Over the years I have been invited to participate in more and more events, and I try and attend a handful of conferences each year regardless of whether I am presenting. I have a packed schedule this Fall, traveling from New York to Washington, DC to Toledo to Chicago to New Jersey back to Washington, DC to San Francisco and ultimately to Orange County, California. If your schedule permits, and I’m visiting an area close, perhaps you can join me at one or more of the events listed below.
Over the years, I have developed and observed a wide variety of best practices for fostering and establishing on a sustainable basis a genuine culture of innovation. These must be embraced at all levels of the organization to be effective. What follows is discussion of some key lessons for maintaining a culture of innovation.
Innovation, like the spreading of fertilizer, is messy, lumpy, smelly, expensive, and unpredictable. Innovation rarely happens in a neat and sequential fashion. Imposing too many rules or protocols will retard or overly restart the process. And there must be a commitment to spread the fertilizer frequently, consistently, and across the entire field, not just once in a while to “pet” projects. And the results are not always what you would predict or expect. If you create processes that are appropriate for the levels of innovation and creativity goals that have been set, you create an environment that supports this process. If you are overly process oriented budget driven or linear in your thinking, you may be putting too many walls around a process that needs room to breathe.
Many within the independent inventor community are well acquainted with John Calvert. Calvert originally started out working for the United States Patent and Trademark Office as a patent examiner, but by the time he retired twenty-four years later he was in charge of the independent inventor outreach efforts of the USPTO. I have known him for a long time, he is a friend, and he has been a champion for the independent inventor community.
When Calvert retired in June 2014 I was saddened to see a him leave, but also saddened because I know how tirelessly he works to inform, educate and assist independent inventors. While he has no doubt earned a quite retirement I am extremely pleased to say that in retirement Calvert will continue to work with independent inventors; he was recently hired as the new Executive Director of the United Inventors Association (UIA). His energy, passion, knowledge and contacts should dramatically impact the UIA in a positive way. Good things are no doubt on the horizon.
There was a lot riding on Alice v. CLS Bank, and the Supreme Court got it wrong. There is no point in sugar-coating it, or pretending that everything will be alright. The Supreme Court is openly hostile to patents, and increasingly so is the Federal Circuit. Simply stated, strong patent rights are an absolute prerequisite for a high tech economy.
It is a sad realization, but we are indeed at a point were commercially viable claims worth litigating are virtually assured to be invalid claims. Until this changes the economy suffer in due course. After all, it isn’t the copycats who create new things. Copycats copy and innovators innovate. You cannot infringe patents owned by an innovator and claim that because the product is new to you it is an innovation. NO! It is merely new to you and a rip-off from the true innovator.
The Companies We Follow series is visiting this major manufacturer of medications as we continue our survey of recent innovations in pharmaceutical fields. Patent applications recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that Pfizer’s recent development goals have focused on a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. We discuss a trio of patent applications related to treatments involving the nervous system, including a couple of medications treating Alzheimer’s disease along with a host of other ailments. A couple of patent applications are also related to novel treatments for cancer, especially in the area of preventing cancerous growth.
The America Invents Act (AIA) was a great leap forward in the effort to improve patent quality in the US, including the creation of three new post patent issuance challenge procedures: post grant review (PGR), covered business method review (CBM), and inter partes review (IPR). The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has regularly reported some basic statistics related to the new challenge procedures. In an attempt to determine whether these new challenge procedures are serving their intended purpose of improving patent quality, I compiled and now report on additional statistics characterizing the parties and patents associated with completed challenge proceedings and correlated those characterizations to the nature of the outcomes.
The statistics reported by the USPTO focus on the petitions filed for the Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB) to consider in determining whether to institute a challenge proceeding. Well over 1000 such petitions have been filed; the PTAB has instituted challenge proceedings in response to over 70% of the petitions. The USPTO has provided significantly fewer statistics with respect to the outcomes of the challenge proceedings that have been instituted. The outcomes are the end results of the challenge proceedings and, ultimately, should be the best indicator of what the proceedings are accomplishing.
In the world of data security, 2014 will likely go down as one of the rockiest years in history. We have previously covered recent cyber attacks and data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, among others, as well as ways businesses can tighten up data security to prevent against breaches. The problem has continued to spread, however, and the past few weeks have been eye-opening in terms of the helplessness of corporation against data thieves when using conventional financial technology.
On October 23, 2014, ICAP Patent Brokerage will sell a portfolio of patents relating to systems and methods for secure identity authentication for electronic funds transfer. The patents owned by Payment Pathways, Inc., related back for priority purposes to a provisional patent application first filed in the United States on February 28, 2003.
One of the inventors named on all four of the patents up for auction is Richard O’Brien, who spoke with me on the record on August 13, 2014. I asked him how he got involved doing research and development on payment gateway systems and processes and he explained that while he was doing some basic patent research he stumbled across a 401(k) patent that provided a system that would allow individuals to take loans from themselves. “I thought that was the coolest idea in the world,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien would visit the owner of the patent rights and the rest is history. O’Brien struck up a working relationship with Franco Modigliani, the first named inventor on U.S. Patent No. 7,831,490, which is the earliest of the patents in the portfolio that will be auctioned. “It takes a genius to see simplicity when other people see complexity,” O’Brien said. “Franco always kept in mind what money really is – money is only a ledger entry unless you can withdraw it.”
Just as in the land of Westeros, there is turmoil and intrigue in our government as to who is to lead the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Indeed, the top position of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO has been vacant since the resignation of David Kappos on February 1, 2013. His deputy, Teresa Stanek Rea, became Acting Director, but she was not elevated to his post. She resigned on November 21, 2013, which left both positions unfilled.
On January 13, 2014, Michelle Lee, former head of Patent and Patent Strategy at Google, was appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, and in the ongoing absence of a Director, she holds the fort as Deputy Director, but with her position in administrative law limbo. Despite the clear need for leadership at the USPTO, the search for the next Iron Throne holder is mired in ideology and lobbying.