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McCoy Russell hosts OPLA and USPTO Meeting with Stakeholders

McCoy Russell had the pleasure of hosting the Oregon Patent Law Association (OPLA), U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), and invited attendees from other local IP law firms and in-house counsel to help create a dialogue between the USPTO and those involved in the patent system. The goal of this meeting was to foster meaningful conversation between USPTO personnel and Portland-area stakeholders regarding recent initiatives and directives as well as the current overall experience with the USPTO. Participants agreed that the meeting was both productive and informative.

Design Patents and Appendices

Design patents often rely heavily on visual representations to protect the unique aesthetic features of an invention. Drawings that show the claimed design need to be consistent. As it is generally preferable to have six figures to show a full article to cover all its aspects, it is important to be mindful of the perspective views. Perspective views may also be included, but some applicants rely on perspective views without all corresponding six views. This can create issues as perspective views may cause distortion and thus inconsistency with the other six views. As another example, if only perspective views are used, there may be aspects of the design that are not fully shown, which can be fatal to the application.

One potential approach to supplement disclosure of a design application in case problems arise in prosecution is to utilize an appendix. While appendices may be an uncommon addition in utility patents, they emerge as invaluable assets in design patents. These supplementary materials, comprising images, photographs, and materials, offer comprehensive support beyond what drawings alone may provide. Such additional support can be especially useful for international applications and for depicting intricate details that are not clearly shown in the drawing. Appendices enrich the patent disclosure, ensuring a robust path for prosecution, particularly in the US.

McCoy Russell has a specialty design practice that makes use of both in-house drawing specialists and trusted drafts teams to support its clients’ designs. Please contact us at [email protected] if we can be of assistance.

MBA Battle of the Lawyer Bands

Once again the Multnomah Bar Association is supporting it Battle of the Lawyer Bands event to fundraise for Multnomah Bar Foundation’s CourtCare, CourtSupport and CourtConnect. McCoy Russell is excited to not only participate in this charitable event that brings together legal professionals from various firms to showcase their musical talents, but contribute to a cause that makes a significant impact on access to justice for those in need.

We thank fellow Rockstar Sponsors Farleigh Wada Witt and Menache Properties for their support of this event.

Please see the Multnomah Bar Association website to purchase tickets for the event on Thursday, August 15, 2024.

OPLA’s Salishan Conference

The Oregon Patent Law Association recently relaunched its 2024 Conference at Salishan. The conference brought together intellectual property professionals from the Pacific North West, Arizona, Canada, and UK. Among these professionals was Justin Wagner who currently serves as OPLA’s President and helped coordinate the conference along with OPLA Board Members.

OPLA’s conference was a weekend devoted to fostering connections among patent professionals and featuring expert speakers addressing key topics in Patent Law. McCoy Russell is proud to continue its active support of OPLA and its events examining advanced topics in Patent Law.

USPTO Notice of Potential Erroneous Release of Patent Application Titles

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently replaced the Electronic Patent Assignment System (EPAS) and Electronic Trademark Assignment System (ETAS) with Assignment Center.

Sometime after the transition, a programming oversight inadvertently allowed unauthorized access to certain bibliographic information. This bibliographic information was limited to the application number (the two-digit series code plus the six-digit serial number) and title of the invention.

The USPTO has issued error notices and McCoy Russell has already established processes that have managed this issue proactively. The firm’s collaborative and dedicated action teams continue its meticulous processes and review all inbound documentation and update docketing for its clients.

We note the USPTO first identified the software error on March 28, 2024, and promptly rectified it by March 29, 2024. It is important to clarify that only application numbers and titles were disclosed; applicant specifications and claims were not accessible during this incident.

Recognizing World Intellectual Property Day

As a women-owned boutique intellectual property firm, McCoy Russell was excited by this year’s World Intellectual Property Day. The 2024 topic reexamines how we live, work, and play to build a sustainable future by looking at ways IP and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) intersect.

Intellectual property rights incentivize innovation and facilitate technology transfer, essential elements for addressing global challenges outlined in the SDGs, such as inequality and environmental degradation. By protecting inventions and creative ideas, IP fosters the development and dissemination of sustainable technologies and practices, contributing directly to the progression of SDGs.

IP rights play a crucial role in ensuring equal opportunity for access to essential goods and services by promoting knowledge dissemination and technology transfer. They also safeguard traditional knowledge, preserving cultural diversity and promoting sustainable practices within local communities.
McCoy Russell is proud to support these goals by nurturing creative brainstorming, fostering innovation, and advocating for ways to boost women inventorship in the IP.

McCoy Russell has been examining the participation of women as inventors and presenting on the gender and minority gap in inventorship, patent prosecution, and VC funding for women founders nationally and locally in Portland. The firm not only brings to light the benefits of diverse teams and roadblocks in the patent system, but also shares remedies at the organizational level, investor level, and individual level, focusing on culture, support, and self-identity.

Understanding the FTC’s Noncompete Rule

At the forefront of protecting workers’ rights and fostering fair competition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently implemented a groundbreaking Noncompete Rule. This rule, finalized on April 23, 2024, while supposing to safeguard American workers against the effects of noncompete agreements presents substantial new hurdles when it comes to protecting intellectual property. The unintended consequences of the new rule are yet to be fully understood.

Key Provisions of the FTC’s Noncompete Rule
The FTC’s Noncompete Rule prohibits employers from enforcing noncompetes against most workers. Here are the key provisions of the rule:

  •  Ban on New Noncompetes: Employers are prohibited from entering into new noncompete agreements with workers as of the effective date of the rule. This restriction ensures that workers are not unfairly bound by restrictive contracts when seeking employment opportunities.
  • Limitations on Enforcing Existing Noncompetes: Existing noncompete agreements can only be enforced against senior executives, defined as workers earning more than $151,164 in a “policy-making position.”
  • Notification Requirement: Employers must inform workers whose noncompetes are no longer enforceable that their agreements will not be upheld. The FTC provides model language to facilitate this notification process, ensuring transparency and compliance.
  • Exception for Business Sales: Noncompete agreements between the seller and buyer of a business are exempt from the rule, allowing for continuity in business transitions.

Impacts on Trade Secrets
While the proposed rule does not explicitly change the law of trade secrets, the practical impact is substantial. Thus, although Federal and State Trade Secret laws still exist and provide some protection, proving and maintaining the trade secret may become unworkable. Noncompetes have typically been a critical component in a company’s trade secret strategy and ensuring that employees cannot unfairly use, and commercially exploit, trade secrets against the company. For example, employees with trade secret knowledge cannot, even should they wish to, avoid using trade secret information when performing the same job for a direct competitor. Such a situation may lead companies to segment and compartmentalize trade secret information among different employees, resulting in inefficiency and ultimately advancement of such employees.

Impacts on Confidential Technical and Business Information
Not only does the new rule potentially devastate trade secret protection, but it also may substantially impact a company’s ability to control its confidential technical and business information. Such information may have substantial value but yet it may not rise to the level of a trade secret. As such, noncompetes in cooperating with confidentiality agreements are sometimes the only tools available to retain some protection against unfair competition by competitors who hire employees only to obtain the information.

The new rule will have far reaching affects on intellectual property, including trade secrets. With noncompete agreements becoming largely unenforceable, companies may need to rethink the overall IP strategy. McCoy Russell has experience across the range of IP protections available and is ready to assist in this regard. Please contact us at [email protected] if you think we can be of assistance.

Acknowledging the Dedication of the Administrative Team at McCoy Russell

As a boutique woman-owned IP firm, McCoy Russell’s recognition as a top performing firm is due in large part to its highly-skilled teams comprising legal, technical, and administrative professionals. Today, we express our gratitude and appreciation for the unwavering dedication, professionalism, and expertise of the firm’s administrative team.

The administrative team is the backbone of the firm, ensuring its seamless day-to-day operations. From managing client communications and organizing schedules to overseeing essential records and action items, these dedicated professionals collaborate with each other as well as both the legal and technical members of the firm. Their efficiency and attention to detail enhances the firm’s ability to deliver outstanding service to its clients.

McCoy Russell LLP is proud to recognize the significant contributions of its administrative teams. Their hard work and pursuit of excellence enables the firm to provide elegant patent and trademark solutions and portfolio development. We extend our sincere thanks to all members for their exceptional efforts and commitment.

Branding Strategy: Monitoring and Enforcement

Monitoring and enforcement are essential for maintaining brand integrity, safeguarding market share, and supporting brand value. By monitoring how the brand is used in the market, businesses and business owners can quickly identify and address potential threats, such as unauthorized use of trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets, thereby protecting a brand’s reputation.

Enforcement actions help reduce infringement, including counterfeit products, which can dilute the brand’s market presence and harm consumer trust. Strong enforcement demonstrates a brand’s commitment to protecting assets, bolstering customer loyalty and solidifying its market position.

An important part of McCoy Russell’s successful brand protection strategy is coordinating protection for a brand’s house mark with a strategy for secure branding expansion worldwide.

McCoy Russell’s trademark practice focuses on strategic counseling and action. Domestic and worldwide searching and clearance of both word marks and design marks as well as infringement and validity searches and studies are core services provided by McCoy Russell. McCoy Russell further provides trademark prosecution services, conflict services, including oppositions and cancellations, domain name dispute resolution actions, licensing, anti-counterfeiting and other related trademark services. McCoy Russell pursues filings and enforcement in over 130 countries coordinating with a team of trusted IP colleagues. Please contact us at [email protected] if you think we can be of assistance.

Trade Secrets vs. Patents: Which to Utilize

In the world of IP, two significant forms of protection for business innovations and proprietary information are trade secrets and patents. Both serve to safeguard valuable business assets, but they differ in terms of their scope, duration, and methods of enforcement.

Trade secrets encompass confidential business information that provides a competitive edge. Examples include formulas, processes, techniques, or any data not generally known to the public. The primary benefit of trade secrets is their longevity; as long as the information remains confidential, the protection remains in place. Trade secrets can provide indefinite protection as long as they are kept secret. Additionally, the process of obtaining trade secret protection does not require a formal application, making it an immediate and cost-effective option.

However, trade secrets have limitations. If the information becomes public knowledge, either through legal means or unauthorized disclosure, the protection is lost. Furthermore, trade secret holders may have difficulty proving that the information was misappropriated, which can be a challenge in legal battles.

Patents, on the other hand, provide exclusive rights to an invention for a limited period, usually 20 years from the filing date. Patents are granted for inventions that are novel, non-obvious, and useful, such as new devices, processes, or chemical compounds. The patent holder has the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the patented invention during the patent term.

The benefits of patents include the ability to monetize the invention through licensing or sale and the right to take legal action against infringers. Patents offer strong protection and can be a valuable asset for businesses. However, the patent process can be lengthy and expensive, and once the patent expires, the invention becomes public domain.

McCoy Russell recognizes the strategic decisions necessary to take advantage of both trade secrets and patents and helps counsel and guide clients in developing an approach specific to their business.

Consulting with an intellectual property professional can help businesses navigate when is best to utilize one or the other, or both. McCoy Russell provides educational trainings around the local innovation community, clients, and their development teams to offer guidance on the most appropriate form of protection to maximize the value of their intellectual property and protect their competitive advantage.