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March 21, 2005

TOP PATENTING U.S. UNIVERSITIES for 2004

The USPTO just released the list of top patenting universities. The University of California once again leads all other universities as the list combines all of the campuses into one total. Other notables on the list inlcude The Univeristy of Illinois which made a big leap to get into the top 10.
PRELIMINARY LIST OF TOP PATENTING U.S. UNIVERSITIES
Calendar Year 2004
Rank in 2004*
Number of Patents in 2004*
U.S. University*
(Rank
in 2003)
(Number of Patents in 2003)
1
424
University of California
(1)
(439)
2
135
California Institute of Technology
(2)
(139)
3
132
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(3)
(127)
4
101
University of Texas
(4)
(96)
5
94
Johns Hopkins University
(7)
(70)
6
75
Stanford University
(5)
(85)
7
67
University of Michigan
(8)
(63)
8
64
University of Wisconsin
(6)
(84)
9
58
University of Illinois
(20)
(39)
10
52
Columbia University
(9)
(61)

*The listed patent counts are preliminary counts that are subject to correction. The final listing of patent counts for U.S. universities in 2004 should be available in late December of 2005.

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March 15, 2005

V-FORMATION, INC., v. BENETTON GROUP SPA, ROLLERBLADE, INC.,

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Today, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court's claim construction defining "releasably attaching" in claims 1 and 9 of US Patent 5,803,466 "to mean that the fasteners must permit the sidewalls to be easily removed and replaced and determining that those skilled in the art would not consider rivets . . . to fall within the category of releasable fasteners.

Claim 1 of the '466 patent recites the following:

An in-line roller skate, comprising: a boot having a sole surface with toe and heel portions;

a frame, comprising; a toe plate having an upper face and a lower face, said upper face being affixed to said sole surface toe portion, and two pair of spaced apart flanges extending downwardly from said toe plate lower face, each of said flange pairs defining a cavity therebetween;

a heel plate having an upper face and a lower face, said upper face being affixed to said sole surface heel portion, and two pair of spaced apart flanges extending downwardly from said heel plate lower face, each of said flange pairs defining a cavity therebetween;

first and second downwardly extending sidewalls having front and rear upper portions, wherein said first sidewall is configured such that said rear upper portion is received into a corresponding one of said heel plate cavities and said front upper portion is received into a corresponding one of said toe plate cavities, and wherein said second sidewall is received into the other opposing said toe and heel plate cavities;

a plurality of fasteners for releasably attaching said first and second sidewalls to respective ones of said toe and heel plate flange pairs; and

a plurality of wheels rotatably mounted between said first and second sidewalls.


In most cases, the best source for discerning this proper context is the patent specification wherein the patent applicant describes the invention. Metabolite, 370 F.3d at 1360. In this case, the

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March 11, 2005

Remember the carnival game where they would guess your age?

Amazon.com this week was granted a patent on a method of determining the age of a recipient of a gift based on past gifts.

As reported by CNET News.com

Amazon's patent grants it ownership of many data-mining techniques used to identify when a purchase is a gift and what sort of present it is. "If the item being ordered is perfume, and the date is one week before Valentine's Day, it may be inferred that the perfume is being purchased as a gift," the filing states. If a user chooses to send a message with a gift, the system can parse the message for "key words, such as birthday or anniversary" and infer the type of event associated with the gift, the patent states.

Here is an exemplary screenshot from the patent.
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Here is claim 8 (which in my opinion is the broadest claim:

8. A computer implemented method of estimating an age range for an item recipient, the method comprising:

at a first date, receiving a customer order for a first item for the recipient, where the first item is associated with a first age suitability designation stored in the electronic database;

at a second date, receiving a customer order for a second item for the recipient, where the second item is associated with a second age suitability designation stored in the electronic database; and

estimating in a computer an age range which corresponds to the recipient based at least upon the first age suitability designation accessed from the electronic database and the second age suitability designation accessed from the electronic database.

Given the outcry for better consumer privacy, the public (at least privacy groups) may not react so well to Amazon.com starting to use their purchase history database to start stereotyping people. But in reality, this type of data mining happens all the time. There have been other stereotyping systems utilized in the past such as predicting someone's income level based on neighborhood, purchases, etc.


Privacy laws such as COPPA are trying to limit data about children. However, if I enter one of my nieces' names as a recipient of a gift and then after a year or so passes, Amazon.com estimates her age. Have they collected personally identifiable information regarding a child without permission of the parent or guardian? In reality, they would not be collecting the information from a child under the age of 13, therefore COPPA may not apply.

The apparent novelty would appear to be the determination of age in at least part based on what items have been purchased. Most websites for gifts already break the catalog listings out by the recipient's age range, especially for toys.

One could design around these claims by just asking for the recipient's age. In reality the claimed method does the same thing, except that it makes a first guess without really asking for the age.
Click here to download the patent

Click here for the CNet News.com article about the patent.

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March 7, 2005

Update on EU Software Patent Directive

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CNet News.com, BBC News and ZDNet are reporting that the European Ministers have adopted the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, despite the requests of three countries to reject the directive.

The Directive now moves on to the European Parliment where it be debated and potentially amended.

Here are the links to the full articles BBC News ZDNet News and CNet News.com

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March 4, 2005

More on the Apple trade secrets case

CNET News.com is reporting that Judge James Kleinberg did not issue a ruling today, but a ruling is expected sometime next week.

Lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing several of the Apple-themed Web sites, say allowing Apple to force the sites to divulge their sources, or forcing the sites' e-mail providers to give up records of their e-mails, would be deeply destructive to journalists' ability to cover business.

Apple's basic position is that the authors of these website are not real reporters and therefore should not be entitled to protections under California law and the US constitution. What a slippery slope such a ruling could create. Does one need to apply for a license to become a journalist? I guess as a lawyer I had to take the bar exam and undergo the requisite background checks, etc. But to try to certify who is really a journalist vs. non-journalist would seem a dangerous item.


The EFF website has all of the documents pertaining to this case online here.

Click here for the entire CNET News.com article

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Bloggers not protected under California Shield Law and free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution?

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News.com is reporting that a California judge has issued a tentative ruling that Apple can force three blogging sites to divulge their sources, according to reports. This case will definitely be of interest to the entire blogging community.

Click here for rest of the article

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March 3, 2005

USPTO Fax Numbers

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Updated Notice of Centralized Delivery and Facsimile Transmission Policy for Patent Related Correspondence, and Exceptions Thereto

On December 1, 2003, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Office) established a

General

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Make sure you are using the new USPTO Address

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Termination of the Waiver of Provisions of 37 CFR 1.8 and 1.10 for Correspondence Intended for the United States Patent and Trademark Office but Addressed to Washington, DC 20231

Effective on April 4, 2005, the provisions of 37 CFR 1.8 (Certificate of Mailing) and 1.10 ("Express Mail") will no longer be waived for correspondence addressed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Washington, DC 20231. On May 1, 2003, the USPTO changed its address for certain correspondence to P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450. See 37 CFR 1.1 and Correspondence with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 68 Fed. Reg. 14332 (March 25, 2003), 1269 Off. Gaz. Pat. Office 159 (Apr. 22, 2003). To allow applicants time to become accustomed to the new address in Alexandria, VA, the USPTO waived the provisions of 37 CFR 1.8 and 1.10 such that correspondence addressed to Washington, DC 20231 would be treated as acceptable under 37 CFR 1.8 and 1.10 for otherwise compliant Certificates of Mailing and "Express Mail."

Click here to read the complete Notice

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Changes to Patent Law in India May Affect Patent Application Filing Strategy

Effective Jan. 1, 2005, the Indian Patent Act was amended significantly. Under the new Act, it is now possible to obtain patent protection on products involving pharmaceuticals, microorganisms, chemicals, and foods, as well as on software in combination with hardware or having technical application. Business methods and pure algorithms remain unpatentable subject matter, essentially aligning Indian practice with that of the European Patent Office. One change which is also significant is that patent applications for inventions made by anybody residing in India (by Indians or otherwise) now have to be filed in India first before filing elsewhere in the world. Thus, patent applications based on research work being done in India have to be filed in India first before filing elsewhere. As more companies are opening facilities in India, this new provision will become an important factor in completing patent filings on inventions developed in India. The following website has more information on Indian patent law and the recent changes:
http://www.dpahuja.com/pages/patent/patent.asp

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More useful links

Glossary of Cryptographic Terms

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Free Translations

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March 2, 2005

Five Newly Approved Licenses

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Five Newly Approved Licenses:

The OSI board has approved five new licenses for certification.

(Via OSI News Weblog.)

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Dictionary of Automotive Terms

Click here for a great website which defines automotive terms.


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Free U.S. Patents

Click for Free Patents

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Excellent Guide to help you create your own entries

Click here

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Link To MPEP

MPEP online

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