On filing fees and Phillips
(1)***Fewer but higher-quality patents because of higher filing fees.
In December, the US Patent and Trademark Office raised its filing fees
significantly -- particularly for patent claims, which define the scope
or "boundaries" of an invention. Companies of all sizes must think
harder about which patents and claims are worth pursuing, Walsh says.
While the impact on a small business is obvious, even big technology
companies are affected because they file so many patents.
(2)***Phillips v. AWH case on standards for patent claim interpretation.
The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (CAFC), the nation's top patent
court, will decide on Phillips v. AWH, which will clarify the
interpretation of patent claims -- and possibly lead to more
restrictive interpretations. Today, different judges use different
standards to interpret claims. Some rely on the patents and drawings;
others use dictionary definitions of words in the claims. The decision
will enforce consistent standards and have a major impact on how
broadly claims are interpreted and on future litigation, says James J.
Foster, a senior litigator at Wolf Greenfield.<--
Of (1), the USPTO, in the new fee structure of December 8, 2004, broke out filing fees into several parts and had different fees for electronic vs. paper filing. If one files electronically, the fees are almost the same as before (if filing a small number of claims).
Specifically, for a utility patent, the basic filing fee is $300 for paper filing. The utility search fee is $500 and the utility examination fee is $200. The combined filing fee includes the search fee and examination fee and totals $1,000.00 U. S. for a large entity, compared to the previous filing fee of $790.00 U. S.
Of (2), the CAFC is not the First Circuit Court of Appeals. It is unlikely that the Phillips case will have a "major" impact, as most judges agree on the use of dictionary definitions, although not necessarily on the relative importance of dictionary definitions.