Sunday, June 29, 2008

Specification stylistics

For example, in the technical description,. i.e., the specification section of the appication, the discussion of the drawings must be introduced by this legalistic sentence:

...the accompanying drawing in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the figures of the drawing

The language must be definite, the following are too nebulous to enable any claims that follow the section:

would... may... it ...It is then possible... can...

Pronouns must be decidedly avoided: it, them

The claims section is so serious that pronouns are never used therein.

The present tense is the king:

surface to be free of at least…” should be “enabling at least … to be removed

can be” should be “is

“capability” is rewritten as “structural characteristic

“with” is too amaturish, weak, nebulously fuzzy (in parallel, or including, internal to?) the thought idea related as “containing”

Thus: no such verbiage as would, could, may, possible, can, will

No pronouns it, its, them, this

"It is" always means something that can be expressed more clearly.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rewriting the 2nd amendment as a patent claim

The Supreme Court is once again contemplating the issue of gun control laws. An interesting question is what position the patent community should take, since the issue is one of the legal construction of the Second Amendment, and patent claim drafting is an ongoing process of legal construction. A letter to the New York Times last January or December offers an interesting observation. Let's think of constitutional amendments as social business methods. How do we write a patent claim equivalent to some form of the 2nd Amendment? Suppose we want to patent extremely broad ownership of guns by the public to promote public safety. We would write a claim as broadly as possible: 1. A method of increasing security of a state by allowing any person to keep and bear at least one arm. Everyone would be allowed to own at least one gun, though as infringers they would have to pay a royalty to do so. The claim has a broad scope and minimalist language (remember each word in the body of a claim is potentially limiting of scope). Such a claim corresponds to the following amendment language: 2nd Amendment': The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Much like the claim, it is a nice minimalist use of language to state a broad concept (everyone can own at least one gun), and the Founding Fathers were masters at saying as much as possible with as few words as possible (too minimal, if you were a woman or black). If the Founding Fathers wanted unlimited gun ownership, this language above is all you need, either as a patent claim or constitutional amendment. But as Times letter writer Regan McCarthy points out, the Founding Fathers could have used this minimalist language, but didn't. The actual Second Amendment has additional, limiting language: 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. which I argue corresponds to the following patent claim: 1. A method of increasing security of a state by allowing any person IN A WELL REGULATED MILITIA to keep and bear at least one arm. or 1. A method of increasing security of a state by allowing any person to keep and bear at least one arm, said person IN A WELL REGULATED MILITIA. or 1. A method of increasing security of a state with A WELL REGULATED MILITIA by allowing any person IN SAID MILITIA to keep and bear at least one arm. So the question is how do you write the Second Amendment as a patent claim, and once you do so, does the scope of the claim allow people not in militias to keep and bear arms? Much like the Times letter writer argues, I argue that the intent of the Founding Fathers was for state gun control via militia. If you try: 1. A method of increasing security of a state with A WELL REGULATED MILITIA by allowing any person to keep and bear at least one arm. as a patent claim, the MILITIA phrase is extraneous, since it doesn't connect to the claim body unless the "any person" is in the militia. Any other claim constructions to represent this Second Amendment language?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why you should always be careful with email addresses

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email. Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read: To: My Loving Wife Subject: I've Arrived Date: October 16, 2007 I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was. P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NASA astronauts that own patents

One of the misison specialists on the last Space Shuttle mission was Karen Nyberg, a mechnical engineer selected by NASA in 2000. According to press accounts, she is an inventor for a patent on robotic arms. A Canadian astronaut holds some patents - Bjarni Tryggvason: http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/astronauts/biotryggvason.asp and David A. Wolf (BSEE, M.D.) who is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association; the Experimental Aircraft Association; the International Aerobatic Club; and the Air National Guard (retired). He is also a Recipient of the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1990); NASA Inventor of the Year, 1992. Dr. Wolf graduated "with distinction" from the honors curriculum in electrical engineering at Purdue University and received an Academic Achievement Award upon graduation from medical school. He received the Carl R. Ruddell scholarship award for research in medical ultrasonic signal and image processing. He is a member of Eta Kappa Knu and Phi Eta Sigma honorary societies. Dr. Wolf has received 15 U.S. Patents and over 20 Space Act Awards primarily for 3-dimensional tissue engineering technologies, earning the Texas State Bar Patent of the Year in 1994. He has published over 40 technical papers.

Patent writing basics

Unique free-market commerce in US so far has shaped an inventive environment that has developed the most practical and fair patenting system. The clarity of English language, and the rules for pedantic, though precise method of expressing, describing, teaching, claiming and enabling an invention made a US patent the most authoritative business tool.

Regardless of business intentions, or the caliber of an inventor, a patent, when written with utmost care, would always protect the intellectual rights of the inventor. Unlike patenting requirements overseas, which have a flavor of braggadocio, commercial cliches, and egotistic whitewash.

A good example is the European use of characterized in the claim language. The word is the most obtuse, most foreign to the legal profession, and, for the lack of a fancy word, plain fuzzy.

Characterized is more common to the software programmers' object-class milieu. It is more common to psychologists, art reviewers, and any profession that has to describe a behavior or an appearance in arbitrary, non-binding terms. Characterized in no way belongs in patents, i.e., in the claims section of a patent, where every word counts, and often limits the scope of the invention, and often the intellectual rights of the inventor.

The claims section is the crucial centerpiece of a patent, staking out the inventor's territory in the land of similar inventions.

The seemingly rigid structure of the powerful claims section will explained later. The thrust of the overall patent sytarts with the background section.

BACKGROUND

A typical language for the section must contain passages closely structured around the following:

The application claims the benefit of priority from provisional U.S. Patent Application Serial No. zz/xxx,yyy filed Mmm. xx, YYYY which is expressly incorporated herein by reference. (if the full application is based on a provisional (informal, loossly written, filed less than 12 months prior to furnishing the patent application) application) and/or

The unexpected and advantageous results achieved from creating customized voice processing systems which are adaptable to new voice processing applications, when confronted with particular customer demands, are extraordinary in light of the present state of the art.

and/or

An illustrative example will provide to those with skill in the art an appreciation of the magnitude of this problem.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

While the Claims section is the legalistic support column of the patent, the technical description must start with a formal disclosure of the invention. Since the Claims language is legal, the language thereof precludes it from describing the invention to the general public.

The disclosure begins with the Summary of the Invention, and these guidelines for power passages:

Satisfaction of the above-referenced long-felt needs in the art is accomplished by the present invention, which provides an application development environment that allows customization of integrated voice processing systems

Maybe the next time the Claims section would be explained in more detail.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The good reason why we need enviro-energy inventions

Last (a week ago) friday's Wall Street Journal had an op-ed article about the world's water crisis, which is argued is worse than the energy crisis. One line reads: "The U.S. Dept. of Energy calculates that every 10,000 liters of water produces as little as five liters of ethanol, or one to two liters of biodiesel. Biofuels are economic nonsense, ecologically useless and ethically indefensible." This is so true. Inventors - you need to put your thinking caps on - we need better solutions for both energy and food supply problems. A good place to start is to see what the Bush administration is proposing for solutions, and start anywhere else. The need for inventions for the environment: a proposed Congressional bill (won't pass this year - representative of future bills) dealing with the environment will require the U.S. to cuts its CO2 emissions to 1,560 million tons by 2050, which was what the U.S. emissions were in 1922. In 1922, however, the U.S. population was 110 million, while in 2050 the population will be about 440 million (numbers from a WSJ letter to the editor, 6/6/2008). Since that reduction requires a social sacrifice the U.S. will never make, we will need massive breakthroughs in environmental technology. I am available for prior art searches!

Monday, June 23, 2008

On propellers, rivers, Albert and USPTO

Last Sunday's New York Times Business section had an inspiring article on Jay Harman, an inventor whose time has finally come. One paragraph is a good example of this enjoyable article. After informally studying vortexes for several decades, he went to his bathtub and, with a bit of cleverness, was able to create a cast from the vortex generated by water flowing down the drain. Then he used the cast to help redesign the rotating parts, or impellers, used in pumps and other devices to move fluids. Since then he has applied his approach more broadly to redesign all kinds of devices that move fluids and gases. Einstein was always fascinated by the laws of fluid movement, especially the flow of a river. On the contemporary note: when you see vortices of water flowing down the drain, you can imagine all the money wasted by this administration on fiddling with US Patent and Trademark Office.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Microsoft spends big on a patent typo

Microsoft has produced this fine example of how to develop patent claims: In November 2006, Microsoft filed a patent application of dubious merit, with the following first claim: Patent Application No. 20080134338 1. A method comprising:mapping a visual invariant to a program invariant; and discovering inputs to GUI logic that includes a user actions and a execution context to cause the program invariant to be violated. In June 2007, after millions of dollars of additional research, Microsoft filed a patent application (of dubious merit) which is a followup after a lengthy negotiations with at least 2 patent examiners having the following claim worded subtly different: Patent Application No. 20080133976 1. A method comprising:mapping a visual invariant to a program invariant; and discovering inputs to GUI logic that includes a user actions and an execution context to cause the program invariant to be violated. Having the indefinite article a may imply (as an example of one of the possibilities) the existence of context, which is not new, nor obvious, nor useful; as opposed to the an article implying the intended claim to a type of execution context, which may let the application to have (some) value. This is the millions of R&D dollars that Microsoft is spending to fix the rest of the grammatical errors in a claim, while choking patent examination pipelines with this crap.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some belated news on licensing (non-computer) mice

There must be a reasonably robust market in pharma to license in animal models of diseases. There's really only one licensing model that works - the annual fee.
I have structured these agreements two ways. The first is a license to a *breeding pair* of mice. This pretty much grants a license to use the animals at whatever rate/volume necessary for a representative period of time. Start with three years. The upfront fee can be sizeable-I saw one that was US$150k, if I remember correctly-with future annuals much lower. The median license fee was probably about US$50k. Keep in mind that the fees are directly proportional to how useful (duh!) the model is. Yet another model for cancer will likely be less valuable as a quasi-validated model for obesity. Models that have not been published upon are much less valuable than those that are. The other way I've licensed mouse models is to license a finite number of mice. This requires a lot of coordination with the PI and their willingness to house/breed the mice and ship them to the end-user when requested. It's generally quite a pain, but it provided an incredible amount of control over the resource. The fees are lower (think US$20k for 10 mice), but there's always a chance to "reorder". Just make sure that you send all of one gender, as teaching abstinence to mice is kind of tough. ;-) Regarding patenting - DON'T. Think about the financials. You can generate a nice income off of the mice without having an issued patent. You also want to license the model non-exclusively to maximize its use, with the side benefit of all that extra revenue. Plus, you effectively can control much of the early access to the technology. I don't see any advantages to patenting, unless you want to add a count to your internal metrics. Besides, by the time a patent issues it's not unlikely that a better/newer model will be created that people want to try. A couple of final thoughts. In the license, make sure that you are licensing for the specific/published use. I would suggest taking the "easy" approach and not even attempting to get royalties. It's very unlikely that you'll get them and you might as well speed up the licensing process. Request that if additional applications are discovered that they are reported back to you. Ensure that the mice are NOT allowed to be cross-bred to seek out additional traits, unless you have joint ownership in the resulting animal and full ownership in terms of distribution (pay them a percentage of the take from new models). Oh, and be sure you understand the provenance of how the model was created (i.e. it wasn't a result of cross-breeding another institutions' mouse with one in your PI's lab).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scary SciFi nanoorganism about to be patented

This was found as the result of rummaging through the back issues (June 23 2007) of New Scientist magazine. An article on nanobacteria tells of what most of us had never heard or read of before. Not surprisingly, there are issued and pending patents, probably with more to come. Maybe a growing practice area of biotech patent lawyers. A few paragraphs:
The Medusa Strain - an unknown life form is hardening your arteries and turning your kidneys to stone. That's if it exists at all - by Bijal Trivedi, New Scientist, 23 June 2007, 38 THEY are minuscule egg-shaped structures mere billionths of a metre across, dwarfed by the tiniest living cell and smaller than many viruses. They have a hard bony shell, replicate like a living organism and are wiped out by antibiotics and radiation, yet seem to lack DNA. Some say they are infectious microbes, possibly even an unknown form of life, able to cause diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to atherosclerosis. Others say they are simply harmless crystals. Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of nanobacteria. Once described as the "cold fusion of microbiology", the very existence of these microbes has been denied or ridiculed by mainstream opinion for nearly a decade and their proponents branded mavericks. Just like cold fusion, though, nanobacteria have refused to go away and now - under the new guise of "calcifying nanoparticles" - they are making a renewed bid for scientific respectability. The stakes are high. If diseases long thought incurable are actually caused by nanobacteria, they could be prevented with vaccines, or treated with antibiotics. A recent patent application is typical: United States Patent Application 20070134814 Methods and compositions for the detection of calcifying nano-particles, identification and quantification of associated proteins thereon, and correlation to disease Abstract Disclosed are methods and compositions for detecting, analyzing and assessing the significance of calcifying nano-particles. The disclosed methods and compositions generally involve detecting one or more proteins present on a calcifying nano-particle. It has been discovered that particular proteins become associated with calcifying nano-particles. This association provides a means for detecting, classifying, analyzing, categorizing, and assessing calcifying nano-particles. Detecting particular proteins while associated with a calcifying nano-particle can be used to indicate the presence and type of calcifying nano-particle, which can be used to indicate the presence of, or disposition to, diseases or conditions. Multiple proteins on a calcifying particle can be detected. The presence or absence of particular proteins and the pattern of the presence and absence of particular proteins can be used to indicate the presence and type of calcifying nano-particle.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Patents can be patented:

Patent prosecution is a multi-billion dollar a year industry in the United States, with much of the income (at least based on the fees I have paid over the years) due to patent claims drafting and patent claim modification during patent examination. Patent prosecutors are manufacturers of patent claims (and indeed can be sued for selling a defective product). Patent prosecutors use technology tools to manufacture and optimize their product (patent prosecution would shut down in the United States without computers). And like other industries with manufacturers, there are always improvements to be made, i.e., there should be new and better ways to draft patent claims. Let's ignore requirements 102, 103 and 112 of the 35 USC on patenting, and find out whether new patent claims drafting methods can be patented. A priori, I offer that at least three important precedents support the affirmative:
a) Baker v. Selden - if I can patent methods of structured prespective drawing with paper and pencil, I should be able to patent methods of structured claim drafting with paper and pencil; b) State Street - patent claim drafting is a VERY VERY concrete, tangible and useful business method for manufacturing VERY VERY concrete, tangible and useful patent claims and specification, if such methods earn law firms billions of dollars a year; and c) Lundgren - patent claim drafting methods are, well, METHODS of 35 USC 101 that rely on various degrees of technology to implement, technology now optimal to claim.
With many areas of technology having tens of thousands of new patent applications each year, licensing a new claim drafting method for, say, $1000/patent could be quite lucrative. And given increasing PTO fees for patent claims, there could be good such demand.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An ATTEMPT to copy could be a criminal offense

A new bill introduced a year ago - and nobody has heard of it being struck down - that appears to be similar to a previous year's bill to make copyright infringement more draconian, by criminalizing ATTEMPTS to copy (talk about unconstitutionally vague): http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-3155 and last year's bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h109-5921 Here is some of the nasty language from last year's bill:
"(A) ATTEMPT: Any person who attempts to commit an offense under paragraph (1) shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt." "(B) CONSPIRACY: If two or more persons conspire to commit an offense under paragraph (1) and one or more of such persons do any act to effectuate the object of the conspiracy, each shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy."
So you can be arrested for attempting to copy part of the source code of a computer program, but it is not until you have served some time in jail and then waited many months for a judge to then tell you what part of the source code was copyrightable in the first place for your attempt to trigger criminal charges. And what's attempt? Or Conspire? If I write an article arguing nothing is copyrightable about source code, does that make me an automatic co-conspirator with anyone who reads my article? This is completely nuts, which in Washington DC translates to "Boy, some good chunks of money were collected for introducing that bill."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thomas Edison involved in a murder of a fellow inventor?

Thomas Edison was one of America's greatest inventors, but the guy did have his eccentricities and marketing excesses. Like many other famous people of his time, when it was legal to do so, Edison was known for using cocaine to be able to work around the clock. And in an incident in his competition with Tesla (who was pushing his A.C. electricity technology (Edison pushed D.C.)), Edison arranged to have some dogs killed with A.C. power to show the negative aspects of A.C. power (conveniently forgetting to point out that D.C. is probably worse). Edison had his moments. But party to a murder of a fellow movie inventor? Well, if Alexander Graham Bell stole the key breakthrough for telephones, I suppose anything is possible. The current issue of Materials Today (Jul/Aug 2008, page 56) has an article about the death of Louis Le Prince, who in October 1888 in Leeds, England, was the first person to record motion images on film, and was awarded patents on his devices several years before either Edison or the Lumiere brothers got their patents. You can view this first movie, two seconds long, at: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1117955101308069748 On September 16, 1890, Le Prince disappeared and was never found, despite investigations by both French and English police. And that's where this story ends for about 100 years. Some years ago, Alexis Bedford, a graduate student at New York University (NYU), was searching through the archives at the New York Public Library (Bedford is studying chemistry and photography), and came across some papers of Thomas Edison's dealing with photographic lighting (which have since been authenticated). An entry in one of the books, dated 20 September 1890 (four days after Le Prince had disappeared) reads as follows: "Eric called me today from Dijon. It has been done. Prince is no more. This is good news but I flinched when he told me. Murder is not my thing. I'm an inventor and my inventions for moving images can now move forward." If this entry is truly one of Edison's, at a minimum, he helped conceal a murder. At worst, he was an accomplice. America's greatest inventor - a drug addicted, dog killing, murderer? This is some meaty material for a motion picture. I look forward to anyone who writes a book on this.

Search engine flytrap (dusgusting) patent applied for

A patent search expert has just informed us of a quite abusive patent application filed, the sole purpose thereof is for attracting search engine (read:Google) hits. The patent offices might want to come up with a rule to cancel such fecal matter. The Patent search expert's observation: "Truly disgusting." If you look at this patent you'll see it's designed to be a magnet for hits when using keyword searches. 1376 pages of gibberish. Unless this gets removed many of us are going to be seeing this day after day after day. WO07081519A2: GENIUS ADAPTIVE DESIGN (World Intellectual Property Organization number) 2007-07-19 Abstract: Explore interesting inventions inside, conceived by our genius idea generator. Discover history's most effective method in conceiving novel uses for existing electronic technology. License huge domains of intellectual property from the invention directory our system helped develop. The searcher can find one of our interesting inventions in this patent application via our LicenseItToday.com, etc. Call our California Headquarters 1-707-428-5000. View invention ideas, plus 100+ variations adapted for end user target markets. LicenseItToday.com fills out exclusive international license agreements valid up to December 2026. It saves time and money creative LP. over any other documented creative thinking process. Licensees seek outputted patents using our or their pat attorneys. Royalties can start when profits begin. Or you can buy the affordable I.P. rights. Proof is in trying it out. Discover amazing inventions inside today.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Credit cards are used for patenting by business community

The July 24, (2007 unnoticed!) edition of the Wall Street Journal, page B5, had an article about how small businesses are using credit cards as an alternative to business loans. Often credit cards are easier and quicker to obtain, and lately credit card interest rate charges haven't been too different from bank loans. This use has been reported on before. This most recent story had a patent angle I found interesting:
When Kim Babjak needed more capital to jump-start her consumer products business eight years ago, she turned to plastic. ... So after being turned down for small-business loans by banks because she lacked a business history and her business plan was considered too optimistic, the entrepreneur decided to use two credit cards ... Ms. Babjak ran into debt problems when she was sued for patent infringement and ran up big legal bills. "I had to go groveling to family and friends to [borrow money to] pay off the credit cards on time, and that was a really uncomfortable situation for me.", she says. It took her three years to pay back her friends and family.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hitching a ride on the iPhone Boom

2 examples of successful piggyback business This company in St. Petersburg, Fl. has just 2 employees and in 2006 reported revenues of $450,000. Core Cases has been developing and selling metal cases for consumer electronics since 1999. Now the tiny company is designing at least six products for the iPhone, including what it calls the "fusion case," which uses a combination of metal and other materials to protect the phone. It expects to sell about 25,000 of these cases, helping double revenues this year. Singapore-based IStyles has 8 employees and 2006 revenues under $300,000 and has been making and marketing iPod fashion accessories for the last three years and just launched a new collection of sleeves to hold the iPhone. The company, which relies mostly on wholesale and e-commerce sales of fashion accessories for various gadgets, also intends to launch patterned skins for the iPhone once the device is released. "We can't estimate the success of the device, but if the iPod is any indication, Apple will soon be a dominant player in the mobile-phone market by the second or third revision of the iPhone, and we want to be in on the bandwagon starting from revision one," says Ming Keong Kuan, the business's director.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Passenger Anger Inc.

Skyrocketing fuel prices and cost cutting by airlines have led to an unprecedented lows in passenger dissatisfaction, to say the least. According to European Union legislation that came into effect in 2005, airline passengers are entitled to financial compensation for delayed or canceled flights, or if they're bumped from an overbooked flight. However, passengers aren't always aware of what they're entitled to, or don't have time to claim compensation. Which is where EUclaim comes in. A Dutch agency that launched in January, EUclaim processes claims on behalf of passengers, charging a contingent fee of 27% of successfully claimed compensation. In the five months since they got started, the company has netted its clients over EUR 100,000, averaging EUR 400-500 per passenger. Besides an easy online form that evaluates whether a claim is likely to result in compensation, EUclaim operates a desk at Schiphol Airport's departure terminal, and plans to open additional desks at London and Frankfurt airports. The agency also offers multinationals bulk discounts for processing claims on behalf of employees. While compensation isn't regulated by law in the US or most other non-EU countries, carriers do offer various degrees of compensation. Airline-specific policies may include reimbursement for meals, hotel rooms or phone calls. One to start up regionally? In a broader perspective, keeping track of new laws and regulations can often uncover potentially lucrative business opportunities. Hey—how's that for a new business: plough through all locally applicable regulation changes, specifically on the lookout for entrepreneurial opportunities. Post them online, for free, and you could grow a high-traffic website, generating revenue from related (premium) services or advertising.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The street value of the US dollar:

If you are trading currencies, here is an observation on the weakness of the U.S. dollar, from the Monday Metropolitan column in the New York Times: Dear Diary: As I was walking down Second Avenue from 57th Street in mid-April, I noticed a young woman, early 20s, standing on the corner and talking on her cellphone while her toy-size dog squatted and took care of its business. As the dog completed its task, and not missing a beat, the young woman - still talking on the cellphone - bent down and scooped up her dog's poop with a dollar bill and dropped it into a nearby trash can. No wonder the Europeans have booked all the carriage rides in the Central Park!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Real microchopper makes millions

Unless you live on an electricity-free commune, you've seen the Microchopper on TV or Youtube. There is this chopper that can fly around people's house and not destroy a thing.



Only 6 inches long and weighing a mere 3.5 ounces, this helicopter is so small it will fit in the palm of your hand. The ingenious Flight Stability System gives the Micro X-Copter extreme maneuverability and makes it easy to fly.

The perfect gift for the family, this product is ready-to-fly out of the box, no set up time required. It is safe to fly indoors and outdoors, because it is constructed from hi-tech polypropylene foam. It won't break anything in the home.

A full charge gives you 100 minutes of flying fun!

Product Features:

* Real Helicopter Performance:
* 360 Degrees (Full Function)
* Altitude and Rotor Speed Control
* Flight Stabilizing System
* Dual Propeller System
* Full Function 2 Ch Remote Controller
* Charging System
* Super Lightweight Airframe
* Factory Assembled
* Runs (flies) on 6 AA Batteries (not included)


Anyhow, I've just read that the sales of this tiny copter exceeded $10 million. Can you believe that?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This company makes money on lost luggage

The company, Unclaimed Baggage, (http://www.unclaimedbaggage.com/ in Scottsboro, Alabama, where Bryan Owens, 44, is the CEO, began as a store started in 1970 by his retired father, Doyle. It may be one store, but what they sell brings in more than 1 million customers per year. Unclaimed Baggage is just what it suggests: a store selling airport luggage that has gone unclaimed. There is so much of it, the retail outlet has expanded over a city block and now attracts visitors from around the world. Owens, who bought the company from his father in 1996 and watched it grow 400 percent, says Unclaimed Baggage has exclusive long-term contracts with airlines around America, Asia and Europe, ensuring his store is the only one of its kind. It's also proof that the word "trash" should be used with wide latitude. Every year thousands and thousands of wayward suitcases end up in Scottsboro—specifically, at the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Once an airline has tried and failed to reunite suitcase and owner (a process that varies according to airline), it will compensate the owner and sell the suitcase—and all its contents—to the UBC, which buys suitcases by the truckload and hauls them to its 50,000-square-foot complex in Scottsboro. There the UBC staff sorts through the bags and puts their contents in a showroom (or some of them: others are given to charity, still others discarded), where they can be seen and bought by members of the public. But are people really interested in buying other people's, uh, lost stuff? "We'll have close to a million people come to the store this year," says Bryan Owens, the owner of the UBC, "from every state in America and thirty foreign countries. This is kind of the Mecca for lost bags." Owens's father started the UBC in 1970, with a rented old house, a borrowed old truck, and a $300 loan. Today the center gets nearly 7,000 new items every day, and Owens says that people can't seem to get enough. "It's a treasure hunt," he says. "Every day is like Christmas here—we never know what we're going to find. Just last week we found a twenty-eight-thousand-dollar tennis bracelet and a one-point-six-karat diamond ring. We've had a medicine-man stick adorned with a shrunken head, and a Nikon camera that was in the Space Shuttle. Back in the eighties we got a well-traveled Gucci suitcase that was packed with artifacts that dated back to 1500 B.C. And once we found a guidance system for an F-16 fighter jet, in a shockproof case from the Department of the U.S. Navy. It was labeled 'Handle With Extreme Caution—I Am Worth My Weight in Gold.'" The UBC sent that one back.

Spy glass galore

Thinking associatively about espionage, after the last post, I realized how (quietly) optically dependent the web culture has become. And I am not talking about eyeglasses. Several of my friends are into birdwatching. Our firm's president has a powerful telescope trained on the ships in the harbor. My girlfriend's husband has an array of laser finders and binoculars, and, of course, three or four interchangeable scopes for his pet rifle - a good reason that my girlfriend is a hunting widow for about three weeks out of a year. As a result of dust storms on Mars and other celestial phenomena, the guys at the office have bought telescopes, which save them from Monday night football and Skyping on the sly from their wives. To watch our chief paralegal's handicapped parking spot for him, we used opera binoculars. But that did not perform in the dark, and we went shopping for a night vision binocs. There was an additional incentive, which the guys whispered about, and it was a pencil skirt-wearer in the office suite facing our windows. Binocular section at Optics Planet has them - they are digital night vision, and they are great for us women making our way through the poorly lit parking lot. This one looks exotic, but I am sure sees well in the dark.
Opticsplanet.com is the web’s cornucopia of optics and hobby related products. On the lighter note, summer is here and my coworkers are considering the possibilities – all the fun that people can have with the optics. One-stop shopping at OpticsPlanet.com can equip someone with riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, night vision, telescopes, rangefinders, laser sights, flashlights, tripods, radar guns, digital camera binoculars. They also carry the industry’s best brands like Leupold, Nikon, EOTech, Burris, Bushnell, Celestron, Tasco, ATN, Bolle, Serengeti and Pelican. They also have an impressive selection of tactical gear (Leupold Riflescopes, Bushnell Rifle scopes, EOTech Sights, Burris Riflescopes and a fine selection of Blackhawk Tactical Gear). I learned a lot about night vision, and there is a lot more to learn just by browsing the site, about hobbies and gear for any trip. They offer Free UPS Shipping on most orders.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A totally legal espionage opportunity

And at http://www.importgenius.com/ I found this excellent idea - do the job that CIA does not have time for (or does not want) and the FBI has no authority (or time): Importers have long wished for an easy way to keep tabs on the shipping and receiving activities of their competitors and suppliers, and two new services from ImportGenius give them instant access to such information in real time. Import/export data is collected by US Customs each day, and it is already publicly available. What's been missing, however, is an easy way to search through it, rendering it virtually inaccessible. That's where Arizona-based ImportGenius comes in, with an interface that gives customers immediate information on shipments as they cross customs. The company's ImportScan service, priced at USD 399 per month, gives customers unlimited access to detailed information on every shipment entering the United States since 2006 for their industry vertical. Using ImportGenius's simple interface, they can search by product type, importer, exporter, date of entry, port of entry, loading port, importer's address, exporter's address and more. Results include contact information for both the exporter and importer of the shipment, revealing where competitors are sourcing their products overseas and where overseas suppliers are selling in the US. For companies more interested in the activities of their suppliers, ImportGenius also offers SupplySpy, which monitors all shipments from a single supplier or importer. Priced at USD 199 per month, the service answers such questions as which competitors are doing business with a particular supplier, including their relative market position, and whether the supplier has been honoring exclusivity agreements. ImportGenius's data is updated daily by US Customs, and real-time search results can be exported into Excel or CSV format. The result? In the company's own words, "ImportGenius immediately eliminates any competitive advantage your competitors have derived from their superior knowledge of overseas suppliers."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Favoritism patent awarded to Microsoft

A few weeks ago, the U. S. Patent Office awarded Microsoft what Greg Aharonian calls is a Bilski-like claim - a sign of favoritism: Bayesian scoring U.S. Patent 7,376,474 1. A method comprising: a) receiving a draw outcome of a game between at least a first team opposing a second team, the first team including at least one player and the second team including at least one other player; b) receiving a first score including a first mean and a first variance representing a distribution associated with the at least one player of the first team; c) receiving a second score including a second mean and a second variance representing a distribution associated with the at least one other player of the second team; d) updating the first mean and the first variance based on the draw outcome of the game; e) updating the first mean and the first variance of the first score due to changed abilities of the at least one player of the first team based on a dynamic score function of a period of time since the first team last played the game; and f) providing an indication of the updated first mean and the updated first variance to the at least one player of the first team. No technology in this claim, just like with Bilski. And some rather broad elements, like "distribution", just like with Bilski. Yet Bilski's claim gets rejected under article 101, but not Microsoft's. Corporate favoritism at the Patent Office? Seriously, big companies get lots of Bilski-like claims every month - where's the PTO outrage? While the patent talks about the use of electronics (just like the Bilski patent), by "receiving" one could mean reading the information in a newspaper and magazine, and by "updating" one could mean paper-and-pencil calculations for mean and variance (which are not that hard to do). I could implement this entire patent with a paper notebook and my mind. In fact, I know some sports-nuts mathematicians who could do all of this in their head, including remembering in their minds the updated scores from game to game. Usually that automatically disqualifies this patent under article 101. That is, this patent can be done equally manually, ( as well as mentally) or by computer. Does both possibilities make this unpatentable (that is, if you were not a big company like Microsoft) under 101? Is it not enough a process to be a 101-process? 35 USC 101, much like 17 USC 102, is a semantic disaster of vagueness and public notice incompleteness, thanks to the cavalier attitude Congress has with regards to the fundamentals of IP law. And based on the Bilski oral arguments, and other recent similar cases, the courts do not have any better fundamental understanding. They should punt 101 (and 103) back to Congress, and Congress should confer with a wide variety of people (as opposed to selling this to the highest bidder).

Atheist sees Big Bang in a piece of toast

I would expect a superstitious person to imagine things in everyday objects, but here is a scientist going through the revelation experience. I found it in the ACPA London news articles.

Excitement is growing in the Northern England town of Huddlesfield following news that a local man saw an image not of God or a saint but that of the Big-Bang in a piece of toast. Atheist Donald Chapman, 36, told local newspaper, "The Huddlesfield Express" that he was sitting down to eat breakfast when an unusual toast pattern caught his eye.

"I was just about to spread the butter when I noticed a fairly typical small hole in the bread surrounded by a burnt black ring. However the direction and splatter patterns of the crumbs and the changing shades emanating outwards from the black hole were very clearly similar to the chaotic-dynamic non-linear patterns that one would expect following the Big-Bang". "It's the beginning of the world" he added excitedly.

Ever since news of the discovery made national headlines, local hoteliers have been overwhelmed by an influx of atheists from all over the country who have flocked to Huddlesfield to catch a glimpse of the scientific relic. "I have always been an Atheist and to see my life choices validated on a piece of toast is truly astounding" said one guest at the Huddlesfield Arms hotel.

To the surprise of many, the UK National Atheist Association has asked its members not to pay attention to the story despite its potential to inspire less faith. "Given what the religious believe already, this is an easy sell" said one disgruntled activist who said he was going to Huddlesfield anyway noting that "Seeing is not believing".

Sunday, June 1, 2008

High tech fashion

I think these kids are cute. Leave it to Beaver-cute. They are dressed from the LA Police Gear store. First, about flashlights. Searching the Google Patents the other day for LED illuminators I stumbled on the LED flashlights section. That led to a simple web search for LED flashlights, where I saw a familiar name, LA Police Gear. Apparently the high tech field has made strides in adapting LEDs for mainstream use, as we have been enjoying LED lights on cars, and flashlights going the LED is not surprising. Light emitting diode (LED) technology is now available in several flashlight models and as an add-on conversion for many of SureFire's (the brans carried by LA Police Gear) high-performance flashlights. After looking into the product inf0ormation, it turns out that Surefire LED flashlights and conversion heads differ from other manufacturer's LED flashlights with features such as digital regulator circuits to maintain consistent levels of light output for as long as possible, and digital current limiters to protect the LED module from current and heat-related damage. Just when I was ready to click on through to my Blogger dashboard, I saw shorts on LA Police Gear page. Shorts, the kind I have been looking for , for the hikes in Mojave desert, or arounbd Lake Tahoe. The 511 Shorts are the tactical type, designed to carry bulky items and still remain durable. Like all 5.11 Tactical ™ clothing, the store information says, only the finest components are used in construction – from the 100% Cotton Tactical Canvas to the Prym® snap and YKK® zipper. The short has double fabric in the seat and thirty-six bartacks (reinforcement stitching) at stress points for superior strength. I am really fed up with cheap discount stuff I got from my local pop. I am dressing high tech from now on.

Frankenstein (artificial life form) seed also opposed

Golem-Frankenstein master Craig Venter and his colleagues have applied for a patent on a minimal-genome bacteria, which is sparking protests. First, here's the preliminary claim: United States Patent Application 20070122826 Minimal bacterial genome 1. A set of protein-coding genes that provides the information required for growth and replication of a free-living organism under axenic conditions in a rich bacterial culture medium, wherein the set lacks at least 40 of the 101 protein-coding genes listed in Table 2, or functional equivalents thereof, wherein at least one of the genes in Table 4 is among the lacking genes; wherein the set comprises between 350 and 381 of the 381 protein-coding genes listed in Table 3, or functional equivalents thereof, including at least one of the genes in Table 5; and wherein the set comprises no more than 450 protein-coding genes. I suggest the claim be written - I am not a fan of negative limitations - "... wherein the set lacks at least 40 of ..." - you can write this claim constructively ("most to all of the Table 3 genes, plus less than 60 of the Table 2 genes"). Legally, if you accept Chakrabarty, well, this invention is even more artificial, and even less a natural phenomenon, than the bacteria in Chakrabarty. This new application won't be shot down on caselaw grounds.