Thursday, June 30, 2016

IBM, Samsung, Canon Lead IPO's 2015 Top 300 Patentee List

The top 10 U.S. patent grantees in 2015 was virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Associations' annual list.

By Tony Dutra

June 29 — The top 10 U.S. patent grantees in 2015 was virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to the Intellectual Property Owners Associations' annual list.

IBM Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Canon K.K. remain the top three, with 16,738 patents among them. IBM was granted over 7,000 patents for the second consecutive year.

Intel Corp. replaced Panasonic Corp. in the top 10. The others in the top list are Qualcomm Inc., Google Inc., Toshiba Corp., General Electric Co., Microsoft Co. and Sony Corp.

The IPO split Panasonic into two intellectual property management divisions. Together, they received 1,932 patents, good enough for a 13th place finish if they had been combined.

Beijing, China-based BOE Technology Group, with 276 patents granted, is the highest-ranked organization new to IPO's top 300 list.

A first-time appearance on the list, at No. 183, of Elwha LLC, is also notable. Bloomberg identified the Bellevue, Wash.-based firm as a unit of non-practicing entity Intellectual Ventures well known for buying patents, but also does its own research. NPE tracker PlainSite says that Elwha is the assignee of over 22,000 patents. But IPO's list looks only at assignments upon issuance, suggesting the 176 patents resulted from Elwha's own research and development.

The Patent and Trademark Office issued 298,407 utility patents in 2015, by the IPO's count, with more than 50 percent going to the companies on the list. A total 35 companies received over 1,000 patents. The four companies tied for the last spot on the list were each granted 107 patents.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Dutra in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduces: FINANCIAL MANAGER

What is Financial Manager?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched Financial Manager, a new, easy to use online fee payment management tool. 

Key Features:

* Store Payment Methods
* Assign User Permissions
* Receive Email Notifications
* Generate Custom Reports

Financial Manager will be released phases. The first has just occurred. When Financial Manager goes live, the current Financial Profile system and Office of Finance On-Line Shopping Page will be turned off and replaced with Financial Manager and the Patent Maintenance Fees Storefront.

Future releases will continue to improve your online fee payment management options.  By the final release of Financial Manager, you will be able to complete most of your financial activities with the USPTO online with speed and accuracy.

Financial Manager will provide you with new capabilities to:

Store and Manage Payment Methods
* Maintain credit/debit card, deposit account, and/or electronic funds transfer EFT) information for use in future payments.

Assign Secure User Permissions
* Provide customizable access to your stored payment method(s), assigning other Financial Manager
users one or more of the following permissions:
   * Administrator
   * Fee Payer
   * Funds Manager
   * Reporter

Receive Administrative Notifications
* Receive administrative email notifications based on your permission(S) for each stored payment method.

General Custom Reports
* View recent transactions and administrative history; view and export transaction searches and monthly statements as PDF, Excel, and/or CSV files.

Any questions you may have can be sent to

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Alibaba's Jack Ma: Better-Than-Ever Fakes Worsen Piracy War

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma said Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than the genuine article, complicating the effort to root out fakes on the country's largest online shopping services.

By David Ramli and Lulu Yilun Chen

June 14— Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma said Chinese-made counterfeit goods today have gotten better than the genuine article, complicating the effort to root out fakes on the country's largest online shopping services.

Global brands have long relied on China and other low-cost manufacturing bases to beef up margins. But those same factories have gotten savvier over the years and are now using the Internet—including Alibaba's platforms—to sell their own products straight to consumers, Ma told the company's investor conference on June 14. Still, Alibaba is the best in the world at fighting the sale of counterfeits, he added.

“The problem is that the fake products today, they make better quality, better prices than the real products, the real names,” Ma said in Hangzhou, China. “It's not the fake products that destroy them, it's the new business models.”

“The exact factories, the exact raw materials, but they do not use their names.”

Alibaba is drawing scrutiny

Failing to clean up online bazaars like Taobao could alienate merchants and shoppers abroad, particularly at a time when Alibaba is drawing scrutiny from both investors and international brands over its reputation as a haven for knock-offs. Its membership in the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, a nonprofit global organization that fights counterfeit products and piracy, was suspended in May after questions were raised about conflicts of interest involving the coalition's president. That's after its inclusion in the group irked some members who said the company wasn't going far enough to cull fakes from its marketplaces.

Right or wrong, Ma's comments on the caliber of counterfeits may not sit well with those trying to tackle an endemic problem that's tarred China's image abroad.

“It's inappropriate for a person of Jack Ma's status to say something like this,” said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center in Hangzhou. “For some individual cases what he's saying might be true, but it's wrong to generalize the phenomenon.”

Ma wants to get more than half the company's revenue from outside China within a decade and a cooling domestic economy makes the fight against counterfeiters more pressing.

Alibaba pleaded its case to hundreds of members of the IACC that it has the data, technology and desire to help keep fake brands off its online marketplaces. Its collaboration with Chinese law enforcement in 2015 resulted in the arrest of 300 people, the destruction of 46 places where counterfeits are made and the confiscation of $125 million worth of products, President Michael Evans told the group in May.

“We would love to work with the branded companies,” Ma said, adding that the company had around 2,000 staff working on the problem. “We cannot solve the problem 100 percent because it's fighting against human instinct. But we can solve the problem better than any government, any organizations, any people in the world.”

Bigger Than Amazon and Ebay

Alibaba handles more e-commerce than Amazon and eBay combined. It expects to reach 423 million online shoppers around the world this year, mostly through its and Taobao Marketplace sites. It aims to have 2 billion consumers by 2036 and double gross merchandise volume to 6 trillion yuan ($911 billion) by fiscal 2020.

“Alibaba has a remarkable amount of big data at their disposal and I believe there are many triggers which could help them identify fakes better than they are doing at present,” said Mark Tanner, managing director of the China Skinny, a research firm in Shanghai. Those included price variances, reviews, and selling patterns, he said.

While battling the immediate problem, Ma is also keeping an eye on the longer term. Ma said his goal of reaching 2 billion users would require more success in rural China, which he estimated had 700 million people. While there is merit in calls for expansion in Malaysia, Indonesia and India, Ma said the domestic approach would be more successful because his company understood the local market better.

And he already has an eye to posterity, telling investors that over 90 percent of key company meetings, decisions and events have been recorded on video to be analyzed by future generations studying Alibaba.

To contact the reporters on this story: David Ramli in Hong Kong at; Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Robert Fenner at Edwin Chan

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Census Gets New CIO From Patent Office

By Aaron Boyd, Federal Times
June 6, 2016

After almost a year without a permanent IT leader at the helm, the Census Bureau finally has a new CIO, stealing an information security officer from another Commerce Department component.
Kevin Smith, who until recently served as the CISO at the Patent and Trademark Office, is taking over as Census CIO this month, the agency said in a June 6 release. In this role, Smith will lead the bureau’s IT modernization efforts, including preparing for the 2020 decennial census.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Fashion Brands Top List of Most Active Trademark Lawsuit Filing Parties

Fashion brands have earned prominent placement on a list of companies that are most consistently monitoring unauthorized uses of their names and logos (read: trademarks), and initiating legal action in connection therewith. According to a report published compiled by legal analytics data firm, Lex Machina, which released its second annual trademark litigation year in review report. The findings, which analyze U.S. district court filings from from January 2009 through March 2016, put fashion brands in positions of reaping the greatest rewards in connection with their trademark policing efforts.
Lex Machina's report put high fashion houses in the spotlight in terms of their trademark efforts. In terms of case filings, Coach led the pack, with 730 filed cases. Chanel came in second with 330 cases, and tech company, Microsoft, came in third, filing a total of 203 cases during the period (2009 through Q1 of 2016). Deckers Outdoor Corp., parent company to Ugg Boots, was high on the list, as well, with 164 cases filed. Another fashion firm that rather unsurprisingly made the list: Louis Vuitton Malletier SA, which had 81 cases.
Measuring by damage amounts awarded (as distinct, of course, with dollar amounts collection, as in counterfeiting and cybersquatting cases, in particularly, the damages amount collected from international defendants is almost always only a fraction of the court-order award), Chanel was awarded the most damages, nearly $1 billion. Burberry Ltd. came in second with $523.1 million and Burberry Ltd. U.K. was awarded $416.6 million.
Gucci America Inc. followed at $207.7 million. Also on the list were Coach Inc. at $180.3 million, Nike Inc. at $170.6 million and Converse Inc. at $166.2 million. The amounts are the aggregate totals based on awards mostly from default judgments or consent judgments, and where damages were from decisions on the case merits, the report noted that juries have awarded more damages than judges.
The study also found that in cybersquatting cases (those stemming from the registering and/or using of an Internet domain name with the bad faith intent of profiting from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else), Chanel, Deckers, Tiffany, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Coach were the companies most likely to win ownership of a domain name by way of a court proceeding.
As for forums: Lex Machina found that the Central District of California was the most popular district for trademark filings (4,164 cases filed from 2009 through Q1 of 2016), although it has seen a decline since 2015 corresponding to an overall decline in all trademark cases filings.Among the other top districts, the Northern District of Illinois is notable for seeing some growth during the same period.
Brian Howard, coauthor of the report and Lex Machina’s data scientist, said the compilation of data began as a public interest project at Stanford University 10 years ago. The data analysis can provide information on who is filing, how long the cases take and how they turn out, factors that can impact a company’s litigation strategy. “It’s important to defend your marks, but data can make sure it’s being done effectively and on budget,” Howard said.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Father of 3D Printing Looks Ahead

 When Chuck Hull invented stereolithgraphy in the early 1980s, he had some ideas about what it might spawn, but he could have never imagined the scope of the current 3D-printing world. Now the CTO of 3D Systems, the company he founded in 1983, Hull is the benevolent father figure of a booming industry.

Chuck Hull, the inventor of 3D printing and CTO of 3D Systems.

Manufacturing is rapidly changing, so when we’re talking about deployment, we’re not talking about some ancient assembly line. The people we talk with are already fully into digital manufacturing."
 - Chuck Hull

Title: CTO and founder
Organization: 3D Systems
Career highlights: Invented stereolithography in 1983 and is credited with the first issued patents in what is now considered 3D printing

The IndustryWeek Manufacturing Leader of the Week highlights the manufacturing leaders, executives and stars who are driving growth in today's industry and helping to shape the future of manufacturing.

Matt LaWell, IndustryWeek

They're All My Children

IW: Do you have any favorite applications? Either your own, or others that you’ve seen and been impressed by?
CH: To me, they’re all my children. Which is my favorite? Certainly, we have lots of production applications already, so Align Technology makes orthodontic liners in a completely automated factory. We worked and worked on that with Align and some other partners, so to see that be a thriving business, that’s one of my favorites. Some of my other favorite stuff is in healthcare, lots in surgical planning.
IW: Have you ever seen a surgery where your technology is used?
CH: I have not, but I’ve met some of the people who’ve been rebuilt, successfully.
IW: What could be in store for additive manufacturing, heck, not even in 2046, but just in, say, 2018?
CH: I always say, first disclaimer, I’m not much of a futurist. But certainly, the benefits are no tooling, customizable fasts, and so a lot of plastic parts will be automated and built with 3D-printing. It’s another step toward digital manufacturing, and it fits right into the whole movement. In the future, people won’t even think about it. It’ll be the recognized way to manufacture plastic parts. The same with metal parts, except right now the provision is that those tend to be more specialized parts. Maybe they’ll advance to the same level.
The trend we’re on right now is more aerospace parts and medical parts, and of course the benefits in aerospace are that you can get what you want and you can build things in ways where you get the same performance but with a lot less weight. You take out all the metal that doesn’t do anything and you can save at least half the weight, if not more. I could just see that really progressing. … There are still barriers. Right now, we’re going through all the regulatory stuff, us and others. It’s going well. I can see that happening. In medical, certainly, I think it’s progressed to the point where more and more medical implants are used, and we have a facility in Belgium that’s made a couple hundred thousand implants. That seems to be going well. The advantage, of course, is that they’re customizable, and you can make them better. You can make them cheaper and better with additive, and the functionality is a lot better.
IW: At trade shows, I imagine you talk quite often with people, smart people who know the industry but have no idea who you are, or exactly what you’ve done.
CH: It’s just part of life.

Monday, May 23, 2016

How Abraham Lincoln Became the Only U.S. President to Hold a Patent

President Lincoln
Lawrence Thornton / Getty Images circa 1860: Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth President of the United States.

His "manner of buoying vessels" was patented on May 22, 1849

As a president, Abraham Lincoln has many unique distinctions: Honest Abe, the Great Emancipator, the first presidential assassination victim.
He also remains to this day the only U.S. president to hold a patent in his name. Lincoln invented a “manner of buoying vessels” that was awarded U.S. patent number 6,469 on May 22, 1849 — 167 years ago this weekend.