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.