Showing posts from January, 2018

Blockchain Technology Patents – A Flurry of Activity

Blockchain patent activity is increasing rapidly. A description of the technology was first published in 2008 anonymously, and no intellectual property protections were placed on it. As the technology has become widely known due to its use by digital currencies, various established companies, as well as numerous start-ups and entrepreneurs, have begun seeking patent protection on innovations to the technology.  To date, there are over 200 US patents related to blockchain technologies granted since the beginning of 2013, including one for a digital currency ATM ( US Patent No. 9,135,787 ), one for making a payment with a tip button ( US Patent No. 9,436,935 ), and one for a system and method of analyzing blockchain transactions ( US Patent No. 9,298,806 ). There are currently over 1000 US patent applications awaiting examination. The blockchain protocol was developed to solve the technological problem of how to create an open, distributed ledger that was verifiable and immutable. The

Potential Market Disruption by the Rising Role of Electronics Packaging

The most cost-effective way to improve computer performance for the last several decades has been to shrink the size of the transistor.  Thousands of patent applications over the years have focused on exactly this approach.  However, shrinking the node size is becoming increasingly less cost effective. This trend is creating more incentive for the creation of other methods to improve computer performance. For example, Taiwan Semiconducting Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has created a package on package method of packaging chips that shows performance increases comparable to an iteration of node shrinkage. Specifically, TSMC has claimed that their Integrated Fan-Out (InFO) process can realize greater than a 20% reduction in overall package thickness, a 20% speed gain, and 10% better power dissipation [1] . These benefits were recognized by Apple when InFO packaging was used in their A10 and A11 processors. TSMC increased their patent filings to 873 in 2016, which is a 74% increase over 20


It’s not something typically on the forefront of the minds of most people, but it surely strikes fear in anyone seriously contemplating it: the idea of being lost in space.  Poor George Clooney in the movie Gravity, just floating away into the abyss, without any means to return to safety!  If he only had some way…some “return home button” of sorts…. Astronauts and the public alike can rest easy, as engineers have recently filed a patent US 20170192425 A1 for a spacesuit self-return system to ensure spacewalking astronauts are safe, even in the event that none of their crewmates can rescue them. Upon seeing this news, my first thought was that such a suit would of course need sensors, a navigation system of some sort, some *safe* means of propelling the person through space, etc.  With the recent advancements in autonomous vehicle technology, I was especially curious as to how such a spacesuit self-return system might be claimed in a patent filing, to differentiate it from somethin

The Producer

The job of a patent is to protect an invention and create business value.  The job of a patent professional is to help draft the patent application to maximize this value. They can do this by making sure the invention is explained as clearly as possible through words and figures.  They can also do this by reasonably broadening the invention (for example, if the invention pertains to a glass, can it also pertain to a mug? a jug? any other liquid container?). Another way patent professional can add value is by using their creativity to help the inventor springboard their idea to new levels, similar to how a music producer helps a musician take their songs to new heights. Often, inventors (engineers, designers, etc.) suffer from tunnel vision: they becomes focused on a single aspect of their invention. This may serve them well when they are focused on a specific product geared towards a specific function with a specific deadline. That’s where a patent professional can help them broaden

Bosch gets another chance to save its tire pressure monitoring patent

Tire pressure sensors are amazing little devices.  For decades drivers were required to periodically check their tire pressure in each tire to ensure proper inflation. If the tires were not properly inflated, vehicle driving dynamics could be degraded, as well as fuel economy. With the advent of vehicle stability controls, tire pressure became even more important. Now, with tire monitoring sensors, the vehicle's control system can sense the individual tire pressure sensors in real-time to maintain improve vehicle stability and notify the operator of each tire's status. Bosch is the owner of US 6,904,796, a patent on a Remote Tire Monitoring System (RTMS) that relates to a handheld tool for activating RTMS tire sensors and communicating with a vehicle’s RTMS receiving unit. The patent was quite valuable, as Bosch had licensed the patent to numerous other automotive suppliers. However, one company decided to challenge the patent at the Patent Office through a procedure known a