News from last week's USPTO's Business Methods Partnership Meeting:
Sunday, September 26, 2010
News from last week's USPTO's Business Methods Partnership Meeting:
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Search the Way You Think.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
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.