January 10, 2017
Citations are a useful and simple measure for assessing a patent’s value in terms of its influence over, and similarity to, other inventions. From citing companies, one can deduce that they will likely have products relevant to the patent, and therefore a highly-cited patent could be of great market value, or hold lots of licensing potential. However, there are pitfalls to the approach of simply taking the number off the face of the patent as gospel for citation figures, as pointed out by this article on IPWatchdog. They highlight that actually, the true number of citations to that invention is usually much greater than the citations to the granted US patent. Using the example of Google, it’s possible to demonstrate the preference of examiners to cite the parent application, with Google’s applications receiving more than twice the citation count of their granted patents. Instead, one must look at the full citation data for the whole patent family to get a complete data set of citing patents.
Why it matters
Citations are used in the IP industry to assess a patent’s value or usefulness, and a complete picture of this citation data can help speed up the process of finding relevant companies and products to an invention, or even assess a patent’s relevance to present day tech when deciding which patents to abandon for portfolio management. Therefore, including the full family citation data is vital for IP strategy.
Qualcomm recently got fined a hefty 1.3TKRW (roughly $865M) by the Korea Fair Trade Commission. This is reportedly due to refusing to license their SEPs to competitors on FRAND terms, with Qualcomm being accused of attempting to strengthen their monopoly in the Korean patent licensing and chipset markets.
Qualcomm denied these accusations in their press release, saying the investigation denied them some basic rights which are supposed to be guaranteed and have an appeal to the Seoul High Court.
Why it matters
Licensing outside the US can be a risky business for a US company, with relatively untested waters for their licensing team to navigate when compared to the US licensing process. However, if their appeal is unsuccessful, this could be a major blow for one of patent licensing’s giants, with patent licensing actually being the main revenue driver for the Californian chipset manufacturer. If successful, it could make companies reluctant to license in Korea due to the unfair treatment accusations being leveled at the KFTC. Other IP owners will be watching this appeal closely.
When people talk about warehouse tech, it usually relates to inventory tracking, fork lift trucks, safety measures etc. However, Amazon’s plan for a revolutionary drone-based delivery system “Prime Air” to deliver packages in vastly reduced times also suggested changes to warehouses, as they would have to allow the drones in and out, as well as package the items in the special containers which need to be attached to the delivery drone. It would appear that Amazon was thinking a step ahead in terms of warehouse complexity, though, with a recent delve into Amazon’s patent portfolio uncovering a patent filed in 2014 covering a flying warehouse. The somewhat Sci-Fi sounding plan is for drones to fly up to the airship-carried warehouse at 45k feet to collect and then deliver parcels, in addition to a fleet of smaller airships restocking the warehouse. Whilst not many would expect this to see fruition into real world tech, it shows the future of delivery services is definitely more complex than the postal system, with Amazon also filing a patent for an underground tunnel based delivery system.
Why it matters
It shows that the big tech companies are constantly thinking outside the box and that innovation can happen even in what many would consider being the most mundane of spaces.