- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - One by one, Gilbert Hyatt pointed to the adding machine, the first-generation Sony PlayStation console, the television, the handheld video recorder and the telephone switching device arrayed on the conference-room table.

Each has technology that he invented and patented, he said.

Hyatt, 75, of Las Vegas, said he has obtained more than 70 patents since the 1960s, including one on a single-chip microcomputer that was widely licensed and became a component of the many products on the table.

Now, Hyatt is fighting patent officials, accusing them of stalling two applications that he sought more than 40 years ago and are still pending.

He filed a lawsuit in January against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in federal court in Las Vegas seeking a final decision on the applications he submitted in 1971 and 1972 for a device he calls a square-wave signal processor. He said the device converts analog and digital signals in control systems on machines, including those that make circuit boards and integrated circuits.

“There’s justice out there, and I’m seeking justice,” he said.

Hyatt said he thinks his trouble with the patent office began when he won a 20-year battle to get the single-chip microcomputer patented in 1990.

“The patent office was under a lot of criticism for taking so long,” Hyatt said. “That was about the time the retaliation started.”

Hyatt said the more he fought and appealed other patents, the longer officials dragged out his applications.

It got worse after 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in one of his appeals, Kappos v. Hyatt, that patent applicants have an unlimited ability to introduce new evidence while a case is pending.

Hyatt’s current civil lawsuit claims the Patent and Trademark Office has “unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed” the two applications. The lawsuit asks a judge to give patent officials three months to make a decision.

Patent office spokesman Paul Fucito in Alexandria, Va., and Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada declined comment Friday on the lawsuit and Hyatt’s claims. They cited policies against discussing ongoing litigation.

In court documents filed March 10, attorneys for the patent office asked the judge to dismiss Hyatt’s complaint, saying the court lacked jurisdiction and that Hyatt “failed to exhaust his administrative remedies” within the patent office.

The judge didn’t immediately issue a ruling.

Hyatt expressed disbelief.

“You can’t exhaust your remedies if they will never give you an action,” he said. “They will sit on it until I am no longer around.”

R. Polk Wagner, a patent law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has tracked patent applications since 1976, said some patent applications can be slowed during a review of how an invention affects national security.

But he acknowledged that 40 years was an unusually long review period on any case.

“In my experience, the Patent and Trademark Office has every incentive to process applications quickly,” Wagner said. “The trick for the PTO is to process them as quickly as they can while being accurate. There is certainly no incentive for this significant kind of delay.”

Hyatt is a detail-oriented man who speaks softly but resolutely and wears an American flag pin on his lapel. He has profited from his patents and his legal battles.

He acknowledged that a licensing deal with Royal Philips NV on 23 patents including the single-chip microcomputer earned him more than $150 million.

In 2008, a Nevada state court jury awarded him $388 million in a lawsuit accusing California tax authorities of improperly hounding him after he moved from La Palma, Calif., to Las Vegas in 1991. The Nevada Supreme Court is considering an appeal of the judgment, now worth more than $490 million.

Hyatt pointed to a footnote in the government request to dismiss his current patent-delay case that said that before his lawsuit was filed, officials had resumed examination of one of the patent applications.

“The USPTO expects to issue an examiner’s answer in the near future,” it said.

Hyatt said he wasn’t sure the patents would be valuable anymore.

“Things have moved a long way from that technology in 40 years,” he said. “I’ve been harmed by not getting an early patent when the technology was fresh and novel.”

If he had gotten the patents in the early 1970’s, he could have collected royalties, funded his research, “and the country and I would have been much better off,” Hyatt said.

“I was a struggling inventor in that time frame,” he said.

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