An Answer to the Legacy of Steve Jobs

November 28, 2014

The answer is, “Patent every possible thing in order to make the patent wall higher and thicker.”

The article sort of misses the point of my answer. Navigate to to “Steve Jobs Lives on at the Patent Office.” The write up sees the situation in this way:

Deceased inventors can win patents if the approval process draws out, or when attorneys seek “continuations”—essentially new versions of old patents. And the more lawyers and money an inventor has, the more likely his ghost will rattle on. The estate of Jerome Lemelson, the sometimes-controversial independent inventor who came up with the bar code reader, received 96 patents following his death in 1997 at age 74.

Okay, okay. Apple, not Steve Jobs, is milking the cow. Patents unfortunately do not correlate with here and now financial success. I know of one really good example: IBM.

Some folks are confusing legal procedures with making money for someone other than lawyers.

I want to avoid that error. Also, would not life be better if Apple offered a search system that sort of worked.

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2014

Patent Complaint filed by BrightEdge for Searchmetrics Infringement

March 20, 2014

The article titled It’s BrightEdge vs. Searchmetrics in SEO Patent Case on Search Engine Watch warns of containing some “dry legalese”, but when it comes to patent infringements that is difficult to avoid. This particular case involves a complaint filed by BrightEdge, which claims that Searchmetrics is illegally using BrightEdge technology. Dennis Goedegbebuure, head of SEO at Airbnb explains Searchmetrics point of view in the article,

“That system was built in 2009, where we built the strategy starting in 2008, far before the patents by BrightEdge were submitted. We would check the ‘share of voice’ of any eBay page ranking for a keyword, and compare our position with the competition on multiple factors, backlinks and on-page factors; after which, we would be able to estimate what would be needed to push those eBay pages upwards in the rankings.”

This may sound like Google spoofers of the SEO variety getting legally frisky. The article explains that most innovative companies take out patents either as a defensive move against “patent trolls” or simply to avoid having there more unique ideas stolen by competitors. Patent controversies are common, and the system is clearly imperfect between combative companies and patents occasionally being awarded to the wrong company.

Chelsea Kerwin, March 20, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Simplified Patent Search

February 24, 2014

Finally, there are easier ways to find out whether your great idea has already been patented by an earlier-rising birdie. GCN reveals two new tools in, “Patent Search Engines Aim to Open Innovations to the World.”

The Lens is an open search engine created specifically for hunting down patent information, created by Richard Jefferson of the Queensland University of Technology. The Lens crawls through about 100 million documents in 90 countries, and its creator hopes it will help level the innovation playing field. Interestingly, Jefferson traces his lineage directly to Thomas Jefferson, who started the U.S. patent system in the first place. Perhaps that is why Richard Jefferson seeks to rectify the “dire straits” he feels that system is now in: being gamed by companies “incredibly skilled in hiding the ball in intentionally opaque patents.” The article tells us:

“The Lens already hosts several tools for analysis and exploration of the patent literature, including graphical representations of search results to advanced bioinformatics tools. In 2014 developers will be working to create forms of the Lens that can allow all annotations, commentary and sharing to be behind firewalls for those who need it, without forsaking the open and inclusive cyberinfrastructure, the organization said on its website.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) itself seeks to address the need for streamlined patent search with its Global Patent Search Network. The article doesn’t say how many countries this engine reaches, but does mention that the PTO has worked with China’s government to make their patent documentation searchable; that cooperation is nothing to sneeze at. The article reveals:

“Users can search documents, including published documents and granted patents, recorded from 2008 to 2011. The records are available in in English machine translations, which PTO acknowledged could sometimes generate awkward wording, but ‘provided an excellent way to determine the gist of the information in a foreign patent.'”

So, next time you want to know whether your invention has already been invented, turn to these tailor-made search engines.

Cynthia Murrell, February 24, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

SYL Semantics Resurfaces with News of Patent Bill

January 2, 2014

The article Patent Removal Regretted, But Search Firm Pushes On from ComputerWorld explores the consequences of the Patents Amendment Bill on SYL Enterprise Search in New Zealand. SYL distinguishes itself from most Enterprise Search companies by basing its work not on hype but on “access to relevant information.”

The article states:

“SYL’s platform is based on a dictionary of 580,000 English words, with records of associations among them, such as what words are synonyms and how the concepts they indicate are related; for example that Wellington is in New Zealand. Specialist dictionaries can be added to deal with particular business areas with their own vocabularies. Surveys indicate as much as 25 percent of an executive’s time can be consumed by searching for information”

Syl’s engine works to reduce time-wasting metadata creation by automatically generating plenty of metadata by making associations with words in the document. The clause in the New Zealand bill that a computer program does not qualify as a patentable invention would not effect the patent that SYL already holds on its techniques, but that has not stopped SYL CEO Sean Wilson from voicing his dissent. He suggests that the time and investment put into any invention would be wasted if it were impossible to patent and protect against imitation.

Chelsea Kerwin, January 02, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Google Patents: A Quote to Note

November 30, 2013

I read “Google’s Growing Patent Stockpile.” There is nothing like a search of commercial databases for patent information. The write up points out that Google is filing more patents. Only outfits like IBM and Microsoft are doing more filing and inventing, or is it inventing and filing?

Tucked into the article was this paragraph which is a quote to note in my opinion:

Gregory Aharonian, a technical analyst who works with lawyers to overturn patents, says that Google, like other big companies, knows that if it swamps the overworked patent office with applications, it will win patents, even if its ideas aren’t necessarily that novel. “The general rule is, the more patents a company has, the more closely the quality of their patent portfolio approaches the quality of all patents, which is to say the majority of all of these patents are invalid,” says Aharonian.

Good point. Google patents are useful for many reasons. One function for me is to gauge how quickly Google is becoming more like IBM and Microsoft. Is that a good thing? Just look at search. Google’s search innovations are redefining relevance and bringing a new connotation to precision and recall.

Progress is evident.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2013

California Inventors Patent Application for Natural Language Search Interface Now Available Online

September 27, 2013

The article titled “Multimodal Natural Language Interface for Faceted Search” In Patent Application Approval Process on Hispanic Business reveals that inventors in California have applied for a patent of their natural language interface. The inventors are quoted in the article as claiming that the problem of users implementing a “successful query” revolves around an issue of transparency in the criteria of the search being held. The inventors, Farzad Ehsani, Silke Maren Witt-Ehsani filed their patent application in February of 2013 and the patent was made available online early in September of 2013. The article states,

“Solving this problem requires an interface that is natural for the user while producing validly formatted search queries that are sensitive to the structure of the data, and that gives the user an easy and natural method for identifying and modifying search criteria. Ideally, such a system should select an appropriate search engine and tailor its queries based upon the indexing system used by the search engine. Possessing this ability would allow more efficient, accurate and seamless retrieval of appropriate information.”

This quote from the inventors continues on to address the current methods which do not meet the expectations of users in terms of selecting the best search engine and data repository as well as not formulating the search query in the appropriate manner.

Chelsea Kerwin, September 27, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

After Five US Patent Office Awards Search Patent To Simplexo

August 16, 2013

Is patenting search, a fundamental tool for users, the same as trying to trademark crust less peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? No, not if you just invent a new technology to improve the common feature. Techzone360 takes a look at the first search patent to be issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in five years in, “SearchYourCloud Awarded US Patent For Improve Search Engine Results.” Simplexo was given a patent for “Improved Search Engine-offers unprecedented search capabilities for users by leveraging Boolean and semantic search technologies to deliver enhanced search results.” Okay, so why is this important? Take apart the technical language and Simplexo offers a product that will search across clouds and its content, a better mobile design and security, improved Boolean search, and repetitive information reduction.

CTO of Simplexo Simon Bain had this to say:

“’The Improved Search Engine patent confirms SearchYourCloud as a leader in the search and application space and puts users in control of their data.  SearchYourCloud’s technology enhances users’ productivity and lets users find and secure their data in one, fast step. Unlike other search engines our applications can find emails with a ‘to’ and ‘from’ name, and subject or content body without the user having to type in too many different search boxes. It can also find content from more than one source effortlessly and de-duplicate the results.’”

The demands on search engines are getting bigger and it is about time the expectations are met. It has not been decided how Simplexo will package its software, but expect it to change the way we search.

Whitney Grace, August 16, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Beyond Search

USPTO and Its TIFF Image System

April 13, 2013

If you don’t have money and free patent services are not working, you may want to use the US government’s site to get the image files for a patent document. We used a fresh Windows 7 machine and got the system working, but there were a few tips we thought we would pass along.

First, you access the images by running a query from this page: You will want to pay close attention to the syntax for querying the USPTO system which reminds me of an old-style search service.

I ran a query for 7,953,642. Here’s what the USPTO system displays:


You will want to click on the “Images” link which is in the clump of red text at the top of the page:


When you click on Images you will see this if you have a Tagged Image File Format which supports an older image standard installed:


If you so see the patent document, you can generate a PDF by installing a freeware PDF printer. Just print each page of the patent and use software like Adobe Acrobat of FoxIt which allows a user to assemble individual files into a single PDF. When bundled, you have your complete patent.

If you do not have a suitable TIFF viewer, you will have to download software which supports the USPTO file format. I recommend Alternatiff which is available without charge from this page:

We learned that getting the TIFF viewer working was painless using Opera, Version 12.1. Your mileage may vary. Our efforts to get the viewer working with Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer were not productive.

One question which comes up whenever one of my team works with the the USPTO files is, “Why aren’t these folks using the Portable Document Format file type?” Another member of my team asked, “Haven’t these folks heard about HTML5, XML, or Word for goodness sakes?”

My response: “You want to question the United States government?”

I sure don’t.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2013

FTC Concerned about Some Standard-Essential Google Patents

October 19, 2012

It may be something. It may be nothing. But to Google’s expanding mosquito bites of legal woes, we can now add the issue of Motorola-originated smartphone technology. The New York Times reports on the “Widening Scrutiny of Google’s Smartphone Patents.” The Federal Trade Commission was already investigating the company’s search and search-advertising activities on antitrust grounds. Now, the agency is looking into the possibility that Google’s Motorola Mobility subsidiary is mishandling “standard-essential” patents, patents on technologies crucial for the basic operation of tablets and smartphones. Reporter Steve Lohr explains:

“Standard-essential patents, antitrust experts say, are the modern, high-tech equivalent of certain vital railway lines in the 19th century, like the Eads rail terminal and bridge across the Mississippi in St. Louis, the subject of a historic antitrust decision in 1912. Essential patents, like rail bridges, can become anticompetitive bottlenecks if the corporate owner withholds access to the technology or demands unreasonably high payment.

“In Senate testimony in July, Edith Ramirez, an F.T.C. commissioner, speaking of the potential abuse of standard-essential patents, said, ‘Holdup and the threat of holdup can deter innovation by increasing costs and uncertainty for other industry participants, including other patent holders.'”

Google picked up many of these essential patents when it acquired Motorola Mobility earlier this year, and pledged to license them out fairly and reasonably. The FTC is not too sure about the strength of that pledge. In fact, the agency is nervous about any “patent buildup” by the major players, rightly fearing that such collections can be used to inhibit the growth of newer and smaller companies.

Cynthia Murrell, October 24 2012

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Informative Paper on Patents

September 3, 2012

Many folks are alarmed and confused about the current state of technology patents, and rightly so. We have found an interesting paper that explains in great detail what has been happening, why and how, and what the trajectory means for the future. To be sure, “The Giants Among Us” (PDF) from Stanford Technology Law Review is not a coffee-break-length piece. It is, however, full of important facts, insights, and observations. A must-read for anyone concerned about today’s tech patent landscape.

The paper, written by Tom Ewing and Robin Feldman, begins with this observation:

“The patent world is quietly undergoing a change of seismic proportions. In a few short years, a

handful of entities have amassed vast treasuries of patents on an unprecedented scale. To give some

sense of the magnitude of this change, our research shows that in a little more than five years, the

most massive of these has accumulated 30,000-60,000 patents worldwide, which would make it the

5th largest patent portfolio of any domestic US company and the 15th largest of any company in the


“These entities, which we call mass aggregators, do not engage in the manufacturing of products

nor do they conduct much research. Rather, they pursue other goals of interest to their founders and


Indeed. The rest of the paper supplies facts about such mass aggregators (particularly Intellectual Ventures); gives a nod to potential positive effects; delineates the potential damages from the trend; and wraps up with ideas on what can and should be done. Ewing and Feldman proscribe regulatory oversight, transparency, and undermining trolls’ profit motive.

Excellent research, analysis, and conclusions. But will the FTC and DOJ listen?

Cynthia Murrell, September  03, 2012

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

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