Sunday, September 02, 2012

VA sperm test company shows how to get patent process to be more flexible; USPTO announces new e-filing patent review system

The Washington Post, in a “Case in Point” column on p. G2 Sunday, September 02, 2012, has column by Gosia Glinska (University of Virginia) explaining the value of an inventor’s meeting with a patent examiner.
The “case in point” was a company called ContraVac, which has developed a home test kit that may help detect male infertility early, and maybe effective for certain couples.

The patent examiner, until a meeting, had objected on the grounds that a “testis-specific protein” test already existed in the literature (in patent law circles, the objection is called “prior art”).  However no test had ever used such a protein to count viable sperm, which changed how the law could be interpreted.

The link for the column is here

The article suggests that it is desirable to be able to ward off competition, which may not be the best thing for consumers or for innovation in the long run.

UVa has a story about ContraVac in 2009, here

ContraVac uses “Sperm Check” for its own domain name here

Relevant, too, is that the USPTO is implementing an electronic Patent Review Processing System (PRPS), with the “First-to-File Roundtable” on Sept. 6, story by Robyn Hogan Cain in Findlaw here (or  here)
It’s a little surprising that such a system would have taken as long to implement as apparently it did. 

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