Saturday, September 29, 2012

Government Interest Statements for September 25, 2012

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a list of the latest patents and patent applications that contain Government Interest Statements or include a Joint Research Agreement (JRA) statement.  The list includes the patent information, the assignees, the funding agency, and the actual statement which usually includes the contract numbers for federally funded research efforts.  The JRA statement usually identifies the parties working together on the intellectual property.  The complete list is available at Way Better Patents.

Here is a summary of granted patents that contain a government interest statement or a joint research agreement statements for September 11th, 2012.  

Government Interest - U.S. Federal
41   Department of Defense (DOD)
31   Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
18   Department of Energy (DOE)
11   National Science Foundation (NSF)
4   National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
4   National Security Agency (NSA)
3   Department of Commerce (DOC)
1   Department of Justice (DOJ)
1   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1   National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)
1   Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Subject Matter of Government Interest Patents
Government Interest - U.S. Classification
11   514 Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
9   435 Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
5   424 Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
5   711 Electrical computers and digital processing systems: memory
4   089 Ordnance
4   102 Ammunition and explosives
4   250 Radiant energy
3   356 Optics: measuring and testing
3   382 Image analysis
3   436 Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
3   455 Telecommunications
3   702 Data processing: measuring, calibrating, or testing
3   706 Data processing: artificial intelligence
2   060 Power plants
2   257 Active solid-state devices
2   324 Electricity: measuring and testing
2   326 Electronic digital logic circuitry
2   343 Communications: radio wave antennas
2   429 Chemistry: electrical current producing apparatus, product, and process
2   536 Organic compounds
2   546 Organic compounds
2   701 Data processing: vehicles, navigation, and relative location
2   703 Data processing: structural design, modeling, simulation, and emulation
2   726 Information security

The Locations of This Week's Patents

This week Government Interest patent grants were granted to 110 US inventors, two (2) from Canada, and one (1) each from Greece and South Korea. Inventors are identified based on the residence identify of the first named inventor. The breakdown of the States of residence of the US Inventors is:

Government Interest - U.S. States
19   California
15   New York
  9   Maryland
  7   Massachusetts
  6   New Jersey
  5   Michigan
  5   Texas
  4   Wisconsin
  3   Arizona
  3   Colorado
  3   Florida
  3   Illinois
  3   Ohio
  3   Washington
  2   Minnesota
  2   Missouri
  2   New Mexico
  2   Pennsylvania
  2   Rhode Island
  2   Virginia

Friday, September 28, 2012

Culturematic - Cultural Machines That Spur Innovation

This book was hidden in the business marketing book section in the back of the Barnes & Noble.  Right next to the books on HTML5 and CSS3, the reason for the visit to the bricks and mortar world of technical references.  (I love my ebook readers, all of them, but they generally stink for technical references, at least of the programming variety.)  Culturematic looked a bit lonely sitting among the Google Adwords for Dummies books.  So there it was, black cover with a charmingly retro font screaming about how to create and execute breakthrough ideas.  And it has a section on the creation of fantasy football.  Skip the manuals, buy the book with the colorful cover.

Grant McCracken uses the framework of new millennial cultural happenings to explain how ideas converge and evolve to enable contemporary discovery, how we explore our world.  How people are working and thinking and exploring and doing it all at one time.  Its a fascinating look at where innovation is happening, how it is happening, and how we react to it and build business models around it.  You'll be surprised.

Culturematic: How Reality TV, John Cheever, a Pie Lab, Julia Child, Fantasy Football . . . Will Help You Create and Execute Breakthrough Ideas by Grant McCracken "Culturematics..create innovation. For Culturematics, there is no important difference between the personal projects and the corporate..between things that are useful and things that are artistic. Both begin as an inkling, a stirring suspicion that the present order of things is not the inevitable order of things, that there is something else out there. This is what the Culturematic is for, exploring a suspicion." A new millenium view on innovation and how it happens, hunches and explorations from all over the place.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Water Innovations - 2012

Rainwater and sunlight. Both have been around a long time. People have collected rainwater for drinking, cooking, bathing, and agricultural purposes for thousands of years. Collection devices have taken many forms including rain barrels and cisterns. For the grandest cistern of them all, do a web search using the site of your choice for ‘Istanbul Sunken Palace’.  Also search for images of this colossus. I wonder if it was the inspiration for the underground city of the dwarves, Khazad-dûm in Moria, in Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Peter Jackson’s film treatment of the novels?  Looks like it to me.

Rain barrels are easier to fit next to your house, as the 1903 photo of a Nebraska farmstead shows (back left corner of house).

Source: Library of Congress, American Memory Collection

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – received wisdom from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. He was referring to openness and transparency. However, solar water disinfection (SODIS) is an effective means of water purification. The Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Sciences and Technology (Eawag) provides an informative web site on SODIS. To purify water with this method, according to the site,
[a]ll it requires is sunlight and PET bottlesHow does it work? Clear PET bottles are filled with the water and set out in the sun for 6 hours. The UV-A rays in sunlight kill germs such as viruses, bacteria and parasites (giardia and cryptosporidia). The method also works when air and water temperatures are low. 
People can use the SODIS method to treat their drinking water themselves. The method is very simple and its application is safe. It is particularly suitable for treating relatively small quantities of drinking water.
The two following cleantech patents illustrate 2012 innovations in water harvesting and sunlight water disinfection.

Keep Debris Out Of Your Rain Barrel

Scott William Allan of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, invented a “Water harvesting device” for which he was awarded patent US 8,097,151 in mid-January, 2012.  Allan assigned his patent to Green Ripple Innovations Inc., Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The problem he seeks to solve regarding rain barrel design is that,
"[o]ne major concern of these devices is to provide adequate means for collecting water most efficiently while also ensuring that foreign matter or debris is not collected with it or that may cause an obstruction to water flow. In the example of rainwater harvesting from a building collection systems, debris such as twigs, leaves from trees and other matter often accompany rain water exiting from conventional eaves and downspouts and without adequate management of these items water inlet areas can fill and clog with debris resulting in ineffective water collection or even backing up of the water toward the building structure. There are prior art devices for rainwater collection, filters and the like for installation within the eaves and downspouts but failing to install these or properly maintaining them raises the needs to have these safeguards directly integrated with the water harvesting device. Furthermore, many prior art devices that capture such debris requires frequent and regular maintenance is required to keep the inlet are clean resulting in time consuming maintenance for the user. These debris items, twigs for example are often shaped such that they can also enter the water inlet and potentially cause damage to internal components of a water harvesting device. In the example of a rainwater harvesting device, filtering devices or mosquito safety screens installed at the inlet are susceptible to damage from entering debris. Once a tear or hole is pierced in the safety netting mosquitoes are free to enter the device and lay their eggs, potentially leading to the undesired breeding of the West Nile Virus. 
"Another concern with these devices is that adequate means water and debris management all year around is not provided. During each season, water and debris should be managed so each may be directed in a proper manner so as to: avoid collection of water into the tank potentially freezing and causing damage to the device; and avoid clogging of flow and potential backing up of water-flow due to debris build-up. Current rainwater harvesting devices do not facilitate management of this debris as such."
His solution, summarized in the ‘151 patent’s Claim 1 is:
A debris diversion enabled water harvesting device comprising;
a tank portion for containment of water and at least one water entry area for the entry of water into said tank portion;
wherein said water entry area includes a diversion apparatus for diverting unwanted debris away from said water entry area;
a water overflow located in the upper area of said tank portion wherein said water overflow may release excess water from within the said tank portion;
wherein said water overflow includes a screen.
One of the patent drawings illustrates the invention. Would the Darwin Gilpin family shown in the 1903 photo have used this?


How is this invention different than the method described by Eawag, above?

Patent US 8,142,652, “Container for purification of water by sunlight,” was granted to Petra Wadström (Åkersberga, Sweden) on March 27, 2012. The invention, in contrast to the simple PET bottle, provides a sectioned container which passes sunlight through the first section (to provide UV-A disinfection) and absorbs sunlight and emits infrared radiation in the second section (to provide heating of the water).

Claim 1 summarizes, with figure feature numbers removed for clarity:
"Container for purification of water by utilizing sunlight, including a first section, which at least partly includes a sunlight permeable layer, and a second section, which at least partly is opposite the first section and at least partly includes a sunlight absorbing and infrared radiation emitting (IR-emitting) layer, wherein the first and the second section together enclose a volume, in which the water can be received to be heated by and exposed to sunlight, characterized in that the first section, is formed such that the permeable layer is essentially flat, and the second section is arranged such that the volume includes at least a first and a second portion, wherein the first and the second portion, respectively, have a first and a second distance, respectively, between the permeable layer and the sunlight absorbing and IR-emitting layer, where the first and second distances are mutually different, wherein a temperature difference between the water in the first and second portion is created after a period of sun exposure."

The inventor’s concerns:
"In poor countries, boiling of water is done over an open fire, whereby a considerable amount of wood is consumed. Approximately 1 kg wood is needed for 1 liter of water to reach 100 °C. To fetch wood takes a long time and can be costly, at the same time as it has a negative effect on the environment. Here, the environment is harmed by deforestation, which results in soil erosion.
Thus, the traditional purification method has a number of disadvantages regarding environmental effects, usage possibilities and the work effort.
Other methods for purification of drinking water could be pasteurization and filtering. Pasteurization is performed by heating the water to a high temperature during a long time, which is costly. The filtering is only able to filter out microorganisms being bound to relatively large particles."
The inventor is concerned with deforestation and soil erosion, among other items, in poor countries, but a) wouldn’t people in those countries also use fires for cooking in addition to water purification?; b) isn’t the ability of people, anywhere, to obtain suitable drinking water by whatever method they have available, more important than worrying about “harm” to the environment from “deforestation”?  Or is the environment, viewed from an affluent developed-world perspective, more important? Surely, cooking fires built with wood from renewable trees (after all, they re-seed and re-grow, you know) are not going to result in “deforestation.” Maybe a better approach to ensuring that people in ”poor countries” don’t “deforest” their environment is to help them develop their economies using principles of capitalism – all boats rise on a rising tide (except, of course, those that are sunk), and “teach a man to fish”.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cleantech Resource Extraction

Resource extraction and harvesting technologies are one of the patentECO Indexes, and they can include cleantech. These technologies provide the raw materials needed to support societies and they provide a fundamental basis for the economic engine fueled by a free market economy.

In this post, two recent cleantech patents in different areas of resource extraction – hydraulic fracturing or “fracing” and commercial fish trawling – are discussed.

The patent cognoscenti often use the word “teach”, to explain what an inventor's invention is.  Our definition of "teach" is:
“An inventor is granted an exclusive right to their invention in exchange for teaching others skilled in the art how to make their invention by way of the information in the patent. With respect to prior art, teach is defined as informing and instructing by way of the documents making up the prior art. The prior art references teach the technology disclosed in them or revealed by them.”  (For more patent-speak, see the Way Better Patents Glossary.)
The first patent below provides excellent teaching regarding the fracing process.

Improving Hydraulic Fracturing Efficiency

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracing” or “fracking”) is a technique used to stimulate the production of gases and fluids from underground geologic formations. It is based on the high pressure injection of fluids into a gas or oil wellbore for the purpose of fracturing the geologic formation to increase its permeability, thus stimulating the flow of the desired products into the wellbore. Included in the injected fluid is a “proppant”, typically sand, that holds the fracture open and permeable after the fluid has dispersed. The increased formation permeability, and therefore product flow, will be a function of the total length of the propped fractures. Previous Inkling posts on fracing are here and here.

Patent US 8,127,850, “Method of treating subterranean formations using sequential proppant stages” seeks to increase the effective propped lengths by using ultra lightweight (ULW) proppants. The patent was issued to Harold Dean Brannon (Magnolia, TX) and six co-inventors on March 6, 2012, and was assigned to Baker Hughes Incorporated (Houston, TX).

In Brannon et al.’s invention the ULW proppants are provided in two stages, the first being either more dense or of a different particle size than the second-stage proppant. The two-stage pumping of proppants into the formation fractures increases the effective propped length of the fractures, and thus increases the overall permeability (and yield) of the formation over a one-stage proppant fracing operation.
Brannon et al. teach the hydraulic fracturing process:
During hydraulic fracturing, a viscosified fracturing fluid is pumped at high pressures and at high rates into a wellbore to initiate and propagate a hydraulic fracture. Once the natural reservoir pressures are exceeded, the fluid induces a fracture in the formation and transports the proppant into the fracture. The fluid used to initiate and propagate the fracture is commonly known as the “pad”. The pad may contain a heavy density fine particulate, such as fine mesh sand, for fluid loss control, or larger grain sand to abrade perforations or near-wellbore tortuosity. Once the fracture is initiated, subsequent stages of viscosified fracturing fluid containing chemical agents such as breakers, and containing proppants are pumped into the created fracture. The fracture generally continues to grow during pumping and the proppant remains in the fracture in the form of a permeable “pack” that serves to “prop” the fracture open. Once the treatment is completed, the fracture closes onto the proppants which maintain the fracture open, providing a highly conductive pathway for hydrocarbons and/or other formation fluids to flow into the wellbore. The fracturing fluid ultimately “leaks off” into the surrounding formation. The treatment design generally requires the fracturing fluid to reach maximum viscosity as it enters the fracture which affects the fracture length and width.
Fracturing fluids, including those containing breakers, typically exhibit poor transport properties. High pumping rates are required in order to impart a sufficient velocity for placement of the proppant in the fracture. In such treatments, the proppant tends to settle, forming a ‘proppant bank’, as the linear slurry velocity falls as a function of the distance from the wellbore. This effect is further believed to result in reduced stimulation efficiency as the effective propped length is relatively short. In addition, much of the settled proppant is often below the productive interval. 
The recovery of the fracturing fluid is accomplished by reducing the viscosity of the fluid to a low value such that it flows naturally from the formation under the influence of formation fluids and pressure. This viscosity reduction or conversion is referred to as “breaking”. Historically, the application of breaking fluids as fracturing fluids at elevated temperatures, i.e., above about 120–130 °F., has been a compromise between maintaining proppant transport and achieving the desired fracture conductivity, measured in terms of effective propped fracture length. Conventional oxidative breakers react rapidly at elevated temperatures, potentially leading to catastrophic loss of proppant transport. Encapsulated oxidative breakers have experienced limited utility at elevated temperatures due to a tendency to release prematurely or to have been rendered ineffective through payload self-degradation prior to release.
By increasing the permeability and yield of individual wells through the use of this newly-patented technology, more natural gas and oil will be available, more profits will be obtained by the producers, more jobs and employee benefits by those produces can be sustained, more money will flow into ancillary purchases in the surrounding communities, and the closer to energy independence the US will be (assuming, of course, that the increased production is not negated by onerous government regulations).

These are good outcomes from using different types of sand.

Release the Young Fishes!

We turn from resource extraction below ground to resource harvesting from the seas.
Ireland, not commonly thought of as a commercial fishing nation, nonetheless derives a significant fisheries harvest from its surrounding seas and oceans. These activities are described in the 2009 “Atlas of the Commercial Fisheries Around Ireland”, published by the Marine Institute. The top five most economically valuable fisheries species landed by Irish vessels in 2008 were: mackeral, Nephrops (aka Norway lobster or Dublin Bay prawn, a slim, orange-pink lobster), horse mackeral, monkfish, and edible crab, totalling €101 billion (approximately equivalent to $76.3 billion in 2012 dollars).
Irish inventor Danny Gallagher and three co-inventors have developed a new “Netting arrangement” for pelagic (i.e., water column) and bottom commercial trawling, memorialized in US 8,191,305. The patent was granted on June 5, 2012, and is currently considered by the USPTO to be a trawl fishing net. We’ll see in January 2013 how that consideration changes with the introduction of the upcoming Cooperative Patent Classification System (CPC), based on the European Classification Office’s (EPO) ECLA system.

The ‘305 patent’s first claim is:
A trawl netting arrangement including a main netting component and at least one grid portion formed from a plurality of loops, each loop having four sides, two sides of each loop being formed from longitudinally arranged substantially parallel rigid members and the other two sides being flexible, the flexible sides interconnecting the substantially rigid sides from one another such that each loop of the grid is collapsible, a collapse of the loop effecting a bringing together of the substantially rigid sides.
What makes this invention cleantech?

We’ll let the inventor tell it, in keeping with the “teaching” of technological innovations in patents as described earlier in this post.

Gallagher, et al.:
The invention relates to fishing and in particular to trawling. The invention more particularly relates to netting arrangements for use in trawling such as pelagic or bottom trawling and used for selective discrimination in the catch so as to provide for improved selectivity in the size of the captured species. In one embodiment this may be used to reduce the possibility of capture of juvenile species, while in another it may be used to selectively disregard larger fish. 
Pelagic trawling is the use of a cone-shaped net behind a boat to catch large schools of fish. It differs from benthic trawling–sometimes referred to as bottom trawling–in that as opposed to towing trawl nets along the sea floor, pelagic trawling provides for a towing higher up in the water column. In both trawling techniques, a flow of water passes through the net as the net is towed behind the fishing vessel. 
A fishing trawl may be considered as having two main portions: the trawl-net portion which is the extended area of netting that serves to capture a large volume and which tapers inwardly towards a collecting bag or cod-end, where the captured fish are retained until the trawl is recovered on board the fishing vessel where they are then released and processed. The body of the trawl-net is funnel-like, wide at its mouth and narrowing towards the cod-end. It is long enough to assure adequate flow of water and prevent fish from escaping the net after subsequent capture. It is made of different grades of netting, the size of the mesh of the netting decreasing from the front of the net towards the cod-end. The cod end is where fish are finally caught. The size of mesh in the cod end is a determinant of the size of fish which the net catches.
Such grading of species is important in modern fish management where there are strict controls on the volumes of fish caught and also on the minimum size of the catch. The use of larger mesh sizes in the collecting bag (cod end) was among the first technical measures imposed by fisheries managers to prevent the capture of juveniles. Such arrangements require the fish to reach the side netting to achieve their escape.
While the above described arrangements provide for a certain degree in selection in the size of the captured fish, there is a further need to provide a netting arrangement that provides for discriminative capture of the fish size. It is believed that whilst all of the above described arrangements improve the prospect of escape by juvenile species, there is still a need for an improved netting arrangement.
By incorporating improved size selection into the trawl net, the inventors do their part to harvest a renewable resource (fish), yet help protect the juvenile fishes by allowing them to escape.

Greentech indeed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Government Interest Statements September 20, 2012

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a list of the latest patents and patent applications that contain Government Interest Statements or include a Joint Research Agreement (JRA) statement.  The list includes the patent information, the assignees, the funding agency, and the actual statement which usually includes the contract numbers for federally funded research efforts.  The JRA statement usually identifies the parties working together on the intellectual property.  

Here is a summary of published patent applications that contain a government interest statement or a joint research agreement statements for September 20, 2012.

Breakdown By Agency

46  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
41  Department of Defense (DOD)
28  Department of Energy (DOE)
18  National Science Foundation (NSF)
4  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
2  Department of Agriculture (USDA)
1  Department of Justice (DOJ)
1  Department of State (DOS)

Subject Matter of Government Interest Patent Applications
19  (424)  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
18  (435)  Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
7  (514)  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
6  (257)  Active solid-state devices
4  (073)  Measuring and testing
4  (244)  Aeronautics and astronautics
4  (506)  Combinatorial chemistry technology: method, library, apparatus
3  (250)  Radiant energy
3  (428)  Stock material or miscellaneous articles
3  (429)  Chemistry: electrical current producing apparatus, product, and process
3  (607)  Surgery: light, thermal, and electrical application
2  (205)  Electrolysis: processes, compositions used therein, and methods of preparing the compositions
2  (252)  Compositions
2  (324)  Electricity: measuring and testing
2  (342)  Communications: directive radio wave systems and devices
2  (356)  Optics: measuring and testing
2  (359)  Optical: systems and elements
2  (382)  Image analysis
2  (438)  Semiconductor device manufacturing: process
2  (600)  Surgery
2  (702)  Data processing: measuring, calibrating, or testing
2  (800)  Multicellular living organisms and unmodified parts thereof and related processes

This Week's Patent Applications By Location
This week Government Interest patent grants were granted to 132 US inventors, two (2) from the Peoples Republic of China, and one (1) each from Israel, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Inventors are identified based on the residence identify of the first named inventor. The breakdown of the States of residence of the US Inventors is:
  • 33    California
  • 10    New York
  •   8    Florida
  •   8    Massachusetts
  •   8    Texas
  •   6    Washington
  •   4    Arizona
  •   4    Colorado
  •   4    Maryland
  •   4    Michigan
  •   4    New Mexico
  •   4    Ohio
  •   4    Tennessee
  •   3    Illinois
  •   3    Indiana
  •   3    Pennsylvania
  •   3    Virginia
  •   2    Kansas
  •   2    North Carolina
  •   2    New Jersey
  •   2    Oregon
  •   2    Wisconsin

Friday, September 21, 2012

Patent It Yourself - A Self-Help Book

We'd like to believe that you can get all of the information you need from the internet and from the vast array of information on the USPTO website.  Sadly, it doesn't work that way.  When you've worn yourself out clicking on links and reach the point where you want to smash your computer to bits, it's time for a real book.  Even as patent nerds ourself, we often find ourselves reaching for this trusty little tome to get a quick answer about the basic mechanics of creating a patent application - hence it's inclusion on the Way Better Patents Reading List.  Even if you are working with a patent agent or attorney, this book will help you speak their language.

Patent It Yourself: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Filing at the U.S. Patent Office by David Pressman — The handbook to turn to when you are tired of mousing around the USPTO web site or in need of relief from patent attorney speak on how to get a patent.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Government Interest Statements for September 13, 2012

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a list of the latest patents and patent applications that contain Government Interest Statements or include a Joint Research Agreement (JRA) statement.  The list includes the patent information, the assignees, the funding agency, and the actual statement which usually includes the contract numbers for federally funded research efforts.  The JRA statement usually identifies the parties working together on the intellectual property.  

Here is a summary of published patent applications that contain a government interest statement or a joint research agreement statements for September 13, 2012. 

51  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
28  Department of Defense (DOD)
18  Department of Energy (DOE)
12  National Science Foundation (NSF)
6  Small Business Administration (SBA)
3  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
3  National Security Agency (NSA)
1  Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
1  Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The published patents cover the following scientific and technical domains within the US Patent Classification System.  Each class has a link to the definition at USPTO.

Government Interest - U.S. Classification
21  (424)  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
16  (514)  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
10  (435)  Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
4  (257)  Active solid-state devices
4  (348)  Television
3  (073)  Measuring and testing
3  (239)  Fluid sprinkling, spraying, and diffusing
3  (250)  Radiant energy
3  (604)  Surgery
2  (204)  Chemistry: electrical and wave energy
2  (307)  Electrical transmission or interconnection systems
2  (428)  Stock material or miscellaneous articles
2  (429)  Chemistry: electrical current producing apparatus, product, and process
2  (506)  Combinatorial chemistry technology: method, library, apparatus
2  (700)  Data processing: generic control systems or specific applications
2  (717)  Data processing: software development, installation, and management

Following is the geographic breakdown of the first named inventors on the patents:

111  United States of America
1  Canada
1  China PRC
1  United Kingdom

US State
18  California
9  Massachusetts
9  Texas
7  Maryland
5  Illinois
5  New York
4  Florida
4  Indiana
4  North Carolina
4  New Mexico
4  Tennessee
4  Virginia
3  Connecticut
3  Michigan
2  Arkansas
2  Arizona
2  Georgia
2  Minnesota
2  Mississippi
2  New Jersey
2  Washington
2  Wisconsin

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Government Interest Statements - September 18, 2012

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a list of the latest patents and patent applications that contain Government Interest Statements or include a Joint Research Agreement (JRA) statement.  The list includes the patent information, the assignees, the funding agency, and the actual statement which usually includes the contract numbers for federally funded research efforts.  The JRA statement usually identifies the parties working together on the intellectual property.  

Here is a summary of granted patents that contain a government interest statement or a joint research agreement statements for September 18th, 2012.  

Patents with Government Interest Statements — September 18, 2012

Weekly Summary — Federal Entity
Government Interest - U.S. Federal
42  Department of Defense (DOD)
41  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
26  Department of Energy (DOE)
13  National Science Foundation (NSF)
3  Department of Commerce (DOC)
2  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
2  Small Business Administration (SBA)
1  Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)
1  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1  National Security Agency (NSA)
1  Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Subject Matter of Government Interest Patents
13  435  Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
12  514  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
8  424  Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
7  250  Radiant energy
5  257  Active solid-state devices
4  436  Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
3  089  Ordnance
3  324  Electricity: measuring and testing
3  356  Optics: measuring and testing
3  385  Optical waveguides
3  427  Coating processes
3  540  Organic compounds
3  700  Data processing: generic control systems or specific applications
3  702  Data processing: measuring, calibrating, or testing
2  052  Static structures
2  073  Measuring and testing
2  264  Plastic and nonmetallic article shaping or treating: processes
2  370  Multiplex communications
2  375  Pulse or digital communications
2  423  Chemistry of inorganic compounds
2  600  Surgery
2  607  Surgery: light, thermal, and electrical application
2  706  Data processing: artificial intelligence
2  707  Data processing: database and file management or data structures

This Week's Patents

This week Government Interest patent grants were granted to 132 US inventors, two (2) from the United Kingdom, and one (1) from Switzerland. Inventors are identified based on the residence identify of the first named inventor. The breakdown of the States of residence of the US Inventors is:
  • 31    California
  • 10    Florida
  •   9    New York
  •   9    Wisconsin
  •   8    Maryland
  •   7    Massachusetts
  •   5    Washington
  •   4    New Mexico
  •   4    Texas
  •   3    Colorado
  •   3    Michigan
  •   3    North Carolina
  •   3    Pennsylvania
  •   2    Arizona
  •   2    Connecticut
  •   2    Idaho
  •   2    Illinois
  •   2    Indiana
  •   2    Kansas
  •   2    Kentucky
  •   2    Mississippi
  •   2    Nebraska
  •   2    New Jersey
  •   2    Ohio

Get the Screen Shots

Drew Curtis, the CEO of had the unpleasant experience of being sued for patent infringement by Gooseberry Natural Resources - a patent troll with no employees and an office in a strip mall in LA.

Mr. Curtis abandoned the standard "settle for a little as possible as quickly as possible" strategy of resolving patent infringement law suits and instead invoked the "show me where I'm infringing" strategy.  Get the proof of infringement.  Fight infringement rather than fighting the patent.  By not wasting time and money trying to have the patent invalidated, he focused instead on making the NPE prove infringement.

His TED Talk is a refreshing look at someone who chose to remove the cover of darkness from a patent infringement suit and settlement.  Regardless of your feelings toward patent assertion entities, everyone in the patentsphere benefits from moving the discussion of what is infringe and what isn't into the sunlight and away from platitudes like "the patent system if broken."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strange USPTO Behavior

Jamie Love of Knowledge Ecology International just posted that the USPTO blocks access to "political/activist groups" including the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and a host of other organizations.  According to Mr. Love the and are blocked but and the are not.  His post provides a short list of some of the organizations blocked and not blocked.

I've seen Mr. Love speak about Intellectual Property issues several times.  He provides thoughtful discussion on important intellectual property issues even if you don't always agree with what he says. It's hard to fathom a reason why his organization would be blocked.

Here is a link to Mr. Love's post.

The basic question on USPTO blocking these organizations is why?  Why should anyone be blocked?  Who made this decision?  Was it a political decision?  Was some risk posed by allowing people in these organizations to have access to USPTO's site?

A tweet from Mr. Love reports that he got a call from USPTO saying the filter that blocked the "political/activist organizations" has been removed.  While this is the right thing to do, the question remains, why did they block the sites in the first place?

Inventions in Clean Tech for Industry

Industry Clean Tech in 2012

Clean tech (or green tech if you prefer) innovations directed to industry continue in 2012. Two of these are summarized in this post.

Environmentally Friendly Coolants

Environmentally friendly doesn’t get much more friendly than graphite – pure, crystalline carbon – carbon is the basis of life.

Patent US 8,192,643 addresses “Graphite microfluids”. Granted to Ruiting Zheng of Beijing, China and two co-inventors, and assigned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA on June 5, 2012, the invention is very simply described by Claim 1:
A microfluid, comprising:
a hydrophobic fluid;
and a plurality of amphiphilic graphite particles having an average maximum cross-sectional dimension of between about 500 nanometers and about 10 microns, wherein the graphite particles form a stable suspension within the fluid, and the graphite particles are in the substantial absence of a surfactant.
500 nanometers to 10 microns is about 8–25% of the diameter of the thinnest human hair, which is 40 microns = 40 millionths of a meter = 0.0016 inches.
From the patent’s Background section:
Many industrial and commercial systems such as, for example, power plants, automobile engines, and microelectronics systems require efficient heat transfer to achieve optimal operation. Conventional methods for enhancing heat transfer include incorporating extended surfaces (e.g., fins) into the heat exchanger system and increasing the flow rate of the heat transfer fluid. However, the use of these traditional methods is insufficient to achieve adequate heat transfer in many instances. Recent research has been done on high thermal conductivity fluids. Such fluids can be made, for example, by suspending materials with relatively high thermal conductivities in fluid with a lower thermal conductivity. In addition to providing adequate heat transfer in high-performance applications, the use of high thermal conductivity fluids can be used to reduce the size of heat exchanger units in applications with lower heat transfer demands. 
The production of high thermal conductivity fluids can pose challenges. For example, in many instances, it is difficult to produce a stable suspension of high thermal conductivity material in a suitable heat exchange fluid. In addition, some materials, such as many nanoscale materials, do not produce sufficient increases in thermal conductivity when they are suspended in low thermal conductivity fluids. Finally, many materials used to produce high thermal conductivity fluids are prohibitively expensive for everyday use.
The USPTO groups this invention with others that provide heat-exchange, low-freezing or pour point, or high boiling compositions with organic components. The first US patent of this type was issued in 1866 (US 58,755) for the “Use of Hydrocarbon Liquids for Transmitting Heat” in railroad cars and other public conveyances and buildings. Inventor William C. Baker (…interesting – the long-time head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a well-known environmentalist and organization here in the Mid-Atlantic region, is William C. (Will) Baker) experimented “chiefly with kerosene-oil, as it [was] a cheap and convenient fluid, but it [was] obvious that any other suitable [oil] properly prepared may be substituted therefor…” As with many patents that break new technological ground, Baker’s 1866 patent included a single very simple claim:
The employment of hydrocarbon liquids to circulate in heating surfaces, as and for the purposes set forth.
At the present stage of clean/green tech, there really isn’t much new under the sun. Different methods, processes, and materials perhaps, but not too many completely new, this-has-never-been-thought-of-before ideas.

Aluminum Recycling – Not Just For Cans

Aluminum recycling is particularly effective in large part because it requires only about 5% of the energy used to manufacture new aluminum. According to the US Geological Survey’s Mineral Resources Program,
[i]n 2011, aluminum recovered from purchased scrap in the United States was about 3.0 million tons, of which about 54% came from new (manufacturing) scrap and 46% from old scrap (discarded aluminum products). Aluminum recovered from old scrap was equivalent to about 36% of apparent consumption.
How long have you been recycling aluminum? If you are part of The Greatest Generation, maybe you’ve been saving and recycling aluminum since the 1940s? If you are early boomers, since the introduction of the all-aluminum beverage can in the mid–1960s? Maybe after the first couple of Earth Days in the early 1970s? Perhaps after the enactment of a deposit fee with refund for bottles and cans in numerous states? How about when your locality instituted specified recycling dumpsters for those living in rural areas, or curbside recycling for those of you living in cities or the ‘burbs?

Aluminum recycling plants were first established in the US in Chicago, IL and Cleveland, OH in 1904. Curbside recycling began in Baltimore, MD in 1874. Oregon passed the first “bottle bill” in 1972.

Most of the aluminum recycled by consumers is in the form of empty beverage cans. This may soon change with industrial commercialization of patent US 8,211,378, “Reactor for separating aluminium from multi-layer film materials”. The invention of Youngchul Lee of Seoul, South Korea was issued on July 3, 2012 and assigned to the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology.

Lee’s invention is a chemical reactor for separating an aluminum layer from multi-layer film wastes. The reactor comprises a cylindrical casing which is filled with a solution to dissolve aluminum layers of the multi-layer film wastes pulverized into a predetermined size. A partition divides an inner portion of the casing into a reactor tub in which the solution reacts with the aluminum layer, and a separator tub is provided to decompose the pulverized multi-layer film wastes.

Lee views his reactor as being especially useful in separating aluminum used in multi-layer films used for packing foods (for the purposes of moisture resistance, aesthetic appearance, etc.) or for packing materials. In addition,
defective goods may be produced during the bonding processes or the printing process, and the defective goods are wasted. In addition, a stamping foil, which is formed by attaching dye or pigment, binder, an aluminum layer and release agent to a polyester film, is used for transferring patterns and aesthetic colors to raw fabric. When the stamping foil has been used once, the stamping foil is disposed without being reused due to the remaining adhesive, dye or pigment, binder, aluminum layer and release agent. The disposed multi-layer film materials are partially reused without special treatments. However, since the multi-layer film materials contain various components mixed in predetermined ratios and have the aluminum layer, the multi-layer film materials represent poor physical properties. For this reason, the multi-layer film materials are merely reused in producing low-value products. In addition, most multi-layer film wastes and the stamping foils are disposed without reuse through incineration or burial methods, so that the environmental pollution problem caused by toxic substances created during incineration becomes serious.
Thus, the reactor may find use for recycling aluminum/plastic films now discarded by consumers, and by the manufacturers of such films as a way of recycling defective materials and reducing toxins emitted by incineration of the plastic portion of the film.

Learn more about Way Better Patents' Clean Technology Indexes.

The USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program Discovery and Analysis Report is now available.

Monday, September 17, 2012

USPTO Green Tech Quick Look

Way Better Patents compiled the first comprehensive, independent analysis of the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program. The report looks at the inventions and technologies patented under the US Patent Office's program to accelerate the examination of "green" technology patent applications. See how inventors and innovators changed the USPTO vision of green technology from a narrow list of patent classifications into a compelling array of green tech inventions covering a wide range of technologies — energy, wind, solar, internal combustion engines, LED lighting and more.

Learn more about this important analysis of USPTO's Green Technology Pilot Program.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This Week's Government Interest Classifications

Here is a breakdown of the original patent US Patent Classifications (USPC) patents issued this week that contained Government Interest statements.  The link will take you to the USPC Classification Schedule that defines the boundaries of patents in each class.

Subject Matter of This Week's Government Interest Patents
September, 11, 2012

12435Chemistry: molecular biology and microbiology
10424Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
9514Drug, bio-affecting and body treating compositions
4356Optics: measuring and testing
4436Chemistry: analytical and immunological testing
4530Chemistry: natural resins or derivatives; peptides or proteins; lignins or reaction products thereof
3701Data processing: vehicles, navigation, and relative location
2136Batteries: thermoelectric and photoelectric
2310Electrical generator or motor structure
2345Computer graphics processing and selective visual display systems

2          370 Multiplex communications
2          382 Image analysis
2          385 Optical waveguides
2          415 Rotary kinetic fluid motors or pumps
2          423 Chemistry of inorganic compounds
2          502 Catalyst, solid sorbent, or support therefor: product or process of making
2          536 Organic compounds
2          706 Data processing: artificial intelligence
2          711 Electrical computers and digital processing systems: memory

Friday, September 14, 2012

Government Interest Statements for September 11, 2012

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a list of the latest patents and patent applications that contain Government Interest Statements or include a Joint Research Agreement (JRA) statement.  The list includes the patent information, the assignees, the funding agency, and the actual statement which usually includes the contract numbers for federally funded research efforts.  The JRA statement usually identifies the parties working together on the intellectual property.  

Here is a summary of granted patents that contain a government interest statement or a joint research agreement statements for September 11th, 2012.  

46Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
35Department of Defense (DOD)
21Department of Energy (DOE)
18National Science Foundation (NSF)
3National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
3Small Business Administration (SBA)
1Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
1Department of the Interior (DOI)
1Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1General Services Administration (GSA)
1Library of Congress (LOC)
1National Security Agency (NSA)
1Department of Agriculture (USDA)

118United States of America

9New York
7New Mexico
3New Jersey
3South Carolina
2North Carolina
1District of Columbia