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Moving from Idea to Patent – When Do You Have an Invention?

Posted: Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 @ 1:57 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Basics, Patents

How to Patent an Invention Idea | Moving from Idea to Patent

By now everyone has undoubtedly seen the late night television commercials, and the online ads offering to help you patent your invention idea. Despite what these advertisements suggest, you cannot patent or protect an idea, but don’t despair.  The idea is the first critical step toward being able to obtain a patent, and in my experience many inventors think they only have an idea and are not yet at the invention stage when, in fact, they really do have an invention that could be protected.

In order to get from where you are to where you want to be you will need to move from idea to invention and ultimately to a patent application, but the idea gets the ball rolling.  But in order to get that ball rolling what you need is a strategy to help you move past the idea and learn to describe your idea with enough specifics so that it no longer is what the law would call a “mere idea.”  In a nutshell, if you can describe your idea with enough detail you don’t have an idea, what you have is an invention, or at least the makings of an invention. For example, an idea is this: I want to catch mice. An invention is a mousetrap.

It is critical for inventors to document and expand upon any idea.  If you continually add more details you will at some point cross over the idea/invention boundary and be squarely on the invention side of the line, which is the goal.  What you want to do is explain your idea, as well as any and all aspects and alternatives associated with your idea.  This will then get you toward approaching the point where it becomes specific enough for it to be considered an invention.  When you reach this point you have something that can be  protected and patented.





The Evolution of Air Conditioning Technology

Posted: Friday, Jun 20, 2014 @ 2:36 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 3 comments
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Posted in: Evolution of Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

As the sweltering heat of summer begins to set in across the country during the summer months, people all over the country are running to their thermostats or single-unit air conditioners to stay cool. Just by pressing a few buttons, a typical American homeowner has the capability to completely control the temperature and humidity in a space. This innovation has revolutionized the demographics of our entire country, allowing many people to live comfortably in southern climates which would otherwise be oppressively hot.

Air conditioners work on the essential premise of removing heat from forced air, often by blowing that air across cooling coils filled with refrigerants. Air conditioning has taken root in the psychology of middle class America, evidenced by the large number of homeowners who have at least one air conditioning unit in their homes. The incredible amounts of energy used to power these units have incited a large number of critics who speak out against the widespread use of air conditioning technologies. However, others are quick to point out that the number of British thermal units (BTUs) used by air conditioners pales in comparison to the amount of energy consumed by Americans for heating.

IPWatchdog is returning once again to our Evolution of Technology series to take an in-depth look at how AC technologies have developed over the years. Modern air conditioning goes back more than one century in America, although the evidence showing human attempts at cooling the air goes back millennia. Today, we’re sharing a quick timeline of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technologies, with a special focus on beating the heat. We also take a closer look at the current state of air conditioning technologies, including a trio of patents related to air conditioning within automobiles..





SCOTUS Rules Alice Software Claims Patent Ineligible

Posted: Thursday, Jun 19, 2014 @ 10:54 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 216 comments
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Posted in: Computers, Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patentability, Patents, Software, Technology & Innovation, US Supreme Court

Justice Thomas

UPDATE 2: June 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm ET.

On Thursday, June 19, 2014, the United States Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Thomas the Supreme Court held that because the claims are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea, they are not eligible for a patent under Section 101.

In what can only be described as an intellectually bankrupt opinion, the Supreme Court never once used the word “software” in its decision. This is breathtaking given that the Supreme Court decision in Alice will render many hundreds of thousands of software patents completely useless. While the Supreme Court obviously didn’t want to make this decision about software, the holding does make it about software because each of the ways software has been claimed were ruled to result in patent ineligible claims. On first read I don’t see how any software patent claims written as method or systems claims can survive challenge. For example, these claims to IBM’s Watson computer, which is really akin to the first generation omnipotent Star Trek computer, seem to be quite clearly patent ineligible. See Is IBM’s Watson Still Patent Eligible. It is impossible to see how the Watson claims remain patent eligible in light of this ruling and how the Alice claims were written. The only potential solace for IBM and others would be if the Federal Circuit narrowly interprets this decision noticing that the Supreme Court seemed almost preoccupied by the fact that the patent claims covered a financial process. Still, the structure of the claims are nearly identical, with Alice’s claims actually having more recited structure, if anything.

More difficult to understand is how the Court could issue a decision that doesn’t even use the word software. Software is clearly patent eligible if you read the patent statute. Software is mentioned throughout the statute. It was specifically mentioned in the America Invents Act in 2011. Tax strategies are not patent eligible in and of themselves, but the AIA says that software is not patent ineligible just because it incorporates a tax strategy. This is the type of analysis the Supreme Court engaged in the Bilski decision finding that business methods are patentable.





Legally Suspect TTAB Decision Cancels Redskins Trademark

Posted: Thursday, Jun 19, 2014 @ 6:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 25 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Trademark, Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, USPTO

Yesterday the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a decision in Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., which canceled a variety of U.S. federal trademarks that were issued to the Washington Redskins football team between 1967 and 1990. The trademarks in question consisted in whole or in part of the term REDSKINS for professional football-related services. The TTAB ruled that these trademarks were inappropriately granted on the ground that the registrations were obtained contrary to Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.

While this decision will be widely cheered by those who proclaim the virtues of political correctness, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that from a legal standpoint this decision is clearly wrong.

From a purely legal standpoint there is absolutely no valid reason to have canceled the trademarks in question, but this is the second time the TTAB has canceled these same trademarks. Ultimately, the previous challenge was reversed as the result of laches because the challengers waited too long to bring the challenge. Laches was not an issue in this case, but previously federal courts also question the evidence, or lack thereof, relied upon the challenge the trademarks. See Redskins Can Keep Trademark.





Samsung Invents: Robots, Computers & Kitchen Appliances Too

Posted: Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Electronics, Guest Contributors, Household Tech, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Robotics, Samsung, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The largest business conglomerate in the country of South Korea is the Samsung Group, a collection of numerous subsidiaries and affiliates headquartered in Seoul. As recently as mid-June, Samsung announced a major foray into the tablet computer world with the Galaxy Tab S, a tablet designed to provide the best mobile entertainment experience for viewing films and television. Samsung is also building partnerships with major magazine publishers like Conde Nast and National Geographic for a Galaxy Tab S application which will be known as Papergarden. Although other device manufacturers are starting to develop health and fitness applications for their mobile devices, Samsung has been entrenched in this area for a couple of years through its Gear Fit technology.

Every few months, we profile the recent research and development operations in which the companies of the Samsung Group are engaged. Today, we’ve seen an incredible amount of both patent applications and issued patents assigned to this conglomerate which are filed at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Samsung’s patenting activities have been in the news recently, as reports from Thomson Reuters Intellectual Property & Science indicate that no one has filed for more patents for home automation technologies over the past 14 years than Samsung. Today, we’ve performed a thorough search of patents covering a wide degree of innovation from this patenting giant, from medical technologies to virtual reality services for consumer devices.

In addition to an interesting bio-chip testing system that has applications in the medical world, for quicker diagnosis of disease, we encountered a variety of the more typical patent applications you might expect from Samsung. We found, and profile below, patent applications relating to better support mechanisms for touch screen notebooks as well as a method for creating multiple desktop environments on a mobile device are also expressed within recent patent application filings.





Blogging for Business: The Importance of Building Trust

Posted: Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014 @ 9:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | 2 comments
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Posted in: Blogging, Business, Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

One week from today, on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, I will be speaking on a panel about the business of blogging at a luncheon presentation at the 1757 Golf Club in Dulles, Virginia.

While I suspect that the 90 minute discussion will cover a great many things, the conversation starter for the panel is this: Can a company write a blog or does it need to be written by the owner, or some other high profile individual within the company, in order to achieve the maximum benefit?

One of the primary reasons for undertaking a blog is to engage in business development of one kind or another. Assuming that is the goal then it is absolutely essential, in my opinion, for their to be an actual person, or multiple identifiable people, doing the writing.

Searching online is increasingly one of the first things people do when they are looking for information. In order to develop business through a blogging strategy it is essential to tap into this phenomena, which is now the modern day equivalent of going to the Yellow Pages. But the Yellow Pages could only ever tell you so much about a company, what they offered, and virtually never provided any price information. It was also extremely difficult to convey expertise in a static advertisement, and impossible to do so only with a name and phone number listing. The Internet, of course, has changed everything.





Bringing Manufacturing Jobs Back: A Policy for America’s Future

Posted: Monday, Jun 16, 2014 @ 3:49 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 11 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, US Economy

By and large we are exporting our intellectual property so foreign companies and subsidiaries around the world can engage in manufacturing.  Unfortunately, when manufacturing exits a country R&D funding dwindles in direct response, thereby creating an enormous problem. This has been and will continue to be an acute problem for the United States moving forward. With countless manufacturing jobs already gone what the American economy thrives on is intellectual property, particularly in the form of innovation.

This is an issue that has come to mind are the result of a recent article in POLITICO titled As factories die, income gap grows. This article starts by telling the tale of a married couple from Reading, Pennsylvannia, Dave and Barbara, who back in 2008 were making $22 and $19 an hour respectively working for Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker Corp. Layoffs came, long term unemployment followed, and now the couple are among the tens of millions of Americans who are under employed. They had to run through all their retirement savings to stay afloat, and now they each make $10 an hour; Dave as a janitor and Barbara cleaning houses while she looks for something permanent. 

The American story of lost manufacturing jobs dates back for decades. Bruce Springsteen’s song My Hometown, which is actually about my hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, immortalized the tale of a textile mill closing down, jobs leaving and never coming back, which leads to vacant stores throughout the town. The line ? Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back” ?has proved to be eerily prophetic, repeated in once thriving manufacturing and industrial communities all across America. 





Obvious Inventions Patentable: The Australian Innovation Patent

Posted: Sunday, Jun 15, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Ian Lindsay | No Comments »
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Posted in: Australia, Guest Contributors, International, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

Australia has two types of patents, a standard (utility) patent and an innovation patent. Innovation patents where introduced in 2001, replacing the Australian “Petty Patent”. The Petty Patent was intended for inventions of short commercial duration but which had a suitably high level of inventiveness, supposedly increasing the inventors return on investment and encouraging greater innovation.

A government review in 1995 suggested that the Petty Patent was not delivering on these goals and recommended a system which “protects incremental inventions that may not be inventive enough to warrant standard patent protection and are not covered by design legislation” [emphasis added].

As a result, the innovation patent system was introduced and intended to stimulate innovation in Australian small to medium business enterprises (SMEs) by: (1) providing Australian businesses with IP rights for their lower level inventions that meant that competitors could not copy them; and (2) to reduce the compliance burden on users of the patent system by providing easier, cheaper and quicker rights for inventions than the rights formerly provided by the petty patent system.