Thursday, July 19, 2012

Riding With Cleantech Business Methods

I recently received an offer notice for “one-way car service to either Dulles International or Reagan National airport by Enviroride, a leader in green limousine and sedan services.” They promise that riders will have “[l]ower stress and stay stylish … [w]ith the assistance of a professional driver … your travel-day anxiety (and your carbon footprint), will decrease substantially.” The notice didn’t indicate any means by which this service will decrease one’s “carbon footprint” — after all, you are still using a carbon-based fuel vehicle in a point-to-point mode from your departure location to the airport, or vice versa. The company’s web page, however, states that EnviroRide “is an environmentally responsible personal transportation company in [the] Baltimore and Washington DC Metropolitan Area. With time, the entire EnviroRide vehicle fleet will be fueled by alternative fuel with the first cars using emission reducing and electric hybrid technology.”

OK, fair enough. I’m curious about the business aspects of the service, and how they relate to clean tech.

The company’s web site accepts online reservations, which are found in Way Better Patents Exchanging Money for Stuff business methods group, with overlap into Minding the Store (which includes scheduling your ride).

Suppose you and several colleagues use the service to pick you up from the office to head out on a cross-country business trip. If you coordinated the schedule of your project team with your company’s internal calendar-based scheduling software, you entered the realm of the Planning an Innovation group of business methods patents. Because you are coordinating multiple people for your trip to comply with your company’s policies to reduce individual travel as a means of meeting its Clean Tech Vision 2020 goals and policies, you’ve automatically used patentECO innovations.

Oh, one last aspect. The email offer notice with a reduced price coupon I received? Also a business method (and it’s cleantech for having been sent via email rather than surface snail mail delivered by carbon-spewing vehicles) found in the Way Better Patents Marketing, Selling, Evangelizing business methods group.

Business methods patents, although frequently maligned (“software shouldn’t be patented, it should be free”), help to encourage innovation, and protect important intellectual property components of our market-based economy, and they directly support clean tech.

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