Today, we delve into the databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to take our first look at Canon, a company that develops imaging and printing innovations that are used worldwide. In this edition of the Companies We Follow series, we’ve gone through and profiled a series of patent applications and issued patents assigned to this Japanese multinational corporation. Here at IPWatchdog, we’ve noticed some useful upgrades to existing printing technologies, as well as a series of intriguing devices for medical applications.
The featured patent application for this column describes a novel improvement for providing latent-image patterns for protecting secure documents. This system creates more effective watermarks for preventing unauthorized copies that are camouflaged but can transmit important data. We also discuss a series of patent applications for medical devices, including a few upgrades to X-ray imaging devices and a design for a less cumbersome ophthalmologic device for creating an X-ray image of a patient’s eye.
Our profile of Canon’s recently issued patents shows a wide range of small improvements to various imaging and printing devices developed by the corporation. One patent protects a new design for copy machines that provides better access for clearing paper jams. Another issued patent protects an inkjet head capable of recycling unused ink droplets escaping the inkjet head. We also discuss a few upgrades to printing software systems, including better methods of storing print job histories while in sleep mode.
Copy-Forgery-Inhibited Pattern Image Generation Method and Image Processing Device
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140022604
The world of digital documentation and imaging has led many private businesses and organizations to recognize the need for preventing others from copying online content. For this purpose, copy-forgery-inhibited patterns have been developed to discourage others from commercially distributing proprietary information. These patterns appear in the background of receipts, certificates and other secure items that contains sensitive data.
These patterns can be supplied for electronic documents and images in various ways. Aside from “VOID” and corporate logo watermarks, printing technologies can produce latent images composed of a print date, an IP address or other pieces of information identifying the output printer. These patterns are typically composed of two layered image regions that cannot be seen macroscopically but can be detected microscopically. However, some techniques can cause errors such as excessive diffusion that inhibit the effectiveness of these patterns.
This patent application, filed by Canon with the USPTO, protects a printing apparatus capable of printing an image that contains at least a first and second area, each comprised out of dots of different sizes. The dots are sized so that the density value of dots used in the first area are related to the density value of dots in the second area, and vice versa. The system protected by this patent aims to create a better camouflaged copy-forgery-inhibited pattern that isn’t reduced in quality because of printing limitations.
Aside from producing more effective copy-forgery-inhibited patterns, this innovation is also designed to make it difficult for others to see a latent image in the background of a document. A latent-image part of the pattern that is reproduced when copied, and a background image part of the pattern that disappears upon copying. Other information from the image file being produced for use with a copy-forgery-inhibited patterns is also collected to evaluate proper dot configuration, including image color and size.
Claim 2 (Claim 1 cancelled) of this patent application would give Canon the right to protect:
“An apparatus for printing an image including a first area and a second area, the first area including larger dots than the second area, the apparatus comprising: a setting unit that, in response to user input, sets a first value that relates to a density of the first area and sets a second value that relates to a density of the second area; and a generating unit that generates the image including the first area and the second area, wherein the image is generated such that a size of the larger dots in the first area is based on the first value that relates to the density of the first area and a number of dots in the second area is based on the second value that relates to the density of the second area.”
Other Patent Applications
Canon is a major developer of various imaging technologies, and its research and development goes much further than the digital cameras that are most prevalent in the consumer market. As IPWatchdog can show our readers, the corporation is also heavily involved in the creation of medical technologies that use various optical and imaging innovations. For example, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140029725, entitled X-Ray Generator and X-Ray Imaging Apparatus Including the Same, describes an X-ray generator that is better able to handle and withstand the heat generated by the electrical discharge of the X-ray tube. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140027647, which is titled Radiation Imaging Apparatus, would protect a method of creating a radiation image detector that doesn’t break if an imaging apparatus is dropped. Medical devices constructed for eye health are the focus of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140016095, filed under the title Ophthalmologic Apparatus. This application discusses a new type of apparatus for recording tomographic images from a patient that requires less time for light adjustment, reducing the overall burden that the apparatus places on a subject.
Canon is also heavily involved in developing digital imaging technologies for use in general business settings or for sale directly to consumers. Better scanning devices are the aim of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140022612, entitled Image Reading Apparatus. This application would protect a driving mechanism for a combination flatbed/sheet-through scanner that could be manufactured at a low cost with extraneous drive member units. These devices combine the effectiveness of flatbed scanning, that can scan any item pressed against the glass, and sheet-fed scanning, which can only scan unattached pages but can do so very quickly.
Issued Patents of Note
As we’re seeing today, Canon Inc. is a major developer of a wide range of imaging and optical technologies. To protect its novel systems that provide useful innovations to medical, business and consumer markets, this corporation is often a recipient of patents issued by the USPTO. We know that this is the true measure of a company’s intellectual property strength, and we wanted to explore some recently issued patents that shows Canon as very interested in improving their existing digital imaging systems and devices.
A couple of issued patents recently assigned to Canon protect some practical new redesigns to image printing devices and technology. For example, U.S. Patent No. 8639162, titled Color Electrophotographic Image Forming Apparatus, protects an assembly design for a copying machine that enables easier clearing of paper jams. This assembly is able to expose the paper jam for manual removal without a user having to remove a pulling-out member that has to be remounted after removing the jam. U.S. Patent No. 8636349, which is titled Liquid Ejection Head and Liquid Ejection Apparatus, protects a liquid ink ejection head for printers that affords better landing precision for ink droplets and also improves collection of unused ink droplets for recirculation into the ink ejector. U.S. Patent No. 8639261, issued under the title Image Forming Apparatus With Movable Pressing Member, protects improvements that provide better control of rotational torque for image transfer devices which use toner.
Other recent Canon patents protect some helpful new management systems for printing systems. Automated systems for adjusting settings in response to consumable media is the focus of U.S. Patent No. 8639129, titled Printing System and Image Forming Apparatus for Controlling a Setting According to Replacement of a Consumable of an Image Forming Apparatus. This system can automatically detect when a reuse consumable has been loaded to replace other consumables so as to automatically adjust color and other printing settings. Finally, we also took a look at U.S. Patent No. 8636484, entitled Collecting History Information of an Image Forming Device While the Image Forming Device Is In a Power Saving Mode This patent protects a system that is capable of storing history data for previous print jobs without losing that data when the printer enters a sleep mode.