Monday, April 27, 2015

Inventors: Don't overly rely on your own searches

Mark Nowotarski, on self-directed invention searches:
Some inventors consider doing the search of the Patent Office on their own, but there are several downsides to this plan. Their emotional attachment to the invention will cloud their judgment, and they will steer away from finding other products that are similar. Although chances are they have already identified a few other competitors, searching the U.S. Patent Office is a more intense process.  From my experience with clients who have done their own search, they have ignored similar products that have already been patented because they don’t want to know that their idea isn’t as unique as they once thought it was.

However, finding additional similar products does not mean that all is lost. The strategy changes to comparing the proposed invention with the patented one, and discussing ways to improve it and make it patentable. A good patent agent or attorney will provide objective insight at this phase. The process is to take the invention, ignore the parts that have already been incorporated into another patent or patents, and the remainder is a patentable invention.
He goes on to point out that Thomas Edison did not actually invent the lightbulb.

There's a certain strategy to figure out what specific part of an invention is patentable (and of value to anyone), and without some experience or guidance in mapping out exactly how the patent landscape looks, you might overlook the best direction which to apply your effort.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Canadian budget pushes applied research (again)

Yes, the Canadian federal government is still directing money to applied research.

I'm not saying that it's good or bad; just that it's nothing new or unpredictable.

A phrase you hoped to never hear: "Human induced seismic hazards"

Alexandra Witze, at Nature, writes:
Fifteen quakes of magnitude 4 or greater struck in 2014 — packing more than a century’s worth of normal seismic activity for the state into a single year. Oklahoma had twice as many earthquakes last year as California — a seismic hotspot — and researchers are racing to understand why before the next major one strikes.

Whatever they learn will apply to seismic hazards worldwide. Oklahoma’s quakes have been linked to underground wells where oil and gas operations dispose of waste water, but mining, geothermal energy and other underground explorations have triggered earthquakes from South Africa to Switzerland.
This map, from the article sums it all up: