Like clockwork, every Tuesday after midnight the United States Patent and Trademark Office issues its weekly dose of about 3,500 patents, indicating the vesting of exclusive rights to their inventors or assignees. This happens automatically, even if Tuesday is Christmas, New Years, July 4th, Yom Kippur, Halloween, the Presidential Inauguration,... you get the idea. (e.g., My grandfather was issued U.S. Patent No. 2,775,048 on December 25, 1956. The original with ribbon sits in my office. His other patented invention, D166,239, covers the product at left, which can be found in just about every first grade classroom in the country.) So each Tuesday morning, you can look at the new issuances on the PTO's database over breakfast (or a late night snack).
I started regular weekly monitoring of issued patents a few years ago for some particular client-related matters, but my intrigue grew after stumbling upon certain patents, unrelated to client matters, with stories that were too interesting to keep to myself. Like U.S. Patent No. 6,097,812 and its 67-year prosecution history (thanks to a very long lasting secrecy order). Or U.S. Patent No. 7,472,070 for a seemingly innocuous grain aeration system -- but granted to Microsoft, that well-known player in agricultural technology. Or trends, like the trickling-off of issuances to applications filed the first week of June 1995 (when there was a pre-GATT filing surge). Or Jerome Lemelson being granted U.S. Patent No. 7,343,660 more than a decade after his death, with priority going back over fifty years to 1954.
Lately, my attention has turned to the fallout from the Federal Circuit's recent decision of In re Bilski and its effect on patentable subject matter under Section 101. In particular, I was curious (to aid my own practice) to see what sorts of claims had been allowed pre- and post-Bilski, and what techniques applicants had used to address or circumvent the machine-or-transformation test. I began sending my weekly findings internally to a few attorneys in my firm. Then to a few more. Then to a few more..
After a few months of these "Bilski Watch" emails, this blog was created. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated and encouraged.