Recent Patents and the Story of Microsoft’s Xbox One

xboxThere have been reports that the Sony Playstation outsold the Microsoft Xbox One by a 2 to 1 margin, but TIME reports that these numbers really aren’t particularly honest or informative. The reports that the Playstation is outselling the Xbox One by a 2 to 1 margin come from a study, or at least observations, of sales leading up to Christmas on eBay. But online auction sales from a single retailer are hardly appropriate to gauge what really happened in the broader marketplace.

All that is known for now is that both the Sony Playstation and the Xbox One were in extremely high demand and sold out this holiday season. Both of these game consoles will be around for a while, and both have a long  history and patent portfolio behind them. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Xbox and some of the recent patents behind the device.

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Patenting Self-Destructing E-mail Messages

att-logoAT&T is seeking another patent on self-destructing e-mail messages. AT&T originally filed a patent application in January 2002 on this technology, which ripened into U.S. Patent No. 7,356,564. The latest patent application to publish in this family tree published on June 20, 2013 as U.S. Patent Application No. 20130159436. We profiled this back in August on IPWatchdog.com. See AT&T Seeks Patents on E-mail Self Destruct and 3D Media ContentShortly thereafter, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a Non-Final Rejection of the application.

This application relates to e-mail, which virtually everyone reading will know is a messaging system used across the world to communicate information to other people. Indeed, so ubiquitous has e-mail become that it is hard to remember when electronic communications via e-mail did not exist. E-mail is so incredibly useful because it’s efficient and practically instantaneous. However, a sender has almost no way to protect confidential information once it has been sent across the Internet, and we have probably all sent one or more messages without thinking things through before clicking “send.” Many have also no doubt sent an e-mail by accident to someone who was not the intended recipient, which can range from a nuisance to embarrassing to completely catastrophic depending on the content.

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U.S. Top for Innovation Quality in WIPO Report

On July 1, 2013, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and Cornell University released the 2013 Global Innovation Index (GII 2013). This year, the United States moved up to 5th (from 10th in 2012) and the United Kingdom also moved up to 3rd (from 5th in 2012). Switzerland remained 1st, with Sweden remaining 2nd in the rankings.

The GII 2013 looked at 142 economies around the world, using 84 indicators, including the quality of top universities, availability of microfinance, venture capital deals – gauging both innovation capabilities and measurable results.

The message from the report: “Despite the economic crisis, innovation is alive and well. Research and development spending levels are surpassing 2008 levels in most countries and successful local hubs are thriving.” Indeed, despite tightened budget policies, R&D expenditures have grown since 2010. The R&D expenditures of top 1,000 R&D-spending companies grew between 9 and 10 % in 2010 and 2011. A similar pattern was observed in 2012.

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Spotting Inventors You Might Want to Avoid

To paraphrase the famous quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson, if you build a better mouse-trap the world will make a beaten path to your door. Inventors and entrepreneurs frequently take this quote all too literally, thinking that if they make a better product theirs will sell and make them rich beyond their wildest dreams.

There are, of course, many different reasons why building a better mouse-trap is only the first of many steps on the road to financial freedom. There is no guarantee of financial success given by any patent office in the world. This is true even if you have a strong patent that covers a great product that enjoys robust consumer demand.

But this won’t stop many inventors from attempting to patent some rather peculiar inventions. Chances are that the more peculiar the invention, the more likely the inventor is going to want the patent attorney or patent agent to work for free, or on some kind of contingency basis. If an inventor like this approaches you, even if they seem normal, do yourself a favor and just say NO!

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Barney Cassidy on Non-Practicing Entities

Barney J. Cassidy, General Counsel and Executive VP of Tessera, Inc. as well as PLI faculty member, recently had an op-ed article published on Politico.com. The article, entitled, “Shooting a patent straw man,” challenges the notion that patent trolls and their readiness to litigate is at the root behind the recent surge of patent portfolio growth among the major tech companies.

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