We’ve covered the intriguing cosmetic and ophthalmologic innovations developed by this manufacturer before in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series. Today, we’re returning to take a closer look at Johnson & Johnson’s activities at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Although it doesn’t beat the same well-worn path as many other corporations we cover, J&J has had its fair share of interesting innovations over the past few months.
We start today with a look at our featured patent application, which describes a method of constructing contact lenses with inversion markings. These markings will let a user know that a contact lens is improperly inverted before inserting one into an eye, avoiding unnecessary irritation. Other contact lens technologies, including a lens containing an electronic circuit for visual enhancement, are described in other patent applications that we noticed today.
Later today I will be speaking on a panel at the 2014 AUTM annual meeting entitled Getting the Word Out — Technology Transfer Works! The panel will be moderated by Jennifer Gottwald of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). On the panel with me are Joe Allen, Bob Stoll and Kevin Noonan. The conversation should be lively, opinionated and definitely entertaining. We are all believers in University research and development, the patent system and the objective good that Bayh-Dole has done for the entire industry.
One of the things that I will be speaking about directly is how to get the positive message out about what is going on in laboratories all across the country. There are forces that continue to question the value of Bayh-Dole and would love nothing more than to go backwards to the days prior to 1980. That would mean little or no technology transfer from Universities, which is exactly why Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN, ret.) worked to pass Bayh-Dole. Yes, these forces ignore the facts showing conclusively that Bayh-Dole is an objective success. See Bayh-Dole Successful Beyond Wildest Dreams. If I had to come up with one fact that is a perfect example it would be this: prior to passage of Bayh-Dole a grand total of zero drugs discovered at Universities were commercialized, but since passage of Bayh-Dole there have been over 150 drugs commercialized.
Unfortunately, facts and reality do not stop the challenges by those skeptical of Bayh-Dole and the critical role Universities play in many of the greatest foundational discoveries and innovations ever made. To combat this skepticism, which is probably more correctly characterized as willful ignorance, news needs to flood the marketplace of ideas celebrating the fundamentally important, ground breaking innovations that happen all the time at American Universities.
During the State of the Union address to Congress in January 2014, President Obama called for passage of a patent reform bill that would allow businesses to stay focused on innovation, not litigation. Today, in what was billed as part of the “Year of Action: Making Progress Through Executive Action,” the Obama Administration highlighted progress made on previously announced executive actions, and also announced three new actions to further respond to the President’s desire to increase patent quality.
Currently the President is under fire for Executive Actions, which is something that he railed against when he was Presidential Candidate Obama in 2008, but increasingly embraces. The criticism of the President with respect to Executive Action has heretofore been related to the fact that through executive fiat the President has single handedly re-written laws passed by Congress. Of course, there is no Constitutional authority for the President to re-write laws, but that hasn’t stopped him, at least with respect to the health care law.
No such re-writing of law seems to be implicated in the Executive Actions announced today relative to the patent system. In fact, the Executive Actions on the patent front are largely much ado about nothing and seem most intended to grab headlines. Still, there are a few items that make perfect sense, such as the USPTO working with industry to train patent examiners on cutting edge scientific developments and an expansion of the pro bono program. Still, other initiatives claim to address patent quality but I can’t for the life of me understand how that could be possible. How accurate ownership records kept after the issuance of a patent will help patent quality is a mystery to me, and unexplained by the White House.
As the 2014 annual meeting of the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) continues, IPWatchdog also continues its coverage of groundbreaking inventions coming out of the halls and research facilities of America’s top academic institutions. Today we focus on Leland Stanford Junior University, more commonly known as Stanford University. Stanford is a private research university located near Palo Alto, CA, and boasts one of the most well developed and successful technology transfer programs in the country. But to be at the top of the tech transfer rankings that means Stanford is also committed to innovation in many forms and fields.
Our featured application today is evidenced that at least some of the research being developed by Stanford aims to improve American manufacturing. This patent application would protect a device that contains a plurality of electrodes that can create an adhering force to lift and move manufactured materials without damaging them. We also discuss a couple of patent applications related to medicine, including methods of generating ear cells from stem cells as well as better treatments for pulmonary fibrosis.
It’s our job to give our readers an accurate and interesting overview of American innovation, and the extreme variety of MIT’s developed innovations makes it a very interesting organization to feature here on IPWatchdog. Today, we get an idea of MIT’s current research activities by looking at their patent applications, and we find out what the USPTO has recently awarded them the right to protect.
Our featured patent application today features an artificial knee device that surpasses the range of motion available through previous passive devices or surgical implants. The variable motion of the mechanical knee joint found in this patent application would grant an implant patient a much greater degree of motion throughout their daily lives. Other patent applications that we decided to look at more closely include a vehicle engine designed for more efficient methanol consumption as well as more energy-efficient incandescent lighting devices.
The University of California is the state’s public university system and it is comprised of 10 member institutions. This system has one of the strongest research and development operations of any American collegiate system; in 2011 alone, UC was responsible for 1,581 new inventions. Today, we’re getting a closer look at the recent patent applications and issued patents assigned to the Regents of the University of California by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We’ve found an intriguing assortment of innovations in medical and industrial fields, and even the video game industry, coming out of these academic institutions.
The featured patent application for today’s column would protect a system of better capturing video game player motion for physical activities required of games. This system would make it harder for users to cheat these games and complete tasks without completing the physical motion the game asks users to perform. Other patent applications we discovered include better systems of creating useful stem cells and a more effective topical formula for acne treatment.
This week is the Association of University Technology Manager’s (AUTM) annual meeting, which this year will be in San Francisco, California. With that in mind we will be focusing on University technology this week leading into the AUTM meeting, which will be held in San Francisco, California, beginning on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 and running through Saturday, February 22, 2014.
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