Anticipate This!™ | Patent and Trademark Law Blog

NY Times Article – Turning Patents Into “Invention Capital”.

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on February 21, 2010

An interesting article today at the New York Times, detailing an interview with Nathan Myhrvold at Intellectual Ventures

Intellectual Ventures is a self-proclaimed “invention company” located in Bellevue, Washington.  Nathan Myhrvold, an ex-Microsoft executive, founded the company in 2000 with the goal to nurture fundamental innovation and invention.  To date, Intellectual Ventures has acquired at least 30,000 patents.  Intellectual Ventures’ activities are not limited to buying patents, however.  The company apparently has 650 employees including scientists and engineers, and an in-house invention effort and lab that last year applied for 450 patents.  

Most interesting is Mr. Myhrvold’s expressed interest in building a market for “invention capital,” where patents will be valued as a separate asset class, like real estate or securities.  He recently articulated his vision in an article published in the Harvard Business Review here.

We highly recommend reading both of these articles.  Non-practicing entities (NPEs) such as Intellectual Ventures are often maligned in industry as “patent trolls”, since they generally do not create any products themselves and instead generate revenue primarily by licensing patented technologies.  However, could more of their business model really be what our economy needs to finance start-ups with new ideas, and revitalize otherwise dying industries?  Any thoughts from our readers? 

See also an earlier 2007 post by AT! on the Intellectual Ventures company here.

Integrating LinkedIn With Outlook Email.

Posted in Science and Technology by Jake Ward on February 19, 2010


Per this story earlier in the week at the San Francisco Chronicle, Microsoft Outlook users now have the option of integrating their LinkedIn accounts with their Outlook email via a “Outlook Social Connector” now available from Microsoft.  

Upon downloading and installing the Outlook Social Connector,  Outlook will aggregate contact information from both the user’s LinkedIn and Outlook accounts. Additionally, a summary of the contact’s most recent LinkedIn activity, status updates, accepted connections and e-mails is provided in a new window pane under an e-mail to the contact.  If the contact with which the user is corresponding is not yet connected by LinkedIn, the user can simply select and request to add them to the user’s LinkedIn network through the Outlook interface.

For those interested in trying the out the new Outlook Social Connector, click here to download the latest version from Microsoft.

JW Note:  It remains to be seen whether this will help push LinkedIn toward use as an effective business tool, or if it will just result in another way of wasting time by social networking.  So far, our initial trial with the Outlook Social Connector has been promising.  If you want to link in with me, feel free to visit and request to add me to your network!

Does a Career at the USPTO Speak to You?

Posted in General Commentary by Jake Ward on February 17, 2010


The USPTO has recently launched a targeted effort to recruit Examiners.  Per this announcement at the USPTO:

Work for the largest Intellectual Property Rights Firm in the United States – United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  Discover an exciting career with the USPTO as a Patent Examiner! A career as a Patent Examiner is filled with endless possibilities, where you can be a part of something that makes a difference for the country and the world.  It is a career that allows you to continue to contribute to a strong global economy and to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit for the 21st century.

A Patent Examiner reviews patent applications to determine if they comply with Federal law and regulations, in addition to scientific principle.  The incumbent would be responsible for scrutinizing patent applications, determining the scope of protection claimed by the inventor, researching relevant technologies, and communicating findings and decisions to patent practitioners and/or inventors.  The job is generally visually demanding in nature and almost all of a Patent Examiner’s work is performed using a computer.  The Patent Examiner is required to conduct an extensive review of a large body of technical information which regularly includes detailed drawings as represented in electrical schematic, 3-dimensional mechanical portrayed drawings or chemical manufacturing process diagrams.  The incumbent reviews patent applications and writes office actions, in a production oriented environment that requires the analytical ability to efficiently digest large volumes of scientific information and to use this in making timely decisions regarding the patentability of an application. 

The Patent Examiner position is located in the Patent Examining Corps of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, Virginia.

A letter (link here) has also recently been mailed to many patent attorneys and agents, recruiting them to join the Examiner corps.  The letter is signed by Director Kappos.  The text of the letter also follows, for the convenience of our readers.

Deputy Under Secretary Sharon Barner and I wanted to contact you directly to let you know about an exciting opportunity for a career as a USPTO patent examiner. The USPTO has recently announced a targeted hiring initiative for experienced IP professionals. We ask that you consider applying for these openings at the USPTO to become a patent examiner.

A career as a patent examiner is both challenging and rewarding. As you consider this opportunity, you should know that USPTO management has undertaken a myriad of initiatives to make the USPTO an outstanding professional work environment. In addition, our modern campus in Alexandria, Virginia, has world-class facilities, including a gym, child-care center, excellent dining and recreational activities nearby. We also have extensive Hoteling programs, where qualified examiners may telework from home.

If you are interested in being considered as a patent examiner, we encourage you to apply to the open USPTO vacancy announcement at Or if you know someone who is interested, please let them know about our open opportunities. If you have questions, please call (800) 786-9757, or send an e-mail to

We hope that you will give serious consideration to applying for our open vacancies. There has never been a more important or promising time to work at the USPTO.

They Invented What? (No. 161)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 17, 2010

U.S. Pat. No. 7,631,404: Easy inter burial container.


What is claimed is:

1. A burial container for interment of a deceased comprising:

          a hull having a length, an open first end, a closed second end, an outer surface, and an interior for receiving the deceased, the outer surface tapering along the length from the first end to the second end such that the outer periphery of the hull is larger at the first end and smaller at the second end; the outer surface including external threads extending helically thereabout and substantially the entire length of the hull;

         a cap removably secured to the first open end of the hull to sealingly close the hull, the cap including means for displaying items of memorialization thereon; and

         at least one of the cap and hull including means for engagement with an external device, the external device cooperating with the at least one of the cap and hull to rotate the burial container such that the external threads pull the burial container into the ground for interment of the deceased.


They Invented What? (No. 160)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 10, 2010

U.S. Pat. No. 6,313,371:  Flatulence deodorizer.


What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for absorbing flatulence odor to be worn close to the body of a user, comprising:
          a) a pad having a first elongated end and a second enlarged end, said enlarged end being circular in shape;
          b) a first layer of activated charcoal cloth interior of said pad;
          c) a second layer and a third layer of cloth laminated to said first layer of activated charcoal cloth to form said pad;
          d) said second layer and said third layer of cloth having a plurality of perforations therein;
          e) said pad conforming to the shape of the body of a user; and,
          f) means for attaching said pad to the underwear of the user.


USPTO Notice of Document Faxed Upside Down.

Posted in Practice Commentary by Jake Ward on February 10, 2010

Per a pair of articles recently published by Erik Sherman at, found here and here, an applicant recently received the following notice when attempting to fax papers to the USPTO.

United States Patent and Trademark Office
Notice of Document Faxed Upside Down

Your request to record a document in the United States Patent and Trademark Office was received via electronic fax on [date and time in 2010 omitted].

The faxed submission was received upside down. We are unable to continue processing these images.

Please resubmit your document.

If you have any questions, you may contact our customer service center at [number omitted].

Office of Public Records

After publishing these articles, the author Erik Sherman later received a message from Peter Pappas, Chief Communications Officer at the USPTO.  The message stated:

This error, which affects a fraction of documents filed by fax, is due to antiquated software that is scheduled to be replaced next month. Our current software cannot read pages that are faxed in the wrong direction and consequently generates an automatic error message. The vast majority of filings are received electronically and are unaffected by this problem. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to fax filers and urge them to ensure that faxed pages are correctly oriented as we work to resolve this problem.

They Invented What? (No. 159)

Posted in They Invented What? by Jake Ward on February 5, 2010

U.S. Pat. No. 6,784,792: Method and device for recognition of a collision with a pedestrian.


What is claimed is:

1. A method of detecting a pedestrian impact with a vehicle, the method comprising:

          providing at least one first sensor on a bumper and at least one second sensor in an area of a front edge of an engine hood;
         measuring one of a first pressure and a first deformation caused by the pedestrian impact;
         forming a first criterion for deciding whether the pedestrian impact has occurred by comparing at least one first sensor output signal with at least one first reference quantity and by comparing at least one second sensor output signal with at least one second reference quantity;
         determining at least one of a change in velocity of the vehicle and a change in acceleration of the vehicle caused by the pedestrian impact;
         forming a second criterion for deciding whether the pedestrian impact has occurred by at least one of comparing the change in velocity with a third reference quantity and comparing the change in acceleration with a fourth reference quantity; and
         determining that the pedestrian impact has occurred if both the first criterion and the second criterion are met.