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Qualcomm Patent Update: Widespread High-Tech, Computer Innovation

Written by Steve Brachmann
Freelance Journalist
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Posted: January 9, 2014 @ 8:00 am
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Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Qualcomm Incorporated is a major player in the manufacture of digital wireless devices and associated telecommunications products and services. This technology developer produces an array of semiconductor products, like their Snapdragon processors, that power many of the smartphones and tablet computers available in today’s electronic device market. Recent comments made by company officials at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas indicate that the corporation is moving beyond a smartphone focus to work on improvements to tablet and even vehicle connectivity.

It’s been a little while since our last check-in with Qualcomm for our Companies We Follow series, and the new year finds the corporation developing a number of innovations that involve a variety of interesting computing systems. Each of these inventions is described fully in either a patent application or issued patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to Qualcomm. Fans of Qualcomm’s mobile device products will also notice some conspicuous improvements to the company’s current smartphone components.

What is clear every time we look at Qualcomm is that the company’s innovation profile defies easy characterization because Qualcomm simply innovates, and innovates and innovates. For example, today we begin looking at a patent application that could very well bring the value of having a massive scope of retail products available for purchase online directly into brick-and-mortar stores. This computing system would allow a store to detect that a shopper is comparing prices online through a device and then provide a discount offer that could entice the customer into buying the item in the store. Then we briefly discuss other interesting patent applications that relate to a mobile video terminal that could assist in patient physical therapy, as well as a system of reducing a device’s processor power to control internal temperature.

Issued patents are always a major focal point here at IPWatchdog because, after all, that is the name of the exclusive rights play. Applications show research and development focus, issued patents define exclusive rights that were worth pursuing through what sometimes can be lengthy patent prosecutions. In this article we’re exploring a group of patentsthat protect some novel telecommunications systems and protocols. One of these patents protects a home networking system that can better transmit signals from disparate home systems that are connected through the same communication medium. Entertainment fans may be intrigued by a patent that protects methods of including social interactivity with mobile television applications. We’ve also noticed a couple of patents related to location-based services, whether for finding better apps during searches or to determining the proper satellite to use for the clearest communication signal.

In short, if it deals with a computer or high-tech gadget Qualcomm is on the job innovating.

 

Method for In-Store Competition with Internet Sales Pricing
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130346201

The world of Internet sales has exploded in recent years. Online stores continue to increase their share of the retail industry each and every year. In fact, for the last three months of December 2013, online sales increased by 10 percent over the same period the previous year. Sales recorded through smartphones and tablets reached 17 percent of all online sales during this period, marking an increase in retail sales from devices of 46 percent.

In many ways, the ease of smartphone shopping has created a pretty unfair market for most brick-and-mortar stores. It’s very easy today for a device owner to go into a retail store, look at an item and then compare the prices of that item with those that are available online through Amazon.com or other Internet stores. If the shopper can find the same item available for cheaper online, which is often the case, the brick-and-mortar store usually loses the sale.

Qualcomm has filed this patent application with the USPTO to protect a system that would allow stores to better compete with low prices which are available online. This system utilizes various network analysis tools, including mobile application monitoring and Wi-Fi activity analysis, to determine that a shopper within a store is searching for a particular item online. The network server used by the merchant then has the opportunity to provide a counteroffer to the shopper.

The counteroffer that the merchant server provides to shoppers may be based upon a number of factors, including the merchant’s current level of stock of that item, the price offered by the online competitor or a shopper’s previous purchasing habits. The offer can be provided to the shopper through a variety of mediums using this system, including electronic displays within a store or through an in-store audible announcement.

As Claim 1 of this application states, Qualcomm is hoping to protect:

“A method for enabling a merchant to compete with online retailers for a sale of a product using counteroffers within a merchant store, comprising: detecting an Internet product search conducted on a consumer’s mobile computing device for a product; determining whether the consumer’s mobile computing device is located within a merchant’s store; determining in a server whether to present a counteroffer to the consumer based at least in part on the detected Internet product search in response to determining that the consumer’s mobile computing device is located within a merchant’s store; generating instructions for presenting a counteroffer to the consumer within the merchant’s store in response to determining that a counteroffer should be presented to the consumer; and transmitting the generated instructions to at least one store display asset for presenting the counteroffer to the consumer.”

 

Other Patent Applications

Qualcomm is seeking to protect a number of other innovations that caught our eye this week here at IPWatchdog. The semiconductor manufacturer has filed a number of patent applications that discuss improvements to various video systems used with computing devices. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140003529, entitled Coding of Significance Flags, would protect a system of adding significance tags to video code that can help inform computer processors of the proper coding context for video data. This system could be used to attach a variety of video coding standards to a data file, including High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), a new standard still under development. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140007009, which is titled Mobile Video-Based Therapy, discusses a type of mobile computer terminal which could be used in medical or hospital settings. The terminal would have a camera which can analyze and determine the medical state of a user and then provide images of proper physical therapy techniques.

From U.S. Patent Application No. 20140007009, which is titled “Mobile Video-Based Therapy.”

A few intriguing electronic hardware improvements are at the core of a couple of other Qualcomm patent applications that we’ve decided to explore. Art galleries and other facilities with unique lighting needs may benefit from the innovation laid out in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140003040, filed under the title Low-Profile Lighting System. This application discusses improvements to wall wash lighting systems which currently use parabolic reflectors so as to make these lighting systems much easier to use in small spaces. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140006818, which is titled System and Method for Adaptive Thermal Management in a Portable Computing Device, aims to improve temperature control within electronic devices that are too small to carry a fan component by allowing the device to reduce its processor performing level.

 

Issued Patents of Note

From U.S. Patent No. 8626774, titled “Location Based Apps Ranking for Mobile Wireless Computing and Communicating Devices.”

Wireless telecommunications is a huge area of interest for Qualcomm’s research and development activities, a fact that we’re seeing play out in many of the patents recently issued to the corporation by the USPTO. These patent holdings increase the intellectual property strength of any company, which is why we always make sure to pick a few recent patents that our readers are sure to find engaging.

This week, we’re seeing a number of patents that provide a variety of location-based services to users of mobile digital devices. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8626774, entitled Location Based Apps Ranking for Mobile Wireless Computing and Communicating Devices, protects a system of searching for apps based on the context information gathered by a device, such as the user’s current activity or location. Location-based services will be a little easier to deploy thanks to U.S. Patent No. 8626926, titled Method and Apparatus for Performing Session Info Query for User Plane Location. In this system, a location server queries a client terminal to pinpoint the physical location of that terminal. For instance, a user could place a call for emergency services through a wireless network and that person’s address could be easily obtained. U.S. Patent No. 8620306, which is titled Location Specific Search for Regional Satellite Vehicles, protects a system by which mobile devices connecting to satellite communications can better identify which satellite to use in order to prevent signal degradation.

Other issued patents that have piqued our interest this week involve systems of improved communication in home networks and for mobile television. U.S. Patent No. 8613026, issued under the title Methods and Systems for Viewer Interactivity and Social Networking in a Mobile TV Broadcast Network, provides a system for mobile television users to interact with their entertainment options in a more personal way. Mobile TV users could chat with others watching the same programs, share their favorite programs with others and set up ad-hoc TV channels containing their favorite programs. Finally, U.S. Patent No. 8614961, titled Efficient Communication Over a Shared Medium, protects methods of providing a wireless home network that can provide diverse services, such as smart electrical grid management and broadband Internet services. Data transmitted across the network is coded in such a way that it reaches its intended network station more efficiently.

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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Mobile Devices, Patents, Qualcomm, Smartphones, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

About the Author

Steve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than five years. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. He also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.

 

 


10 comments
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  1. If the method in the ‘201 application is implemented, it could be manipulated by shoppers to force the store to provide a discount. Didn’t we see a similar application recently, where the software determines that the user in comparing prices online and adjusts the discount based on the hesitency of the shopper (repeated views of a product within a time frame)? Looks like double patenting.

  2. I think invasion of privacy may be a bigger concern Benny.

    (plus, the ‘201 did not have hesitancy as one of its elements, so no, no double patenting)

  3. Anon,
    Privacy on the internet is in its’ death throes, if it ever existed. A new trend is connecting appliances to the web, which can then upload data about their use to the manufacturer, without your knowledge (you get a shrink-wrap agreement which you don’t bother reading….) See, for example, claim 6 of US20030070555 – this coffee machine can tell Those Who Need To Know how many cups of coffee you drink each day. I personally know of companies developing such products.

  4. I think that you are mistaken if you think privacy is in its death throes (internet or other-where).

    Again, I have a feeling that you are approaching this from a purely technical side with no appreciation whatsoever for the legal aspects.

    It is NOT a question of technical capability. Nor has it ever been.

  5. Anon,
    What gives? I’m not “approaching” anything. I simply provided some information about the industry in which I work. Thought you might be interested. The fact that I can design a system which, for a bill-of-materials of 10$, can transmit information about its’ use directly to its’ manufacturer (this was not technically feasible, at this price, a couple of years ago) is not a legal issue. There IS a legal aspect to the privacy concerns, but thats for you, not me, to comment on.

  6. Benny,

    What “gives” is that not only do you insist on making comments on a legal blog, but that you refuse to even contemplate that your comments are incorrect because you are omitting an important factor in your considerations.

    Having an uninformed opinion is one thing. Having an uninformed opinion and refusing to be informed is quite another. You seem to want to insist on being uninformed. You seem to insist on rejecting the notion that legal aspects are a part of – an important part of – any conversation in this forum.

    Opinions – as far they go – are not “wrong” only in the sense that they are personal views of the person putting forth the opinion. That does not mean that you get to say whatever you like, and NOT expect to be brought to task for the inaccuracies in what you say. Especially when those inaccuracies directly reflect on the complete (technical and legal picture). Here, you invited the correction by once again straying into a legal discussion without appreciation of the arena within which your comment was made.

    At the same time you want to say “but thats for you… to comment on,” you also seem to not want me to so comment. What gives with that? Or put another way, if you were to learn and inform yourself of the nature of conversations here (especially given that this is a repeating point for you), then my making the picture complete would not be necessary, now would it?

    Reread my posts here (or any of my posts to you). Have I posted anything in error? I would be happy to correct anything that I have posted in error. Are you willing to correct the errors pointed out to you?

  7. Anon,
    Regarding your question, yes, you have made a grave error in assuming that my post at 3 is an “opinion”. Other than the first line – and we both know that privacy on the internet is a problematic issue – it is a statement of facts. You didn’t point out any inaccuracies in the post, you just told me that its’ inaccurate.

    As an R&D engineer, I can design equipment which has legal implications, and which I’m not knowlegeable enough to comment on, so I won’t. I keep my comments to what I do understand, which is the technical side. You could fill in the legal side – perhaps even in a friendly tone – instead of simply shouting at people. I’m trying to engage in an exchange of ideas, not a courtroom litigation.

  8. Sorry, Benny, but no, I have made no such error.

    Your post is an opinion. It may contain factual information, but that alone does not remove the fact that your post is an opinion. You do not get to separate out a first line and say “the rest of it is fact.” Attempting to mask an opinion by dressing up in facts is a mistake in logic.

    I suggest that you learn how communication works in a legal environment.

    Further, I told you exactly what was wrong with your post. Exactly what was inaccurate. That you continue to ignore what I tell you only tells me that you are unwilling to recognize the forum that you are in. I do not know why you insist on refusing to recognize that critical fact, but you do. I will share with you that proceeding in ignorance and posting without regard to law is frowned upon here. As you are want to continue to do so, you are responsible for misstatements of law or misrepresentations of issues that involve law (and yes, that includes issues involving both technology and law).

    As for the tone, please believe me – my tone IS friendly.

    It is also consistent. Please do not mistake the consistency for being unfriendly. I welcome your opinion, but you do need to realize that a ‘tech only’ opinion is faulty because you simply are not understanding the complete picture. I am NOT saying that you have to be an attorney to have a valid opinion, but you do have to recognize when law is involved in an issue and you do have to recognize that a “tech-only” view will often be insufficient here. If you want to exchange ideas, you need to be aware of what you are actually exchanging and where you are actually exchanging what you are exchanging. I have explained this politely. You may not want to believe or understand my explanation (and that is your choice) , but to characterize my posts to you as “yelling” is not accurate at all. Similar to our conversation about acknowledging points made in the give and take of discussions, you need to realize what this legal forum entails with discussions. You appear to not understand these things. What brings out a certain stridency in my posts to you is that you also appear to not want to understand these things- that you think that your posts have no errors. You simply are not listening. As you are not listening, it is just not possible to have a dialogue.

  9. Anon,
    You still did not point out a factual innaccracy in post 3.
    It should be obvious to you by now that I do not have legal training and am not qualified to express a legal opinion. However, I am the “end-user” of he patent system, and patents, for the most part, are legal descriptions of technical innovation. I am aware that you are also versed in engineering lore, but it is a rare patent attorney whose technical knowledge is on par with that of the inventors he/she works with.

    My company is to small to maintain a full time IP manager, therefore I am tasked with liasion with our IP partners, and with identifying and understanding pur competitors’ patents so as to avoid possible infringement. I follow this – and other – blogs to increase my knowledge. I;m not here to argue – I’m here to learn. If Gene asks me to keep my mouth shut, I will.

  10. Benny,

    Stop.

    Now you are trying to parse my comments into some sort of fact inaccuracy statement. Go back and read my actual post.

    For someone who has been charted to be a liaison with legal impacts, you are presenting a very poor impression of understanding the importance of legal issues.

    And it is most decidedly not my intention to have you “shut your mouth.” Rather, I want you to speak – but to do so intelligently, and with full appreciation that “tech only” is simply insufficient to address the issues under discussion.

    You seem unwilling and almost even unable to see the distinction.

    How would you feel if someone out of right field (I have referenced the Holiday Inn commercials before) decided that since they own a technical device that they were going to hold a conversation on the technical merits of that device? What would you do after you pointed out that they do not understand what they are talking about and the person still wanted to talk about the subject ‘because they own an item?” I am not saying that you must be a lawyer to express an opinion here. Not at all. I am saying that you need to be aware of the forum you are in, and please do not attempt to disguise your posts as “just facts.” Again – you do not get to separate out the first line of your post at 3.