Unsurprisingly, Philips Leads the Charge in LED Optics

Patents mean a lot in the LED industry — and whenever patents come to mind, the Philips portfolio is not far behind. Philips has a longstanding — and well-deserved — reputation as an innovative leader in the LED industry, and the breadth and depth of its intellectual property holdings are considered second to none.

In the April 2013 issue of LEDs Magazine (now available online), IP Checkups explored the patent landscape in LED optics, discussing general trends within the space and describing how patent data can be used to predict and identify technological growth areas, innovative leaders, emerging markets, and groundbreaking new players in the space.

Most notable in this study was perhaps the extent to which Philips has dominated innovation in LED optics, particularly over the last decade. In certain technology areas, Philips has filed more patents in the last five years than its closest competitor has filed in the last 30. This is somewhat jaw-dropping, even to those who are well-acquainted with the scope of the Philips portfolio, but it certainly speaks to the ongoing influence that Philips will likely have in the LED space, both now and in the near future.

For the full report, please visit LEDs Magazine (http://ledsmagazine.com/features/10/5/2) or contact IP Checkups directly (info at ipcheckups.com)

Why Color Temperature Control is Vital to the LED Industry

The range of color temperature

Color temperature, from “warm” reds and oranges, to “cool” blues. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Adoniscik.

What is correlated color temperature?

Correlated color temperature (CCT) measures the color of a lighting source, from “warm” color temperatures (reddish, yellow hues) to “cool” color temperatures (blueish hues), and “pure white” in between.

In technical terms, the color temperature of a light is equivalent to the temperature of an ideal black body radiator that radiates light of a similar color to the light source. Consequently CCT is measured in kelvins (K), the unit of absolute temperature.

The chart below is from EagleLight’s LED University. It provides a good overview of different color temperature measures, and examples of each:

Color Temperature Range for LEDs

Examples of various color temperature ranges. Image Credit: EagleLight’s LED University.

In the LED industry, references to “cool white” or “warm white” light bulbs reflect the color temperature of the light emitted from the LED bulb.

Why is it important for lighting?

Light affects the body’s circadian cycles, i.e. the sleep and wake cycles of everyday life. This is due to light’s effects on melatonin, a hormone secreted by humans to regulate their circadian rhythms. Blue light, or blue light wavelengths in broad-spectrum light suppresses melatonin production. This is why bright midday sunlight, composed of more short blue wavelengths, encourages wakefulness, while a dark room encourages the production of melatonin, and therefore sleep. Continue reading

IP Strategies in the LED Industry

Patent Analytics showing geographic patent filing trends in the LED Industry

LED Patent Filing Geographic Trends 1992-2012

IP Checkups recently hosted and presented a four-hour IP workshop at the Strategies in Light conference in Santa Clara, CA. The workshop started with three slide presentations and ended with an interactive panel discussion. Panel members included IP Checkups’ team and four additional experts.

The first presenter was Paul Kallmes, the ex-head of licensing and patent portfolio manager at Color Kinetics. Mr. Kallmes spoke about IP Business Strategies in the LED industry and encouraged the audience to find ways to prioritize license agreements. He said, “If licensing revenue can be created, the nearly-100% profit margin can quickly become addictive”. Mr. Kallmes emphasized the importance of creating a strong technology platform, continuous monitoring of the IP Landscape, and treating IP as a strategic business asset, not just a legal function.

Next, Kathryn Paisner spoke. Kathryn is the Director of Research at IP Checkups. Using examples from IP Checkups’ patent analytics tool, LED PatentEdgeTM, Dr. Paisner presented an overview of patenting trends in the LED industry with a specific focus on the Philips portfolio.  The presentation also featured a snapshot of industry-wide patenting trends, including patent filing rates and top assignees in different technology areas, such as color mixing and LED Phosphors. Dr. Paisner’s presentation ended with a brief overview of some of the smaller players in the LED space, including SiOnyx, Evident Technologies, Brasscorp, Yipi Pte., among others.  She concluded by articulating how competitive patent data provides an excellent source of competitive intelligence for business development, legal, marketing, and R&D departments.

Continue reading

Cleantech Company Showcase — IdleAir (Transportation)

image of IdleAir Stations

IdleAir electrification stations for truck drivers. Image courtesy of www.idleair.com.

Clean Air From a Good Night’s Sleep?

IdleAir is an innovative company that provides long-haul truck drivers an alternative to idling their engines during rest periods. Through nationwide truck stops, IdleAir provides heating, AC, internet, and TV services to truckers – allowing them to get a good night’s sleep without emitting the diesel exhaust from an idling engine. In addition, IdleAir users save a gallon of diesel fuel per truck per hour and prevent wear and tear to their vehicles, lowering truck maintenance and repair costs for an entire fleet.

The company made headlines recently for its new partnership with GM subsidiary Chevrolet. On January 31, 2013 the car company announced its intentions to invest in the IdleAir technology and expand its availability across the nation. This initiative is part of Chevrolet’s broader carbon-reduction campaign to reduce carbon emissions. Launched in November 2010, Chevrolet seeks to invest up to $40 million in various carbon-reducing projects with a goal of reducing eight million tons of CO2.

Bouncing Back from Recession

Founded in 2000 in Knoxville, Tennessee, IdleAir once had more than 130 sites in 34 states. Unfortunately, recessionary pressures got the best of the company, and IdleAir filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2008.

Luckily for IdleAir, and truck drivers, a group of cleantech-minded investors and businessmen bought the rights to IdleAir’s core intellectual property and technology in 2010. The new investment group, Convoy Solutions, LLC set out to restore IdleAir’s business and ramp up locations across the United States. Since the relaunch in 2010, IdleAir has secured over $15 million, in addition to the as yet undisclosed investment dollars from Chevrolet.

IdleAir Technology

IdleAire, Inc., IdleAire Technologies Corporation, and parent company, Convoy Solutions LLC, currently own five pending patent applications, and four issued patents. Continue reading

A List of 2000+ Potential Intellectual Ventures Shell Companies – Courtesy of Plainsite

Sharing information on the internet

The power of information sharing! Image of a scientific “collaboration network”. Source: USCD Jacobs, http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=299

When IP Checkups launched Case IV Thicket last October, I had the fortune soon thereafter of speaking with Aaron Greenspan, founder of Plainsite, about our project. Plainsite is an online legal database dedicated to bringing transparency to the legal system.

Mr. Greenspan had read about our project to uncover Intellectual Ventures, and became excited about the possibilities of cataloging the USPTO patent assignment database in a more intelligent way. He launched his own initiative to research Intellectual Ventures’ shell companies, and just yesterday, published the results on Plainsite.

The full list of over 2000 potential Intellectual Ventures shell companies is available here, and more details of the methodology behind the list can be found on the Plainsite blog.

Mr. Greenspan has given us permission to post the full list of shell companies on our public NPE Tracker – to be launched mid-January. Over the next few months, IP Checkups and outside volunteers will vet the data to remove any non-IV affiliated companies, and determine if additional IV shell companies can be found through this data.

Holiday Roundup: Top Biofuels, Solar, and Wind Power Inventors of 2012

Christmas Decoration

US Design Patent (D670596 “Christmas Decoration”) assigned to Santa’s North Pole Light Factory AB in Sweden.

The movement towards a clean energy future demands the hard work and ingenuity of our scientists and engineers – people who spend their days imagining and creating solutions for our most pressing energy needs. As the holiday season approaches, we would like to take the time to recognize some of the top renewable energy inventors of 2012.


Top Biofuels Inventors of 2012

The top biofuels inventors, as measured by number of US patent grants in 2012 (as of 12/11/12).

The top biofuel inventors of 2012, by a long stretch, are co-inventors Aniket Kale, Milton Sommerfeld, and Qiang Hu of Arizona State University (ASU). This is not surprising, given Professors Milton Sommerfeld and Qiang Hu‘s years of experience researching and optimizing various strains of algae for fuel production, pharmaceuticals, foods, and other applications. Continue reading

A123, Patent Valuation, and Chinese Cleantech Investment

Top U.S. assignees in the lithium-ion battery space, ranked by their lithium iron phosphate patent holdings. More information regarding patent ownership and patent filing rates in LiFePO4 electrodes, advanced batteries, and other energy storage technologies can be found in the CleanTech PatentEdge.

In August, Chinese industrial giant Wanxiang announced its intent to rescue Waltham, Massachusetts-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123 from insolvency. In a memorandum of understanding released by the two companies, Wanxiang pledged to invest up to $450m in A123, provided that–among other things–A123 maintain its current level of R&D and engineering operations (including any associated personnel).This condition, along with Wanxiang’s past investment in struggling U.S. cleantech companies, appears to indicate that Wanxiang is interested in A123’s technical know-how.

A123’s patent assets may also be a factor. Transferred to Wanxiang earlier this year, A123’s patent portfolio is unlikely to be worth $450m on its own; however, it does represent the largest collection of U.S.-issued lithium iron phosphate (LFP) patents (and pending applications) owned by any company–domestic or otherwise–operating in the United States. For a company looking for business opportunities in the alternative energy storage space, this must be a highly attractive asset.

Cleantech Company Showcase – Rentricity (Energy-Water Nexus)

Rentricity's hydrokinetic energy recovery system.

Diagram of Rentricity’s Flow-to-Wire (SM) energy recovery system. Image taken from US patent application: US20060082159.

Rentricity, a startup based in New York City, seeks to generate electricity from untapped pressure in drinking water pipes. Rentricity was one of four finalists selected from the 2012 Cleantech Open Northeast Regional Competition, and will advance to the Cleantech Open Global Forum later this week.

When most people think of hydropower, they think of large installations like the Hoover Dam. Rentricity rethinks hydropower on the micro scale, producing electricity from excess pressure in residential and industrial water pipes.  This pressure comes from many sources, including water moving downhill, chemical reactions in the water, and compressed gas that is released in the pipes.

Currently, utilities install pressure reduction valves (“PRVs”) in pipes to relieve this excess pressure, but do not convert this hydrokinetic energy into something useful. Rentricity’s “flow-to-wire(SM)” system combines a coupled turbine and generator, to produce electricity from water flow, with a complete electrical control and sensor unit, to send and receive signals from the water utility or power grid. This allows Rentricity’s technology to feed electricity back to the water utility (or directly to the grid) in a controlled manner. Continue reading

How do you unravel Intellectual Ventures?

Crowdfunded campaign to shed light on Intellectual Ventures.

Crowdfunded Indiegogo campaign to shed light on Intellectual Ventures.

If you haven’t heard – we at IP Checkups have launched a crowdfunded Indiegogo project to reveal Intellectual Ventures patent portfolio to the public. Check out our campaign site here: www.indiegogo.com/iv-thicket

During our fundraising, many backers have asked us for examples of our research methodology and process. Below is a sample of the initial patent searches and analyses that we will use for Case IV Thicket. Within a week or so, all of the data described below will be uploaded to PatentCAM, our web-based patent database tool, for the public to see. Check back here for updated website details!

Initial Steps:

Let’s begin by looking at US reassignment data, the USPTO’s records on changes in patent ownership (i.e. patent assignment). By searching for companies that have reassigned patents to IV directly, we can create an initial list of companies that have done business with IV through patent sales or licenses or have reassigned patents to third parties that have done business with IV through patent sales or license. This list may include IV shell companies, large corporations, research institutions, universities, bankrupted startups, and single inventors.

Next, we looked at the patent holdings and addresses of two potential IV shell companies: Purple Mountain Servers LLC and Rose Blush Software LLC. We chose these two companies since they are mentioned in numerous articles and reports such as NPR, Intellectual Assets Magazine, and Forbes.

Once we have the corporate addresses of Purple Mountain and Rose Blush (2711 Centerville Road, DE and 2215-B Renaissance Drive, Las Vegas, NV respectively), we can search the USPTO for other companies that have patent holdings at the same address. Since businesses often use the same mailing address for multiple shell companies, this may reveal other entities affiliated with IV.

This gives us three unique lists (Excel file: IV Thicket – Addresses and Reassigns – 11022012):

1) All patents, reassignee address at 2711 Centerville Road, Willmington DE 19808

  • Search String: 2215-B Renaissance NOT Intellectual ADJ Ventures or 2711 Centerville
  • 2712 Results

2) All patents, reassignee address at 2215-B Renaissance Drive Las Vegas Nevada 89119

  • Search String: 2711 Centerville Rd NOT ((Intellectual ADJ Ventures) OR 2215-B Renaissance Drive
  • 5266 Results

3) All patents, reassignee Intellectual Ventures

  • Search String: Intellectual ADJ Ventures NOT((2711 Centerville Rd) OR (2215-B Renaissance Drive))
  • 1640 Results

The next, and more difficult step, will be to vet all of the patent-holding entities to confirm whether or not they are IV shell companies. After removing known corporations and entities, we can check and see if the companies from any of these three searches have the following characteristics (not an exclusive list):

  • reassigned patents to IV/ obtained patents from IV
  • retained the same attorney or patent agents as IV or other potential IV shell companies
  • engaged in litigation and disclosed any ties to IV or other potential IV shell companies
  • employ officers that work at IV or other potential IV shell companies
  • own patents that share the same inventor as IV patents or other potential IV shell companies
  • maintained patent portfolios that complement IV’s portfolio or other potential IV shell companies

For example, David Martin Monro is listed as an inventor on multiple IV patents (e.g. US7907068, US7990289, US7974488). When we look at the list of patents for address 2215-B Renaissance Drive in Las Vegas, this same inventor is listed on patent US6990145, which is assigned to Ayscough Visuals LLC. Given that Ayscough Visuals shares an inventor with IV and the address of one of IV’s shell companies, Rose Blush, Ayscough is a potential IV shell company.

But we can dig deeper – if we look at the reassignment history of patent US6990145, we notice that Ayscough Visuals has another address in Los Altos – 171 Main Street #271. Guess what? This is the same address as the Los Altos office of Purple Mountain Server (see US7453752)!

As you can see, once we reveal more shell companies, this becomes an iterative process. With enough diligence, we can slowly unravel IV’s web of patents, as we compare the characteristics of each new potential IV shell company with former companies that we have vetted.


Press Release: IP Checkups Releases CleanTech PatentEdge Quarterly, Spotlight on Green Nanomaterials

U.S. cleantech patent filing trends

US Patent Filings by Cleantech Industry Sector (2000-2011)

IP Checkups, a Berkeley-based boutique patent analytics firm, today released the CleanTech PatentEdge (CTPE) Quarterly, a report on the latest trends in cleantech patent filings.

According to the report, cleantech patent filings in the United States have increased 40% annually since 2010, following a sharp decline in patent filings from 2007-2009. Much of this growth is driven by innovation in renewable energy generation, particularly solar and biofuels. In 2010, renewable energy generation accounted for 8464 patent filings in the US, followed by energy storage (5863 patent filings) and efficiency innovations (5634 patent filings).

Companies that file the most cleantech patents worldwide include automobile manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. In the United States, automobile makers also have a strong position in cleantech (Honda, Toyota, GM, and Nissan). Recent clean air initiatives and fuel mileage standards are the likely cause of these automobile innovations.

The CTPE Quarterly spotlights green nanomaterials as an emerging sector in cleantech. Universities and other research institutions like University of California, Tsinghua University, and Japan Science & Technology Corporation all have robust patent portfolios in this space. For the United States in particular, government plays a large role in the development of green nanomaterials, with the Department of Energy and U.S. Navy as two of the top patent holders in the space.

The full report is available here: CTPE Quarterly 10-2012.pdf

Data for the CTPE Quarterly is provided by IP Checkups’ CleanTech PatentEdge, an online database of over 1.6 million cleantech patents in 150 market categories. For more information, please visit <https://www.cleantechpatentedge.com>.