Over the weekend I wrote an article titled Turning Your Idea into an Invention. In the article I talked about the fact that you do not need to have a prototype, but rather you need to be able to describe your invention with enough detail so that others will be able to understand what you have invented. This is true except in the scenario of a perpetual motion machine, which I acknowledged in the article. I didn’t want to go off on what would have been a lengthy tangent, but I knew as I was typing that paragraph I would circle back and fill in the blanks regarding the law as it pertains to perpetual motion machines.
The laws of physics and nature tell us that it is impossible for a machine to produce more energy than it consumes, which creates a very real impediment to obtaining a patent. Such a machine is characterized as a perpetual motion machine and when claimed as such it is ordinarily and routinely rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The rejection provided by the Patent Office for a claim that recites a device capable of producing more energy than it consumes is a utility rejection, which is based on the belief that an invention cannot have utility if it does not work.
Inventor coach Stephen Key scores his own big success.
Accudial Pharmaceutical®, Inc. has acquired Stephen Key Design, LLC. This acquisition expands AccuDial’s patent portfolio to over fifty patents for weight based dosing and other extended content rotating labels (ECRL), which adds 75% more labeling space to a container.
I reached out to Key via e-mail to ask him about whether this latest personal business success was evidence of him practicing what he preaches. Key responded: “practice makes perfect and it’s a numbers game. I love the USPTO.” This is certainly in keeping with his philosophy, which he teaches to fledgling inventors. Back in the Spring when I interviewed Key after One Simple Idea was published he said: “I know if I have a big idea I am going to need a wall of patents.” He also told me: “I love continuations, I love hiding my hand.” It is that type of strategic planning and patience that lead Key to acquire 12 patents on his rotatable label innovation, which is a the core of this Accudial acquisition.
Steve Jobs, the visionary founder and leader of Apple Computer Corporation, died Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 after an 8-year battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs, who is sometimes referred to as the father of personal computing, was the mastermind behind Apple’s Computers, iPods, iPhones, iMacs and iPad’s and is seen by many as a man who pioneered the personal computing industry and literally changed the way we live our lives every day. In celebration of his life and his accomplishments over the years, the following is a timeline of Jobs’ history, and the history of Apple, beginning in 1972 when he graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, CA, and focusing on the major events in a memorable life.
But if there is one thing I have learned in thirty years of arguing for a living (first as a debater, then as a lawyer), it is this: when an opponent has you dead to rights in an argument, they don’t feel the need to result to ad hominem attacks. So the fact that the Howells-Katznelson paper is chock full of insults and personal attacks against me ought to give you a bit of pause. Maybe it is enough to make you take a closer look at exactly what they say.
In July I wrote Describing Your Invention Completely in a Patent Application, which focused on the type of information you want to include to capture the full glory of your invention. This article is a follow-up to that, focusing this time on what the law requires and why, concluding with suggestions to help in breaking through the idea and getting to something more tangible. Reading these two articles in conjunction should give a more complete understanding of what is required and how to get from idea to patentable invention.
I start this tale observing a central reality: Inventors are creative people who observe a problem and envision a solution. Practically anyone can be an inventor because the first step on the path to inventing is the generation of an idea. Unfortunately, ideas cannot be patented and for many individuals the path to invention stops right there. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Frequently you just need some help collecting thoughts and a little push in the right direction. In fact, many people are surprised by what is required to be an inventor and have an invention that is capable of being patented.
Earlier today Intellectual Ventures (IV) sued Motorola Mobility for patent infringement in the United States Federal District Court for the District of Delaware. At issue are six patents that IV claims relate to Google’s Android operating system — US Patent Nos. 7,810,144, 6,412,953, 7,409,450, 7,120,462, 6,557,054 and, 6,658,464.
This litigation is worth noting for several reasons. First, this is yet another patent infringement complaint against Google’s Android operating system. It seems that practically every month there is another lawsuit claiming that Android infringes this or that patent, which has to raise eyebrows with respect to the underlying intellectual property Google owns in its operating system that is intended to compete against Apple. Second, once upon a time Google funded IV and vouched for the company and its founder, Microsoft alumnus Nathan Myhrvold. Now IV has turned the tables on Google, is going after Android and in so doing is suing the company that Google is set to acquire for $12.5 billion.
Prior art research is playing an increasingly important role for companies with potential exposure to IP litigation. Companies are spending millions of dollars in legal expenses to understand the true value of patents. In some cases, entire industries are threatened by growing litigation from non-practicing entities (NPEs). Look no further than the now infamous Lodsys lawsuit filed against the App Developer community, including Angry Birds developer Rovio, which is facing a much bigger threat than pesky evil pigs. It is essential that these companies perform the most complete prior art search to defend in this litigation.
Crowdsourcing for prior art has recently emerged to revolutionize the patent research space and overcome the limitations of traditional search techniques. Traditional searches generally involve Western-language based digitized searches. For foreign non-patent publications, only the abstracts are digitized for inclusion in Western-language based digitized databases. The research thus misses the full text and footnotes. It also is important to note that, for digitized publications, critical content is not digitized – such as tables, figures, graphs and photographs. In addition, whole classes of publications besides historical publications (e.g., out-of-print books) are not digitized. These include editorials, business materials, physical products, out-dated manuals on products, software, and standards meeting notes.
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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