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Brody/Berman-mentored Fruti-Cycle wins LES business competition

Fruiti-Cycle Project, an Ungandan start-up that has developed an affordable bio-gas powered, refrigerated tricycle that speeds to market delivery of fruits and vegetables, has won the Global Prize at the 2016 LES business plan competition. 

The business plan and presentations were mentored by Bruce Berman of Brody Berman Associates in the U.S., who helped to develop the IP strategy, which incorporates patents, trademarks and trade secrets. There also is the potential for franchise licensing.

The Fruti-Cycle is a biogas powered tricycle, with a 300kg carrying capacity refrigerated courier for conveniently and safely transporting fresh fruits and vegetable to the market. It is targeted at the 70% of small-scale farmers in developing world. The Fruti-Cycle Project team is led by Nelson Mandela of Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda.

8680c43c-0c59-11e6-b472-0670855d2669Fruti-Cycle costs half the price of competitor Bajaj’s tricycle and easier to run. According to its designers it will earn revenue through direct sales ($800) +licensing fee ($8/month). With $50,000 initial cost, it provides a 15.6% return on investment in the second year.

With subsidies from the government, partnerships with local farmers’ organizations and international organizations, Fruiti-Cycle will obtain a sustainable competitive advantage to create cheaper better model to supply the local market and scale to international market within five years.

More about the Fruti-Cycle Project, team and business plan, can be found here.

For additional information, go here.

Competition sponsors included Article One Partners, Relecura, Traklight and Knobbe Martens law firm. The Global Prize includes a cash award.

Image source: tffchallenge.com

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The “new normal” is focus of IP Business Congress in Barcelona

With traditional patent strategies under pressure to show that they are still relevant, business as usual in the IP space is no longer the same.

Patent-adverse laws and more circumspect courts have forced owners worldwide to rethink how best to obtain, evaluate and utilize patents. The added scrutiny also has encouraged new, more collaborative IP business models and to reconsider ways of generating ROI.

This year’s IP Business Congress (IPBC Global) at the Arts Hotel in Barcelona, June 5-7. 6a00d8341c1ad253ef019aff9b0225970d-800wi 2016 will be host to more than 75 presenters and 600 attendees. It marks the ninth IPBC Global, the leading event for the business of IP value creation.

The keynote session, “Welcome to the new normal,” will feature the head or co-head of IP at Microsoft, SAP, LG and Google, and the former director of IP business at Sony. An IP executive from Ericsson will moderate.

Rapid Evolution

“New challenges posed by a rapidly evolving global IP market have caused many affected by IP to re-think ways of doing business,” said Joff Wild, Editor of IAM magazine and lead IPBC Global producer. “Developments in Europe and Asia are creating a more international ecosystem, and assertion-based monetization programs are becoming harder to implement in the U.S.”

This year’s IPBC Global sessions include:

  • Welcome to the new normal
  • Meeting the Chief IP officer challenge
  • Peace not war
  • Insider the inter partes review regime
  • Quality trumps quantity
  • Adapt or die
  • The Alice effect
  • Europe’s chance to lead
  • Buyers’ market
  • Debate: Patents as an asset class

Bruce Berman (yes, me) has been asked to moderate a debate on a controversial topic, “Patents as an asset class.” I will have my work cut out for me: It has frequently been claimed that patents are an asset class and should be treated as such by owners and investors. However, others vehemently disagree. They argue that promoting them in this way does more harm than good. Who is right?

Make Your Voice Heard

Readers who plan to attend the conference are encouraged to stop by the IP asset discussion. Members of the audience will be equipped with devices that permit them to cast their vote for against patents as assets at the end of the debate.Logo120x60

IP CloseUp readers who register will receive as 20% discount if they use the registration code IPBC16IPCU.

As usual at IPBC, there will be a host of good networking and private meeting opportunities, and the Catalan back-drop ought to make things even more intriguing. Barcelona is one of Europe’s top technology hubs, and recently was named the world’s “Most Wired City.”

For program and speaker information go here. To register go here.

Image source: ipbusinesscongress.com; http://superflat.typepad.com/

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LES members have until Monday to vote on business plan competition

FThe LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition Members’ Choice award will conclude on Monday, April 25. LES members who have not voted still can.

Competitor videos can be viewed and rated here by using the star system (5 stars being best).

Votes are logged as soon as you click on the stars – five stars being the highest. You may return to the page and change your vote, if you wish. It is not necessary to give a rating to all of the teams.

The online voting has been extended to Monday, April 25th at Midnight PDT. The winner will be announced during the LES 2016 PanAm Meeting.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Your intrepid IP CloseUp reporter, Bruce Berman, had the privilege of mentoring two of the finalists, Guardian Sensors from Austin, TX and Fruity-Cycle Project from Uganda.

Both businesses are led by bright young entrepreneurs with good, IP-influenced business plans. Please take a moment and vote!

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Image source: lesusacanada.org

 

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Automobile industry convergence is the focus of Detroit IP conference

Over the past ten years or so the motor car of the 20th century has been transformed from a mechanical conveyance to a high-speed information technology platform.

Cars today draw upon networks of complex inventions and intellectual property rights that are destined for licensing and disputes.  

IP in the Auto Industry: Challenges and Opportunities in a Converging World will address these and other issues at an event that will take place at the Ford Motor Company Conference Center in Dearborn on May 3.

Speakers include Nick Psyhogeos, President of Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC, Kevin Rivette, co-author of Rembrandts in the Attic, and a former Apple, IBM and Nissan advisor, and William Coughlin, President of Ford Global Technologies.

IP CloseUp readers are being offered an exclusive discount of $150 off the full delegate rate. Register here by April 29 for an opportunity to network with over 100 thought and market-leaders. Use code IPCLOSEUP3 to receive the discounted rate of $745.

On April 12, Ford made public plans to build a state-of-the-art world headquarters campus designed by SmithGroupJJR, the same architecture and engineering firm that designed offices for Google, Microsoft and Tesla.

The redesign comes as automakers compete with Silicon Valley and Seattle to hire engineers, designers and other tech-savvy workers who will design the autonomous and electric cars of tomorrow.

Ford’s corporate-campus overhaul comes as Toyota is preparing a new North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, and as General Motors continues a $1 billion renovation of its Tech Center operation.

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“The focus on IP in the auto industry has intensified at all levels,” said Richard Lloyd, conference producer and North American Editor of IAM Magazine. “Issues such as branding, reputation management and counterfeiting are moving up the corporate agenda, while technological convergence means that patent protection and enforcement, licensing and collaboration have become more important than ever.”

IP in the Auto Industry will feature contributions from over 25 industry-leading companies, addressing the following issues:

  • Securing 360-degree protection – featuring representatives from Cooper-Standard AutomotiveHarman International and Tenneco
  • The implications of convergence – FordMicrosoftPanasonicUnited Technologies
  • The impact of new market players – 3LP AdvisorsUnified Patents
  • The development of robust policing programs – Cellport SystemsHarley-DavidsonMotor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
  • Spare parts and the after-market – FordGeneral Motors
  • Managing brand reputation – Dezenhall ResourcesMarx Layne

For the final conference program and the full speakers’ list go here. To register go here.

IP in the Auto Industry is produced by IAM in conjunction with World Trademark Review. 

Image source: autoalliance.org; globebcg.com

US-Patents

Samsung is the leading US patent holder, 24,000 ahead of IBM

Of the top eleven active US patent holders, only four are American companies.

But who gets the best return on their innovation rights is less clear. 

It is no surprise that many foreign companies are significant US patent holders. The leader in active US patents, Samsung, with 63,434, is now more than 24,000 issued invention rights ahead of the American leader, IBM, with 39,436. But US patentees are learning that they do not all need to be top banana to succeed.

What this tells us is that for some companies – especially foreign ones – the quantity of US patents still counts, even if quality appears to be somewhat of a moving target. And besides, big technology companies seldom put their patents to the test. US-Patents

“Depending on the stage of a corporation’s development, intellectual property may be a primary value driver,” according to an article, “The largest US patent portfolios are shrinking,” by Michael Chernoff of MDB Capital in the May IAM magazine.

“This list provides insight as to whether a company’s portfolio has been growing and the impact that those assets appear to be having within their technology verticals.”

Big and Growing

Of the top 100 holders, Alphabet (Google) had one of the highest three-year compound annual (patent) growth rates (CAGR), 16%. They were outdone only by Apple, 19%, Ford, 19% and Taiwan Semiconductor at 22%. Huawei’s CAGR was a 26%, but on a lower base.

Alphabet is #12 and Apple #26 on the top 100 active US patentees list. Microsoft is now four, displacing Panasonic.

Seven entities moved up the ladder and made it onto the US Patent 100 list during the last year: Avago Technologies (36), Kyocera (81), Merck (84), Huawei (86) Caterpillar (97), EMC Corp (98) and Halliburton (100). While most of these new entrants won their place as a result of sustained IP development, some are due to significant acquisitions, as noted in Chernoff’s article. (I understand that Google also, has been an active acquirer.)

Getting vs. Having 

While IBM has received the most patents granted by the USPTO every year for the past twenty years, or so, it does not have the most active US patents. Samsung does, and Canon has inched ahead of IBM.

2015-Patents-Top-Ten-IBM

This is one area where lack of leadership can be strength. IBM allows many patents to lapse once it knows that rivals will not secure them or they are not likely to provide much value. The company also generates many defensive publications that prevent others from securing patents on inventions it may wish to use or build trade secrets (consulting “know-how”) around.

Because IBM is more selective and may have a greater number of quality assets than some of its foreign rivals, the company’s patent portfolio is likely more relevant for out and cross-licensing, and occasional sales, which in past years it has engaged in with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google. Fewer active US patents also means lower maintenance costs.

Image source: http://www.diyphotography.net; www.thenextsiliconvalley.com

Jury awards Merck $200M in patent damages, 10% of what it had sought

A California jury has awarded pharmaceutical drug company Merck $200 million, a fraction of what it had sought, for infringement of two of its patents by Gilead Sciences, which based in the San Francisco area.

The jury based the $200 million award on a royalty rate of 4 percent on $5 billion in sales, compared with the 10 percent royalty on Gilead’s past sales of more than $20 billion sought by Merck. This is as reported in Law 360.

In calculating damages, jurors said they sought a middle ground. “We worked to get to something we could all agree so we weren’t hurting one side or the other,” juror Cody Shump, a 20-year-old San Jose resident, told Reuters.

The judge has yet to rule on future royalties.

Homeless in Van.jpg Robert Wicks, who is currently homeless and living in his car, sits on his "bed" in the back of his van. July 26, 2012. Rachel Woolf/ For the Daily Camera

Named on 40+ patents chemist sleeps in car on a Brooklyn Street

For more than a year a man slept in his SUV parked on the upscale Park Slope section of Brooklyn.

The man, call him Gene, a Ph.D. and organic chemist who did his post-doctoral work at Columbia, is named on 44 patents. How he found himself in this unenviable position is the subject of an provocative page-one feature today in The New York Times.

By last summer word and rumor were spreading on Fifth Street’s email exchange, ordinarily used for organizing block parties. An unnamed Man Living in His Car on Fifth Street was causing a problem. He was pouring urine from a bedpan onto the curb. The woman fostering his cats learned that he had copied her key. And what about the small children on the block?

Who is this Person?

Neighbors organized and went to bat for Gene, said Caroline Batzdorf, a Fifth Street resident, who said she was gratified by the positive shift in attitudes.

“Some of the people who were literally saying, ‘What’s this person doing on our block?’ are now, ‘Thank God there’s humanity in people,’” she said. “But what if this were a person of a different race? Who didn’t have a Ph.D.? Who someone didn’t know?”

According to New York Times a grant from the National Institutes of Health paid for Gene’s postdoctoral work. At a large (unnamed) pharmaceutical company, he worked with a team on variations of an immunosuppressant, and compounds useful in treating diabetes.

Records list the Boise, Idaho-born chemist as a co-inventor on at least 44 “composition of matter” patents in the United States and Europe. The patents, the article reminds us, are owned by the company.

“Making the Journey from Menace to Neighbor, All on One Brooklyn Block,” can be found here.

Image source: nyt.com; dailycamera.com (person in featured image is not Gene)

Patexia Graph

Technology companies back as top patent defendants in 2016

While it may seem like all of the patent infringement targets are large technology companies in 2015, at least 7 of the top 10 defendants were less well-known or in the pharmaceutical business. 

According to Patexia, a California patent research firm, the top defendants in patent law suits in 2015 were in descending order: Apple, Samsung, Spin Screed, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Sandi Scales, Conlon Properties, HP, Mylan, Actavis and Amneal Pharmaceuticals. 

Apple was defendant in 51 cases in 2015, while the lowest of the top ten, Amneal, was defendant in 31 suits.

Patexia Graph

Spin Speed is a construction tools company. Sandi Scales is a Georgia company doing business as Sandi Scales Etching Company. An extensive Internet search revealed no background on Conlon Properties.

Mylan Pharmaceutical, Mylan, Actavis and Amneal are all pharma or pharma-related business. Apple, Samsung and HP are primarily consumer electronics companies.

2016

For 2016 to date, however, the top patent defendants is comprised entirely of tech or e-commerce companies, most with a consumer focus: Expedia, Apple, AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile US, Huawei USA, Samsung, HP, T-Mobile USA,  ZTE and Huawei.

For access to the 2015 and 2016 top defendants list go here.

Image source: patexia.com

 

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$300 discount for IPCU readers to attend US Patent Forum 2016

The fifth annual US Patent Forum is returning to Washington DC on March 17, 2016. A similar forum will precede it in Palo Alto on March 15.

In light of the recent US patent developments, the US Patent Forum, hosted by Managing Intellectual Property magazine, will take an in-depth look at topics affecting US patents today.

The conference will delve into post-grant proceedings before USPTO’s PTAB, examine strategies that make patents more secure, and explore levels of proof and understanding regarding how claims are construed.

Topics covered in the Washington US Patent Forum will include:

  • ITC Litigation and Licensing
  • Post-Grant Proceeding Before the PTAB
  • Uncertainty of Patentable Subject Matter
  • Patent Reform
  • Focus on Unitary Patent & Unified Patent Court
  • Trade Secret Protection for Innovationpress-mip

Featured speakers include Tom Scott, former chair of Goodwin’s Proctor’s IP Department and now Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Personalized Media Communications (PMC), one of the leading patent licensing companies.

IPCU Reader-Discount

For Silicon Valley, the US Patent Forum, is being held at the Sheraton on El Camino and University, opposite the Stamford University Campus in Palo Alto on March 15. The focus will be the Patent Trial and Appeal Board and strategies for dealing with it.

A $300 discount is being offered off of the full delegate price to IP CloseUp readers who attend. Just mention this article. (In-house counsel and corporate executives attend for free.) 

Delegates are invited to attend a full day of discussion to hear from, and network with over 100 leading experts in multiple fields.

They will be able to participate in important discussion about the most significant developments in the US patent system and receive updates on important changes to major global IP systems from experts. There also will be opportunities to contribute to the discussion as well as learn.

For more information, or to register for US Patent Forum 2016, go here for Washington, and here for Palo Alto.

Image source: huffingtonpost.com; managingip.com

Top 4 Patent Sellers

Panasonic, NEC & Sony are battling with IBM for patent sales leadership

Despite dramatically lower patent valuations, some big companies, including under-performing foreign holders, have taken the number of U.S. sales to new highs.

While IBM still leads, over the past three and a half years, it has been joined by IP-conservative firms from Japan, notably Panasonic/Matsushita, NEC and Sony. All four of these companies have something in common: poor recent financial performance.

In the January IAM Magazine, the Intangible Investor looks at the latest trends in patent sales among the biggest sellers. Activity is up and emerging are new leaders, like Panasonic, which leads even IBM in U.S. sales for the first half of 2015.

Analysis conducted by Brody Berman Associates in conjunction with Envision IP, a law firm that specializes in patent research, reveals that “for the three-and-a-half year period from 2012 to early August 2015, the leading seller by far was IBM, with 5,356 patents. Buyers include Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Twitter. In 2014 alone, IBM sold 2,187 patents, the most in any year over the period by any of the 12 leading tech companies analyzed.

Leading Patent Sellers

“Surprisingly, the number two, three and four patent sellers in the 2012-2015 period were all Japanese companies,” writes this reporter. “Panasonic/Matsushita, NEC and Sony, with 4,203, 2,131 and 1,578 respectively. This is a dramatic shift for conservative Japanese electronics giants, which rarely litigate patents to generate revenue or enable others to.”

Subscribers can link to IAM’s January issue here.

Intellectual Venture’s 70,000 patent portfolio appears to contain no patents originally owned by Apple, Google or Qualcomm, as Envision’s findings indicate. Several patents owned by IV investors appear in its portfolio, including those of Nokia, Verizon, Microsoft and Sony. Only 268 of the 19,559 US patents owned by IV were identified as having a litigation history, representing less than 1.5% of the portfolio.

Top 4 Patent Sellers

Among the top companies IV purchased from are Kodak (1,057), American Express (643), AT&T (358) and Philips (313) and Ericsson (273).

A list of IV’s 35 top sources for acquisitions can be found here.

Image source: Envision IP, LLC

The future of IP will be examined at the 10th IP Summit in Berlin

Uncertainty is putting pressure on patents, trademarks and copyrights. All are facing more scrutiny and a challenging future.  

Scrutinizing these fundamental issues on December 3rd and 4th in Berlin will be more than 600 IP holders, executives and investors attending the Intellectual Property Summit. Organized by Premier Cercle, it will be the tenth edition of the popular conference, held previously in Paris and Brussels.

This year’s Summit will attempt to deconstruct global IP trends and explore the future of IP rights – patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets – as business assets. There will be 100 speakers from Europe, North America and Asia.

Plenary topics include:

  • What is the future of IP in the 21st century?
  • Is your nation ready for open innovation?
  • More IP rights or better enforcement?
  • The future of injunctive relief in Europe?

On Friday, December 4 at 2:20 (14.20), your intrepid IP CloseUp editor, BB, will moderate a panel on Patent Quality – Always Challenging; Never Simple. Panelists will include:

>Valencia Martin Wallace  Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality  USPTO / US

>Daniel G. Papst    Managing Director  PAPST LICENSING Gmbh & Co. KG / DEU

> Christian Vejgaard   European Patent Attorney  ERICSSON / SWD 

Chair : Bruce Berman Principal  BRODY BERMAN ASSOCIATES / US  

11A Patent Quality – Always Challenging; Never Simple
Defining patent quality
– What is a good patent?
– Distinguishing validity from invention quality and value
– Establishing more reliable patents
– The impact of poor quality

The patent quality session will be followed by a session on patent transactions on which IBM, Samsung, Chipworks and Unified Patents and are scheduled to participate.

This year’s IP summit partners include IP CloseUp and Brody Berman Associates. 

For the full agenda go here.

To register go here.

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Image source: premier cercle; i-mop.biz

Top-plaintiffs

E.D. TX patent suits up 165% in first half; NY and So Cal also gain

After a dip in filings for 2014, Texas is back as the undisputed leader in hearing patent suits filed by plaintiffs for the first half of 2015; New York and California were up, too.

Patent suits filed in the Eastern District of Texas for the first two quarters were up 165.7% over 2014, according to Lex Machina. In the Northern District of Texas, they were up 120.7%. Delaware was down 39.5% over the same period.

Surprisingly, the Southern District of New York was up 68.2% and Southern District of California was up 36.1%.

Lex Machina is reporting 2015 is on track to be a record with more than 6,000 cases filed.

It’s difficult to know why the move back to Texas courts has occurred, but the state has been traditionally patent-friendly, and patent holders today need any edge that they can get with new obstacles like “101” (subject matter) dismissals and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) making it more difficult to succeed. New York has not been known as particularly patent friendly or has Southern California.

For the highest volume plaintiffs, it was definitely Texas or nothing for the first two quarters of 2015 (see second graph below).

 Patent cases filings in H2 2014,  H1 2015, and percentage change

(showing top 10 districts)

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Plaintiffs filing 10 or more cases filed in June of 2015

(Most plaintiffs filed in the Eastern District of Texas, shown in dark blue) 

Top-plaintiffs

 

Image source: lexmachina.com

 

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