The US patent office has extended its After Final Pilot (AFP) program for another year. This program is designed to facilitate communication between patent applicants and Patent Office Examiners. Among the veritable alphabet soup of programs the Patent Office has implemented over the past few years in an attempt to overcome a backlog of patent applications, this program serves a useful purpose even if not quite yet living up to its promise.
Increasingly, innovation can occur both inside and outside a corporate Research and Development Department. Whether innovation comes from a doctor working the trenches who has found a better way to shape a surgical device or an engineer who has found a better way to manufacture such device, it is necessary to determine whether or not the new device can be sold without infringing another's Intellectual Property - whether it be a patent, copyright or trade dress. It is also important to determine whether it is possible to pursue protection for such intellectual property to discourage competitors from blatantly copying it. John Boger goes through the steps in protecting new inventions and other innovations and during the product development process in this article.