Sequenom Patent on Prenatal DNA Test Remains Invalid
By Joseph Mandour on December 9, 2015
San Diego – Interpretations of a Supreme Court decision led the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington to refuse to reconsider its decision invalidating a Sequenom Inc., prenatal DNA test patent.
San Diego based Sequenom is a company focused on molecular genetic laboratory work, specializing in prenatal care. Sequenom got a non-invasive prenatal diagnosis patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,258,540), that that was later ruled as not being patent eligible. The court used precedent set by the Supreme Court’s Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories in its decision.
Medical and biotechnology patents work to promote progress in life sciences by protecting the financial incentive to spend large amounts of money on research and development. Legal issues arise over what is patentable and what is not.
The U.S. Patent Act (35 U.S. Code §101) states, “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.” The definition of “new” becomes the heart of the argument over patenting genetic material. Medical and biotechnology research deals with naturally occurring materials including genes, biological processes, etc. Research companies argue they can apply for patents because the process of dealing with this naturally occurring material is what is new.
The Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring gene sequences and products naturally derived from the sequences cannot be patented, while gene sequences created through synthetic processes (not naturally occurring) can be patented. This precedent was used in the first ruling that Sequenom’s claims are not patentable, and was used in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision to uphold the ruling of the earlier court.
Sequenom released a statement saying it is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This ruling holds potential impact for the biotechnology industry, which fears a lack of patent protection will negatively impact investments in biomedical research. The courts, in contrast, argue too much patent protection... Read the rest
Sequenom Prenatal Test Patent Ruled Invalid
By Joseph Mandour on June 23, 2015
San Diego – Sequenom is a bio-tech company based in San Diego. Recently, its patent for pre-natal testing was held invalid by a Federal Circuit Judge on the grounds that it is not patent eligible because it is naturally occurring.
The popular test is called MaterniT21 and works by testing the mother’s blood. The test specifically locates pieces of fetal DNA within the mother’s blood that could show signs of defects, Down Syndrome, or other complications.
This newer test is popular as it is one of the first non-invasive tests available. Because it is non-invasive it also poses a far less risky procedure to the fetus. While the court conceded that MaterniT21 was beneficial to women, the court did not agree with the patent issuing as the method began and ended with a “natural phenomenon.” In the opinion memo, Judge Reyna wrote that “even such valuable contributions can fall short of statutory patentable subject matter, as it does here.”
Specifically, since the method tests for the presence of DNA in blood, it is this natural phenomena that is not “inventive” or eligible for patent protection. Increasingly it seems that patents with naturally occurring processes are being rejected or overturned based on prior case decisions. A prior case in which a patent was overturned was cited as precedent for the court’s decision to invalidate the Sequenom patent. The prior case involved a test that could link certain genes to breast-cancer risk.
While the decision means that Sequenom does not have the exclusive right to this type of test, Sequenom can still maintain a dominant position in the market by producing the best test with the most consistent results. More competition among the providers may also prove to be beneficial to women who have more choices apart from invasive testing such as an Amniocentesis. Amniocentesis is a medical procedure in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from the sac surrounding the fetus. While an Amniocentesis is accurate there is also a 1 in 300 chance of it causing a miscarriage so it is much more risky.
A representative for Sequenom stated that the decision by the court should ... Read the rest
Ford Allows Competitors Access to Patents
By Joseph Mandour on June 16, 2015
Los Angeles – In the interest towards development, Ford Motors is allowing competitors to access its patents regarding electric and hybrid vehicles technology. In 2014 alone, Ford submitted over 400 patents relating to electric vehicles. In addition, Ford has already been awarded over 650 such patents, with an additional 1,000 patents currently pending.
Among the patents that will be made available is a patent for battery and charge balancing which can maximize the capacity of the battery, and one for “driving behavior feedback” which can allow drivers to adopt more fuel-efficient methods when driving.
Executive Chairman William Clay Ford, Jr. stated that the release of the patents was for “industry-wide research and development of electrified vehicles” and that Ford’s main goal is innovation. With this, the sharing of ideas with competitors can allow for more industry wide development and faster results. Sharing data and patents is also expected to allow for the mass production of electric cars so that they become more affordable for consumers.
Other companies can either contact Ford’s technology commercialization office or access the patents through AutoHarvest, which is a website for members to share and explore new technologies. As a co-founder of AutoHarvest, Ford wanted technology to become transparent and accessible. However, there will be a fee to access the patents.
Ford plans to hire over 100 new electric vehicle engineers as a further step to focus on new innovative ways of building cars.
While Ford certainly has good intentions with releasing its patents, it is also beneficial for the company. While the electric car market is fast-growing, Ford as much as any company has an opportunity to capitalize on future growth of the electric vehicle market. Currently Ford has six hybrid and electric cars available for purchase and has goals to greatly increase this number.
Sharing patents appears to be the latest trend for car companies and Ford did not start the trend. Last year, Elon Musk of Tesla also released the patents relating to Tesla technology as a way to help other companies produce better electric cars, and also to b... Read the rest
Google Receives Patent for Creepy Toy
By Joseph Mandour on June 4, 2015
San Diego – Recently there has been a proliferation of devices that are connected to the Internet and of apps that remotely control those devices. For example, your thermostat can be controlled via a smart phone from your couch or even when you are away from home. These newest gadgets are referred to as “Internet of Things” (IoT).
The idea behind the Internet of Things is that pretty much anything can transfer data over an Internet connection without the use of a computer or physically touching the device.
Amazon’s Echo is an example of a popular IoT. Through the Echo device, one is able to control a number of other devices by using voice commands. It is also able to play music, answer questions and provide information such as the weather.
A newly surfaced patent awarded to Google on a IoT device is currently portrayed as a bunny rabbit or a teddy bear. The media-dubbed “creepy” teddy bear can interact with people based on their actions and expressions, and can also be used to remotely control other devices such as changing the channel on the TV.
The patent states that the “device may interpret the voice command and map it to a media device command” and would then signal a command to that device- such as turning it on or off. In this case, one would say a voice command to get the teddy’s attention. The teddy, complete with eyes that move and facial expresssions, would then look in the direction of the voice command and be able to receive another command to control a specific device.
The toy is also connected to the internet, and can express different emotions as well as record, speak, and focus its attention on different key phrases that trigger a reaction.
Some criticisms for the teddy bear include privacy concerns and that children should not be exposed to it. Critics claim that children should not be remotely filmed or audio recorded when playing with the bear. Perhaps it would be better received by critics if Google were to change the receiver device to something less appealing to children.
Google has not yet released the teddy bear, and there has been no confirmation that they ever will. A spo... Read the rest
Amazon Patents Drone Delivery System
By Joseph Mandour on May 19, 2015
San Diego – The days of receiving Amazon goods via a man-maneuvered truck may soon become antiquated. Amazon was recently awarded a patent from the USPTO for its latest idea- “a system for aerial delivery”.
The entire system is not yet available. However, the patent does specifically describe that upon receipt of a delivery request, an unmanned drone will then be sent to deliver the package. The drone will also be able to navigate and change its path, just in case animals, humans, or any other obstacles are met along the way.
Consumers should not be worried about large objects being carried through the air. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos stated that only packages that weigh less than five pounds will be a part of the drone delivery system. However, this would mean that as high as 86% of Amazon’s deliveries would meet the weight requirements to be delivered by drone. Other larger packages will continue to be delivered via trucks.
Even with the patent awarded, Amazon still has an uphill battle in order for its drone system to be implemented. Amazon lobbyists have been requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reduce drone restrictions so that they may be used commercially, as is the case with the Amazon deliveries.
The FAA allowed Amazon to test its drone, but it came after months of communication and restrictions. The test drones are currently allowed to fly at or below 400 feet, and only in clear weather conditions and away from airports.
Amazon has high hopes that drones will eventually be able to deliver packages within just 30 minutes. There is also hope that deliveries can be made not only at a customer’s house, but also to wherever the person may be at the time such as on a road trip or even on a boat. The drone would use the GPS location from the user’s phone, and deliver directly to that location.
The Amazon drone delivery system is currently in the testing phase, and there is no word on when the service will be offered to customers.... Read the rest
Apple Watch Appearance Awarded a Design Patent
By Joseph Mandour on May 13, 2015
Orange County – Apple filed a design patent application in August of last year to protect the basic appearance of the Apple Watch which has now been accepted by the USPTO. The patent application was submitted just a month before its unveiling announcement.
The patent attempts to protect the overall look of the Apple Watch. Apple received a similar design patent for its iPad and iPhone which essentially protect a rectangular shape with rounded edges. For the Apple Watch, Apple filed for a square shape with rounded edges. The design patent also protects the placement and appearance of the crown, buttons, and the layout of the sensor array on the back of the watch. Other companies may still attempt to sell similar items, but they would be in danger of patent infringement claims if they create a substantially similar design.
Apple was also recently awarded two other patents for watch strap designs- the “Classic Buckle” and “Link Bracelet,” offering options for those interested in a more distinctive look.
As all three of the Apple Watch models (Standard, Sport, and Edition), follow the same basic design, they are all protected under the same design patent. This will allow the design to be protected for 14 years.
For Apple customers, anyone with an iPhone 5 or newer model will be able to receive notifications and run apps with their watch including Apple Pay.
Some of the watches are tagged with a steep asking price. The price of the Edition watch is set as high as $17,000. However, if a gold-plated watch isn’t within budget, Apple also offers a Sport model which is about $350.
Unlike the release of its other products, Apple has not yet announced sales figures of its newest device. However, there have been estimated sales of over 3 million watches, and it was previously back ordered.
Competitors such as Sony and Samsung have already followed through on releasing smart watches of their own. Samsung’s “Gear S” is similar in price to the Apple Watch so competition within the smart watch industry is gearing up.
Apple will also be competing with health related tracking devices such as the FitBit, as t... Read the rest
Apple’s Latest Patent To Allow App Sharing In Real Time
By Joseph Mandour on March 18, 2015
San Diego – While desktop computers allow multiple users to share and collaborate on a single application in real time, such a feature has been limited with mobile devices. With Apple’s latest patent, this idea is now mobile. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) recently granted Apple a patent that allows two or more iPhone or iPad users to collaborate and work from the same app in real time.
Unlike some of Apple’s programs such as Continuity and Handoff which allow users to save their progress in an app, and pick up where they left off on another device, this invention allows two users to experience the same app together at the same time.
With the new sharing app, a “host” can invite another to view certain apps on their device such as their calendar or a work project and then collaborate on that same app in real time. Once the invite has been accepted, the two devices are able to share and interact with each other.
Other more interesting uses might be the ability to share a book or movie among devices using Facetime. This would allow a user to view the screen of another person’s device while simultaneously having a Facetime conversation. For example, this remote shared experience would allow a mother to remotely read a bedtime story to her child while away on travel.
Thus far it is not clear if the feature will be available on Apple TV. If it is, the ability to easily share TV shows and movies may create copyright issues in that it would allow a person who has purchased a movie to share it remotely with someone who hasn’t.
Apple states that a key feature of the new app is updated privacy settings that can be altered. A user will be able to easily limit what the second viewer has access to. The data or screen sharing could be limited to only Facetime calls for example, or certain apps could remain hidden to the other viewer.
Apple products have allowed for data sharing between multiple devices in the past. However, the new real time capabilities are likely to create interesting new possibilities for mobile devices.... Read the rest
China Fines Qualcomm And Demands Patent Re-licensing
By Joseph Mandour on February 19, 2015
San Diego – China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently led an investigation against San Diego based Qualcomm regarding an anti-trust violation concerning its patents. Qualcomm was reportedly fined $975 million for violating China’s anti-monopoly law.
Qualcomm is one of the largest producers of smartphone chips in the world. With internet accessibility being among the most important features for cellphone users, the NDRC claimed that Qualcomm was abusing its market position. Most of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from its patent licensing fees, which China claimed were too high. Producers of phones in China pay a licensing fee for use of the chips, with Qualcomm receiving royalties. As the dominant seller of the chips and related technology, Qualcomm allegedly forced licensees to overpay and agree to certain terms and conditions. The current resolution proposed by NDRC is a new set of licensing rates that protect the Chinese consumer.
The investigation lasted over a year and threatened to stand in the way of one of Qualcomm’s biggest markets. With China being the second largest economy in the world, Qualcomm has not fought the fine and has agreed to the conditions of royalties regarding phones sold in China.
It has been rumored that China’s decision to prompt an investigation was a defensive measure regarding the release of the new 4G network that China’s carriers will offer. For at least the first half year, Qualcomm will be the sole chip developer that can produce for both 3G and 4G networks. Thus, it may have been China’s plan to step ahead of the chip manufacturers before the release of the new system.
There has been some speculation that the recent Qualcomm investigation will set a precedent for other foreign companies doing business in China. Other top technology producers such as Microsoft have also been subject to investigations... Read the rest
Nike Golf Submits Patent For New Tracker Ball
By Joseph Mandour on January 16, 2015
Thanks to ever increasing technological advances, golfers are now better able to track and get immediate feedback about their game. Over the past few years, a number of companies have offered different mechanisms to improve one’s golf game. Arccos Golf built a tracking device that connects sensors on your clubs and body to Bluetooth and allows you to track your shots from your phone immediately after you swing the club. Other devices require the placement of sensors near the ball before it is hit. From tracking your swing in real time to ball monitoring by GPS, golfing is going high-tech.
The continued advancement of golf technology has definitely allowed golfers to learn more about their game while practicing on a golf range, however this technology has been less effective while actually playing a round of golf due to the obstacles resulting from required set-up and placement of the tracking devices. While some can be placed on the golf equipment, others have to be set up behind the player, leading to slower play and other inconveniences.
In an attempt to take golfing technology to the next level, Nike Golf has submitted a patent application which involves tracking technology placed inside the actual ball. This would allow a player to fully analyze a round of golf without any setup or inconvenience. Tracking the ball itself will allow players to not only track the mid-air travel and GPS, but the ball can also produce data about a golfer’s swing and technique. The ball can also produce data about playing conditions and even choice of club. All data is immediately available by cell phone.
Most of the technology used in Nike’s new proposed ball did not even exist as recently as five years ago. This is great news for novices hoping to advance their game. You golf coach can analyze your game and give advice without ever seeing you swing. It is also certain that the latest advancements will continue to be incorporated by professional golfers with potentially millions of dollars to gain... Read the rest
Apple Gets Patent for Three Dimensional iPhone with Motion Sensors
By Joseph Mandour on December 19, 2014
San Diego – Apple has won a patent for a touch-free mobile device screen that uses a graphical user interface or GUI to orient images based on the viewer’s perspective. The first time consumers were introduced to this technology was with Amazon’s Fire phone. However, Fire phone did not exactly turn out to be a raging success for Amazon.
A reactive 3D display was one of the top features of the Fire phone and has been featured in other Android devices. But so far, consumers have not taken to it because no significant application has been developed for it. Apple first filed its patent application for a sensor-based “display environment” in January 2012. But last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple the patent.
In Apple’s patent, the invention is described as a “three-dimensional (3D) display environment for mobile device” that uses orientation data from onboard sensors to automatically determine and display a perspective projection based on the data with the user physically interacting with the display. In other words, the user does not have to touch the display. For example, gestures made above a display are detected by sensors that are built into the device.
This is not the first time that Apple has been involved on 3D user interface concepts or has used sensors to detect gestures. But recent rumors have suggested that Apple is working on 3D iPhone display technology, perhaps a hint that Apple might be getting closer to actually unveiling such technology. It is still not clear at this point how far along Apple is with its work on such GUI technology and motion-sensing gestures.
These features have not yet appeared on any Apple products, but the company has expressed interest in virtual reality recently. The company is also apparently looking for developers with experience with virtual reality and motion-sensing technology, which means that it is heading in that direction.
Apple has also won the patent to a projection-based 3D mapping technology, which is part of the “intellectual property package” acquired by Apple when it bought Israel-based company PrimeSense. This techno... Read the rest