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Companies We Follow

The Walt Disney Company – An Innovative and Creative Pioneer

Posted: Saturday, Dec 20, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Computers, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, The Walt Disney Company, Video

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) is a multinational mass media corporation headquartered in Burbank, CA, and is one of the few companies in the world that could be considered beloved by its customers. Disney has thrived for decades on offering family friendly experiences at its many amusement parks and in movie theaters across the globe. So far, 2014 has been a banner year for the company thanks in large part to box office successes from films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America 2 and Frozen; a resulting rise in dividends extending from this success is seen as a sign of increased corporate strength for Disney. In 2015, Disney’s movie business is expected to reap even more from what are expected to be great returns from the next movie installments of The Avengers and Star Wars, both of which are coming out next year. Disney is also heavily into the development of video games, which we’ll discuss in more detail below, as is evidenced by the recent announcement of a Disney research initiative completed in partnership with the Institute of Technology Zürich for better quality in eye capture for building digital face models in video games.

Disney may not be as prolific in patenting activities as many other corporations featured in the Companies We Follow series, but the company did place 211th overall during 2013 in terms of U.S. patents received by entities worldwide; statistics released by the Intellectual Property Owners Association show that Disney earned 137 patents that year, almost 25 percent more than they received the year prior.

Surprising to some may be that the effects of the Supreme Court ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank has negatively impacted the patent holdings of Disney as a series of patents protecting lip-sync animation technologies were declared invalid in September by a U.S. district judge in California, which found that the patents only protected an abstract set of rules. Over the years, Disney has patented a wide array of technologies, from drink dispensers to amusement rides with spinning passenger cars to irrigation control systems. But they do have a variety of software related innovations that have been patented, so like everyone else in the space they are not immune to the uncertainty created by the Supreme Court.



Video Conferencing and Software Dominate Cisco Patent Activity

Posted: Friday, Dec 19, 2014 @ 7:30 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Cisco Systems, Companies We Follow, Computers, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), of San Jose, CA, is a dominant force in the market of developing and commercializing computer networking solutions for many types of organizations. The month of December marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of this company first founded in San Francisco, from which Cisco derives its name. Cisco offers plenty of evidence that intellectual property protection is not mutually exclusive with open source ideals, such as its recent decision to expand the resources freely available through its OpenSOC (Security Operation Center) project, which utilizes Big Data techniques to enhance security analytics. Cisco has faced plenty of competition over the past few months from Microsoft in the area of enterprise collaboration infrastructure, although third quarter data available from both companies showed that Cisco has lately widened its lead in this market.

We often feature Cisco here on the Companies We Follow series and our latest search of patent applications filed by this company showed us a great amount of research into video communications. One patent application we feature discusses a method for automatically recognizing videoconferencing callers. Improved collaboration systems, including those which can alert online collaborators to an emergency situation being experienced by a person on the other end of a communication link, are discussed in a couple of other applications. We also discuss one filing for a technology that provides local content of interest in response to global searches for information.

The patenting activities of Cisco are very strong and the past few weeks saw the addition of many valuable patents to this company’s portfolio. Videoconferencing technologies, including technologies for better eye contact or subject mobility during video calls, are discussed in a collection of patents we’ve shared below. Methods of providing callers with a default language of their choice while visiting foreign countries, as well as security features to be implemented by smart electrical grids, are also explored in more detail.



Diverse Patent Portfolio for 3M: Digital Sticky Notes, Dental Innovations and Monitoring Criminal Offenders

Posted: Monday, Dec 15, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: 3M, Authors, Companies We Follow, Consumer Products, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Headquartered in St. Paul, MN, the 3M Company (NYSE: MMM) is a major American corporation involved with the development of a wide range of consumer personal care products as well as medical systems, vehicle care and other industries; it’s also a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company recently passed an important valuation milestone as it saw its total worth push past $100 billion in early November; the company expects to finish the year with a record $31 billion in sales. In financial publications, some investing commentators have discussed 3M as a fairly safe core portfolio investment, although the company is not expected to greatly outperform others in its sector over the next year. The company has invested itself heavily in corporate expansions, including the recent announcement of a $57.6 million high-tech medical supply manufacturing facility in Brookings, SD.

The Companies We Follow series has been busy reviewing the R&D activities of some corporations which we haven’t featured before, and today we have the intellectual property development activities of 3M in our sights. Patent applications assigned to this company which have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office disclose a number of unique chemical compositions, including an anti-fogging compound for better visibility through vehicle windows. A couple of electronic data systems are also disclosed, including one designed to enable community monitoring of local criminal offenders.

3M has a very strong patent portfolio and the past few weeks saw the addition of many intriguing technologies to its IP holdings. A couple of patents protect improvements to orthodontics and dental treatment, including a system designed for better digital modeling of interior mouth structures. Another more general medical innovation involves the use of a nylon article including a dye that provides antimicrobial properties when light passes through the dye. We also discuss a self-priming wall spackle compound and a software system for the digital management of sticky notes, such as Post-it notes.



Internet Technologies a Continuing Focus for Microsoft

Posted: Sunday, Dec 14, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Cloud Computing, Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Microsoft, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

During the budget debates of 2013, Vice-President Joe Biden famously proclaimed: “Show me your budget and I will tell you what you value.” There is no doubt a lot of logic behind this statement. If you are spending money in one area but not in others that is the best indication of where you place the greatest importance. If that is case, it is clear that Microsoft prioritizes innovation. Between 2010 and 2012, corporate investment in R&D increased from $8.7 billion to $9.8 billion, or about 14 percent of the company’s total revenue during those years.

Microsoft’s R&D teams are focused on a wide array of topics in computer software and hardware engineering, including computational science, computer networking and machine learning. Indeed, Microsoft Corporation is a multinational corporation that is an industry leader in fields such as computer software, personal computers and other consumer electronics. Therefore, it is never surprising to see the company filing and receiving patents on a variety of user interfaces, cloud computing technologies, advances for the popular Xbox system, or number of Internet and social media related innovations.

The company is still extending its ownership of computing technologies, especially Internet-based services, and in late November it was announced that the company would be buying mobile email solutions startup Acompli for an undisclosed price speculated to be about $200 million. Microsoft’s R&D activities in video gaming, a major focus for the company over the past decade, has been paying off big for the company as the Xbox One sold the most consoles during this recent Black Friday, beating out both the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Wii U.



Sony Patents: From Internet Television to Athletic Performance

Posted: Tuesday, Dec 9, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Consumer Products, Internet, Internet Television, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Sony, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

The Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE) of Tokyo, Japan, is a major company involved in electronics engineering for an incredible array of consumer products, from video games to financial services. Sony restructuring efforts under CEO Kazuo Hirai will focus heavily on the development of the company’s movie entertainment division; Hirai recently announced that Sony expects those revenues to increase by more than a third over the next three years. Sony’s music production subsidiary, Sony Music Entertainment, has recently criticized the free music streaming services offered by Spotify and other Internet services. Sony is also developing a cloud-based television system, known as the PlayStation Vue, which could offer about 75 channels of television content to users of the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4 for $60 per month.

Once again, the Companies We Follow series has Sony squarely in our sights and we’ve found some great patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A couple of these technologies are related to mobile phone use, including a microphone device wearable in a speaker’s ear which does a better job of blocking out distracting noise. Another patent application discusses a program guide for accessing Internet video through a television set. We were also piqued by an innovative way to locate a vehicle lost within a huge parking lot using a mobile electronic device.

Internet-enabled television services were also at the heart of some the patents we wanted to share with our readers, including one protecting a method of sharing live streaming content with consumers over the Internet. A few other patents we discuss below protect novel systems for video games, including one gesture-based system which could be incorporated into first-person shooter games. We also explore a patent protecting a method of analyzing athletic performance from a series of photos.



Financial Innovation: From Smarter ATMs to Investing Casino Winnings

Posted: Monday, Dec 8, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Financial, Financial Services, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Lately, our Companies We Follow series has focused on some big names in innovation from the financial sector. Both the Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are heavily involved in developing technologies to serve the personal finance needs of individual customers as well as many tools that are designed to aid organizations large and small. Today, we thought that we would spend some time scoping out a wider breadth of invention from entities outside of the two banking giants which typically earn most of our focus.

In terms of innovation, banking services have been impacted by the incredible spread of computing and Internet technologies over the last twenty years. Indeed, patent portfolios that deal with point-of-sale biometrics, secure identity authentication for electronic funds transfer, automated teller machines and transaction card systems that prevent unauthorized use have all recently been offered by ICAP patent brokerage. But even with this innovation and activity some industry pundits have surmised that the Internet age has yet to truly impact the financial services sector. If these predictions are true we could see truly disruptive innovations that will continue to impact the marketplace in positive ways, perhaps even approaching the level of disruption that smartphones caused when upending both personal computing and cellular communications.

Digital currencies like Bitcoin, social media-based identification systems and enhanced application programming interfaces for online banking services have been developed and are slowly establishing larger user bases. Some banks and financial services corporations have varying opinions on what constitutes innovation in their fields, but a focus on developing stronger relationships with consumers is a common thread throughout.



A Devotion to Robot Innovation at Samsung

Posted: Saturday, Dec 6, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Robotics, Samsung, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Perhaps more so than any other technology company that we focus on, Samsung seems to have a real fascination with robots. Indeed, we have noticed robotic technologies in recent Samsung patent filings just about every time we’ve covered the company as part of our Companies We Follow series. If you go back and look through our coverage Samsung in our archives, virtually every article will mention a robotics innovation or two.

It is no great surprise that once again robots are seen as a recurring theme in the Samsung portfolio. We notice a variety of robots in the patent applications recently published, as well as the patents recently issued to Samsung. In fact, we were intrigued by the number and scope of robotics related innovations the company continues to pursue.

With this in mind we decided to split up our most review of Samsung into several of articles, with this article focused on Samsung’s innovative pursuit of robot technology.



Samsung Patents Focus on Nanotech and Augmented Reality

Posted: Friday, Dec 5, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Electronics, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Multimedia, Nanotechnology, Patents, Samsung, Smartphones, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Samsung headquarters in South Korea.

As of this writing, Samsung has entered some turbulent waters in the ocean of smartphone technologies, and the company may shake-up the administration of its mobile business because of an unforeseen drop in profits. Samsung is trying to protect its mobile business in the United States through the court system as it’s recently petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission to block sales of Nvidia mobile graphics processing chips on patent infringement claims. Other restructuring efforts within the corporation, including the takeover of Samsung Engineering by Samsung Heavy Industries for $2.5 billion, have run up against opposition from shareholders.

The corporation is also in the middle of some major restructuring, having just announced the sale of four Samsung Group firms for about $1.72 billion, including defense technology developer Samsung Techwin. Innovation in personal computing services are still strong at the company and technologies like the EyeCan+, which allows users to access computing functions by moving their eyes, will continue to support revolutionary Samsung products and services. Recent comments from the CEO of virtual reality developer Oculus VR should be a harbinger of greater investment in augmented and virtual reality on behalf of Samsung.

Still, despite what else may be going on at Samsung we can always count on the fact that they will be filing and receiving patents. Our recent look at Samsung for our Companies We Follow series found plenty of innovations that many consumers around the world can look forward to in the coming months and years. Nanotechnologies utilized for the creation of light-emitting diodes and liquid crystal displays have been protected for the company recently, as a number of patents we explore below show. Other areas of strong research and development activity within the company includes robotics, alternative energies and virtual reality systems, each of which we discuss in further detail today.



JPMorgan Chase Software Patent Portfolio Grows Larger

Posted: Thursday, Dec 4, 2014 @ 7:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Financial, Financial Services, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, JP Morgan Chase, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Jamie Dimon, President and CEO of JPMorgan Chase

Headquartered in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) is a multinational banking and financial services company as well as the largest U.S. banking institution in terms of assets. Recent months have been rocky ones for the company to navigate. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would be firing 3,000 more workers this year than previously reported, raising the total number of jobs lost at the company to 27,000 over a two-year period. Around the same time, it was also reported that the company was setting aside an additional $2.4 for legal cost estimates in the wake of allegations of criminal activities in foreign exchange markets, currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice. JPMorgan Chase is looking to extend its footprint in Africa into Kenya and other East African economies.

Patent filing activities are still strong at JPMorgan Chase as we return to the banking giant in our Companies We Follow series. A couple of innovations we noticed in the corporation’s recent patent applications ease the burden required to enter and transmit data for financial transactions, especially when registering financial accounts for recurring payments on a club membership. Payment rewards systems for mortgage holders and other credit account owners are discussed below as well. We also talk about a technology for allowing users to communicate with self-serving kiosks by using sign language.

Several patents that we found in our latest survey protect a couple of transactional card inventions for JPMorgan Chase, including one system intended to support the use of smart cards which can display a prepaid balance. Simpler methods of signing online users into networked financial services are the focus of a few other patents we discovered. Also recently patented was a method of preventing identity theft. But what really caught our attention were the patent claims JPMorgan Chase recently obtained. Many of the claims cover computer implemented processes, while many are clearly drawn to software innovations even if they don’t specifically define computer implemented processes in the preamble of the claims. It would seem that like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase is not suffering through Alice rejections that so many others experience.



Bank of America Patents: From Customer Loyalty to Cybersecurity and Social Networking

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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Posted in: Authors, Bank of America, Companies We Follow, Financial, Financial Services, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Security & Identity Theft, Social Media, Social Networking, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) of Charlotte, NC, is one of America’s largest banking and financial services companies and a major player in the fields of wealth management and investment banking. The company is currently at the center of a series of investigations in the United States, Europe and Asia regarding allegations that the institution intentionally manipulated foreign currency markets. Another BoA legal case was added to the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court on the subject of voiding second mortgages on a home that is “underwater, which could have large implications for the nation’s real estate industry. In terms of its own real estate, Bank of America has closed 42 branches across the country over the past three months, the most in the country over that period, while only opening one branch, although this likely has more to do with the spread of online banking services than any signs of corporate trouble.

IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series has profiled BoA’s innovations on a few occasions in the past. In this edition, we found a number of patent applications filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect technologies for customer loyalty rewards programs, including one innovative system for encouraging account holders to achieve long-term goals. Another patent application would protect a technology designed to identify opportunities for business mergers or acquisitions. We also discuss one patent application filed to protect a platform for disseminating carbon credit data based on personal transactions.

Social networking platforms were at the core of a couple of patents recently issued to Bank of America, including one invention meant to help uncover potential social networking opportunities based on financial transactions. A couple of cybersecurity technologies, including one for isolating an infected client device to stop of the spread of a virus within a network, are also featured. We were also intrigued to share a patent protecting a method of presenting vehicle information of interest to someone who may want to buy a vehicle by capturing a video feed of that vehicle.



The Right of Publicity in a Social Media World: An Interview with Yahoo! Executive Kristina Dinerman

Posted: Monday, Dec 1, 2014 @ 12:35 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »
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Posted in: Authors, Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, Interviews & Conversations, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Right of Publicity, Yahoo

Kristina Dinerman, Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Yahoo! Inc.

Kristina Dinerman is Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Yahoo! Inc. Dinerman handles business and legal affairs for media, marketing and the Yahoo Studio, which means that dealing with the many thorny issues associated with rights of publicity are on her daily radar. Rights of publicity and entertainment licensing are not topics we frequently cover on IPWatchdog.com, but I noticed that Dinerman would be speaking about these topics at Understanding the Intellectual Property License program in San Francisco, California on December 8, 2014. I set the wheels in motion for an on the record conversation, which appears below.

In this interview we discuss how the Internet generally, and social media more specifically, has changed the landscape with respect to rights of publicity, raising a number of interesting questions about what is, and what is not, commercial speech.

Without further ado, here is part 1 of my 2 part interview with Kristina Dinerman.



Whirlpool Seeks Legal Counsel In Patent Operations

Posted: Friday, Nov 28, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Renee C. Quinn | No Comments »
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Posted in: IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, JobOrtunities™ Help Wanted Section, Whirlpool

Whirlpool Corporation is seeking qualified candidates for a Legal Counsel opening in their Patent Operations group within the Law Department. The Whirlpool Patent Operations team of eleven includes attorneys, patent agents, legal specialists and an administrative assistant. The group enjoys working together in a collegial environment.

This position will be responsible for providing legal counsel and services on matters involving patents, copyrights, trade secrets and other proprietary information. This position supports Whirlpool’s global product organization, including its advanced development and product engineering groups.