Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This Week's Patent Box Score

Way Better Patents has been busy working on improving our weekly databank, looking at ways to make information about patents more accessible, and examining the flow of information based inventions — business methods patents, patents for internet and communications technology, social media, business methods inventive elements embedded in other domains.  This week there are 59 new patents that have classifications in the business methods area indicating that the patent examiner believes that certain elements of the patent are like those contained in patents whose main classifications are in business methods, Data processing: financial, business practice, management, or cost/price determination.  Informationization of innovation continues.  Here is a quick look at what's going on this week.  
Explore this week's patent Box Scores at Way Better Patents

Score Card — September 10, 2013

Total: 6,173
New Grants*: 6,157
*New Utility, Design, & Plant Patents
US Grants: 2,967
Foreign Grants: 3,206
Named Inventors: 16,438

This Week's Score Card by Domain

Domain This Week         Year To Date
Utility 5,727 191,840
Chemical 1,095 36,869
Electrical 3,115 103,480
Mechanical 1,517 51,491
Design 410 16,318
Plant 20 614
Reexam 17 581
Reissue 16 611
Errata 41 1,420
Corrections 443 16,440
Business Methods 128 3,890
Broad Business Methods 459 15,212
Databank Sitemap

Global Indicators

globe logo
Summary of this week's patent grants to first–named inventors from non–US locations excluding the US.

Region      Count
Africa 5
Asia 1,945
Central America & Caribbean 1
Europe 961
Middle East 85
North America 139
Oceania/Australia 57
Russian Federation 5
South America 8
Total 3,206

Business Methods Watch

See the weekly business methods patents weekly databank for the details.
As of September 10, 2013 USPTO has granted 128 new business methods patents with a total of 3,890 year to date. More broad business methods patents this week came in at 459 and 15,212 year to date. This week there were also 59 patents that had a cross-reference (XR) classification in class 705 indicating that the invention has business methods elements embodied in the inventions it covers.
Business methods patents include only those patents with an original classification in business method classes. It does not include other inventions where USPTO has identified other features that are business methods related (patents with discretionary classifications in the business methods domain.)

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Latest from Way Better Patents

The Patent Box Scores are up.  This week USPTO granted 5,903 patents to 16,027 named inventors.  US first named inventors received 2,833 (48%) of the grants with foreign inventors accounted for 3,070 (52%).  The summary is on the landing page (mobile users can use the nav box up top to jump to the Score Card.)  The Databank has all of the details.  There is also a compact view of all the patent box scores if you prefer.

A continuing trend is for the top ten foreign countries receiving patents to make up 85% of the grantees.  Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China, four of the top five foreign recipients, account for 1,742 of the foreign grants. That's 57% of all of the foreign patents and 29.5% of all patents awarded this week.

Work has started on weekly analysis of co-inventorship.  We have been looking at the level of global co-inventorship on new patents as well as how co-inventorship with dominant IP intense areas of the world reflects the informationization of R&D - the ability of researchers to collaborate across the globe.  We are finding many cross-border teams linking Southern Hemisphere inventors to teams in Asia, Europe, and the US.  By looking at where all of the inventors on patents are we get a much more refined look at who is inventing what and where.  For example, when you count all the inventors to assign patents to a country, US and Asian inventors are even more dominant than when you are counting only first named inventors.  We are also looking at homogenous inventorship where all of the inventors are from the same country vs. cross-border inventorship in an attempt to see where new pockets of expertise are emerging.  We expect to have new statistics up in the coming weeks.

USPTO has granted 148,319 utility patents, 13,038 design patents, and 467 plant patents.  While 410 design patents are granted each week, more a by product of the contract with USPTO's printing and digital production contract than a true indicator of  inventive activity,  it is interesting to watch the  increasing correlation between the volume of information technology based inventions and the classification of the design patents being granted.

We are adding the Troll Roll.  We are pragmatic about patent-asset backed business models and patent monetization and securitization.  These business models are here to stay despite all the cage rattling in Washington and the Valley.  So we have added a compendium of the latest patent monetization and patent assertion news around the web and beyond.  While troll is still a pejorative for the architects and operators of these types of businesses, we couldn't find a snappier headline for the collection.  When the President of the United States uses the term we guess it's gone mainstream.  No offense Mr. Spangenberg, Mr. Ryan, and Mr. Myhrvold.

Here is the Link-O-Matic to our recent articles:

Hate the Game Not the Player - Our take on the NY Times article about Erich Spangenberg, the king of patent trolling and our take on his business model.

Failing the Straight Face Test - Boston University Law's IP professor spread the word about the evils of patent trolls with their ubiquitous study that proclaims  $23B in lost innovation due to patent trolls while the Trustees file patent infringement lawsuit against Apple asserting an 18 year old patent based on prior art dating back 22 years.

Who's Calling? - There are lots of reasons why patent assertion entities and their partners, investors, and other cohorts don't want the Real Party In Interest disclosed in the normal course of their patent monetization business activities.  We provide some of the top reasons.

We are also getting ready to publish our weekly invention reports.  We pick an invention from the top classes of patents awarded each week to have a quick look at what people are inventing.  We start with business methods and other information age inventions.

Be sure to check out the Link-O-Matics that come with each article.  We provide the links to the policy, business, and academic work that surrounds the topics discussed in our articles.  We hope this keeps the articles in context and give our readers real world context on the background of the issues.

Way Better Patents is delivered using responsive HTML5 and CSS3 design so it looks just as good on your smartphone and tablet when you are on the go as it does on your stylish laptop while sipping a latte while laying out your next IP move at the neighborhood caffeine emporium.  Let us know what you think at

As always, please let us know what you think.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Boston University Goes Big Game Hunting

All of the non-practicing entities who have been taking a beating over their business models lately must be enjoying this week's patent litigation developments.

Boston University filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple asserting an 18 year old invention. The same Boston University whose legal scholars published the oft cited and passionately embraced finding that NPE patent assertions are substantial, totaling about $29 billion accrued in 2011 alone. We are having a hard time keeping a straight face.

This latest development adds a new level of complexity for public policy people trying to figure out how to balance the impact of patent assertion and infringement law suits on operating companies by non-pracicing entities and the rights of patent owners to monetize their patent assets.  Universities are joining the leagues of organizations that don't manufacture anything but sue for patent infringement.   The potential paydays may be too big for university patent owners to ignore.

Read the latest post here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tesla Battery Swapping Technology

We've been watching the patents in the Green Technology space for quite some time.  One of the more interesting sets of patent grants are the patents awarded to Tesla and Better Place during the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program.

Tesla received free accelerated examination for an invention that improve the handling of an electric vehicle.  A curious award under the program.  USPTO determined that improving the driving experience of an electric vehicle would make the products more attractive to the driving public.  More electric cars, less air pollution and lower fuel consumptions so it's green.  (Tesla received US Patent  7,741,750, “Induction motor with improved torque density.”)

Better Place received a series of patents on their battery swapping system.  We watch the electric vehicle market and watched as all electric vehicles were rejected by regional taxi authorities because of the risk of passengers being stranded in their taxi if a battery died and the limited driving range of an EV, not to mention the potential for passenger anxiety based on the possibility of either of these happening while you are trying to catch a flight at one of the outside of town airports.  Rapid battery charging seemed like an answer to this problem.  It also seemed like a good "go-to-market" strategy since you could equip all kinds of places where taxi's hang out waiting (airports, bus stations, train stations, hotel parking garages, shopping centers) with the battery swapping locations rather than having to establish a full blown commercial network out of the box.

Better Place adopted the modified propane gas tank business model.  Bring your empty back and we'll swap it out to a full one.  Just pay for the full one.  The Better Place model was that they owned the batteries and you paid a use fee to have them swapped.

(Here are a few of the Better Place Patents:   7993155,  80067938035341.  There are more.)

Now Tesla has adopted the battery swap approach with a slightly different version of the propane tank model - $60-$80 a swap close to the cost of a current tank of gas.  It makes sense.  We surveyed the troops and there was consensus that if you can't hit the road and make it from DC to NYC with only one quick stop for a fill-up and a bathroom break it's a deal breaker.  There are no rest stops on that route that are worth wasting an hour of your life while you wait for your car to recharge.  (We watched the Phil Lebeau redo of the NYTime DC to Boston test and saw his getting stranded anxiety and he had a chase car with camera men.)  The battery swap option solved the NJ Turnpike conundrum.

It will be interesting to see how the battery swapping patent game plays out.  Better Place filed for liquidation.  Their patent portfolio may turn out to be an important part of their liquidation strategy shifting the company from an operating entity to a non-practicing entity by virtue of their liquidation request.  It may be interesting see if one of the other major holders of intellectual property, operating companies like Ford or NPEs like Acacia or IV step in to acquire the patents.  It might depend on their forward looking perspective on where the EV market is heading.

This is an area to watch from a green tech adoption perspective, from a patent perspective, and from a general interest on whether Elon Musk will be able to move Tesla into the mainstream rather than a play car parked in front of five star hotels and The Palm.  Right now there is nothing interesting enough to warrant hanging out at a rest stop/charging station on I-95 for an hour or more waiting for the car to charge.

We'll be adding our new and improved Green Tech analysis.  In the meantime learn more about the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program and Way Better Patents report at

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dataveillance and Digital Clones

The recent disclosures about NSA have brought to light how our national security agencies use meta data, the electronic trail left by the array of digital devices that have are part of our daily life. Information generated by our phones, the cellphone towers that are used to complete our calls as we drive and talk and create mayhem on the highways. IP addresses from our laptops and digital communications as we sign on in Starbucks, hotel lobbies, and at home. Then there is the vast collection of "dark data", the dark data created by the systems in our cars that are used to help automative technicians diagnose problems with our cars, the commercial use of that data to let our insurance companies get a picture of our driving habits, information from medical devices like radiation machines calibrated across the network, information from our EZ-Pass devices for paying tolls and a host of similar commercial electronics used to track shipments, make sure truck drivers take the mandatory rest periods and the black boxes in airplanes used to reconstruct traffic incidents.

The systematic mapping and analysis of this type of meta data, the individual pieces of information these devices create, is called dataveillance, a linguistic portmanteau of data and surveillance. 

The Latest at Way Better Patents presents a discussion of dataveillance in the patent world as well as how Stephen Carter invented digital clones to travel around the internet on your behalf to throw off those who seek to track your digital presence.  

We added links to articles on initiatives within the Government to created unique IDs for each of us on the internet, an article the presents how the British would have found Paul Revere in 1772 if they had NSA's technology, and some interesting prior art articles on chatbots which let you create a digital persona to protect your identity on the web and as always, links to the patents.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finding the Inventor (and Assignees)

The Obama Administration's goal of making certain owners involved in patent matters before the USPTO  provide the real party in interest was big talk in the patentsphere last week.     The organizations targeted by this new rule making effort are patent trolls.  The Silicon Valley crowd was jubilant.  Then the more gloomy patent guys checked in on all the problems with this approach.  

We thought it might be a good time to revisit the issue of fixing the current address data that is already on patents.  Making patent applicants provide high quality address data would also be helpful in finding the inventors and assignees especially if you think you might need a license.  So we posted an updated version of our Patent Archipelago article complete with a few examples of last week's address boo-boos from USPTO including the unannounced relocation of DuPont from Wilmington, DE to Wilmington, DC (Who knew.)  The Link-O-Matic will also take you to not one but two lists of valid Country codes used for patents.

Business Diplomacy

On another note, the most diplomatic new on the White House patent troll initiatives came from Barrons who reported it the new as follows:

The White House took executive actions to pursue licensing-fee lawsuite. Obama plans to seek legislation to sanction filers of suits that the courts deem "abusive."

Very diplomatic.

Some of the other notable sound bites can be found here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's New

Way Better Patents is publishing Weekly Box Scores on each week's patent grants.  We are covering how many patents are granted, the breakdown between Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical and Design patents.  We also look at the Global Indicators - the countries where the first names inventors hail from and the participation by different geographic regions of the worlds.

We are also publishing a business methods watch covering patents in Class 705, USPTO's primary business methods classification and a broader look at business methods covering the classes USPTO identified as alternative places to look for patents with business methods elements.

You can also sign up to have the box scores sent directly to your email box each week.

Please check them out and tell us what you think.