USPTO and WIPO agree to partner on dispute resolution efforts related to standard essential patents

WASHINGTON — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) today agreed to undertake joint efforts to facilitate the resolution of disputes related to standard essential patents.

Standard essential patents, or SEPs, are patents that have been declared essential to a given technical standard. As part of the standards-setting process, patent owners may agree to license SEPs on fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. Standards touch all aspects of modern life and include video compression, wireless communication technologies, computer connection standards, automotive technology, and more.

“International standards, and the role of patents that are essential to them, play an important role in promoting a strong national and global economy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director Kathi Vidal. “The USPTO is grateful that Director General Tang recognized the USPTO’s leadership role in advancing discussions on standard essential patent policies. Our work with WIPO underscores the USPTO’s view that SEP policy is an international issue of international importance. This agreement will leverage existing resources at both the USPTO and WIPO, supporting options to enhance the efficiency of licensing of standard essential patents, and promote resolution of disputes related to those standards.”

The signing of the memorandum of understanding occurred during a meeting this week between Director Vidal and WIPO Director General Daren Tang on the sidelines of WIPO’s General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Under the terms of the agreement, the USPTO and WIPO will:

  • Cooperate on activities that will lend efficiency and effectiveness to the resolution of disputed standard essential patent matters by leveraging existing WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center and USPTO resources, and
  • Engage in stakeholder outreach to raise awareness of the services provided by the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center through joint USPTO-WIPO programs.

The agreement will continue in operation for five years from the date of signing.

“We appreciate all the work Director General Tang and WIPO have done in this critical area. We look forward to a successful collaboration and engaging stakeholders to ensure we shape dispute resolution that will facilitate participation and implementation of standards by all innovators including small to medium-sized enterprises,” remarked Director Vidal.

“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has time and again demonstrated its value in the efficient and timely resolution of commercial disputes. In the last few years, the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has been facilitating the resolution of SEP-related disputes and the new collaboration with the USPTO is an exciting development which will contribute to improving the efficiency of standard implementation,” noted Director General Tang.

USPTO report finds industries that intensively use intellectual property protection account for over 41% of U.S. gross domestic product

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released the latest edition of its report highlighting the economic contributions of industries that make greater use of intellectual property (IP) protection, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights, titled “Intellectual property and the U.S. economy: Third edition.”

“Intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship,” said United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This report underscores the key benefits associated with a strong intellectual property system and reinforces the Biden administration’s commitment to expanding our innovation economy by ensuring that more Americans have equitable access to the goods, services, and quality jobs that stem from American innovation. Employees working in IP-intensive industries are more likely to earn higher wages compared to non-IP-intensive industries. IP protection isn’t just good for American businesses, it’s good for American workers.”

The latest report found that in 2019, 127 IP-intensive industries in sectors such as manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; and professional, technical, management, and administrative services accounted for $7.8 trillion in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), or 41% of total GDP. Direct employment in these industries accounted for 47.2 million jobs in 2019, or 33% of total U.S. employment. Indirect employment—jobs created in other industries that depend at least partially on final sales in IP-intensive industries—accounted for an additional 11% of U.S. employment. In total, IP-intensive industries contributed 44% of U.S. employment.

Additionally, for the first time, the report provides data that offers greater insight into the demographics of workers in IP-intensive industries.

In terms of overall workforce composition, the report found that women and minorities, except for those of Asian descent, were underrepresented in IP-intensive industries. Women comprised 43.7% of the workforce in IP-intensive industries, versus 54% in non-IP-intensive industries. The report further shows that Blacks and Hispanics respectively comprised 8.9% and 13% of the workforce in IP-intensive industries, versus 13.9% and 19.5% in non-IP-intensive industries.

USPTO announces new Public Advisory Committee members

Washington DC, Dec 16 – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced new membership to its Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees, composed of private-sector intellectual property (IP) executives who help advise the Secretary of Commerce and the USPTO Director on the management of patent and trademark operations. The Secretary of Commerce appoints the nine members of each committee to serve three-year rotating terms.

“The Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees are great examples of fruitful public-private collaborations that serve the interests of our valued intellectual property community,” said Drew Hirshfeld, Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property (IP) and Director of the USPTO. “I am thrilled to welcome our new members and look forward to working with them to expand and strengthen the innovation ecosystem. I also want to extend my appreciation to all outgoing PAC members for their many years of outstanding service–Julie, Jennifer, Barney, Chris, Stephanie, and Kelly–your leadership has been instrumental during such an unprecedented period, and we are exceedingly grateful.”

In addition to the new members, former PPAC Vice Chair Steven P. Caltrider will now serve as Chair, and Tracy-Gene Durkin will serve as PPAC’s new Vice Chair. Former TPAC Vice Chair Susan Natland will serve as Chair, while David J. Cho will serve as TPAC’s new Vice Chair.

Current PPAC members include Jeffrey M. Sears, Jeremiah Chan, Daniel P. Brown, and Judge Susan G. Braden. TPAC members are Tricia McDermott Thompkins, Jennifer Kovalcik, Tracy L. Deutmeyer, and Joemarie B. Fredericks.

The new members of USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) include Charles Duan, Suzanne Harrison, and Heidi S. Nebel, while the new members of the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (TPAC) are Adraea Brown, Rodrick J. Enns, and Dana Brown Northcott, (bios for all PAC members are further below). Recent PPAC members Julie Mar-Spinola, Jennifer Camacho, and Barney Cassidy, as well as recent TPAC members Christopher Kelly, Stephanie Bald, and Kelly Walton, have rotated off the committees having completed their terms.

The Public Advisory Committees for the USPTO were created through the Patent and Trademark Office Efficiency Act statute in the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999. The committees review the policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees of the patent and trademark operations, respectively, and advise the director on these matters.