There is a new entry into the patent reform debate. The Main Street Patent Coalition is a national coalition of organizations that says they are dedicated to stopping patent abuse by so-called patent trolls. The Main Street Patent Coalition is encouraging Congress to pass what they call “common sense patent reform legislation.”
The Main Street Patent Coalition members include: the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the National Grocers Association, the International Franchiser Association, the Application Developers Alliance, the National Association of Realtors, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the American Gaming Association. These trade associations say they want Congress to give small businesses a fighting chance against the growing threat of patent trolls.
The Main Street Patent Coalition claims they represent the small business community at large, which has to make you wonder. On their homepage they talk about an innovative, family owned and privately held company named White Castle. According to the LA Time, White Castle has 9,600 employees. How exactly is that a small business? Answer: White Castle is not a small business, at least if you concern yourself with the way the Small Business Administration defines small business. To be a “small business” you have to have no more than 500 employees. Clearly the Main Street Patent Coalition recent press release Small Main Street Businesses Launch Patent Reform Coalitioncarries a misleading, if not false, title.
The Oracle Corporation, based in Redwood City, CA, is a major developer of software solutions for use in organizations. Its products include customer relationship management, database management and supply chain management software, as well as computer hardware, including servers. Oracle’s cloud-based services are enabling some colleges to provide extensive application suites online that create Internet access to a wide range of student services. A major American corporation, Oracle’s presence is growing in many regions of the world, like India, who about two-thirds of domestic corporations anticipate migrating many business services and activities to the cloud.
Companies We Follow has returned once again to the California headquarters of this major corporate software and hardware developer to get a quick look at its recent innovations. The patent applications and issued patents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that are assigned to Oracle can give us an idea of the near future of enterprise software solutions.
We’re featuring one patent application today that discusses some very interesting improvements to online privacy while using search engines. This system creates data that obfuscates the search query submitted by a user so that it cannot be tracked by a third party, while still providing relevant search results. Other patent applications describing business software innovations include a method of generating consumer decision trees based on in-store transaction records, and a way to prevent others from copying the text of sensitive electronic documents.
The issued patents assigned recently to Oracle highlight some interesting intellectual property holdings that further advance the corporation’s goal in providing inclusive software solutions for businesses. Business connected to a distributed pool of network resources shared with others will benefit from an electronic resource broker agent protected in one patent.
Recently on IPWatchdog, we featured a series of AT&T patents in our Companies We Follow series that protect various technologies for Internet protocol television, or IPTV. More and more, we’ve been noticing various television technologies relying on Internet transmission that have been protected by patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This prompted us to take a closer look at the current state of Internet Television technologies in America and the surrounding world.
IPTV is much different than the digital video accessed by millions of users on YouTube or other video streaming websites, but it shares a lot of the same ubiquitous, pervasive nature. A single subscription can be accessed by multiple television sets within a home, and Internet-based transmission allows for web-based applications to enhance a viewer’s experience. Our goal today is to explore the the current state of IPTV and Internet television technologies globally, as well as what the near future holds for these entertainment systems.
The report makes some good recommendations for increasing support for start-up formation, but implies that most university technology transfer offices (TTO’s) are not worth their cost because they are not self-supporting through patent licensing income. As Brookings acknowledges, universities spend the vast majority of their licensing revenues rewarding inventors or funding new research, not in supporting technology transfer operations. Brookings recommends that universities shift focus from patent licensing to start-up formation.
Ironically, recommendations from a preceding Brookings study would make both start- up formation and patent licensing more difficult.
In December of 2013, it was discovered that the major American retailer Target was, aptly enough, the target of a major hacking event that resulted in the breach of personal information for anywhere from 70 million to 110 million customers. Although credit card information was not obtained in each case, it does make nearly 100 million people more susceptible to identity theft.
The cyber attack was accomplished by hacking into Target’s point-of-sale devices to install a program that records data from credit cards swiped through an infected device. This information is then sent to a remote server so others can access the data. And Target isn’t the only major corporation to deal with a recent hacking scandal; in recent days, luxury retail company Neiman Marcus announced that they were dealing with a very similar situation involving the theft of customer information.
Statistics show that hacking activities across the globe have been ramping up at a feverish clip the past few years, and we’re seeing plenty of evidence that small and mid-sized businesses have to be on their guard more than ever to prevent an attack. Still, a survey conducted by Ernst & Young found that 96% of executives don’t believe their business is prepared to handle a cyber attack. Appreciation of vulnerability is, of course, an important first step, but what can you do to prevent an attack? What should you do when an attack has occurred? Every business needs to think through these issues before there is a problem.
Benjamin Franklin may be the most famous American inventor, owing to his dual role of world famous inventor and Founding Father and Statesman, but the most prolific and influential American inventor of all time was undoubtedly Thomas Alva Edison.
134 years ago, on January 27, 1880, Thomas Edison received U.S. Patent No. 223,898, which was simply titled “Electric Lamp.”
Figure 1 from U.S. Patent 223,898.
In addition to be the greatest inventor of his time, Edison also had a way with words and explaining concepts. He is famously reported to have quipped that failure really isn’t failure at all, but a success in disguise, reportedly saying: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.” He also famously explained: “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
The United States Supreme Court is poised this term to decide CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation, which could make meaningful strides toward settling once and for all the patent eligibility of software. The Supreme Court is known to like to dodge the most important questions we all need answered, and that trend is almost certainly going to continue in any decision in CLS Bank. But the Supreme Court won’t be able to dodge the fundamental question about whether software is patent eligible. The will likely, and unfortunately, dodge the question about what specifically must be recited in patent claims in order to properly define a software, or computer implemented invention.
Software is now and will remain patentable in the United States even after the Supreme Court’s decision in CLS Bank. The Patent Act is replete with references to software and computer implemented inventions. In fact, in 2011 Congress essentially said that tax strategies could not be patented in and of themselves, but this exclusion relating to tax strategies does not render an otherwise patent eligible software program patent ineligible. Thus, Congress has spoken, and on this particular issue Congress will be the final word because there is no chance the Supreme Court will rule software patents unconstitutional. That issue is not even before the Court.
Congress clearly has stated that at least some software is patent eligible, and so will the Supreme Court. That being said, the real question is how do you describe a software related invention to satisfy the patent requirements? The short answer is that it takes quite a bit more disclosure than you might otherwise think. Long gone are the days of cheap, easy software patents.
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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