Question: What is that object in the sky doing?Just as the denizens of Metropolis, on watching the impending arrival of Superman, were initially puzzled by what they saw, so too are most members of the patent fraternity somewhat perplexed at the impending impact of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. In fact, they are even more puzzled. Why so? It was at least plain even from the distance that Superman was flying and, once he was clearly visible, everyone -- including his enemies (who were bad) knew that Superman was a force for good. However, in the case of the America Invents Act, it's not even clear whether it will fly or flop and not everyone -- including its enemies (who include both those who are good and those who are not) can yet tell if it will be a force for good. This particular member of the IPKat team cannot remember any piece of patent legislation that has so divided a nation, not only during the pre-legislative stage but during and even after it.
Question: What flies?
Answer: Birds and aeroplanes.
One expects patent practitioners and their clients to be less clear than their US counterparts as to what the new legislation, which has been superimposed on a batch of recent US Supreme Court decisions, will mean to them. But the degree of uncertainty experienced by indigenous commentators and experts is quite unsettling. In the absence of a period in which USPTO practice settles down and professional norms stabilise, and without the benefit of clarificatory rulings from a patent-aware and hands-on judiciary, everyone is going to be guided by personal impressions, by probabilities, by the presumption that past experience can plug gaps in the present and by the comfort of consensus. This latter factor is in many ways the most important. A single person's uncertainty can make him reluctant to file a patent, to sue, to invest or to license. But, when that uncertainty is shared with others and a general consensus crystallises as to how the uncertainty is likely to resolve, while that uncertainty has not been eliminated, much of its effect can can be negated. And that's what forums are for.
Managing Intellectual Property magazine on 27 March in the Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington DC. This Forum offers a great chance to identify those areas of uncertainty, doubt and speculation which the IPKat finds so entertaining -- and to discuss them. With a list of speakers including Q. Todd Dickinson (fresh from his induction last Friday into the IP Hall of Fame, here), Sherry Knowles (left), Dan McCurdy, Judge Paul Michel and not forgetting David Kappos, one area in which there is no doubt is that there will be some weighty opinions to consider [Merpel wonders how much consensus these characters are likely to reflect, given their range of backgrounds, experience and perspectives ...]. Incidentally, the US Patent Forum 2012 will be streamed in real-time as live webinars to a global audience of IP professionals".
If you want to know more about this Forum, the brochure and registration details can be found here.