At this festive time of year we always try and profile turkey and/or Thanksgiving related patents, because after all what better way is there to celebrate a holiday than to celebrate American ingenuity? This year we did a slightly different article for the occasion. We bet you didn’t know the role Thanksgiving leftovers played in achieving the fundamental breakthrough that led to the invention of LASIK, but that only proves that inspiration can come at any time from anywhere. We also invite you to check out our holiday articles from Thanksgivings past. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Qualcomm is a regular part of IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, and the recently published patent applications that we surveyed taught us some intriguing things about this corporations research and development activities. Neighborhood-aware networks, which can provide digital services to many homes within the same neighborhood, are the focus of a few filings. Qualcomm is also seeking to protect both an electronic scale with conversion table software and a pair of headphones with a novel technique for overcoming popping and clicking noises when plugging the headphone connector into an audio port.
The strength of Qualcomm’s patent portfolio is a major reason why this company is so successful internationally. Most of the patents recently issued to this corporation protect various mobile device innovations, including the use of an inclinometer to detect the incline of a device display and adjusting the way an image is rendered to improve the view relative to the incline. Gesture-based financial transaction completed across mobile devices, as well as methods of providing location information on indoor environments, have also been protected for Qualcomm through patents issued over the past few weeks.
Posted: Thursday, Nov 13, 2014 @ 10:45 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 29 comments
Judge Raymond Chen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The AIPLA 2014 annual meeting is now several weeks ago, but there is a story that I have neglected to write thus far. I have been pondering what to say and how to say. On Friday, October 24, 2014, Judge Ray Chen of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit delivered the luncheon address to a packed audience at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. Those who know Judge Chen know he is an excellent speaker, funny, occasionally self deprecating, and always informed and thoughtful. His address to the AIPLA audience was no exception.
Ever since Judge Chen delivered one particular line I have been thinking about what he said, largely missing any other point he raised I’m afraid. Judge Chen said that he did not think it was particularly helpful for some in the patent community to refer to Judges on the Court as being anti-patent. I don’t know that Judge Chen was speaking about me directly, but there is no doubt that over the past several years I have become more vocal about those who hold anti-patent views. I have increasingly pointing out that the United States Supreme Court is openly hostile to patent owner rights. I have also increasingly pointed to what I refer to as anti-patent decisions from the Federal Circuit and noticing that there appears to be a clear philosophical and ideological split between the Judges, with some Judges routinely issuing or joining rulings that are adverse to the patent owner, while other Judges routinely issuing or joining rulings that favor the patent owner.
The label “anti-patent” is not meant as a criticism or insult. Instead I mean it is a purely descriptive way that recognizes a distinct and very real viewpoint; one that we have seen periodically throughout history but which is inconsistent with what the Framers believed. Therefore, I disagree with Judge Chen that it is not helpful to recognize that there are Judges on the Federal Circuit who, based on their written decisions, show a tendency to eschew a pro-patent viewpoint.
The patent applications most recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and assigned to these companies show that development of electric and hybrid electric vehicles are prominent among all three. Some of these patent applications describe novel applications of known energy generation and storage technologies, including air batteries and solar cells, to automobile environments. Self-driving cars manufactured by Toyota will benefit from a technology designed to improve the accuracy of determining a car’s actual location on the road.
These three corporations each have strong patent portfolios which have increased in recent weeks and we took special notice of a couple of patents issued in the field of fuel cell technologies. Honda has earned the right to protect an indoor vehicle that drives in response to the tilting motion of a seated rider. We also feature two patents directed towards safety systems which are designed to provide warnings to drivers in response to potential road hazards.
Posted: Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 @ 8:40 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 7 comments
Earlier today President Obama nominated Kara Farnandez Stoll to serve on the United States Courts of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Obama simultaneously appointed Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of the United States District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
“These individuals have displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through their work, and I am honored to nominate them to serve the American people as judges on the United States Courts of Appeals,” President Obama said. “They will be diligent, judicious and esteemed additions to the bench.”
Kara Farnandez Stoll is presently a partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett and Dunner, LLP in Washington, D.C. She has extensive experience in patent litigation, and has represented clients at both the district court and appellate levels. Stoll has served as lead counsel on a number of cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Posted: Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 @ 10:07 am | Written by Robert Litan and Hal Singer | 1 Comment »
Americans have long celebrated many things, but one of them has been our incredible ability to continue innovating. Much of what it means to be a modern society is due to innovations made or commercialized most successfully first in this country. The telephone, the automobile, the airplane, computers (mainframe and personal) and software to operate them, air conditioning, and the Internet (with retailing and search) were all commercialized by entrepreneurs in the United States.
Patents have been and remain critical to incentivizing innovation, which in turn is key to sustaining economic growth and increasing living standards. Public officials, academic scholars and other commentators continue to debate whether and how to improve the legal standards and procedures for granting patents and challenging them. As important as these subjects are, they do not address the central economic problem with the current patent system in the United States.
The real challenge is that today the legally oriented patent system imposes significant transactions costs on licensing inventions: Most patent owners and users cannot bear the costs or risks associated with enforcing and licensing their patents. As a result, a substantial portion of the two million-plus patents granted, and thus the knowledge and technology they embody, is not commercialized or used to benefit others. The potential cost of this waste to the American economy has been estimated to be as large as $1 trillion annually, representing a five percent reduction in potential GDP.
Posted: Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Michael Gulliford | 32 comments
As the Managing Principal of a patent advisory firm that services nearly every segment of the patent industry, I am often asked what keeps me awake at night. Obviously, for anyone engaged in the patent business as of late, there is no shortage of material. But with a newly minted Congress expected to get moving on patent reform, there is one clear winner: presumptive fee shifting.
The most recent patent reform bill to pass the House, which is now expected to receive Senate backing as well, is the Goodlatte Innovation Act (H.R. 3309). Included within the various provisions of H.R. 3309 is the presumption of fee shifting for the losing party in a patent case. Put simply, this means the loser in a patent case pays the winning side’s attorney fees. In the context of a patent case, such costs often total in the millions.
But as someone who operates at the center of the patent market, and is certainly sympathetic to the dangers of frivolous patent litigation, I can only hope that if additional patent reform does pass, the presumptive fee shifting provisions are nowhere to be seen. Although seen by those unfamiliar with the nuances of patents as a way to curtail abuses in the patent system, a presumptive fee shifting provision is not only unnecessary, but also likely to cause of host of unintended consequences.
Each year for the past several years the IPO has recognized one distinguished IP professional. According to the IPO Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the IP community and a lifetime commitment to invention and innovation. This year, the recipient of this lifetime achievement award is Judge Linn. I have gotten to know Judge Linn a bit over the past several years, and have admired his decisions for years. In my opinion it is hard to image anyone more qualified or deserving of this recognition than he is.
Judge Linn has seen the industry from a variety of vantage points through his distinguished career, and in so many different ways he is one of us. He started his career at the United States Patent and Trademark Office like so many others have – as a patent examiner. When I spoke with him on Monday, October 27, 2014, regarding the IPO recognizing him with the Distinguished Professional Award, he told me: “first and foremost I consider myself a patent attorney.” This is no doubt what distinguishes him and why so many other patent attorneys have nothing but praise for him.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has published dozens of patent applications in recent weeks which have been filed by these companies. Digital communications systems, including cloud-based methods of presenting technical manual information to car owners, are featured in a number of these patent applications. A trio of Ford patent applications discuss technologies for identifying occupants and drivers in a vehicle. Other patent applications that we discuss today feature collision safety systems, including one system for establishing voice communications with vehicle occupants after an accident.
The patent portfolios of all of the Big Three automakers have increased in recent weeks and many of these new additions protect improvements to hybrid electric vehicles; some innovations in this field are discussed below. In-vehicle text messaging systems are the focus of a few other patents that we explored today. We also were piqued by a patent protecting a system of contacting persons via a vehicle telematics units to resolve missing persons cases.
Posted: Monday, Nov 10, 2014 @ 4:14 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 9 comments
Chief Judge Paul Michel (CAFC, ret.)
The unfortunate reality is the United States is no longer the most favorable jurisdiction for innovators. There has been a full assault on patent rights that started at least as early as 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in eBay v. MercExchange. Encouraged by this success in the courts, which largely ushered in an era of compulsory licensing, the forces that wanted to weaken the patent system to suit their own agenda put their foot on the accelerator. Ever since we have seen proposed legislative change after proposed legislative change, as well as a never ending stream of cases at the Supreme Court and Federal Circuit that continue to weaken patent rights. Innovators are under attack from ever expanding judicial exceptions that render more and more subject matter patent ineligible, and from an ever expanding view of what it means to be obvious. This coupled with fresh new ways to challenge issued patents and concern about a patent litigation explosion that doesn’t exist is leading to extraordinary mischief in the Courts, on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
“The Supreme Court is making national economic policy in Section 101 cases, despite lacking economic expertise, factual information or statutory authority, based on its own decades-to-century-old dicta and unfounded assumptions that seem merely to mirror editorials in certain media that equally lack factual basis,” former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel says. “Meanwhile, Congress threatens to micro-manage patent infringement proceedings, abrogating the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure that controlled all civil cases since 1938, interfering with the independence of this co-equal Branch of government, undermining the Separation of Powers and severely restricting the necessary discretion of Federal judges.”
These and other issues will be the focus of a free webinar I am hosting on Thursday, November 13, 2014. The webinar, sponsored by Innography, will take place from 12pm to 1pm Eastern. Joining me will be Judge Michel and Richard Baker, a senior IP licensing executive who is on the Board of LES and is one of the top 300 IP strategists according to IAM Magazine. Judge Michel will provide commentary both about what we are seeing in the Courts and inside the beltway with respect to legislative initiatives ostensibly aimed at “solving” problems. Baker will discuss the implications on the patent brokerage and licensing business of so many patent claims being invalidated as a result of SCOTUS decisions, and will specifically address how things have changed over the past several years.
Posted: Monday, Nov 10, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
Doug Croxall (left) of Marathon Patent Group looks on as Jaime Siegel of Acacia Research addresses the audience at the 2014 IP Dealmakers Forum in NY on Nov. 7, 2014.
Last week I attended the 2014 IP Dealmakers Forum in New York City. The topic that most caught my attention from day two was the panel discussion titled Evaluating Public Market IP Investment Opportunities. The moderator was Phil Hartstein of Finjan, and the panel included Doug Croxall, who is CEO of Marathon Patent Group, Jaime Siegel, who is Executive Vice President of Litigation and Licensing at Acacia Research Group, Corey Horowitz, who is Chairman and CEO of Network-1, Robert Satterthwaite, who is Co-Founder and Co-Porfolio Manager at Blue Sea Investments, and Kevin Klein, Director of IP Licensing for Freescale Semiconductor.
The topics discussed by the panel were wide ranging, but one of the central themes related to information, but more specifically to the benefits and challenges of being a public versus a private IP company. That specific discussion may not seem to be related to data or information per se, but again and again Harstein asked questions and drew the panel to discuss the difference between the amount of information that must be disclosed by a public company (and the onerous regulatory obligations) and the demonstrably smaller amount of information that is publicly disseminated by private companies without reporting obligations.