In discussions about our ability as human beings to build a sustainable future for ourselves, our reliance on deriving energy from fossil fuels is of major concern. Not only do these forms of fuel cause considerable pollution when combusted by vehicles, the carbon-based sources of these fuels are finite and quickly depleting. Although new technologies, like hydrofracking, have enabled us to find new sources of petroleum fuels, these methods come with their own negative environmental impacts.
In our further coverage of green and sustainable technologies for Earth Day 2014, we here at IPWatchdog wanted to take a closer look at innovations that could help us address many of the concerns of using fossil fuels for years into the future. Biofuel production has increased in recent years, but for many reasons production has fallen short of public policy goals. However, as we profile below, exciting new innovations being patented and licensed by American universities may provide some effective answers to issues that have been vexing biofuel developers for years.
Today is Earth Day 2014, and with that in mind we will be taking some time today and throughout the week to take some time to look at the progress of sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies in America and abroad.
We’ve searched the recently published patent applications and issued patents coming out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to find the most unique innovations in the realm of recycling technologies. As you can see below, recycling technologies and innovation come in many different forms. While recycling in and of itself is no doubt environmentally friendly, so too are technologies that enable reusing items, relate to biodegradability and recycling items not previously viewed as recyclable.
A Note from Gene: Nearly two weeks ago, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I had a total right hip replacement. The surgery went very well. The biggest problem I encountered was nearly non-stop hiccups for the first week, which was likely due to the anesthesia. I was walking the next day, and I am now walking with only the assistance of a cane. Rehab is going nicely. With this going on in my personal life I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the evolution of hip replacement technology through the lens of issued U.S. patents.
Themistokles Gluck, circa 1901, performed the first documented hip replacement in 1891.
Hip surgeries have been taking place for at least three hundreds years, and have progressed from rudimentary surgeries to the sophisticated total hip replacement (i.e., total hip arthroplasty or THA) surgeries that are so commonplace today. According to the CDC, during 2010 there were 332,000 in patient total hip replacements performed in the U.S. Indeed, hip replacement surgery today is widely recognized as one of the most successful surgical interventions ever developed. See Early Attempts at Hip Arthroplasty.
Modern days of hip replacement surgery really date back to the 1960s, with the development of new devices that reduced the wear sustained by artificial hip joints over time, and which provided more predictable outcomes. Still, as with all great scientific advancement, it is impossible to overlook the important discoveries of the early days. Without first steps in any scientific endeavor future steps are impossible.
With this in mind, today we wanted to take a look at the innovation history of hip replacement surgery and technologies, from the first femoral head attachments fashioned from ivory to current technologies which may enable surgeons to conserve more natural bone than ever before through the use of synthetic cartilage.
Our Companies We Follow series has looked at Intel a few times before. Our latest chance to check in with this multinational semiconductor chip manufacturer has revealed some truly unique technologies meant to improve mobile devices and communication systems for a great number of global consumers. Software is the common theme behind those patents and patent application we found during this snapshot look at Intel.
We start our profile of Intel’s recently developed technologies with a look at our featured patent application, which discusses a novel system for managing access to a vehicle among multiple drivers. This access management system would also be able to delegate responsibilities, such as gas refueling and scheduled maintenance, as well as enable emergency access to trusted parties. Other patent applications which we noticed today discussed enhanced security measures for private data as well as home media systems for accessing segmented television content.
It is not much of an overstatement to say that virtually every business has trade secrets worth protection, regardless of whether the business is run as a sole proprietorship, a small business or Fortune 500 company. Perhaps it is better to say that every business has assets that could and should be protected as trade secrets, but the truth is that many companies, even large companies, fail to do so properly.
The reason that it can be said that trade secret protection can be obtained by any business is for two reasons. First, trade secret protection can exist for virtually any business information. Second, trade secret protection is extremely easy to obtain; as long at the information remains secret it remains protected.
Let’s take a step back. What is a trade secret? A trade secret is defined as any business information that is not generally known and which has value, with the value being derived from the fact that the information is not generally known. The key to trade secret protection, therefore, is keeping that valuable business information from becoming generally known; or in other words keeping the information secret. Matters of public knowledge or general knowledge within an industry simply cannot be protected, nor can they be misappropriated. Similarly, once previously unknown information becomes known secrecy is lost and the trade secret ceases to exist.
The US patent system has a storied history: written into the Constitution by Madison; the Patent Act itself written by Jefferson; and, requested to be passed in Washington’s first State of the Union speech. As a former speech writer for the Commissioner back in 1985, I had the fun task of finding little interesting factotums about the US patent system to add some flavor to whatever audience the Commissioner was addressing. Such facts might include: local inventors, known statewide innovative companies, or just interesting moments in the course of the system and its contribution to the development of the then brand new United States.
Some fun stuff: Abraham Lincoln reckoned that, along with the invention of the printing press and Columbus discovery of America, the US patent system was among the three most important events in the history of the world. Of the 4 faces on Mt. Rushmore, 3 are inventors (Roosevelt is the exception); but, only Lincoln got a patent. The British burned pretty much everything in Washington that mattered in 1812; except, the Patent Office, around which they placed a guard. And so it goes.
Why am I resorting to the emotional heart strings; because the current round of patent reform is an existential threat to the US patent system. If these proposals pass, we will be left with a very, very expensive registration system in which the Fortune 50, and no one else, will be able to participate. In case no one has noticed, the Fortune 50 do not innovate (with few exceptions, it is those who will become the Fortune 50 that do the innovating) and so, the system ceases to exist. Let me explain.
Washington– The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force will host roundtable discussions in cities around the country on several copyright Internet policy topics, as part of the work envisioned in the Green Paper. The purpose of the roundtables is to engage further with members of the public on the following issues: (1) the legal framework for the creation of remixes; (2) the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment; and (3) the appropriate calibration of statutory damages in the contexts of individual file sharers and of secondary liability for large-scale infringement. The roundtables, which will be led by USPTO and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will be held in Nashville, TN on May 21, 2014, Cambridge, MA on June 25, 2014, Los Angeles, CA on July 29, 2014, and Berkeley, CA on July 30, 2014. The meetings were called for in the Task Force’s Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economyreleased last year.
In the Green Paper and subsequent requests for public comments on October 3, 2013, the Task Force stated its intention to hold roundtable discussions on these issues. On December 12, 2013, the Task Force held a day-long public meeting to discuss the issues identified for its further work in the Green Paper, which included panel discussions on remixes, the first sale doctrine, and statutory damages, as well as other topics. The purpose of the planned roundtables is to seek additional input from the public in different parts of the country in order for the Task Force to have a complete and thorough record upon which to make recommendations.
As we get deeper into the month of April, the Companies We Follow series here at IPWatchdog wanted to take a little time to review the databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inventions from this corporation. Over the past month or two, we’ve found many intriguing patent applications and issued patents describing a wide array of new technologies. We’re noticing some real activity on behalf of GE regarding medical and wind energy generation, among other developments.
Today’s featured patent application would protect a novel system of addressing power outages when a utility network doesn’t receive notification of the event directly from customers. This system allows a utility network to scan social media posts for relevant information about outages, and then turn those posts into instructions for maintenance crews. We also discuss a few inventions related to wind turbines, including a new method for measuring lightning strike damage on wind turbine blades, and a couple of patent applications filed to protect medical monitoring technologies.
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more.
Without hesitation I recommend One Simple Idea and think it should be required reading for any motivated inventor. There is so much to like about the book and so much that I think author Stephen Key nails dead on accurate. The book is educational, information and inspirational. For the $14 cover price it is essential reading.
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