Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Paper Cuts

I don't care.  I don't care what the books sold by Amazon claim.  I don't care that it is expensive.  I don't care what the rules say.   I don't care what the little voices are telling you.   

 When the time comes to file a patent application you need representation.   Filing and prosecuting a patent application is a technical, complicated and confusing process and mistakes made early in the process can inhibit or even disqualify you from getting a patent.  

 In order to represent clients in patent matters, a patent attorney or agent must be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office.  Registration requires an applicant to demonstrate technical competence through a technical degree or other methods.  Applicants must also pass a comprehensive registration exam, informally known as the patent bar that demonstrates competency in patent law, regulations and procedures.  

 While about three-quarters of registered practitioners are attorneys, this is not a requirement for registration with the USPTO.  Registered practitioners who are not attorneys are called agents.   Patent attorneys and agents are equally qualified to represent clients through all USPTO processes, however, only attorneys can do patent litigation.  The difference is similar to CPAs and tax attorneys:  while only attorneys can represent you in court, both CPAs and attorneys are qualified to represent you with the IRS. 

 When choosing representation, experience, quality, comfort level, and service are more important than the attorney/agent distinction.   When the above factors are nearly equal, I would make the following observations:

 If you are fairly certain that your patent will be heading to litigation, I would suggest an attorney who can provide consistent representation from the application process through the litigation process.

 If cost is an issue, I would suggest an agent.  In the same way that CPAs are generally less expensive than tax attorneys, patent agents are less expensive than patent attorneys.

 If your invention has technical problems or issues, I would suggest an agent.  While patent attorneys have technical degrees, my personal observation is that patent agents seem to have more practical technical experience to bring to the table.

A final observation: while a patent attorney is preferable for patent litigation, once a patent matter reaches the US courts they are not necessary.  Registration is not required for an attorney to handle a patent matter in the courts. 
Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Weight Distribution and Support Device and System for Armor Vests:  A load bearing weight distribution device. The device comprises a back brace and a waist belt. The waist belt is connected through a housing to back brace and tensioning mechanism. The back brace is a flexible body with arms. The load bearing weight distribution device is designed for use with armor vests and other similar devices.   Patent #:  8572762.  Inventor:  Herbener,  Assignee:  KDH Defense Systems,Inc.

Reversible Garment for Providing High-Visibility when Riding a Bicycle and Low Profile when not Riding a Bicycle and Method of Using Reversible Garment :  A reversible garment with two sides that can be worn in reversible configurations. The first side is ordinary in appearance while the second side is highly visible. The reversible garment is preferably a bicycle jacket. The second side may at least partially comprise a material that is reflective, bright in color, or luminescent. The garment may use an elastic material to make the garment close-fitting in a high-visibility configuration.  Patent #:  8572763.  Inventor:  Fitzpatrick.  Assignee:  Fitzpatrick.

Exercising Glove:  A glove with sensors attached to the glove body to detect hand exercise events. A memory component, powered by a battery, stores the hand exercise event. A device interface downloads the event. Patent #:  8572764.  Inventor:  Thellmann.  No Assignee.

Socks Having Areas of Varying Stretchability and Methods of Manufacturing Same: Socks manufactured with different stretch characteristics in different areas of the sock.  Patent #:  8572766.  Inventors:  Shull and Shull.  Assignee:  Bear in Mind Company.

Method for Manufacturing Inflatable Bladders for Use in Shoes and Other Articles of Manufacture:  A more efficient and less expensive way to make inflatable bladders.  Patent #:  8572786.  Inventor:  Davis,  Assignee:  Reebok International Limited.

Shoe with Composite Upper and Foam Element and Method of Making Same:  A bonded mesh composite panel used to form a three-dimensional upper shell that includes extensions used for double-lasting and/or to otherwise provide a shelf to support foam padding. The extensions of the upper shell may be located in a lower portion of the shell and may be bonded to the foam midsole in a heel, midfoot and/or forefoot regions.  The benefit is to maintain performance and comfort while reducing manufacturing costs.  Patent #: 8572866.  Inventors:  Dojan,  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Fluid-Filled Chamber with a Reinforcing Element:  Several sole components and a method of manufacturing those sole components are disclosed. Each sole component includes a fluid-filled bladder and a reinforcing element extending around a portion of the bladder. The reinforcing element is bonded to the exterior of the bladder, and may be recessed into the bladder. In some configurations, the reinforcing element is die-cut from a sheet of polymer material, and the reinforcing element may exhibit a layered configuration. In manufacturing the sole component, the reinforcing element may be located within a mold, and the polymer material forming the bladder may be bonded to the reinforcing element during the molding process.   Patent#:  8572867.  Inventor:  Parker.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Article of Footwear with Heel Cushioning System:  An article of footwear with a heel cushioning system for an irregularly shaped insert (open to the ground on the lower insole surface). The heel cushioning system includes a sole, a curved plate and treads members. The tread members may lift a heel portion of a sole above a ground surface. The curved plate may deflect when a force is applied to the sole.  Patent #: 8572869.  Inventors:  Mayden and Nomi.  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Feed Mechanism that Advances Fabric:  This is a mechanism that automatically advances fabric towards the head of a sewing machine.  It is part of an effort that is attempting to automate the sewing process.  Patent #:  8573145.  Inventor:  Dickerson.  No Assignee.

Woven Multi-Layer Fabrics and Methods of Fabricating Same:  A multi-layer woven ballistic fabric.  The upper and lower layers are formed simultaneously.  Patent #:  8573261.  Inventor: Shekoufeh.  Assignee: Barrday, Inc.

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 or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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