Showing posts from August, 2018

Wish List: Coffee Drone

Ever wish a coffee would magically appear at your desk during your mid-morning slump? Well, the coffee drones from U.S. Patent. No. 10,040,551 granted August 7, 2018 are the stuff caffeine dreams are made of. In the patent, drones carrying coffee (or another caffeinated beverage) scan an area for people who look like their “cognitive capability is likely to be impaired” from sleep issues. The drone also looks for people requesting coffee by waving their hands towards the drone, for example. Taking on the role of caffeine guardian, the drone then delivers your coffee to you, “emit[ting] an alarm if the wrong individual intercepts the coffee.” These patented coffee drones showcase just one of the many ways AI may make an appearance in our future daily lives. Based on its current trajectory, it appears AI is going to be used to complete increasingly complex tasks as time goes on. In the meantime, this coffee drone definitely makes my wish list.

Elementary, my dear examiner!

In the current MPEP guidelines for assessing patentability under 35 U.S.C. 101, there are listed four categories of judicial exceptions: i) abstract ideas; ii) laws of nature; iii) natural phenomena; and iv) natural products. Thus, for pedagogical example, one might discount numerical counting under category (i),  the laws of thermodynamics under category (ii), lightning under category (iii), and the chemical elements under category (iv). Actually, about that last case. Not every chemical element is a natural product. Only 90 of the 118 known elements occur in appreciable amounts in nature. The rest are, by and large, artificially synthesized. Where, then, is the judicial exception in obtaining patents for the remaining 28? This was the question that Glenn T. Seaborg and the Atomic Energy Commission posed to the Patent Office over 50 years ago. Indeed, when the Office rejected Seaborg’s patent applications for americium (element 95) and curium (element 96), Seaborg appealed and won

The Early Filer Gets the Poke

As poke restaurants grow in popularity across the United States, trademark conflicts have been rising to the surface. For example, “Aloha Poke Holdings LLC” out of Chicago, IL, known as “Aloha Poke Co” has already been granted a trademark on the words “Aloha Poke”.             The Chicago-based poke company has wasted no time in defending their mark against competitors using “Aloha” or “Aloha Poke” in their name or marketing. At least one Washington-based company has already opted to change their name in response to a cease and desist letter from “Aloha Poke Holdings LLC”. Considering the close tie between the words “aloha” and “poke”, there are likely to be many other poke restaurants that will fall under fire.             However, although “Aloha Poke Co” has been winning battles in defending their trademark, there has already been some negative PR over their aggressive protection for use of the word “aloha”.             It goes to show that although the early filer gets the worm

Agribots Coming to a Farm Near You

Pretty soon you may be getting your food lovingly grown by an agribot. Right now there is a boom in robotic development, and companies have been zeroing in their attention on agriculture to solve some big problems.    For example, in Japan Spread Co. has developed a techno farm concept, which is essentially a smart greenhouse with robots carrying out the bulk of the heavy labor. The indoor environment of Spread Co.’s techno farm allows for micro-climate control for ideal growing conditions, and the vertical arrangement of the techno farm’s crops is extremely space efficient. Further, Spread Co.’s techno farm solves some pretty big farming challenges in Japan, as Japan has an aging population that may not be able to carry-out traditional farming practices and is an island with limited land for agriculture.             Or, just this March, Walmart filed a patent for a robotic bee that pollinates crops, which may help to address pollination issues due to declining bee populations. T

Snails Get the Spa Treatment

Snail mucin has been having a moment in skin products over the last couple of years thanks to its awesome hydrating benefits. With the uptick in demand for snail mucin though, where are companies getting all of the slime from? Turns out, specialized collection devices have been developed to assist snail farmers in harvesting snail mucin. As just one example, European Application Number EP20160202140 is a patent application to a specialized device for snail mucin production and collection.             The device of EP20160202140 has an enclosed chamber with a basket inside, and the snails are placed in the basket and washed. Then, the collection device creates a spa-like environment, referred to as a “sauna”, using a special solution in the chamber (e.g., stimulating solution, sterilized water or ozonated water). The snail sauna, which is not so hot as to harm the snails, triggers the snails to produce slime. The slime is then collected and much of it is sold to beauty companies.