An IPWatchdog Year in Review: Looking Back at 2011
|Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course Posted: January 1, 2012 @ 8:30 am
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It was another exciting year for us here at IPWatchdog, and before anything else we want to thank all of our readers for continuing to make us one of the top intellectual property blogs.
If the vote tally on the ABA Journal mobile website is correct, it looks as if congratulations are in order for PatentlyO and Professor Dennis Crouch. We were in the lead going into the last day of voting, but a strong surge by the PatentlyO faithful couldn’t be match by our own late surge. Nevertheless, it is a great honor to be recognized by the American Bar Association as one of the top 100 legal blogs. For three years now we have been in the top 100, which really continues to fuel the drive to excel. Sometimes you go long stretches not knowing whether what you are doing matters, and then someone will send a note, you will hear that a particular article has stirred debate in the industry or that folks at the ABA are noticing and know who you are. The intellectual property community and the patent community specifically, are lucky to have a bunch of excellent citizen journalists and commentators, and it is humbling to be considered one of the best.
I try and keep my finder on the pulse as best I can, which hopefully comes through as you read IPWatchdog. Throughout the year I reach out to many individuals in the industry to chat, learn what they see going on and to pick their brain. In doing so recently I found myself chatting with David Kline via e-mail. David is an IP communications strategist and co-author of Rembrandts in the Attic and Great Again. He wrote, in part: “I don’t know if it was your plan all along, but IPWatchdog has become a home for not just your own very smart analysis but for the most interesting IP thinkers around. You offer readers a portal to the most original IP thinking and analysis in the country.” I hope David is correct. Moving forward into 2012 I can promise that we will do everything we can to live up to that praise.
It was always the plan to have my writings leavened by the writings of others in order to balance out my opinion-based editorials. With other points of view present I don’t have to strive to balance myself out and play devils advocate. I think it creates more lively debate and associated discussion. I will, however, confess to not planning for contributions by IP thought leaders, politicos and business leaders, like Hank Nothhaft, Manus Cooney and Bernard Cassiday, to name but a few. We are, however, grateful for their contributions, as well as the contributions of all of our guest contributors, and enjoy providing readers a different perspective on the issues.
During 2011 we managed to get several interviews with high level industry insiders and politicos. These included interviews with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Congressman Jason Chaffetz and IBM Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter. During the later half of 2011 we didn’t do many, if any, interviews. That will change leading into 2012, with a big interview already in the can with the transcript waiting for my editing and publication, so stay tuned!
Finally, yesterday we published The Top 20 Articles for 2011, which is perhaps an interesting year in review. I am also working on another old standby — The Top 10 IP News Stories for 2011 — which is likely to appear in the coming days. Looking back on the year and our articles is always an interesting task. I see what things occupied my mind at various times during the year and identify trends. I think patent reform threw me off my intended focus during 2011, but that was a story that begged to be pursued.
If there is anything that is frustrating about blogging it has to be that sometimes the articles you feel best about in terms of quality and content are the ones that are read by the fewest number of people. Titles impact article reads a lot, but so does daily life, holidays and weekend timing. With that in mind I thought I would end this IPWatchdog year in review with a list of some of the articles that I most enjoyed writing during 2011, in reverse chronological order. My creative juices are flowing and I can’t wait to jump into 2012! I hope you enjoy the ride with us!
Happy new year!
10 of my favorites from 2011:
I love history, innovation, patents and Christmas. Writing this article gave me the opportunity to weave all of those interests together. This was undoubtedly the article I enjoyed writing the most during 2011. It was fun to write!
Thanks to the America Invents Act the USPTO will be setting up three satellite offices in the coming years. Detroit is already selected as the first and expected to open during 2012. Where will the others be? I hear cities are lining up to make the case for themselves behind the scenes. This is my list of places the USPTO should consider (and why).
I love writing about the intersection of politics and innovation policy, and this article gave me the perfect opportunity to write about the biggest political and social issues of the day and relate them to the world of patents. What could be more fun? For me not much! Anyway, former PTO Director Jon Dudas said at a panel at the University of New Hampshire School of Law that the funding of the Patent Office is a ponzi scheme just like Social Security. I couldn’t resist.
Another political story. The Solyndra scandal seemed to potentially have the ability to curtail the government’s ability to spur green and alternative energy technologies. I am not at all a fan of wasting money, but I do believe that any future energy plan needs to build on renewable, clean technologies. Having said that, I can read the e-mails from the disgraced global warming “scientists” and know that liberties were taken with data. Why can’t we all just agree that renewable, alternative and clean energy is a laudable goal?
he United States Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent No. 8,000,000 on Tuesday, August 16, 2011. So let the speculation begin on when U.S. Patent No. 9,000,000 will be issued! I pick Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
The phrase “jump the shark“ comes from one particular scene in the television series “Happy Days.” In the premiere episode for season 5, which aired on September 20, 1977, Arthur Fonzarelli (aka “The Fonz” or “Fonzie”) was challenged to jump a shark. The water-skiing Fonz successfully jumped the shark and simultaneously spawned a new pop-culture phrase referring to the moment that a television show had run out of ideas. A television show would “jump the shark” when the peak had been reached and it was believed that everything was downhill from there. The Supreme Court accepting cert. in Kappos v. Hyatt is most certainly the legal equivalent of jumping a shark. This case simply doesn’t deserve the attention of the High Court. It affects virtually no one.
General Electric paid no taxes for 2010. Yes, the largest corporation in the United States had a very good 2010. They booked over $14 billion in profits, with over $5 billion coming from U.S. operations, yet they paid not a dime in taxes to the Federal Government. On the other hand, year after year Congress prohibits the USPTO from keeping all of the user fees collected. The USPTO is forced to remit many tens of millions of dollars in user fees to the Department of the Treasury. Sounds like the USPTO pays more taxes than GE if you ask me.
As a Republican patent attorney I was extremely disappointed that Congressman Paul Ryan and Congressman Hal Rogers, both Republicans, came out to force the removal of the Coburn Amendment from patent reform, which would have once and for all stopped the practice of fee diversion. That lead to this tongue-in-cheek article about why the Republicans might be opposing an adequately funded Patent Office.
The fact is that one of the most revolutionary of all technologies came into its adolescent being and was starting to be widely adopted by average people during the Clinton years. Innovation triggered the risky behavior; the irrational exuberance if you will. Without paradigm shifting innovation there would have been no run up of the stock market, no massive spending, no rush to create businesses to cash in on the moment and no speculative investing, or at least not to the unbelievable levels that actually occurred. Innovation was the trigger for the tremendous economy during the Clinton years. We cannot get back to that without innovation and raising taxes on a sinking economy to get back to the Clinton tax rates is an enormous mistake. You might be able to raise taxes on an expanding economy, but not one that is contracting or experiencing anemic growth.
It is funny how when a know-nothing researchers proclaims that patents harm innovation the media is there with cameras rolling, all to eager to capture a factually inaccurate story and relay it to the masses. When research actually demonstrates that patents do not deter research what do you hear? Crickets! But the truth is that patents do not deter research. Anyone who has ever thought about the patent system and understands anything about human nature can appreciate that patents foster innovation.
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About the Author
Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.