Tag Archives | Patents

Trans-Pacific Partnership Reveals Deadly Cost of American Patents

tppAnother take on the evils of TPP from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:

While US news stories occasionally mention the breathtaking cost of some medications, they almost always skirt the issue of why American drugs are so grotesquely overpriced by world standards. The pharmaceutical industry has managed to sell the story that it’s because they need all that dough to pay for the cost of finding new drugs.

That account is patently false.

First, part of the story the drug industry chooses to omit is that a substantial portion of drug R&D, and the riskiest part (basic research) is heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. It’s hard to put all the data together, but the latest estimates I’ve seen put the total funded by the government at over 30%.

Second, Big Pharma spends more on marketing [than] on R&D. And it markets in the highest cost manner possible: in person sales calls to small business owners (doctors).

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Targeted Advertisements Will Be Appearing In Hospital Rooms

hospital roomHealthcare costs in the United States are spinning out of control, but never fear, there are new sources of revenue in the pipeline. Via Free Patents Online, plans for a System for Targeting Advertisements Based on Patient Electronic Medical Record Data hint at the future:

A patient specific informational material distribution system, comprises at least one repository of informational material items associated with corresponding particular medical conditions. An interface acquires patient specific medical data associating with a specific patient.

A data processor uses the at least one repository in identifying informational items associated with the particular medical condition of the specific patient. A distribution processor distributes the identified informational items to the specific patient.

Attributes comprising at least three of, (a) Information from current and past inpatient stays, (b) patient Age, Gender, height or weight, (c) Diagnosis codes, (d) Treatments, (e) Laboratory test results, (f) Medical Assessments, (g) Allergies, (h) diet and (h) medical complaint.

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Motorola Patents Neck Tattoo That Acts As Device-Connected Microphone

tattooEver wish that everything you ever said could be recorded? Me neither. Discovery notes:

According to a patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Motorola has a technology that tattoos a microphone onto a person’s throat. The microphone, which comes with a power supply, an antenna, a receiver and an optional display, would pair with mobile devices over Bluetooth.

Most likely, the “tattoo” would be an extremely thin electronic device that adheres to a person’s skin, as opposed to being woven into it.

Because the microphone is on the throat, it would pick up vibrations from the person’s voice box when she spoke. The close proximity of mic to sound would eliminate background noise that would typically interfere with a call or a voice command.

There’s more. Motorola’s throat tattoo will double as a lie detector. According to the patent: “…The electronic skin tattoo 200 can further include a galvanic skin response detector.”

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Supreme Court Rules Against Patenting Of Human Genes

 Patenting Of Human GenesGreat to know that I’m not infringing on anyone’s copyrights with my existence. The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a unanimous ruling Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that human genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented and held for profit, a decision that medical experts said will lead to more genetic testing for cancers and other diseases and to lower costs for patients.

The decision invalidates a Utah company’s patents on two genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer, and is likely to lead to several thousand other gene patents being tossed as well.

The court’s decision also came as a relief to the biotech industry. While the justices agreed “naturally occurring DNA” cannot be patented, they also said DNA “synthetically created” in a lab can be patented. Industry lawyers had worried the court could issue a sweeping decision that would wipe out patents for genetically engineered drugs or farm products.

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Can We Patent Life?

An interesting question posed by Michael Specter in The New Yorker‘s new Science & Tech section:

On April 12, 1955, Jonas Salk, who had recently invented the polio vaccine, appeared on the television news show “See It Now” to discuss its impact on American society. Before the vaccine became available, dread of polio was almost as widespread as the disease itself. Hundreds of thousands fell ill, most of them children, many of whom died or were permanently disabled.

The vaccine changed all that, and Edward R. Murrow, the show’s host, asked Salk what seemed to be a reasonable question about such a valuable commodity: “Who owns the patent on this vaccine?” Salk was taken aback. “Well, the people,” he said. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

The very idea, to Salk, seemed absurd. But that was more than fifty years ago, before the race to mine the human genome turned into the biological Klondike rush of the twenty-first century.

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Is Sowing Artificial Scarcity The Future Of Business?

Via the The New Inquiry, Peter Frase on where we’re headed:

Where we see scarcity, much of it appears to be imposed by choice. In particular, the increasing weight of intellectual property law heralds a world where the prime objective of business is to make things scarce enough that people will still need to buy them.

Unexpected scarcity long characterized agricultural societies—drought, pestilence, fire, and other natural calamities could bring about famine at any moment. But today’s farmers, who have learned to overcome many of these challenges, now face the prospect of a legal, rather than natural disaster. In a case that will soon appear before the Supreme Court, a 74-year-old farmer named Vernon Bowman was ordered to pay $84,000 in damages for infringing on the patents of agribusiness giant Monsanto. His crime was to plant a seed—a patented “Roundup Ready” seed, whose license agreement prohibits using it to produce new ones.

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Handcuffs Of The Future Administer Shocks And Drugs To The Detained

CNET reports on handcuffs that practically do the police’s work for them:

A patent for next-generation handcuffs offers a future in which the detained can be zapped directly from their restraints, and even injected with a medication, sedative, irritant, paralytic, or other fine substance. The patent is called “Apparatus and System For Augmented Detainee Restraint” and is the brainchild of Scottsdale Inventions.

The augmentations it offers are truly quite something. The handcuffs are “configured to administer electrical shocks when certain predetermined conditions occur.” These shocks might be “activated by internal control systems or by external controllers that transmit activation signals to the restraining device.”

These handcuffs might also be used to inject the detained with a substance in the form of “a liquid, a gas, a dye, an irritant, a medication, a sedative, a chemical restraint, a paralytic, a medication prescribed to the detainee, and combinations thereof.” Yes, you really did read the word “paralytic.”

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Apple Moving Forward On Location-Based Disabling Of iPhone Cameras

Using your mobile device to take pictures of or film police, or a protest, or corporate property (or Mitt Romney speaking in a private meeting to his campaign donors) may become a relic of the past. Apple has patented its “geofencing” technology — in which camera/video phone functions will be remotely disarmed in particular locations, PetaPixel reports:

In June of last year, we reported on an unsettling patent filed by Apple that would allow certain infrared signals to remotely disable the camera on iPhones. It showed the potential downsides of bringing cameras into the world of wireless connectivity, which appears to be the next big thing in the camera industry. Now, a newly published patent is rekindling the fears of those who don’t want “Big Brother” controlling their devices.

If this type of technology became widely adopted and baked into cameras, photography could be prevented by simply setting a “geofence” around a particular location, whether it’s a movie theater, celebrity hangout spot, protest site.

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Soon Advertisements Will Involve Forced Interaction

In the near future, television commercials will make you do things, such as throwing a pickle onto an imaginary hamburger, if you want to get back to your show. Via Electronista:

Sony recently filed a patent for a new method of ad delivery that would turn television commercials into “interactive networked video games.” The patent, uncovered by Game’N’Motion, details a number of interactive commercial possibilities built on the motion and voice technologies currently available in Sony’s PlayStation 3, PlayStation Move, and PS Eye devices.

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10 Physical Gestures That Have Been Patented

Breakdancer

Photo: Chris Kirkman (CC)

Interesting article from Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

If you’re making a flicking gesture with a pen near your computer, watch out. Microsoft may own the rights to the gesture you’re making. And if you like to draw letters of the alphabet using one penstroke per letter, you may one day find yourself paying a licensing fee to Xerox.

It sounds crazy, but tech companies have been patenting physical gestures for almost two decades now. In a world ruled by touchscreens, Kinect, and Guitar Hero, these businesses don’t want people making certain gestures without paying for it. Find out which gestures you’re making that may be infringing somebody’s patents.

People have been claiming exclusive ownership of physical moves for a while. Famous choreographer Martha Graham’s company copyrighted many of her iconic dances, and even sued a man who said the work was actually his. A few years ago, the guy who copyrighted the Electric Slide dance asked YouTube to remove a video of people dancing his copyrighted moves (YouTube complied, but after some legal negotiation the choreographer made his dance available under a more open Creative Commons license.)

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