Companies in technology sectors, especially social media companies, have seen some incredible investment through recent initial public offerings (IPOs) of corporate stock. Multi-billion dollar valuations for companies like Facebook, Twitter and more gave investors some excitement, but questions about sustainability, revenue generation and user growth has caused stock prices to dip in recent months.
Many of these companies have valuations that seem to fly in the face of their business models, which harkens back to the days of “irrational exuberance” of the “dot com” era. Still, social media companies can enjoy billions of users, but many of them use their services for free and generate negligible ad revenue for the company providing the platform. Will social media evolve into a money-making proposition or will these companies falter? Time will tell, as it tells with all things.
Against this backdrop and with the full knowledge that higher levels of investment almost universally require significant intellectual property holdings, we thought we’d take some time to look at the current state of the social media industry, including revenue and innovations. To accomplish this task we will also take a closer look at some recent inventions patented by major companies in this field.
Located in Sunnyvale, CA, the American multinational corporation Yahoo! Inc. is a major developer of Internet services that are used worldwide. Every month, hundreds of millions of users access Yahoo! websites and services, making it one of the most popularly visited American websites on the Internet. Recently, the company announced a new online picture printing program called Flickr Photo Books that would integrate photos stored on Flickr. Yahoo!’s fiscal strength is evidenced with the announcement that the company is increasing a share buyback program by $5 billion, a decision that’s resulted in rising stock prices for Yahoo! in recent days.
We haven’t profiled Yahoo! before in IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, but we’re starting to take a closer look as we notice the company showing up often in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishings. Recently, the company has filed a large number of patent applications and has been issued a fair amount of patents, all focused on various innovations for its array of Internet services and applications.
In today’s column, we’re going in-depth to explore a patent application that would notify mobile device users of nearby events. These events would be collected from social media applications and filtered based on a user’s interest and proximity to the user, helping that person find interesting events that they were unaware of. Also, a couple of patent applications describe improvements to social networks available through Yahoo!, both on an individual and a group basis.
The International Business Machines Corporation, headquartered in Armonk, NY, is a major global manufacturer of computer hardware and software, especially for business applications. They provide physical products and consulting services designed to improve operational efficiencies for businesses in various ways. Recently, IBM announced the opening of its Accelerated Discovery Lab, a facility dedicated to finding new relationships between disparate data sets, providing the ability to use Big Data for increasingly groundbreaking discoveries in various fields. IBM is also getting involved in improving cloud security for businesses, recently announcing a business partnership with online security developer Akamai.
This week, IPWatchdog is taking some time in our Companies We Follow series to feature the undisputed top patenting company in the world — IBM. Today, we’re featuring a bevy of patent applications and issued patents featuring IBM developments in a wide range of computing services.
Our featured patent application describes a system of filtering social media messages sent to group members based on a recipient rating system. Negative ratings from group message recipients may be used to inform future methods of blocking similar messages from that sender. Other patent applications would protect more efficient systems of performing computer maintenance and identifying healthcare risks. Another patent application describes an improved coolant system for computing systems.
As the dust settles after the storm caused by the conversion of the United States patent system from a first-to-invent system to a “modified” first-to-file system through implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA) on March 16, 2013, it is essential that companies and inventors avoid inadvertent disclosures of the company’s or inventor’s inventions on social media networks and the company’s website.
Social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have changed the manner that businesses communicate and market their products and innovations. Although these tools may be beneficial by creating market “buzz” for new products through rapid information sharing, they may also be detrimental to a company’s patenting practices for the same reason. If disclosures of up and coming products are made on social media websites without the company first filing for patent protection, and the disclosures are then copied by a second party who then files an application based on the company’s social media disclosures, before the company does, then the first-to-file law could bar the company from patenting the invention, whereas the second party could then obtain patent rights to the invention disclosed on the social media site.
Lexington Technology Group (LTG), an intellectual property management firm, announced on Monday that its wholly owned subsidiary, Bascom Research, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Salesforce.com in the Northern District of California.
Bascom Research is a software development company focused on building solutions for the management of complex and distributed data in healthcare and other fields. The company owns patents that relate to social networking and aspects of enterprise networking. In 2012, Bascom Research brought claims for patent infringement against five defendants. To date, Bascom Research has entered into a settlement agreements with two of the five original defendants in the litigation for effective royalty rates of 4% and 5% of infringing use. In addition to the newly-filed case against Salesforce.com, Bascom remains in litigation with Facebook, Inc., LinkedIn Corp, and Novell Corp in the Northern District of California. A Markman hearing for the cases against Facebook, Inc., LinkedIn Corp, and Novell Corp is scheduled to be heard on October 2nd, 2013.
The patents Bascom alleges that Salesforce.com infringes are: (1) U.S. Patent No. 7,111,232 (“the ‘232 Patent”), entitled Method and system for making document objects available to users of a network; (2) U.S. Patent No. 7,139,974 (“the ‘974 Patent”), entitled Framework For Managing Document Objects Stored On A Network; and (3) U.S. Patent No. 7,158,971 (“the ‘971 Patent”), entitled Method For Searching Document Objects On A Network.
The Samsung Group of Seoul, South Korea, is a conglomerate made up of many subsidiaries that are in the business of developing different electronics. Samsung’s line of products is as varied as washing machines, televisions, microwaves and handheld electronic devices. Recently, the manufacturer announced that it would begetting more serious in the tablet market with the upcoming release of the 12.2-inch Galaxy Note tablet.
In this edition of IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow our series returns to focus once again on Samsung and its recent appearances at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. As has often been the case recently, many of the more intriguing patents and patent applications from Samsung deal with electronic device development. One patent document protects a better system of constructing biochips to monitor drug trials. An application filed by Samsung describes a devised method of allowing mobile phones to give off fragrance in response to user interaction. Upgrades to electro-wetting displays, which use water and oil to affect light displays, are featured in a second patent application.
Smarter computing systems are also a major focus for Samsung. We also look at an application that would protect a system for controlling social network user interactions based on emotional states, and more efficient systems of detecting eye regions for facial recognition.
For decades, the Nielsen Rating has measured audience size for television programming. Since 2006, Twitter allowed users to provide real-time comments, or tweets, on just about anything they wish. Twitter users often use Twitter to discuss television shows as they are being aired. Because of this, Nielsen and Twitter and joining their powerful forces to create the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating.
Starting in the fall of 2013, the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will chart the conversations that take place on Twitter about television shows. It will measure the total audience for each show’s social activity. According to a representative at Nielsen, this new rating system will provide the “precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming.”
Nielsen, is a global company that measures television and other media forms such as online, mobile and trade shows. They have a strong presence in about 100 countries and have headquarters in New York and the Netherlands.
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.