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Are you Ready to File a Provisional Patent Application?

Posted: Saturday, Oct 25, 2014 @ 4:09 pm | Written by Mark Nowotarski | No Comments »
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Posted in: Educational Information for Inventors, Guest Contributors, Inventors Information, IP News, Mark Nowotarski, Patent Basics, Patents

If you read the previous article in this series, Why Inventors Should Not Rely On Their Own Search, you know that before you file a provisional patent application, you should do a comprehensive search of the U.S. Patent Office and other U.S. and/or international databases. A patent agent/attorney will do this for their clients, or you can have a trusted confidant, (who won’t take your idea for their own), work with you to complete it.

Prepare yourself, you are very likely to find a similar product, and that is a good thing.

It’s a good thing because it means that someone else has also recognized that there is a problem which requires a solution. Ideally your solution, or some aspect of it, is either better than theirs, or distinctly different, which makes it possible to submit a provisional patent application for it.

At this point, you may think you know what the patentable element is, and are ready to file a provisional, but you’re not there yet, and here’s why.



Caterpillar Patents: Automated Bulldozers, Hydraulics and Energy Efficient Vehicles

Posted: Thursday, Oct 23, 2014 @ 10:23 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 2 comments
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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.



The Cost of Not Having Patent Protection

Posted: Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Fatih Ozluturk | 26 comments
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Posted in: Anti-patent Nonsense, Business, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Business & Deals, Patents

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.



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 | 3 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.



The Ebola Outbreak and Current State of Vaccine Development

Posted: Monday, Oct 20, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Biotechnology, Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Pharmaceutical, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration argues that, “American consumers benefit from having access to the safest and most advanced pharmaceutical system in the world.” The system set in place to approve pharmaceutical drugs, medications and vaccines provides for immense scrutiny of the effects of the medication on a subject well before that drug ever comes up for sale. Although the FDA and its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research do not conduct pharmaceutical testing themselves, they require testing and review data from these studies that are attached to new drug applications, or NDAs.

The system is good at developing effective pharmaceuticals, from vaccines to antibiotics. It is not good at producing those products either cheaply or quickly. One of the world’s biggest current issues is how to develop a solution to the growing threat posed by the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Efforts to develop an Ebola vaccine, along with other effective treatments, have been gaining steam at research laboratories in America and across the globe.

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?



The High Cost of Making Pharmaceuticals

Posted: Sunday, Oct 19, 2014 @ 2:17 pm | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 6 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, Pharmaceutical, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The process of developing a drug is incredibly expensive and costs have skyrocketed over the past few decades. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the cost for developing a single new drug, including money spent on researching unsuccessful drugs which don’t pass FDA screening, was $1.2 billion in the early 2000s, up from about $140 million during the 1970s. Estimates released in August 2013 by Forbes indicate that the price of developing a single drug is about $5 billion per medicine accepted by the FDA.

A large reason for these high costs is the incredibly high rate of failure during drug development. About 95 percent of all pharmaceuticals researched for use in humans fail to achieve the effectiveness and safety standards required for FDA approval, according to Forbes estimates. During 2013, the companies represented by PhRMA spent a total of $48.5 billion on research and development activities related to pharmaceutical drugs.

Another reason for the high costs associated with taking a drug to market is the fact that there is a complicated regulatory process. According to the Burrill Report , the rising costs associated with drug development can be explained, at least in part, due to regulatory barriers in place that slow approval and place many hurdles between the drug and the marketplace. “In the 2000s, that time grew to 13.5 years from just 6 years in the 1970s,” the Burrill Report explained.



10 Business-Oriented Rules for Achieving IP Lawyering Excellence

Posted: Friday, Oct 17, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Raymond Millien | 2 comments
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Posted in: Business, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Raymond Millien

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!



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.

The patent portfolio of Yahoo! has increased in recent weeks, and we’ve selected a few of these inventions that our readers may enjoy learning more about. One patent protects methods of interacting with search engine results through keyboard inputs, improving on current methods which typically only involve mouse-based inputs. We found more patents regarding online advertising, proving that Yahoo! has a definite focus on helping advertisers sell products and services to users of the company’s Internet technologies. We also discuss a type of social network designed by Yahoo! for use specifically with mobile devices.