Patents

The first chart below shows the probability that a patent will become litigated for the whole USPTO (blue), commercial and business software IPC G06Q (red), and the total G06Q patent issued per year from 1990-2011. The chart tells the story pretty clearly. That is, software patents have a much higher possibility of litigation than average for the whole USPTO. Also, commercial software patenting is increasing significantly to over 3000 patents per year. In this data model probability is calculated by the number of litigated patents each year divided by a cumulative total of issued patents in each category starting in 1976. While patenting is increasing, litigation is increasing faster. The actual probabilities may be slightly higher than shown here considering that the cumulative totals are run from 1976 until the calculated year. The second chart showing the average age of litigated patents for the entire USPTO and G06Q show that…

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The uncertainty in the dragons den of software patents may be driving many countries away from competing for patents. This is perhaps bad news for the US and further evidence that software patents restrict innovation. Considering that only 12.9% of software patents hold up upon litigation ( The study was carried out by John R. Allison, Mark A. Lemley & Joshua Walker for McCombs Graduate School of Business, University of Texas at Austin). The data are actually quite staggering. The chart above shows that the US holds approximately 55% of all USPTO patents in existence. On the other hand, The US holds almost 70% of all software patents in the US and even more staggeringly 85% of all business and commercial software patents.

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Software patent policy keeps getting press for the amount of litigation rife. Many question whether the excessive litigation of software companies is hurting innovation and there are many sides to this story. Most agree the system is broken, but consensus lacks in how exactly to fix it. One example of how the system is broken involves Ceats Inc. They amassed many software patents regarding ticket selling software. However, last year a jury rejected the validity of their patents. The jury argued that prior art had already existed. Therefore there is a two-fold problem of A) The patent office ability to search for prior art or judge non-obviousness seems to be inadequate. B) If companies cannot rely on the validity of patents that have been issued, then ROE uncertainty is high and the possibility of getting sued by a patent troll would certainly deter large companies from entering into questionable markets….

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Building a USPTO MySQL Database from Scratch

Patent applications and grants are all public domain and searchable using a variety of sources (Google Patent Search, USPTO, NBER, & several proprietary sites). The problem with these sources is that they are unusable for conducting detailed patent research. Although they can help you find and read patents, and offer full-text and abstract search, they cannot compile patent statistics, or calculate indicators. It’s even impossible to generate and export a list of patent numbers based on your search criteria. In order to calculate these types of data required for meaningful research and patent management, a complete database is needed in an SQL server (MS-SQL server or MySQL for example). And while the USPTO data is available for download in a few formats, it’s no small task to download these files, parse them according to their changing format and then assemble a database. Luckily, someone has done the saintly task of…

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TCT of Autonomous Vehicle IPCs

Is using Technological Cycle Time (TCT) an acceptable way to evaluate the vitality of an industry? If a firm was looking into expanding their core R&D competencies would an industry with a faster growth rate attract them? Rapid growth in an industry is like a forrest full of deer. Easy hunting and big rewards. On the other hand, stagnation can occur within a sector when serious technological hurdles start to slow the pace of development. In that situation, technological breakthroughs are needed in order to pave the way for continued growth (Kayal, 1999). According to Kayal’s theories and observations regarding technological progress in the superconductor and semiconductor fields, looking at the TCT for an industrial sector can give you an idea about the pace of technological development taking place. TCT of several IPCs is shown (thin colored lines) below. The overall range is generally between 5-8. All the IPC’s closely…

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Autonomous Vehicles Patenting Activity

As autonomous vehicles get closer to a market reality, the patent engines will be firing up. What type of patenting activity can we see so far? Searching the USPTO abstracts for combinations of “autonomous”, “self- driving”, “car”, and “vehicle” I found a total of 271 patents. After organizing these patents into groups of their IPC class, I investigated each IPC class to determine if it is emerging or declining technology. Since vehicles such as submarines and airplanes have had autopilot functions since the 80’s there are some IPC classes such as “2D position controls” and “Steering Controls” that are already in decline. In order to find which IPC’s are emerging and which ones are in decline, I charted their growth of each IPC against it’s average over the 34 year period from 1976-2010. This is just a sample of the IPCs that I have investigated, however, it shows that some…

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Coopetition in the LED Industry

Finding Cooperative partners is a growing trend in business. The benefits of collaboration are increasingly becoming an important part of enhancing a firms capabilities and cost cutting. Analyzing a firm’s patent portfolio can enable a firm to find potential collaborative partners in order to achieve these ends. Joint venture, licensing can then become part of a firms R&D strategy. Even competitors can become valuable cooperative partners. This presentation from my MBA course looks at the reasons for collaborating and compares two firms in the LED industry in Taiwan. Their portfolio analysis demonstrates how they evolved from competitors to cooperators. LINK TO THE PDF: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/45852891/Joseph%20Lee%20-%20Coopetition.pdf

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Pace of Technological Innovation using TCT – Evidence in USPTO

Technology Cycle Time (TCT) is an accepted way to evaluate the pace of technological development although it requires some special considerations. A good analogy is how a chainsaw is a good way to cut down a tree, but it also presents many risks, including the inherent risk of felling a large object. Error of judgement, calculation or interpretation could be fatal. Here is some stark evidence that TCT calculations are a reliable indicator of the current technological environment. The speed of technological development is slowing in recent years. Is this only due to the economic situation? Unlikely. TCT in the USPTO shows that the slowing technological development preceded the economic crisis of 2007. Although overall patenting is increasing dramatically, the rate that the technology is replacing itself is actually slowing. Some evidence of this can be seen when you look at the average processor speed in PC’s and notebooks. Although…

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User Interface flexibility study for software dates back to the 80’s. Finally some strong models are emerging as the number of general purpose devices and platforms expand. For example, the handheld smart-phones now hold almost full PC capabilities and applications are commonly cross platform for iOS, Android, and PC/HTML. This presentation investigates the important considerations and models for creating a flexible mobile app development process. If you have any questions please email me: joseph.lee.esl@gmail.com https://dl.dropbox.com/u/45852891/NPD%20-%20Flexible%20Apps%20-%20BLOGFINAL.pdf

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Difference Between IPC, UPC, ECLA, & F-index

IPC, UPC, ECLA, F-index/F-term are all systems of patent classification.  Patent classification is important to organize the granted patents into categories so patent portfolio managers and strategic firm managers can search them as prior art, and for strategic purposes.  Concordance tables can help to compare one system to another.  In all cases, class is determined by the patent examiner, not chosen by the company.   IPC (International Patent Classification System) – 70,000 divisions of the IPC, which is the native patent classification system of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  IPC’s most general classification system consists of a letter (having 8 general classes in total), with A being human necessities. G & H are the most important and numerous high-tech general classifications for physics and electricity respectively.   UPC (USPC) (United States Patent Classification System) – The UPC is separate and not directly linked to the syntax of the IPC. …

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