Our Companies We Follow series has looked at Intel a few times before. Our latest chance to check in with this multinational semiconductor chip manufacturer has revealed some truly unique technologies meant to improve mobile devices and communication systems for a great number of global consumers. Software is the common theme behind those patents and patent application we found during this snapshot look at Intel.
We start our profile of Intel’s recently developed technologies with a look at our featured patent application, which discusses a novel system for managing access to a vehicle among multiple drivers. This access management system would also be able to delegate responsibilities, such as gas refueling and scheduled maintenance, as well as enable emergency access to trusted parties. Other patent applications which we noticed today discussed enhanced security measures for private data as well as home media systems for accessing segmented television content.
It is not much of an overstatement to say that virtually every business has trade secrets worth protection, regardless of whether the business is run as a sole proprietorship, a small business or Fortune 500 company. Perhaps it is better to say that every business has assets that could and should be protected as trade secrets, but the truth is that many companies, even large companies, fail to do so properly.
The reason that it can be said that trade secret protection can be obtained by any business is for two reasons. First, trade secret protection can exist for virtually any business information. Second, trade secret protection is extremely easy to obtain; as long at the information remains secret it remains protected.
Let’s take a step back. What is a trade secret? A trade secret is defined as any business information that is not generally known and which has value, with the value being derived from the fact that the information is not generally known. The key to trade secret protection, therefore, is keeping that valuable business information from becoming generally known; or in other words keeping the information secret. Matters of public knowledge or general knowledge within an industry simply cannot be protected, nor can they be misappropriated. Similarly, once previously unknown information becomes known secrecy is lost and the trade secret ceases to exist.
The US patent system has a storied history: written into the Constitution by Madison; the Patent Act itself written by Jefferson; and, requested to be passed in Washington’s first State of the Union speech. As a former speech writer for the Commissioner back in 1985, I had the fun task of finding little interesting factotums about the US patent system to add some flavor to whatever audience the Commissioner was addressing. Such facts might include: local inventors, known statewide innovative companies, or just interesting moments in the course of the system and its contribution to the development of the then brand new United States.
Some fun stuff: Abraham Lincoln reckoned that, along with the invention of the printing press and Columbus discovery of America, the US patent system was among the three most important events in the history of the world. Of the 4 faces on Mt. Rushmore, 3 are inventors (Roosevelt is the exception); but, only Lincoln got a patent. The British burned pretty much everything in Washington that mattered in 1812; except, the Patent Office, around which they placed a guard. And so it goes.
Why am I resorting to the emotional heart strings; because the current round of patent reform is an existential threat to the US patent system. If these proposals pass, we will be left with a very, very expensive registration system in which the Fortune 50, and no one else, will be able to participate. In case no one has noticed, the Fortune 50 do not innovate (with few exceptions, it is those who will become the Fortune 50 that do the innovating) and so, the system ceases to exist. Let me explain.
Washington– The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force will host roundtable discussions in cities around the country on several copyright Internet policy topics, as part of the work envisioned in the Green Paper. The purpose of the roundtables is to engage further with members of the public on the following issues: (1) the legal framework for the creation of remixes; (2) the relevance and scope of the first sale doctrine in the digital environment; and (3) the appropriate calibration of statutory damages in the contexts of individual file sharers and of secondary liability for large-scale infringement. The roundtables, which will be led by USPTO and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will be held in Nashville, TN on May 21, 2014, Cambridge, MA on June 25, 2014, Los Angeles, CA on July 29, 2014, and Berkeley, CA on July 30, 2014. The meetings were called for in the Task Force’s Green Paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economyreleased last year.
In the Green Paper and subsequent requests for public comments on October 3, 2013, the Task Force stated its intention to hold roundtable discussions on these issues. On December 12, 2013, the Task Force held a day-long public meeting to discuss the issues identified for its further work in the Green Paper, which included panel discussions on remixes, the first sale doctrine, and statutory damages, as well as other topics. The purpose of the planned roundtables is to seek additional input from the public in different parts of the country in order for the Task Force to have a complete and thorough record upon which to make recommendations.
As we get deeper into the month of April, the Companies We Follow series here at IPWatchdog wanted to take a little time to review the databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inventions from this corporation. Over the past month or two, we’ve found many intriguing patent applications and issued patents describing a wide array of new technologies. We’re noticing some real activity on behalf of GE regarding medical and wind energy generation, among other developments.
Today’s featured patent application would protect a novel system of addressing power outages when a utility network doesn’t receive notification of the event directly from customers. This system allows a utility network to scan social media posts for relevant information about outages, and then turn those posts into instructions for maintenance crews. We also discuss a few inventions related to wind turbines, including a new method for measuring lightning strike damage on wind turbine blades, and a couple of patent applications filed to protect medical monitoring technologies.
Washington– The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host a public forum on May 9, 2014 at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, to solicit feedback from organizations and individuals on its recent guidance memorandum for determining subject matter eligibility of claims reciting or involving laws of nature, natural phenomena, and natural products (Laws of Nature/Natural Products Guidance). The Laws of Nature/Natural Products Guidance implemented a new procedure to address changes in the law relating to subject matter eligibility in view of recent Supreme Court precedent.
“We are always interested in receiving feedback from the public and this forum will provide an opportunity for participants to present their interpretation of the impact of Supreme Court precedent on the complex legal and technical issues involved in subject matter eligibility analyses during patent examination.” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee.
“Without a strong healthy business nothing else really matters–not even IP. A successful IP [plan] is one that follows the business and strategizes to meet its goals,” says Cynthia Raposo, Senior Vice President of Underarmour. The questions that need to be answered that go into formulating an intellectual property strategy–like when the company wants a profit, whether it is interested in attracting investors or academic collaborations or buyers, whether it will become a public or global company, what its niche in the market is, how fast developments in the field are– can’t be fully answered without not only consulting the business people, but being on the exact same page as them.
Instead of trying to warp business around IP or thinking about why and when IP might make incentives for business, as has been the case in the scholarly literature, we should start shifting the focus and instead discuss IP strategy in the context of business growth and development. This year at the AIPLA Mid-Winter Institute, the panels allowed us to take a detailed look at seven companies (Underarmour, RedHat, GlobeImmune, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Harley Davidson, Ventana Medical Systems, and Global Partner Holdings) who have done just that and have progressed from small start-ups to well-known, profitable companies. Their successes emphasize why and how IP strategy should change as the business changes.
Do patents actually promote innovation and economic growth?
We know from the historical record that in 19th century America, at least, most observers had no doubt that that the patent system was absolutely vital to U.S. economic success.
Sir William Thompson, a British inventor and scientist attending the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, looked at the amazing array of American inventions — including Bell’s telephone, the Westinghouse airbrake, Singer’s sewing machines, and Edison’s improved telegraph — and told Scientific American that “if Europe does not amend its patent laws, America will speedily become the nursery of useful inventions for the world.”
Meanwhile, the Swiss Commissioner in attendance, the shoe manufacturer Edward Bally, offered a similar warning to his Old World countrymen. “American industry has taken a lead which in a few years may cause Europe to feel its consequences in a very marked degree.”
How to Write a Patent Application is a must own for patent attorneys, patent agents and law students alike. A crucial hands-on resource that walks you through every aspect of preparing and filing a patent application, from working with an inventor to patent searches, preparing the patent application, drafting claims and more.
Without hesitation I recommend One Simple Idea and think it should be required reading for any motivated inventor. There is so much to like about the book and so much that I think author Stephen Key nails dead on accurate. The book is educational, information and inspirational. For the $14 cover price it is essential reading.
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