Two Near Misses in the History of Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently issued U.S. Patent No. 9,000,000, entitled Windshield Washer Conditioner. The 9-millionth patent protects a system that collects and treats rainwater for replenishing a vehicle’s windshield wiper fluid. As I pointed out in an article here on IPWatchdog, it took less than 3 years and 8 months to reach this milestone after the last “million patent” was reached on August 16, 2011, when U.S. Patent No. 8,000,000, titled Visual Prosthesis, issued.

Do you remember who lost in the World Series last year? How about the Super Bowl? Do you know who was the second American in space? Unless you are a famous for being a runner-up, like the Buffalo Bills were during a 4-year run of losing in the Super Bowl, people tend to forget. See Super Bowl ResultsI suspect that same tendency is also true with respect to patents. We tend to focus on these nice, round numbers when looking at significant points in history.

Today, however, we stick up for the little guy in this conversation, the contenders, or if you prefer, the “near misses.” So today, I thought we’d take a look at a couple of patents which will probably be lost to the annals of time simply because their issue number was off by one. Read the rest of this entry »

05.6.15 | Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

Stoll Unanimously Approved by Senate Judiciary

On April 23, 2015, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting of the Full Committee. On the agenda were three judicial nominations, including the nomination of Kara Stoll to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Stoll was nominated to serve on the Federal Circuit by President Barack Obama on November 12, 2014.

At the same time Stoll was appointed to the Federal Circuit, President Obama simultaneously appointed Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo of the United States District Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. “These individuals have displayed exceptional dedication to the legal profession through their work, and I am honored to nominate them to serve the American people as judges on the United States Courts of Appeals,” President Obama said, speaking of the nominations of both Stoll and Restrepo. “They will be diligent, judicious and esteemed additions to the bench.”

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05.4.15 | Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

Urban and Residential Living in a World with Climate Change

The theme for Earth Day 2015 revolves around climate change. Our lifestyles can have the effect of contributing to increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a major symptom and causal effect of climate change. For example, urban areas account for two-thirds of driving-related greenhouse gases despite public transportation opportunities. There’s been some research lately into the effects of climate change on urban areas, such as those areas of California that have been slammed by drought conditions, and a growing population is an issue that has to be taken into account. With the environment on our mind, we thought a close look at climate-change tech would be appropriate. We focus on a couple of innovations that will keep our society running in the face of a warmer atmosphere and higher sea levels, assuming that sea levels do increase as we keep being told they will.

As our atmosphere warms, there will be more of our country’s population that lives in a hot-humid or hot-arid climate rather than a temperate climate. Keeping energy costs within the home to a minimum is the objective of the technology protected by U.S. Patent No. 8978342, which is titled Residential Radiant Barrier Assemblies. Issued to Auburn University in March, it claims a method of radiant heat rejection by providing a radiant barrier material in a roof of a building along a bottom edge of a rafter to separate an airspace while supporting convective airflow that removes heat from the radiant barrier material. This radiant barrier could be installed in homes and other buildings to reduce summer heat gain in warm climates.

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04.22.15 | Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

A Greener Footprint with Carbon Capture and Next Generation Energy Production

On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, more than 22,000 partner organizations and more than one billion people in 192 different countries will honor the 45th annual Earth Day. According to organizers, this will be the world’s largest non-secular celebration. The theme of this year’s festivities is “It’s Our Turn to Lead,” sounding a call to action among anyone with an interest in environmental issues. With this in mind, we thought we would take a look at some intriguing, recently patented green innovation relating to carbon capture and energy production.

Our society is tied to our quick access to electricity throughout the home and across our communities. It’s hard to picture a consumer economy without the easy ability to obtain electrical energy from a wall outlet to power a variety of electronics. All of that electricity generation occurs at power plants which release a lot of carbon dioxide directly into the atmosphere. As a result, many have discussed the use of carbon capture and storage technologies as a way of counteracting some of the negative aspects of energy production.

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04.21.15 | Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

Hip Replacements – A Brief Patent History

Nearly one year ago, on Tuesday, April 8, 2014, I had a total right hip replacement. The surgery went very well. The biggest problem I encountered was nearly non-stop hiccups for the first week, which was likely due to the anesthesia. I was walking the next day, and I am now walking normally and continue to strengthen my leg muscles. With this personal anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the evolution of hip replacement technology through the lens of issued U.S. patents.

Hip surgeries have been taking place for at least 300 years, and have progressed from rudimentary surgeries to the sophisticated total hip replacement (i.e., total hip arthroplasty or THA) surgeries that are so commonplace today. According to the CDC, during 2010 there were 332,000 in patient total hip replacements performed in the U.S. Indeed, hip replacement surgery today is widely recognized as one of the most successful surgical interventions ever developed. See Early Attempts at Hip Arthroplasty.

Modern hip replacement surgery really dates back to the 1960s, with the development of new devices that reduced the wear sustained by artificial hip joints over time, and which provided more predictable outcomes.

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04.15.15 | Biotech, Patent Issues | Gene Quinn

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