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Vonage Offers International Calls Free of Roaming Charges

Posted: Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 @ 2:23 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, International, IP News, Articles, Patents, Smartphones, Technology & Innovation

Americans traveling abroad know well the painful experience associated with returning home to a hefty bill international cellular roaming charges. By some estimates half of all international travelers do not even use voice servicesfor fear of those dreaded high roaming costs.

Vonage, (NYSE: VG), a provider of communications services that connects individuals through cloud-connected devices worldwide, may have the solution. Recently Vonage introduced ReachMe Roaming™, a patented feature of its Vonage Mobile App® that allows U.S. travelers to receive free incoming calls to their existing cell phone numbers when connected to Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. As with most “free” offers, this one is for a limited time.

With ReachMe Roaming those wishing to reach the roaming phone simply call the traveler’s cell number to connect. There is no need to dial additional access numbers or provide a new phone number. U.S. customers can also make free calls back to the U.S., allowing seamless, two-way communication at no cost while traveling abroad.

Innovation Focus: Water Treatment & Desalination

Posted: Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Green Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

One-fifth of the world’s population live in areas of the globe where water is scarce as a naturally occurring resources. One-quarter of the world’s population, about 1.6 billion people, live in regions where the local economy cannot support the infrastructure needed to draw water into municipal systems. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) reports that enough freshwater exists on Earth to support seven billion people, but issues with uneven distribution, pollution and poor management greatly hinder this.

Like most other natural resources, there is a finite amount of water in our world. Few resources are required more than water, which is used at every level of society and industry. Not only do humans need to consume water daily to survive, hundreds of thousands of gallons may be used in thermal cooling or oil extraction processes. In the United States, 41 percent of all water withdrawals are used to irrigate crops.

In IPWatchdog’s continuing coverage of Earth Day 2014, we decided to take some time to look at inventions that may help address water shortage issues across the globe. In many areas of the world, disputes over access to available water are leading to great tension among a growing global population that relies on the substance. Today, we wanted to scour the recent published patent applications and issued patents coming out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technologies in this field.

Fear of the Troll has Many Crying Foul

Posted: Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014 @ 11:22 am | Written by Robert Stoll | No Comments »
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Posted in: Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patent Troll Basics, Patent Trolls, Patents, US Economy

Trolls of lore were ugly creatures who lived under bridges.   They charged travelers to safely cross the raging waters and threatened harm to those who refused to pay.  Trolls and their kindred spirits have haunted the nightmares of our children for generations.

But Peter Detkin, a co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, repurposed the term to represent the activities of non-practicing entities (NPEs) or patent assertion entities (PAEs).  Perhaps our collective subconscious childhood fears of the trolls of old make it too easy for the media, our elected leaders and even some savvy CEOs to vilify modern trolls for everything they represent.  I bet Mr. Detkin now wishes he used a more attractive term to describe the activities of his company.

What defines a troll?  Most would agree that a company that does not make products, but buys up patents to assert against others, would be in the category.  However, there seem to be as many permutations to this basic formulation as there are companies. What about large manufacturing companies with divisions that purchase patent portfolios for the purpose of assertion?  What about companies that spin-off their unused patent portfolio to wholly or partially owned subsidiaries that assert those patents?  What about companies that  buy up portfolios for defensive purposes, compelling membership by companies that join for protection? What about universities?  They don’t make products.  Most would say that universities don’t fit into the category of trolls, because they license to companies that make the products covered by their patents.  But what if the university sells its patents to a patent assertion entity with an agreement to share in the profits?

University Research Leads to Biofuel Breakthrough

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 @ 5:51 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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Posted in: Green Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Universities

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.

Earth Day 2014: A Salute to Recycling Innovations

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 @ 1:27 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Green Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

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.

Our Earth Day 2013 coverage focused on recycling systems, solar energy generators and other green inventions from Universities. One particularly intriguing set of environmentally friendly inventions related to various hybrid electric vehicle innovations developed by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. This year, we wanted to start our analysis of green technologies by focusing on patent applications and issued patents describing inventions related to recycling. As the Bureau of International Recycling reports, 1.6 million people across the globe are employed by an industry that recycles more than 600 million tons of material, an industry that creates a global economic impact of $200 billion.

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.

The Evolution of Hip Replacements

Posted: Monday, Apr 21, 2014 @ 1:42 pm | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

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.

Intel Patents: A Diverse Story of Software Innovation

Posted: Sunday, Apr 20, 2014 @ 1:29 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, Intel, IP News, Articles, Mobile Devices, Patents, Software, Technology & Innovation

The Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, CA, has been a global leader in the development of computing processors and related semiconductor components for the past few decades. In 2013, this technology manufacturer saw a drop in revenues but still maintained 15.4 percent of the world’s market share for semiconductors, making it the top corporation overall in that respect. New Intel chipset products are set to hit technology markets in May 2014, which could result in upgrades to the Apple iMacs using these processors. Intel’s also developing improvements to its Thunderbolt Networking technology allowing for easy connection of computers running different operating system platforms, supporting PC-to-Mac connections.

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.

The Trade Secret Value Proposition: The Secrecy Requirement

Posted: Saturday, Apr 19, 2014 @ 2:29 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments
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Posted in: Educational Information for Inventors, Gene Quinn, Inventors Information, IP News, Articles, Trade Secrets

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.