of the patent examining corps, the examination timeline and quality may be affected in the future. In particular, technologies having greater upfront value, including internet-based technologies and platforms, and clients relying on patent portfolios for valuation will be most acutely impacted. As illustrated below, the pendency backlog may inevitably increase and the examination quality suffer.