Thursday, August 13, 2015

Elegant Patent Sentence

"The foregoing aspects and others will be readily appreciated by the skilled artisan from the following description of illustrative embodiments when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings."

The most elegant sentence I've seen in a patent application in a while.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Sad Situation on Edge

This morning my email contained a communique from USPTO on their latest technology issue. It seems that EFS-Web won't work with Windows 10 and its new Edge browser.

Because their authentication requires Java, their friendly vendor, Oracle, recommends using a different browser - Firefox (ok) or IE (noooooo).  No Chrome, no Opera. Definitely not Tor. The good part of this is that lawyers tend to not be very early adopters of new operating systems and a lot of folks are Apple fan girls and fan boys. So for a lot of folks this won't be an issue until it's time for the corporate IT people to do a desk drop of a new laptop.  But still. IP intense firms and more important small, young innovative companies are supposed to hold off in upgrading their tech because USPTO can't keep their tech fresh. 

USPTO needs to keep its tech up to date and at the same version as their stakeholders (queue the guy on the hunt for a vampire.). Enough with the patent listening tours. Spend the money in tech.

Here's what The Office had to say,

Windows 10/Microsoft Edge: Compatibility Issue for EFS-Web and Private PAIR Authentication

For users who are updating their operating systems to Windows 10, please be aware that Windows 10 comes installed with a new web browser, Microsoft Edge, that does not support plug-ins and will not run Java. Because Java is required for authentication to EFS-Web and Private PAIR, this impacts your ability to access EFS-Web and Private PAIR via Microsoft Edge.
To access EFS-Web and Private PAIR using Windows 10, Oracle is recommending the use of alternative browsers such as Firefox and Internet Explorer. IE11 will also be available on Windows10. For additional information regarding Java compatibility and instructions on how to access IE11 on Windows 10, please visit:
The USPTO is working on a longer term plan to improve the overall authentication process. For USPTO updates regarding this issue please visit either of our Announcements pages:
• EFS – Web Announcements:
• PAIR Announcements:
If you need assistance with this matter, or have questions on any eFiling topic, please visit the Patent Electronic Business Center webpage: for comprehensive contact information, FAQ’s, and other eFiling resources.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finding Stuff Now

On June 2, 2014 USPTO concluded its transition to the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system.  Even though we knew it was coming, things have been a little more complex as we are transitioning all of our year-to-date So Far analytics to map to the new system.  We're getting there and should be publishing our digests soon.

One of the things we've assembled over the last year or so has been our own cheat sheet on how the new classification system works and how to figure out all the new patent-speak that goes with the new classification system.  (We now appropriate classification symbols instead of classifying stuff.)

There are lots and lots of pages of information on how the system works on both the USPTO and EPO websites.  The primer is designed as a quick start before you take the deep dive of trying to find things on your own or get a deeper understanding of how this new system works.  Let us know what you think at -- and let us know how you are doing finding patents using this new system.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Small and Micro Entity Voodoo

We All Love Discounts Don't We?

Especially if you are a funds strapped inventor, university, professor, or small business.

We have long felt that one of the best ways to figure out what's going on with patents held by independent inventors; small businesses, under 500 employees - small but not really small; and non-profit organizations, universities, research institutes, organizations focused on research for particular diseases; is to watch their status information and assignee data.

  • Has the assignment information on the patent changed?
  • Is there security lien on the patent?  This usually means someone thinks the business is worth making an investment in and is looking at the patent as collateral.
  • Has their entity status changed from Small or Micro Entity status to Large Entity status?
We make the argument that patentistas - patent attorneys, agents, patent licensing people, are serious enough about their patent assets and those of the clients they support to be careful about how they claim their status. USPTO frowns on not being truthful in your dealings with The Office.  Falsely claiming small entity status and not paying the right fees could render your patent invalid.  So, as a rule, people follow the requirements in their Oath paperwork.  Besides, if you have a hot property that someone wants to license, you aren't going to deliberately establish the wrong entity status to save $1,000 and mess up the revenue gravy train.  But there are those out there who disagree with us, mostly because they don't understand the process.


We wrote up how the process works, inserted a little USPTO MPEP head exploding patent mumbo jumbo, and created a timeline so that you can understand how the whole thing works.   We added a bunch of links to the bills, and other statutory stuff so everything is in one place.  And for you fans of public science and Bayh-Dole, the whole maintenance fee regime started with Bayh-Dole and went on from there. Links included.

Here for your reading pleasure is a link to our Maintenance Fee and Small Entity Background paper or if you prefer a fully annotated, footnote rich version, the Small Entity Paper is in PDF form.

If anyone has any research or thoughts on the whole small entity/micro entity regime, please send us your thoughts at

Enjoy.  And get that paperwork going.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Browser Roulette 2015 Edition

It's Browser Roulette Time again at USPTO.  What follows is the latest communique for people who file their patent applications electronically.

The trials and tribulations of running an online site.  We feel you pain USPTO.

USPTO's Latest Communique

Chrome to Discontinue Java Plug-in Support and Impacts to EFS-Web and Private PAIR

In April 2015, Google Chrome removed the default ability to use the Java plug-in for browser version 42. This impacts your ability to access EFS-Web and Private PAIR because Java is required for your authentication into these systems. Currently, Chrome has a temporary workaround that will allow you to use the Java plug-in so that you can continue to log into EFS-Web and Private PAIR:

This workaround will only work through September 2015, when Google Chrome plans to end their support for Java plug-ins with their newest browser, Chrome versions 45 and above. Therefore, Chrome users using version 45 and above will no longer be able to use the workaround and thus will not be able to log into EFS-Web or Private PAIR. Oracle is recommending the use of alternative browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. For additional information regarding Java and Chrome please visit:

Although the above browsers should continue to work with EFS-Web and Private PAIR, there is always a possibility that these providers may decide to discontinue support of Java plug-ins as well. The USPTO is closely monitoring for any changes, and is committed to keep the IP Community informed accordingly.

Furthermore, the USPTO is investigating if there are possible strategies to mitigate the impact. The Agency is working on a longer term plan to improve the overall authentication process. For USPTO updates regarding this issue please visit either of our Announcements pages:

EFS – Web Announcements:
PAIR Announcements:
If you need assistance with this matter, or have questions on any eFiling topic, please visit the Patent Electronic Business Center webpage: for comprehensive contact information, FAQ’s, and other eFiling resources.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CPC's Happy Flat Line

This week we say goodbye to the Weekly CPC Monitor where we watched the progress of the transition of newly granted patents containing CPC data.  As you can see on the graph above, the CPC line is moving along in a nice horizontal fashion indicating that things are going well.  Since USPTO hit 100% in April and has been consistently hitting this mark of all new patent grants containing CPC data the transition appears complete.  A happy flat line across the top.

We also note that the backlog of unprocessed patent applications has dropped below 600,000 to 585,811 in April with pendency to first office action also declining.  Now that this complex transition is underway and has been integrated into the examination processes, USPTO can return to its efforts to reduce the backlog as spelled out in their Strategic Plan.

Next up, the June 2 transition of the Official Patent Gazette and other supporting data shifting from using the USPC for worklfow and work management purposes to using the CPC.  This is a really big change for external users and eventually for inventors and assignees applying for new patents.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Corrections Conundrum

8,800 And Counting...

Corrections total 8,800 year–to–date. USPTO added another 623 new corrections this week. So we're up to 8,800 corrections this year that the Average Citizen wouldn't know to look for when using the patent search tools available to the public.

No one bothers to correct patents that are abandoned or aren't perceived as having value.  Why waste your time.

Most of the corrections are on patents that are not new, have paid maintenance fees, and are in interesting scientific and technical domains where new innovation are emerging. Corrections are an indicator that patents are in play.  We did a quick analysis of corrections in August.  This review revealed that patents related to internet connected vehicle control systems were having every i dotted and every t crossed.  When you look carefully, the corrections point to a portfolio building effort and clean-up action before a monetization effort we suspect.

But here's the rub.  The corrections are an undercover action generally unknown to most people who aren't patentistas.  All the corrections of colons and semi-colons is lovely but it's the one where the change says that dependent claim 17 really should be pointing to claim 5 and not claim 1, fundamentally changing the public presentation of what the invention was all about. That are troubling.  These changes are only available in non-text accessible old school image format with only some of the pages in the USPTO full-text database pointing the user to images. This stuff is torture.

Especially when you consider the logic which goes like this:

1) Patent owner sends in a digital form requesting the change.
2) It floats all around USPTO to get approved.
3) USPTO types up the change language and have the Director sign it (our guess is this is done with the magic automated pen but maybe not which would be even more ridiculous.)
4) Then someone at USPTO creates an image of the change and adds it to the image version of the patent.

Something's gotta give here.

Check out this week's Box Scores here.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Quality Matters

(Image via Businesstown in Instagram)

There is a saying in the technology sales world that, "Sales solves all problems."  Basically what the means is that when you have a real customer paying real money for your product, that you stop focusing on tangential things and start focusing on what you need to make that sale and that customer a success. Patent quality does the same thing in the world of IP.  Quality patents solve all problems. 

Everyday I am bombarded by emails on the need to fix the patent system. A relentless stream of articles many by people who don't know how important patents are in our innovation economy or who haven't had someone abscond with the fruits of their labor, yet. 

At the recent BIOTECHNOLOGY Partnership meeting at USPTO Robert Stoll, former Commissioner for Patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, opined on the subject. As usual he crystallized the patent quality impact in a few sentences. (Paraphrased from my notes.)

"First, licensing patents is a legitimate enterprise. Why are we spending so much time on this legitimate activity?"

"Quality patents removed uncertainty and mutes the arguments in patent trolls."

Quality patents clearly disclose what the patent covers, the boundaries of the ownership of the patented invention and who has an interest in it.  Consider the U.S. Navy. The IP tech transfer folks routinely is the field for the government interest statement to publish the contact information on how to reach then if you'd like a license. Bravo Zulu to them. 

Better claim construction, better glossaries, better bibliographic and geographic data, and perhaps most important quality ownership and real party in interest data are game changers. 

Patent quality is a two way street.  USPTO needs the resources and support to make patent quality improvements a reality beyond public outreach with everyone nodding in unison that quality is an important issue. USPTO needs more folks to support their efforts to improve quality if there is any hope of fixing the patent system and letting the patent prognosticators move on to a new topic.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Iced Tea & Patent Reality Checks

A Little Patent Fakery - Patent Tribute Art?
Iced tea season begins in earnest  at Way Better Patents.  We look forward to many cold and frosty beverages in our favorite improvised entertainment device, the Mason Jar.

The iconic Mason Jar was designed by John L. Mason from New York.  The patent wasn't for the jar it was for the easy on/easy off screw top lid (which many of us have been cursing since 1858.)

According to the website Glass Bottle Marks, "John Landis Mason was awarded Patent #22186, issued on November 30, 1858 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (actually the patent was termed an “Improvement in screw-neck bottles”),  for his invention concerning the process of creating a threaded screw-type closure on bottles and jars."   You can see images of the real jar here.

So we went on the hunt for the patent images and came across this.  It was a beautiful but very curious drawing.  It looked a bit too mid-century modern for us, mid 20th Century.  Could Mr. Mason have submitted such a complex drawing for a jar with a screw top. Hmmmmmmmm.

Patent Intrigue...

After looking at the image complete with the fold marks in light of the drawing style and the very detailed screw top we suspected a little patents as graphic design rather than real patent design.  The curved lettering on the "jars" in the image are inconsistent with glass making technology of the day.

Here is the image of Mr. Mason's 1858 patent from the USPTO website:

A little more normal drawing for the timeframe.

The wonders of cut and paste and Photoshop or the graphic design package of your choice you were used to edit the original patent document, use and rearrange the handwritten material  on the page to wrap around some tasteful but chronologically inaccurate new images of the iconic jar.

The other interesting tell is that the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Mr. Mason a utility patent for the screw top lid (he was a tin worker) not a design.

Then there is the Ball logo.

West Saint Paul Antiques reports that, "Shortly after their move to Muncie and new plant startup in 1888, Ball was making Mason's Patent Nov. 30th 1858 jars, many from acquired moulds. …About 1892 and probably even earlier, Ball began adding their name to some of the 1858 type jars, some on front and others on the back in all block letters. …About 1895, Ball began using machines (these jars have smooth lips) and began to phase out the old blowing methods. This transition took several years. The machine made jars exhibited a new script style which was never seen on any of their handmade jars."

Ball did not start making jars with script style lettering until 1895.

You can see the history of Ball logos here.

And then there's the matter of the jars being square?  Not in 1858.

The other interesting aspects of the drawing - the fold marks, what looks like text bleeding through the back of the page are also some nice touches.

So what we have here is the work of a graphic artist not the actual patent document for Mr. Mason's invention.  And maybe a little trademark infringement as well.

Original Patent Document?  Nope.

Here is the brief text of Mr. Mason's original 1858 patent:

Text of the original patent granted to John L. Mason

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Use The Wrench

A Wrench for Resources and Tools

Way Better Patents publishes a wide range of useful tools to help you understand what's going on in the patent world.  These tools and resources include glossaries, USPTO terms of art, an article about how we read a patent when we're trying to figure out what it's all about, explanations of what's in our data and what's in our maps.  There are charts,tables, and cheat sheets explaining all those numbers on patents, things like kind codes, application serial numbers, a list of all the patent numbers issued by type each year.  

There are articles on IP basics and the differences between different types of IP and patents.  how patent classification works and the changes being made as USPTO shifts to the CPC.  There are explanations of USPTO organizes patents and the basics about patents and the different scientific and technical domains.  

There's a section on words that includes the Way Better Patents intellectual property and innovation reading list and some of our favorite quotes on innovators and inventors, and our Thought Leadership list -- academic and research articles that we thought were interesting and compelling with interesting points of view and discussions on important science and technology issues. (We also include articles we think are ridiculous so you can decide for yourself.)

"If I had listened to my customers, I would have built a faster horse."
Henry Ford

The Wrench can point you to articles on business methods patents, taxpayer funded inventions and the Bayh-Dole act.  There is an in depth Discovery and Analysis study of the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program and the patents granted under that program so you can make your own decision on whether accelerated examination accelerates innovation.  (Did you know that GE received a patent for a bolt under the Green Tech Pilot Program because it was economically important.  It helped them build wind turbines faster.  No kidding.)  We also included links to all of our patentECO Green Technology resources.

There are also links to a host of articles on a wide range of topics on patent, invention, innovators, and the organizations that own patents.  We keep a running list of patent advocates (and foes) and what they are lobbying for.  

And of course there are the usual Digests, Maps, Scientific Presence Profiles, Box Scores and Score cards too.

So Click the Wrench icon to find Way Better Patent Resources and Tools to help you understand what's happening in the patentsphere.  It's at the top of most of our pages.  

The wrench may be tiny tool but it's a really powerful way to find resources at Way Better Patents.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What To Read Next

Lately the folks at Way Better Patents been reading a lot about precision medicine and the emerging worlds of molecular medicine, synthetic biology and biotech start-ups.  It's an outgrowth of watching the patent world try to figure out how it will deal with the very specific aspects of developing drugs for people that have a specific genomic profile. Not for the faint of heart or anyone who isn't good at complex thinking.  The level of scientific complexity in precision medicine on top of the intricate dance of protecting and enforcing intellectual property in the pharmaceutical industry will make for a very interesting patent landscape for years to come.  So we embarked upon an effort to get smart.

Our latest read is all about how Vertex Pharmaceuticals brought two important drugs to market.

The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma by Barry Werth — How the rugged world of drug innovation really works.

Why Read It?

This choice is timely for a lot of reasons.

It's easy to read despite the deep science and complicated processes it reveals.  Lots of interesting scientists and innovators here.

USPTO is faced with many challenges on what exactly is patentable in the microbiology, molecular medicine, chemistry space.  Is the invention a product of nature or not?  How will patent examiners deal with the avalanche of data that goes along with a new pharma patent application?  At our latest visit to USPTO’s Biotech Partnership it took over an hour and 57 slides just to explain how to upload a sequence listing and another mind exploding 45 minutes and two presenters just to explain how patent term extension works for drug patents.  (We'll be posting both shortly...stay tuned.)  There is a lot going on here.  

There are molecular medicine patents coming from very unusual places as the latest from the Colorado School of Mines shows.  We ignored Captain Renault's advice to "round up the usual suspects" and found 8,968,705 an invention in the nanomedicine space from The Colorado School of Mines (Mines) — gold/lanthanide nanoparticles for use in targeting, treating, and/or imaging disease states in a patient. You read that correctly, The Colorado School of Mines, the folks who focus on Earth, Energy, Environment. The university focused on engineering and applied science in the geoscience arena adds a new contribution to the spectrum of inventions in the nanomedicine space.

The economics of big pharma are in the midst of dramatic change as biotech delivers more customized medicines that address smaller populations of users. This dramatically changes the economics of healthcare.  The complex issues are unfolding before our eyes as people questions what they see as the exorbitant price for SOVALDI® (sofosbuvir) in treating Hepatitic C (it’s cheaper than a liver transplant) or KALYDECO® (ivacaftor) developed to treat cystic fibrosis.  Both drugs and diseases play starring roles in this book.

Back to the patentsphere for a moment.

There is lots of rumblings over the latest business ventures of Erich  Spangenberg in the pharma space. Mr. Spangenberg is working with Kyle Bass, an activist investor, to use the inter partes review process at USPTO to challenge and invalidate pharma patents.  Basically the play is to file an inter partes review to invalidate a patent, short the stock, and wait for the money to roll in.  There are a host of other shareholder fiduciary and due diligence issues here and board room plot twists galore.  What will be interesting here is that the pharma, biotech, chemistry IP crowd tend to play the patent game at a much higher level than our favorite business methods patent monetization letter writers. No going after the easy stuff like healthcare related business methods patents here. And, this is a passion play on what happens when you tinker with the patent system.  Most of the patentistas never envisioned the inter partes review process being used in the way Mr. Spangenberg and others are now using it.  Lots of intrigue.  Understanding the nuances of how a new molecular drug gets to market and the business of making that happen will help you be more informed when watching this latest patent monetization drama unfolds.  

Add the announcement from IBM, Apple, Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson on their new healthcare offering designed to change the information landscape of medicine and pharmaceutical design.  We’re fans of translational R&D. This partnership and others evolving in the space are clearly an important way to use information to move innovation from the bench to the bedside and back to the bench faster.

And then there are all the discussions on fixing the patent system, the Innovation Act, patent cliffs and the fate of big pharma, shorter patent terms for drugs and a host of other issues.  

Check out the Way Better Patents Reading List.  Read this one and Peter Huber’s The Cure Is In the Code and you’ll have a whole new perspective on pharma innovation and intellectual property. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Innovation Business Intelligence

Patents and published patent applications are one of the only publicly available sources of concise scientific information on the output of research and development, the potential use of the inventions, and new product design features. 

If you want to have a deep understanding of the direction of science, technology, and engineering, read patents.  If you don't want to read all of the arcane patent, try the way we read patents to see what they are about.  You don't have to read all of the details to understand the essence of a new invention and where it fits into the world of innovation.  

Each week we publish weekly state-by-state digests about all of the new patents granted that week, the inventors responsible for them...all of the inventors not just the first named inventor on a patent.  This will help you know when local companies and inventors are granted patents. It will help you know which companies are local and which companies are around the company that are working with local inventors.  

So what do you do with this information?  Find investment and partnership opportunities. Know what is happening in your technology parks. Understand the science and technology behind new university spin-outs and start-ups. Work with companies building new products to focus on new STEM job creation and enhance workforce development. Use the Coming Soon™ navigation map to see what's happening and reach out, recruit, retain, and grow.

If you want to know what innovation is coming patents.  It's not as bad as you think.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

This Drives Marketing People Nuts

Today the IBM Watson folks announced establishing a Watson Health Cloud to dramatically advance effectiveness and quality in personal health care, working with Apple, Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to get the HIPAA-enabled system up and running.  An innovative blockbuster collaboration.

Here is an image of the way this announcement appeared at the top of the Google Search:

Pfizer.  Not J&J, Apple, IBM or Medtronic.  This must drive the marketing people crazy.  The marketing people in Armonk, New Brunswick, Cupertino, and Minneapolis (and Dublin) are probably not pleased.

Oh...and my male colleagues inform me that these cute blue pills are Viagra.  You can't make this stuff up.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cooperative Patent Classification Hits 100%

100% Coverage - Finally

This week is the first week that all newly granted patents contain Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) symbols.  It's been a long haul.  A lot of folks were focused on USPTO's granting of patent number 9,000,000.  We think the CPC news  is a much bigger achievement.

Next up, when will the CPC become the primary resource for examiners to search for prior art.  While the USPC is essentially a static collection of organized prior art, to date, we haven't seen a lot of growth in the Field of Search data indicating the wide use of the CPC for searching.  Perhaps this will increase when patent applicants include CPC data on their information disclosure statements.  Our guess is that it will be a long, long time before that happens unless USPTO mandates that they will only accept CPC symbols on the IDS.

This week's Box Scores are up.  Another interesting week in patent land.  So many multiplexed communication inventions again.  Geez.

Well, enough patent geekery for a Friday.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen Place Your Bets

So Close Yet So Far...

Place your bets.  Will USPTO hit 100% of new patent grants having Cooperative Patent Classification symbols next week?  

Of the 6,251 utility patents this week, 98.4% had CPC classification data. Another uptick over last week's 96.6%.  Next week starts the publication of the Official Gazette with CPC data integrated therein.  Now it's going to get interesting.

Here is this week's box score summary:

Score Card

March 31, 2015
Total: 6,805
New Grants*: 6,796
*New Utility, Design, & Plant Patents
US Grants: 3,309
Foreign Grants: 3,496
Named Inventors: 18,541
Domain This Week Year To Date
Utility 6,251 71,710
Chemical 1,223 13,760
Electrical 3,371 38,624
Mechanical 1,657 19,326
Design 525 5,347
Plant 20 199
Reexam 11 184
Reissue 9 129
Errata 64 632
Corrections 398 5,744
Business Methods 36 342
Broad Business Methods 567 6,281
Databank Sitemap

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fracking Fluid in Your House

The Obama Administration released its new regulations on fracking. Five minutes later, industry groups filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the regulations.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "In a move that upset environmental groups, the new rules require companies to publicly disclose chemicals they use through an industry-run website called FracFocus within 30 days of completing the fracking process." We're not sure why the environmental groups are upset, we're guessing because the site is run by an industry group. (Isn't it better for the taxpayer for the industry to pay for this, but we digress…)

We thought this would be a good time to drag out two articles written two years ago that highlight what's in fracking fluid and the contents common use around the house.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Coming Soon in South Carolina

This week's Coming Soon Digests are available.  It was a busy week.  Here's a look at what's coming soon in South Carolina.

Coming Soon™ South Carolina

Find Innovation in Your Neighborhood

So Far In 2015:

  • The Way Better Count of all patents granted to South Carolina-based inventors or companies shows 270 patents granted to South Carolina inventors;
  • 249 patents granted to companies and other entities that worked with inventors from the State;
  • 53 of those entities identified their location as being in South Carolina.

This Week

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) granted 6,998 new patents to 18,974 inventors.

South Carolina inventors received 26 of those patents representing the work of 50 inventors from 19 State municipalities. Here is this week's down to earth look at innovation in South Carolina.

This week's heatmap of South Carolina inventors.

The location and concentration of South Carolina inventors this week
Explore This Week's Digest

Each week Way Better Patents publishes a state-by-state, town-by-town index of the inventors and companies granted patents, what these innovators are working on, where they are and who they are collaborating with.

Use Coming Soon™ to find, recruit, and retain the Commonwealth's innovators.

What's In Coming Soon™

  1. The Digests — Each week Coming Soon™ Digests present a state-by-state, town-by-town look at invention and innovation.

  2. The Map Room — State and National maps of the geography and topology of invention.

  3. Scientific Presence Profiles — A holistic look at science and technology activity; inventive and innovative trends, talent pools, and the depth of scientific, technical and engineering enterprise in each State.

  4. Great Resources — Tons of great free resources to help you understand why patents mean business.
Learn More

Who Uses Coming Soon™ Digests?
  • Economic and Workforce Development Professionals
  • Talent Scouts
  • Investors and Entrepreneurs
  • Science and Technology Public Policy Makers
  • Technology Transfer Professionals
  • Product and Business Development Managers

Thursday, March 19, 2015

EPA, Hotel Showers, and Infringement?

When is a government agency and a University inducing infringement?

EPA recently announced it was deeply troubled that we might be spending too much time in the shower when we travel.  EPA, aka The Government, wants technology to help  "modify traveler behavior".  EPA and the University of Tulsa and its investigators might have to modify their own behavior  where patented inventions are concerned.  EPA, University of Tulsa and its three student investigators apparently don't read patents.

EPA gave a grant to the University of Tulsa for a "Developing a Wireless Device for Monitoring Water Usage for Hotel Showers."

 It could have saved taxpayers the $15,000 by reaching out to the Oakton, Virginia based firm Water Cents LLC, and its three inventors, titleholders on US Patent 7,360,413, Wireless water flow monitoring and leak detection system, and method.  This patent granted in 2008, was filed in 2005 after the inventors filed a provisional patent application in 2004.

This patented invention -- A wireless water flow monitoring and leak detection system and method are provided. The system includes a base station, a memory, and a central processing unit configured to control the operation of the system and to analyze stored data -- looks remarkably like the EPA grant's deliverable.

Here's Claim 1 of '413:

What is claimed is: 

1. A wireless water flow monitoring and leak detection system comprising: a base station including a wireless receiver and transmitter, a memory to store data, and a central processing unit configured to control the operation of the system and to analyze stored data; a plurality of wireless flow sensor nodes each being installed on a supply line of a water fixture, at least one of the wireless flow sensor nodes being configured to periodically read and store a data point corresponding to either a flow condition or a no flow condition through the supply line of the water fixture; and a plurality of coordinator nodes each being spaced from the supply lines of the water fixtures and configured to wirelessly relay data between the plurality of wireless flow sensor nodes and the base station; wherein the base station is configured to periodically receive a stream of stored data points from the at least one wireless flow sensor node by way of at least one coordinator node and to determine based on an analysis of the stream of data points whether a leak exists in at least one of the water fixtures; wherein the at least one wireless flow sensor node is configured to store a data point corresponding to a flow condition when the flow through the supply line of the respective water fixture is about 1/4 cup a minute and larger. 

Looks like the EPA deliverable:

The proposed wireless device will have three main components: a flow meter, an embedded system and software, and a resource accounting system. This technology will provide hotel guests with the ability to monitor their daily water online or using a smartphone app, and will assist hotel guest in modifying their behavior to help conserve water. The proposed wireless device will be marketed to the hotel industry to reduce costs by promoting water conservation among hotel guests. An interdisciplinary team of undergraduate students from chemical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and management and marketing will work in a collaborative effort to build and test a prototype device, and explore the market potential of the wireless device.

So, patentistas, is EPA and the University of Tulsa inducing infringement?

By the way, we found the Water Cents patent on the first try.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inventors Cocktails

We are fans of the patent system. We  have opined earlier that one of the ways to fix the patent system is to add more disclosure about who owns what and forcing those seeking to enforce their patents to show evidence of infringement.  

The other major fix is to bust open the patent echo chamber where all these patent people speak only to themselves. So when we say the posts on the Save the Inventor event at SXSW we were curious.  Breaking out is good. Reaching out is even better. 

But then there was the trailer which featured welders and wood workers and not chemists and scientists and folks in clean suits and pictures of multiplexed communication devices we were perplexed. Not the we don't like welders and woodworkers but are these guys in this video representative of the markets and technologies most likely to be caught on the spin cycle if the current already complicated patent process. 

The patent world is so strange sometimes.   We need another cocktail. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Atlas of Inventors

To Map Innovation, Map Inventors

Way Better Patents' Coming Soon™ Map Room contains a wealth of geographic information on the spatial distribution and topology of US patented inventions. 

Way Better Patents creates highly focused, science and technology specific maps of domain specific pools of talent, where emerging science is taking place. The maps provide talent scouts and site location professionals with actionable information on pockets of innovation to find talent, select locations for new outposts, or to mash up with economic and demographic data to spot new innovative clusters or find independent inventors and start-ups patenting inventions as the foundation of new innovative business ventures.

Each week Way Better Patents publishes US and State heat maps and collaboration maps including:
  1. Weekly Inventor and Assignee Heat Maps
  2. Yearly Inventor and Assignee Maps
  3. Weekly Inventor and Assignee Collaboration Maps
Business may be global, but innovation is local. See where invention is happening.

When you get there, make sure to scroll down to see the State weekly and year to date maps.

Here is this week's inventor map from Virginia:

Here is where the titleholders/assignees from Virginia are this week:

The Collaboration Maps are really interesting.  There are two for each state, one that shows inventors and one that shows assignees.  It helps you understand "cross-border" innovation, who is working with who and where.  The US map highlights the State and then shows the density of inventors or assignees working with their colleagues in that state.  

Here is a this week's Collaboration Map for California inventors and where their out of state collaborators are:

How The Maps Are Organized
There is a map for each state. To support integration of a wide range of economic and business data, we arrange our geographic data using the geographic groups defined by the US Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation. 

Use the maps to understand where inventors and IP focused firms are creating new inventions. Explore where the inventors are, where the companies are that are getting patents, and what these local luminaries are working on.  Go to About the Map Room to learn more about the maps and how they are created.
The Map Room is a down to earth view of innovation.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Flow of Invention

To grow the local innovation economy, it helps to understand the flow of innovation -- where are the inventors, who are they working with locally and around the country, what does the regional economy look like and what are these people inventing.  Who are the science, technology, and engineering local luminaries?  Where are the outposts of new and emerging technology?

Visualizations make it easier to see what's happening especially in the text and tabular intense world of all things patent.  

The Way Better Patents Map Room is our down to earth look at invention. The Map Room is part of Way Better Patent's weekly Coming Soon Digests. The maps there show inventorship and patent ownership nationally and within each US State. Each week these maps show what is happening this week and so far this year, cumulative, year-to-date, patterns. 

We just added a series of Sankey diagrams to give you  a new way of seeing US inventorship patterns. This link takes you to our latest article on how the new charts are constructed and how to use them. Take a tour by clicking on the links below.

Use the Sankey Diagrams in addition to the Coming Soon Digests, the Map Room and Scientific Presence Profiles

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


In honor of the late, great Marvin Gaye and his families successful case against those who would abscond with his copyrighted intellectual property, we bring you this iconic mid-afternoon groove.

At the moment Robin Thicke and Pharrell have got to give it up to the tune of $7M+.

Enjoy the groove.

Scientific Presence - The Resources for Innovation

Scientific Presence Profiles

Scientific presence is the holistic view of the science and technology infrastructure that drives invention, patents, innovation, emerging new markets, new businesses and economic growth.

Each Scientific Presence Profile assembles a comprehensive set of inventive, demographic, economic, and business intelligence data about activity in a State. Easy navigation and ranking information enables side-by-side comparison of profiles. The easy to use charts, tables, and score cards present a picture of inventive and innovative trends, where R&D funding is coming from and what it is being spent on and which higher education institutions and research labs are benefitting from the funding. Demographic information helps identify talent pools and the depth of scientific, technical and engineering in the community.

A Deep Dive Into the Data

Way Better Patents continuously monitors the best research and important data sources on the innovation economy. Way Better Patents scientific presence information lets us present a picture of emerging inventive and innovative trends, new and emerging markets and the nature of R&D efforts. We take a deep dive to find the best data to deliver subscribers one comprehensive source of scientific presence information so they have deeper insight into the indicia of future economic and market growth in today's innovation economy.

Check out the Scientific Presence Profiles for each state by starting here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Out of Africa

I spent some time recently at a Collaborate event for inventors, makers, and investors. It featured many fascinating speakers from across the spectrum of innovative talent. 

Among the speakers was Josh Mandell from the Commerce Dept. who was evangelizing on how start-ups need to think globally from their beginnings, when they are nascent inventors figuring out where they want to go. 

A woman stood up to raise some points on going global. She wanted to talk about diversity among innovators. 

After a morning of diversity discussions focused on making women feel more welcome in tech land by calling in them first in meetings. (Really!)  I was preparing to pack up and leave when this woman raised a fascinating point. How about geographic diversity in immigration programs focused on bringing engineers and scientists to the US. She asked why there wasn't more diversity in the Visas so more talented people from Africa could come to the US. 

This was the best diversity question asked all day. We need more innovators and inventors out of Africa. 

Why Bother? Well, Because We Have To

USPTO is in the process of giving its website a facelift.  Modern fonts, the bootstrap framework, and lots of code in github.  We commend the new look.  The upgrade has not been without its own twists and turns.  We found tons of "differences" on the filed dates on the assignee pages vs. the full text database including dates like Jan 1, 0001 and our favorite patent number 12345678.

(It's usually a good idea to have data traps to catch bad data and to remove the test data before going live but we've had our own forgetting to remove the test deck fro the system when going live transgressions so we get it.)

There has also been more explaining of the goings-on in the patentsphere, giving the public some context about what it is that they are looking at.  Providing the public with more information on what the patent data means

One of the more interesting ones had to do with data on the assignee pages.  Our correspondent from Nebraska brought it to our attention being obsessed with all matters pertaining to who owns what.

"When relevant information is given to the USPTO to be recorded in the USPTO’s assignment database, the USPTO simply puts the information on the public record and does not verify the validity of the information. Recordation is a ministerial function--the USPTO neither makes a determination of the legality of the transaction nor the right of the submitting party to take the action."

You can see it for yourself here.  Right at the start screen of assignment search.

There are so many head exploding things going on here that it's hard to figure out where to start.

caveat emptor

USPTO is basically telling you the assignment data questionable and only as reliable as the reputation of the company providing it.  If you think Apple and IBM are reliable you might be happy with thinking their data is ok.  If you don't know who See Shell LLC is you might be suspicious.  

USPTO charges people fees and just put the information in their database and you people are on your own.  Which is worse - that USPTO can't rely on the information provided it by patent owners or that the impossible task of trying to figure out who owns what patent without spending a lot of time and money continues because the data from USPTO is "simply put on the public record and not verified."  

Then there is the odd phrase, "Recordation is a ministerial function..."  Or as our disgruntled Nebraska correspondent, data scientist and public records expert from Nebraska put it, 

"Can you imagine seeing a similar statement on the door of your local County clerk's office? The rotting respect for public records and government custodial integrity erodes..."
Get the pitchforks out.

this is a stick-up

USPTO is in the middle of the Attributable Ownership battle of the new century.  You can read all the gory details here.

The White House and just about anyone who believes that the exclusive right conveyed by a patent is based on disclosure of the invention including who owns it got tired of not being able to figure out who owned what patent.  A chorus of voices from the real world -- retailers, hoteliers, people who run businesses small and large, who got hit up by the patent monetization entities in extortion racket -- also have had it with how impossible it is to find out who is behind See Shell, LLC or other exotically named firms claiming infringement of their patents and demanding money, are also demanding better, easy to access, information.  So an executive order was drafted and signed that basically says you have to provide accurate and comprehensive information on the ownership and the real party in interest for a valid patent. Real party in interest basically says tell us EVERYBODY who stands to benefit from See Shell, LLC's ownership of the patent. 

USPTO's rule making requires that owners report ownership information every now and then --  when you get your patent, when you pay your maintenance fees or if something "material" in the ownership of the owner happens.  The Innovation Act making its way around the Capitol is much more stringent looking for updates within 90 days of something happening.

why bother?

Which brings us to the big question here, why bother?  Well, because they have to.  USPTO records and publishes what it gets because there is no meaningful or realistic way for them to put the hammer down and tell people to send in correct information with your fees or we'll invalidate your patent.  It's like all the other bad data they get from applicants.  

Patents are assets like deeds to your house or the title on your car, or those stock certificates stored somewhere.  It's time that patents are given the same level of scrutiny and respect as other types of property so that you don't have to wonder if the disclaimer on the new upgraded USPTO assignee page wouldn't make the fine people at the County Clerk's Office cringe.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Buying a Molecule, Mining for Nanoparticles

Yesterday's  AbbVie announced that it was purchasing Silicon Valley based Pharmacyclics for a vertigo inducing price of $21B.  There was lots of speculation that that AbbVie is was filling its product pipeline was its patent for the anti-inflammatory drug Humara is losing its patent protection next year.  

The abstract is that AbbVie gets Imbruvica, one of the world's best selling cancer drug.  The best quote in the coverage explaining what Pharmacyclics was and why it was worth $21B was this one,

"It bought the molecule that became Imbruvica during a fire sale by gene-sequencing company Celera Genomics in 2006."

Buying a molecule.  A patented molecule.

Along the line of really tiny stuff you need a really powerful microscope or a really vivid imagination to see, this week a new patent in the nanomedicine space was awarded to the Colorado School of Mines.  Yes, that is correct, the Colorado School of Mines. US Patent  8,968,705 was granted on Tuesday.

Gold Nano Particle

Gold nanoparticles (GNP) are really good contrast agents for CT and MRI diagnostic imaging improve contrast.    GNPs could be useful in the field of molecular imaging to give in vivo information on the metabolic activity of cancer and the expression of molecular markers, or in normal speak, these little particles can find their way to cancerous tumors so the clinicians on the outside can figure out that's going on in there.  GNPs may also be great for drug delivery and treatment at the molecular level.

There are lot of other interesting things going on in Colorado this week.  Explore the Coming Soon Digest for Colorado or if you would like to tour around the US, click here and pick a state.