Patent Dispute Trends: Patent Litigation Down 26 Percent While IPR Up 22 Percent in Q1 of 2017

Patexia.com reports continuing reduction in the filing of suits for patent litigation and continuing increase in the filing of Inter Partes Review (IPR).

Detailed information and graphs on these trends are provided in the Patexia.com article including year-over-year from 2015 on to 2017Q1.  The 2017Q1 data shows:

“In the first quarter of 2017 we saw a continued decline in patent litigation. The district court litigation was down 26 percent to 1,012, compared to 1,346 in Q4 of 2016. And it was down 5 percent year over year (1,067 in Q1 of 2016). For the same period, Inter-Partes Review (IPR) was up 22 percent to 550, compared to 448 in Q4 of 2016. This increase was even sharper year over year. IPR saw a whopping increase of 64 percent in Q1 2017 versus Q1 2016, which saw 335.”

One key statistic related to the IPR process:  “IPR activity per quarter was at an all-time high in Q1 2017. Since its inception in September 2012, IPR has been gaining popularity as a tool to challenge the validity of patents in lawsuits or licensing deals. …”

Related to patent litigation cases:  “Patent litigation in district courts was at its lowest level since 2011. Although the litigation has dropped to pre-AIA levels, it is worth mentioning that post-AIA numbers are generally magnified because of joinder rules. …”

 

 

 

Stanford Again Tops “Most Innovative Universities” Rankings – A Perspective

Having attended Stanford University myself for both a Master’s and PhD in Mechanical Engineering, I always feel a strong sense of pride when I see an article like this one related to “Most Innovative Universities”. Stanford is an amazing place, with so many “best in class” academic capabilities across many diverse fields. However, it is the medicine, science and engineering achievements that always catch my eye. When you look at how Stanford people have conceptualized and developed programs like the Medical Device Innovators series, the idea is always to break down the walls and collaborate across disciplines to identify needs, understand how they might be accomplished, and then develop devices and procedures to meet the goals.

The other thing that I look at is the number and diversity of fabulously successful companies and ideas that have come out of Stanford. The Silicon Valley ecosystem of top Universities, interest and drive to commercialize, and Venture Capital makes the entire area unique.

Here is the article by Thomson Reuters:

Stanford Again Tops “Most Innovative Universities” Rankings

Palo Alto, Calif. — Stanford University again tops this year’s newly released Reuters Top 100 ranking of the world’s most innovative universities, which aims to identify institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help drive the global economy. MIT and Harvard round out the top three. The second annual rankings use proprietary data and analysis tools from Thomson Reuters to examine a series of patent and research-related metrics. “Stanford held fast to its first place ranking by consistently producing new patents and papers that influence researchers elsewhere in academia and in private industry,” the news serve wrote. The complete rankings are at the link below.
http://www.reuters.com/most-innovative-universities-2016

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones are Burning/Exploding!!

Two weeks after releasing the Galaxy Note 7 SmartPhones, Samsung is literally and figuratively fighting fires!  They have now recalled the roughly 2.5 Million Galaxy Note 7 that have been distributed (about 1 Million phones sold).  This is clearly a serious safety and reliability issue that should have been identified before any shipments started.  Not only is there the cost associated with the recall, replacement, possible personal injury and property damage, Samsung stock has taken a hit that knocked $2 Billion off of its market value!  The market can be massively punishing and unforgiving for mistakes like this one.

To date, 35 reports of fire/explosion issues have been received by Samsung.  Samsung believes that the problems are confined to fewer than 0.1% of the phones.  Based on a population of 2 Million phones, this would indicate the problems apply to less than 2000 phones.  This is a huge number of failures and a 99.9% reliability (even if the reliability level is even this high) is an unacceptable level in the consumer products world.

We expect these products not only to function reliably but also to be safe.  Battery fire issues with hoverboards in late 2015 basically tanked the sales of that product.

Additional details including the press release can be found here.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/09/02/samsung-note-7-recall-millions-of-phones-to-be-replaced-after-ba/

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Concussion Mitigation in Pro Football with Advances in Helmet Technology

Pro Football players in the NFL are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before.  All of these characteristics increase the acceleration, force, and energy associated with contact between players.  When this contact occurs to the head it can translate into a concussion or just contribute to an ongoing series of cumulative smaller injuries.

Evidence is mounting that concussions or cumulative injuries have serious long-term effects.  This long-term effect applies not only to football, but also things like battlefield blast loading and similar events.

Discussion on sensor technology and helmet improvements.
Reference articles with further information:

 

 

Liam – the Apple Robot that Disassembles an iPhone in 11 seconds!!

Besides designing, manufacturing, and selling iPhones, Apple is now taking them apart also!  Apple is making a major push to be more green and that means recycling as much as possible the components that go into their phones and other products.

One way that they are trying to reach that lofty recycling goal is by developing highly automated robots to facilitate the disassembly.  The first one on the scene is Liam.  Liam is truly an amazing beast!

Liam is a 29-armed robotic creation that can totally disassemble an iPhone 6 in 11 seconds!!  Now that is fast!  That gives about 350 phones disassembled each hour, or 1.2 Million phones per year (assuming no lunch breaks and no maintenance!!).  You need a few “Liams” to put a dent into the iPhone supply out there.

A great article on this very impressive robotic technology was recently published on Mashable .  Mashable has published some photos and videos (though not at real time!).

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Energy Storage for Renewable Energy Sources is Essential

Renewable energy sources such as Wind and Solar vary significantly in the output power level throughout the day. The peak output from Wind and Solar will generally not align with the peak power demand on the grid from home and business users. Further, the peak output is based on factors such as wind velocity and hours of sunshine that vary widely and that cannot be controlled by the system operators.

From the Design News Article on Dec.29, 2015 written by Charles Murray and entitled: Renewable Energy’s Secret Weapon

As the world moves toward a grand vision of renewable energy, an underappreciated reality is dawning: You can’t do it without storage.

The reason is deceptively simple: Wind turbines can’t produce power when the wind doesn’t blow; solar cells can’t do it when the sun doesn’t shine. Without some form of backup, those intermittent renewable sources can’t play in big numbers on the grid, unless the world is willing to accept instability and blackouts.

That’s where batteries — farm loads of them — could play a role. With coal and nuclear plants rapidly falling out of favor, energy storage is becoming more important, and batteries are increasingly being viewed as the most logical solution. “If you flash forward into the future, we are all going to need an inexpensive way to store lots of energy,” said Jeff Chamberlain, executive director for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research.

 

Wind Turbine Generator

Racking up Energy

Even among the world’s most knowledgeable energy engineers, no one knows for sure when storage will become critical. Virtually all agree that today, with wind and solar accounting for only about 6% of the US’s power, the time hasn’t arrived yet. But as the number rises — to say, 20% or 30% of the overall power produced — the need will grow. “The curves seem to cross at about 20%,” Chamberlain said. “We know this because Hawaii has exceeded that limit and it is wreaking havoc on their grid.”

Battery farms are seen as a “balancing resource” for the grid, which is why they’re starting to pop up around the world. NEC Energy Solutions , for example, recently sold more than 60 MW of its GSS battery storage systems in the central US, had a hand in developing a 2.4-MW grid energy storage site in Orange County, Calif., and installed an 11-MW system to support a wind farm on the island of Maui. Similarly, Saft delivered its Max+ 20M Intensium battery storage systems to an electrical cooperative in Kotzebue, Alaska, and is providing another system to store electricity at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. It also has teamed with the Kauai Island Park Cooperative in Hawaii to supply lithium-ion batteries into a 12-MW solar energy park.

One common embodiment of such energy storage systems is the so-called “containerized” solution — that is, a trailer full of batteries that can be installed in an urban parking lot or on a rural mountainside. NEC’s system, for example, uses modular, battery-based storage racks in containers measuring as long as 53 ft and weighing up to 140,000 lb. Known as the GBS line, they can store up to 4 MWh of energy and offer up to 4 MW of power. Similarly, Saft’s Intensium Max line can offer as much as 1 MW with continuous discharge power of 500 KW in a unit weighing 16.5 tons.

Material scientists are also developing alternative chemistries for the grid. Ambri Inc., for example, uses pizza-box-sized cells made from three chemical layers — a liquid salt electrolyte sandwiched between a high-density liquid metal and a low-density liquid metal. Ambri’s battery, which operates at 400C, can store up to 1.2 MWh. Others are also looking ahead to new technologies: Ecoult’s UltraBattery, for example, employs an ultracapacitor inside a lead-acid battery chemistry. Also, NEC has entered into an agreement with Eos Energy Storage LLC to produce a zinc hybrid cathode battery.

“In stationary power, there are a number of alternative chemistries that have seen some adoption,” said Lux Research energy analyst Dean Frankel. “But in the past year or so, the majority of systems that have been proposed and installed in the US have been lithium-ion.”

Still, the possibilities are compelling for storage systems of all types. A 2015 forecast from Lux Research predicted that stationary energy storage would rise from about a $1 billion market today to $6 billion by 2020. “We don’t believe there is just one solution to every storage application,” said Roger Lin of NEC Energy Solutions.

Distributed Grid

Indeed, the breadth of potential solutions is emerging, not only in the form of varying chemistries, but also in the format of the storage source. In May, Tesla Motors made its play for the storage market by rolling out a product that can be mounted on a garage wall near a home’s electrical panel. The company said that the unit, known as the Powerwall, is part of Tesla’s effort to wean the world off fossil fuels.

“This is within the power of humanity to do,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “We have done things like this before. It’s not impossible.”

Tesla’s product, which employs lithium-ion battery technology, measures 34 x 51 x 7 inches and costs $3,500 for a 10-kWh of storage. Tesla said it also plans to sell bigger battery blocks for use in commercial and utility applications. Blocks containing 100-kWh of storage could be grouped to create larger systems offering as much as 10 MWh, Musk said.

  1. Energy Storage Growth Projections

Lux Research predicts that stationary storage will rise from a $1 billion market in 2015 to more than $6 billion in 2020.
(Source: Lux Research)

Experts say that either format — home storage or utility-sized systems — can serve as viable grid solutions. “You can think of solar on an individual’s roof as a distributed power plant on the grid,” said Chamberlain of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. “That’s where we are headed in the future.”

Pronouncements such as those have created a sense of optimism in the storage community, which is why the Energy Storage Association now counts such names as GE Energy Storage, LG Chem, Parker Hannifin, Johnson Controls, Hitachi Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage, Mitsubishi Electric Power, Samsung, Sharp, and many others among its members.

That’s not to say all is rosy for battery makers. Grid storage is still a nascent market, still struggling to find its way. In 2014, A123 Systems divested itself of its grid storage division. And in 2015, Ambri announced that it had cut a quarter of its staff and had backed off its plans to ship its first commercial grid storage products in 2016. News reports indicated that the company’s engineers were experiencing problems with the battery’s high-temperature seals. Ambri isn’t saying when its first products will finally reach the market.

Still, experts are steadfast in their belief that battery storage will eventually be needed for the electrical grid. “When there’s high demand, there can be a mismatch between the production of electricity and the use of electricity,” Chamberlain said. “During those milliseconds, batteries can act as a buffer.”

Grid storage proponents see it more optimistically. The batteries are more than a buffer, they say. They’re a key to a new way of life. “Once we’re able to rely on renewable energy sources for our power consumption, the top 50% of the dirtiest power generation resources could retire early,” Tesla Motors said in a prepared statement. “We could have a cleaner, smaller, and more resilient energy grid.”