Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is a global leader in the creation of heavy industrial equipment, including construction and mining vehicles, headquartered in Peoria, IL. Earlier this morning, Caterpillar released its latest quarterly earnings report, announcing third-quarter earnings of $1.72 a share, compared to $1.45 for the third quarter last year. Wall Street was expecting Caterpillar to announce earnings of approximately $1.32 per share. The full year expectation was revised by Caterpillar to between $6 and $6.50 per share.
This corporation is a leader in the heavy industrial sector, making it a good candidate for the Companies We Follow series. Innovation is strong at Caterpillar and seemingly increasing in scope over the past few months. Some patent applications which we’ve discussed below include technologies for removing environmental pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, from machinery exhaust gas. Another patent application discusses a drive assist system for starting a heavy vehicle while parked on a hill. Many improvements to Caterpillar’s hardware, including an enhanced metallurgy process for casting metal parts, are also featured.
IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series has examined the innovations released by Procter & Gamble before, and our recent survey of patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed a preponderance of technologies related to skin and hair care. A couple of patent applications we share below discuss novel methods of detecting biomarkers for dandruff in an attempt to treat the issue in patients. One hair care innovation involves a method of coloring hair to achieve the same color effect that creates such a striking appearance in peacocks.
How many patent applications has your company filed today?
Facebook filed at least one patent application today, Oracle filed about 3, Google filed about 5, Microsoft and Apple filed more than 8 each, IBM filed nearly 30 patent applications just today. These are the recent averages per workday anyways. Currently Facebook has more than 450 pending applications, Google has about 3500, Oracle has 3700, Apple has 7000, and Microsoft has 30,000 pending applications. I picked these names to come up with the averages because these names have software heavy portfolios, the type of patents that have been feeling some pressure from both the anti-patent circles and from the Supreme Court – as has been amply covered by IPWatchdog.
If you are a typical new economy small tech company with software and internet centric technology or products, the number of patent applications your company filed today is probably zero. Of course filing and prosecuting patent applications is not cheap and that’s part of the explanation. However it is worth noting that most of the successful companies with software-heavy products, including those in the list above, have been filing patent applications from their very early days. An excellent recent article at IPWatchdog revealed that even an overtly anti-patent company such as Twitter has been indeed filing patent applications from its very early days and have been accumulating a large portfolio through further acquisitions. The fact is that patent protection is a hallmark of a successful innovative business, whether the product is software or not. So, it is startling to see the difference in attitude of the small innovators and the already successful large innovators when it comes to protecting their inventions.
Alternative forms of energy for the generation of electricity is a topic we focus on from time to time here at IPWatchdog. Recently, a team of scientists working at Ohio State University created the world’s solar battery, which includes a solar cell and a battery within a singly hybrid device. These batteries, which could achieve a length of charge comparable to other rechargeable batteries, achieves a cost reduction in utilizing solar energy of about 25 percent. It also reduces the need for any process of transmitting electricity from a solar cell to a battery, in which up to 20 percent of electrons are successfully transmitted to the battery.
We return to the patent databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to scope out recent innovation from Fujitsu in today’s article. In viewing Fujitsu’s recently filed patent applications, we saw a multitude of inventions in the field of information processing, whether for the analysis of computing processes or virtualization of computing resources on physical servers. A couple of biometrics innovations are discussed, including a system of electrodes meant to detect and prevent a vehicle driver from becoming drowsy. Methods for enhanced online classroom discussions are also explored.
In the past, researchers have developed an Ebola vaccine for monkeys and macaques, which are also affected by strains of the Ebola virus. The vaccine is so effective that many monkeys can be brought back to health even when injected with 100 times the lethal dose of Ebola after vaccination. However, with HIV, tuberculosis and many other diseases claiming more lives every year, research focus on Ebola has been low in recent years. So how long does it take a typical vaccine to go from concept to reality?
From time to time I am asked to help spread the word about various things. At the present we don’t have an efficient mechanism to do this, but we are currently redesigning the website and will have more flexibility soon.
In any event, here are a few announcements and events worth knowing about.
Happy Hour with Gene Quinn Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 5pm to 7pm, Morristown, NJ
I will be attending meetings in Morristown, NJ, on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. One of my sponsors, Innography, will be sponsoring the free happy hour event. If you are interested in attending please RSVP here.
Innography, offers a proprietary suite of products combines unique correlation and visualization technologies to seamlessly integrate patent data with financial, litigation, market, and other key business information. The programs are always excellent, and the event will likely attract close to 2,500 attorneys from all over the world, as well as many service providers.
Although many inventors believe otherwise, drafting a patent application is not an easy endeavor. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has described a patent application as one of the most difficult legal instruments to create. There are a great many pitfalls and perils that face anyone who drafts a patent application, particularly inventors who are not intimately familiar with the patent laws and regulations that will apply.
Attorneys are frequently very good at telling would-be entrepreneurs exactly what they should do, but if you have never been an entrepreneur it can be easy to lose sight of the universal truth that no matter how well funded you may be there is never enough money to afford to do everything that needs to be done. Indeed, even if you carefully plan a budget as an entrepreneur you really have to multiple whatever you think you need by a factor of at least 2 or 3 because things will cost more than you assume even if your projections are conservative. For example, it will come as a shock for many entrepreneurs that the cost of electricity for a business is far greater than the cost of the same electricity for a residential customer.
Over the course of my legal career, I have had the opportunity to work at a small law firm, a mid-size intellectual property (IP) boutique, a large international law firm, and in-house at a startup company and two Fortune® 100 companies. During that journey, I have had a fair number of clients, staff members and managers, and have been fortunate to glean various nuggets of wisdom from my interactions with all of them. I now share those learnings – distilled into ten business-oriented rules – that in my humble opinion amount to excelling as an IP legal practitioner. While some of the following rules may sound a bit cliché, my explanations below are an attempt to craft them as powerful reminders that an IP lawyer is nothing without the clients/managers who are willing to pay their fee/salary. Thus, no matter whether your law firm billing rate is $200 or $1,200 per hour, or your in-house salary is $50,000 or $350,000 per year, these ten rules apply!
For the naysayers reading this, I will admit at the onset that there are differences in lawyering to a start-up versus an SME or even a large, multinational corporation. I further admit there are also differences in lawyering to entities that operate in different industries (e.g., automotive versus financial services). But these differences mainly involve specific legal knowledge and strategy, not in the general approach to lawyering itself. Now, onto the rules!