It's fashionable gripe about the patent system these days and claim that patent holders are trying to extort money out of legitimate businesses.
But who is and who isn't exploiting the system is a grey area. Abe Lincoln obtained a patent, noted Brian Halla, CEO of National Semiconductor. He got it for inventing an inflatable pontoon that helped boats get past sandbars and other obstacles on canals. It's patent number 6469--see reference here.
He's the only U.S. president ever to get a patent, said Halla. (I haven't had time to verify if Lincoln's … Read more
The project, called peer-to-patent, grows out of the New York Law School (yes, I misidentified the school in an earlier edition of this blog) and is aimed at helping ameliorate one of the major problems in the patent process: Patent examiners are simply overworked.
Nonetheless, the project will likely be greatly controversial. Some open source advocates claim that the patent system is broken and that flippant patents are being … Read more
James Fergason, whose experiments with liquid crystal at Westinghouse, helped pave the way for the multibillion dollar LCD market received the MIT-Lemelson prize this week, a $500,000 award given annually to an inventor to honor his or her achievements.
But he won't keep the money. He will instead donate it to help the cause of independent inventors. These individual inventors, he said, often get steamrolled by large corporations. It's the other side of the patent debate. Over the past two years, large companies have complained about a growing number of patent lawsuits filed by relatively unknown companies … Read more
Metcomb Nanostructures is linking up with Jorg Wellnitz at the University of Applied Sciences in Ingolstadt, Germany to come up with ways to use the company's closed-cell aluminum foam in car parts and armor plating. Wellnitz and Metcomb are developing research projects in conjunction with Audi, BMW and the German Ministry of Defense.
Metallic foam is what it sounds like: lightweight foam constructed out of metal that can provide strength without adding significant amounts of weight. Metcomb says it has tackled the challenges in making large, uniform quantities of it.
Why does the vacuum cleaning innovator Dyson have 350 engineers on staff?
The company won't say but they all aren't working on the vacuums, said Andy Samways, an engineer at the British company in an impromptu meeting at The Cool Products Expo at Stanford University. All Samways would say is that the company is looking at different types of inventions and products.
In the past few years, Dyson has become a worldwide brand with its cyclone vacuum cleaner. Founder and inventor James Dyson wasn't happy with his home vacuum cleaner, which lost power as the bag filled … Read more
Mercora's getting downright respectable these days. The company, which combines Internet radio and legal music downloads, used to terrify music execs. Some speculated that the peer-to-peer service would hurt music sales because subscribers can download music from each other's hard drives legally or listen to the music on someone else's hard drive. Get thousands of people together and you essentially come close to music-on-demand. (The safety valve is that songs on the Mercora network are not in MP3 format, which curbs piracy.)
Now Mercora has linked up with NME.Com to create MyNME Radio, a version of … Read more
Georgia Tech and Sandia National Labs have come out with a road map for guiding the development of imprint lithography which some believe could become crucial for the chip industry in the next decade.
Imprint lithography sounds like what it is. The technology involves creating a circuit pattern by pressing a mold into a material. But, unlike the king's signet ring, the lines it the mold are only a few nanometers wide. Proponents maintain that imprint will curtail the astronomical costs associated with building factories based around traditional lithography where a light beam draws the circuit patttern. Critics say … Read more
DayJet, the company that says it will provide "on demand" jet service between metro hubs in the U.S., will start taking passengers sometime later this year.The company on Monday said it would begin to fly passengers "before the end of the year" between select airports in Florida. The airports will be identified early in the third quarter. Within 12 months of launch, the company said it would provide service in 20 airports in four southeastern states.
Last year, the company said it would be flying passengers by mid-2006. Whether they hit that goal remains … Read more
A unit of GE is putting $2.6 million into Ocean Power Deliver (OPD), a company building a facility for large-scale energy generation from waves. The money will also give GE a stake in OPD, which has raised $22.5 million of equity.
The company is in the process of fulfilling its first order for a Portuguese consortium. The 750 kilowatt facility, expected to start construction this summer, will generate enough electricity to supply 15,000 homes in Portugal. … Read more