Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘patents’

Need to Understand the New Patent Law? These Two Sites May Help

Posted by Plish on September 29, 2011

The America Invents Act has been signed into law.  In order to understand the impact of the law, I’ve been checking out various websites and found a couple that do a great job of explaining what this law means and how it may impact inventive entities, both large and small.

First, check out the law firm of Pepper Hamilton where this great primer  explains the changes in a clear and understandable manner.

Once you’ve read that, head on over to this Washington and Lee website, listen to the short podcast from Professor Alan C. Marco and read the article.  This is a really fair and balanced opinion on the impact of the patent law changes.

My opinion?

Yes, there might be a slight bias to the law that favors larger companies, but there seems to be enough wiggle room in the law to enable entrepreneurs to flourish.  Time and legal challenges will help shape the law, but in the meantime, if someone has a great idea for a product, passionately believes in it, and wants to see it come to fruition, the United States is still the place to be.

Posted in Entrepreneurship 2.0, innovation, invention, patents | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Patent Analysis Website Provides Some Useful Visualization Tools

Posted by Plish on September 26, 2010

I was doing some patent searching the other day and came across this patent search/analysis tool at see-the-forest.com.

While the site has limited use for those who are not paid subscribers, what it does offer can still fit the bill for many situations.

The search engine does a decent job of finding patents, but what I really like are the graphical depictions of the data that’s mined.

I suggest you check out a great example of a sample search located here.  It looks at the evolution of the ‘car airbag chip’ patent -what types of patents were cited by it, and how it was cited by other patents.  Here’s another example of 100 patents that came up from searching with the term ‘nano’.  I like how even a basic search can give you some great ideas and perspectives on the overall landscape and how it’s changed and continues to change.  Clusters are pretty obvious as are inter-relations between patents.

If you register you are also provided a workbench area where you can see the details of the various patents and do some tweaking of searches and additional analyses.

I do suggest you check out their blog as there are more case studies depicted there.

If there’s one thing that I  don’t like,  it’s that I can’t grab patent numbers or text using ‘highlight, copy, paste’ to move info around.  It’s an interface thing that bugs me because it forces me to remember the info or click-through to the Google page and copy a number from there to do another search.  While I can export search results to Excel, and there are ways to do further searches on the workbench page, the ability to be able to ‘highlight and copy’  is something that would make this even cleaner to use.

All in all, a useful site and one that I’ve already gotten some value from. 

Check it out and let me know what you think of it.

Posted in Design, idea generation, Information Visualization, Innovation Tools, patents, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Boliven Innovation Network™ – Patents, Drug Trials, News and More

Posted by Plish on January 16, 2010

Came across another mind-blowing database and  social networking site.

The Boliven Innovation Network™

Search for patents, medical devices, clinical trials, SEC filings, news reports, and more.  All in all,  over 100 million peer-reviewed documents are part of this network. 

The searches can be done in text form or even more beautifully depicted in interactive, graphical form.

I could walk you through the site but, trust me, go there and play with some searches.

You won’t be disappointed.

Posted in Information Visualization, innovation, Innovation Tools, patents, Research, Social Networking, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cool Patent Search Tool with Interactive Graphics – Patent Cluster

Posted by Plish on August 19, 2009

While doing some additional patent work I came across another slick tool called Patent Cluster.

What is really great about this tool is that it has a choice of viewing patent search results in  ‘List’ and  ‘Visualize’ modes. Visualize mode results in an interactive graphic that subdivides patents by topic.  Its only weakness is that it doesn’t seem to capture as many patents as a search at the USPTO.

Want to take it on a test drive?

A screen capture for a search on the word, “antimicrobial” resulted in the following graphic.  Click on it and it will take you to the actual search page where you can play with the interface yourself.

Click to see search results at Patent Cluster

Click to see search results at Patent Cluster

Posted in Design, idea generation, Information Visualization, innovation, patents, problem solving, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Paralyzing Power of Patents

Posted by Plish on March 6, 2009


The idea behind patents is a good one.

It provides protection to the idea generator by allowing the party to get financial benefit from the product for a certain amount of time.

It protects the little guy, at least in theory.

Patents force others to develop new approaches to problems-they spark innovation….

…in theory…

The problem comes when companies play the system; when they have multiple applications percolating in the patent office, multiple patents covering multiple approaches.

Controlling patents becomes a way to create a monopoly using intellectual property.

Innovation is still possible but it becomes much more difficult.

I’ve spent a good portion of my professional career navigating around and through patents.  It would be an understatement to say that the law around patents can sometimes cripple new product development.

Yes, when you can get around something it creates a whole new landscape of products, but more often than not, it results in incremental changes that are based more upon what can be defended in court than what brings true value to the customer.

The good news is that products can be conceived of, developed, launched and be wildly successful and they don’t even need patent protection!  Even better, often these products have no patent competition-great ideas aren’t always patentable!

Don’t let the price of a patent, or the threat of possible competing patents slow down your creative thinking.   Keep solving problems, keep your creative juices flowing.

Most of all, if you get an idea and  think you need to patent, find out if there is a market first.  There are great resources out there like the Washington State University Innovation Assessment Center.  For $795 they’ll assess your technology, do a basic patent search and even help you get off the ground if they believe there is a market for your product.  It’s alot cheaper than the $2000 minimum you’ll spend on a patent.



Keep records of what you are doing in a bound notebook, sign and date your ideas and if possible have someone witness them just in case.  That information will be valuable for establishing when your patent protection starts.

What tips or ideas regarding patents, innovation and being creative can you share?

Posted in Design, idea generation, innovation, Market Assessment, patents, problem solving | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Peppers, Nuts and Diamonds…

Posted by Plish on September 26, 2008

When looking for solutions it is often extremely helpful to look at other technologies that are similar.  Sweet peppers, nuts and diamonds actually share something in common.  Similar techniques are used on all of them to break them apart.

Sweet Peppers: They are placed in a pressure tight container and the pressure is raised causing micro fractures near the stem and the air to infiltrate the pepper.  The pressure is suddenly dropped in the tank and the tops of the peppers explode off carrying the seeds with them! 

Nuts: They are placed in a pressure cooker, the water pressure is increased, and the pressurized water seeps through micro-cracks into the seeds.  The pressure is dropped and shells explode! Instant shell removal!

Diamonds: Imperfect diamonds are placed in an airtight vessel and the pressure increased.  Air gets into tiny imperfections, the pressure is dropped and…yup, you guessed it, the crystals break apart.

The patent for blowing apart the peppers was issued in 1968.  The nut process in 1986 in Japan.  The diamond process years after that.

Think of all the time wasted between innovations.  If someone was astute enough to see similarities to other processes, these ideas would have occurred much quicker.

The lessons? 

  • Keep your eyes and ears open – be attentive to the world around you! 
  • THINK ABSTRACTION!  Look at the fundamental concept beneath the problem.
  • Read and don’t be afraid to look outside your area of expertise.  Patents are great source of creative information. Could be that someone else may have already solved your problem. 

Also look at tools such as TRIZ.  They can be helpful at arriving at solutions through categorization of abstract physical processes.

Posted in idea generation, patents, problem solving, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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