Several years ago, MIT Technology Review Magazine published a piece on 5 patents to watch. Amazon sells the piece for a whopping $7.50. They are IBM's distributed computing patent, ProdiGene's method for expressing vaccines in plants, Lucent's in-fiber amplification using Raman scattering, hydrogel-cell tissue engineering, and HP's molecular wire crossbar memory (how'd they patent that?).
I've been messing around with a US patent agent/attorney database. If you were to guess which ten cities in the US had the most patent agents, what would you guess? Click 'continue reading' after you guess...
Surprised? To give you some perspective, Colorado has 487.
ZDNet reported last week on Wi-LAN setting its sights on Cisco. Based in Calgary, Alberta, Wi-LAN owns several patents on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) and is now filing lawsuits against 802.11a and 802.11g chipmakers. The claim is that OFDM forms the basis of these protocols. Here's the quote of the week, from Ken Wetherell, vice president of corporate communications for Wi-LAN:
"Without our OFDM patents, there would be no 802.11a/g. We didn't enforce these patents sooner, because we didn't want to slow down development in the market. But now that the technologies are firmly established, we feel we must protect our intellectual property. (emphasis mine)"Oooo, so generous huh? Philips and Fujitsu are license holders.
There was an interesting press release today on Utah-based David Ludlow, founder of Bullfrog International (Bluffdale, UT). Bullfrog International holds six patents related to "the world's only virtually leak-proof, and upgradeable spa".
Traditional spas are built with hundreds of glue joints, long networks of pipe, and dozens of pipe connections buried in foam insulation, restricting water pressure and flow. Ludlow designed Bullfrog spas to eliminate 90 percent of the pipe and pipe fittings, reducing the number of pipe connections in the plumbing systems. With up to 90 percent of the plumbing and jets in the spa water and zero holes drilled into the spa seatbacks,So how does this thing work?
Bullfrog spas are virtually leak-proof.
The broadband version of their website, Bullfrog Spas, has a cool Flash application that explains how it all works. Click on "Launch SpaDesign". Essentially, the water comes from the edge, squirts into these modular seats, which then spray the water. In this way, the main body is hole-free and leaks are virtually impossible. Very clever.
I upgraded patents | oncloud8. The look and feel is much improved, abstract fetching is at least twice as fast, and I dropped the price for the PDF copy from $0.88 to $0.49. Looking up the abstract is free of course. Woo woo!
There are several fetch box beta features which are undocumented. For instance, instead of entering "US5000000", you can get away with "U.S. patent number 5,000,000". This makes cut and pasting numbers much easier. The key is to make sure that the entry either starts with the country code or just the number (if it is US). So "5,000,000" will give you "US5000000". It can also handle non-newline delimited phrases, e.g., "US 5,000,000, US 5,000,001 and US 5,000,002".
E-Data is suing two major media distributors for "for distributing digital content via the Internet and loading it onto some other material or device for reproduction". Yikes.
The company alleges Getty and Corbis infringed on its patents by electronically transferring stock photos and images to customers at a remote location, where the material was purchased and reproduced. E-Data's patent covers the downloading and recording of data, including photos, text and video, from a computer onto a tangible object--a tape, a CD, even a sheet of paper.You can snag a copy of the infamous patent here.
Actually, it is more like a downdate... now I know why this sounds so familiar. There was a big hubbub in 96-98 which included lawsuits, letters, etc. Read this decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones:
"In an obvious attempt to expand the scope of its patent beyond that which was intended, plaintiff implausibly asserts that its patent covers certain uses of the Internet and World Wide Web, and applies to certain CD-ROM applications," wrote Judge Jones in her decision. "It is abundantly clear to the court, however, that the [patent does] not support plaintiff's broad interpretation."
Patently Obvious reported the new patent filing fees under consideration. The basic filing fee will go up from $770 to $1000 ($300 filing, $500 search, $200 examination). The issue fee well go up from $1330 to $1400. Small entities will have a 50% discount.
Should you ever need to look up patent numbers in batch or download patents (the images that is), use patents | oncloud8. Abstract lookups are completely free, and come with links to espacenet. Copies of stiched patent images (in PDF) are $0.88. Why stiched? Because espacenet (as well as the USPTO) only allow printing/saving one page at a time. Check it out.
This is cool... http://www.walterzorn.com/tooltip/tooltip_e.htm
Most pages I have found on the web talk about accessing an ODBC database via scripting languages, e.g., PHP or ASP. What I really wanted to accomplish was to, as John Lim puts it, providing access to a database as a Web Service. A web host I am using only allows localhost access to MySQL databases. However, I would like to be able to access the data in the database using products such as Microsoft Word to do mail merges, or to use Microsoft Access to do reporting or some limited database administration. What it will probably involve is some sort of data transfer over HTTP and a customized ODBC driver. I originally wanted to just make a dynamic csv using PHP and link to that using Microsoft Word. It gave hints of wanting to work, but just never did. Oh I have to say that a simple solution (though sub-optimal) is to get the client to download results from a query - but then each time they run the mail merge they have to get a fresh copy...
I've been looking for a cleaner way of downloading patent information (besides the USPTO's grotesque oh so 90's interface and the EPO's esp@acenet excessively fancy look. Then I found Open Patent Services. The documentation is stored in the aforementioned link, but the really useful stuff can be found right here. To figure this out, I need to learn SOAP, maybe some XSLT.