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.

July 10, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – After a long and vicious battle over competing patent infringement claims, two of the Internet’s most popular destinations – Facebook.com and Yahoo.com – have agreed to drop respective lawsuits and license patents to each other. The original Yahoo lawsuit was initiated in March 2012, during the short-lived leadership of its controversial CEO, Scott Thompson. Facebook fought back by filing its own patent infringement lawsuit in April.

Thompson was subsequently let go as a result of a resume scandal, but the parties were already knee deep in litigation. Yahoo’s patent infringement complaint was premised on the allegation that Facebook was profiting from Yahoo’s ideas and claimed that Facebook infringed on 10 critical Yahoo Internet technology patents. Two additional patents were later added to the case. The patents covered Internet advertising, privacy controls, social networking and other important Yahoo technology. However, before the two combatants could step into the courtroom, both Facebook and Yahoo issued statements indicating that both companies had agreed to settle their disputes outside of court.

Despite the fact that no money will change hands, the new patent alliance will allow Facebook and Yahoo to share advertising and content. Experts further anticipate that the new agreement will help Yahoo recover some of the revenue it recently lost when large marketers decided to spend less on Yahoo advertising and increase spending on Facebook.

In anticipation of the partnership, both parties have already begun work on ads for the other’s website and Yahoo has agreed to feed coverage of major news events through the social networking website. In addition to saving countless dollars in litigation expenses, Facebook will now have a greater opportunity to tailor ads to fit the more specific interests of its over 900 million users in heavily trafficked Yahoo owned areas. It is anticipated that the new partnership will also help the flagging financial status at Yahoo and assist Facebook in winning over skeptical investors. Experts hope that the new agreement between Facebook and Yahoo will set a positive example for corporate America and encourage creative compromise, rather than settling disputes with litigation.

July 3, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – The leading cellular phone chipmaker, Qualcomm, has announced its plan to create a subsidiary company in order to protect its patents. In light of increasing cellphone technology patent infringement lawsuits, such as the cases that Samsung and Apple are currently facing, it has been reported that Qualcomm’s move to use two different companies is to avoid similar lawsuits in the future.

The new structure of the organization will include Qualcomm Incorporated, which will consist of Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL), Qualcomm’s corporate functions, as well as the majority of its patent portfolio. The newly formed Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. (QTI) will include the semiconductor department, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), research and development as well as the product and services division. This transition is said to take effect at the end of the 2013 fiscal year.

Chairman and Chief Executive Paul E. Jacobs stated, “Our internal reorganization will provide even greater protection for our industry-leading intellectual property portfolio as our products and services businesses seek to accelerate innovation and deliver our products to market quickly” and “we are confident that this change to our corporate structure will be accomplished with little to no disruption to employees and customers.”

In a statement released on behalf of the organization the company stated, “QTI and its subsidiaries will have no rights to grant licenses or other rights to patents held by Qualcomm Incorporated. There will be no changes to the intellectual property that is currently owned by Qualcomm Innovation Center, Inc., which works closely with the open source community to accelerate the advancement of the wireless industry as a whole.”

When it comes to patent infringement lawsuits, Qualcomm is no stranger to them. In the past it has been involved in lawsuits with Nokia and Broadcom. In fact, according to a settlement with Broadcom in 2009, Qualcomm is still paying off the millions of dollars. In its settlement to end the patent infringement lawsuit Qualcomm agreed to pay $891 million to Broadcom over a span of four years. The lawsuit was originally filed in 2005.

Qualcomm’s patents are essentially known as the company’s ‘bread and butter’ and so it is understandable as to why the company is willing to go to great lengths in order to protect its intellectual property portfolio.

June 26, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Intel recently acquired 1,700 patents from InterDigital’s wireless technology intellectual property portfolio. The purchase essentially saved InterDigital as it had been rumored to closing its doors altogether. In February InterDigital had stated that it was eager to sell the bulk of its patents and it was on the lookout for a buyer.

While many electronics companies have jumped on the bandwagon of creating smartphones and tablets, Intel has watched from afar. Until this year that is when it introduced the first Intel-based smartphone to the market in India which has been widely successful. According to reports, with the acquisition of InterDigital’s patents and patent applications Intel may now begin to transition into the U.S. smartphone market.

Doug Melamed, Intel senior vice president and general counsel, recently made a statement regarding the patent purchase stating, “These patents will support Intel’s strategic investments in the mobile segment. The addition of these patents expands our already large, strong and diverse portfolio of intellectual property.”

As Melamed stated, Intel is continuing its success in making successful transitions as it is preparing for the release of the new Microsoft operating system, Windows 8. Just as Intel’s intellectual property portfolio has continued to expand so has its relationship with Windows. We can expect to see more of ‘Wintel’ as the new Windows 8 operating system is expected to be released later this year.

As for InterDigital, its senior executive vice president of strategy and finance Scott McQuilkin stated of the purchase, “the acquisition of this portfolio of InterDigital’s technologies by a global technology leader like Intel affirms the efforts of our research and development team which actively shares our innovations with the worldwide standards bodies, defining technologies that are central to the world’s major wireless systems and devices” and “this transaction, which involves a small portion of our overall patent portfolio, marks an important milestone of InterDigital’s stated strategy of expanding the monetization of its large and growing intellectual property portfolio. By executing on our business plan, which has been broadened to include patent sales, licensing partnerships and other possibilities, we see tremendous potential to expand revenue and build shareholder value.”

June 19, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Merck announced today that it was not successful in its recent patent infringement lawsuit to protect the patent for its best selling drug Nasonex. The lawsuit, filed in 2009, was intended to stop Canadian drug manufacturer Apotex from selling a generic version of its popular nasal allergy drug.

Apotex, popular for selling less-expensive versions of many U.S. prescription medications, had been accused of selling a generic version of Nasonex before the Merck patent had expired. The Merck patent for Nasonex is not due to expire until 2018, but Apotex took an offensive stance and challenged the validity of the patent. The decision handed down in the New Jersey court was both positive and negative for the well-known drug company. The district court ruled that the Nasonex patent was valid, but the Apotex product did not infringe on Merck’s chemical composition. A patent attorney for Merck said that although the drug manufacturer is relieved that its patent was reaffirmed, it is reviewing its options and is likely to appeal the decision.

With many generic options, today’s brand name drug manufacturers often have tremendous competition in the prescription drug market. In addition to its increased research and development for new drugs, Merck has recently cut many of its prescription costs in an effort to compete with the growing number of generic drug options. Further contributing to its struggles, the patent for its popular drug Singular is set to expire in August and Pfizer’s version of its anti-cholesterol drug Vytorin, is doing much better than it had anticipated. However, despite its financial concerns, Merck’s first quarter earnings rose 67%, and the pharmaceutical giant appears poised for continued growth in the upcoming year.

Located in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, Merck is one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world. Although it was established in 1891, it did not officially become a major U.S. drug company until after World War I. Currently Merck’s name is well known, not only because of its popular prescription medication commercials, but because its revenue and product sales have propelled it into the top seven pharmaceutical makers in the world.

June 12, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Ascendant Engineering Services (AES) announced today that it was granted a patent for its ground-breaking small arms weapon shock simulator technology. Patent 8,166,797 was awarded to the highly anticipated product, and is intended for use by the U.S. Military and other companies that regularly do business with the Department of Defense. The product was also recently presented to the prestigious NDIA Joint Armaments Conference in Seattle, Washington. AES is excited about the implications that its newest technology could have on the future of small weapons testing and certification.

AES created the Small Arms Weapon Shock Simulator to provide a more environmentally friendly product that could also offer substantial cost savings to the U.S. Military and Department of Defense contractors. Currently, the military requires soldiers to certify weapons for use. This certification process involves individual soldiers taking the newly configured weapon systems onto the field to be fired thousands of times. However, this method is considered grossly inefficient because of the cost of utilizing soldiers and the high cost of ammunition. Additionally, when weapons are fired thousands of times, toxins are released into the ground, atmosphere and potentially onto the soldiers firing the weapons. The Weapon Shock Simulators allow the military and other related industries to bypass the traditional methods of certification and use a machine instead. Currently, AES is the only small arms weapon shock simulator proven to recreate known live fire failures on units under test and the only weapon shock simulator approved for shock test in place of small arms live fire for the Department of Defense.

The U.S. Army already uses the Weapon Shock Simulator as a substitute for its live fire testing. And given the current trend in attempting to both minimize costs and create more environmentally friendly practices, the other branches of the military and Department of Defense contractors will likely follow the Army’s lead soon.

AES, located outside of Austin, Texas was founded in 2004 by a group of engineers. The company is excited about its future prospects and the opportunities its newly patented technology will create. “In the year since we launched the WSS, we have received tremendous feedback from customers and prospective customers about additional ways that we could use this technology to create new products that would gain immediate traction in the defense industry,” said Jon Noeth, co-founder and President of the company. “The patent gives us the comfort to move forward on some of those initiatives.”

June 8, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Smoking alternatives and methods for quitting have become a hugely popular and lucrative industry. There are over 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, and 250 of those chemicals are harmful while 69 can cause cancer. Consequently, millions of smokers are becoming motivated to quit or cut back on their cigarette habits.

One alternative to smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes is the use of a device called an electronic cigarette. Celebrities such as Kristen Stewart, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Robert Pattinson, have all been recently photographed using electric cigarettes to curb their smoking habits. Capitalizing on the momentum of this new trend, Vapor Corp. has filed for a patent to improve its electric cigarette technology. The original patent application filed in 2011 was provisional and included the technology for its electric cigarettes. The most recent addition to its patent application is non-provisional, and adds an improved padded cartridge making the electronic smoking device look and feel more like a real cigarette.

Most electric cigarettes are comprised of a battery, a nicotine cartridge and an atomizer. The battery powers the cigarette, and creates a glowing tip similar to the lighted end of a real cigarette. The nicotine cartridge contains liquid nicotine and optional flavoring. The Atomizer gets hot and vaporizes the nicotine solution, which is then inhaled as vapor by the smoker. Existing cigarette cartridges are typically made of metal or hard plastic. The new soft tip created by Vapor Corp. offers a more realistic experience for users that will more closely resemble an actual cigarette. As such, the padded cigarette cartridge is a significant improvement for the e-cigarette market of products.

Vapor Corp. is a leading distributor and marketer of electronic cigarettes, with brands including Smoke Fifty-One®, Krave®, Green Puffer®, Americig®, VAPOR-X® and EZ Smoker®. Located near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Vapor owns the largest portfolio of brands of any e-cigarette company and considers itself an innovator in the field of electronic cigarette devices. Vapor’s electronic cigarettes are available online, on television and through retail locations throughout the United States.

June 5, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company, a Biopharmaceutical company based in San Diego, has recently been granted a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a patent covering compositions of modified pectins. On its website, La Jolla Pharmaceutical states that its company is “dedicated to the development of treatments that significantly improve outcomes in patients with life-threatening diseases” and the issued patent number 8,187,642 gives the company the ability to do just that. Patent ’642, which modifies pectin compositions and molecules, is protected until 2025.

Dr. George F. Tidmarsh, President and CEO of La Jolla Pharmaceutical stated, “We are pleased to receive this patent protection which broadens and further extends our intellectual property position for modified pectins,” and “The issuance of this patent comes at a strategically important time for us as we prepare to move forward with clinical trials of our lead compound, GCS-100, in oncology, kidney disease and organ transplant indications.”

The ability to modify pectin compositions, which this patent provides for, has the potential to “bind and sequester galectin-3″ which has been linked to the responsibility of diseases in humans such as cancer. This patent could possibly help in improved solutions for these diseases.

Patent ’642 is one of three of the pharmaceutical company’s patents that are linked to developing a reduction in cancer’s growth rate. In the technology portion of its website the company states “La Jolla Pharmaceutical Company is leveraging the unique biochemistry of the galectin family of proteins to develop innovate therapies to treat a multitude of human diseases. In particular, over-expression of galectin-3 (one member of the galectin family) has been implicated in cancer and chronic organ failure. Thus, modulation of galectin-3 activity is an attractive therapeutic target. GCS-100, La Jolla’s lead product, is a first-in-class inhibitor designed to sequester and eliminate circulating levels of galectin-3.”

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