Friday, December 17, 2010

Frosty the Article Holding Figurine


Holiday Greetings from Frosty the Article Holding Figurine.

We claim a method of communicating holiday greetings comprising a representational snowman like figure offered in combination with a social expression communication associated with an occasion, holiday, or event; delivered via a communication network wherein the communication network comprises a computer connected to a telecommunications device that facilitates exchange of greetings via the Internet through posts on a weblog, a weblog being a web-based journal that contains periodic posts usually in reverse chronological order.

Frosty the Article Holding Figurine with his preferred embodiment article, the jacket, casually thrown over his shoulder and the inscrutable yet determined look on the upper orbital section of the facial structure is no ordinary a snowman shaped object, he is a figurine of action. He strikes a dashing pose with his top hat-like structure affixed to the upper portion of the preferred embodiment snowman-like shape. The representational human visage let's us know this article holding figurine is no victim of the politically correct as represented by the corn-cob pipe like smoking apparatus clinched in dual elliptical indents designed to represent a notional mouth. In the preferred embodiment he is on the way to a festive holiday gathering to join his other patented figurine, ornamental, and decorative cohorts including the snowman shaped Christmas tree, in celebration of the holiday season.



In the preferred embodiment, all of us at Coronado Group wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a bright and shiny holiday season.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dick Tracy, It's Time to Upgrade Your Watch


Freedom to Operate is never easy especially when the first thing you have to do is figure out how what you've invented fits in with everything that everyone else has invented and patented. Imagine if what you've invented is an upgrade to the iconic Dick Tracy watch.

Yesterday I read Nick Bilton's New York Times Bits blog post "An iPod Watch Project Explodes Online." Minimal, an industrial design firm based in Chicago, has a plan to incorporate the new iPod Nano into an elegantly designed watch housing. (There are many beautiful items that they designed on Minimal's website.) The project was supported by users at Kickstarter.com who donated $25 to the project in exchange they will receive the watch kit when it becomes available. They raised over $500,000. I wondered how the Freedom to Operate investigation is going.

We went down this path a while ago on the wristwatch front. The Dick Tracy watch investigation yielded a fine collection of wrist instruments with radios and clocks and video, oh my. Minimal's kit takes an existing product and enhances it with a new housing. Then presto, a new addition to the wrist instrument category.

In the comments Mr. Bilton's readers added a fine collection of new product features - leather and fabric bands, phone features, Bluetooth headphones - one doesn't want the iconic white ear buds connect by its white wire to your wrist - unless of course, there is a very long cord. One commenter added a list of questions - how long will the battery last? Will it have an alarm? (Think early Casio and the Timex Beep watch.) Others wanted phone features. Then there was the usability comments citing its value as a device for kids so they won't lose it and for runners.

So what exactly are the boundaries of this invention? Is this another case of convergence - a watch band and housing meet the iPod? Is this a new housing? Is it a new iPod accessory? How will LG with it's recently FCC approved and 2009 Consumer Electronics Show attention getting LG GD910 wrist instrument gizmo feel about this new entry into the market? And what about Steve Jobs?

Freedom to operate aside, I want one.











Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Electric Mirror's New Patent for the Tech Savvy Traveler



There is just something about beautiful architecture and well thought out hotel design that adds to the travel experience. A hotel that is well done and has lots of pleasing surprises is just delightful. The dazzling lobbies, the beautiful attention to detail - from the door handles to the broadloom in the hallways to the way the light flows through the windows and then of course there's the technology. It's more than just having a nice parking space for your IPod or having easy to access WiFi, it's all the other cool stuff like the buttons in your room to let the housekeeping people you'd like to have your room made up without screaming to the hallway passers by, "HEY THIS ROOM IS EMPTY, COME STEAL MY STUFF." But the coolest new hotel toy is the in-mirror TV. You can watch the stock ticker rolling across the screen while blow drying or keep abreast of your favorite sporting event while showering or brushing your teeth. These new in-mirror TV's are the latest and coolest hospitality industry addition for "Tech Savvy Guests".

So when I received a recent email from Aaron Mischel of Electric Mirror in Everett, Washington that featured their Top Story "Electric Mirror Receives Key Patent for Lighted Mirror TVs", I was intrigued. It is the first time I have received marketing emails for a product that not only incorporated information about their products and their customers - the email featured lots of interesting links to their projects and their clients - it incorporated the announcement of the award of their patent complete with links to the patent, and an image of the first page and some of the drawings from the patent itself. Patent 7,805,260 was granted September 28th, 2010.



Claim 1 reads:

1. A mirror assembly mountable to a wall, the mirror assembly comprising: (a) a mirror platform having a front surface and a rear surface; (b) a chassis mountable to the mirror platform; (c) at least one electrical component disposed between the mirror platform and the chassis; (d) an electrical passageway formed within the chassis for allowing the electrical component to be placed into communication with a power source located remotely from the mirror assembly; and (e) a recess formed within the chassis for housing a connection between the power source and the electrical component such that the chassis can be mounted substantially flush against the wall when the electrical component is electrically connected to the power source.

This is a pretty tight claim.

Here is an elegantly designed product complete with the patent to protect it from an American company complete with a waterproof remote control and mirror defoggers. What more could a traveler ask for?



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Six Degrees of Software & Software Patents


The Six Degrees of Software is the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon for nerds. It works like this - pick something that you do and see how far you can go before you run into something that uses software. The answer is, NOT FAR. And software is getting closer all the time.

Consider the toaster...heating element with a timer. Pretty simple. What about a heating element with a timer and an LED display connected to the wall outlet connected to the digital electric meter connected to your house connected to the grid which is connected to the electric company....

Consider the car wash...

The barber seems to be low tech until you make your appointment on line.

So, software patents are always an interesting and often heated topic of conversation. Pick your topic and then consider who owns the patents:

  • Convergence of the open source software world and patents
  • What's controlling your surgery - the surgeorn or the Da Vinci Robot or the software?
  • Business Methods patents - software as the brick and mortar of the new millenium or Still Life with Flow Chart?
  • How will anyone ever figure out what the essential patents are so the Smart Grid can be built?
  • Who owns the patents for electronic health records?
If you want to have some fun, Google (now a verb) Microsoft Burning the Ships. Burning the Ships is the story of Microsoft's efforts to play nice where its patents and the open source world collide. It's interesting that the patent attorney blogs find it a compelling tome while the software guys are incredulous about the new and friendly Microsoft.

In our quest to advance the discourse on software patents, business methods (software patents by another name), and open source we call your attention to an interesting blog written by Florian Mueller that focuses on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and patents. Mr. Mueller's blog is not for the faint of heart - it's packed with information but if you want some interesting insight into the complexity of the issues. Check it out and then go back and consider the six degrees of software in your professional and personal life.



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Business Methods Updates


Our Business Methods colleagues are at it again. They are providing insight into the recent changes to the e-shopping business methods patent class schedules published by USPTO. Mike Bowman is walking through the changes to help us all understand how things are evolving.

I'll be adding their posts here soon but in the meantime you can check them out at Business Methods Modus Operandi, our blog focused exclusively on business methods patents.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Business Methods Patent Stats Fall 2010


Business Methods Patents represent the new frontier in intellectual property. These are the digital inventions of the new millennium. Business Methods remain a nascent part of the US and international patent universe that continue to grow in number and importance. Our Business Methods analysts took a look at the status quo in Class 705 to provide insight on this important domain.

As of September 28, 2010, USPTO had issued 51,558 patents that are classified as business methods. The table below provides the breakdown of where these patents are classified.


Area

Count

Planning and Innovation

4,412

Marketing, Selling, Evangelizing

9,198

Exchanging Money for Stuff

19,315

Watching the Store

8,650

The Protection Racket

9,871

None of the Above

112

Total

51,558


Here's a quick look at how we define the major areas where USPTO groups business methods patents. For more detailed insight see our earlier Business Methods Monday posts.

The Patent Office defines Business Methods Patents as those patents classified under Class 705 - Data Processing: Financial, Business Practice, Management or Cost/Price Determination. The high level definition put forward by USPTO is:

Machines and methods for performing data processing or calculation operations in the:

  • Practice, administration or management of an enterprise, or
  • Processing of financial data, or
  • Determination of the charge for goods and services.

PTO defines four classes as business methods patents but includes a fifth in class 705 which has do with business cryptography and digital security. We use our own group titles to describe what is going on in the Business Methods Arena. They conform to the USPTO groupings but are a little easier to understand.

Planning and Innovation - Determining who your customers are and the products and services they want or need. USPTO describes this as Operations Research and Market Analysis.

Marketing, Selling, Evangelizing -- These patents are about informing customers that you exist, showing them your products and services and encouraging and providing incentives for them to make purchases. This covers advertisement management catalog systems, incentive programs and redemption of coupons.

Exchanging Money for Stuff -- This group of business methods patents covers all aspects of exchanging money and credit before, during, and after a business transaction. This includes what you would expect - credit and loan processing, point of sale systems, billing, funds transfer, banking, clearing houses, tax processing and investment planning. (Investment planning seems a little out of place.)

Minding the Store - Here you'll find the patents that deal with tracking resources, money and products. USPTO places patents having to do with human resource management, scheduling, accounting, and inventory monitoring in this group.

A Protection Racket -- The fifth and final group has to do with encryption and digital security. USPTO groups business cryptography here. When USPTO presents does their business methods presentations this group is not called out specifically as business methods patents but since it resides in Class 705 you need to view it as part of the business methods picture.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Business Methods Monday - USPTO Update


News from last week's USPTO's Business Methods Partnership Meeting:

Only the patents classified in Class 705 are considered business methods patents.

The allowance rate for applications classified in Class 705 is 23% or put another way 77% are rejected or abandoned.

80% of the patents in this class are tied to a computer.

Pendency to First Office Action is 31.7 months - over 2.5 years.

Pendency to Issue/Abandonment is 46.7 months - almost 4 years.

Through July 2010 there are 312 Examiners focused on business methods patents. Through July 2,100 patents have been granted.

In 2009 there were 1,725 patents granted with an Examiner Corps of 328 examiners.

(Patents up...Examiners down...)

They expect the pace for business methods patent filings to increase both as a result of the resolution of the Bilski case by the Supreme Court and an improving economy.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Patent Argot


If the inventory of ready-made words in our language determines which concepts you are able to understand, how would you ever learn anything new? -- Guy Deutscher, Honorary Research Fellow, School of Languages, Linguistics, and Cultures at the University of Manchester.

This quote in a recent New York Times Magazine distills both the challenge and the triumph of a patent. The ability, in a single sentence, to stake a claim to an invention and define the boundaries of what is yours. Then to use that single sentence as the framework to describe how to make or use it your invention. A single sentence to describe something novel. The choice of words, their structure, and the links to the instructions in your specification will all determine if you have an invention that will generate revenue or an invention that will have a nice certificate that you can hang in your office. This unique language and vocabulary and the structure and flow of innovations, inventions and patents is the Patent Argot - the special and secret language of patents and inventions.

For many, the Patent Argot vocabulary of patents is an impenetrable wall between business owners and entrepreneurs and understanding which patents are relevant to your business and which are not. It is the Patent Argot is what keeps you from finding things. It is part of why you are never sure if your freedom to operate report has really covered all the subject matter. It's what drives that strange feeling you get when you've read a patent and you say to yourself, I read English and I have no idea what this thing says.

An argot is, "a specialized idiomatic vocabulary that is peculiar to a particular class of people (the Intellectual Property and Patent Cognoscenti.) One dictionary defines it as a special language, especially that of an underworld group, devised for private communication and identification; a language with its own style, grammar, and vocabulary. While the underworld group aspect of the definition might resonate with anyone who's ever received a Cease and Desist letter, Patent Argot is a salient feature of almost any patent you read (or write.)

Inventions have always created new vocabulary. The Patent Office allows inventors to be their on lexicographer - to create their own dictionary of specific terms that can be used to describe their inventions as long as the definitions of these words are "accurate, complete, unambiguous, and concise" - a tall order.

Creating new words to describe inventions has been around for as long as man has been inventing things. In the 1500s, Leonardo Da Vinci created his own inventive argot. His first flying machine was defined as the "ornithopter" - ornithos for bird and pteron for wing. (The Notebooks of Da Vinci may provide insightful prior art.) In 1863 Ponton D'Amecourt invented the term helicopter to define his flying machine - "helico" spiral - "pter" for wings. The contemporary spin is the VTOL - the Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicle.

Another important feature of the Patent Argot is the desire to craft language that is as broad as possible so that your patent can reach into the future to cover things not yet invented. Fuzzy boundaries on an invention that can be defined in context help a patent be more flexible. It is a language that uses today's vocabulary in the broadest possible way to compensate for a future we cannot foresee at the moment a claim is crafted.

It is why we have Portable Law Enforcement Data Processing Devices (handheld parking ticket issuing devices) or make purchases on Amazon.com or the iTunes Store using a single action ordering system. It's also why you need to look for new ways to search so you can bypass the Patent Argot and use a framework that understands that nutriceuticals are dietary or nutritional supplements or that a toaster is also a heating element with a timer without you having to tell it so. (Shameless plug for Coronado IP.)

In the Patent Argot posts we'll explore the impact of the secret language of patents and how understanding it will help you understand the secret world of patents and of course, help you Search The Way You Think.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

The South Carolina Gamecocks are 3-0. A very nice start. Drew Brees and the Saints won their opener but it was filled with tense moments. The Redskins beat the Cowboys, just barely, and Rex Ryan’s mother is upset with him because of his colorful choice of language. And, fantasy football season is in full swing.

Fantasy Football is basically a Computerized Statistical Football Game – A method and apparatus for playing football on a computer system based upon actual football performances by a database of football players. The computer football game is played by a league of individuals, each of whom can individually, or in groups, own a franchise. Franchises select their players in an initial draft. The starting players are then selected by individual franchise owners. Wins and losses for the computer football games occur by calculating a total of each individual player’s points who make up the team. The calculation of points is done automatically either manually or using actual weekly performance by individual NFL players as the basis for determining points.

So reads the abstract of US Patent 4,918,603 filed in August 1, 1988 and granted April 17, 1990. A pretty quick turnaround by the Patent Office.

This patent is cited as being the seminal work in patenting of fantasy sports inventions. The patent is classified as an amusement device – a simulated athletic event including a simulated projectile (I’m guessing that would be the football) that includes a means for processing electronic data. Is this a game or is it a business method? Is it a game that is a business method?

One of the inventors, Patrick Hughes, who had been playing fantasy football with his friends, patented his version of the game, secured a license with the NFL Players Association and NFL properties and proceeded to find a corporate sponsor, Miller Brewing Company. With Miller’s backing the game was soon being played in 6,300 sports bars around the country.

The inventors went on to extend their fantasy sports empire to basketball where they received an endorsement from Cal Ripkin, Jr. and basketball where Grant Hill became part of their celebrity deal. Fox Sports even had a version branded as Terry Bradshaw Fantasy Football.

The ‘603 patent has three claims – one independent and two dependent. Here are all three claims:

What is claimed is:

1. A computer for playing football based upon actual football games, comprising:

means for setting up individual football franchises;

means for drafting actual football players into said franchises;

means for selecting starting player rosters from said actual football players;

means for trading said actual football players;

means for scoring performances of said actual football players based upon actual game scores such that franchises automatically calculate a composite win or loss score from a total of said individual actual football players' scores;

said players' scores are for quarterbacks, running backs and pass receivers in a first group and kickers in a second group; and

wherein said players in said first and second groups receive bonus points.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said bonus points for said first and seconds groups are based upon complex or difficult plays.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said complex and difficult plays include extra points for a quarterback who receives or runs for said touchdown, extra points for said running back for throwing or receiving a touchdown pass, and extra points for said pass receive for passing the ball or running for a touchdown.

Here are some links to some of the inventor’s other sports fantasy patents.

7614944 – Systems and methods for providing multi-level fantasy sports contests…

7,001,279 - Systems and methods for providing multiple user support for shared user equipment in a fantasy sports contest application.

7,548,242 - Systems and methods for integrating graphic animation technologies in fantasy sports contest applications.


Old School Vs. CoronadoIP Search Lesson Plan

Old School Search Lesson Plan


How to effectively create a list of keywords for search engine research.


Duration: One hour to one hour and a half.


Could take significantly longer for complex, new, scientific or technical topics.


1. Develop synonyms for researching different topics.


2. Use a Thesaurus to identify synonyms as a strategy for generating keywords.

Learn how hypernyms and hyponyms can assist in broadening or narrowing a research focus.


(For the non-linguists among us hyponym is a term that denotes a subcategory of a more general class: “Chair” and “table” are hyponyms of “furniture." "Musical instrument" is a hypernym of "guitar" because musical instruments include guitars.)


3. Critically analyze search engine inquiries using a variety of keyword combinations. Develop search word matrix.


Explain that selecting the right keywords is a mandatory task before you start searching as part of an old school search strategy. Stress the need to use a Thesaurus, and to consider synonyms of search words if your searching has not yet led to useful research results. Stress the need to be patient in your quest for information.



CoronadoIP Search Engine Lesson Plan


Five minutes


Working by yourself practice you wrist motions using your mouse to make sure you are feeling flexible and ready to copy and paste.


Forget about all this synonym, hyponym, hypernym stuff. No need to deal with any of this since CoronadoIP already understands all the words and the concepts they represent.


Use reports of new scientific findings to execute searches.


Exercise: Go to the current issue of Nature Magazine. Copy the abstract from the article Direct visualization of secondary structures of F-actin by electron cryomicroscopy into the concept search box using your limbered up wrist.


Enter search.


Get back a list of all of the patents that are closest to the abstract. Start exploring if this is really a novel idea and how this might impact your research and grants.


Done.


Search the Way You Think.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Comment Has More Than 1000 Characters


After posting the Calling Edward Tufte post I decided I should post comments directly on Director Kappos' public blog. So, I toned down my somewhat flip commentary here into a more respectful post and posted it in the comment section. Average word size in the English Language is 5 characters. Number of words in Director Kappos' Data Visualization Center and The Patents Dashboard post - approximately 1040. If you post comments larger than 1000 characters your feedback is marked as spam. I should have just posted a link back to Search The Way You Think.

So much for "We look forward to your feedback".

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Calling Edward Tufte


Calling Edward Tufte, when you get done fixing Recovery.Gov can you stop by at the Patent Office to fix their new Data Visualization Center and the Patents Dashboard? They really need an information visualization makeover if anyone is going to learn anything useful from this data.

Yesterday the Patent and Trademark Office released its new Data Visualization Center Patents Dashboard. (Here's the link in case USPTO website isn't being friendly to links. http://www.uspto.gov/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml.) The Commissioner's blog, Director's Forum: David Kappos' Public Blog, says, "This tool will give the public access to traditional measures of pendency as well as several new pendency tracking measures. We are also providing other important data covering USPTO patent operations in a convenient dashboard format." (Emphasis added...)

The most important message in the Director's post is that "...the patent backlog is stalling the delivery of innovative goods and services to the market while hindering economic growth and job creation....the current backlog of more than 700,000 applications may cost the US economy billions of dollars due to what is called "foregone innovation" -- commercial opportunities that fail to get off the ground because of long delays in necessary patent protection." In short, people simply give up and move on because they don't have the time or energy to wait around for USPTO to look at their applications. Things don't get built, companies don't get started, people don't get hired.

Ok, so what does this new Patents Dashboard do to assist the public at large and the IP community in particular in understanding what's going on at USPTO? Not much.

USPTO's new Patents Dashboard obfuscates, renders obscure, unclear or unintelligible, the urgent and critical patent pendency issues this data reveals. This unsophisticated and almost content free presentation of data does a disservice to the Examiner Corps and the inventors and tax payers who pay for all this and rely upon USPTO's decisions. The cartoon-like speedometers don't convey to the viewer either the complexity of issues that drive pendency or the economic urgency of solving the pendency problems. Little morsels of data are buried among animated speedometers objects complete with moving dials in an array of colors that have no meaning other than to offset the black background of the screen. So much screen real estate, so little data. Or as our Marine pals would say, very bad signal to noise ratios. So much for transparency.

The dial above shows that Traditional Total Pendency in months is 35.4 months. That's almost 3 years. This is an average. There are plenty of Art Units where the pendency is considerably longer. The speedometer is significantly larger than the data it presents. The data being conveyed is smaller than the dial's black background. But what's the context? What does this mean? When you scroll down to the text that accompanies the colorful dial what you learn is that pendency is actually going up for the last five months. Clearly the dial is moving in the wrong direction but who can tell by looking at it. This is alarming.

The choice of green to show the pendency information conveys the "all systems go - we're at the green light" message. The color selection has absolutely no meaning. What is the reason that the Fiscal Year Production speedometer is purple or that the Backlog is in Orange? Anyone who is serious about building a dashboard knows that color is an important visual cue to let users know what's going on. What's going on here is the use of color to distract from the data.
There is no way to look at the dial and understand how this measures up against previous performance or the goals USPTO has set as part of its strategic plan. The accompanying text for the Traditional Total Pendency speedometer says, "Our goal is to reduce Traditional Total Pendency to an average of 20 months by 2015." Where are these metrics incorporated into the presentation? What about some kind of visual indication of where the pendency is going relative to this goal? How about one of those Tufte sparklines that shows the history over a longer timeline to give the reader some indication of how USPTO is going to cut 15.4 months off the current pendency in just over 4 years? Here's a Back to the Future Question: When was the last time USPTO had a 20 month pendency anyway?

Then there is the whole issue of whether the visual representation matches the data. Here is a metaphor where improvements mean that the speedometer is going to look like its going slower while the bar charts that accompany them are going to show values declining. This is intuitively and cognitively hard to process. How does this give the viewer any sense of when things are improving? A very odd approach at information transfer.

And then there's the Patent Examiner dial. All in white except for the graphics that are all in black. Are these guys unworthy of a color or is the goal to present the grime statistics in black and white?

Here's what's troubling about this dial and the write up that accompanies it - there is absolutely no linkage between pendency and the number of patent examiners. Isn't the number of patent examiners a major issue for USPTO? USPTO recently issued a call to industry to have retired Examiners return and for skilled patent professionals to consider a career as an examiner. How does this link with the data they are presenting here? Doesn't this chart indicate that Examiners are bailing? How does this number match up against attrition? If every month USPTO adds 50 examiners but 75 leave, things are not good. The number of Examiners by itself doesn't indicate what's going on. How hard would it have been to have an indicator for the target number of examiners and measure the current count against the target. Let the user know what this number means vs. the goal.

Doesn't it make sense to show the number of examiners relative to the Technology Centers where the backlog is? How deep is the backlog relative to the workload of the examiners who are expert in the subject matter of the patent application? How does this shortage of Examiners reflect the availability of similar talent in the US? Are we running out of skilled chemical engineers or are the chemical engineers choosing to work somewhere else? Is the pendency tied to the Examiners who are available to examine the patents or is it tied to the complexity of the patent applications being submitted? How about the average number of claims by Art Unit? What about the average number of patent and non-patent prior art references? We know that Life Sciences patents are longer and have more unique words and concepts that the "average" patent (whatever that is these days.) We know that fear of being charged with inequitable conduct is causing some applicants to throw in the every conceivable reference. How does this behavior impact pendency? But can you learn anything about what's going on here from this "Dashboard"?

As they used to say in the old Wendy's commercials, "Where's the Beef"?

Aside from the typos in the content, the downloads that don't work, the ridiculous gauge metaphor, all of which is covered under the "this is a beta release" disclaimer, how much did this thing cost to build? Is this yet another part of the squandered IT budget? Did someone go out and buy a widget tool to put this thing together? How long has this been in the works? Who is supporting it - USPTO personnel or one of their contractors that just got slammed by OMB IT Dashboard? PTO might take a few lessons on effective use of dials on a dashboard by having a look at the OMB IT Dashboard.

Edward Tufte is teaching his one day Presenting Data and Information course in Arlington at the end of the month. USPTO's money would be well spent sending a few of their data visualization people to the course and then build something that conveys information rather than cartoon dials.

Perhaps Dr. Tufte can swing by and provide some guidance after the course is over.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Business Methods Monday Jargon Alert - "Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information"



"Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information"

Patent Application 2006/0288266, "Asynchronous distribution of stage-based information in printed format" was filed on November 30, 2005. Its companion, Patent Application 2007/0005384, "Method of Managing Circulation of Items in Printed Format", was filed on November 21, 2005. A third patent application 2006/0284962, Inventory management or distribution of items in printed format is part of the same group. They all evolved from the same provisional patent application 60/691,071 filed June 16, 2005.

Consider a publisher who has a series of magazines, books, other hard copy information. Synchronous publication means all of the subscribers get the exact same magazine with the exact same content at the same time. Everyone gets the same issue of Sports Illustrated on the same day with the same content. The inventors refer to this as perfect synchronicity in the companion patent application, Method for Managing Circulation of Items in Printed Format. (Were the inventors Police fans?) Rather than having the magazines distributed according to the predetermined perfectly synchronous method of traditional publications, the inventors claim a method of asynchronous distribution of stage based information.

Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for distributing information, the method comprising:

defining a plurality of sequential stages of a process, each stage being independent of a particular point in a continuum of time, the stages being related to one another in a sequence of time;

preparing to print a plurality of editions for a publication in physical print media form, each edition including information content customized for a range of stages, each range including multiple ones of the plurality of sequential stages, each edition being distinct relative to the others of the plurality of editions;

printing multiple copies of each edition;

receiving, from each of a plurality of individuals, respective personal information relating to each individual, the personal information including information for determining which of the plurality of sequential stages applies to the individual relative to a date;
for a particular date, identifying a corresponding stage of the plurality of sequential stages that applies to at least one of the plurality of individuals; and

sending to the at least one of the plurality of individuals at least a respective one of the plurality of editions, said respective one of the plurality of editions including information content customized for a respective range of stages, the respective range of stages including the respective corresponding stage identified as applying to the respective individual for the particular date.
Here is where a little context adds to the clarity of the invention. The Assignee is BabyCenter, LLC. With BabyCenter in mind, asynchronous distribution of stage based information starts to make sense.

Having a baby involves a series of sequential stages.

Having a baby is independent of a particular point in time, instead each woman is somewhere in her own particular stage of the baby making process which is occurring at a particular time for her.

Sending out a baby publications works best when you can send a woman material that customized to her particular stage in the baby making process.

This means that the publisher will have a plurality of publications appropriate for each stage of the process. This is known as having many versions of a publication appropriate to a particular state in a process to the non-patent geeks among us.

The publisher will use personal information about the individual to determine which publication to distribute and when to do it. The publication date and the particular issue being distributed is asychronous.

Rather than sending everyone the August 1 edition of Baby Making Gazette at the same time each of the subscribers will get their own customized copy of Baby Making Gazette based on where they are in the process. (Stage based information.)

Very clever. But is it novel enough to be patentable?






Sunday, June 13, 2010

Science of Life - Ayurveda


We recently released our Life Sciences index which holds all of the concepts and ideas contained in over 800,000 US patents in the life sciences domain. While our index covers concepts beginning in the 70s right into the current century, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a life sciences repository that covers discovers in life sciences over thousands of years -- the Science of Life - the Indian art and science of Ayurveda. Ayuh and Veda which literally mean Science of Life.

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)'s Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy, part of the Indian Government, is compiling a massive database of of traditional medicines and ancient remedies that it wants to protect from being patented in other countries. The goal is to protect the collective traditional knowledge of India by making it available to patent examiners around the world in a way that is accessible and usable.

The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) contains information on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Yoga. It contains over 1200 formulations including 500 representative Ayurveda formulations, 500 Unani formulations and 200 Siddha formulations all linked to the International Patent Classification system (IPC). It includes easy to understand information how the compounds are formulated, what the treatment is useful for and the dosage information. It also contains a list of prior art documents ad the dates of publication.

Information in the TKDL has been successfully used as prior art to force the withdrawal of patent applications using traditional formulations. The formulations sections contain the Title of the Traditional Knowledge Resource and "Knowledge Since" information which has entries with listings citing 1000 years. Now that's some prior art.

For those of you who are classification junkies the TKDL has identified approximately 200 subgroups on medicinal plants where they recommend the TKDL be linked to to aid patent examiners in looking for prior art that relates to India's traditional knowledge. To see the list click here.

Among their more recent achievements is documenting over 900 yoga poses to block entrepreneurs from getting yoga-related patents. Yoga has been around for over 6,000 years embodying both a physical and spiritual practice. Yoga has grown into a $250 billion industry.

This is not just trendy news from the world of Yoga. Not news from Lululemon, home of yoga inspired clothing for healthy living and whose stock is heading off the charts and not news from the Facebook group called Yoga Pants, with over 78,000 people who clicked like (my guess is mostly guys but I digress...) but the work of scholars, yoga gurus, and experts have been documenting over 900 yoga poses in ancient Sanskrit texts.

This is an awesome resource for researchers. We're going to use some of the text of the formulas in our Life Sciences index and see what comes up. We expect it will be an interesting intersection of digital life sciences and the digital science of life. Stay tuned.










Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Life Science Patents Are Different - The Word Count

In the process of building our Life Sciences Index we learned a few things about why Life Sciences patents are different. They are different because of their content, the science, the inventions. But they are also different because of the way inventors describe their inventions, the complexity of the subject matter, the amount of new vocabulary created by inventors, and the convergence of science in the Life Sciences domain.

Here is a snap shot of some of what we learned:

The average non-life sciences patent contains 250 unique terms. Life science/Biotech patents average over 825 unique words in each patent.


The average non-life sciences patent has 10-20 columns of text. Life Science/Biotech patents have 40-80 columns.



Monday, May 31, 2010

Coronado Group's Life Sciences Index


On May 14th, Coronado Group released its Life Sciences index, a state of the art conceptual and semantic search tool focused exclusively on the inventions and concepts in the life sciences domain. Search the entire patent database in less than a minute. Find the patents that contain concepts, not just words, that are closest to your life sciences question.

The concept space for the index is based on the concepts in over 800,000 patents covering the entire spectrum of life sciences concepts, inventions, technology, and innovation. The index lets you search across the entire full text database of patents issued since 1971 regardless of how the patent and its claims are classified. This provides searchers with deep dive access to life sciences scientific and technical information in all of the granted US patents rather than those searchable using traditional search techniques.

Entering gigabytes of text into the concept search box enabling searchers to use the content of entire patents or groups of patents to find and rank other patents based on how close the information in the search box is to the concepts in the patents in Coronado's index.

Because you can enter words up to 256 characters, researchers can copy and paste genome sequences into the search box to look for the presence of those strings with the text of granted patents.

Medical researchers can address scientific convergence by combining information from different domains to explore the boundaries of scientific confluence. The same techniques deliver search capabilities that address multi-modality clinical investigations and treatment approaches.

Coronado's deep dive search techniques lets searchers explore how techniques drawn from their work and knowledge appear in other domains. This let's you search outside your scientific comfort zone without having to translate complex scientific discoveries or investigative hunches into the keywords, Boolean strings, or the language of other specialties and subspecialties to execute a successful search.

The Life Sciences Index lets you Search the Way You Think. Please let us know if you'd like to take it for a test drive. It is amazing.




Sunday, May 16, 2010

Business Methods Monday - The Patents Behind the News


A recent article in the business journal section of our local newspaper (remember those?) discussed how businesses are using social media to stay in touch with and advertise to their customers. Many businesses are now using outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and various blogging options, in addition to more traditional marketing means such as web pages for the business, banner ads, newspaper ads, fliers, etc.

Like most articles of this kind, information on the patents underlying these innovative practices is lacking. I decided to use Cog IP to do a little investigation of patents in class 705 that might support this interaction between a business and its customers.

I started by using Cog IP to perform a concept search on the entire text of the article. The search returned many business methods patents classified in class 705. I reviewed these patents and selected 16 that represented electronic marketing, covering a range of topics including targeted advertising, wireless advertising, intelligent agents, and shopping assistance using handheld devices. Extracting the abstract, claims, and summary of the invention of each of these and inserting it back into the concept search along with the original article, a new, more highly refined search result set was obtained. Sixty-five (65) patents in the business methods class were obtained.

Let's take a look at a few of these.

Patent 7013290 "Personalized interactive digital catalog profiling" "provides a universal interactive and enhanced digital catalog server system for products, services and information." The system allows users "to anonymously and instantly catalog any item they view in a store or trade show, off a Web site or television program, or from a periodical or brochure . . . meaning they can personally acquire and manage relevant catalog information for later use and sharing." Information can be cataloged using smart phones, portable PCs, personal digital assistants (PDA), Internet-enabled set-top devices (ITV), card readers and scanners, standard landline telephones, portable scanners, and Internet-enabled game consoles. Users access these catalogs through a web-based interface for managing, profiling, sharing with peers, or for use in a web service. The system maintains the anonymity of users.

A business may want to provide expert information on its products or services to customers. Enter patent 6223165 "Method and apparatus to connect consumer to expert." This patent provides "a method of (or apparatus for) facilitating the delivery of advice to consumers using a server unit which can store and display the names and characteristics of experts and then rapidly assist in connecting the expert and consumer for real-time communication. The server can also have the ability to receive keywords from the consumer, match those keywords to one or more experts, and tell the consumer how to contact an expert." The system also provides for identification of compensation rates for each expert (claim 1), the expert's certification (claim 5), and a quality score provided by previous consumers (claim 7). The inventor was also awarded other patents related to this one (6523010, 6549889, 6546372, 6801899).

An early method of providing "Intelligent agents for electronic commerce" was patented in 6119101 which relates to gathering and analyzing market transaction data and using software agents to represent and to assist the activities of consumers and providers within a virtual marketplace. In this invention, "[c]onsumer personal agents conceal the identity of the consumer and are capable of creating decision agents . . . that shop for products and assist consumers in comparing and ranking products. Provider personal agents are capable of creating demand agents . . . that quantify demand and target specific consumers without learning the identity of the consumers. Based on data generated by the activities of the decision agents and on preference data maintained by consumer personal agents, provider personal agents can quantify current, historical, and future demand, simulate demand, and target specific consumers for advertising and other messages. Provider personal agents can cooperate with consumer personal agents to collect data about reasons for sales and lost sales and to offer consideration payments to consumers. Consumer personal agents can automatically reject unsolicited messages that do not satisfy the consumer's preferences."

This exercise points to the ability of latent semantic analysis (the driver of the concept search in Cog IP) to evaluate information and generate related results that can lead the analyst to a deeper understanding of a particular topic, field of research, or intelligence assessment (be it related to health, business, national security, or criminal justice, for example). Using an efficient toolset tailored to the problem at hand greatly reduces the time involved, and significantly increases the likelihood of finding the needle in the proverbial haystack.