Author: William Reid

Upcoming Free Webinar: The Pros and Cons of Trade Secrets & Patent Protection

William Reid, Partner at Dilworth IP, will be presenting a free webinar on Wednesday, December 13th at 1:00 PM EDT entitled, “Should You Keep It Secret? The Pros and Cons of Trade Secrets and Patent Protection.” You know that protecting your intellectual property is important. A strong IP portfolio is essential to insure economic advantages over your competitors – but what type of protection should you pursue? Patents are well recognized, but in many instances, protection can be limited…or even unavailable. Other times, you may not want to publicly disclose your invention in a patent application. Trade Secret protection – while potentially much more applicable to your business needs than patents – is also more fragile; and has completely different rules of the road in terms of stewardship.

Strong Nonobviousness Push-Back to the District Court for the District of Delaware Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc.

In Millenium Pharmaceuticals Inc., v. Sandoz Inc., 2015-2066, 2016-1008, 2016-1009, 2016-1010, 2016-1283, 2016-1762 (Fed. Cir. July 17, 2017), the Federal Circuit pulled no punches in overruling the Districts Court’s finding of patent invalidity for U.S. Patent No. 6,713,446 (446 Patent), exclusively licensed by Millennium.  The case related to Velcade®, used in chemotherapy for the treatment of multiple myeloma.  Such was the drug’s effectiveness that it “changed the decades-old standard of care for multiple myeloma and has saved thousands of lives.

Bobbing For Apples: Claim Construction in ContentGuard v. Apple

In a nonprecedential, but nevertheless interesting case concerning several patents related to digital rights management for computers and other devices, the Federal Circuit in ContentGuard Holdings, Inc., v. Apple Inc., 2016-1916, 2016-2007 (Fed. Cir. July 12, 2017), agreed with the District Court’s construction of the claims, where both Parties’ proposed constructions had been rejected.1 The suit involved several of ContentGuard’s patents: U.S. Patent No. 6,963,859 (859 Patent), U.S. 7,823,072 (072 Patent), U.S. Patent No. 8,370,956 (956 Patent), U.S. Patent No. 8,393,007 (007 Patent), and U.S. Patent No. 8,001,053 (053 Patent), and alleged infringement by Apple.2 Ultimately, the District Court entered final judgement in favor of Apple.3

Fluid Catalytic Cracking Patents – 2016, Part III: Light Olefins Production

Conventional techniques available to refiners having FCC units for increasing light olefin production (not employing significant capital expense), have included: (1) catalyst approaches, such as reducing the unit cell size of the Y-zeolite used, or employing octane additives to crack naphtha range material to light olefins; (2) modifying operating conditions to drive conversion levels up and increase olefinicities; and (3) combining hardware modifications and alternative feedstocks. This last option includes processing large amounts/quantities of Light Straight-Run Naphtha (LSN), Light Coke Naphtha (LCN) and Natural Gas Condensate (Liquid – NGL). Some new technologies are also available, however, due to the heat-balance constraints imposed by the processing of large quantities of light feedstocks, changes to the process and to hardware have been necessitated. To date, there have only been a very few of these units built and operated and the others are still in the R&D stage as there are still considerable issues with their development that need to be sorted-out/worked through.

The IP Manager’s Playbook: Leveraging the Tools of the USPTO, Part II – Track One – When There is a Need for Speed

This is the second article in a series related to programs initiated by the Patent Office to assist patent practitioners; for part one in this series, Awaiting the Return of P3, Click Here. This article discusses the Track One program. Track One is one of three programs directed to expediting the front end of patent prosecution. Besides Track One, the other programs include the patent prosecution highway and Accelerated Examination. The value of these programs is evident when one considers that total prosecution time is dominated by the time waiting to receive an Office Action. In fact, this time amounts to over 60% of the total prosecution time. So, any effort to reduce overall patent prosecution time must affect the time awaiting the first office action. Track One addresses this. The saved time translates to earlier issue dates, which can aid the client in terms of licensing opportunities, or in blocking the patent applications of the client’s competitors, and potentially reduce prosecution costs.

Enhanced Oil Recovery Patents – 2016 (Part 2) Radiation-Assisted Oil Recovery

Enhanced oil recovery techniques can loosely be grouped into methods conducted at ambient temperatures and those at high temperature. Ambient temperature methods include techniques using water flooding, solvent or surfactant injection, and cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS). High-temperature techniques function by heating recoverable material in the reservoir to lower its viscosity and improve flowability. Such techniques typically use steam, i.e., steam injection in various ways, although radiation assisted oil recovery would also fall into this group. However, while conventional heat treatments using steam are effective, they can sometimes result in a wastewater stream that is not desirable. While radiation techniques may additionally utilize other injectable streams, they need not rely on a separate heat-input stream to transfer heat, so typically don’t generate the wastewater streams characteristic of steam injection.

Enhanced Oil Recovery Patents – 2016 (Part 1) Microbial/Enzyme Enhanced Oil Recovery

This is an article in a series reviewing 2016 patents focused on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). In particular, this article relates to the technology area of Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR), which concerns the use of microbes to extract oil from oil-containing formations, and Enzyme Enhanced Oil Recovery (EEOR) which similarly concerns the use of enzymes.

The IP Manager’s Playbook: Leveraging the Tools of the USPTO, Part I – Awaiting the Return of P3

In July, 2016 the Patent Office initiated the Post-Prosecution Pilot program (P3), designed to reduce the use of RCE’s and the pendency of applications, as well as to improve the collaboration between applicants and Examiners. The program ended this past January, when the six-month time frame for the test program was reached. While the program’s results are currently being reviewed by the Patent Office, in view of its popularity, there’s a good chance that the P3 program will be reconstituted in one form or another. It’s worth taking another look to review what the program was all about.

Fluid Catalytic Cracking Patents – 2016, Part II: Equilibrium Catalyst (ECAT)

For as long as there have been FCC’s, refiners have had to manage catalyst additions and losses. If the catalyst additions were the same as the losses then catalyst inventory would be maintained. If catalyst losses were greater than additions, then purchased ECAT would have to be added. If additions were greater than losses, then ECAT would need to be withdrawn from the unit. Withdrawn catalyst is sometimes transferred to brokers who then sell it to refiners needing ECAT for their units, otherwise it is disposed of, e.g., sold into cement manufacturing applications. The following three patents demonstrate attempts to upgrade the value of ECAT. The first treats ECAT to convert it to a metals trap, the second and third adjust the ECAT particle size distribution. It will be interesting to see whether this trend in ECAT-related inventions continues.

Fluid Catalytic Cracking Patents – 2016, Part I: Catalyst Additive

This is an article in a review of patents issued in 2016 in the area of Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC). The summary below covers a single patent relating to FCC catalyst additives; specifically a gasoline sulfur reduction additive. Last year, when we were reviewing catalyst additive patents for 2015, there were only five: two related to gasoline sulfur reduction catalysts; two related to metals deactivators/traps; and a ZSM-5 additive patent. At that time, because of the low numbers of patents it was an open question whether there would be a resurgence in these areas. The answer appears to be that FCC research in additives, at least that for which IP protection is being sought, continues to be low. Research seems to be shifting more to processes and equipment, and maintaining a position in catalysts. All of these will be covered in forthcoming articles.