The emergence of mobile computing as a technology platform has been a game changing development in many ways. The ability to be connected anywhere and to have real time information at our finger tips has transformed the way we do business and live our lives. As this computing paradigm has gained mass market acceptance we’ve witnessed a series of patent battles among firms vying for their share of this lucrative market. These so-called smart phone patent wars have in turn motivated patent system critics to vociferously decry the system as an impediment to innovation, which must be eliminated or radically overhauled. Defenders of the system respond that patent battles are a characteristic of market competitionoccurring with other breakthrough innovations throughout our history, and that patents address the need to protect innovations to encourage investment in innovation.
Despite all the chatter however, there is something that we have not heard in the discussions about these smart phone patent wars. The debate seems to have focused on patents and the patent system and it has ignored the fact that this current patent battle is really a battle between three competing business models advanced by the three highly competitive mobile OS providers and members of their ecosystems. Apple is pursuing a fully proprietary business model where mobile OS and mobile hardware are proprietary to Apple. This is consistent with Apple’s prior business model in traditional computing which has worked quite well for them. Similarly Microsoft is advancing a business model much like its successful traditional computing business model with a proprietary OS and an “open” hardware platform that allows third party handset makers to provide phones running the Windows mobile OS. Finally, Google is advancing an “all open” model in which it uses Android, an open source mobile OS and an open hardware approach.
The month of January started off quite busy, which in all likelihood was as the result of deals and announcements either held over or that simply couldn’t get done in the run up to closing out the year. There was a noticeable lull in news and announcements with respect to patent deals, settlements and litigation announcements, and then things picked up a bit toward the end of the month.
This month some of the highlights included (1) an exclusive option to license drugs targeting Parkinson’s disease; (2) potential patent problems on the horizon for Facebook; (3) additional settlements in the Forest Laboratory’s BYSTOLIC® patent litigation; (4) the inevitable news from Acacia Research; plus more.
By now you may have noticed that most successful businesses have a blog. This is no coincidence. Blogging can help you gain customers, drive traffic to your website and raise your rank in the search engine result pages. Here is a list of business blogging do’s to help you get started with your own blog.
1. Choose an easy application.
One of easiest, most effective ways to blog is to use WordPress. It is the most common and widely used by many successful bloggers. The reason it is so popular is because it makes blogging easy. It provides you with templates and other tools to quickly and easily set up your blog. It is not necessary to know website design or even HTML with a plug-in blog platforms like WordPress. It also allows you to add a plethora or plugins and widgets to completely customize your blog; and again, it’s all quick and easy. WordPress.com is a free service, but you will be required to have wordpress.com as an extension on your web address. If you want your own, hosted site, you can go purchase a domain and install WordPress.org.
Since we last stopped by, there was a holiday break. But not surprisingly, 2013 began with a predictable rush of interesting news. So here are some of the most recent highlights, from court rulings and medical study findings to FDA doings and steps taken to developed new parameters for prescribing and clinical trials in various places.
For some, the year began on a disappointing note. That’s because the Obama administration again missed a deadline for releasing much-anticipated Sunshine guidelines for industry transparency. Late last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a final version to the White House for approval. But despite anticipation that guidelines would soon become public, the new year passed without a peep. Once again, all bets were off.
The guidelines, which became law as part of the Affordable Care Act, are supposed to set ways for gathering and publishing data that contain financial ties between physicians and drug and device makers. This would include ownership or investment interests held by a doctor or family member. Penalties for violations can range from $1,000 to $100,000. The CMS estimates it will cost industry and providers about $224 million in the first year and $163 million annually thereafter to comply.
The U.S. patent system has garnered a lot of attention over the past several months, much of it a negative portrayal of patents as a tool more likely to stifle than protect innovation—and much of that sentiment stemming from Apple’s recent legal triumph over Samsung.
As the larger business, government and societal debates continue relative to the future role and efficacy of the patent system, it’s worth taking a moment to remind ourselves that product and technology licensing is not anathema to the qualities of fairness and transparency.
Patent pooling is one example of a proven, effective tool that is helping industry better manage its licensing programs. By “pooling” patents from many license holders, licensors generally are able to lower transaction costs and administrative overhead, and benefit from a centralized model that encourages patent bundling and fair play. Licensees likewise enjoy advantages in the form of lower royalty fees and a single point of contact that eliminates the need to negotiate separately with multiple license holders.
On October 15, 2012, I went on the record with inventor coach, inventor and author, Stephen Key. To many Key is known as the man behind InventRight, which is a comprehensive 10-step program to help aspiring inventors.
Over the past several years, however, Key is becoming known as an author. Nearly two years after his first book — One Simple Idea: Turn Your Ideas Into a Licensing Goldmine — was published it continues to be in the top 50 books for small business on Amazon.com, and is #1 in small business marketing. In this segment of my interview we will learn that the book is still selling 100 copies per week, which is no small accomplishment two years later.
We pick up our conversation with where many inventors stumble as they attempt to move from idea person to small business person. We also discuss lessons learned from a Big Bang Theory episode, as well as the important of taking reasonable risks, protecting your innovations (Key is a fan of provisional patent applications to start) and the importance of knowing the market for your product. For part 1 of our conversation please see: Discussing Startups & Entrepreneurship with Author Stephen Key.
Whether you are just getting your feet wet in the wild world of inventions and patents, or you already have your business up and running, social media can help expand your business. Everywhere you look, there are Facebook “Like” buttons, LinkedIn “Share” buttons and Twitter “Tweet” buttons. Even Google has entered the social sharing game with Google+ allowing you to “+1” content. Social media can help catapult your business into overdrive – if you know how to use it effectively.
Here are some tips to using social media to expand business.
1. Choose which social platforms you want to use
There are many social networks out there – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, the list seems to be constantly growing. You want to channel your hard work into a select amount of platforms, and make sure that they are the right ones for your business. But with so many choices, how can you be sure which is right for you? Well that depends on what your goal is. Twitter is very up-to-the-minute, a place that provides short blurbs about news, insights and just about anything else. Facebook will allow you to post pictures, talk about events and what’s new with your business. LinkedIn caters to the professional crowd and will allow you to highlight your business credentials, but there is a social side to it that is beneficial for businesses.
In addition to being an inventor coach and successful author (both of Key’s books are in the Amazon.com top 100 for Small Business and Entrepreneurship), Key is also a successful inventor. Perhaps Key’s biggest, most successful invention relates to a rotatable label system and associated method. The earliest patent I found relating to what became a patent portfolio to cover this innovation is U.S. Patent No. 5,809,674. Key’s innovation adds 75% more labeling space to a container. This patent family was owned by Stephen Key Designs, LLC, which was acquired by Accudial Pharmaceuticalin the Fall of 2011. See Key Scores His Own Big Success. Thus, Key is more than the typical coach or author. He has had real success in his own right and many of the students he teaches and consults with have succeeded in their own right. Simply put, Stephen Key knows a thing or two about inventing, licensing, taking reasonable and appropriate risks and succeeding as an entrepreneur.
I spoke with Key on the record on October 15, 2012. We discussed his new book, as well as some of the critically important considerations that go into starting a business based on a product idea. Over and over again Key will preach to keep things simple, not in a patronizing way, but rather to make sure that things are pursued in a reasonable fashion in workable increments. Inventors and would-be entrepreneurs will learn a lot from this interview, and for under $14 on Amazon.com you won’t go wrong with his new book either.
At 2:30pm on Monday, October 1, 2012, I will be speaking at the annual meeting of the Association of Intellectual Property Firms (AIPF). My topic is the business of blogging for lawyers. This is a topic I have written about, and spoken about, in the past. Given the trajectory of my career over the past seven years the topic is one near and dear to my heart. While I have been operating IPWatchdog since October 1999, which almost doesn’t seem possible, I left full-time teaching in the summer of 2005. It was at that point that I started devoted full-time attention to IPWatchdog.
Many in the industry know that my professional persona causes me to wear several different hats. First, I teach a patent bar review course for the Practising Law Institute, which takes me out of the office for 6 days at a time between 8 and 10 weeks a year. I also have a patent practice at Zies, Widerman & Malek, which primarily focuses on software and Internet technologies. But the overwhelming majority of my time is spent with IPWatchdog.com, which is my blogging hat. Of course, blogging also leads to clients for me and the firm.
Blogging can lead to name recognition, establishing one as an expert and ultimately leading to client development, which is why many attorneys are interested in learning about how to go about “this blogging thing.” Like everything in life, there are steps that can and should be taken to pursue the path. So if you are interested in blogging for business let me give you some advice.
No matter where we go these days, social media surrounds us. It seems everyone is saying, “Follow us on Twitter.” “Like us on Facebook.” “For More Information Scan Our QR Code.” Just this week alone, I have seen at least a dozen places in my everyday life where social media has come into the real world — at church, on my drive home from the airport I saw signs on the back of hotel shuttle vans and at my local coffee shop, to name a few. Social media is here to stay and businesses of all sizes know it. But what many smaller businesses do not know or care to realize is that there are several bad habits that still need to be broken in order to make the most out of their social media strategies. Following is a list of these common bad habits and what small business can do to break away from these same old mistakes.
Social Media Hard Sales
Social Media is not the place for hard selling. You may recall in a previous article, Top 10 Mistakes Businesses Make with Social Media, I listed hard selling as #5 on the list. But it seems that so many businesses cannot seem to break this very bad habit. I am not saying do not promote your businesses, but people do not want to be “sold to” anymore. With the Internet and social media making it so easy for consumers to go somewhere else, there are other, far more productive ways to promote your business than with the hard sell.
Did you know you could secure a business loan with your patent(s)? Many people are unaware that a patent or patent portfolio can be used as collateral to secure a loan, but if you take a look at the assignment records at the USPTO you can see just how common this practice really is.
An assignment indicates who owns an issued patent or pending patent application. They are registered with the USPTO and available for public inspection. There is a special type of assignment called a “security agreement”. A security agreement indicates that a patent owner has used its patents as collateral for a loan. The security agreement says that the lender will get ownership of the patent if the current patent owner defaults on the loan. The security agreement also restricts what the patent owner can do with its patent so that the value of the patent is preserved. A patent owner might be obligated, for example, to pay the maintenance fees for an issued patent. Once the loan is paid off, the security agreement is released. If the loan goes into default, however, the ownership of the patent is transferred to the lender.
Social Media is not a fad. It is not something that is going to go away nor is it going to be replaced by something bigger and better. Most businesses have embraced social media and all that it has to offer. Perhaps you, yourself have taken a ride on the social media bandwagon. But, even if you have a well-established social media presence, are you really getting the most out of your online relationships? Are you missing opportunities to truly leverage your business relationships online in order to reap bigger rewards and sales in the real world? Following are 5 easy ways that you can take to utilize your online business and real-world relationships to increase your overall social media ROI.
1. Give and Receive On-Line Introductions
Don’t just wait for others to approach you through social media. Until you have established your online brand, telling others who you are, what you do and what you have to offer, you cannot expect others to find you. You are always your own best advertiser. You need to reach out to everyone you know and want to know to get the word out. With social media, as well as in the real world, you do not necessarily have to approach people blindly. Rather start utilizing the business relationships you have developed both off line and on over the years to meet those you would potentially like to work with.
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. The treatise is continuously updated to address relevant Federal Circuit and Supreme Court decision impacting patent drafting.
Typically blog roll links are not helpful to a website's rank. To give some additional "link love" to those we think you might be interested in reading we have moved our blog roll and links to a dedicated page. Go to IPWatchdog Blog Roll & Links.