One year ago, the USPTO Museum packed away 30 man-sized, glowing iPhones. It was the last day of an exhibit commemorating the life and inventions of Steve Jobs, and the oversized mock-smartphones were displaying trademarks and patents in his name. But is it as easy to view those patents on your ordinary, pocket-sized iPhone? Or file a patent application from an iPad?
The USPTO is one of many federal agencies struggling to comply with the mandates of the White House Digital Government Strategy for 2013 – namely, that digital information and services must be available “anywhere, anytime, on any device”. Meeting the government standard will entail not just polishing USPTO.gov for use on smartphones and tablets, but also a substantial overhaul of the way the agency exposes data to patent practitioners and the public.
Apple received 37 patents in the third week of February from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. These awarded patents include three design patents and a few motion detection sensing systems that allow individuals to interact with devices without having to touch the device. Other patents protect improvements to shock sensors within electronic devices and electronic contacts within jacks.
What follows is a sampling of some of the patents that particularly caught my attention for one reason or another.
Manufacturers of all kinds of electronic devices have always been interested in improving a user’s experience with a computer system. A user’s ability to interact seamlessly with the computer software contained within the device has always been a large part of that user experience. From keyboards to computer mice and then touch screens, computer technology manufacturers have continued to come up with new and quicker modes of communication between user and computer.
Every week, Apple Inc. is awarded a number of patents from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Last week, the USPTO released a whopping 47 patents, about twice as many as Apple had received in the previous few weeks. These patents include a number of efficiency improvements to notification and on-hold call management. Apple was also awarded a patent protecting audio production technology that can help simulate different recording environments for musicians. Also patented was a fan inlet calibrated specifically to the static air flow occurring around a laptop.
Apple’s making sure that lengthy on-hold times will never again affect your ability to play Angry Birds. This patent notes that current iPhone functions don’t support the ability to access and interact with apps while waiting to be taken off hold by the user on the other end of the line. Apple hopes that this patented system will allow users to keep utilizing their smartphone functions while on hold, allowing them to conduct important business or fit in another round or two of Temple Run.
News analysis and op-ed pieces following the $1 billion jury decision in Apple v. Samsung have been filled with reactive statements critical of the US patent system. Apple’s enforcement of its patents may “literally choke innovation” cried one law professor. Others have asserted that holding Samsung accountable for its theft of Apple’s property will prove harmful to consumers. A critic of the decision said that cases like this will require competitors to innovators like Apple to be much more mindful of patents and to “try to avoid or secure rights to [patents]” before bringing a product to market.
What the critics have not explained is how making it easier for a foreign company like Samsung to steal US-born innovation is in our long-term national interest.
Only a few weeks prior to the Apple decision, another American jury handed down a $1 billion judgment in another patent infringement case brought by another American company against a competitor. In that case (which the media ironically paid little attention to), Monsanto – the world’s leader in sustainable agriculture – prevailed in an infringement action involving the theft of its revolutionary seed technology. Just as Apple’s vision and risk-taking in the consumer electronics market revolutionized the industry, Monsanto bet the company on its seed technologies and transformed the business of agriculture. The verdicts in these two cases should not be treated as outliers. Rather, they should be accepted by Americans as foreseeable and desired outcomes of a pro-IP industrial policy America has embraced for decades.
Steve Jobs, the visionary founder and leader of Apple Computer Corporation, died Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at the age of 56 after an 8-year battle with a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Jobs, who is sometimes referred to as the father of personal computing, was the mastermind behind Apple’s Computers, iPods, iPhones, iMacs and iPad’s and is seen by many as a man who pioneered the personal computing industry and literally changed the way we live our lives every day. In celebration of his life and his accomplishments over the years, the following is a timeline of Jobs’ history, and the history of Apple, beginning in 1972 when he graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, CA, and focusing on the major events in a memorable life.
On Thursday, July 21, 2011, attorneys for Lodsys LLC, a company rapidly becoming a reviled patent troll, filed an amended complaint in the United States Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. (*) As a result of this amended complaint some big names in the gaming world have been brought into the ongoing patent litigation battles being waged by Lodsys. Lodsys had already sued a number of Apple App developers and others such as Best Buy and the New York Times, see here and here. More specifically, as a result of the filing of this latest complaint Lodsys has brought patent infringement charges against Atari Interactive, Inc. and Electronic Arts, Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), among others. But in the mind of the general public the highest profile defendant to date will almost certainly be Rovio Mobile Ltd., the maker of the extraordinarily popular game Angry Birds, which is available for iPhone, iPad and Android, among other platforms.
Earlier this month an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent application published. This in and of itself isn’t news, but the contents of the innovation disclosed is indeed noteworthy. This particular Apple patent application, US Patent Application No. 20110128384, covers a method of disabling video capture in a cell phone or similar device; namely in the Apple iPhone.
Such an innovation would make it impossible to capture video or pictures at live events where cameras and video recorders are prohibited, such as at live entertainment venues. Such an innovation would no doubt be to the liking of those who engage in live performances and don’t prefer to have videos taken and ultimately posted to the Internet. It wouldn’t, however, be an innovation that would be particularly interesting to the consuming public though, so whether Apple would ever implement these features remains an open question.
In something of a switch for Apple, Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the company known for such popular devices as the iPad, iPhone and the iPod, has obtained a patent on a glove. Yes, the company known for pushing the envelope with high tech gadgets has entered the clothing market with a patented glove. Not just any glove mind you, but rather one that will be sure to help you keep your hands and fingers warm while still being able to use your favorite smart-gadgets.
The patent issued to Apple earlier this week was U.S. Patent No. 7,874,021, which is titled “High tactility glove system.” Don’t let the title fool you though. I turned to the patent to see what kind of high-tech glove gadgetry Apple had come up with and to my surprise what was invented was a glove with openings at the top of the index finger, middle finger and thumb so as to allow skin to actually be able to touch the screen of your iPhone, iPad or iPod.
On January 14, 2010, Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:EK) brought an action at the International Trade Commission (ITC) challenging the importation of certain RIM Blackberry phones and Apple iPhones. Kodak alleged that the importation of the phones violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The predicate for the the alleged Section 337 violation was the infringement of claims 15, 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 of United States Patent No. 6,292,218. Yesterday, January 24, 2011, Kodak announced that it has received notice that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the ITC action brought by Kodak against Apple Inc. and Research In Motion Limited had issued an initial determination recommending that the patent claims at issue are invalid and not infringed.
My brother-in-law has been a lover of all things Apple for as long as I can remember. In fact, on the first day the iPad was released, he waited in line several hours just to be one of the first people to get one. Every time I would complain about my PC and the issues I was having, he’d inevitably say, “Gotta get a MAC.” First, we got our iPhones. Next, after many hours and probably even days of lost work time, we finally broke down and bought my iMac. And most recently, I received my beloved iPad as a gift, which I quickly realized and am still learning just how essential this tool has become to my business. In fact, with all of the applications available for my iPad, it has replaced my PC laptop. I’ve written articles on Mobile Business and Mobile Social Media apps you can download to your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch to take your business on-the-go. Following is the next installment of my business apps series that can help you take your business on the road with you, make your businesses more efficient and Make Small Businesses Look Bigger.
In early September of 2010, I was given my new favorite toy, an Apple iPad, as a gift. I originally used the iPad to read books, play games and to surf the Internet. However, I have discovered that the iPad is a fantastic business tool as well. Whenever I am away from my office, I take my iPad with me. With the right applications, the iPad has virtually replaced my laptop. In two recent articles, Mobile Business Tools – Social Media Apps for the Apple iPad, iPhone & iPodandOn the Go Business Apps – Mobile Business Tools for Apple iPad, iPhone & iPod, I discussed some of the many applications available to help make the iPad an essential tool. Following are three additional Apps that you can use to turn your portable Apple device, into your most valuable business investment.
At this time of the year all typically sit back and reflect on the year that has been, spend time with family and friends, watch some football and set a course to follow into the new year. It is also that time of the year where we are inundated with lists, top 10 this, top 10 that, it gets rather mind numbing after a while. So with that in mind — I have my own top 10 list. I know, I know, but they are so much fun to put together and there is something useful about looking back and reflecting that helps put things into perspective.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 events that shaped the patent, innovation and intellectual property industry during 2010 — at least according to me, and with a heavy patent emphasis. What did you expect?
In a recent article, Mobile Business Tools – Social Media Apps for Apple iPad, iPhone & iPod, I discussed the topic of Social Media/Networking applications that are available for download on the iPhone, iPad and iPod that can help you stay connected to your Social Media. There are thousands of other Mobile Business Tools available to you and can be found in multiple different application categories. Following is a guide to several of the more popular Mobile Business Apps that one can use when on the go, whether to make your trip easier or to take the office with you. Heed my warning though — once you start using this tools you will never know when to “go home!”
Fig. 1 from U.S. Patent Application 20100289390, to Apple for a reinforced device housing
Over the last several months Apple has been busy filing and receiving patents on a variety of innovations that employ carbon fibers, which will reduce the weight of its popular line of mobile devices, including the MacBook, iPad, iPhone and iPod. But now as the holiday gift buying season is starting in earnest, and unofficially starts this Friday – known as Black Friday, there is mounting speculation that Apple will release a new iPad 2 as early as April 2011. There are some wondering whether the iPad 2 might incorporate the carbon fiber reinforced plastic discussed in some Apple patents and pending patent applications. Such a change would take the iPad away from the aluminum frame currently used, which adds unwanted weight to the device.
On September 7, 2010, Apple was granted U.S. Patent No. 7,790,637, which relates to a composite laminate that has an improved cosmetic surface. Certainly this patent won’t grab too many headlines for its sexy gadget appeal, but it does relate to a plurality of sheets stacked one over the other with an exterior surface placed over the sheets to form a composite laminate that provides an outwardly consistent appearance. This provides one important clue that Apple is experimenting with carbon fiber reinforced plastic in an effort to reduce the weight of devices, but is concerned with still maintaining an appropriately aesthetically pleasing device.
A friend recently emailed me to say, “I am having trouble believing that the Quinn family has converted to Mac products.” But yes, we could not resist the power of the dark side, straying away from Microsoft and moving over to Apple. First we got our iPhones then I got my iMac and now I even have an iPad, which is amazing for checking out your fantasy football scores, I might add. But I digress. I have noticed on an increasing basis that my iPhone and iPad are fantastic tools for business on the go. Those of you who follow me, know that I love to write about using social media and social networking as business tools to grow your business. Now with my iPad, and iPhone, I also have the freedom and convenience of mobility that these products have given me.
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.
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