STLR Link Roundup – November 11, 2016

Top Climate Change Skeptic to Lead EPA Transition

President-Elect Donald Trump has reportedly selected Myron Ebell to oversee the transition efforts at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian/conservative think tank. An outspoken denier of manmade climate change and critic of environmental regulatory measures, Ebell has, for example, called the EPA’s Clean Power Plan an “obviously illegal” executive abuse over states and supported the legal action against it. Mr. Trump’s selection comes after focusing parts of his campaign characterizing environment-inspired government actions as a bane to the U.S. economy, at one point vowing to “cancel” the Paris climate accord if elected.

Walgreens Sues Theranos for Breach of Contract

On November 8, 2016, Walgreen Co. filed a complaint against Theranos, Inc. for breach of contract. Theranos is well known for the Edison, a blood-testing device once heralded as revolutionary and with many potential applications. But the biotech startup and its leader Elizabeth Holmes have been mired in subsequent trouble with Theranos’ laboratory practices, resulting in voided test results, lawsuits, and heavy regulatory sanctions. While the complaint was filed under seal, Walgreens is reportedly claiming $140 million, the amount invested, in damages for Theranos’ misleading characterizations of the technology despite the increasing suspicions against its operations. The deal was first announced in September 2013, in which Walgreens agreed to gradually install Theranos blood-testing centers in its stores all across the United States.

USPTO Completes Clarity of Record Pilot

The Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Michelle Lee announced that the PTO has completed Clarity of the Record Pilot in success. The program was originally launched as part of the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, a multi-pronged PTO program aimed at increasing the quality of patents to provide “certainty and clarity of rights.” In the Pilot program, best practices were identified which the PTO hoped would increase the overall clarity of the prosecution record. Participating patent examiners were trained with those practices and employed them in examining the applications in the following areas: documenting claim interpretation (e.g., explaining how the presumptions were overcome was one of the identified practices); interview summaries (e.g., providing details of any agreement reached); and reasons for allowance or rejection (e.g., addressing each independent claim separately). Director Lee praised the newfound correlation between diligent use of the best practices and increased clarity in areas such as rejection under section 102 of the Patent Act. Further details of the program are scheduled to be shared at the patent quality conference at the PTO in December 2016.

Samsung Files Korean Patent for Flexible Phone

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., has filed a patent application for a “flexible electronic device,” published by the Korean Intellectual Property Office on November 9, 2016. The application describes a cellular phone with a flexible main display and a “sub-display” which can be activated when the phone is folded. In a way, claimed device resembles an “old-school flip phone handset,” with all the conventional modern elements such as touch screens and dual cameras.

The application suggests some brand-new technology, the device possibly containing a type of flexible OLED screen, as Bloomberg Technology reported earlier in June. The publication comes toward the end of what has been a tumultuous year for Samsung, recently plagued by a mass recall of the Galaxy Note 7 after a series of unexpected explosions, as well as a recall of its top-load washing machines, also after reports of potentially dangerous defects.

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