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Discussion of all things patent mapping and analytics.

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As reported in the World Intellectual Property Review, fashion icons Levi Strauss and Gap have been accussed in a Texan court of infringing a patent owned by Icon Laser Solutions, a limited liability company in Texas. The patent itself is US5567207, filed in 1994 for a Method for marking and fading textiles with lasers, and claiming in its first claim:

1. A method for color fading, dyed textile materials with a laser, comprising the steps of:
- placing under a laser beam a dyed textile material; and
- scanning the laser beam generated by the laser with a selected set of parameters to fade the dye of the textile material to replicate a uniformly faded textile or a stone washed, acid washed or acid ball washed textile.

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This is an update of a blog first published in August 2014. Since then our terminology has changed from Automated Search Reports to online Cluster Searching but the results below would still apply. 

 

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The US based National Security Agency (NSA) has been in the news a lot recently due to its activities, which include the collection and analysis of telephone and internet records. While the exact nature of this analysis is both confidential and controversial, it is thought to include analysis of websites visited, and links between people as expressed via email and message traffic, and calls made. This type of analysis is often referred to as 'metadata' analysis, where metadata can be defined as 'data about data'. 

But is not only the NSA that understands the value of metadata. As discussed by Maria Konnikova's excellent article on MIT's human dynamics scientist Dr Alex Pentland, the likes of Google and Apple are also interested in metadata. Pentland's work began with counting Canadian beavers from outer space back in 1973. Since beavers were small, and satelites crude back in 1973, Pentland started counting beaver ponds instead. This is a great example of the use of indirect measures to try to find data that would otherwise be impractical to gather. Since then Pentland has been working on wearble technology like Google glasses, as well as on metadata in general:

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In an earlier and much read blog we reviewed the patent portfolio of Tesla, and concluded that their highest ranked patent was US7698078 for an Electric vehicle communication interface. This patent was filed on 18 July 2014, has a priority date of 15 June 2007, and has as its first claim: 

1. A method of communicating with an electric vehicle, said method including the steps of:

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Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk recently announced that "all of our patents belong to you', for reasons described below:  

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

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The US Supreme Court has famously just invalidated US5970479, filed by Alice Corporation for Methods and apparatus relating to the formulation and trading of risk management contracts, or a method of managing counter party risk during exchange of contract. The reason for this judgement can be summarised by the following extract from the judgement: 

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According to ZD-Net, the Chinese government has now revealed the 310 patents included as part of licensing agreements between Microsoft and Android manufacturers. These license agreements are thought to be worth as much as $2 billion annually in licensing revenue to Microsoft, or much more than Windows is making from its Window's phone. Certainly such patent dominance does not surprise us here at Ambercite, as we saw that Microsoft had the second strongest patent portolio in our 2011 patent landscape review of smartphone patents (see Figure 5 on page 12).   

Ambercite has recently released a series of Automated Reports, including a patent portfolio review report. An earlier blog provided an example of a portfolio report for patents belonging to Carnegie Mellon University, and this identified that one of the most important parameters for identifying valuable patents could be who the most common owners of forward citation patents are. We also showed how identifying the most similar forward citation patent can also suggest the most valuable patents. 

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How do you find licensees for lowly cited patents?   

In an ideal world, all of the patents you own or manage would have a wide range of forward citations, allow you to peruse this list to find the most likely licensees. However not all patents have a good number of forward citations, but sometimes you still need to find commercial opportunities for them, even if prior to the potential culling of these patents. We know this because Ambercite has already undertaken a number of searches for commercial opportunities for lowly cited patents.

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Ambercite has previously covered both a prior art and licensee search for the patents behind the 1 billion patent judgement against Marvell, recently raised by Judge Nora Fischer to $1.54 billion. No doubt patent owners all over the world have looked at their patent portfolio and asked 'do I have anything similar?' 

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Life360 founder Chris Hull has responded to an accusation of patent infringement in a way that many accused infringers might have been tempted to do so in the past, but probably advised against by their lawyer:

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