Posts Tagged: "patents"

Are Some Patent Holders More Equal Than Others?

What’s troubling is that Hewlett Packard itself, the original startup headquartered in a garage, was one of the earliest and most-respected leaders of the 20th Century high-tech revolution that had its epicenter in Silicon Valley. It was William Hewlett who gave a 13-year-old Steve Jobs spare parts for a device Jobs was building — and a summer job as well. And it was Mr. Hewlett and his executive heirs who insisted that HP conscientiously patent its breakthrough innovations and fight against those that infringed those patents. HP today earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually by licensing its patent rights to others — according to IAM magazine, “at any one time, HP has about 150 licensing transactions in process.” And as the court dockets show, it certainly isn’t shy about filing suit against infringers who refuse to take a license.

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.

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.

Happy Halloween! Learning with the Halloween Portable Container

The holiday patent du jour gives us the opportunity to explore the candy collecting aspects of trick-or-treating. More specifically, U.S. Patent No. 7,594,669 is for a portable container having wheels and a handle. What makes it worthy note on Halloween is that the container itself is either a pumpkin, witch, ghost, goblin, monster, vampire or werewolf. And yes, that is required in the broadest claim, claim 1. The pictures in the patent show a jack-o’-lantern version of the invention.

Mining Patent Gold: What Every CEO Should Know

The truth is that Google bought a great deal more than patents when it acquired Motorola, though there are doubtless some real gems in the Motorola portfolio. As a relative newcomer to the wireless arena, the search giant in one bold move got its hands on the unmatched innovation experience of the longest-lived mobile phone company on earth. The technical acumen and product experience of those thousands of mobile software and hardware engineers will prove hugely valuable to Google as it seeks to dominate the $250 billion global market in smartphones, especially if it decides to become a handset maker as Motorola had been.

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.

The Constitutional Underpinnings of Patent Law

The United States Constitution grants to the Congress the power to grant patents; this power residing in the Congress is found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8. Unlike most of the enumerated powers granted to Congress in the Constitution, the Intellectual Property Clause is a qualified grant of power, which does limit Congressional discretion in significant ways. The Congress does not have free reign to decide that patents should be easily or freely given, but rather must limit their exercise of power to the dictates of the clause itself. See Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U.S. 141, 146 (1989). See also Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, 5 (1966) (“The clause is both a grant of power and a limitation. This qualified authority, unlike the power often exercised in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the English Crown, is limited to the promotion of advances in the ‘useful arts.’”).

Patents, Copyrights and the Constitution, Perfect Together

As James Madison stated in Federalist Paper No. 43, the usefulness of the Congresses power to award both patents and copyrights “will scarcely be questioned.” Madison, Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, at 512-13 (Hunt and Scott ed. 1920). Given that today’s business world is increasingly based on a company’s ability to innovate and acquire intangible assets in the form of both copyrights and patents, it would appear as if the constitutional goal of stimulating creativity and invention has been wildly successful.

PTO Makes Accommodations Relating to Japan Catastrophe

The USPTO is offering assistance in the form of flexibility on deadlines to the full extent allowable under our laws to Japanese applicants. However, because this catastrophic event occurred outside the United States and did not result in a postal service interruption of the United States Postal Service, the USPTO has no authority to designate a postal service emergency as authorized by 35 U.S.C. 21(a). The fact that the USPTO cannot declare a postal emergency limits what allowances can be made because in the event of a postal emergency the USPTO can treat as filed any paper that would have been deposited with the United States Postal Service but for postal service interruptions or emergencies as designated by the Director.

IP Exclusive: An Interview with Congressman Jason Chaffetz

Staffers worked with us to coordinate the interview with Congressman Chaffetz, which took place earlier today. I was told I would have 15 minutes with the Congressman, and graciously he allowed the interview to go a little long. We talked about the President’s States of the Union address, patent reform, the USPTO budget, innovation generally, manufacturing, job creation, China and more. I think many will find what Congressman Chaffetz has to say quite interesting and very encouraging. I myself found him to be well informed and refreshingly candid.

Patents, Innovation and Job Creation: A Virtuous Circle

Innovation and entrepreneurship are central pillars of America’s economic strength and critical vehicles for job creation. Reporter John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article that was published on Sunday, January 16, 2011, aptly depicting the problems facing would-be job creators. Schmid wrote in part of his article about a professor from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who needed 11 years to obtain a patent on his revolutionary invention. How many jobs were lost as a result of unacceptably slow processing by the Patent Office?

Why Patents Matter for Job Creation and Economic Growth

According to Pascal Levensohn, Managing Partner of Levensohn Venture Partners, the problem with the US economy is the lack of Initial Public Offerings. He opines that without an increase in IPOs in the United States it will be difficult, if not impossible, to see the economic growth that we want. Without economic growth there will be no job creation, and the sluggish US economy will continue on its anemic path. He suggests that the best way to increase IPOs is to increase venture capital and make it more attractive. He writes that is our leaders really wanted to fix the job problem in America “there would be no higher legislative priority than promoting regulatory and tax reform to stimulate new capital formation and venture capital in the U.S.”

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