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Recent FOIA Request Reveals More Information on USPTO Sensitive Application Warning System

According to the documents produced in response to a recent USPTO FOIA request, the Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS) is “designed as an information gathering system to apprise various areas of the PTO of the prosecution of patent applications that include sensitive subject matter.” “Sensitive” subject matter, in this case, has rather broad scope including applications disclosing frivolous, silly, or controversial subject matter, especially subject matter generating extensive media coverage. A 1989 memo initially detailing the SAWS project was publicized in 2006, but the most recent FOIA request provides additional insight, including USPTO internal memoranda to each technology center outlining specific topics for each center as well as protocol for flagging and reviewing “sensitive” applications.

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China’s Patent Dominance

China’s rise in patent dominance, eclipsing filings of Japan and the U.S. has long been predicted.  According to a recent report published by Thomson Reuters, by 2011, China had passed the patent output of both countries, and by 2013, China’s annual application filings nearly doubled those of of both countries.  This recent push is driven by a five-year government plan in which the country has set out to reach two million applications for patents for inventions, utility models, and designs by 2015.  

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Supreme Court to Decide Validity of the Brulotte Doctrine

The Supreme Court today granted certiorari in a case asking whether its prior decision in Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29 (1964) should be overruled, which previously held that a licensee’s obligations are absolved after the expiration of a patent, and that royalty payments for a patent cannot continue beyond the life of that patent.  

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