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Companies We Follow

Canon’s Diversified Patents: Robotics to Touchscreens and Medical Innovations

Posted: Friday, Oct 31, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Cameras, Canon, Companies We Follow, Electronics, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Printers, Robotics, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Canon Inc. is a multinational corporation focused on developing a variety of optical and imaging products for consumers and businesses, including printers, photocopiers, camcorders, cameras and even medical devices. In September, Canon released a line of inkjet printers under the brand name Maxify, a low-end printing solution for small businesses; most models cost between $150 and $400 per printer. On the higher end of the quality spectrum, Canon also recently unveiled a new CINE-SERVO Ultra-Telephoto Zoom lens, being marketed as the world’s longest 4K telephoto zoom lens, which comes with a price tag of $78,000 per unit. Canon is also making forays into information technology development across the world, having acquired Australian firm Harbour IT in September for $35 million, the corporation’s largest acquisition deal in the Oceania region.

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.



FTC Says AT&T Has Misled Millions of Consumers with ‘Unlimited’ Data Promises

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 @ 9:30 am | Written by Federal Trade Commission | 4 comments
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Posted in: Advertising, AT&T, Companies We Follow, False Advertising, Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

The Federal Trade Commission filed a federal court complaint against AT&T Mobility, LLC, charging that the company has misled millions of its smartphone customers by charging them for “unlimited” data plans while reducing their data speeds, in some cases by nearly 90 percent.

The FTC’s complaint alleges that the company failed to adequately disclose to its customers on unlimited data plans that, if they reach a certain amount of data use in a given billing cycle, AT&T reduces – or “throttles” – their data speeds to the point that many common mobile phone applications – like web browsing, GPS navigation and watching streaming video –  become difficult or nearly impossible to use.

“AT&T promised its customers ‘unlimited’ data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “The issue here is simple: ‘unlimited’ means unlimited.”



Nikon Patents: A Smorgasbord of Digital Cameras and Immersion Lithography

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 29, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Cameras, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Nikon, Patents, Printers, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

A fair amount of innovation in various optical and imaging technology fields comes out of the research facilities of the Nikon Corporation (NASDAQ: NINOY) of Tokyo, Japan. Nikon is outpaced by its geographical and industrial rival Canon in a few significant ways, especially in number of patent grants obtained, although some commentators are predicting that Nikon will outdo Canon in its development of video DSLR cameras. Current DSLR camera technologies available from Nikon include interchangeable lenses and offer the ability to take detailed photos captured at incredibly quick frame rates. Nikon digital camera technologies even showed that they performed well in outer space, as recent selfies taken during an October spacewalk by International Space Station astronauts will confirm.

Every now and again, the Companies We Follow series returns to check up on Nikon’s innovations, and we learned some interesting things about Nikon’s current corporate focus. According to a myriad of patent applications filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Nikon is serious about expanding its intellectual property holdings in the area of lithography, especially immersion lithography, for the manufacture of semiconductors and other electronics. An X-ray device which is less affected by thermal expansion and a digital bulletin board for an online electronic album service are also discussed in recently filed Nikon patent applications.



The Evolution of Digital Cameras – A Patent History

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014 @ 1:32 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Cameras, Canon, Companies We Follow, Evolution of Technology, Guest Contributors, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Kodak, Nikon, Patents, Samsung, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Steve Sasson, inventor of the digital camera, receives National Medal of Science from President Obama on 11/17/2010.

Just about 40 years ago, a young electrical engineer working at the offices of Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY, developed a product that would upend the entire world of photography. Since that time, the technology has exploded into consumer markets and has proliferated into our daily lives, from camera components included in smartphones to high-quality megapixel systems which provide professional-grade images. All of this came to be thanks to the development of light-sensitive semiconductor devices capable of storing and transmitting light exposure information to create a digital image.

Here at IPWatchdog, we like to return regularly to our Evolution of Technology series to detail the development of a popular consumer technology across the years. Today, with our recent focus on patents issued to companies developing digital photography products, we wanted to dive in a little more deeply to look at the history of development in this field of technology. The chronology of digital photography development comprises the establishment of the JPEG image standard and the development of liquid crystal display screens. It also closely follows the decline of a major American developer of imaging products and the subsequent shift in the entire photography market.



J&J Innovation: From Electronic Contact Lenses to Hernia Repair

Posted: Monday, Oct 27, 2014 @ 1:20 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, Johnson & Johnson, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Johnson & Johnson headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) of New Brunswick, NJ, is an American multinational company focused on the sale of medical devices, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals. The invitation of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO, Alex Gorsky, to IBM’s board of directors in June of this year may signal a growing partnership with the data services giant to develop more pharmaceutical drugs. The company’s recent announcement of its $1.75 billion purchase of private biotechnology firm Alios BioPharma is further evidence of a growing corporate focus on pharmaceuticals for J&J. The company is involved in many vision care programs and initiatives, and its Sight for Kids partnership with the Lions Clubs International Foundation announced that it had administered its 20-millionth free vision screen for children in need.

J&J is pretty active in terms of patenting, and our recent survey of patent applications filed with the USPTO showed us that the company is looking to usher in the next age of contact lenses. In a time when many people are talking about Google Glass and other wearable technologies, we were intrigued to find a large number of patent applications filed by J&J to protect methods of incorporating semiconductor components into contact lenses for digitizing vision care and correction. A surgical implant for hernia repair and cosmetic compositions which cause less skin irritation are also discussed below.

The New Jersey-based company and its various subsidiaries were the recipients of a large number of patent grants in the past few months, and we’re sharing some of our favorites below. Even more contact lens innovation is reflected in these recently issued patents, including contact lenses for stopping myopia progression or for providing more stability when worn on the eye. Anti-tumor topical compositions and disposable assay devices for the simpler completion of biochemical tests have also recently entered the intellectual property portfolio of this firm.



Caterpillar Patents: Automated Bulldozers, Hydraulics and Energy Efficient Vehicles

Posted: Thursday, Oct 23, 2014 @ 10:23 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Caterpillar, Companies We Follow, Construction & Mining, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

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.

The corporation has seen some turbulence in its executive ranks as of late after experiencing the retirement of the presidents of both its resource industries and customer and dealer support groups. Despite corporate challenges, some business analysts are forecasting some very positive gains in Caterpillar stock over the coming year, owing mainly to the diverse nature of the company’s business operations.

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.



Skin Care Dominates P&G Recent Patents and Filings

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014 @ 11:38 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Consumer Products, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Procter & Gambe, Robotics, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE: PG), headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, is responsible for the sale of many popular consumer brands of soap, laundry detergent, makeup, toothpaste and many other personal care items. A successful American company for generations, P&G has been navigating rough business waters lately, having just given up the 12th-place spot on the S&P 500 in terms of market capitalization to JPMorgan Chase. However, better financial days may be just around the corner for the company, as is indicated by the buy rating extended to P&G stock by the Bank of America in early October. Recently, the corporation announced the release of it’s newly developed Tide Professional Coldwater System, which includes unique enzymes for stain removal that work in cold water environments, saving much of the energy that would have gone into heating the water.

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.



A Bright Future: The Current State of Solar Technology Development

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Energy, Gene Patents, Green Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Ohio State University, Patents, Samsung, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Universities

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.

The development of a solar battery, a major advancement in the field of solar energy utilization, is only one of the indicators of increased solar development in the past few months. Some municipalities in the United States are electing to develop community solar farms which can produce amounts of electricity that reach into the hundreds of thousands of kilowatts annually. Major solar panel manufacturers, such as SolarCity, are developing loan programs to help solar customers gain ownership of the solar panels outright over the course of years. Door to door sales of solar are also incredibly high, and Vivint Inc., a Utah-based solar developer, has sold units to 22,000 customers, mainly on the strength of house calls.



Fujitsu’s Patents: Processing, Virtual Machines & Biometrics

Posted: Monday, Oct 20, 2014 @ 12:50 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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Posted in: Biotechnology, Companies We Follow, Electronics, Fujitsu, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Semiconductors, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Computing technologies are the main field of development for Fujitsu Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan, and the corporation’s diverse scope of innovation involves the creation of microelectronics, telecommunications systems and cloud computing services. Recently, Fujitsu announced that it would partner with the Japanese government to design an exascale machine, a computing device operating at 1,000 petaflops, a computing speed which is 30 times faster than the industry leading supercomputer today. In a theme we’ll see repeated in today’s Companies We Follow column, Fujitsu is also deeply invested in the development of biometric technologies, including the creation of authentication technologies in casino and gambling environments. A coalition of organizations including Fujitsu has also just created an optical transmissions technology capable of transmitting data at speeds of 400 gigabytes per second up to distances of 10,000 kilometers.

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.



Yahoo! Focuses on Social Platform for Achieving Personal Goals

Posted: Thursday, Oct 16, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Cloud Computing, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Social Media, Social Networking, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Yahoo

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) is a multinational corporation which has achieved global renown for its suite of Internet software technologies, including e-mail, finance, search engine and other web portal services. The corporation recently announced that the renowned Yahoo! Directory, the hierarchical list of links that was the first Internet product offered by Yahoo!, will be discontinued by the end of the year. Although it is parting with some longtime services, the company has been involved in an incredible amount of acquisitions, having recently its purchase of Luminate, a tech startup which has created an interactive platform for tagging images. Meanwhile, Yahoo! is trying to deal with pressure from certain shareholders to consider a merger with America Online.

Yahoo! may not be responsible for the large amounts of intellectual property development seen with other companies featured in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, but we do always find many intriguing innovations when we look at the corporation’s recently filed patent applications. We were greatly interested in a trio of patent applications which are evidence of Yahoo!’s desire to build a social platform for achieving personal goals, including one application discussing the use of social and economic motivators to achieve goals. Other innovations included online advertisement improvements, including a method for presenting virtual billboards through a digital lens device, and methods for discovering relevant online content.