General Electric is a regular feature of the Companies We Follow series. What we saw today in the patent applications filed by this company with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed us that research and development at the company is very focused on industrial and medical sectors. Many of the technologies we discuss in more detail below pertain to railway and other vehicular technologies. A few patent applications discuss improvements to electrical utility systems, including one technique for monitoring plant activity near electrical grid components to identify exactly when to clear vegetation away from power lines.
The strong patent portfolio enjoyed by General Electric enjoyed a number of important additions in recent weeks. Some of the most intriguing that we saw today involve medical innovations, including systems for the synchronization of imaging data collected during a procedure to better guide a medical professional during a procedures. We’re also sharing a patent protecting a useful technology for locating defects in an underground cable to ensure consistent delivery of electrical utilities. Gas turbines and another innovation regarding railway tech is also explored more deeply in today’s column.
A look into the recently published patent applications assigned to Dow from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Organization shows us that GMOs and herbicides have been a major area of focus for Dow and Dow AgroSciences, its chief subsidiary in agricultural chemical engineering. Plastics used for packing fragile items or for providing a barrier between soil and building foundations in construction projects.
The patent portfolio of Dow has also been increasing recently, incorporating chemical engineering innovations designed for a wide range of industrial sectors. One patent protects a method of developing fragrances for laundry detergents which evaporate less quickly, helping clothes to retain a fragrance for a longer period of time. Oil-in-water emulsions were the focus of a number of patents which we decided to share today, including one discussing a herbicidal composition for agricultural uses. Another patent we noticed protects a topically-applied pharmaceutical drug designed to treat bacterial infections or acne rosacea.
Qualcomm is a regular part of IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, and the recently published patent applications that we surveyed taught us some intriguing things about this corporations research and development activities. Neighborhood-aware networks, which can provide digital services to many homes within the same neighborhood, are the focus of a few filings. Qualcomm is also seeking to protect both an electronic scale with conversion table software and a pair of headphones with a novel technique for overcoming popping and clicking noises when plugging the headphone connector into an audio port.
The strength of Qualcomm’s patent portfolio is a major reason why this company is so successful internationally. Most of the patents recently issued to this corporation protect various mobile device innovations, including the use of an inclinometer to detect the incline of a device display and adjusting the way an image is rendered to improve the view relative to the incline. Gesture-based financial transaction completed across mobile devices, as well as methods of providing location information on indoor environments, have also been protected for Qualcomm through patents issued over the past few weeks.
The patent applications most recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to these companies show that development of electric and hybrid electric vehicles are prominent among all three. Some of these patent applications describe novel applications of known energy generation and storage technologies, including air batteries and solar cells, to automobile environments. Self-driving cars manufactured by Toyota will benefit from a technology designed to improve the accuracy of determining a car’s actual location on the road.
These three corporations each have strong patent portfolios which have increased in recent weeks and we took special notice of a couple of patents issued in the field of fuel cell technologies. Honda has earned the right to protect an indoor vehicle that drives in response to the tilting motion of a seated rider. We also feature two patents directed towards safety systems which are designed to provide warnings to drivers in response to potential road hazards.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published dozens of patent applications in recent weeks which have been filed by these companies. Digital communications systems, including cloud-based methods of presenting technical manual information to car owners, are featured in a number of these patent applications. A trio of Ford patent applications discuss technologies for identifying occupants and drivers in a vehicle. Other patent applications that we discuss today feature collision safety systems, including one system for establishing voice communications with vehicle occupants after an accident.
The patent portfolios of all of the Big Three automakers have increased in recent weeks and many of these new additions protect improvements to hybrid electric vehicles; some innovations in this field are discussed below. In-vehicle text messaging systems are the focus of a few other patents that we explored today. We also were piqued by a patent protecting a system of contacting persons via a vehicle telematics units to resolve missing persons cases.
Doug Croxall (left) of Marathon Patent Group looks on as Jaime Siegel of Acacia Research addresses the audience at the 2014 IP Dealmakers Forum in NY on Nov. 7, 2014.
Last week I attended the 2014 IP Dealmakers Forum in New York City. The topic that most caught my attention from day two was the panel discussion titled Evaluating Public Market IP Investment Opportunities. The moderator was Phil Hartstein of Finjan, and the panel included Doug Croxall, who is CEO of Marathon Patent Group, Jaime Siegel, who is Executive Vice President of Litigation and Licensing at Acacia Research Group, Corey Horowitz, who is Chairman and CEO of Network-1, Robert Satterthwaite, who is Co-Founder and Co-Porfolio Manager at Blue Sea Investments, and Kevin Klein, Director of IP Licensing for Freescale Semiconductor.
The topics discussed by the panel were wide ranging, but one of the central themes related to information, but more specifically to the benefits and challenges of being a public versus a private IP company. That specific discussion may not seem to be related to data or information per se, but again and again Harstein asked questions and drew the panel to discuss the difference between the amount of information that must be disclosed by a public company (and the onerous regulatory obligations) and the demonstrably smaller amount of information that is publicly disseminated by private companies without reporting obligations.
DuPont is a company responsible for many impressive industrial and commercial innovations, and our latest survey of patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office bears this fact out. We explored a couple of patent applications that discuss novel methods of creating fuel from biomass materials, especially those materials that don’t draw from the food supply. Transparent conductive materials, ink-jet inks with better pigment stability and a whipping agent for frozen sorbet are other technological advances which are discussed below.
This corporation benefits from a strong patent portfolio and we’ve chronicled the addition of several important patents to DuPont’s intellectual property portfolio today. More food production innovations are reflected here, including a patent protect a better method for obtaining betaine from sugar beets for the production of molasses. Plastics production, including dielectric films for capacitors, are explored in more detail below. We also profile inventions involving relief printing methods for corrugated cardboard as well as another innovation for producing ethanol from biomass.
Jaime Siegel is Executive Vice President of of Licensing and Litigation at Acacia Research. He joined Acacia in 2013, coming to the company after serving as Vice President and Senior IP Counsel for Sony Corporation. Siegel has extensive experience in international IP monetization, enforcement and strategic acquisitions, and he agreed to chat with me on the record. Our interview took place on Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Siegel will be attending the IP Dealmakers Forum in New York City from November 6-7, 2014. He will also be on a panel on Friday morning titled Evaluating Public Market IP Investment Opportunities, which will discuss how investors can measure market value and performance of public IP companies, as well as exploring the various business models and strategies currently seen in the marketplace.
My conversation with Siegel was for the purpose of discussing these topics. As you will read below, while our discussion starts there it became a far ranging discussion of the issues facing the industry more globally. If there is a theme that shines through from our discussion it is about the undeniable reality that early stage investors always want to see patents before investing.
Imagine a time well into the future where someone might not understand what it means to “Google” something. A time when they would have absolutely no clue that the name of this corporation was used colloquially to describe a search of Internet-based content and data. Or, as it is essentially used in conversation, as the way to find the answers to your questions.
That mental image is impossible for anyone with regular Internet access to fully realize, with good reason: Google is a company offering a product, but that product has become something with widespread cultural implications. The Information Age is driven by the value derived by instant access to data, and one of the foundational tools of consumer access to data is the search engine.
If, in 100 years, Google is no longer recognized in this way, it would be said that Google had become the world’s next Kodak. What had been known as “the Kodak moment,” a culturally persistent reference to a moment in time with friends or family that should be saved for posterity, has been completely subverted by “the selfie” and the act of “gramming” a picture on Instagram.
This edition of IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow takes us back to the innovations most recently developed by this major purveyor of intellectual properties. In the patent applications filed by this company, we found an interesting trio of printing technologies, including one filing which would protect an improved system for printing and binding booklets. Medical innovations, including an endoscopic tool which can be selectively made transparent and visible depending on endoscopic operation needs, are discussed below. We also noted an innovation for reducing erroneous operations in an electronic device with multiple touchscreen panels.
There have been many recent additions to Canon’s already globally renowned patent portfolio that we profile today. We discuss a few patents issued to protect improvements to robotics technologies for manufacturing facilities. A couple of patents show Canon’s interest in improving nanofabrication techniques for creating semiconductors. We also explore inventions related to printing copy-forgery-inhibited patterns and high precision scanning technologies.