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FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars in Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges

Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:56 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | No Comments »
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Posted in: Amazon.com, Companies We Follow, Federal Trade Commission, Government, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

FTC Building, Washington, D.C.

Amazon.com, Inc. has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed today in federal court.

The FTC’s lawsuit seeks a court order requiring refunds to consumers for the unauthorized charges and permanently banning the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges without their consent. According to the complaint, Amazon keeps 30 percent of all in-app charges.

Amazon offers many children’s apps in its appstore for download to mobile devices such as the Kindle Fire. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Amazon violated the FTC Act by billing parents and other Amazon account holders for charges incurred by their children without the permission of the parent or other account holder. Amazon’s setup allowed children playing these kids’ games to spend unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items within the apps such as “coins,” “stars,” and “acorns” without parental involvement.





100 Years Later: Patents of the World War I Era

Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Evolution of Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

June 28, 2014, marked the one-hundred year anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the precipitating event which catapulted the globe into World War I. Across the world, events to commemorate the First World War Centenary will take place between now and 2018, the centennial anniversary of the war’s end. In Sarajevo, the site of the assassination, a multitude of historical exhibits , a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and a speech by Bosnian politician Bakir Izetbegovic urging peace in the region took place. In Italy, a rendition of Verdi’s Requiem Mass was performed at the WWI memorial in Redipuglia to recognize the millions of Italians who died in the war. Leaders from the European Union congregated at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, to mark the occasion.

As with other milestone occasions, we have decided to commemorate innovations and inventors from the World War I era, looking at a range of patents issued in that period. This review was interesting because it shows the difference in the scope of intellectual property then as opposed to now. We’ve tried to gather a good representation of diverse inventions from fields like transportation, medicine and food production. We noticed one patent we decided to share issued to a renowned inventor of the period, Nikola Tesla, who was born July 10, 1856. We also found a couple of patents directed at military equipment, especially rocket-propelled bombs, showing the scope of military development by American inventors in 1914.





House Subcommittee Takes up TROL Act on Demand Letters

Posted: Thursday, Jul 10, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Congress, Federal Trade Commission, Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Reform, Patents

Rep. Terry Lee

Rep Janice Schakowsky

Congress is moving forward with at least some patent reform efforts this year, taking up the Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters Act of 2014, which is scheduled to be marked up in the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee on July 10, 2014. This Subcommittee is a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This draft of the bill is as it existed earlier this week.

This draft legislation — creatively dubbed the TROL Act — addresses the sending of abusive and bad faith patent demand letters by clarifying that such activity may violate the Federal Trade Commission Act and authorizing that agency and state attorneys general to bring actions to stop the abusive behavior, among other things.

On July 9, 2014, AIPLA Executive Director Todd Dickinson wrote Representative Terry Lee (R-NE), who is Chair of the House Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee, and Representative Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), who is Ranking Member.





When Patents Aren’t Enough: The Case for Data Exclusivity for Biologic Medicines

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Dr. Kristina Lybecker | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Biotechnology, Dr. Kristina Lybecker, Guest Contributors, Hatch-Waxman, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Legislation, Patents, Pharmaceutical, Technology & Innovation

Biologic medicines are fundamentally different from traditional “small molecule” therapies, presenting a host of new challenges in the design and enforcement of the intellectual property (IP) architecture that will protect them.[2] Protecting the intellectual property of biologics is complicated, difficult, and essential to the future of medicine. This new frontier is also one of the remaining hurdles in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement negotiations. The debate over protecting biologics focuses on a proposed twelve years of data exclusivity and the consequences this will have for international trade, global public health, and access to medicines.

The nuances of producing biologics greatly complicate the logistics of protecting their intellectual property, making patents alone inadequate for safeguarding their IP. Data exclusivity protection allows for a period of time following marketing approval during which competing firms may not use the innovative firm’s safety and efficacy data, from proprietary preclinical and clinical trial results, to obtain marketing authorization for a generic version of the drug. From the moment when the compound first shows medicinal promise, data is generated and compiled, a process that is both expensive and time consuming. Data exclusivity provides the innovative firm with a period of protection for their investment in clinical trials and data collection, regardless of the length of time required to bring the drug to market.





Tesla on Patents: Open Source Altruism or Shrewd Business?

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 24 comments
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Posted in: Automotive, Battery Technology, Companies We Follow, Fuel Cells, Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Toyota

Elon Musk inhabits a particularly influential space in the world of innovation by proving himself as a masterful entrepreneur in the 21st Century. He helped to establish the digital payment system known as PayPal; in the second quarter of 2011, this online service processed $28.7 billion USD in transactions. He was involved in the development of SpaceX, a space transit services company which has earned nearly $5 billion in contracts, including at least $1.6 billion from NASA for International Space Station resupply missions. His many other ventures, including solar energy technology manufacturing company SolarCity and electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, brand Musk as a new kind of corporate capitalist who can thrive by developing sustainable technologies.

In the patent world, Musk has been creating some waves in his role as CEO of Tesla Motors. In a self-authored blog post published on the official Tesla Motors blog, Musk announced that the company was trying to make the company ‘open source’ by allowing other people to infringe on their patent portfolio with the supposed intent of encouraging the development of electric vehicle technologies. Interestingly to us, his comments in the post, titled “All Our Patent Are Belong To You” and published on June 12, explain: ” Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” But who is to decide if one is acting in “good faith”?





Toyota Seeks Patents on Warning and Navigation Systems

Posted: Monday, Jul 7, 2014 @ 12:11 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Automotive, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Toyota

An impressive swath of the automobile manufacturing market worldwide is controlled by the Toyota Motor Corporation of Toyota, Japan, one of the world’s largest carmakers. Toyota is staking a large claim in the world of alternative energy vehicles by unveiling the Toyota FCV, a fuel cell vehicle that will be released in Japan during summer 2015 for a retail price of around $70,000 USD. In a year that has seen millions of cars recalled by major manufacturers, Toyota has recently issued its own recall of 2.3 million vehicles due to an airbag defect. In the world of technology development, Toyota is partnering with IBM to build a platform for application development for Toyota’s in-car telematics systems.

IPWatchdog is always interested in covering the world’s most innovative business entities in the Companies We Follow series. Today, we take a glance at the many inventions and innovations being researched and developed by this major automobile manufacturer. The patent applications filed by Toyota with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office detail an interesting future in vehicle development for this Japanese multinational corporation and its subsidiaries. We also take a close look at many recently issued patents to see Toyota’s standing in the world of intellectual property protection.

Today’s featured application discusses a system designed to better provide warning information to drivers without distracting a driver or displaying redundant information on multiple screens. This system would also ensure that drivers receive the warning message even if the heads-up display or another screen is malfunctioning. Navigational systems for self-driving cars are described in another couple of patent applications which we discovered, as well as some inventions related to hybrid electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles.





Morgan Lewis Seeks Patent Prosecution Associate for its San Francisco Office

Posted: Monday, Jul 7, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Renee C. Quinn | Comments Off
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Posted in: IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, JobOrtunities™ Help Wanted Section, Patent Attorney & Patent Agent Positions

* Job Title / Position: Patent Prosecution Associate
* Job Location: San Francisco

The San Francisco office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP an international law firm with some 1,400 attorneys, seeks a highly motivated, junior to mid-level associate for our Intellectual Property Practice.

The ideal candidates must have patent prosecution experience in the fields of life sciences, preferably with an advanced degree in biochemistry, biomedical engineering, molecular biology, immunology, and/or biology. Candidates must possess excellent academic credentials and strong research, writing, communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Candidates must be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a member of the California bar.





Different Types of U.S. Patent Applications

Posted: Saturday, Jul 5, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Educational Information for Inventors, Gene Quinn, Inventors Information, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents

Patent terminology can be daunting at times, making it quite unapproachable for a novice inventor to understand what is really going on and what options are available in terms of filing a patent application. Take for example the various types of national patent applications that one can file. A national patent application means a U.S. application for patent that was either filed in the Patent Office under 35 U.S.C. 111 (i.e., directly with the USPTO as a domestic U.S. patent application), or which entered the national stage from an international patent application after compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371 (i.e., initially filed as an international application invoking the benefits of the Patent Cooperation Treaty).

Let’s hold off discussing international patent applications for now and instead focus on national patent applications filed under § 111, which is what most independent inventors and small business would file in the U.S. If you are interested in information on international patent applications please see PCT Basics: Understanding the International Filing Process and PCT Basics: Obtaining Patent Rights Around the World.

Domestically filed U.S. patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) include original non-provisional utility patent applications, plant patent applications, design patent applications, divisional applications, continuation applications, continuation-in-part applications, reissue applications, and design patent continued prosecution applications (CPAs). Provisional patent applications are filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b), and hence a different type of patent application altogether.