Wednesday, December 27, 2017

12 Patents of Christmas Past

Entertaining to follow some of the patents of Christmas past. Here's something for you to be entertained by as you look into the new year of 2018.

12 Christmas related patents by AboveTheLaw. My favorite is the Santa kit, with big boot pattern and special instructions on how to leave out food and drink, but make sure to sample it well, to show proof positive that there really is a Santa, to those young, skeptical minds.

The USPTO had the 12 days of Christmas, which was pretty entertaining. I went back to review them, only to find that they were gone. Hmmm... Maybe the USPTO is not supposed to have fun.
But, look for the tweets #12DaysOfPatents ...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dodgy YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider

YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider:

Dodgy is probably the best term for Yay Yo IPO, for the inner circle, and for the product-less crowdfunding approach using the JOBS act.

In the true spirit of a pyramid scheme, Yah Yo has the promise of a product, but there is little or no "there" there.

They are selling the business model that they will tie in all the ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft into an integrated interface that gives you the best pricing. They generally imply that the BIG 2 unicorns will happily interface with Yay Yo. However, the two world-wide rideshares have insisted that Yay Yo cease and desist from any implicates of partnership.

So, they say, they will work with the largest 3 to 100 ride share companies. In the US, Uber is down to about 74% with Lyft at about 24%... leaving about 2% for the other players. (See here how Uber's fortunes have fallen from 91%, including a #deleteUber campaign based on a Trump backlash.)

The talking head spokesperson/expert in the video is J Peterson from Sienfeld fame, a show about nothing, seems appropriate... An IPO about nothing.

Comparing to Uber or Lyft that actually produce something and have lots of intellectual property (like patents and such) at their disposal, seems a bit like a reach. People from near and far, think that the advertising of the investment, not the product, is mostly misleading and far from the truth. Taking excess advantage of the Wild-Wild west for small investors made available for low regulation (near no regulation) IPO thanks to the 2012 Jumpstart our Business Startups, or JOBS Act.

Want to hear an overview of the investor requirements for this "Regulation A+" investment, straight from Elaine's dodgy boss from Seinfeld look at the bottom right of this page: https://yayyoipo.com/form/ 
Consider carefully signing up though.

There should be no comfort in investing in a guy who was banned from public IPO for 5 years because of wildly risky and/or criminal acts in a publicly traded company in the past.

You read through the SEC filings to see if this is a IPO scam, a dodgy crowdfund, or simply an uber-risky pink-unicorn investment.

On the plus side, the Business Insider article that started this blog post, YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider:, is a wonderful overview of the whole JOBS act and really good uses of it to fund smaller businesses and give smaller investors an opportunity to play. Companies that seem to have real products and interesting market niches are Elio and Knightscope. "Regulation A+ IPOs include Elio Motors, which is working on an inexpensive three-wheeled car, and Knightscope, which designs robotic security systems."

Ironically, Uber (global) and Lyft (US only) are both private companies, not public, valued at approximately $68B  and $7.5B, respectively. Real revenues in 2016 of about $6.5B and $700m.

Uber has 298 US patents in force with 117 applications pending (via PatentBuddy), amassing a serious war chest organically and through acquisition. Not just anybody is gonna go jump into this market.

Lyft got their first patent issued in Sept 31 of 2016 for music preferences ("jukebox") and its second patent for "ride chaining" almost exactly a year later. The ride chaining patent is about a pickup and drop-off sequence, weaving through a rough terrain of of (Uber) patents.

I vote for dodge the dodgy, IPO or no.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Welcoming and Commending New Patent Legislation

The America Invents Act (AIA) was passed in 2011 and we are about to start the eighth year since its inception. (See description here included such changes as a move to “first to file” from “first to invent”.) Intellectual Property time since then has been, to say the least, tumultuous.  We have seen significant Supreme Court decisions, the rise and spread of the troll as an intimidator of patent-owning small and medium size businesses and infringement litigation run wild.  “Beware of the law of unintended consequences.”
In response to these and other post AIA problems, Senator Patrick Coons (D-DE) introduced the “Support Technology and Research for our Nation’s Growth and Economic Resilience (Stronger) Patents Act.”        http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/06/29/stronger-patents-act-introduced-senate/id=85117/ Co- sponsors include Tom Cotton (R-AR), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mazio Hirono (D-HI).
There is a lot in the bill as one can see in the article.  But, one condition not covered is that of patent examiners.  First, funding is needed to significantly increase the numbers of examiners as annual patent applications increase and overwhelm the existing workforce.  Second, the increasingly complex and variety of technologies in patent applications, such as Artificial Intelligence, make it imperative that highly educated people be hired, and trained. Plus pay and benefits must be competitive to keep them working at the Patent Office, not jumping ship into the private sector.
Third, the incidence rate of infringement claims that ultimately lead to patent invalidity is much too high.  USPTO time and expenses incurred to settle claims in a drain on the organization and cause delays in getting valid products to market.  New techniques, more training, special masters or other aids such as special computer systems (WATSON-like) are needed to insure that patent claims are validated and not infringing issued patents.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Thursday, June 29, 2017

For a More Productive Workforce, Scientific Know-How Helps - WSJ

For a More Productive Workforce, Scientific Know-How Helps - WSJ:

So a plant run without scientists and engineers will be 4.4% less productive. This might be for several reasons, but most likely because off efficiency. Scientists are always trying to figure out a better way to do stuff.

It is good to have empirical evidence to support the value of scientists outside of the labs. Engineers could help improve the entire production and supply chain.

Here is the working paper: NBER Working Paper№23484, “The Effects of Scientists and Engineers on Productivity and Earnings
at the Establishment Where They Work,” June 2017, by Erling Barth, James C. Davis, Richard
B. Freeman, and Andrew J. Wang.


There's several questions that would be interesting to know. All would require a much more careful read of the paper. Why would companies have plants that do not have scientists and engineers? These are outside of the labs where basic research is done.

Hall & Hinkelman (2013) argue that a cross section of the organization would be use starting early in the basic research stage and going all the way through to production. This Enabling Technology Unit (ETU) team would include engineers, scientists and marketing folks. Since they would be working together, it would not make much difference if the scientist/engineer was in the lab or in the factory/plant.

Maybe the ETU approach would offer even more efficiencies than those found by moving some scientists into the plant.

References

Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2013). Perpetual Innovation™: A guide to strategic
planning, patent commercialization and enduring competitive advantage, Version
2.0
. Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press.
Retrieved from:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SBPlan


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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Even with patents, the past can be prologue

      One might characterize the patent market of the past several years as a herd of elephants fighting over the last leaves on a tree.  This might be somewhat crude to many but a scan of the landscape of Fortune-100 corporations spending millions litigating accusations of infringement or suing for infringement makes a case.  Or, the flooding of the PTAB with requests for IPR (inter partes review procedure) to determine patent validity also makes a case.  Turmoil and conflict are the (dis) order of the day among the patent fortresses.  Unfortunately, the considerable ripple effect created reaches to the startup company attempting to file its first application.
     “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come”, said Victor Hugo roughly the same time as the sewing machine patent wars of the 1850s were raging.  The pre-Civil War sewing machine was a disruptive technology comparable today to smart phones, driverless cars and retail sales on the Internet.  There were numerous inventors of the machine and devices that improved it all with patents.  You know what happened- each machine sold infringed on a number of patents.  Elias Howe didn’t make sewing machines.  He licensed his patent on the lockstitch to sewing machine manufacturers.
     There were suits and countersuits by the score matching the complexity for their time as the suits of today.  They were heard by judges and juries largely unschooled in the technology.  Relative peace and calm came in 1856 when the patent owners created the first patent pool.  Fast forward to today, Article by TechCrunch.  Patent pools handle basic building block and Standards patents for a selected product. The reference here is to the data transmission protocols for transmitting high density digital audio content that makes up the Advances Audio Coding (AAC) patent pool administered by Via Licensing Corp of San Francisco.  Dolby, AT&T, Philips, Microsoft, NEC, Panasonic are among those participating.
     This is compensation (revenue) beats litigation (legal and court costs).  Net savings can be substantial.  The patent wars are different today – smart phones, batteries, DNA twiddling, drug targeting. History repeats itself… Sort of.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Supreme Court Limits Where Patent Lawsuits Can Be Filed - WSJ

Supreme Court Limits Where Patent Lawsuits Can Be Filed - WSJ:

Yeah. It's a victory. Maybe a big victory, time will tell.

It seems that 20% or more of the patent infringement lawsuits are filed in a small corner of Texas. Even though there's not really anything there except maybe a bogus office. But, it is a very friendly district for winning law suits by non-practicing entities (NPE) against real companies that make stuff. Such patent assertion entities (PAEs) are often ungraciously referred to as "Patent Trolls".

See our prior discussion on patent trolls.

But the US Supreme court has change the rules that funneled frivolous law suits on patents into these bogus home court districts.

As much as it is good to see patents being used, and enforced, there needs to be a balance. Companies have been paying off frivolous patent assertion law suits because it is too time consuming and expensive to fight; especially if the suit would occur in a distant venue that is famously friendly to the trolls that lurk there.

Way to go supreme court.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Quality, excellence and (Perpetual) Innovation

Quality Improvement programs like TQM are a key part of building a sustainable competitive advantage for companies. Every couple years there is an improvement or a new flavor of TQM, like six sigma and lean six sigma.

Talking about quality... The Baldrige Program is a rather cool program for improving the process of quality in an organization... Brought to you from the US Department of Commerce through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Download the 2017-2018 Baldrige Excellence Builder.

easyInsight Assessment for:
There's a discussion at NIST about why you would use the Baldrige Program vs other Total Quality Management (TQM) programs. Generally, they suggest using Baldrige for the over planning and processes, but use lean for the the continuous improvement.

There's an interesting article about TQM programs and implementation of them by Fleming-Farrell, Hall and Blando (2014). It summarizes two TQM-type studies, one focuses on the top of the organization, the other on the six-sigma practitioner. From the top view, there seems to be no correlation between the number TQM-type programs and the performance of them; so going to the next flavor of TQM does not necessarily do much, it is the care and feeding that goes into your quality program that makes the difference.

Oh, and there is almost no relationship between the participation in six sigma and compensation. Black belts get a little more pay, but generally there is no pay increase for working harder and longer at quality improvement. Of course the skill and skill set might prompt a six sigma practitioner, after training and experience, to jump ship and take a big raise elsewhere.
Maybe awards and recognition might help?

Glad you asked, there is also the Baldrige Award.
Or, in Florida, the Florida Sterling Award

Top-down vs Bottom-up Planning. The issue that is often observed about the world of TQM is that it is generally a bottom-up planning tool. Great for managing the factory and incremental improvements. But disruptive innovation and strategic planning, not so useful. Hall and Hinkelman (2013, 2017) approach top-down planning with their Perpetual Innovation(tm) series of books. But they integrate bottom-up planning into the process as well. It really makes no difference where the great ideas come from, provided the organization is in a position to recognize 'em and take advantage of them. Even the best laid plans (of mice and men) must be well executed. Baldrige seems like a perfect way of managing with clear alignment through the organization either in stable state, or transitioning through incremental change.

Want to go to the theater and watch videos? Check them out here: Youtub Videos (popcorn not provided).

References
Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2013). Perpetual Innovation™: A guide to strategic planning, patent commercialization and enduring competitive advantage, Version 2.0. Morrisville, NC: LuLu Press. ISBN: 978-1-304-11687-1  Retrieved from: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/SBPlan

Hall, E. B. & Hinkelman, R. M. (2017). Perpetual Innovation™: Patent primer 3.1e: Patents, the great equalizer of our time! An overview of intellectual property with patenting cost estimates for inventors and entrepreneurs.  [Amazon Kindle eBook].  ASIN: B01MS53JC5 Retrieved from: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MS53JC5   
Fleming-Farrell, L., Hall, E., & Blando, J. (2014, Spring).  Implementation of new TQM programs, communications, and adapting to change. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 8: Effective business practices for motivation and communication (pp. 159-181). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker© Press.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The End of a Patent Dynasty, IBM has been Dethroned


IBM is no longer King of the Patent World! 
Samsung now reigns supreme.

US Patents for 2016 by Fortune by IFI Claims Patent Services. IBM #1 with 8,052 patents issued. Samsung Electronics Co Lmt with 5,518. But, a better measure would have IBM coming in second in 2016, and even in 2015!... 

The other approach that consolidates related companies here, or more directly from Sqoop here.   IBM #2 when Samsung has more patents collectively with 8,551 issued in 2016.
In terms of patent applications, 

In terms of patent applications, Samsung really beats out IBM:
  • Samsung -- 10,695
  • International Business Machines Corporation -- 8,800
Samsung is way ahead of #2 Microsoft in Design Patents with ~1,500 vs. ~500. IBM is not in to the top 40 in terms of US design patents (as would be expected for the type of products (services, really) that they produce.

Wow, no 25 year run for IBM. A questionable 24 year run through 2016. And arguably, not even a 23 year.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tech Startup IPOs Better with Big Blue Patents

The Strategic Business Planning Company has long championed an aggressive  approach by startup companies that centers on obtaining a patent(s) on a new product/service at or near the time of market entry to offer unique value and competitive protection.  Very young companies need funding.  Venture capitalists are a major source of funding and, according to a study by the University of California Berkeley Law School, “many investors place a premium on patents when making investment decisions.  In fact, 67% of firms surveyed indicated that the existence of patents were an important factor in their investment decisions… proving that it doesn’t matter what industry you are in a significant percentage of VCs place a premium of patents when making investment decisions.”  (“Why Patents Matter for Job Creation and Economic Growth,” Gene Quinn, IP Watchdog) [For additional confirmation, see Shark Tank]

There are other compelling reasons why patents are important.  A paper entitled “The Bright Side of Patents” sites the economic benefits that patents bring to start-up businesses. Joan Farre-Mensa of Harvard, Alexander Liunggvist and Deepak Hedge of NYU studied all first-time patent applications filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPRO) by start-ups from 2001- 2013, 45,819 in total.  They concluded that patent approvals help startups create jobs and succeed.  Key points from the research:
  • The first patent application increases a company’s employment growth over the next five years by 36%.  The effect on sales growth – a 51% increase – is even larger.
  • Approval of a patent application increases a start-up’s probability of securing VC funding  by 53% over companies without patents.
  • Patents more than double the likelihood that a start-up is eventually listed on a stock exchange.
  To make your market introduction positioning even stronger, buy some patents from IBM before your IPO as described in this blog post from iam-media.com:  http://www.iam-media.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=e5b4517b-6c86-4932-8451-6bb110c6b011.  Banks, in addition to venture capitalists, look favorably on tech startups that have a patent portfolio from Big Blue which has sold 15,000 patents since 1991.

IBM has been the leader in annual patent procurement for years and years.  But, even in Big Blue, not all patents can be commercialized and many other patents are not consistent with its marketing strategies.  For these reasons and, it turns out, for tax benefits, the company puts many patents on the market to supplement its licensing royalties.

When your IP gets the boot, AAPL boots IMG

WoW.
Imagination Technologies (IMG) dropped about 70% over the last day or so as Apple says that they will no use IMG's graphics processing (GPU) technology much longer. The stock dropped from a high of about $300 US to a low of $76. It dropped $180 in today's trading, stabilizing at about $90. You might have an issue when the largest company in the world says they don't intent to buy your products much longer, especially if they are your largest customer.

Read about it here.

Apple says that they will take other approached to get their graphics. IMG says that will be hard to do with their intellectual property protection.

IMG is very similar to ARM Holding who makes the technology, not the products. But last year ARM got gobbled up by SoftBank (which owns Sprint), so Great Britain is becoming even less great the day or so after BrExit (wondering if any relation there). IPZine blogged about ARM holdings not holding out here.

Yes, intellectual property will be an interesting problem for the UK as they work out the divorce agreement(s) with the EU.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Happy Days are near, but yet so far away, for Generic Viagra

The discussion on when pharma patents expire is often long and tortuous.
The the ED world of Viagra and Cialis we discuss the 2017 patent cliff here.
True, Cialis patent(s) expire in 2017, so it is reasonable to expect the influx of generics soon... Here's a list of patents related to Cialis. Note that there are a lot of patents listed that go all the way to 2020.

Here is a great discussion about the expiration of Phara patents related to Viagra. One of the main patents in viagra falls into the 1995 rule where the expiration date is computed based on the longer of the old method (17 years from issue) and the new method (20 years from first filing date). The 20 years method would be long gone. It probably took Pfizer some very fancy footwork to delay issue of the Viagra patent for almost 10 years from first filing, so the 17 years method computes longest and works best for Viagra. Plus, they got a term extension, so the patent doesn't expire until April of 2020.

But generic Viagra. A settlement with the giant of generics, Teva, allows Teva to sell a generic version of Viagra starting in December of 2017. But Teva must pay royalties to Pfizer. Pfizer recently raised prices, presumably to game this whole competition thing ensuing in 2017.

Levitra faces expiration of patents in 2018.

Great discussion on all these ED drugs is here at AccessRX.

Of course you could use another drug that is "a rose by another name": Revatio. Consumer Reports on Revatiois not in the business of making medical advised, but they suggest the the Revatio blood pressure drug might possibly work in the same way as Viagra since is contains the same active ingredient (sildenafil)

There is also a move to try to make the ED drugs an over-the-counter thing. Hmmm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Good News Story from an Unexpected Source

Here at IAM-Media is an example of using patents to secure products in a global market.
Its full strategic management of its 200 patents included creating barriers to entry  and to transform the antenna industry.  This approach does not take place overnight, more than a decade.  The company began initially with patent protected product sales which was quite successful.  Well into the market adoption,  Fractus concluded that licensing for royalties was the best option for the future.  It resulted in over $100m in royalties.

Fractus also dealt with infringements by major companies and had to be helped by the Spanish courts.  Overall, a good news story about the patent commercialization success of a small company.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Scenarios Now and the Genius (hidden) within Crowd via ScenarioPlans.com


On a sister site, there is a discussion by DelphiMan about the state of scenario planning today, and some new research on ways to squeeze out the genius among laypeople crowds: Scenarios Now and the Genius (hidden) within Crowd,
Check it out here on ScenarioPlans.com (or DelphiPlan.com).
First, a McKinsey study showed that CEOs really wished that they had done more scenario planning after the great recession. Before, really. But, now with almost 10 years in the rear-view mirror, it seems likely the idea of such vigilant planning for a flexible future has waned.
In the meanwhile, the genius of  crowds can still be used very effectively using a Delphi Method approach to capture the expertise of experts (or informed people).
A very interesting new study used a crowd of laypeople. Even when the crowd is, on average, misinformed, it is possible to identify those people who are really informed and correctly assess the truth.
This reminds me, but in reverse, of a Lee Iacocca story when he was at Ford (prior to the turn-around at Chrysler). They surveyed people in upscale communities to see if they would like to buy the new Ford sports kind of car being developed including a convertible version. The answer was, unequivocally, NO!.  Lee sent his team back into the suburbs to ask again. But this time the question was two part: "Would you buy this car?" NO. Would your neighbor buy this car?" Absolutely YES!
The Ford Mustang took the market by stampede!....

"We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems." 
Lee Iacocca ... from BrainyQuote.com 

Friday, January 20, 2017

XGame Innovation in Carbon Capture

Look at the great innovations up in Canada in the CCS xGames.

Checkout the blog at SustainZine related to this very cool competition: http://sustainzine.blogspot.com/2017/01/co2-xgame-winners-in-canada-losers-in.html

Here's some info on this big competition in Canada: CBC News discusses competition sponsored by Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance and U.S. company NRG.

Normally you think of Carbon Capture & Sequester as a dead cost. Take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (maybe at a smoke stack where it is highly concentrated, and pump it down into caverns, maybe where the coal or oil came from. But CO2 is a valuable and sell-able byproduct. Think about the fizz in your pop.

Maybe innovation like this Carbon XGame contestants have demonstrated, might allow us to burn all the oil and coal in the world without impunity. Maybe if we all hold our breath (one way to reduce CO2), the impact of our non-sustainable ways will not come back to bite us in the proverbial butt.

SustainZine said: "That means the the job of the CCS might turn out to be far, far bigger in the future, as we try to burn up the last century or so of fossil fuels over the next hundred years.

We here at SustainZine consider "conservative" this way: The bestest, cheapest, cleanest gallon of gas is the one never extracted, never processed and never burned. The bestest, cheapest, cleanest tonne of coal is the one never extracted, never processed, and never burned (scrubbing or no scrubbing)."  

In the meanwhile, innovation is the engine that will keep providing options, long after the most obvious alternatives have been exhausted.