On April 25, 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) once again hosted Design Day at its Alexandria, Virginia headquarters. The event was also streamed live to the USPTO Regional Offices and, for the first time, directly to patent examiners who telecommute. Commissioner for Patents, Drew Hirshfeld, welcomed the crowd and kicked-off the day. Speakers from industry-leading companies that rely heavily on design protection and a series of case law updates were interesting and informative. A highlight of the program was a keynote address by Sarah B. Brooks, IBM Distinguished Designer and Director, Digital Journeys. Ms. Brooks talked about the importance of embedding design, and designers, in all aspects of innovation in order to continue to strive towards Thomas J. Watson, Jr.’s creed that, “good design is good business.” The USPTO and Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) updates were particularly insightful for those who track industrial design practice around the world
Technology Center 2900 Update Technology Center 2900 Director Karen Young shared an update on the state of the tech center and her FY19 priorities, including the following items. Staffing and Inventory Recent retirements and resignations have left the tech center with several acting Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPE) and fewer examiners than this time last year. Director Young is focusing on filling those gaps to ensure the team has enough bandwidth to tackle both inventory and new filings. USPTO Data Visualization Dashboard at https://www.uspto.gov/corda/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml?CTNAVID=1006 Training Director Young is committed to rolling out additional training for the design examiners, with a special emphasis on consistency. Two new programs are planned for this spring and summer. Materials related to examiner training are generally made available to the public once all examiners are trained. International The tech center is currently handling about 100-150 Hague applications per month. At this volume, the group is able to beat the internal goal of 10 months to first action, which allows the office to meet its obligation to provide a first action in 12 months. ¹An industrial design constitutes the ornamental or aesthetic aspect of an article and may consist of 3-D features, such as the shape of an article, or 2-D features, such as patterns, lines or color. Industrial designs can be protected by patent through an examination process or by registation depending on a jurisdiction’s particular regime. USPTO Data Visualization Dashboard at https://www.uspto.gov/corda/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml?CTNAVID=1006 Examiner Insight Examiner Dana Weiland spoke about the impressive process she uses to manage her docket and produce high quality work product when examining both US design applications and international design applications (IDA) under the Hague system. It was a pleasure to see how much thought and intention Examiner Weiland puts into her work and that she is a resource for other examiners in the technology center. News from Across the Globe David Gerk from the Office of Policy and International Affairs spoke about the current state of international cooperation efforts. The Hague System The Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs¹ now includes 70 contracting parties, including Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Russia. The United Kingdom signed on in 2018, and Belize and San Marino joined in early 2019. Hague Yearly Review - International Registrations of Industrial Designs - 2018 Mr. Gerk highlighted some of the interesting statistics included in the Hague Yearly Review - International Registrations of Industrial Designs - 2018, such as differences in the number of designs included in each international design application (IDA), companies and countries that were top filers in 2018, and the countries most often designated in IDAs.
Data Sharing Applicants can now request digital access of priority design applications or registrations under the WIPO Digital Access Service (DAS). Eight countries are acting as depositing offices for IDAs and six are participating as accessing offices. Harmonization The ID5² are continuing to work towards increased consistency across design regimes. The groups have completed, and continue to work on, a number of projects and studies to that end. Of particular interest are the comparative studies on various design-related topics and the studies on protection of new technological designs, such as graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and designs represented within virtual reality and video games. Canadian IP Office The program also included Todd Hunter, Copyright and Industrial Design Branch Director of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO). Director Hunter shared news about Canada’s implementation of the Hague regime and other modernization efforts, which are now part of the updated CIPO Industrial Design Office Practice Manual (IDOP). ² The ID5 The ID5 is an Industrial design framework comprised of the National Intellectual