Posts Tagged: "patent"

Are the Smartphone Patent Wars Giving Patents a Bad Rap?

So who is the villain in all of these wars responsible for again giving patents a bad rap? Well, the villain in not the ITC, USPTO or any U.S. government agency. Nor it is any country’s protectionist trade regime, or an “irreparably broken” U.S. or global patent system. No, the real villains here may very well be a handful of companies that willingly contributed patented technologies to various SSOs, championing their adoption and encouraging their use in a host of consumer electronics, and now claim (years later) that the very producers they encouraged to implement these standards should be barred from making, using or importing their products into the U.S. market.

Patent Skullduggery: Patent Offices Warn of Patent Subterfuge

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) characterizes it as misleading, warning “don’t be misled.” The European Patent Office (EPO) calls it deceitful, characterizing it as “subterfuge,” and further pointing out that “their services have no legal effect whatsoever.” The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) says that they are “unrelated to the processing of international applications.” Yet many continue to believe that the nefarious and seemingly ubiquitous solicitations sent to patent applicants and owners are official invoices that must be paid in order to continue to move forward with an international patent application or foreign patent application.

Teenage Inventor Rebecca Hyndman Discusses Patents, Inventing, High School and President Obama

On September 17, 2011, I attended the Signing of the America Invents Act at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. A young lady named Rebecca Hyndman, who is a senior at the high school, introduced President Obama, which took place immediately prior to his signing the Act into law. Rebecca was chosen for this honor because at the age of just 14 she acquired a patent for her own innovation. Recently, I ran into her father, Kelly Hyndman, at another IP event. While discussing the AIA signing ceremony, I asked Mr. Hyndman if he would mind my interviewing his daughter for our blog. With his blessing I conducted the following Interview.

Recent Patent Related Federal Register Notices

At this time of the year many attorneys and agents are not paying all that much attention to the rules and requests for comments coming out of the Patent Office. Truthfully, with the number of changes that have taken place under the Kappos run Patent Office and the enormity of the America Invents Act many patent attorneys, including myself, are worn out! Add to that the typical end of the year matters for clients and our own businesses and it is easy to miss announcements in November and December.

Christmases Past: Sleigh Patents of the 1880s & 1890s

My review of the state-of-the-art sleigh technologies shows that during the early 1880s more comfortable sleigh rides were on the minds of many an inventor, and by the mid to late 1890s improvements evolved to include additional features, such as removable seats, steps to assist one to enter and disembark from the sleigh and various steering mechanisms. Like virtually all reviews of patented technology, even such low tech inventions as sleighs, the ongoing evolution of improvement is apparent, which is the hallmark of innovation. Make things safer, faster, cheaper or stronger. Innovate to make operational improvements the users will greatly appreciate, such a smoother riding sleigh. Such a review of sleigh technology also gives us a glimpse into life of the day by showing us the problems that creative members of society were working to solve.

The Eureka Method: How to Think Like an Inventor

In my experience, the passion to invent is stirred by two things: dissatisfaction with an existing product or service (i.e., too large, too slow, too expensive, too difficult to use), or a dream and desire to create something entirely new, a product or service that will augment humanity’s capability to reach farther, move faster, aggregate and analyze all sorts of data, or bring together pieces and form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Over my career I have been a named inventor on 147 U.S. patents. Over my career I have developed a process for identifying consumer needs and creating unique, patentable solutions that are relevant in the marketplace. I call this the Eureka Method. The Eureka Method is a mental discipline that can be learned and practiced to help you produce a Eureka! moment.

U.S. News Ranks Top Patent, Copryight & Trademark Law Firms

Of course, these lists never give any love to the small or mid-size firms that provide high quality legal work at a reasonable cost to clients. But that is only one of the things that will raise some eyebrows. U.S. News included Howrey LLP in the top tier for intellectual property litigation and the firm dissolved on March 15, 2011, hardly 10 weeks into 2011. So how exactly does that qualify Howrey, a firm that no longer exists, for top tier ranking? That alone will cause some to scratch their heads and wonder exactly what U.S. New was thinking.

The Patent Law of Perpetual Motion

The reality is that science fact and science fiction are dictated based on currently accepted understandings, whether they be true or not. As impossible as something sounds, what we understand as science fact is always bounded by our understanding of our surroundings. As our knowledge expands what was formerly science fact frequently becomes science wrong, sometimes badly wrong. Does that mean that someday perpetual motion will be a reality? Who knows. I am not holding my breath or taking any bets, but there are a lot of highly intelligent people constantly trying to unlock the mysteries of the universe and with so many new discoveries it seems science continues to encroach upon the impossible. Just think about cloaking devices and a transporter a la Star Trek, which are already to some extent realities.

7 Common Misperceptions About Intellectual Property

As an aside, and somewhat related to the boring concept, is the idea that intellectual property practitioners are all basement-dwelling nerds. OK, maybe we’re a little nerdy in some ways, but I swear I do not live in a basement, my summer reading did not include the cheat guide to World of Warcraft, and I have NEVER been to Comicon. So what if I have the blueprints to the Millennium Falcon on my office wall and my favorite TV show is “How it’s Made”? You gotta admit some of the stuff we get to do and see in our professional lives is pretty freaking cool. The seediest infringement cases. The bleedingest edge of technology. The next rival to the power of McDonald’s logo or Coca-Cola trade secret. I wear my nerd moniker proudly.

The America Invents Act – How it All Went Down

On Friday, September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law “The America Invents Act” (“AIA”) which passed the Senate on September 8, 2011, by a vote of 89-9. The AIA passed the House of Representatives on June 23rd by a vote of 304-117. The measure, which is the product of a seven-years-long legislative battle among patent policy stakeholders, changes how patents are obtained and enforced in the United States. Important reforms to patent law are incorporated into the AIA and, just as significantly, several controversial proposed changes were deleted from the AIA before final passage. This article is a play-by-play of the process and how it unfolded.

The Myth of the Sole Inventor

The canonical story of the lone genius inventor is largely a myth. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he found a bamboo fiber that worked better as a filament in the light bulb developed by Sawyer and Man, who in turn built on lighting work done by others. Bell filed for his telephone patent on the very same day as an independent inventor, Elisha Gray; the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which filled an entire volume of U.S. Reports resolving the question of whether Bell could have a patent despite the fact that he hadn’t actually gotten the invention to work at the time he filed. The Wright Brothers were the first to fly at Kitty Hawk, but their plane didn’t work very well, and was quickly surpassed by aircraft built by Glenn Curtis and others – planes that the Wrights delayed by over a decade with patent lawsuits.

USPTO Names Iowa Library to Support Intellectual Property Information Needs of Inventors and Entrepreneurs

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the designation of Iowa’s Davenport Public Library as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC). As the 81st library in the nationwide network, Davenport marks Iowa’s return to the PTRC program and serves as the first center geared away from the “paper depository” concept towards electronic access and training for patent and trademark information.

My Advice to Google – Keep Acquiring Patents

Most patents are obtained simply on the “refrigeration theory” as I call it. Just like if you are in food service you won’t get far without the preserving effects of refrigeration. Everything spoils unless eaten immediately. Likewise in technology; without the coverage of a patent, everything spoils unless consumed forthwith (first mover advantage). The decision is simple: if it is worth doing, i.e., putting resources into, it is worth patenting.

Patent Drafting Lessons: Learning from the Grappling Dummy

Such a long, detailed and narrow feature set may have been require to get a patent issued, but is the patent effort (i.e., time and cost) worth such a narrow set of claims? The answer can be a resounding YES, or a definite NO! It all depends upon what you want to do with the patent. One this is for certain though, if you add enough qualifiers and sufficiently narrow a claim you can get a patent on virtually anything, which is unfortunately a truth that invention promotion companies know all to well! In almost all circumstances the goal is to get the broadest valid claim you can possibly obtain. Getting a narrow claim is not likely going to be satisfying, which is why you really should do a patent search prior to deciding whether to even move forward with a patent application. Only by doing a patent search can you get any idea regarding the likely scope of patent claims that could be obtained.

USPTO to Hold California Independent Inventors Conference

If you are a serious inventor you need to go to this Conference. Last year there were inventors who came to the USPTO campus for the two-day event from all over the East Coast, and those that I talked to thought it was well worth their time and money. Where else are you going to be able to meet Senior USPTO officials and talk to them one-on-one? There will be patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys present to answer your questions. Local intellectual property attorneys will give their time to participate in teaching sessions, as well as giving free consultations to attendees to answer questions. Even if you have to travel to California and stay in a hotel for a couple nights you will get far more out of the Conference than you will spend. I understand money is tight, but serious inventors, whether they are newbies or old pros, will gain a tremendous amount of valuable information and personal connections by attending the Conference.