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Posts Tagged ‘ technology ’

Diverse Patent Portfolio for 3M: Digital Sticky Notes, Dental Innovations and Monitoring Criminal Offenders

Posted: Monday, Dec 15, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: 3M, Authors, Companies We Follow, Consumer Products, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Headquartered in St. Paul, MN, the 3M Company (NYSE: MMM) is a major American corporation involved with the development of a wide range of consumer personal care products as well as medical systems, vehicle care and other industries; it’s also a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company recently passed an important valuation milestone as it saw its total worth push past $100 billion in early November; the company expects to finish the year with a record $31 billion in sales. In financial publications, some investing commentators have discussed 3M as a fairly safe core portfolio investment, although the company is not expected to greatly outperform others in its sector over the next year. The company has invested itself heavily in corporate expansions, including the recent announcement of a $57.6 million high-tech medical supply manufacturing facility in Brookings, SD.

The Companies We Follow series has been busy reviewing the R&D activities of some corporations which we haven’t featured before, and today we have the intellectual property development activities of 3M in our sights. Patent applications assigned to this company which have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office disclose a number of unique chemical compositions, including an anti-fogging compound for better visibility through vehicle windows. A couple of electronic data systems are also disclosed, including one designed to enable community monitoring of local criminal offenders.

3M has a very strong patent portfolio and the past few weeks saw the addition of many intriguing technologies to its IP holdings. A couple of patents protect improvements to orthodontics and dental treatment, including a system designed for better digital modeling of interior mouth structures. Another more general medical innovation involves the use of a nylon article including a dye that provides antimicrobial properties when light passes through the dye. We also discuss a self-priming wall spackle compound and a software system for the digital management of sticky notes, such as Post-it notes.



The Evolution of Video Game Consoles: A Tribute to Ralph Baer

Posted: Friday, Dec 12, 2014 @ 10:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Evolution of Technology, Famous Inventors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

Ralph Baer, inventor of the video game console

Over the past week the world lost a major name in video game technology, the man who originally developed the entire concept of playing games through a television screen display. Ralph Baer, a 2010 inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, passed away on Saturday, December 6th at the age of 92. From his mind sprang a wide array of technological innovation; Baer was assigned 50 U.S. patents and another 100 international patents during the course of his life. However, it is console-based video gaming that would bring the inventor his greatest renown by breathing life into an entertainment industry which now reaps annual revenues which stretch well into the billions.

Today, we’d like to take a little time to honor the life of a true engineering visionary, one who understood the interactive potential of television sets decades before companies were willing to jump on board. In his long life, Ralph Baer exemplified the spirit of invention, developing his own ideas with a singular focus while conceiving an incredible breadth of useful technologies. Although the proliferation of video gaming consoles would gather steam late in the 20th century with the development of semiconductors, our Evolution of Video Game Consoles shows that early video gaming development that set the stage for all of the well-known consoles with which our readers will be familiar is solely the contribution of the German-American inventor Ralph Baer.



The Evolution of Modern Ballpoint Pen: A Patent History

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Consumer Products, Evolution of Technology, Famous Inventors, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

László Jozsef Bíró, the inventor of the ballpoint pen.

If any one product were to sell at the incredible rate of 57 units per second over the course of a year, it would have to be considered one of the most commercially successful consumer products of all time. That consistent level of high sales may seem impossible, but that was exactly the rate at which ballpoint pens were sold around the world during 2006. The ballpoint pen is so readily available and cheap that it’s impossible not to take for granted that at one time, jotting down a quick note used to be a much more complex process than whipping a pen out of your pocket and maybe fumbling with the cap for a moment or two. At worst, the pen’s ink might have run out, but for most consumers a replacement or twenty is within close reach.

Today, we return to our Evolution of Technology series to profile the development of a writing utensil, which most of our readers are likely carrying on them as they peruse this column. The ballpoint pen as we know it has changed slightly over the years, but most of the significant developments involving the ballpoint pen can be traced to Hungarian inventor László Jozsef Bíró, a 2007 inductee into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. There are some fascinating aspects to the story of the ballpoint pen: it enabled the escape of its inventor from Nazi Germany and has an interesting marketing history in the United States. Below, we explore the development history of this simple yet incredibly practical writing tool and profile some of the important patents issued to pen innovators along the way.



The Evolution of Prosthetic Devices: A Patent History

Posted: Monday, Dec 1, 2014 @ 7:45 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Authors, Biotechnology, Evolution of Technology, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

The past decade has been a very interesting time in the area of developing prosthetic devices which can help a person regain some of the motion and motor skills they lost because of an amputation. On December 9th, the Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation will convene to recognize the achievements of Dr. Hugh Herr, who is the IPOEF’s selection for its 41st Inventor of the Year. The contributions of Dr. Herr to prosthetic device development has led to revolutionary developments in foot and calf bionics, allowing those who haven’t walked for years to take their first steps on their own. As the press release linked above states, Dr. Herr is of the belief that disability can be eliminated within this century through greater research and development in bionics.

With this honor being bestowed upon a developer of prosthetic devices, we thought it would provide a good opportunity to return to our Evolution of Technology series for an in depth look at the development of prosthetic devices. Our story of the history of prosthetic devices take us from decorative beginnings in ancient societies through the high-tech devices being constructed to enable the mind to more easily control bionic limbs which have an incredible range of function. A long and sometimes very difficult road has been traveled for millennia towards a current atmosphere where hope for the future of bionic development is very high.



Department of Energy Pumps Money into Offshore Wind Energy

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014 @ 11:30 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 11 comments
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Posted in: Authors, Energy, Green Technology, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

From U.S. Patent No. 8,729,723, entitled “Removable Offshore Wind Turbines with Pre-Installed Mooring System.”

Alternative forms of energy which can create electricity in much cleaner processes than fossil fuels have been an area of intense development in recent years. Here at IPWatchdog, we’ve covered recent developments in solar and hydrogen energy generation technologies in the past, and alternative energy is a frequent topic, particularly during our Earth Day coverage each year. We dive into this topic given that reports from the U.S. Department of Energy have led to a lot of optimism in recent days about the future of wind energy, specifically wind energy collected from offshore sources.

A developed network of offshore wind turbines could power the entire United States of America. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, there is a potential 4,150 gigawatts of energy which can be collected from offshore wind collection around the country’s waters. The total electric generating capacity of the entire nation was 1,010 gigawatts as of 2008. All of this energy can be collected from waters within 50 nautical miles of America’s shorelines.

There are many obstacles in the way of increasing the scale of these technologies. Currently, offshore wind projects in America have capital costs of about $6,000 per kilowatt during installation, compared with about $1,940 per installed kilowatt for land-based wind projects. This is according to the recent Offshore Wind Market and Economic Analysis report released by the U.S. DoE, mentioned above.



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: Authors, Evolution of Technology, 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..



Stanford Invests $1.35 Billion Annually Leading to Diverse Innovation

Posted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 @ 11:13 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | Comments Off
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Posted in: Authors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Stanford University, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Universities

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.

Stanford sets aside an annual research budget of about $1.35 billion to fund its development operations for 2013-2014, and since the 1930s the university has been the starting grounds for nearly 40,000 companies, creating about 5.4 million jobs total. A 2012 study conducted by Stanford estimated that companies formed by Stanford entrepreneurs generate world revenues of $2.7 trillion annually. Recent Stanford research projects have included new techniques for the successful removal of stomach cancer cells, as well as biological surveys of marine life showing how crude oil leaks can affect heart health in fish. Today, we’re looking at the recent publications released from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office assigned directly to Stanford University to take a snapshot look at the innovative side of this academic institution.

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.



Univ. of California Invents: From Video Games to Treating E. coli

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 @ 10:15 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | Comments Off
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Posted in: Authors, Biotechnology, Companies We Follow, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Technology Transfer, University of California

February 19th is the opening of the 2014 Association of University Technology Managers annual meeting, which means this week IPWatchdog is taking a short break from our regular Companies We Follow series to celebrate some of the best recent innovations from America’s academic institutions. Yesterday we featured innovations from historically black colleges and universities.

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.



Concussion Science, Stagnant Helmet Innovation and the NFL

Posted: Sunday, Feb 2, 2014 @ 12:11 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 8 comments
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Posted in: Authors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

From U.S. Patent No. 8,528,118.

Today is Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be played in New Jersey not far from New York City. The high-profile nature of this event is also expected to attract a lot of money as well as public attention. Although some experts are skeptical, the host committee for Super Bowl XLVIII recently reported that the game would bring a total economic impact to the region of $600 million. Companies looking to advertise during the game will have to pay $4 million for a 30-second commercial slot.

It’s clear that a lot of businesses make money off of these football players. In recent years, as the popularity of the sport continues to grow, many of these players have expressed concerns over the safety of the game, and lawsuits have been filed against the National Football League, claiming they’re responsible for the health and safety of players who have struggled with the effects of concussions years after their playing days are over. Today, we wanted to take a look at recent helmet technologies being patented to see if the National Football League really is doing all it can to prevent player concussions.



The Future of TV: Internet Television Tech on the Rise

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014 @ 9:02 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | Comments Off
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Posted in: Amazon.com, AT&T, Authors, Companies We Follow, Intel, Internet, Internet Television, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Recently on IPWatchdog, we featured a series of AT&T patents in our Companies We Follow series that protect various technologies for Internet protocol television, or IPTV. More and more, we’ve been noticing various television technologies relying on Internet transmission that have been protected by patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This prompted us to take a closer look at the current state of Internet Television technologies in America and the surrounding world.

A few U.S. cable television providers, such as Comcast’s AnyPlay and AT&T’s U-verse, already offer Internet television technologies. Globally, there were about 66 million IPTV subscribers as of June 2012, and that amount is expected to rise to 102 million by 2018. Domestically, the IPTV market has seen some interesting movement lately; as we noted in our recent Companies We Follow column on the Intel Corporation, which also featured patents protecting IPTV tech, the corporation recently agreed to sell it’s OnCue IPTV business and associated technology holdings to Verizon Communications. In turn, Verizon plans to develop IPTV consumer packages within the United States. Amazon.com is also reportedly shopping for content for its own Internet TV service.

IPTV is much different than the digital video accessed by millions of users on YouTube or other video streaming websites, but it shares a lot of the same ubiquitous, pervasive nature. A single subscription can be accessed by multiple television sets within a home, and Internet-based transmission allows for web-based applications to enhance a viewer’s experience. Our goal today is to explore the the current state of IPTV and Internet television technologies globally, as well as what the near future holds for these entertainment systems.



Does University Patent Licensing Pay Off?

Posted: Monday, Jan 27, 2014 @ 1:54 pm | Written by Joseph Allen | 3 comments
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Posted in: Authors, Biotechnology, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Joe Allen, National Institutes of Health, Technology & Innovation, Technology Transfer

A recent study from the Brookings Institution University Start-Ups: Critical for Improving Technology Transfer received a lot of coverage in the national media.  While the title implies the focus is on expanding academic start-up formation (a laudable goal), The New York Times headline accurately reflects the real message: Patenting Their Discoveries Does Not Pay Off for Most Universities.

The report makes some good recommendations for increasing support for start-up formation, but implies that most university technology transfer offices (TTO’s) are not worth their cost because they are not self-supporting through patent licensing income.  As Brookings acknowledges, universities spend the vast majority of their licensing revenues rewarding inventors or funding new research, not in supporting technology transfer operations.  Brookings recommends that universities shift focus from patent licensing to start-up formation.

Ironically, recommendations from a preceding Brookings study would make both start- up formation and patent licensing more difficult.



AT&T Seeks Patent to Prevent Crime on Gaming Networks

Posted: Sunday, Oct 27, 2013 @ 6:15 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | Comments Off
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Posted in: AT&T, Authors, Companies We Follow, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

AT&T Inc. of Dallas, TX, is a huge player in the mobile communications market, and is America’s largest provider of mobile telephony and line-landed telephony products as of 2012. AT&T’s consumer offerings for accessing wireless networks are becoming more varied, as is evidenced by the company’s recent announcement that it would sell $5 day passes for wireless data packages. AT&T will also support the development of an upcoming Samsung smart camera product, the Galaxy S4 Zoom.

Telecommunications has been a major growth field in intellectual property for a number of technological firms. Today on IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we’re taking a look at AT&T to see what developments we can expect from arguably the strongest American telecommunications corporation. As always, we have a great collection of patent applications and issued patents published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to show you what’s in store.

Our featured patent application today describes a system of preventing illegal and criminal activities on gaming networks by preventing predatory users from being able to come into contact with others who are susceptible. Also, this patent application indicates that the same gaming environments could be adjusted based on local user information to resemble that player’s local terrain. Other patent applications of note include a system of targeting emergency messages to an exact geographic location for affected mobile device owners, as well as a method for transmitting high-grade video data across a cellular network.