Apple Inc. of Cupertino, CA, has been a regularly featured corporation in our Companies We Follow series. The multinational corporation has been a major name in consumer electronics and computer software, owing largely to the market success of the iPad and the iPhone. Recently, Apple has been making more moves into media application development, as is suggested by recent agreements with Warner Music and others to provide streaming radio services.
This week, we’re featuring a number of interesting new patents and published applications from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that have been assigned to Apple. A few of the applications we’ve chosen to profile include more efficient systems of detecting user inputs. One application describes a system allowing devices to enter a low-power mode based on user gaze detection, conserving battery power. Another application would protect a system for better facial recognition during photo processing of image files.
Other documents assigned to Apple showcase the corporation’s focus on aiding user communication and providing a more user-intuitive device experience. One application featured here was filed to protect a system of analyzing a user’s media preferences for gaming environments, while another improves a user’s ability to share a pinned location on a map with others.
The Boeing Company is an American-based multinational developer and manufacturer of defense and aerospace technology. Long renowned for being a commercial jet designer, the Chicago-based corporation is also heavily involved in the military aircraft, computer systems and munitions industries. Recently, the first major purchase of Boeing’s newest commercial airliner, the 787 Dreamliner, by Singapore Airlines has bolstered the company’s outlook after the jumbo jet liner was plagued with engineering issues over the past year.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is often publishing applications and awarding patents to Boeing for their technological developments for aircraft. This week on IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we take a look at some of Boeing’s most intriguing recent patents and applications. Two patent applications would protect safer on-board plane mechanisms for jam-proof mechanical wing assemblies and leak-proof cryogenic fuel tanks.
Other applications showcase Boeing’s focus on passenger safety. One application released recently describes Boeing’s development of an air filtering system that is responsive to the presence of airborne contagions. Another application describes a sensor system that can provide accurate readings of runway conditions, scanning for potholes or other surface degradation.
In March I wrote about the new AOP-VETS program in Article One Partners Announces New Veterans Program. The program was a success and on May 16th, AOP announced that Iraqi war veteran, Jason Maples was the winner of its first ever AOP Vets Program. Jason was one of more than 20 other Veterans who participated in the six week program consisting of intensive education and training in patent research, web-based career learning sessions and competitive research projects. Not only did he win a $2,500 cash reward for his success in the study he partook in but also was awarded $5,000 for his overall performance. I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Jason recently and following is our exchange:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted a meeting of the heads of the world’s five largest intellectual property offices in Cupertino, California. Known as the IP5, members include the USPTO, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO).
During the meeting, the heads renewed their commitment to develop the “Global Dossier,” a system to simplify the viewing and management of applications filed in the IP5 Offices. The heads also agreed to adopt the Global Classification Initiative, a new effort to harmonize patent classification. The heads confirmed the adoption of an IP5 Patent Information (PI) policy, pursuant to which each of the offices will work towards providing barrier free access to patent data. The heads reaffirmed work-sharing in the framework of IP5 cooperation, and endorsed the development of a Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) pilot project between all IP5 Offices. Additionally, the heads stressed the need to advance harmonization of substantive and procedural patent law. To this end, the heads reviewed the progress in the work of the IP5 Patent Harmonization Experts Panel, and considered next steps.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) announced the launch of a new pilot in which KIPO will classify some of its patent documents using the Cooperative Patent Classification system (CPC), a new classification system jointly managed by the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO). KIPO is the first foreign patent office to engage with the USPTO and EPO in this new system, which debuted on January 1, 2013.
The pilot between KIPO and the USPTO marks a major first step towards KIPO classifying its patent collection using the CPC. For the pilot, KIPO will apply the CPC classification to patent documents in particular technologies, namely, technologies for which filings have been especially active at KIPO. KIPO will work together with the USPTO to identify these technologies.
While much attention has been given to the recent, significant changes in U.S. patent law arising from the America Invents Act (“AIA”), lesser attention has been given to patent law changes brought about by further congressional action. Specifically, the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act (“PLTIA”) enacted December 18, 2012, implements the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. In making several important changes to U.S. design patent law, implementation of the Geneva Act importantly provides U.S. design patent applicants with increased flexibility and, like the AIA, further harmonizes U.S. patent laws with international norms.
In codifying the provisions of the Geneva Act, the PLTIA for the first time enables U.S. applicants to file a single, international design patent application (a so-called “IDA”) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) that, in many aspects, is the design equivalent of a Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) application. Whereas a PCT application does not itself grant any rights, though, a granted international design patent is enforceable in any of the member countries designated by the applicant at the time of filing. There are presently 60 members to The Hague Agreement, most notably the European Union (and many European countries separately). The complete country listing can be found at here. The following aspects of the international design patent under the Geneva Act are further of note.
Yesterday the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a final determination in one of the many ongoing proceedings between Apple and Samsung. These companies are battling each other in a variety of forums across the globe, which all together form the worldwide patent war over smartphones and tablets between the two tech giants. In this case the ITC found a violation of section 337 and issued a limited exclusion order prohibiting Apple from importing wireless communication devices, portable music and data processing devices, and tablet computers that infringe claims 75-76 and 82-84 of U.S. Patent No. 7,706,348. The ITC also issued a cease and desist order against Apple prohibiting the sale and distribution within the United States of articles that infringe claims 75-76 and 82-84 of the ’348 patent. No violation of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,486,644, 7,450,114, and 6,771,980 was found.
Which Apple products are implicated? The ITC determined that Samsung proved that AT&T models of the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3, iPad 3G, and iPad 2 3G infringe the asserted claims of the ’348 patent.
The ITC determination is now final, and the investigation is terminated. Apple has the opportunity to appeal the ITC final determination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. But there is also another avenue for Apple, which could essentially nullify the ITC determination. Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1337(j), the President has 60 days to review the ITC determination. If the President disapproves of the ruling for policy reasons he has the authority to nullify the determination. The statute specifically explains that upon disapproval of the President an ITC determination “shall have no force or effect.”
Under the DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act, all content published online is protected under copyright law, regardless of it having the copyright symbol on the page. Any content, no matter the form it takes (whether digital, print, or media) is protected under copyright law. The prevention of copyright infringement requires constant vigilance; even using your own material in two different places and plagiarising unintentionally can land you in trouble.
Why It Is Important to Protect Your Online Content from Being Copied:
Copyright is important in all forms of media because it provides legal ownership over the work someone produces. This allows the author, artist, etc. control over how their work is used. Without copyright laws, content could be stolen from one creator and used by someone else; thus, a profit could be made by someone other than the creator from content that they put no effort into. Since it is the copyright holder’s responsibility to ensure that a copyright has not been infringed upon, it is vital to keep a close eye on your content and how it is used by others on the internet.
There is no doubt that the Obama position will be loved by Google and other Silicon Valley technology giants that despise the patent system. Given the revolving door between the Obama Administration and Google, the long-term close relationship between President Obama and Google (see here, here and here), and the fact that patent issues don’t resonate with John Q. Public, it seems likely that the President stepping in now to allow him to tout that he is engaged with issues of importance in the minds of tech giants who will be asked for large checks later this week.
But what executive action could the President really take that would make a difference?
Today the White House announced major steps to improve incentives for future innovation in high tech patents, a key driver of economic growth and good paying American jobs. The White House issued five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations designed to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system. Additionally, the National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers released a report, Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation, detailing the challenges posed and necessity for bold legislative action.
In 2011, the President signed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), a landmark piece of legislation designed to help make our patent system more efficient and reliable. As technology evolves more rapidly than ever, we must ensure our patent system keeps pace. As President Obama said in February, “our efforts at patent reform only went about halfway to where we need to go. What we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws.”
The AIA put in place new mechanisms for post-grant review of patents and other reforms to boost patent quality. Meanwhile, court decisions clarifying the scope of patentability and guidelines implementing these decisions diminish the opportunity to game the patent and litigation systems. Nevertheless, innovators continue to face challenges from Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), companies that, in the President’s words “don’t actually produce anything themselves,” and instead develop a business model “to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.” These entities are commonly known as “patent trolls.” Likewise, the so-called “Smartphone Patent Wars” have ballooned in recent years and today, several major companies spend more on patent litigation and defensive acquisition than on research and development.