Big Tech Turns to Biometric Innovation

Over on, I publish what we call Companies that We Follow. The goal is to look for interesting new technologies by exploring what some of the most innovative companies in the world are working on. After a while, you see a lot of different technologies and sometimes you start to notice patterns. Analysis of biometric data has been a major area of new research among electronics manufacturers in recent years, and over the last several months we have seen quite a few biometric innovations from a variety of very large tech corporations.

One recent innovation that we saw came from Microsoft, and it related to something that you might not ordinarily associate with the giant from Redmond, Washington…namely, a mood detection device. Stress is something that everyone experiences throughout their daily life, and biometric systems for determining mood and stress levels are not new. However, reducing stress and the associated negative impacts, like chronic health conditions and poor work performance, is an important goal that could easily result in a meaningful increase in productivity in the workplace. To tackle this problem, Microsoft came up with a device that uses a microcontroller capable of processing biometric data about a person’s stress levels. The patent application filed, U.S. Patent Application No. 20140085181claims priority to a provisional patent application filed in September 2012, which is incorporated by reference. The device described in this patent application includes a flexible material that morphs its shape to create a representation of the received biometric information. Stress information can also be output to a display that lets a person view stress and mood information and add their own personal input. This system could receive biometric data signals indicative of mood from a variety of sources, including a heart rate monitor, galvanic skin monitor, camera or microphone. For instance, a camera and image processing system could determine a change in mood based on an eyebrow shift or another facial expression. Along with changing shapes, the device can indicate a person’s mood through sounds or light display.


Samsung Invents Bio-tech Chips for Pharma

When we  look at Samsung as a part of the “Companies We Follow” series on, we normally see electronics, mobile devices, wireless technologies and a variety of processes and methods that relate to computers and the Internet. An interesting patent application of a different sort recently published to Samsung caught my attention.

The patent application is simply titled Bio-chip, and issued on June 12, 2014 as U.S. Patent Application No. 20140162908. It covers a method of performing multiple analytical tests on a single source of biomaterial. This bio-chip testing system has applications in the medical world, for quicker diagnosis of disease, as well as the cosmetic fields by providing a more cost-effective way to measure a product’s toxicity.

Biotechnologies present an intriguing area of development in a variety of consumer industries, from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics to medical services and more. One way in which the technological application of biological systems can be used to benefit society is through the rapid diagnosis of diseases, perhaps an area of innovation that one would normally not associate with Samsung. For pharmaceuticals and other industries, bio-chips and cell chips can help a manufacturer test their products for toxicity.


Unanimous SCOTUS Sides with Monsanto on Seeds

logo[2]On Monday, May 13, 2013, the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that a farmer who buys Monsanto’s patented seeds cannot then propagate new seeds for future use without infringing the underlying patent.

The opening paragraph in the Court’s decision, which was delivered by Justice Kagan, succinctly captures the essence of the ruling. Justice Kagan wrote:

Under the doctrine of patent exhaustion, the authorized sale of a patented article gives the purchaser, or any subsequent owner, a right to use or resell that article. Such a sale, however, does not allow the purchaser to make new copies of the patented invention. The question in this case is whether a farmer who buys patented seeds may reproduce them through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission. We hold that he may not.

Monsanto invented a genetic modification that enables soybean plants to survive exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in many herbicides (including Monsanto’s own Roundup). Monsanto markets soybean seed containing this altered genetic material as “Roundup Ready” seed. Farmers planting that seed can use a glyphosate-based herbicide to kill weeds without damaging their crops. Two patents issued to Monsanto cover various aspects of its Roundup Ready technology, including a seed incorporating the genetic alteration.

Goeddel V. Sugano: What’s The Difference Between “Envisioning” An Invention And Being “In Possession” Of The Invention?

Gerald M MurphyThe following post was written by Gerald M. Murphy, partner at Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch, LLP and Practice Center Contributor.

In Goeddel v. Sugano, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has provided more guidance as to what is necessary for a sufficient “written description” of an invention, this time for a true “biotech” invention, in the context of a motion for benefit of priority in an interference.  This case involved two interferences; one directed to DNA encoding human fibroblast interferon (hFIF) unaccompanied by a hFIF presequence (mature hFIF) and one directed to a composition comprising  non-glycosylated hFIF.  Sugano filed a motion for benefit of its Japanese priority application (Sugano priority application) and was granted priority by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (the Board) in both interferences.  Goeddel appealed that decision on the grounds that the Sugano priority application did not constitute a constructive reduction to practice because it did not enable the Counts and did not provide a sufficient written description of the Counts.  The Federal Circuit reversed on the ground that the Sugano priority application did not provide a sufficient written description of the Count because the inventors were not “in possession” of the invention. (more…)