Companies in technology sectors, especially social media companies, have seen some incredible investment through recent initial public offerings (IPOs) of corporate stock. Multi-billion dollar valuations for companies like Facebook, Twitter and more gave investors some excitement, but questions about sustainability, revenue generation and user growth has caused stock prices to dip in recent months.
Many of these companies have valuations that seem to fly in the face of their business models, which harkens back to the days of “irrational exuberance” of the “dot com” era. Still, social media companies can enjoy billions of users, but many of them use their services for free and generate negligible ad revenue for the company providing the platform. Will social media evolve into a money-making proposition or will these companies falter? Time will tell, as it tells with all things.
Against this backdrop and with the full knowledge that higher levels of investment almost universally require significant intellectual property holdings, we thought we’d take some time to look at the current state of the social media industry, including revenue and innovations. To accomplish this task we will also take a closer look at some recent inventions patented by major companies in this field.
Once again, IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow is returning to Mountain View, CA, to focus on Google Inc., one of the premier names in online technologies throughout the world. In mid-November, the corporation received a major legal victory when the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the company’s Google Books service is protected under the “fair use” principle of copyright law. Google’s Android system is still very strong in the mobile device market, which the corporation is hoping to improve with the recent launch of its low-cost Moto G smartphone.
Google is a major player in the American patent system, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark System regularly churns out bunches of issued patents and patent application publishings which are assigned to the company. This week, we’re profiling a number of interesting technologies for mobile devices and online software applications that this multinational corporation is either seeking to protect or for which they’ve earned the rights already.
Today’s column starts with a thorough profile of one patent application that seeks to converge content from social networks with the news feed that a person sees when browsing a news aggregator service. Google wants to patent a system that analyzes a user’s social media feeds to pull up relevant media or comments that may enhance the value of browsing through news stories. Other patent applications protect better routing systems, both for public transportation as well as personal vehicles, and one discusses an interesting system of providing instant text translations between two foreign parties on one tablet computer.
The International Business Machines Corporation, headquartered in Armonk, NY, is a major global manufacturer of computer hardware and software, especially for business applications. They provide physical products and consulting services designed to improve operational efficiencies for businesses in various ways. Recently, IBM announced the opening of its Accelerated Discovery Lab, a facility dedicated to finding new relationships between disparate data sets, providing the ability to use Big Data for increasingly groundbreaking discoveries in various fields. IBM is also getting involved in improving cloud security for businesses, recently announcing a business partnership with online security developer Akamai.
This week, IPWatchdog is taking some time in our Companies We Follow series to feature the undisputed top patenting company in the world — IBM. Today, we’re featuring a bevy of patent applications and issued patents featuring IBM developments in a wide range of computing services.
Our featured patent application describes a system of filtering social media messages sent to group members based on a recipient rating system. Negative ratings from group message recipients may be used to inform future methods of blocking similar messages from that sender. Other patent applications would protect more efficient systems of performing computer maintenance and identifying healthcare risks. Another patent application describes an improved coolant system for computing systems.
As the dust settles after the storm caused by the conversion of the United States patent system from a first-to-invent system to a “modified” first-to-file system through implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA) on March 16, 2013, it is essential that companies and inventors avoid inadvertent disclosures of the company’s or inventor’s inventions on social media networks and the company’s website.
Social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have changed the manner that businesses communicate and market their products and innovations. Although these tools may be beneficial by creating market “buzz” for new products through rapid information sharing, they may also be detrimental to a company’s patenting practices for the same reason. If disclosures of up and coming products are made on social media websites without the company first filing for patent protection, and the disclosures are then copied by a second party who then files an application based on the company’s social media disclosures, before the company does, then the first-to-file law could bar the company from patenting the invention, whereas the second party could then obtain patent rights to the invention disclosed on the social media site.
The Samsung Group of Seoul, South Korea, is a conglomerate made up of many subsidiaries that are in the business of developing different electronics. Samsung’s line of products is as varied as washing machines, televisions, microwaves and handheld electronic devices. Recently, the manufacturer announced that it would begetting more serious in the tablet market with the upcoming release of the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note tablet.
In this edition of IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow our series returns to focus once again on Samsung and its recent appearances at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. As has often been the case recently, many of the more intriguing patents and patent applications from Samsung deal with electronic device development. One patent document protects a better system of constructing biochips to monitor drug trials. An application filed by Samsung describes a devised method of allowing mobile phones to give off fragrance in response to user interaction. Upgrades to electro-wetting displays, which use water and oil to affect light displays, are featured in a second patent application.
Smarter computing systems are also a major focus for Samsung. We also look at an application that would protect a system for controlling social network user interactions based on emotional states, and more efficient systems of detecting eye regions for facial recognition.
On May 9, 2013, IPWatchdog’s very own Gene Quinn will be attending and presenting at the Business Development Institute’s Social Media Marketing Summit for Law Firms in NY. When they first reached out to IPWatchdog to ask Gene to present at this event, I offered to speak as the Social Media Diva, but given that the program specifically targets Law Firms, they declined my offer expressing their desire to have an attorney who not only knows and understand the importance of social media but one who also utilizes social media on a regular basis as part of the work he does each day! So Gene is definitely their guy!
The summit was put together as a result of increased awareness of social media by law firms and how these platforms can be used to attract new clients and to expand business with existing clients. According to the Summit’s Event Summary, “Most lawyers use social media networking tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and most firms have at least one blog. Many firms now recognize that blogging and social networking have helped produce new client leads.” Gene himself gets all of his client work as a result of his blogging and other social media efforts. So BDI recognized that he is the perfect person to present at the Summit.
By now you are probably aware that on March 19, 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued U.S. Patent No. 8,401,009 to Twitter, and more specifically to Jack Dorsey and Christopher Isaac Stone. The Twitter patent is titled: Device Independent Message Distribution Platform. In other words, Twitter was awarded a patent on “Tweeting”!
Now those of you who know me and have read my posts in the past, know that I am not a patent attorney myself (although I am married to one who is rather well known). Rather, I am a social media strategist — sometimes called The Social Media Diva™ — who uses Twitter and other social media platforms to assist my clients in their online marketing strategies. Quite frequently we will feature posts that analyze the technologies of an issued patent from the IP attorney perspective. We thought it would be fun for me to analyze this patent from a non-attorney standpoint as it pertains to social media platforms as a whole.
For the patent professionals who are reading you may find it interesting to see the complete file history for the Twitter patent.
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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