Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From Pong to uWink


Nintendo's omnipresent Wii reminds us of the first video game, Pong.

The inventor behind the game that begat Atari, and who later founded Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre (yes really) is Nolan Bushnell. He has five patents to his name.

His last was Video exercise or game floor controller with position indicating foot pads from 1988:

Operation of a video game or an exercise system utilizing a video display is enhanced by a floor controller utilizing weight sensitive pads that allows an operator to input information into the system by locating his feet in specific portions of the floor controller. The system includes an interface circuit which obtains foot location signals from the floor controller and transmits this information to a system microprocessor which in turn is used to control the video display. The system can also include light segments that are under control of the microprocessor and which are associated with each of the weight sensitive pads.

Now Nolan is doing uWink, which conflates video games and food again-- he has a few restaurants in California equipped with digital entertainment/self-service ordering systems that he also sells.

Los Angeles-based uWink (OTCBB: UWKI.OB) has one patent to date by Andrew Rifkin, Interactive vending machine to view customized products before they are purchased and internally track saleable inventory.



Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Bible


Yes, there are even patents around the bible.

Here are the results of a search on "Electronic Bible."

A design patent for a Portable Computer Bible we like is from Jason Martin of Springville, Alabama, from 2006: D527381.


And the Bible Verse Wristwatch, U.S. Patent Application 20050243658 by Joseph Mack of Rochester, New York, caught our attention, too:

The present invention is a system that allows a user to selectively display time or display desired bible verses on an alphanumeric display of a wristwatch. The user or wearer designates the portion of the bible, the book, the chapter and the particular verse using number and scroll keys of a keyboard of the watch. The user can scroll through the verse as well as to previous and subsequent verses, chapters, and books using scroll keys.




Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Starbucks' Gum Tin


In the United States, a design patent is a patent granted on the ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents are a type of industrial design right. A design patent starts with a "D," and lasts fourteen (14) years.

A registered design can be obtained in other countries, too. In Japan, South Korea and Hungary, industrial designs are registered after performing what's called an official novelty search. In Europe, one needs to pay an official fee and meet other formal requirements for registration.

Here's an example of a design patent belonging to Seattle, WA-based Starbucks and granted in January of 2005: Gum tin, D500641 .

You don't doubt the importance of gum packaging, do you?



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Friday, December 26, 2008

Amway: 246 Patents


Ada, Michigan-based Amway has 246 patents, click here to see them.

This one by Ernest Brumbaugh (12 total patents to his name) from 1995 for Liquid Dishwashing Detergent is pretty typical of their IP:


US PATENT


ABSTRACT: Aqueous liquid dishwashing detergent compositions are prepared that exhibit improved detergency performance and foam stability over a range of water hardness levels. A preferred formulation incorporates a three component mixture: an anionic surfactant, a nonionic surfactant, and an amido amine oxide to provide a detergent having good detergency performance and foam stability over a range of water hardness levels. Another preferred formulation incorporates a three component mixture: an anionic surfactant, a nonionic surfactant, and an alkyl ethoxylated carboxylate to provide a detergent having good detergency performance and foam stability at high hardness levels.


Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bill Gates' Patents


We were asked this question-- Bill Gates of Microsoft, how many patents?

The answer today-- all patent applications-- is 54; here's the list.

Interestingly, some have nothing to do with Microsoft-esque computing, such as this one that shows Searete LLC as the Assignee, "Injectable controlled release fluid delivery system"--

Embodiments of a material delivery device including a deformable reservoir and associated controllable output mechanism are described. Methods of use and control of the device are also disclosed. According to some embodiments, a material delivery device may be placed in an animal in order to controllably dispense at least one material into the animal. The material delivery device may include a programmable mechanism to control the release of the material into the animal. In selected embodiments, a remote controller may be used to program or to control the material delivery device. Some embodiments are described wherein a magnetic field, an electric field, or electromagnetic control signal may be used.

Also, Gates appears to have a new, stealthy company called BGC3. The logo is below:



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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Airborne


Airborne Health, Inc., which was founded in 1997 by former Carmel, CA teacher Victoria Knight-McDowell and her husband, will be forced to stop advertisements that “dramatically misrepresented” its dietary supplements as cold remedies, California prosecutors said in a December 2008 news release.

The company will pay out $7 million dollars to 33 states, according to the settlement. Airborne started selling its products as a cold remedy on the Internet in July 2000 and on television in 2004. The advertisements featured people suffering from cold and flu symptoms asserting that Airborne products were a cure for the common cold.

“Airborne dramatically misrepresented its products as cold remedies without any scientific evidence to back up its claims,” said California Attorney General Jerry Brown. “Under this agreement, the company will stop advertisements that suggest that its products are a cure for the common cold.”

Airborne now is based in Bonita Springs, Florida. The firm lists one patent today, U.S. Patent #7,425,900, "Clean hands assured with signal"--

A method and apparatus are disclosed for helping assure the washing of a person's hands. An easily identifiable substance is provided which may be removed by washing. A marking mechanism is coupled with or contains the easily identifiable substance and the hand of the person is then marked with the easily identifiable substance when the marking mechanism is triggered. Substantially concurrent (or somewhat delayed) with the hand being marked a signal is given off which helps assure that the person actually uses the marking mechanism. Another way to coerce use of the marking mechanism and to allow authority figures to monitor use of the marking mechanism is a information recording device which tracks use of the marking mechanism.

After selling the company to a private equity firm in 2005, Knight-McDowell bought it back in September of 2008 and now serves again as its Spokesperson and CEO.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Pacemaker

About 50 posts ago we covered an Inventor named DeBakey, regarding the Artificial Heart. The Artificial Heart never went mainstream (though Dr. DeBakey's herculean work moved the science of cardiology forward by leaps and bounds), but the pacemaker, of course, did.

The man behind the pacemaker? Dr. Nicholas Smyth, who died 11/29/2008 at age 88.

As a clinical researcher at George Washington University, Dr. Smyth invented and patented pacemakers and pacemaker components, including the world's smallest nuclear pacemaker, which he co-invented.

Dr. Smyth also invented the atrial J-lead wire, designed to maintain a stable position in the heart's atrium, and the DDD Code, a universal code for pacemakers.

Nicholas Patrick Dillon Smyth was born in Dublin and was educated in Ireland and England before emigrating to the United States. He received his bachelor's degree from University College Dublin in 1949 and his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1954. He was on the GWU faculty for 40 years, and late in life penned two medical mystery novels.

He called his invention in 1975 a "Heart Pacer"-- A nuclear heart pacer having a heat-to-electricity converter including a solid-state thermoelectric unit embedded in rubber which is compressed to impress hydrostatic precompression on the unit.




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Friday, December 19, 2008

www.citepatents.com


FreePatentsOnline Launches the CitePatents Program

Making it Easy for Bloggers and Journalists to Reference Patents,
and Add Patent Search to Websites

Last update: 7:09 p.m. EST Dec. 17, 2008
BALTIMORE, Dec 17, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- FreePatentsOnline.com (FPO) has launched an informational site, www.citepatents.com, to help bloggers, journalists and others easily reference patent information, and to provide a free patent search box for adding to websites with a single mouse click.

Due to an impartial, peer-reviewed nature, patents are an important, frequently cited source of highly detailed, accurate technical information. Patents are uniquely powerful in citation; any writer on the web who refers to a patent with a hyperlink is footnoting a highly-credible document.

"Across the international spectrum, tens of millions of patents now exist, going back hundreds of years," said Erik Reeves, CEO of FreePatentsOnline. "It is a profoundly broad database of how things work, from every continent. Citing a patent with FPO is easy, because the FPO URL taxonomy is crystal clear."

For example, RIM, the firm behind the BlackBerry, may have avoided its patent infringement lawsuit and settlement payment of $612.5 million to Annandale, Virginia-based NTP by simply searching CitePatents.com or FreePatentsOnline.com for an electronic mail system with RF communications to mobile processors patent. The result is http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6317592.html.

"I always reference FPO when I cite patents," said Blaise Mouttet of the TinyTechIP blog. "They have the best interface and features in the inventions-database space, and as soon as they made their search capability available outside their site, I placed it on my blog right away, as a service to my readers."

At CitePatents.com, the html behind the FPO SearchBox can be grabbed and placed on a website or blog. Also, CitePatents.com has information on the differences between patents and patent applications, patent numbering, and the taxonomy of a patent document.

The FPO SearchBox is also available via www.widgetbox.com, as is the firm's www.honoringtheinventor.com blog widget, via the keyword "patent."

FreePatentsOnline.com (FPO) founded in 2004, is based in Ellicott City, Maryland. FPO is the leading web property in terms of audience for patent search. Many millions of Netizens find out how things really work via FPO. The company's new property, www.SumoBrain.com, serves power users seeking in-depth learnings from the world's largest database of human achievement.

FreePatentsOnline(TM), CitePatents(TM), Patent Plaque(TM) and Plaque It!(TM) are trademarks of Patents Online, LLC.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cast Steel Plow


Born in Rutland, Vermont, John Deere served a four-year apprenticeship to a blacksmith and worked in that trade until 1837, when he moved to Grand Detour, Illinois.

Then Deere invented the first American cast steel plow, and has U.S. Patent 46,454 to prove it. The implements being used by pioneer farmers in that era were cumbersome and ineffective for cutting and turning the prairie soil, covered as they were by thick grasses.

To alleviate the problem, Deere and a partner named Major Leonard Andrus designed three new plows in 1838. Their cutting part was constructed from steel cut from an old sawmill blade and shaped by bending it over a log. The moldboard, used for lifting and turning, was made of wrought iron and polished on the upper surface to prevent clogging.

Pulled by oxen or horses, it ripped through the dense sod uncovering the thick black soil. The steel plow was significantly superior to the cast iron plows that were made for New England's sandy soil.

The plow was so popular that by 1846 Deere and his partner were selling a thousand a year. Deere then sold his interest in the Grand Detour enterprise to Andrus and organized a new plow company in Moline, Illinois. By 1855 he was selling more than 13,000 such plows a year, and that Moline, Illinois company today bears his name and just recorded $2 billion in annual revenue, a record year.



Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Motorized Skateboard



Take a look at U.S. Patent #4,094,372:

A skateboard comprises a rider's platform having pairs of front and rear wheels mounted thereunder. Front wheels are mounted for limited universal movement relative to the platform whereas the rear wheels are mounted under the platform solely for vertical pivot movements about a pivot axis disposed in a vertically disposed plane which intersects the longitudinal axis of the skateboard. A bracket is attached to the rear wheel mounting and has a motor secured thereon for selectively driving only one of the rear wheels via a stepped-down drive train and a centrifugally actuated clutch. A normally open kill-switch is mounted on a throttle control adapted to be grasped by a rider whereby a magneto of the engine may be grounded to stop the engine when desired.




Michael Notter received this patent in 1978, and his location is shown (unsurprisingly, given skateboarding started in the Bay Area) as San Francisco.

The first skateboard patent was 1,213,454 from 1917 by Carl Brown of Columbus, Ohio. He called it a "Toy Kick-Car."

The patent says:

"The present invention is a toy kick- or push car or vehicle, and is adapted for use by children, the toy being so constructed that it can be propelled over the sidewalk or pavement by the kicking or pushing action of one leg while the other is supported by the device."

Skateboards started as homemade vehicles, simply old roller-skate wheels attached to a small board. They went commercial and turned into a brief craze in 1965, then waited a decade or so for enhancements in mobility, speed and safety. They took off again in the 1980s and now the industry racks up over $5 billion in annual revenue per IASC.

Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Superba Cravats




Yes, the humble tie bears patents. A company called Superba Cravats had its first tie patent as early as 1943, ultimately garnering these seven.

This ultimately led to litigation, resolved unfavorably for Superba:

The parties here are necktie manufacturers, and plaintiff appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Harold P. Burke, Judge, dismissing without prejudice its complaint seeking a declaration of the invalidity of defendant's patent on a particular necktie manufactured and sold by defendant, or of the non-infringement of said patent by a 'proposed' necktie of plaintiff's. We hold that the complaint was properly dismissed on the ground that it fails to allege a justiciable controversy under the Declaratory judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. 2201. Opinion below not reported.

Superba was a Rochester, NY company:

The clothing industry was one of the leading industries of Rochester, NY throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries. While the majority of the industry was focused on the manufacture of men's suits, some companies made products related to the apparel industry, making strong contributions to Rochester's economy and reputation. One such company was Superba Cravats, the oldest and one of the largest manufacturers of neckwear in the United States.

Superba Cravats was originally named H.C. Cohn & Co., and was founded in 1873 by Herman C. Cohn (1854-1941), with his brothers Henry and Barry. Herman was the son-in-law to Henry Michaels of the successful Michaels Stern & Co. of Rochester. The original location of H.C. Cohn & Co. was across from Henry Michaels Clothing Co., on Main and Mills Streets. Herman C. Cohn began by selling necktie samples obtained from manufacturers in New York City, and after a year the company began manufacturing its own neckties. By 1880, H.C. Cohn & Co. had expanded its sales into the southern and western parts of the United States. In 1888, the company relocated to Andrews St., in the "hub" of Rochester's clothing industry. [SOURCE: University of Rochester]

Superba lives on; it's now part of Phillips-Van Heusen.


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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lemelson: Over 500 Patents



Jerome "Jerry" Hal Lemelson (1923-1997) was an extraordinarily prolific American inventor. Inventions in the fields he patented made possible innovations such as fax machines, automated warehouses, industrial robots, cordless telephones, videocassette recorders and camcorders.


Lemelson's over 500 patents make him the second most productive inventor in American history. Only Thomas Alva Edison surpassed him in total patents awarded. Both are in the vaunted 1% of inventors, which takes 28 or more patents.

Born to a middle-class family on Staten Island, N.Y., Lemelson designed, built, and flew model airplanes and later, after vision problems kept him out of the cockpit in World War II, created weapons systems for the Army Air Corps. After the war, he earned masters degrees in aeronautical and industrial engineering.

He pursued a traditional engineering career for a few years, but in 1958, shortly before the first of his two sons was born, he quit his last regular job and became a full-time professional inventor. He spent 16-hour days tinkering in his attic and endlessly jotting in his many notebooks. But patent license fees were scarce, so his wife, interior designer Dorothy Ginsberg Lemelson, was the family bread-winner.

In 1964, big money started rolling in, when Triax Co. of Cleveland licensed Lemelson patents describing an automated warehousing system. In 1974, Sony Corp. licensed an audiocassette drive mechanism, and in 1981 IBM ponied up $1 million for 20 of his patents in data and word processing.

At first loathe to turn to the courts, Lemelson gradually learned his way around the legal system. Starting in 1957 with a suit claiming a cereal company had purloined his toy mask design, Lemelson filed more than 20 lawsuits to protect his patents. Although he lost more often than he won, a series of victories in the 1980s made him wealthy-- to the tune of over $1 billion.

Lemelson was a staunch advocate for the rights of independent inventors; he served on a federal advisory committee on patent issues from 1976 to 1979.

In 1993, Lemelson and his family created the Portland-based Lemelson Foundation, a philanthropy with the mission to support invention and innovation to improve lives in the U.S. and developing countries. To date, the Foundation has donated or committed more than $140 million in support of its mission.


Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Earth Class Mail

Gosh, delivering mail has changed from way back in the Pony Express days.

Earth Class Mail is a Beaverton, Oregon company.

Here's their value proposition:

View scanned images of your sealed envelopes online, then choose to have your mail securely scanned into a PDF document, recycled, shredded or forwarded to you or someone else.

And this is one of their two current patent applications, published 9/27/07 and titled Item Management Systems and Associated Methods:

The present invention is directed generally toward item management systems and associated methods. Aspects of the invention are directed toward receiving items, inducting the items into the item management system and storing the items. In certain embodiments, inducting the item can include imaging at least a portion of the item and providing that image to a remote user. Other aspects of the invention include retrieving the items form storage and processing the items. In selected embodiments, processing an item can include processing the item in accordance with instructions provided by a remote user. In certain embodiments, at least some of the items that have been processed can then be returned to storage. Still other aspects of the invention can include monitoring various portions of the item management process. In selected embodiments, various aspects of the invention can be automated and/or computer controlled. Additionally, various aspects of the invention can allow non-uniform items to be stored in a uniform structure.





On 12/02/08 the firm announced that "Consumers anywhere in the U.S. or abroad can now have a downtown San Francisco mailing address for their business or personal use and can easily receive and read their postal mail online. Earth Class Mail, the global leader in delivering postal mail via the Internet, today announced the opening of a San Francisco retail location to provide its customers with the cachet of a Financial District address and the conveniences of online postal mail, onsite package pickup, shipping and more. "


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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MonoTracer: Covered Motorcycle

The MonoTracer is a covered motorcycle from Peraves AG, a Swiss company.

It costs about $80K in U.S. $, and furnishes its driver (and one passenger) with such amenities as air-conditioning and windshield wipers, plus the safety of a cockpit made from Kevlar and carbon fiber and reinforced with an aluminum roll cage. The MonoTracer is energy-efficient, too: its BMW engine, which goes from zero to to 62 m.p.h. in 4.8 sec. (100 km/h), gets about 65 m.p.g. (28 km/L).

And it has patent protection, take a look here on FreePatentsOnline.

Take a look at TIME's #41 among "Best Inventions of 2008" in action in this video.




Have a Patent/Know About a Patent you want us to spotlight in our blog? Email plaque [@] freepatentsonline.com. And check out http://www.freepatentsonline.com/: All the Inventions of Mankind.