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Blog Category: Patent and Trademark Office

Using Green Technology to Turn Carbon Dioxide into Cement (and Jobs)

Calera's process - Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation

In order to meet President Obama’s goal of out-innovating the world in the clean energy economy, the United States Patent and Trademark Office extended the Green Technology Pilot Program. Through this pilot, the USPTO expedites patent applications for any invention that will strongly contribute to improving environmental quality; the discovery or development of renewable energy sources; better use of existing energy resources, or reduction of greenhouse gases. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 1,918 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 328 patents have been issued.

Under this program, California-based Calera Corporation has been able to fast track twelve applications for converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into green “reactive cements” that replace traditional “portland cement” commonly used in the construction of buildings.

The heart of the Calera process, referred to as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation, combines carbon dioxide flue gas from power plants with the Earth’s natural waters and converts the gas into stable solid minerals similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants including metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals. These minerals can then be used to produce high reactive cements akin to portland cement without the negative environmental impacts derived from mining and processing. For those interested in more details, the USPTO's website has a more in-depth webpage about Calera and this process.

Secretary Locke Outlines Administration’s Views on Patent Reform

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today issued a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers outlining the views of the Obama administration on patent reform legislation currently being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The America Invents Act increases the certainty of patent rights by implementing a first-inventor-to-file system for patent approval, which reduces the need for cost-prohibitive litigation that often ties up new ideas in court, stifling innovation and holding back job creation. It will also allow the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to set and retain the fees it collects from its users. The USPTO is entirely fee-funded, and this fee-setting authority will ensure high-quality, timely patent review and address the backlog of patent applications that is currently preventing new innovations from reaching the marketplace.

Since the beginning of Locke’s tenure as Commerce Secretary, reforming the U.S. patent system to support the acceleration of American innovation and competitiveness and drive job creation and economic growth has been one of his top priorities. In meetings with CEOs and U.S. business leaders from companies of all sizes, the shortcomings of the U.S. patent system and the need for reform has almost always been a topic of conversation.

During the last two years, Locke has worked with bipartisan Congressional leaders as they have crafted legislation that is widely supported by industry experts, universities, independent inventors, and the business community, because it will make it easier for America’s innovators to produce new technologies that drive economic growth and create jobs.

Commerce’s Commitment to Eliminating Regulatory Burdens in Support of Growth, Competitiveness and National Security

Guest blog post by Dr. Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In January, President Obama issued an executive order outlining his plan to create a 21st century regulatory system that encourages job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. The idea was to make it simpler, smarter and more efficient, while still protecting the health and safety of the American people.  As a key part of that plan, he called upon government agencies to conduct a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations currently on the books and to remove those that are outdated, unnecessary or excessively burdensome.  

This review has led agencies, including the Department of Commerce, to identify initiatives that have the potential to eliminate tens of millions of hours in reporting burdens and billions of dollars in regulatory costs. Today, the results of each agency’s review is being made public and posted on Whitehouse.gov. 

Here at the Commerce Department, we focused our plan on those bureaus with the greatest regulatory activity: the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Commerce's Patent and Trademark Office Announces Government-Wide Intellectual Property Training Database

Graphic of globe

New database to store and share intellectual property rights training materials across federal agencies to promote more effective international enforcement training

The United States Patent and Trademark Office, in cooperation with the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, today announced the launch of a new online database where U.S. government agencies can now post information about the intellectual property rights (IPR) training programs they conduct around the world. 

“The database is intended to facilitate more efficient use of limited IPR training resources by sharing training materials among U.S. government agencies, avoiding duplicative programs, and identifying IPR enforcement training deficiencies,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. 

Working closely with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies that conduct international enforcement training, the USPTO established the database for storing and sharing training materials among federal agencies.  The database is fully searchable and includes each program’s title, location, description, participants by country, background, and more. To date, more than 100 training and technical assistance programs that relate to protecting intellectual property rights have been entered into the database. Release  Web site

Secretary Locke Highlights the Importance of IP at World Intellectual Property Day Celebration

Secretary Locke joined U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith on the Hill this week to celebrate the 11th anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day.

In his remarks, Locke highlighted the importance of intellectual property protection and enforcement to the U.S. economy and his work with Kappos to help bring the U.S. patent office into the 21st century. He also commended Smith andSenate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy on their strong leadership for patent reform legislation currently being considered by Congress.

"Patent reform is critical to the well-being of our patent system and the effectiveness of the USPTO, which are so vital to American companies and oureconomic well-being,” Locke said. “This bipartisan legislation won't cost taxpayers a single dime, and it will ensure USPTO has the ability to tackle its backlog and better serve the needs of America’s innovators."

Around the world, enforcement of intellectual property rights helps prevent counterfeiting and piracy, which cost the United States billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year. The Commerce Department actively engages foreign leaders and promotes stronger enforcement disciplines worldwide in its efforts to reduce losses associated with IP infringement.

Established by WIPO Member States in 2000, World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated annually on April 26th to increase the understanding and respect of IP and underscore its importance in promoting creativity and innovation. Remarks

United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations

This blog post is about an older plan. The United States Department of Commerce Plan for Orderly Shutdown Due to Lapse of Congressional Appropriations at the end of FY 2013 is available here.

The current FY 2011 Continuing Resolution may expire without new budget authority. While it is not anticipated that there will be a lapse in appropriations, the Department must be prepared for a potential lapse in funding that would necessitate a significant reduction in operations.

Prior to a potential lapse in funding, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires the Department to submit a draft plan for agency operations in the absence of appropriations (a "shutdown plan"). This plan will likely be modified with additional guidance from the Office of Personnel Management and OMB, as the situation develops, and may be changed by the Department, as circumstances warrant.

This plan complies with the guidance provided by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce.

Files

Safeguarding 21st Century Innovation

Stanek Rea, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Guest blog post by Teresa Stanek Rea who is Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The economic security and vitality of the United States has always been deeply rooted in American innovation. Time and time again, the story of our growth has been written by the daring drive of entrepreneurs, willing to roll the dice on a great idea. Today, I had the privilege to hear from a group of such bold thinkers in Minneapolis, Minn., and I learned that instrumental to 21st century growth is a 21st century infrastructure that readily allows small businesses to protect their ideas and move them to the marketplace swiftly and cost-effectively.

That’s why the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been working diligently with the White House to build a stronger, more efficient patent system.

Secretary Locke Addresses Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation Forum

Secretary Locke Addresses the Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation in the 21st Century Forum

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos today at the Asia-Pacific Patent Cooperation in the 21st Century Forum at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Va. The event featured heads and deputies of Asian-Pacific economies’ patent offices assembled to discuss the urgency of moving forward with patent harmonization in a global process that includes both developed and developing countries.  

Patent harmonization will narrow differences among patent laws, simplify patent applicants’ requirements, and thereby achieve greater efficiency in the global patent system – in turn speeding the movement of innovation from the development phase to the marketplace where it can create new businesses and new jobs.

Locke highlighted the importance of building a better intellectual property infrastructure in our increasingly globalized world and applauded efforts to reduce patent backlogs and produce higher-quality patents, noting the progress made in the U.S. Senate on patent reform legislation that would further these efforts.

“Last week, the U.S. Senate started debating a patent reform bill that would give the patent office the tools it needs to significantly expand its reform efforts,” Locke said.  “Congress has been working for a long time on this issue, and there is strong bipartisan support to get patent reform done this year. So we remain optimistic.”
 
The forum, which began March 6 and runs through March 8, is being convened at an historic moment for intellectual property systems worldwide as patent filings and backlogs continue to increase. Differences among patent systems cause legal uncertainty, complexity and increased costs.  Remarks

Secretary Locke, USPTO Director Kappos Highlight Support for Patent Reform Legislation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos hosted a conference call with reporters today to discuss the administration’s support for pending patent reform legislation and why the administration believes patent reform is critical to promoting innovation and creating jobs.

“Passage of this legislation is essential to America's economic competitiveness and our ability to innovate,” Locke said. “As President Obama said recently, we need to out-innovate the rest of the world if we’re going to win the future. An efficiently operating patent system is critical to this goal.”

On Monday, the Senate began consideration of S.23 – now known as The America Invents Act – and the administration released a Statement of Administration Policy expressing support for the proposed legislation.

While the USPTO has made significant strides in reducing its backlog of more than 700,000 unexamined patent applications and the time it takes to process a patent, reforming the patent system is critical to speeding the transformation of an idea into a market-making product that will drive the jobs and industries of the future.

Secretary Locke Appoints New Deputy Director at the USPTO

Teresa Stanek Rea was appointed by Secretary Locke as the new Deputy Director of the Commerce Department's U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week.

Serving alongside USPTO Director David Kappos, Rea will take charge of a Commerce office that is integral in encouraging innovation and technological advancement in the U.S., and helps businesses protect their investments, promote their goods, and safeguard against deception in the marketplace.

Rea is a leading attorney in the field of intellectual property with more than 25 years of legal experience and a past president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). She is currently a partner in Crowell & Moring LLP’s Washington, D.C. office, where she has focused on intellectual property and dispute resolution related to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other life science issues.

“Teresa has an impressive track record of success across several disciplines and will be a tremendous asset to the USPTO,” Locke said. “Her leadership will be instrumental in the USPTO's efforts to foster economic growth and job creation by reducing the backlog of patent applications, enhancing patent and trademark quality, and becoming more efficient.”

Rea is a member of several technical and legal associations and has been a frequent lecturer and publisher on patent topics including biotechnology, nanotechnology, licensing, technology transfer, patent practice, export control and interferences. She received a Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Michigan.

Arriving at a critical time for the agency, Rea joins the USPTO just as Congress prepares to move forward with vital patent reform legislation that would enable the USPTO to better serve America’s innovators in bringing their products to market faster and, in so doing, help spur economic growth and job creation.