Theme park innovation, anti-terrorism measure, or all of the above? That’s the question on the mind of Disney enthusiasts upon hearing of the news that drones could soon be flying above the Magic Kingdom.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has filed three patents for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for entertainment purposes. The report says that Disney’s “Imagineers” have dreamed up new ways to bring The Disney Company’s properties to life with these aircraft usually reserved for military purposes.
“One of the applications is for a multi-drone system that would hold aloft a projection screen for a nighttime display. Such a display would utilize what Disney calls ‘flixels,’ which is an Imagineer word creation for ‘floating pixels,’ according to the background information Disney submitted.
In the second patent application, Disney said ‘the UAVs execute the flight plans to move and to position the flexible projection screens within the display air space,’ according to the patent application abstract. ‘These multiple flexible projection screens, Disney says, would have little wind resistance and offer a surface for reflecting light.’
Laura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This is an interesting development in the House of the Mouse. Earlier this year, Walt Disney World rolled out a program called MyMagic+ that takes advantage of RFID technology for everything from their Fast Pass system to room keys to credit card purchases. Now, the use of drones sounds like it will initially be focused on in-park product, but one cannot wonder what other applications they could eventually have, from security monitoring to data collection on guests utilizing the RFID technology. There are endless possibilities to Disney’s use of these UAVs, and it will be interesting to see what manifests out of the pixie dust.
Non-practicing entities (NPEs), or “patent trolls,” have always been accused of stifling innovation, but a no one has been able to put a monetary amount on this claim. Until now.
According to Vox: “A new study by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll.”
Laura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: This study comes on the heels of a big settlement between Adam Carolla and a non-practicing entity, a case that nearly turned the entire broadcasting industry on its head. Now, with some concrete stats behind the claim that NPEs have an adverse impact on R&D and innovation, those leading the fight for U.S. patent reform have more ammunition to make their case against NPEs. This is an issue we’ve seen debated for years. As far back as 2010, we hosted a panel session entitled “Non-Practicing Entities: Patent Pirates or Stewards of Innovation,” in which a group of NPEs debated their role in the patent landscape with a group of major manufacturers. The conversation then was very similar to the conversation we’re hearing today: some NPEs are perfectly legitimate operations that operate similar to private equity firms or venture capitalists using patents as collateral to harness the growth of new technologies. Others are more predatory in their practices. As this debate continues to generate global media attention, we expect to see more proposed legislation and no shortage of hand-wringing over individual cases.
Are Samsung and Apple ready to call a ceasefire in the smartphone patent wars? According to the Wall Street Journal, the two technology giants are ready to put their legal swords down on patent matters outside of the United States.
“Apple and Samsung have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” the companies said in a joint statement. “This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in U.S. courts.”
Apple first sued Samsung in the U.S. for copying features of the iPhone in 2011. Samsung then sued Apple for patent infringement in South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. Apple filed countersuits in five of those countries. Apple and Samsung will dismiss all those claims, except those in the U.S.
Laura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: It’s been a long and winding road for these two, a path marked by with landmark decisions and major industry implications. But just because the fight is on hold outside the United States doesn’t mean the litigation is set to die down. Experts agree that the U.S. litigation is the most important, so what seems like a truce could simply be the two companies harnessing their efforts towards the biggest battle. Whoever wins stateside will undoubtedly have a sturdier foot to stand on internationally, so don’t bank on world peace between these two competitors just yet.
It’s been 25 years since the launch of Prozac exploded the anti-depressant drug market, but a new three-part analysis of the drug development pipeline, patent filing and sales forecast data that we’ve released today found that, despite a steady downward trend antidepressant sales, global pharmaceutical companies are aggressively setting up partnership arrangements and rallying behind new Stage II pipeline drugs to target depression.
Their goal: Reaching the 350 million people worldwide who have depression, 50 percent of whom go untreated.
Our analysis dives into the behind-the-scenes industry activity (pipeline development, partnership activity, new patents, scientific literature publications) in the antidepressant space to spotlight some of the following key trends:
- Alkermes & Roche Claim the 3 Most Notable Antidepressants in Development: There are three notable drugs currently in Phase II clinical trials, all with mechanisms of action that differ significantly from traditional SSRI and SNRI type antidepressants on the market: Alkermes’ ALKS-5461 and Roche’s RG-7090 and RG-1578. Each of these is forecast by Thomson Reuters to surpass $100 million in sales by 2019.
- Development and Distribution Deals Heat Up: Licensing deals between pharmaceutical developers indicate a sustained interest in cracking the antidepressant market. The three largest antidepressant related deals currently on the table are between Otsuka/H.Lundbeck for Abilify and Brexpiprazole; Dainippon Sumitomo/Takeda for Latuda; an Otsuka/Bristol-Myers Squibb for Abilify.
- China Takes the Lead in Antidepressant Patent Activity: Since 2003, U.S. antidepressant patents have dropped 50%, while China’s has spiked 124%. The most active single company in this space is H. Lundbeck A/S, a Danish firm, and GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational.
- Worldwide Sales Forecasts Declining: Antidepressant drug sales dropped 5.5 billion (from 15 billion in 2003 to 9.5 billion in 2012) and are projected to drop another 2.5 billion by 2019. The decline is being driven by the rapid rise of generics and a movement away from using drugs as a first line of treatment for depression.
To view infographic illustrating the analysis, click here.
To read a report on the challenges and opportunities in the depression drug market, click here, or here to learn more about the dominant scientific research surrounding the condition.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”
A 1992 suit over the trademark was thrown out on a technicality, since some of the plaintiffs had waited too long after turning 18 to file. Since then, at least a dozen new trademark applications involving the word “Redskins” have been denied, the most recent a filing for hog rinds that the board declared “derogatory” and “offensive.” But this case, officially known as Blackhorse v. Pro-Football Inc., which was first filed in 2006, put the already-existing registrations on the line.
Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”
Laura Gaze, Director, IP Solutions: While the ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team, it does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising. The team can still use its name, but this decision means they lose “presumed” ownership of it. Therefore, in subsequent court fights, the franchise has to prove through use they own the mark. That will ultimately limit the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name on T shirts, sweatshirts, beer glasses and license plate holders, so it’s a major headache, and could result in a name change. There will be appeals here, but this is certainly a landmark decision.
We’ve released our latest State of Innovation report today that analyzes global patent filing data over the last 5 years. The 2014 edition of the study, which tracks global patent volumes of 12 bellwether industries, charts hottest growth areas, the impact of emerging markets and nascent hotbeds of new economic growth, finds that the overall rate of innovation growth is now at its highest level since the Great Recession.
Following are some of the report’s key findings:
- Biggest Innovation Gains Since End of Recession: Total, worldwide patent volume increased 26% over the last year, with 11 of the 12 technology areas studied showing increases. All but one of the 11 gainers had double-digit growth.
- Automotive Safety, Energy Exploration and Smart Kitchen Appliances Drive Largest Gains: The Automotive, Petroleum, and Domestic Appliances technology areas had the greatest year-over-year increases, with each logging a 35% jump in worldwide patent volume over the prior period. Domestic Appliances ranked among the top three leaders for the second consecutive year. Safety-related innovation saw the greatest gains in the Automotive sector; while the Petroleum sector was driven by petroleum and gas exploration, drilling and processing.
- Emerging Markets & Academic Contributions on Upswing: Increased activity from China and Russia emphasizes the focus on innovation in these regions, as do increased activity on the part of universities and research institutions. More of such entities made it into the Top 10 regional lists than any year in the past.
- Computing & Peripherals Continue to Lead the Global Pack: The technology area with the largest overall global patent volume continues to be Computing & Peripherals, for the fifth consecutive year, with over 300,000 inventions over the past year. That’s more than double the innovation activity of the next nearest technology area: Telecommunications. All subsectors within Computing & Peripherals showed positive gains, a first since this report’s inception.
To read the full report, http://ip.thomsonreuters.com/sites/default/files/2014stateofinnovation.pdf
The British government’s incentive program designed to convince companies to locate research-and-development teams in the U.K. may be at the center of Pfizer’s planned takeover of AstraZeneca.
“The United Kingdom has created attractive incentives for companies to manufacture products and maintain and protect intellectual property, and we have seen that capital and jobs have followed these types of incentives,” Pfizer CEO Ian Read said in a Monday-morning statement designed to woo Astra shareholders (via the WSJ).
According to the Journal:
“When the patent box has been fully phased in by 2017, it will mean qualifying companies pay 10% tax on their profits derived from U.K.-held patents, compared with the current rate of 21% (the rate will fall to 20% in April 2015) […] A combined Pfizer and AstraZeneca would be incorporated in the U.K. (but listed in New York), Mr. Read said Monday, and would therefore be better placed to take advantage of the patent-box tax break on any new drugs developed in the U.K.”
Laura Gaze, Director, Thomson Reuters: The incentives under this new tax regime, which companies have been navigating through for the better part of two years, seem as though they are doing exactly as they were intended. But will this new structure derail Pfizer’s plan? This is an extremely complicated deal with many moving parts, so we may not have answers to these questions for a while, but it’s clear the patent box is set to be a very significant item that may decide many corporate agendas in the years to come.
A major Aereo investor said a Supreme Court ruling against the New York-based streaming company could have serious repercussions on American innovation.
Media mogul Barry Diller told CNN that a Supreme Court decision to shut Aereo, a company that streams local broadcast television to customers’ computers, phones and tablets for $8 per month, would have “profound effects on the development of technology.”
“It’s almost like saying, ‘what if there was no telephone?,” Diller told CNN. “If [the Supreme Court justices] stop it—which they very well may—I don’t think it’s the end of any world because we’ll not really know, but I think … if it stops, it will have profound effects on the developments of technology.”
Laura Gaze, Director, Thomson Reuters: It’s an interesting debate. On one hand, Diller obviously has a vested interest, but he does make a reasonable point. While ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS, accuse Aereo of unlawfully transmitting their copyrighted TV content without paying for licenses, Aereo argues that its service is the legal equivalent of selling customers an antenna and a DVR. It does give one pause to wonder what really is the difference? Ultimately, this will come down to the Court’s interpretation of “public performance” under U.S. copyright law, but should Aereo get shut down, it may deal a serious blow to the evolution of streaming platforms.
Tuesday is set to be the day of reckoning in the smartphone patent wars. That’s because Apple and Samsung’s $2 billion patent dispute is set to reach its conclusion, with closing arguments slated to wrap up the latest infringement case between the two powerhouses.
Each side will get two hours to in a San Jose courtroom, where an Apple victory would allow the iPhone maker to seek a court order barring U.S. sales of earlier models of Samsung phones equipped with Android features. Two years ago, Apple was awarded a $930 million decision over Samsung. Despite the monetary sum, Apple failed to win an order barring sales of infringing Samsung phones.
Laura Gaze, Director, Thomson Reuters: The first time a decision was handed down between these two companies, it reverberated throughout the entire industry. Now, with Apple possibly being able to bar the sales of infringing phones, the entire market could stand to change. A decision for Apple would significantly shake up the landscape in this space, and it would set a precedent that could open Samsung up to even more vulnerability down the road. Stay tuned to the IP Solutions blog, where we’ll have more as the decision comes down.
The diabetes epidemic continues to surge with the disease affecting an estimated 382 million people worldwide. But a large gap exists in the research and funding, making understanding these ebbs and flows pivotal in continuing to understand the landscape. That’s why we’ve released a new analysis today that identifies the top 34 global funders of diabetes research.
The analysis was conducted by Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch analysts and found that the U.S. National Institutes of Health is the leading funding organization with 13,436 acknowledgements, followed by the National Natural Science Institute of China with 3,354 acknowledgements, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) with 2,547 acknowledgements. Other top 35 funders include government agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan; and the American Heart Association, as well as global pharmaceutical giants such as Novo Nordisk and Pfizer.
However, several regions that are strongly impacted by the disease were notably absent from the list. According to the International Diabetes Federation, an estimated 20 million people live with the disease in Africa, and the continent has the highest global rate of mortality, but no African organizations were listed among the top funding agencies. Africa-based researchers did contribute to 1,581 diabetes-related papers.
In addition, regions of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and India are similarly afflicted, but their research output does not yet measure up. Sixty five million of India’s 1.2 billion people are affected by diabetes, but no India-based organizations have yet emerged among the 35 most-prolific funders.
To view the infographic that further illustrates this regional imbalance, visit http://sciencewatch.com/sites/sw/files/sw-article/media/sw-diabetes-infographic.pdf