A recent Wall Street Journal article takes a look at the latest application of crowd-sourcing, this time within the patent industry. As the patent wars rage on, tech companies are soliciting help from the public to crowd-source evidence of prior art. Such evidence is used in patent infringement litigation to invalidate the patents these tech companies are allegedly infringing. The article highlights Article One Partners LLC, a New York-based company hired by major tech-companies to conduct research or prior art in hopes of invalidating the underlying patent.
Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal article entitled, Tech Firms Crowd-Source to Fight Suits, which can be read in full here.
Article One, a New York-based company founded 3½ years ago, opened its Silicon Valley office last August in Palo Alto and has benefited as patent suits have proliferated in the region. With tech companies chasing hot technologies like smartphones and social networking, rivals are increasingly looking to settle their differences in court. Article One says its largest concentration of clients—some 15%—are in Silicon Valley.
Overall, about three-quarters of Article One’s cases are related to high-tech. The site currently features studies seeking prior art on technologies ranging from virtual keyboards to digital payments. Clients pay about $25,000 a study, or they pay varying annual subscription fees. The amount includes the awards for the people who find the best research.
To break up the monotony of all work and no play, I wanted to share with you a great slideshow from Inc.com. The slideshow lists 12 “strange and amazing” patents that are remarkable, and mostly ridiculous. From the high-five machine (US 5356330), to the kissing shield (US5727565), to the burial structure for human remains and significant memorabilia (US 6799399) whose resemblance to the Great Pyramids at Giza is uncanny.
Check out the slide show in its entirety here. In case you thought I was kidding about the remarkable and ridiculous nature of these patents, check out the drawing of the patent for the Interactive Life-Sized Bowl of Soup (US 6168531). That’s right, an interactive life-sized soup bowl not only exists, but there’s a patent for it.
Today we continue our weekly installment highlighting the best of the patent blogosphere from the past week. Highlights include the anticipated revisions to the Patent Bar, a conflict of interest for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer, and an update from the USPTO’s collaborations in improving the patent system via open access.
1. IP Watchdog: PTO Updates Patent Bar Exam to Test AIA & Appeal Rules – The Patent Bar will change to reflect the new rules incarnated by the America Invents Act. This post outlines what new topics will be tested and how the USPTO has established a trend in making sure the exam is as up to date as possible. The new Patent Bar exam will debut January 31, 2012. For information regarding PLI’s Patent Bar Review (Jan. 11-15, 2012), click here.
2. Peer To Patent: Improving Patent Systems through Open Access- The USPTO hosted its Second Annual Prior Art Collaboration Conference in October 2011, and this post provides the proceedings that developed during the conference. Participants such as WIPO, the European Patent Office, the U.K. Intellectual Property Office, IP Australia, the Japan Patent Office, and the Korea Intellectual Property Office discussed ways in which the patent offices and the public could work together to improve access to prior art. (more…)
It seems the entire Internet recently discovered the Hedy Lamarr patent story. Hedy Lamarr was a beautiful actress in the 1930′s-40′s, who was once dubbed “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” She also is the named co-inventor on a patent for an anti-jamming system for guiding torpedoes. The system relied on a clever “frequency hopping” scheme, employing a player piano roll to switch frequencies. Frequency hopping is a type of spread spectrum technology that eventually made its way into the modern cell phone. Great story right? Beautiful actress is secretly a brilliant inventor. (more…)
The following analysis of the new 35 USC § 102(a)(2) provision in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act eliminating the Hilmer doctrine and giving prior art effect to U.S. patent applications as of their foreign filing dates comes from Courtenay Brinckerhoff ,writer of PharmaPatents Blog and Partner at Foley & Lardner.
Here is an excerpt from the article originally published on Pharma Patents:
One of the many changes included in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act relates to the date that a U.S. patent application is effective as prior art. While eliminating the Hilmer doctrine and giving prior art effect to U.S. patent applications as of their foreign priority dates might seem to be a step towards international harmonization, it actually may widen the gulf between the U.S. and the rest of world. (more…)