Patent Registration

October 29, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A new patent filed in Korea reveals what seems to be Samsung’s plan to rival the soon-to-be released Google Glass.  The patent, which was filed with the Korean Intellectual Property Office by Samsung Electronics Co.  shows glasses which communicate with a smartphone.  It was filed on March 8, 2013 and describes the device as, “sports glasses,” which will have the capability to let users listen to music and take phone calls through built in earphones.  Similar to Google’s product, Samsung’s will also allow for browsing of the internet on a small display screen on the eyeglasses’ lens.

In the months since Google announced the planned introduction of its Glass product, there has been wide speculation about how rival Samsung would react.  Until now, there was virtually no clue left by the Korean based company as to whether it was working on a competing electronic glasses product.   With the new filing, however, it is obvious that the tech giant is putting its own horse in the smart glasses race.

While Samsung’s new “sports glasses” appear to be a definite attempt to rival Google Glass, several differences between the two products are noticeable from the patent filing.  First, unlike Google Glass, Samsung’s device features wires on both sides, which connect at the back of the wearer’s head.  Next, while Google Glass features its display screen on the right lens, the Samsung product has its display on the left.  In its patent filing, Samsung makes more than a passing mention about how the new device will be targeted for use in sporting and outdoor activities.  While Google Glass has already been marketed as a sort of universally useful device akin to a wearable mobile phone, Samsung may be looking to set itself apart by making its new device an athletic accessory.

Outside of these differences, however, the essence of the two products is the same.  Both are efforts to take everyday devices, such as watches and eyeglasses, and make them “smart.”  Both Samsung’s “sports glasses” and Google Glass look like futuristic sunglasses with a minimalist design:  a wraparound style with a skinny metal band and clear frameless lenses.  How it all pans out for these two big names will largely depend on how the consumer market reacts to the emerging product field of wearable electronics and how the devices will fit into our everyday lives.

April 12, 2013, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – On Monday U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess announced a stay in a patent infringement lawsuit against Southwest Airlines Co. until the USPTO finalizes its re-examination of the patents cited in the Complaint.  Feess ruled that it doesn’t make sense to continue the case until the patent re-examination is complete.

Advanced Media Networks LLC originally filed the lawsuit against Southwest Airlines in California federal court last December.  The lawsuit concerns Southwest’s in-flight Internet service provider, Row 44 Inc. which is also named in the lawsuit.

Advanced Media believes that Southwest and Row 44 infringed on its patents, which involve technology for providing mobile telecommunications networks on commercial airline flights.  The two patents in suit, U.S. Patent No. 5,960,074 entitled “Mobile tele-computer network for motion picture, television and TV advertising production,” and U.S. Patent No. 6,445,777 entitled “Mobile tele-computer network” were approved for registration in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

Now however, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is re-examining the validity of the patents due to issues introduced by a third party who the USPTO felt “raised substantial new questions of patentability.”  This is the second re-examination of these two patents, which were also reviewed in 2010, and then affirmed.

Judge Feess compared this case to the recent federal court case between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.  In the Apple v. Samsung case, the judge allowed the case to proceed to a jury decision even though a patent re-examination was still pending.   After the jury decided in favor of Apple, the USPTO made its decision that one of Apple’s patents in the case was invalid.

One of the attorneys for Row 44 agreed with Judge Feess that delaying the outcome of the trial would help everyone “avoid all this work” should the patents be deemed invalid.

Advanced Media argued that the case should move forward based on the fact that the patents may expire before the case goes to trial.

Judge Feess stated he would also delay a ruling on a Motion to Dismiss presented by Southwest and Row 44 at this time as well.

December 12, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Apple and Google are reportedly working together to offer Eastman Kodak more than $500 million for its imaging patents, which are being sold as part of Kodak’s bankruptcy proceedings.

The two technology giants are bidding on an undisclosed amount of Kodak’s 1,100 patents related to capturing, manipulating and sharing digital images.  Kodak valued the patents at $2.21 billion to $2.57 billion in its court documents, claiming it has made more than $3 billion by licensing the patents to companies such as Samsung Electronics, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit, LG Electronics and other technology companies.

Bidding entities disagreed with the figure Kodak assigned to its patents, as the first round of bids were reported to be in the $150 to $250 million range, likely because the value of the patents has been diluted due to Kodak’s excessive licensing.

Kodak is unwilling to sell its patents for that low of a figure as its $850 million loan offer, which it needs to pull out of bankruptcy, is contingent upon its patents selling for no less than $500 million.

In the first round of bidding, California-based companies Apple and Google were bidding against each other.  Apple is teaming up with Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures while Google is working with RPX Corp. and Asian manufacturers of Google’s Android phones.

Though Apple and Google are major competitors in the smartphone market and have had patent disputes in the past, partnering to purchase the patents allows both companies to not only reduce the cost but also limit the likelihood of patent infringement claims in the future.

This will not be the first time Apple has teamed up with a major competitor to purchase patents.  Apple teamed up with Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, to buy 6,000 patents from Nortel Network’s Corp. for $4.5 billion.  The companies were able to out bid Google, who only offered $900 million.  Google and Apple refused to comment on the alleged bid, as each company said it would not comment on rumors.  New York-based company Kodak would not comment on the purchase either, due to a court ordered confidentiality agreement.

Once Kodak secures its exit financing, it plans to shrink the company and move its focus away from photography, as the company was unable to keep up with the switch to digital.  Instead, it plans to focus on commercial, packaging and functional printing services.

October 16, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued Apple Inc. an array of patents on Tuesday, including one that would allow a device to detect whether an individual user is supposed to be using it and stop unauthorized access.

U.S. Patent Number 8,289,130, titled “Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device,” covers a system capable of identifying particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior.

In some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identity of the device’s owner. When an unauthorized user is detected, various safety measures can be taken.

A photograph of the current user can be taken, a recording of the current user’s voice can be recorded, the heartbeat of the current user can be recorded, or any combination of those factors that can then be compared to the corresponding likeness of the authorized owner, according to the patent description.

Activities such as entering an incorrect password a predetermined number of times in a row, hacking, “jailbreaking,” unlocking, removing a SIM card or moving a predetermined distance away from a synced device can all also be used to detect an unauthorized user under the patented system.

Information related to the identity of the unauthorized user, the unauthorized user’s operation of the electronic device, or the current location of the electronic device can be gathered with the patented method. Functions of the electronic device can also be restricted.

In other embodiments, the device owner can be notified of the unauthorized user by sending an alert notification through any suitable medium, such as a voice mail, e-mail, or text message.

“If the electronic device is lost or stolen, the loss of the electronic device can be exceedingly disruptive to the owner’s peace of mind and security,” the patent description says. “Thus, the owner may desire to find out where the lost electronic device is located or who may have gained possession of or stolen the electronic device.”

The application for the patent was filed in February 2009. The inventors listed are Taido L. Nakajima of Cupertino, Calif., Pareet Rahul of Markham, Calif. and Gloria Lin of San Ramon, Calif.

October 8, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Samsung Electronics Co. is seeking patent protection for a way to have an electronic device like a smartphone record and summarize the operations of a user’s daily life and present the results in story form, according to a patent application the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published last week.

The invention, entitled “Apparatus and method for generating story according to user information,” includes an information collection unit, an analysis unit, a story generator, and a display unit, according to the patent abstract.

The information collection unit collects log information including a user’s daily life information from at least one electronic device. The analysis unit analyzes the log information collected from the information collection unit and decides at least one topic representing the user’s daily life information.

The story generator generates at least one sentence representing the user’s daily life information using the topic decided in the analysis unit. The display unit then displays the sentence generated in the story generator.

The information gathered and presented in story form could include data on the weather, GPS latitude and longitude information, blog and social media data, call records, text and multimedia messages, schedules and calendars, address book entries and more. Video recordings, lists of recently played music files, TV viewing information and other records of habits could also be monitored and included.

The development of wireless technology has made it possible to continuously collect information about a mobile device user. A device can now accordingly provide its user with a variety of services on the basis of the data collected as the user goes about her daily life, the patent description says.

Current devices, however, do not conveniently present such information, and a need exists for a service that can automatically gather such data and summarize it automatically into story form, the patent description says.

The application generally describes the story generating apparatus in terms of a portable phone, but the apparatus could also be a computer, digital camera, home electronic appliance, projector, home server, digital video recorder, satellite broadcasting receiver or television receiver, according to the patent description.

The patent application was filed on March 30 by inventors Hee-Seok Jeong, Young-Hee Park and Jeong-Won Cha of South Korea’s Changwon National University.

September 14, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – A group of scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said Wednesday that they have been awarded a patent for a type of nuclear reactor that could eventually be used to turn radioactive waste into new fuel.

Mike Kotschenreuther, Prashant Valanju and Swadesh Mahajan, physicists at UT’s College of Natural Sciences, said the patent covers a fusion-fission hybrid nuclear reactor that would use nuclear fusion and fission together to incinerate nuclear waste. Fusion produces energy by fusing atomic nuclei, and fission produces energy by splitting atomic nuclei.

The process of burning the waste would also produce energy, a process which the scientists hope could eliminate 99 percent of the most toxic waste from traditional nuclear fission reactors.

“The potential for this kind of technology is enormous,” Mahajan said. “Now that we have the patent, we hope this will open up opportunities to engage with the research and development community to further this potentially world-changing technology.”

The patented reactor would rely on a tokamak device, which uses magnetic fields to produce fusion reactions. The tokamak is surrounded by an area that would house a nuclear waste fuel source and waste byproducts of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The device is driven by a new technology the three physicists developed called the Super X Divertor, which they called a “crucial technology” with the capacity to safely divert enormous amounts of heat out of the reactor core to keep the reactor producing energy.

The need to store nuclear waste is among the biggest impediments to more widespread use of nuclear energy. Projects like the proposed Yucca Mountain long-term nuclear waste storage site in Nevada have met with much public opposition.

The physicists say their invention could someday drastically decrease the need for any additional or expanded geological waste dumps like Yucca Mountain, making nuclear power cleaner and more viable.

The scientists’ hybrid reactor currently remains in a conceptual phase, they said. The Super X Divertor, though, is being installed as the centerpiece of a $40 million upgrade of the MAST tokamak in the United Kingdom.

“This installation is a critical step forward in testing the Super X Divertor experimentally,” the scientists said.

August 28, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Apple was granted a patent on Tuesday for a system of activating certain preset functions on a wireless device depending upon information like the device’s location, which could be used in future iPhones, iPads and other devices to automatically change device settings based on where a user may be.

U.S. Patent Number 8,254,902, titled “Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device,” describes a method for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain event or other trigger. In one variant, the event could be act of the wireless device associating with a certain access point, like a GPS, cellular or Wi-Fi network.

Under this method, various aspects of device functionality, or “policies,” might be enabled or restricted. This “policy enforcement” capability could be used to to disable noise or light emanating from wireless devices, such as at a movie theater, for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices, such as in academic settings, and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area, according to the patent description.

Despite the existence of a wide variety of different preexisting approaches to wireless device control, no one approach satisfies the need of providing an apparatus and methods of automatically disabling, replacing, or modifying the functionality of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain condition, such as entering a particular location, the patent description says.

Ideally, such apparatus and methods would in one aspect allow certain designated zones or areas to enforce policies regarding wireless device operation, and be protected from having unwanted ringing or alarms, display functions or other events associated with the wireless device.

This would also ideally prevent or frustrate the use of wireless devices for inappropriate purposes, the patent description says.

“Wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues,” the patent description says. “For example, cell phones with loud ringers frequently disrupt meetings, the presentation of movies, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, academic lectures, and test-taking environments.”

“Excessive lighting emanating from wireless devices can also create disruption in dark environments,” the description says. “While it is well known that excessive or bright lighting in a movie theater can spoil the mood of certain movies, excessive lighting can also become a more serious issue in other contexts.”

Inventors Michael Bell of Cupertino, California and Vitali Lovich of Toronto, Canada filed their patent application in June 2008.

July 31, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Six years may seem like a long time to wait for the award of a patent. However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg patiently waited for approval on an application governing certain privacy settings for six long years. There was definitely cause for celebration by Zucks when it was announced last week that he had been granted his first patent. Patent number 8,225,376 is listed as “a system and method for dynamically generating privacy summary” and was awarded to inventors Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former Chief of Privacy Officer, Chris Kelly.

In layman’s terms, the patent was designed to create a display for a person’s profile on Facebook. The profile is affected by certain privacy settings that are chosen by the user, displayed to the user, and are viewable by other people using the same social networking website. Essentially, the technology would let Facebook users customize the way their profile appears to other users. The patent was originally rejected by the USPTO because examiners thought it was too obvious. However, when Facebook went public, Zuckerberg’s team redoubled their efforts and pushed the patent through. And after numerous interviews with the Examiner the USPTO finally granted the patent.

Even to the most basic of computer networking users, the patent seems awfully simplistic. Some experts are going as far as to say that it is no more than a fancy accessory. But these days it seems that the larger the patent portfolio the better. Last month Facebook bought hundreds of patents from IBM and Microsoft to provide a better defense against the threat of ongoing litigation, including its lawsuit against Yahoo. The Yahoo lawsuit was later settled, but the patents should serve the company well into the future.

July 24, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Carfax is known for its comprehensive vehicle history database which allows customers to verify that new vehicle purchases haven’t been in an undisclosed accident. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Carfax has embarked upon a foray into the patent world. From the patent it appears that Carfax is moving toward further assistance with the insurance industry. To that end, Carfax announced this week that it received a Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its patent application for a “system and method for insurance underwriting and rating” identified as Serial number 13/181,736. The USPTO typically issues a Notice of Allowance once it comes to an initial determination that a patent can be granted from a review of a patent application.

A representative from Carfax expressed excitement that it will soon be able to initiate its plans to provide cutting edge services to customers in the insurance industry. Currently, Carfax’ technology systems contain over 10 billion records which cover cars, light trucks and SUV’s in the United States since 1981. In addition to a massive data collection from over 34,000 data sources, Carfax uses a pool of information from state DMVs, police departments, service facilities and collision repair centers. Data is also verified by vigorous quality control analysis that is conducted at regular intervals to weed out irrelevant or inaccurate data.

The new invention would provide greater accuracy and more options for consumers when selection insurance options. If granted, the patent would allow Carfax to use its significant amount of knowledge and experience to assist insurance underwriting companies and offer insurance customers new insurance options. The Carfax patent could lead to more accurate rate options for consumers.

July 18, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – In a scenario akin to a science-fiction movie script, the coffee filtration system marketplace could soon be flooded with clones. Fortunately, it is anticipated that the clones won’t be dangerous to anyone except perhaps those folks attempting to brew the perfect cup of coffee. For the connoisseur of that perfect cup of freshly brewed joe, there will be an anxious watch on the grocery store isle very soon, since Green Mountain Coffee Roaster’s (GMCR) patents 5,325,765 and 5,840,189 will either partially or completely expire in September 2012.

When the initial patents for K-Cup’s expire, industry experts are predicting a glut of cheap K-Cup knock-offs. As a result, company shares were down and investors appear worried. However, GMCR insists that there is no reason for investors or consumers to fret. It points to evidence provided by Keurig, the original creator of the K-Cup coffee filter system. Upon hearing of concerns, Keurig acknowledged that the method initially utilized by the K-Cup coffee filter is mediocre at best and has since been replaced by a better cartridge (patent 6,645,537) which will not expire until 2020. However, even its most recent patents did not completely satisfy Research and Development at GMCR.

Pending patent application 20050051478 is intended to protect the superior coffee filtration system utilized in the most recent version of the K-Cup, which is currently in the marketplace. Moreover, the filter design covered in the two expiring patents has not been used since the inception of the K-Cup. The coffee company anticipates that research on the demographic for Keurig buyers indicates that its customers would not likely sacrifice quality for a few pennies per cartridge. Consequently, GMCR insists that consumers educate themselves and be aware that clones of the products covered in original K-Cup patents may reap cost savings, but will brew a lower quality cup of coffee.

GMCR has developed a reputation for guarding its patents very carefully and lists all applicable patent information on its product packing, including those patents still pending. Additionally, the coffee company has been known to vigorously defend itself using patent infringement litigation (several cases are still ongoing) whenever necessary.

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