Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Big Change but Not a Big Deal

Earlier this year, US patent law changed from a "First to Invent" to a "First Inventor to File" system to align US patent practice more closely to global norms. 

In a “First to Invent” system, the patent for an invention is granted to the first person who invented it even if another inventor filed first for the patent. Under the new system, patents will be granted to the inventor that first filed the application.   This means the date an invention was created is no longer relevant to the patenting process.   However, the inventor remains central to the US patent process.  Unlike the European "First to File" system, United States patent applications will still be filed on behalf of the inventor and patents are only granted to inventors or their assignees.
The cutover date was March 16, 2013.  Applications filed before that date are unaffected by this change.  While this sounds straightforward, some care needs to be taken.  Common patent prosecution procedures such as continuing, divisional and continuation-in-part applications are considered new applications and can inadvertently move an invention to the new system.
While this is a big change, it’s not a big deal.  In 2012, there were 542,815 utility patent applications filed with the USPTO.  Only 67 "interference" cases, the USPTO term for this situation, were filed in the same period.  
Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:
Watersports Garment with Stitchless Seams:  A waterproof, elastic adhesive that is used as part of a process for creating stitchless seams in swimwear.  Patent #: 8539612.  Inventor:  Shiue.  Assignee:  Shei Chung Hsin Ind. Co., Ltd.
Shirt for a Hockey Player:  An undershirt with “gripping zones” designed to prevent protective equipment from moving relative to the undershirt (causing discomfort).  Patent #:  8539616.  Inventors:  Beland and Gagnon.  Assignee:  Bauer Hockey.
Footwear Device:  A type of “slipper” to be worn with climbing shoes when not climbing to protect the soft rubber sole from prematurely wearing out.  Patent #: 8539695.  Inventor:  Gemmen.  No Assignee.
Suspension Heel:  An arrangement for cushioning a high heel to increase comfort and stability.  Patent #:  8539697.  Inventors:  Healy, et. al.  Assignee:  TBL Licensing LLC.
Footwear Safety Apparatus Device and Method:  Adding microscopic roughness (“friction additives”) to the sole of a shoe to improve traction.  Patent #: 8539698.  Inventor:  Woodruff.  No Assignee.
Papermaking Fabric, in Particular for Use in the Forming Section of a Papermaking Machine:  Describes a fabric band specifically designed to be used in a paper forming machine.  Patent #: 8539987.  Inventor:  Rossetti.  Assignee:  Feltri Marone S.p.A.
Coated Textile Sleeve and Method of Construction Thereof:  A way to coat a braided tube to make it waterproof using water based finishes.  Patent #:  8528456.  Inventors:  Malloy and Avula.  Assignee:  Federated-Mogul Powertrain, Inc.
Method of Controlling the Size of a Fabric of a Garment:  A way to temporarily attach a water soluble non-elastic band to and elastic fabric during garment manufacture to fix the size of the elastic fabric (i.e. prevent stretching).  The band is added as part of the sewing process and dissolves when finished in water.  Patent #:  8528492.  Inventor:  Morris.  Assignee:  Talon Technologies, Inc.
Combination Feeder for a Knitting Machine:  A feeder designed to add and remove inlay yarns into knitted products.  While the patent also protects a specific knitting machine, the inlay feeder is a general (not machine specific) invention.  Patent #: 8522577.  Inventor:  Huffa.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.
Exercise Suit:  Elastic bands incorporated into an exercise suit to provide additional resistance during training.  Patent #:  8544114.  Inventor:  Williams, et.al.  Not Assigned.
Material and Methods for Maintaining Proper Body Temperature:  A method of routing gases (and fluids) through a garment to provide the heating or cooling necessary to maintain an optimal body temperature.  Patent #:  8544115.  Inventors:  Gravenstein, et. al.  Assignee:  University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc.
Device for Thermal Signature Reduction:  A water cooled hood that reduces the above water thermal signature of a swimmer.  Patent #:  8544120.  Inventor:  Apgar, et.al.  Assignee:  Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Apparatus and Method for Transporting Fabric:  A method to transport fabric in the direction of its length without using nip rollers.  This prevents the rollers from distorting the face of the fabric.  Patent #:  8544156.  Inventor:  Morris.  Assignee:  Talon Technologies, Inc.
Modular Footwear System:  A footwear system which supports interchangeable sole, including the ability to change the tread in the sole.  Patent #:  8544189.  Inventor:  Chaney, et.al.  Assignee:  Ot Intellectual Property, LLC. 
Shock Absorbing Device for Shoe Sole in Rear Foot Part:  A shock absorbing device in the rear of the sole that deforms under compression in such a way it that restrains the foot from inclining medially.  Patent #: 8544190.  Inventors:  Nishiwaki and Senda.  Assignee:  ASCICS Corporation.
Method and Apparatus for Interconnecting Traction Cleats and Receptacles:  A method for attaching cleats to shoes that has a thinner than normal flange.  Patent #:  8544195.  Inventor:  Burt, et.al. Assignee:  Pride Manufacturing Company LLC.
Method and Apparatus for Reducing Residual Torque and Neps in Singles Ring Yarns:  This is a method of putting a false twist into the yarn feeding into the ring spinning process.  This twist counteracts the twist created in the spinning process.  Patent #:  8544252 .  Inventor: Tao, et.al.  Assignee:  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. 

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc. and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc. specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at James.Carson.Jr@gmail.com or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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