Showing posts from August, 2017

3D Printing: Strategy to Get Better Coverage

The boom of 3D printing has improved the manufacturing process of products across many different industries. Products with structures that may have once been complex or even impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods may now be possible to make thanks to 3D printing.             As patent protection has been sought after for 3D printed products, much coverage has instinctively been directed towards 3D printing manufacturing methods. However, as 3D printing becomes pervasive throughout different industries, it may be increasingly difficult to obtain protection for 3D printing manufacturing methods, no matter what product is being 3D printed. Thus, as 3D printing becomes more and more common, claim coverage for 3D printing manufacturing methods may need to be greatly narrowed during prosecution moving forward.             One strategy to combat these above issues may be to claim the product itself, focusing on structures of the product that are only possible becaus

Product Liability Issues

        In a recent blog post , we touched on “outside-the-box” thinking as one way to develop intellectual property portfolios in upcoming technologies. More specifically, we discussed a recent patent application by Google including technology that reduces secondary impact in a situation where an autonomous vehicle strikes a pedestrian.  To reduce secondary impact, an eggshell-like coating over an adhesive layer was proposed, such that the pedestrian may become stuck to the adhesive layer in the event of a collision and the secondary impact may be avoided.           While this patent application highlights outside-the-box thinking, it also serves to highlight the intersection of technology development and product liability, which is the subject of this post.  Specifically, what you say in a patent application may come back to haunt you in product liability cases.           Take the Google patent application discussed above ( US 9340178 B1 ). Via the language in the application,

LG Expends Significant Efforts to Secure Patent Rights on Battery HeatExchanger

LG has a significant portfolio in the battery space, and has shown a willingness to aggressively pursue patent protection even on very specific improvements.  A recent example relates to a patent application centered on the structure of a serpentine heat exchanger (element 100 in the figures below) and an inlet tube of the heat exchanger. Figure 7 of LG’s patent application shows a schematic of a first side of the heat exchanger 100 Figure 9, a schematic of an inlet extension portion 229 including inlet tube 204 of heat exchanger 100 LG claimed this invention as: 1. A battery cell assembly, comprising a battery cell . . . a heat exchanger . . . an inlet tube having a portion disposed within the inlet extension portion and another portion extending outwardly from the inlet extension portion . . . . The Patent Office Examiner rejected the application, citing a prior art reference - Ouchi. Ouchi discloses flattened tubes 21 which are open at two ends and fluidically connected t

OEM Suppliers Use Their IP To Protect Against Corporate Mergers

Intellectual property comes in handy in many ways. There is of course the traditional example of protecting the owner from competitive products. Another less considered situation is where it protects the owner from their customer making a supply base change. In the global corporate world, major OEMs sometimes consolidate, looking for costs savings by increasing volume and reworking the supply base equation. Consider the recent example of GM's European division Opel transferring to PSA/Citroen. Suppliers may utilize their IP to reduce the ability of the new owner moving parts business to a different supplier. In such a case, even very specific and narrow patents can be blocking if they cover the part as produced for the OEM. Even if design-arounds are available, re-certification and testing requirements often financially preclude such options as the costs to change cancel any savings by switching the supplier.