Posts Tagged: "Guest Contributor"

Boeing Invents: The Pursuit of Safer Air Travel

A recent fire onboard a Boeing Dreamliner at London’s Heathrow Airport refocused concerns on the recently developed cruise liner, which was maligned with battery fire issues earlier this year. In early July, a high-profile Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco involving a Boeing 777 airliner has also troubled the company, although the investigation seems to be focusing on pilot error in that case. Still, when dealing with air transit there is zero margin for error. When errors do occur when an airplane is in use they frequently are catastrophic, so the search for safer technologies is a never ending pursuit. Today in our Companies We Follow series, we’re taking another look at Boeing, especially taking a look at their efforts to develop even safer systems of airborne transportation. Some of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office documents we feature here highlight Boeing’s improvements to emergency systems on aircraft.

Software May be Patented in Asia, but the Details Remain Unclear

As in the U.S., when drafting claims in China, one must describe the invention sufficiently to enable a person skilled in the art to make and use the claimed invention. For software patents, a flow chart and explanation should be included, along with drawings and description of associated hardware. Portions of the source code may be included for reference. Software claims may be drafted as either method or apparatus claims. However, Justin Shi, patent attorney at Sony Mobile Communications in Beijing, warns that apparatus claims may be deemed invalid if they are phrased only in means-plus-function language and fail to describe the apparatus or its embodiments.

Fun in the Sun Patent Style: Swimming Pool Patents

Water sports can take on a number of strange forms. We’re familiar with water volleyball and water polo, among other games, but competitive water sports can take on many forms. For example, many Eastern rowing enthusiasts take part in “dragon races”; many of these competitions happen in China, where the sport originates, but North American cities like Toronto have played host to this event. This summer, reports from American regions like the Great Lakes indicate that water levels are higher than normal this year, enticing many to take to bodies of water where they can play various games. Today, we’ll start by taking a look at a few patents issued to inventors by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office regarding different aquatic sports. One patent protects a water polo-style goal that provides a better gameplay experience than previous designs, while another provides for netting installation that keeps a ball in play if a throwing player misses the goal. Another patent protects a new style of athletic shoe for water sports.

Fun in the Sun Patent Style: BBQ Patents

Today at IPWatchdog, we’re taking a closer look at some recent innovations to barbecue cooking. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has published a number of patent applications, and has issued many patents, dealing with improvements to methods of slow cooking meat. For issued patents, the USPTO has recently decided to award legal protections to a Nebraskan inventor who has devised a power drill attachment useful for shredding, or “pulling,” meats. A second patent we feature here protects an apparatus that allows grill owners to easier clean a grill grate without wearing out arm muscles through repetitive motion or getting liquid cleansers all over their bodies.

Toyota Celebrates Inventors, Patents in Award Ceremony

Recently, the Toyota Technical Center held a ceremony to celebrate the corporation’s top inventors for the past year. The corporation and its subsidiaries were awarded 1,491 patents in 2012, the most for any automobile manufacturer according to the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Today we take a look at recent Toyota patents to celebrate this incredible output of technological innovation from the Japanese car maker. One patent protects a new multi-layer exterior for vehicles that reflects a wider range of light, providing a vehicle better protection from damaging sunlight rays. Another patent protects a smart calendar system that can inform onboard GPS routing based on regular errands.

Déjà vu: Targeting Inventors as the New Boogie Man

The attack on individual inventors using names like NPEs and patent trolls is nearly identical to the attacks previously waged by corporate America on personal injury lawyers, using the McDonald’s hot coffee case as an example of lawyer abuse (now it’s the Wi-Fi patent cases). Like the corporate attacks on everything from the private enforcement of securities fraud claims to unfair business practice, civil rights and age discrimination claims, the new target is patent infringement claims brought by “boogie man” entities that don’t manufacture products.

Surfboards and Umbrellas: Solar Power Patents for Summer

A few patent applications give us an insight to some of the intriguing uses of solar energy we might see someday in our own backyards. One application describes an umbrella table capable of storing electricity and sending it to electrical outlets on the table. Another application is for a grill canopy with solar-powered lighting displaying downward from the fabric top. A third application would protect a solar powered outdoor lamp with a more stable base for non-permeable ground settings. The USPTO has also recently issued patents to some individuals and small groups who have devised new ways of utilizing solar power through summer activities or ornaments. One patent protects a surfboard that collects and stores electricity safely for later use. Another patent protects a system of storing electricity from solar energy to light decorative wind chimes at night.

Do Restriction Requirements Vary by Technology Center?

For patent prosecutors and their clients, restriction requirements represent a significant cost increase as splitting one patent application into several new applications results in the multiplication of fees and, often, loss of protection due to expense limitations. The issuance of restriction requirements by patent examiners at the USPTO seems to be somewhat random and inconsistent.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Fireworks Patents

Two patent applications we feature below have some interesting implications to the future of fireworks. One application would protect a kit that allows inexperienced consumers to easily set a fireworks display which is choreographed to music. Another application would provide more information to potential customers who want to view a firework in action before buying one. A number of patents issued recently by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office serve to improve safety and manufacturing efficiency for fireworks. One patent provides a new combustion chamber design for the use of propellant materials that create less smoke, while another patent provides launcher reinforcements to protect spectators if a firework is installed improperly. A final patent we feature here protects a system of manufacturing firework cylinders to prevent inconsistencies in design that occur often with current manufacture processes.

Stone Temple Pilots Sue Former Lead Singer Scott Weiland for Trademark Infringement and Breach of Contract

Stone Temple Pilots has filed a lawsuit against its former lead singer, Scott Weiland, claiming in part that they kicked him out back in February of 2013, yet Weiland (who now performs solo) continues to use the band’s name for his own performances, which allegedly violates the band’s partnership agreement.

Don’t Write About What You Don’t Understand

Before you decide to bash the United States patent system or teach Patents 101 in 300 words or less, please acknowledge your limited knowledge of the subject matter. Please tell your audience that your article is only part of a much larger story that can’t be covered in a single column or blog post. Above all, please do not encourage them to take actions that could have serious legal consequences. You are telling an incomplete story.

Why Bash Individual Inventor-Owned or Controlled Companies?

Patent Freedom’s data shows that roughly 56% of all NPE suits are brought by companies that are owned or controlled by individual inventors — the original assignees of the patents involved. If you include companies in which individual inventors receive a substantial portion of any license fees or other recoveries, the number is more like 80%. So, why all this hysteria about the evils of entities enforcing and licensing patents, rather than those manufacturing products? The answer is because the debate (if you want to call it that) serves the interests of a group of high-tech companies on the West Coast and some foreign companies who, together, have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at political groups to influence Congress and even the President.

Getting Your Invention off of the Ground with Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a proven way to get initial funding for the commercialization of an invention. Crowdfunding involves posting a project description on the internet, asking for pledges to complete the project, and if the minimum amount of pledges is received by a certain deadline, having the funds transferred to the project. On some sites, such as Kickstarter.com, if the minimum isn’t reached, you don’t get any money. On other sites, such as Indiegogo.com, if the minimum isn’t reached, you still get what you’ve raised.

University of California Improves Diagnosis, Treatment for Arthritis

This week at IPWatchdog’s Companies We Follow series, we decide to leave the private sector and check out the recent patent applications and issued patents assigned to the University of California. This academic research system is involved with the research and development of computer, medical and energy technologies, among others.

What Should be Patentable? – A Proposal for Determining the Existence of Statutory Subject Matter Under 35 U.S.C. Section 101

The recent Supreme Court decision in the Myriad case, like past decisions, did not announce a clear rule that can be extrapolated from the decision and applied in other technology areas. Consequently, the determination of what subject matter is patent-eligible continues to be unclear. Patent law specifically identifies four broad categories of subject matter—process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter—that are patent-eligible.