Friday, February 27, 2009

Patent Faceoff: Safeway vs. Kroger


Kroger is a Cincinnati company founded in 1883. Listed on the NYSE (KR), the firm has annual revenue of $76 billion. And Kroger has 75 patents as of this blog post, you can see them here from the most recent.



Safeway? They're Pleasanton, CA-based, founded in 1912, with $44 billion in annual revenue-- their stock symbol on the NYSE is SWY. And they have just one more patent than Kroger, a total of 76 as of right now, the closest Patent Faceoff ever (every Friday in this blog we face off two like companies on IP). Here's the Safeway collection.



Safeway's most recent invention was 10/30/2008, U.S. Patent Application #20080270262, LOYALTY CARD BASED ALLERGY WARNING PROGRAM:

The present application discloses systems and methods for managing nutritional information which in some embodiments comprises a database coupled to a central processor, a storage module configured to store in the database a plurality of records comprising loyalty card data for products purchased with a loyalty card and nutritional information for products available for purchase with the loyalty card, and a plurality of records relating to after sale product information. These systems and methods may further comprise a data processing module configured to compare products purchased with a loyalty card with the after sale product information, and determine if there are conflicts and an output module for transmitting results, wherein the central processor is configured to generate a report based upon the information found in the storage module.

The inventors are: Kaushik Subramanian (Fremont, CA), Stuart Aitken (Pleasanton, CA) and Jonathan Quinn (San Mateo, CA).



So there you have it, for this week's Patent Faceoff:

Safeway: 76
versus
Kroger: 75.


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, February 25, 2009

Harley-Davidson's 458 Patents


Harley-Davidson (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) has 458 patents-- check them out from the most recent here.

The company was founded in 1903.

Many of their patents are about engine design, but their creative engineering minds also address comfort, and even storage.

Here's the summary from Flip Up Seat with Rear Seat Storage, U.S. Patent # 20090001780, from 1/1/2009,:

A seat assembly for a motorcycle includes a rider seat having a forward end and a rearward end, a mounting bracket pivotally coupling the forward end of the rider seat to a frame of a motorcycle, the rider seat being pivotable to raise the rearward end of the seat, and a support arm. The seat assembly further includes a rear seat support having a first end portion and a second end portion, the first end portion being pivotally coupled to the support arm and the second end portion supporting a rear seat. The rear seat support is pivotal from a first position in which the rear seat is hidden from view below the rider seat to a second position in which the rear seat can support a passenger. The seat assembly also includes a stop feature for supporting the second end portion relative to the support arm and a lock feature for inhibiting pivoting of the rear seat support.

This patent credits six Wisconsin inventors:

  • Clarkson, Douglas D. (Colgate, WI)
  • Giunta, Francis (Hartford, WI)
  • Zapushek, John B. (Racine, WI)
  • Mandery, Thomas (Waukesha, WI)
  • Smith, Brendon (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Rank, David (Menomonee Falls, WI).
Here's the old approach to storage, canisters straddling the rear tire-- this Harley-Davidson Electra Glide is a 1966 model.



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

Monday, February 23, 2009

Land O'Lakes

Land O'Lakes-- based, naturally, in Minnesota (St. Paul), where there are thousands of lakes-- was founded in1921 as a cooperative that had new ideas about producing butter.

Back then, most butter was made from sour cream and was sold in tubs. This new cooperative made butter from fresh, sweet cream and sold it in pound packages with individually wrapped sticks. It created the standard for butter quality and helped to implement grading regulations for the industry.

The original co-op name was Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association. In 1924, the association decided to expand its butter market, and a search was made for an appropriate brand name and trademark. A contest was announced to choose a name.-- to tie in with the golden color of butter, $500 in gold was offered as prize money.

The now-famous Indian maiden also was created during the hunt for a brand name and trademark. Because the regions of Minnesota was the land of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, the notion of an Indian maiden took form.

In 1928, Land O'Lakes received a painting of an Indian maiden facing the viewer and holding a butter carton. Lakes, pines, flowers and grazing cows decorated the background. That painting inspired a new design for the butter carton, and remained until 1939, when it was simplified and modernized by Jess Betlach, a nationally-recognized illustrator. Fifty years later, with only minor changes, his design continues to represent Land O'Lakes products.


Land O'Lakes has a total of 57 patents today, take a look.

Their most recent patent was Food and feed compositions including resistant starch, United States Patent 7252836 from 8/7/2007:

The invention described in this application relates to a method of increasing the amount of weight gained by the mammal during a feeding period, to a method of increasing the amount of milk replacer consumed by the mammal during a feeding period, to a method of decreasing the amount of scour of the ruminant during a feeding period, to a method of decreasing the amount of respiratory distress of the mammal during a feeding period, to a method of feeding the ruminant, to a mammal ration, to a daily mammal ration, to a method of feeding mammals an animal feed that contains resistant starch, and to a method of increasing the feed efficiency of a mammal during a feeding period that entails feeding the mammal an effective amount of a fluid animal feed during the feeding period and feeding the mammal an effective amount of resistant starch during the feeding period.




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

Friday, February 20, 2009

Patent Faceoff: Mattel vs. Lionel


Lionel and Mattel move a lot of toys, trains and cars included. Lionel has been around since 1900 making model trains; Mattel's Hot Wheels product is 41 years old.



El Segundo, California-based Mattel has 1,703 U.S. patents-- here they are.



Chesterfield, Michigan-based Lionel has far fewer, just 821, but Mattel of course has multiple lines including Hot Wheels, Barbie and American Girl Dolls.

Dolls never go out of style, and Mattel's U.S. Patent 7479054 from 1/20/2009 is titled Flexible dolls and posable action figures:

An improved posable figure having extended life and resistance to failure, and being repeatedly posable in a realistic fashion. The posable figure has an inner skeleton including one or more primary members constructed of a bendable material such as metal wire, and an outer molded body covering constructed of a flexible substance such as an elastomer material. The inner skeleton also may include one or more secondary members molded over portions of the primary members, to limit flexion of the primary members and/or to connect the primary members to form an articulated structure.

The inventors are Mark Wittenberg and Ahmad Asbaghi.




It's worth noting that legendary Mattel designer Jack Ryan racked up 124 patents of his own.

So there you have it, for this week's Patent Faceoff:

Mattel: 1,703
versus
Lionel: 821.


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, February 18, 2009

iRobot: The Living Room & The Battlefield

Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot was founded in 1990 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists Colin Angle and Helen Greiner teamed up with their professor Dr. Rodney Brooks with the vision of making practical robots a reality.

Today, iRobot has grown to a $249 million public company (NASDAQ: IRBT) that employs over 400. The CEO is Colin Angle.



You may know them for their robotic vacuum cleaner, the Roomba. But the firm is big in defense too, witness their 109 patents today.

Take a look at Autonomous Mobile Robot, patent application 20080294288 from late last year:

A mobile robot is equipped with a range finder and a stereo vision system. The mobile robot is capable of autonomously navigating through urban terrain, generating a map based on data from the range finder and transmitting the map to the operator, as part of several reconnaissance operations selectable by the operator. The mobile robot employs a Hough transform technique to identify linear features in its environment, and then aligns itself with the identified linear features in order to navigate through the urban terrain; while at the same time, a scaled vector field histogram technique is applied to the combination of range finder and stereo vision data to detect and avoid obstacles the mobile robot encounters when navigating autonomously. Also, the missions performed by the mobile robot may include limitation parameters based on distance or time elapsed, to ensure completion of the autonomous operations.

In February of this year, iRobot got their ninth order under the $286 million xBot contract, bringing the current total contract value to approximately $80 million. The order calls for the delivery of 90 iRobot PackBots ($87K each).

The PackBot 510, employed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was developed for reconnaissance missions and to identify roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other unexploded ordnance. The robot gives soldiers a tool to investigate suspicious objects from greater standoff distances, helping to keep them safe on the battlefield.


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

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jack Cover, Taser Inventor


Jack Cover, inventor of the Taser stun gun now used by thousands of police agencies as a better way to subdue suspects, died last week at 88.

His IP spawned TASER International (NASDAQ: TASR), the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company that now makes the stun gun. The firm currently lists 36 patents, many of them attributed to Mr. Cover-- they're listed here.

The CEO is Rick Smith.

The Taser shoots darts attached to wires that deliver electric shocks that temporarily subdue aggressive subjects. While the device has become a common tool for police officers, it has become controversial in some quarters because it has been linked to a number of deaths.

Cover, a one-time NASA scientist, began developing the Taser as a nonlethal weapon to combat the hijackings and riots that were happening in the 1960s.


The name T.S.E.R. came from his favorite childhood book, "Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle," one of a series of adventure stories by Victor Appleton.

"What an amazing thought, stunning people with blue balls of electricity," Cover told The Washington Post in 1976, recalling the book. He added that an "A" was added to the name of his invention because "we got tired of answering the phone 'TSER' for Tom Swift's Electric Rifle."


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

Friday, February 13, 2009

Patent Faceoff: Maytag vs. Dyson


There's no love lost between Maytag and Dyson, witness this lawsuit.

Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Maytag has 1,527 U.S. patents-- here they are.



Malmesbury, Great Britain-based Dyson has far fewer, just 70, but their legendary founder James Dyson has his name on a total of 103 patents.



Sir James Dyson's most recent patent is application 20090031524, Multistage Cyclonic Separating Apparatus, from 2/5/2009:

A cyclonic separating apparatus includes a first cyclonic separating unit including at least one first cyclone, a second cyclonic separating unit located downstream of the first cyclonic separating unit and including a plurality of second cyclones arranged in parallel, and a third cyclonic separating unit located downstream of the second cyclonic separating unit and including a plurality of third cyclones arranged in parallel. The number of second cyclones is higher than the number of first cyclones and the number of third cyclones is higher than the number of second cyclones, providing an apparatus which achieves a higher separation efficiency than known separation apparatus.



So there you have it, for this week's Patent Faceoff:

Maytag: 1,527
versus
Dyson: 70.


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, February 11, 2009

Scuderi Engine

The Scuderi Group, the West Springfield, Massachusetts-based developer of a new type of fuel-efficient internal combustion engine, raised over $20 million in additional private funding last month, in addition to $15 million already invested.

They have thirteen patents, take a look at them here.

The Scuderi Engine is a “split-cycle” design that divides the four strokes of a standard engine over a paired combination of one (intake/compression) cylinder and one (power/exhaust) cylinder. The company indicates that the design “could be the most significant improvement in engine efficiency in over 130 years.”



Here's the abstract from their invention Split-cycle engine with disc valve, U.S. Patent # 7481190 from 1/27/2009 by Salvatore Scuderi himself:

A split-cycle engine with disc valve includes a crankshaft, a power cylinder and a compression cylinder. A gas crossover passage interconnects the compression cylinder and the power cylinder. An air intake port circumscribes a periphery of the compression cylinder and defines an outer valve seat. An annular ring having a generally central opening is disposed between the compression cylinder and the air intake port and forms a washer valve for opening and closing the air intake port. A disc valve member is concentrically mounted over the central opening of the annular ring. The disc valve member includes a piston portion having a sidewall biased into engagement with the outer valve seat for controlling flow between the compression cylinder and the gas crossover passage.

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Scuderi Group, the West Springfield, Massachusetts-based developer of a new type of fuel-efficient internal combustion engine, raised over $20 million in additional private funding last month, in addition to $15 million already invested.

They have thirteen patents, take a look at them here.

The Scuderi Engine is a “split-cycle” design that divides the four strokes of a standard engine over a paired combination of one (intake/compression) cylinder and one (power/exhaust) cylinder. The company indicates that the design “could be the most significant improvement in engine efficiency in over 130 years.”



Here's the abstract from their invention Split-cycle engine with disc valve, U.S. Patent # 7481190 from 1/27/2009 by Salvatore Scuderi himself:

A split-cycle engine with disc valve includes a crankshaft, a power cylinder and a compression cylinder. A gas crossover passage interconnects the compression cylinder and the power cylinder. An air intake port circumscribes a periphery of the compression cylinder and defines an outer valve seat. An annular ring having a generally central opening is disposed between the compression cylinder and the air intake port and forms a washer valve for opening and closing the air intake port. A disc valve member is concentrically mounted over the central opening of the annular ring. The disc valve member includes a piston portion having a sidewall biased into engagement with the outer valve seat for controlling flow between the compression cylinder and the gas crossover passage.

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, February 8, 2009

ShotSpotter


Mountain View, CA-based ShotSpotter is the leader in gunshot and explosion location and detection systems for law enforcement, homeland security, and military. For over ten years, the company has been delivering patented [11 patents to date, see them here], wide-area acoustic surveillance systems capable of operating in diverse environments including urban communities, seaports and distribution gateways, university campuses, stadiums and convention centers, critical infrastructure, airports, and military bases.

The ShotSpotter GLS is deployed in over 30 cities and counties across the U.S. and is utilized by dispatchers, emergency personnel, investigators, and crime analysts to reduce and target gun violence. In addition to major metropolitan areas, the company's customers have included the FBI, US Attorney's Office, Department of Justice, US Joint Forces Command, US Air Force and the US Army.

The CEO is James Beldock.


Here's their patent 7474589, Acoustic location of gunshots using combined angle of arrival and time of arrival measurements from 1/6/2009:

A gunshot location system computes candidate gunshot locations from angle-of-arrival information and time-of-arrival information provided by acoustic sensors. In addition to an angle, each sensor calculates an angular uncertainty from impulses received at four or more microphones having rotational symmetry. An intersection of one or more time-of-arrival hyperbolas with one or more angle-of-arrival beams is used to determine a candidate gunshot location. In simple environments, a location can be confirmed with just two sensors allowing sensor density to be significantly reduced, while in complex environments including reflections, blocking, and interfering acoustic events, the additional angle-of-arrival information improves location accuracy and confidence, allowing elimination of candidate locations inconsistent with the combined time-of-arrival and angle-of-arrival information.

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.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Patent Faceoff: Schlage vs. ADT


Indianapolis, Indiana-based Schlage has 528 U.S. patents-- here they are. They're in security-- locks, the old-fashioned way. But they have some cutting edge technology, such as keypad locks you can control via a cell phone, like this one:

Boca Raton, Florida-based ADT has a different approach to security, more high tech, and along with subsidiary SimplexGrinnell has a compelling set of patents, too-- although far fewer, just 97.




ADT earned an interesting patent in late 2007 for Video Verification, #20070285511, relating to getting eyes-on-the-scene of an apparent alarm event before police dispatch:

A method, system and central monitoring station is provided for visual verification of an alarm system event in which image data corresponding to a plurality of images associated with the event is transmitted. The image data corresponding to the plurality of images is processed to create one or more processed images in which the one or more processed images are arranged to allow an operator to visually observe changes in the plurality of images. The one or more processed images are displayed.



So there you have it, for this week's Patent Faceoff:

Schlage: 528
versus
ADT: 97.


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, February 3, 2009

MagicJack

Meet MagicJack, a little $40 device that is shaking up the phone industry.

The Palm Beach, Florida company sits atop these five patents, credited to the inventor Daniel Borislow (also the founder/CEO of MagicJack).

The company was called a "Skype and Vonage killer" by CNBC.

A key patent application is #20070189270, dated 8/16/2007-- Network Adaptor:

The claimed invention consists of integrating a wireless client with a network adapter in a single device which allows a telephone to connect to a network access point for the purpose of establishing Voice over IP (VoIP) calls. The user can attach his telephone to the network adapter and place it anywhere within range of a wireless network and not be required to connect to a wired network via a cable. This allows the end user to place the network adapter and phone in a place without the restrictions of wires. Also, the network adapter could be used to transmit voice data over a broadband link and to transmit emergency calls over a cellular network.







The Boston Globe said: "... may provide the cheapest way for anyone to start making calls using an ordinary landline phone. It is definitely the easiest to use."




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, February 1, 2009

Electric Car: Easy as A123?


The major factor holding back electric cars? The battery. It needs to be lighter and yet more powerful for mass manufacturing.

In Hopkinton, MA, A123 Systems is on the case. Take a look here at their 22 patents.


Here's there most recent patent application, SEPARATOR INCLUDING ELECTROACTIVE MATERIAL FOR OVERCHARGE PROTECTION, from 1/29/2009 :

Porous separators for use in electrochemical cells and methods of their manufacture are provided. The separators are porous structures comprising an electroactive material and an electronically insulating structural material, wherein the electroactive material forms a percolating path in the separator.


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.