The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ) of Palo Alto, CA, considered to be one of the earliest Silicon Valley companies, is still a major force in the global development and sale of information technologies for consumers and businesses alike. The American multinational corporation recently announced a joint venture with Taiwan’s Foxconn, a major manufacturer of Apple iPhone and iPad components, to develop cloud servers for use in developing markets like Asia. HP is also busy developing software services for enterprise applications, such as its recently announced Security Metrics Service which provides better analysis of security risks within corporate IT infrastructures.
Our second profile of Hewlett-Packard’s innovations for the Companies We Follow series here at IPWatchdog features a range of intriguing technologies for both businesses and individual consumers. We’ve searched the databases of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to find the most interesting patent applications and recently issued patents assigned to HP. Today’s column features an interesting array of inventions from this global leader in hardware and software product development.
The featured patent application in this edition of the Companies We Follow series focuses on mapping technology, an area of innovation that we’ve seen from many of the electronic device and software manufacturers we cover. This system enables more effective road map generation from a plurality of sources of GPS data, including taxis and other vehicles on the road which are already equipped with location data sensors and devices. We also discuss a couple of patent applications which would protect printing technologies, as well as a novel system of electronic circuitry to prevent unauthorized access of cash drawers.
Hewlett-Packard has a fairly strong portfolio of intellectual properties, and the USPTO has recently added dozens of patents to this company’s holdings in recent weeks. We take an in-depth look at a trio of patents related to printing technologies, including one patent for electronic storage of warranty data for printer components which HP had been trying to patent for more than a decade. We also explore a couple of patents protecting novel imaging systems, including one method for more effective capturing of lightning strike images.
Road Maps from Clusters of Line Segments of Multiple Sources
U.S. Patent Application No. 20140095062
Mapping software has been a major area of development for many of the top electronics companies that we follow. As we’ve featured in past profiles on companies like Google, Apple and Yahoo!, many companies are heavily involved with filing patent applications to protect mapping and routing technologies. These innovations have greatly improved real-time routing and mapping over traditional road maps developed through geologic surveys, which are time-consuming and expensive to produce.
Some mapping technologies rely on the use of survey vehicles which have GPS sensors to collect accurate location readings and other data used to generate road maps. The use of dedicated survey vehicles for building road map data can be expensive because of the need to pay for fuel, vehicles, GPS sensors and more. Passive systems of collecting data from taxis and other vehicles that are already on the road would be preferable and more cost-effective.
Hewlett-Packard filed this patent application with the USPTO in September 2012 to protect methods of building a road map from multiple datapoint sources. These sources would include taxis, buses and other commercial vehicles with either telephones or dedicated GPS tracking devices. Line segments derived from locational data are used to determine any changes that must be made to existing digital maps created by this system.
Systems for collecting GPS data from taxis and other vehicles have been difficult to implement because of the coarseness of the data. Unlike dedicated survey vehicles, these vehicles use GPS sensors that return location data at a much slower rate, sometimes as low as once per minute. By collecting data from a plurality of sources, more accurate road maps can be developed without having to use survey vehicles.
Claim 1 of this patent application would give Hewlett-Packard the right to protect:
“A method of generating a road map from clusters of line segments of multiple datapoint sources, the method comprising: defining line segments for the datapoint sources between consecutive samples from the sources; grouping the line segments into clusters according to a position criterion; applying curve fitting to the clusters to obtain centerlines; and generating a road map from the centerlines.”
Other Patent Applications
Whether it comes in hardware or software form, HP is a major developer of many information technologies used by consumers, small businesses and large corporations alike. Today, we were intrigued by a couple of software inventions meant to improve various interactions between customers and businesses. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140122238, filed under the title Coupon Offer Personalization, describes a system of offering coupons across digital networks based on location data collected from a computing device. This system would present users with coupons that are both available within a local area and correspond to categorical information about a user’s likes or preferences. U.S. Patent Application No. 20140088760, titled Computer Connected Cash Drawer Status and Control, would protect a basic input-output system (BIOS) for cash drawers. The circuitry described in this patent application would improve security against unauthorized access of cash drawers.
Hewlett-Packard is a major developer of printing technologies as well, and our interest was piqued by a couple of patent applications portraying this company’s diverse offerings in this field. A unique foray into the field of enhanced inks for printing is discussed in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140113114, which is titled Metallic Printing. This would protect ink sets and methods of printing those inks so as to produce a reflective ink that provides a metallic luster. Improvements to systems of discarding wasted ink from printers are featured in U.S. Patent Application No. 20140111568, entitled Methods and Cassettes for Discarding Ink. This innovation involves a system that improves a printer’s ability to accurately detect the actual amount of ink collected in discard cassettes.
Issued Patents of Note
With 1360 patent grants issued by the USPTO in 2013, Hewlett-Packard is one of the top applicants for U.S. patents; according to statistics reported by IFI Claims, this puts HP at the 19th spot on the list of companies obtaining the most U.S. patents during 2013. Our search of this company’s recently issued patents showed us many technologies that provide some novel improvements to many of HP’s flagship technologies, including printers and computer software.
A couple of interesting imaging technologies were patented in recent weeks by this corporation. We were intrigued by the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8711247, entitled Automatically Capturing Images that Include Lightning, which discusses an innovation that seems to mainly produce novelty products. This system uses an image capturing device that takes multiple images within a certain period of time, over the course of five seconds for instance, and then processes each image individually to detect the presence of lightning. Video imaging and conferencing technologies are protected through U.S. Patent No. 8711198, issued under the title Video Conference. This system provides a method of cropping video streams so that a person of interest is displayed and any extra furniture or other fixtures from the room are cropped out.
As our look into HP’s recently published patent applications would indicate, this company has been receiving numerous patents in the area of printing technology. For example, a power adapter for more energy efficient printing is protected by the recently issued U.S. Patent No. 8708438, which is titled Printer Having Energy Storage Device. The power adapter described within charges an energy storage device that improves the energy efficiency during peak load conditions, such as when the printer drives a motor or printhead to complete a printing job. Enhanced designs for business printers to reduce maintenance issues are protected by U.S. Patent No. 8696107, titled Print Media Jam Clearance Assembly. This patent describes a new design for a printer housing that enables easier clearing of print media jams within the print zone.
Finally, we were intrigued by one patented technology that discusses a unique and fairly useful innovation from Hewlett-Packard which will likely benefit a large number of consumers, but which had extreme difficulty navigating the Patent Office. U.S. Patent No. 8694327, entitled Electronic Warranty System and Method, protects a method of applying a warranty to printer cartridges so that the warranty data is stored within the printer itself. This system offers a major improvement over organizational shortcomings to traditional warranties. Typically owner’s must keep track of a paper record proving their warranty protections. Although it’s not unusual for a patent to be issued a number of years after the original patent application was filed, it isn’t every day that you see a patent issue more than 12 years after it was originally filed. The original patent application for this invention was filed back in August 2002, and after a nearly 5 year prosecution HP filed a Notice of Appeal. HP filed its first appeal brief in August 2007, and ultimately the Board affirmed in part and reversed in part the examiner. The case goes back to the examiner, who continues to reject the claims, again issuing a final rejection and HP again appealing in July 2010. On this appeal HP ultimately prevailed. The case was sent back to the examiner, a Notice of Allowance was issued on February 2, 2014, and the patent ultimately issued April 22, 2014.