Friday, December 7, 2007

One More TT Note

From the article:

"Niro says he and Harris first met at an IP licensing conference in New York in May 2006, when Harris asked Niro to discuss his inventions."

I could not find which conference he was referring to, but he may have been thinking of the IP Licensing Summit he spoke at in August of 2006 (I too presented and remember his talk).

If that conference was their actual meeting place, it is interesting to me personally. It was there that I first met Dr. Pocklington, who would eventually ask me to lead the IP division here at OQO.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Advice and a bounty...

A couple quick links.

There is a bounty on Troll-Trackers identity and the PPAC just released it's 2007 report.

The PPAC is a specialized group established to review, advise and report on the “policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees of the USPTO.” Their 2007 report digs deeply into the Office and current challenges, and has a great picture of a "complex" application (won't spoil it for you).

The TT drama is good for a bit of IP intrigue. There is an old-west wanted-sign feel to the saga, with a bit of symmetry/irony in that the "Patent Troll Tracker" is himself being tracked by one first labeled a patent troll.

All for now.

Monday, November 26, 2007

No Patent Prosecution Panacea

In my previous post, I criticized Tim's $50,000 solution without offering any of my own.

While at first I thought that to be unacceptable and promised to post a "better" solution of my own, after a bit of reflection, I have realized that any pontificated solution, absent real discussions with and accounting for all stakeholders, will end up as biasing and counterproductive to real improvement.

So I will maintain my best efforts to not bloviate (blogviate?) in this space.

Should a patent application cost $50,000 before lawyer fees?

Today Patent TrollTracker linked to Tim Wilson, who has been blogging about raising large entity fees to $50,000 as a way of improving the USPTO and reducing patent "troll" cases in the IT industry.

It is not at all clear what percentage of the enforcement actions by non-practicing entities are being brought using patents formerly belonging to large entities. While large entity applicants do file the majority of patent applications, typically large entities hold onto their portfolios as assets for cross licensing, and likely would not want their names associated with enforcement actions of this type.

Further, many small entity applicants want to become large entity applicants someday. When they reach that crossover point, if they have to choose between filing 10X fewer applications or paying 10X more to keep filing at the same rate, they are going to file fewer cases, putting them at a real IP disadvantage with respect to both small entity applicants and larger entity applicants. From an innovation policy perspective, this does not seem to be reasonable.

Finally, knowing how legal budgets are formed in traditional large entity applicants, raising fees in this way would encourage far more litigation and aggressive licensing. IP departments exist fundamentally to protect the core business and enable new businesses. If fees were actually raised in this manner, law departments would be charged with finding new revenue streams to cover the fee increase and not let the company's inventions go unprotected. This too, does not seem to be a goal of the author.

While traditionally raising prices lowers quantity, this does not seem to be a situation where doing so would achieve the desired results.

Monday, November 19, 2007

American history predicts SIPO innovation

This week it is important to bring up a book review I did not write.

Patently-O had a patent quote from 1895, and last week IP Dragon posted about how Chinese policy is reducing the restrictions on skilled workers. Both reminded me of my time as a reviewer for the Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society.

The most interesting book which just missed Journal inclusion was "Trade Secrets: Intellectual Piracy and the Origins of American Industrial Power" by Doron S. Ben-Atar, history professor at Fordham University. Professor Ben-Atar presented rare and remarkable narratives about the intersection of individual and IP rights at the time of America's formation; however he calibrated his work in the modern context of misappropriation, and centrally posited that American industrial power was born, essentially, of IP theft.

A pitch perfect review was later published by Harvard Business School here.

The book details many 18th century European nations having strict anti-emigration laws for skilled artisans, as a method of protecting native technology. This led to global patent regimes where, regardless of inventor, the first to file a patent application in an individual country would be granted the patent rights in that country. So a successful invention in Germany could be patented in France by anyone aware of the German patent.

America realized that by granting inventors the right to their inventions only if they invented the claimed invention would make them attractive to "real" innovators. If an inventor is willing to risk life and limb, indeed breaking local laws in leaving their home country to seek a better existence, why would they go to a country where there is a chance that someone else may have already patented their core technology?

It can be easily argued that contrary to the "TS" thesis, America grew their industrial power by having a strong and innovative IP scheme, with few restrictions on inventors and allowing them protections in a global first to invent system.

So how does this relate to China? As they move toward strengthening their IP rights and encouraging technology development, they have limited the restrictions placed on Chinese employees with access to "critical trade secrets". They have made non-competition agreements include limiting "duration to two years, geographic scope to a reasonable area and the employer must pay compensation to the employee during the period that the non-competition restriction is in effect." These provisions seem far more inventor/entrepreneur friendly than any I have encountered.

On the face of it, this may discourage some investment. However, it also prevents a company from labeling merely confidential information as "critical trade secret" and allows skilled employees greater freedom to diffuse throughout China.

If the early American pattern actually holds true, I would expect some interesting IP innovations to come out of SIPO in the next few years.

Monday, November 12, 2007

IV, IP and VC's

In my earlier post I mentioned how IP can show good technology fit for private equity firms shopping new ventures. More traditionally, IP can act as a validating mile-marker to investors; the seeds of real invention to become implemented innovations and providing a sustainable, proprietary value proposition for the company.

Today there is a bit of buzz about what a company like Intellectual Ventures could possibly be doing in amassing incredible patent portfolios. Looking at it from the above prospective, it is possible that they could be doing exactly what entrepreneurs do when they first develop their ideas: use the protected technology to look for funding and start companies.

When a technologies future is uncertain, having access to a great number of approaches or techniques significantly increases ones probability of success. Having exclusive access a large pool of fundamental patents on related technologies could present an interesting opportunity for VC’s with access to capital, technology experts, and operational gurus looking to reduce the uncertainty in developing certain products.

Without trying too hard, here is a list of well known VC firms that may have interest in IV someday (reasonably good list for traditional entrepreneurs as well).

Alta Partners
Atlas Venture
Azure Capital (OQO investor)
Battery Ventures
Benchmark Capital
Berkshire Partners
Bessemer Venture Partners
Canaan Partners
Centennial Ventures
Charles River Ventures
Credit Suisse
Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Greylock Partners
HarbourVest Partners
IDG Ventures
Institutional Venture Partners
Integral Capital Partners
Khosla Ventures
Lightspeed Venture Partners
Menlo Ventures
Mobius Venture Capital
Mohr Davidow Ventures
Norwest Venture Partners
Oak Investment Partners
Pitango Venture Capital
Polaris Ventures
Rustic Canyon Partners
Sequoia Capital
Sprout Group
TA Associates
Technology Crossover Ventures
US Venture Partners
Warburg Pincus
Wellington Partners Venture Capital

Friday, November 9, 2007

Blog title exegesis

Another quick post. I wanted to address by blog's name. Marketing experts will tell you that a name should be descriptive and impactful. Trademark attorney's will tell you that a name should be fanciful and meaningless to obtain broad protection.

I have willfully ignored both. Creating a title that is both hard to search, remember and say, while having just enough meaning to likely be unprotectable.

Whatever. I like it. For me, e^(ip) is a great math/intellectual property pun.

Chiefly, it represents me discussing ip issues (my first initial combined with the common intellectual property abbreviation).

However, it also is represents my appreciation of the special case of Euler's formula with x=pi, where e (the base of the natural logarithm) raised to the square root of negative one (the imaginary number i) times pi equals -1.

I will give you all (all ten of you) a moment to think about that... No matter how many times I have seen or used this, it still is wonderful to contemplate the connection of these two transcendental numbers. According to Wolfram's this "beautiful identity" connects: "the fundamental numbers i, pi, e, 1, and 0 (zero) and involv(es) the fundamental operations of equality, addition, multiplication, and exponentation."

I love this identity. Hopefully some of my posts too will connect some seemingly unrelated transcendental concepts and make things easier for people to understand. Marketing and trademarks not withstanding.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New law firm of note

View his announcement here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

GSK vs. PTO notes

(Note: Looks like once a week postings may be my limit for now.)

In everything I have seen so far, here is the most important sentence:

"Many companies rely upon the stable, reliable protection afforded by the current patent system in determining whether it is cost-effective to abandon their trade secret protection by pursuing a patent." from the PI order, p37; link

This is it. This is what is being missed by most commentators I've seen. As a customer, there are only "must haves", "would likes", and "delighters" - this is the "must have."

It would be delightful to have our patents granted the day they were filed. It would be delightful if a special envoy of polyglots checked every library and every piece of art on earth for every application. I "would like" patents to be granted faster and examiners be able to search deeper and longer.

However, I would sacrifice both of those in a second for stability. Between courts reinterpreting scope and standards, and congress trying to address the needs of the inventive community, the PTO is the one pillar of consistency practitioners have come to necessarily rely on for determining, broadly, how to protect their clients and companies.

Over the last few months I have realized that I do not care what rules the USPTO issues. I care about the values behind the rules.

It seems the community has convinced the Office that faster and better has become more important than predictable. They have become must haves.

I absolutely disagree. They are very, very important, but not must haves.

As a practical matter, just as the PTO predicted, I do not know "how to proceed with patent prosecution and which rules will govern applications during the period of injunction." While the PTO rule-making created a lot of work and some uncertainty in bringing everything into compliance, GSK has now caused more uncertainty and more work (making decision trees and expected outcome/impact analysis for each case). Of course, if the end result of the case is greater predictability and stability - then I will soon forget the hours and frustration.

Three final notes coming out of all this;

1) People are paying attention to the PTO. They have shown the will to implement that which they believe to solve their loudest criticisms (pendency longer than some technologies relevancy and patents being invalidated), and are not backing down from executing on what they believe will work.

2) IT and Pharma are working together in the invention community. In related news cats are lying with dogs.

3) The answer to "How should the patent system improve?" clearly depends on who one asks. People who don't care about budgets say raise fees. People who don't understand that the search is the examination say outsource the search. There is a lot of complexity to answering this question and it is clear that the community is realizing just that.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mythbusters and Numb3rs

A few quick notes from Friday:

OQO hq is located a few blocks from some great food in San Francisco's Mission district. Last Friday I ran across Grant, Tory, and Kari - the Mythbusters build team - at Jay's Cheesesteak on 21st St. It was remarkable how well they blended in the neighborhood (Kari's pink hair and all). When I noticed them leaving, I became a bit star/nerd struck and mainly thought to myself "Do. Not. Stare." feeling very much like I was seeing Steve Martin's nose for the first time in Roxanne. Hopefully that will wear off, and next time I'll smoothly pitch a Mythbusters patent special where we test actual published patent applications with 101 rejections for defying the known laws of physics (or rather "inconsistent with known scientific principles").

Also on Friday, an OQO Model 02 was shown three times in the first 10 minutes of Numb3rs.

Lastly, I still owe Gene Quinn of PLI a thoughtful response to his comment on my "PLI Gone Wild" post, but have not had the time to write the non-confidential aspects of what I am now implementing regarding the new rules. Hopefully this will all settle in a few weeks and I will have some time to write that note. In the meantime, if anything breaks this week, I will make best efforts to post whatever practical context I can.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

USPTO Obviousness Guidelines in view of KSR

Again catching-up on important posts, here is a summary of the new, somewhat modified obviousness standard that was propagated due to KSR.


  • Combining prior art elements according to known methods to yield predictable results;
  • Simple substitution of one known element for another to obtain predictable results;
  • Use of a known technique to improve similar devices, methods or products in the same way;
  • Applying a known technique to a known device, method or product ready for improvement to yield predictable results;
  • "Obvious to try" - choosing from a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, with a reasonable expectation of success;
  • Known work in one field of endeavor may prompt variations of it for use in either the same field or a different one based on design incentives or other market forces if the variations would have been predictable to one of ordinary skill in the art; and
  • Some teaching, suggestion or motivation in the prior art that would have led one of ordinary skill to modify the prior art reference or to combine the prior art reference teachings to arrive at the claimed invention.

Full post here...

Ten Questions with Fred Greguras

A bit late on this but a useful post for entrepreneurs from Fenwick and West: View article...

PLI gone wild

PLI is going a bit wild on it's blog today about cases being removed from examiners dockets for 5/25 compliance:

PLI - Patent Blog:"This is the height of arrogance, and luckily the height of stupidity, on the part of the Patent Office. One of the things that some have said will make it difficult for GlaxoSmithKline to prevail on the TRO & Preliminary Injunction level is because they will be hard pressed to show irreparable harm. This is irreparable harm, and it is evidenced by the Patent Office's own PAIR system!
[I]f an application was flagged and removed from the examiner docket for any length of time that has to by definition make it less likely that an office action would be mailed on or before November 1, 2007"

Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true. It does not "by definition make it less likely" to be examined if there was already zero chance of examination.

All the examiners know these rules are coming down the pike, and they all have discretion on which cases to examine. Even the ones that are actually the oldest on an examiners docket do not have to be examined first. They are supposed to be, but I know examiners who just crank through easy amendments for bi-weeks at a time without doing any new cases for months. The small work-flow hit doesn't impact their performance nearly as much as production, so they knock out amendments getting the counts they need.

Even if there are 1000 cases that were both the oldest on an examiners docket and had more than 25 claims, there is actually little reason to believe those 1000 examiners would not just wait it out until the new rules came into effect and resulted in them having to do less work. Surely there will have been a few that would have been examined and saved from the rules, but it is going to be extremely difficult to determine those cases.

As for GSK showing irreparable harm just because of this, I am definitely not as sure as PLI. As I previously had not taken into account examiner discretion, it may be my 1 in 600 estimation was actually high.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Looks like the below is about right

Yesterday over at just-n-examiner, the anonymous, inside the Office blogger seems to have confirmed my previous post. Most examiners will only be examining non-compliant applications if they absolutely have to.

This seems to make the 1 on 600 chance that your case was actually affected less of a floor and more like the actual number.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Patent Office Has Stopped Examining Patents with 25+ Claims

Below is the link to Professor Crouch, but in essence, patent applicants waiting for a first office action in hopes of escaping some of the PTO's new rules are not going to get their wish.


So how many cases will this actually affect?


Due to examiners workflow requirements, they always pull the oldest case on their dockets, then typically pull cases from farther down the chronological list in order to work on cases better suited to examination. Cases with a few, clear claims, no 112 issues, and no complex restrictions needed, will typically get moved to the top of the pile.


So with that thinking, of the ~3000 cases that must be examined due to workflow (one per examiner), a reasonable assumption is that 1/3 or so have 25 or more claims, making 1000 cases the probable floor.


Due to unpublished applications and the like, there is no easy way to estimate the actual number office actions this will impact, but at the minimum, considering there are 900,000 cases pending, maybe 600,000 of which are unexamined, this implies a 1 in 600 chance your application was pulled from the very top of an examiners docket.


Would be interesting to see if the USPTO issues a justification statement or just relies on something to the effect that this is a necessary an inescapable implementation step in order to be ready for November 1. Either way, this will no doubt further fuel  the rule change critics.


View article...

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The hardest part of managing IP?

The uncertainty.

No budget is large enough to seek protection on every patent worthy idea.

When selecting which cases to file, instincts do about half the job, but no one really knows which technologies are going to be the most important 5-10 years from now. Two grad students writing search software and building server storage out of lego's became Google. Typically, the larger the uncertainty in a future technology, the greater the opportunity for obtaining broad protection. However, when a technology is less speculative and more likely to be at least modestly successful, those patents and innovations, on average over time, have the best return on investment.

A rigorous process which separates the likely new products and features from the hoverboards and flying cars, will ensure an efficient and profitable IP program.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

IBM did not patent the checkbox

Today, Slashdot has the headline "IBM Patents the Checkbox"

I have not read this patent and am not going to. However, I can say with certainty that this statement is false. With allowance rates dropping below 50%, software patents having at least a second set of eyes review, and knowing that checkboxes themselves have likely been around since Pliny the Elder was using parchment, there is no need to check the veracity of this statement.

So why is this important to IP Managers? Engineers.

Engineers read Slashdot. There are engineers - some posting to that site and the like - who feel that patents stifle innovation, and examples of "obvious to them" patents lessen their enthusiasm for generating IP for the company. With a significant portion of companies values and valuations tied to the quality of their intellectual property, this is the opposite of the situation you want.

Too many instances where an inventor was able to protect their hard work and creativity through the patent system gets lost in headlines like these. Hopefully any IP bloggers reading this will post at least one instance of the "system" encouraging innovation in the coming weeks. Maybe we'll catch a few slashdot readers along the way.

Monday, October 1, 2007

OQO Model 02 as productivity tool for law firms

From the shameless plug department -

We typically provide OQO model 02's to our IP counsel and solicit their feedback on usefulness and productivity improvements. Here is an e-mail I received today from outside counsel on his firms usage:

"First, thanks for the three OQO model 02s that you have provided to our law firm. We have been using them in conferences to access data from our server and shared drives via 802.11. We also can access the Internet to look up data at the moment we need it. The 02s are less obtrusive than using laptops and are more personable in a meeting since they don't create the typical "wall of screens" of the laptops. The 02 units are basically as non-distracting as, say, a pad of paper or a glass of water so our new clients don't get the impression that we are not paying attention to the meeting as they might if we had laptops in front of us with the screens flipped up.

The 02s handle email attachments much better than our cell phones. Even though our phones are able to display our email messages, they don't allow viewing of pdfs, powerpoint, Excel, or even Word documents. In our patent practice we are constantly provided with email attachments such as published patent applications in pdf format. Usually we can't even respond to a client's email until we can open the attachment so this save us a considerable delay. Responsiveness to clients is the name of the game with us.

I have configured one 02 with an audio-to-mp3 encoder which I use to record audio of invention disclosure meetings. This works well since, unlike with commercial digital tape recorders that all seem to use proprietary formats, I don't have to re-encode the audio to the mp3 format for emailing to a tech writer or other working attorney. My plan is to get a web cam and hook it up to the same 02 so that I can take pictures of the whiteboard during the meetings and also quickly provide images (in real time) to someone else on the other end of a teleconference. Along with the mp3 audio this would be a complete electronic record of the disclosure meeting which usually now is captured by re-encoding traditional audio recorder output and faxing or scanning hand-drawn copies of the diagrams on the board. In some cases we use a video camera to capture the disclosure meetings but that results in a very large file (which is time-consuming to encode) or we have to mail the physical media which is susceptible to damage and a 2-3 day delay for physical mail. Who knows, maybe there are low-cost direct-to-mpeg video recorders that I can run on the 02. We are still in the research stage.

As an aside, the 02 also has that cool "wow" factor so that our clients' first impressions are that we are the tech-savvy patent attorneys that we hold ourselves out to be."

From Astrophysics to IP Management?

Marc Andreessen has two great posts today on the misnomer of career planning. I love this post because there are no majors in "directing IP", and professionals in this area come from backgrounds with significant variance.

If there was a typical path, it would be someone with experience in one of technology, law, or business asked into a specialist or management role after showing some aptitude across disciplines. The largest category in my experience, has been engineers or scientists with above average communication skills, learning the legal and business aspects of intellectual property.

Some examples of backgrounds leading to IP management: Plant managers, Patent attorneys, Patent examiners, Patent agents, Information scientists, Product/brand managers, Career research scientists, Tech managers (grooming for business roles), Technical sales (typically end-up in licensing), Other (our IP manager for software has a PhD from Stanford focusing on computational anthropology and has exceptional communication skills).

Staying flexible and opportunistic can definitely lead to a rich and interesting career.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New PTO rules package

Being the IP manager for OQO is quite an experience.


There are many inventors here who collaborate deeply and often, seeding incredible ideas and developing IP faster than I have ever before experienced. Of course, for me this becomes a bit of a problem in light of 37 CFR 1.78(f) in the USPTO new rules package.


It may be that the listing of commonly owned applications and patents will be the most important rule change in terms of the day to day management of patent applications.


The clerical listing of cases should be a trivial filing. However, avoiding the rebuttable presumption under 37 CFR 1.78(f)(2)(i) is going to take real creativity and diligence for compliance. The essence of this rule is that when a company files a new application within a couple months of another case having one or more inventors in common, that case is assumed to contain a claim that is not patentably distinct from claims in the other case when the earlier application contains written description support under the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. 112 for at least one claim in the later application.


That is going to be very difficult to check for every filing. When filing cases on a new combination of elements, a new method of making those elements, additional patentable implementations using those elements, and all of those cases have long specifications, it makes the pre-filing analysis, complicated at least.


There should be a way to semi-automate the checking process by being more rigid in spec and claim drafting regarding defining claim elements, separately recording in the docketing system what elements are detailed in a given spec, then cross checking those elements with applications filed within two months of the filing date.


This will require a lot of time, coordination, and diligence, especially when dealing with more than one firm.   


View new form at Patently-O...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Design Patents and Patent Reform

My sister was a design examiner at the USPTO for a year, before leaving to become a vegan cooking author and chef. The design group at the PTO has always been different to the utility examiners. When I was a PTO utility examiner, the design examiners I knew were usually architects and other visual design experts. Supposedly on the whole they are "more normal" have "interpersonal skills" and "dress well" - whatever that means.


Anyway, enforcement is a very real challenge for design patents. Today Patently-O had a good summary of design patents recently protecting a US automobile manufacturer.


The interesting thing here is apparently after the ITC ruling, the losing party immediately joined the patent reform movement.

View article at Patently-O

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

IP and Private Equity

Diving deep into a companies IP is a great way to contextualize possible strategic acquisitions. Private equity firms shopping a portfolio company can use patent data to show how one company may technologically compliment another.


From the New York Times - it's good to see PE investment is still looking strong:


"The buyout business may be in a holding pattern these days, but that apparently isn't worrying pension fund managers too much. According to a survey by Citigroup, nearly three-fourths of pension managers plan to increase the funds they earmark for private equity investments in the next three years."

View article...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Business Strategy IS Intellectual Property Strategy

Great post on holistically managing IP: view article...

Vonage loses patent infringement suit

Operating company protects core business with patents, no negative KSR effects in sight:

[A] jury in Kansas City, Kan. decided that Vonage is guilty of infringing on VoIP-related patents held by SprintNextel. The jury held that Vonage should pay SprintNextel $69.5 million in damages, as well as a 5 percent royalty on future revenue. Vonage had claimed it didn't violate these patents, and these patents are invalid. This can't be good news for Vonage, or its investors. At 2 p.m. EDT, Vonage's per-share price was a lowest-ever $1.81.

View article...

Innovation incentives: Win Your Own Startup

Love this idea:

Some entrepreneurs say the toughest part of building their startup is finding capital. Bang Ventures, a New York-based investment firm, wants to alleviate that problem for three lucky entrepreneurs. You Be the VC is an open call to entrepreneurs with brilliant tech ideas. Applicants must create a profile and fill out an application to be considered. Then, judges will narrow the entries down to the top 20 finalists, who will create a video pitch to be voted on by the public, American Idol style. The winners will spend next summer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working with a team of expert consultants, advisors and programmers to build their dream startup company.

View article...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Patentee Win Rates After KSR

From the 271 blog: "LegalMetric has released a new study on patent owner win rates since the Supreme Court's decision in KSR, and found that patent owner win rates at first increased but then fell substantially below their long-term averages."

With the perception of a new obviousness "standard" cascading down to courts, one would hope these numbers represent a one time weeding out of patent holders asserting claims well beyond their intended scope. This sky is likely not falling for patent holders. Just yet anyway.

View article...


What does an IP Manager (Director, VP, CIPO) actually do?

Dig. Economic. Moats.

That is, we obsess about how to protect a companies value. We are often deep in the technical, marketing, and legal details of a product or company; leading organizations and processes to sustain competitive advantage and long term profits.

Good article here about investing in moats.

Interesting from Patent Hawk

"KSR has created a favorable forum: inter partes reexamination requests, i.e., someone other than the patent holder butting in, were once shunned for the risk of bullet-proofing a patent, but now are soaring as a low-cost bet to smother patents in the cradle, before they walk into the courtroom. The recent kill rate is at 88%.

Litigation estoppel applies to as far as any ground that could have been raised. That includes any prior art that should have been discovered. But the upward trend indicates that previous worries have been assuaged by the anti-patent fervor that seems to have gripped the nation."

View article...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Discount Shopping for IP

If Ocean Tomo is the Christies of IP shopping, this may be the Wal-Mart.

The Beard Group has issued a (relatively) new service called "The Intellectual Property Prospector" which identifies US and Foreign companies of any size filing for bankruptcy or reporting other financial difficulty and profiles their ownership of intellectual property.


View Intellectual Property Prospector web page (link)

View article...

From Patently-O, appeal time benchmarking

From Professor Crouch


On average it took just under 18 months (542 days) from the filing of the appeal brief until a decision was reached by the BPAI. The mean hides a wide range of delay: From a minimum of 9 1/2 months to a maximum of 44 months. (Standard Deviation 255) {emphasis added}.


As with essentially every other area of patent law, we can expect that BPAI timing and results will vary by technology area. {EMG comment: critical point, generalizations mean little if predictions and improvements can't be made}

View article...

Monday, September 17, 2007

A patent improvement |

Another good article from the economist: A patent improvement

It is always interesting to see how the media picks up on patent issues. Key takeaway for most readers; examiners need to have the best art in front of them, new technology is important to making this happen, and the major patent offices of the world are testing or planning to test a community approach to vetting references.

The most interesting note here is the problem the USPTO is trying to solve. What made the Google founders billionaires is understanding how to organize an incredible amount of disaggregated information such that the most relevant results are in the top 10-20 hits.

The key question now is how we do that for every public technical document, every part of every good ever offered for sale, and everything in every library, journal, or code base ever published in any language in the history of the world?

The answer probably involves the US classification codes, however it seems another x-prize may be appropriate...

Technical Incentives

Interesting article from the economist: Space Eyes on the prize

Being in patents, it is interesting how various fields can be incentivized to innovate (e.g. open source software, "pure" sciences, etc.).

As an astronomy undergrad, I thought having a manned, lunar observatory would be the greatest development in data collection since Tycho Brahe. However, the unsolved key question was how to incentivize such a massive development. At the time, the only way I believed this could happen was through sub-licensing the radio spectrum reserved for astronomers to wireless carriers. Years later, faculty in Cornell's Astronomy department - and operators of the Arecibo Observatory - assured me this method of funding development would never happen, as the science community would never give up their facilities for such a risky undertaking.

What was not clear at that time, was that there would be any for-profit organization that would benefit from a lunar infrastructure. Amazing development - glad to see the prize model encouraging innovation.

Interesting stats: Patent Cases, as Percent of all Civil Cases: 1997 vs. 2007

Great statistics on where patent litigation has been initiated lately.

Friday, September 14, 2007

IP Software Resources

One of the most important aspects of efficiently running an IP organization is selecting great technology.

Here is a great place to start: IP Menu - Intellectual Property Software Resources

Everyone's cooler than me

A bit off-topic: It turns out I own more dress shirts than t-shirts (none of which are ironic), have never been employee number five or less, and can't build a green laser from scratch.

Coming to OQO in SF from DuPont in Virginia - I seem to have taken the red pill.


Good HR practice at a start-up The Pmarca Guide to Startups, part 8: Hiring, managing, promoting, and firing executives

Don't forget to check your domain names

Patent Law Blog (Patently-O): - Typosquatter