Americans traveling abroad know well the painful experience associated with returning home to a hefty bill international cellular roaming charges. By some estimates half of all international travelers do not even use voice servicesfor fear of those dreaded high roaming costs.
Vonage, (NYSE: VG), a provider of communications services that connects individuals through cloud-connected devices worldwide, may have the solution. Recently Vonage introduced ReachMe Roaming™, a patented feature of its Vonage Mobile App® that allows U.S. travelers to receive free incoming calls to their existing cell phone numbers when connected to Wi-Fi anywhere in the world. As with most “free” offers, this one is for a limited time.
With ReachMe Roaming those wishing to reach the roaming phone simply call the traveler’s cell number to connect. There is no need to dial additional access numbers or provide a new phone number. U.S. customers can also make free calls back to the U.S., allowing seamless, two-way communication at no cost while traveling abroad.
Trolls of lore were ugly creatures who lived under bridges. They charged travelers to safely cross the raging waters and threatened harm to those who refused to pay. Trolls and their kindred spirits have haunted the nightmares of our children for generations.
But Peter Detkin, a co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, repurposed the term to represent the activities of non-practicing entities (NPEs) or patent assertion entities (PAEs). Perhaps our collective subconscious childhood fears of the trolls of old make it too easy for the media, our elected leaders and even some savvy CEOs to vilify modern trolls for everything they represent. I bet Mr. Detkin now wishes he used a more attractive term to describe the activities of his company.
What defines a troll? Most would agree that a company that does not make products, but buys up patents to assert against others, would be in the category. However, there seem to be as many permutations to this basic formulation as there are companies. What about large manufacturing companies with divisions that purchase patent portfolios for the purpose of assertion? What about companies that spin-off their unused patent portfolio to wholly or partially owned subsidiaries that assert those patents? What about companies that buy up portfolios for defensive purposes, compelling membership by companies that join for protection? What about universities? They don’t make products. Most would say that universities don’t fit into the category of trolls, because they license to companies that make the products covered by their patents. But what if the university sells its patents to a patent assertion entity with an agreement to share in the profits?
In discussions about our ability as human beings to build a sustainable future for ourselves, our reliance on deriving energy from fossil fuels is of major concern. Not only do these forms of fuel cause considerable pollution when combusted by vehicles, the carbon-based sources of these fuels are finite and quickly depleting. Although new technologies, like hydrofracking, have enabled us to find new sources of petroleum fuels, these methods come with their own negative environmental impacts.
In our further coverage of green and sustainable technologies for Earth Day 2014, we here at IPWatchdog wanted to take a closer look at innovations that could help us address many of the concerns of using fossil fuels for years into the future. Biofuel production has increased in recent years, but for many reasons production has fallen short of public policy goals. However, as we profile below, exciting new innovations being patented and licensed by American universities may provide some effective answers to issues that have been vexing biofuel developers for years.
Today is Earth Day 2014, and with that in mind we will be taking some time today and throughout the week to take some time to look at the progress of sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies in America and abroad.
We’ve searched the recently published patent applications and issued patents coming out of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to find the most unique innovations in the realm of recycling technologies. As you can see below, recycling technologies and innovation come in many different forms. While recycling in and of itself is no doubt environmentally friendly, so too are technologies that enable reusing items, relate to biodegradability and recycling items not previously viewed as recyclable.
A Note from Gene: Nearly two weeks ago, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I had a total right hip replacement. The surgery went very well. The biggest problem I encountered was nearly non-stop hiccups for the first week, which was likely due to the anesthesia. I was walking the next day, and I am now walking with only the assistance of a cane. Rehab is going nicely. With this going on in my personal life I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the evolution of hip replacement technology through the lens of issued U.S. patents.
Themistokles Gluck, circa 1901, performed the first documented hip replacement in 1891.
Hip surgeries have been taking place for at least three hundreds years, and have progressed from rudimentary surgeries to the sophisticated total hip replacement (i.e., total hip arthroplasty or THA) surgeries that are so commonplace today. According to the CDC, during 2010 there were 332,000 in patient total hip replacements performed in the U.S. Indeed, hip replacement surgery today is widely recognized as one of the most successful surgical interventions ever developed. See Early Attempts at Hip Arthroplasty.
Modern days of hip replacement surgery really date back to the 1960s, with the development of new devices that reduced the wear sustained by artificial hip joints over time, and which provided more predictable outcomes. Still, as with all great scientific advancement, it is impossible to overlook the important discoveries of the early days. Without first steps in any scientific endeavor future steps are impossible.
With this in mind, today we wanted to take a look at the innovation history of hip replacement surgery and technologies, from the first femoral head attachments fashioned from ivory to current technologies which may enable surgeons to conserve more natural bone than ever before through the use of synthetic cartilage.
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.
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.
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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