Who invented the Telephone

The telephone was invented in a race between two great inventors; Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray. Both had individually designed a device that could transmit speech signals electrically, that is, a telephone. However, it was Bell who managed to patent it first. This lead to one of the most epic legal battles over an invention, which ended with the court ruling in favor of Alexander Bell.

Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 3, 1847, was an inventor, scientist and philanthropist, and is credited with the invention of the telephone. Bell first conceived the idea of the telephone at his summer house in Brantford, Ontario, and went on to create a working model in Boston, Massachusetts.

The telephone was born out of his research that was aimed at improving the telegraph system. Bell was trying to devise a more efficient system, which he called the ‘harmonic telegraph’, in which multiple messages could be sent at the same time and over the same wire by using different pitches for different message signals. During his experiments with the harmonic telegraph, he accidentally discovered that the twanging sound of a spring could be heard over his telegraph system. It was only after this incident that Bell began working on a device that could transmit speech signals electronically.

It was on March 7th, 1876 that Bell spoke the first words into his device to his assistant Thomas Watson who was in another room: “Mr. Watson, come here- I want to see you”.

Recently, it was discovered that though Alexander Bell was the first person to patent the design of a telephone, the idea did not originate with him. It was a poor Italian immigrant, by the name of Antonio Meucci, who actually invented the telephone.

Meucci, a mechanical genius born in Florence, Italy, had designed a device very similar to Bell’s telephone, which was demonstrated in New York in 1860, a full 16 years before Bell took out a patent on his telephone. Meucci could not afford a definitive patent for his “teletrofono” and Bell, who shared a laboratory with him, is said to have stolen the idea and patented it as his own.

Meucci sued Bell on the grounds of fraud and was close to winning the legal battle that followed. However in 1889, Meucci died and so did the legal action. It was only in 2001 that the US Congress, under the pressure of Historians and Italian-Americans, recognized Antonio Meucci as the Father of Modern Communications.

Microsoft Granted Patent For Skype Eavesdropping

microsoft patentConvenient timing eh?  A new patent titled “Legal Intercept” has just been granted to the Redmond tech giant.  The patent claims include a method of eavesdropping on all VOIP related applications that before have been impossible to decode because of their high level of encryption.
Typical eavesdropping, or phone tapping, has been executed in the past by monitoring the calls when the touch a PSTN device.  This method does not work with modern P2P connections however, as they never exit from their encrypted digital format.

This patent has many critics citing the obvious privacy concerns, but the truth is Microsoft is simply capitalizing on governments’ legal requirement for a “back door”.  India for instance has threatened for the last year to completely ban Skype for not allowing authorities to perform surveillance on it’s encrypted lines.

The patent is not exclusive to Skype, or any VOIP application, it covers any program wherein a VOIP tunnel connection can be routed through a 3rd party recording system.  Since Microsoft already has multiple services that fall under this category, including it’s XBOX voice chat, the timing of the patent issuance and the acquisition of Skype is most likely pure coincidence.

Do you have Patent Protection?

press release megaphoneIf you have patent protection on your new invention idea, then it is time to start marketing!  The key to any good marketing campaign is to get as much exposure as you can for your new product.

A great way to expose your product to the masses is a press release.  A press release is a short, objective overview of your product and what it does.  The objective of a press release is to give an unbiased informative description without any marketing hype.  This information can then be discussed and publicized by news sources and publications (including blogs) which can add their opinions while spreading the word of your invention.

This exposure makes people aware of your invention and gets attention of manufacturers and distributors looking for new products to sell.

There are many great, free  outlets for releasing press releases including Invents.com!   You can publish your release at multiple sites and even send them to print publications for circulation.  Sending the release to many quality publishers will make sure everyone hears about your new product and how it can help them.  To post a press release on Invents.com  Just visit our Press Release page to start writing new releases today.

In addition to press releases, you should also have promotional material for your patented invention.  This includes brochures, videos, and webpages.  These materials will create “hype” for your new product and are meant to entice others to invest in or buy your product.

It is important to highlight the major features of your product and focus attention on what makes your idea unique.  Too much information can be overwhelming and can sometimes turn a client off.  Give just enough information to draw excitement (and a phone call!).

Their are many websites that offer free hosting for personal use, however most assign you a long url that is not personalized and is difficult to remember.  Invents.com recognized that their were no good solutions for the inventor community, and has thus create the invention listings page.

With a free registration from Invents.com, inventors can create and edit their own product pages.  Each product is given a short and simple web address – easily shared with clients and investors.  Read more at Post Your Invention Online.

New Patent Lawsuit Filed Against Comba Telecom by CommScope

A new patent infringement lawsuit in China and Brazil has been filed against Comba Telecom Systems Ltd and its affiliates by CommScope, Inc through its Andrew LLC subsidiary. The legal actions focus on Comba’s alleged infringement of the CommScope patents regarding remote electrical tilt (RET) technology, which is used for base station antennas in wireless networks.

CommScope’s patented RET system allows for cost-effective and ongoing beam adjustment of the variable electrical downtilt of base station antennas. This helps to enhance the capacity, quality and coverage of mobile networks. CommScope is said to have a vast array of patents in its patent portfolio. According to CommScope, these valuable intellectual property assets are the result of years of hard work and financial investments in research and development. CommScope’s patents are the essence of the company, and patent protection continues to be a high priority for them. So far, CommScope has licensed its patented RET technology to over ten companies in the communications industry.

In China, CommScope has filed patent lawsuits against numerous Comba entities in the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court. The lawsuits allege that Comba’s sale and manufacture of RET antennas infringe at least two of CommScope’s Chinese patents. In Brazil, CommScope has sought a criminal search and seizure at Comba’s offices in Barueri, Sao Paulo. The request is based on evidence that Comba Ind e Com de Equipamentos de Telecomunicacoes Ltda was infringing on Brazilian patents that CommScope owns under its Andrew LLC subsidiary.

The request was eventually authorized by Barueri’s judicial authorities. Then on May 19, several of Comba’s RET antennas were apprehended, as well as relevant documents related to their sales figures. CommScope fully believes that the seized products infringe its Brazilian patents. In both the Chinese and Brazilian lawsuits, CommScope is seeking an injunction and past damages for Comba’s infringement.

Via Vadis Brings Skype Patent Lawsuit to US

skype patentSkype has new patent litigation to deal with just a month after its acquisition by Microsoft. Via Vadis, a company from Luxembourg, is complaining that Skype infringed on two of its patents.

Via Vadis had been attempting litigation against Skype in Europe. However, now that Skype is being bought by Microsoft, Via Vadis is bringing its case to the United States. Skype is now being sued in the US District of Delaware, with papers filed on the same day that Microsoft pronounced its deal to acquire the VoIP giant.

The US patent lawsuit filed in the federal court by Via Vadis seeks damages and a court order that would force Skype to stop infringing its technology. The case alleges infringement of two patents related to organizing and accessing data, namely US Patent No. RE40,521 and US Patent No. 7,904,680. Both of these patents are fundamental to P2P, or peer to peer, technology that forms the basis of the Skype service.

Via Vadis has already filed comparable patent infringement cases in Luxembourg, Japan and Germany over the last year, but so far without any conclusive results. For the suit in Luxembourg, the court dispatched a discovery order to gather evidence and inspect Skype’s offices but only in that country. Nonetheless, Skype declined to cooperate and it protested the ruling. Furthermore, Skype has also refused to share its source code in the Luxembourg case.

Skype hasn’t issued any comments on the new litigation in the US, but it’s notable that the internet video phone company has successfully deflected alleged patent infringement lawsuits numerous times before. Moreover, the contested patents of Via Vadis were originally filed in 2005, which is some time after various versions of Skype’s P2P technology were already operational. It’s still unclear whether Via Vadis is suggesting that the patents in question apply to technology that Skype has used since that time.

Microsoft Must Pay Canadian Firm Millions for Patent Infringement

The largest software company in the world, Microsoft, was recently defeated in an appeal to the US Supreme Court concerning the $290 million in damages that it was ordered to pay to Canadian company i4i in a patent dispute case.

i4i had asserted that a particular version of Microsoft Word infringed a patent they hold on a method for document editing. The Supreme Court ruling sets a precedent for companies that contest patents being used in court actions. Essentially, these companies will still have to give persuasive justification that a patent is void so that it is dismissed.

Microsoft had wanted to undermine the standard of proof required in the case. The original suit dates back to 2007, when i4i complained against Microsoft over a patent regarding XML in documents for Word 2007. Microsoft had refuted these claims, suggesting that the patent was void, although the jury scrapped that rebuttal. Microsoft appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Court’s decision against Microsoft will have effects for all future patent cases.

Unanimously, the Supreme Court concurred with the US appeals court when it found in favor of i4i. The high court disapproved of Microsoft’s suggested lower standard. The lowered standard would supplant the long-held prerequisite for defendants in a patent lawsuit to show that a patent is invalid through convincing and clear evidence. Microsoft’s lower standard of proof would have made it easier to invalidate poorly constructed patents. The large software giant further asserted that the lower standard would encourage more competition and innovation.

In justifying the court’s decision, Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the Supreme Court referred to the fact that when the governing standard of proof is originally determined by Congress, this standard usually prevails. Over the past 28 years, Congress had approved and relied on the standard, and the Supreme Court should thus uphold it, according to the court opinion.

David Kappos Comments on The America Invents Act

David KapposDavid Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued a statement commending our nation’s leaders on their work on the pending America Invents legislation.
The America Invents Act has passed the senate and is now under House review.
The bill’s purpose is to stimulate innovation among independent inventors and small businesses.
Although the bill has many critics, it is believed that the new changes will help smaller entities compete in a global marketplace.  Highlights of the bill include faster issuance, stronger patents, and increased administrative and legislative power for the USPTO.


“I want to congratulate Judiciary Chairman Smith, Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Watt as well as the House Leadership for their stewardship in ushering the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act onto the floor for consideration before the full House.  Enactment of bi-partisan patent reform legislation would be a major step forward in transforming our patent system and improving the Nation’s competitiveness and promoting economic growth.  As the Statement of Administration Policy issued today indicates, the USPTO will need full access to all of its fees in order to carry out the mandates of this legislation effectively and perform its core mission to support America’s inventors.  I look forward to continuing to work with Congress on this important matter as the bill moves toward final passage.” – David Kappos



First Inventor To File

First Inventor to FileThe America Invents Act, or senate bill S.23 and house bill H.R.1249, has stirred controversy since it’s inception, but the most attention has been focused on the switch from a “First to Invent” to a “First to File” patent system.

This is a misconception that needs to be cleared up.  The new patent laws do not define the United States Patent & Trademark Office to operate under a first to file policy, but rather a first inventor to file concept.

This is an important difference as it requires the potential patentee to sign an oath of declaration that they are in fact the true inventor or face criminal charges.  So if an inventor discloses their idea to a shady individual and that person runs to the patent office, they would not have a legitimate claim on the invention.

This leaves the only possible scenario in which an inventor could lose their rights is simultaneous, non collaborative development on the same idea.  There is a very small chance of this occurring – .01%  according to USPTO statistics.  There has also never been a case where a true first inventor has not won the patent dispute.

We feel the current patent reform is heading in the right direction and the concern over the inventor to receive patent issuance is unwarranted.  The new changes will allow individual inventors and small businesses to obtain more affordable patents at a faster rate.

The increased power of the patent office will also reduce costs for inventors defending patents.  Overall the patent reform bill will perform as expected – reducing the USPTO backlog and stimulate innovation in our distressed economy.


Licensing Agreement for TAL Effector Gene Control Technology

An exclusive licensing agreement for a new technology has been signed by Life Technologies, allowing scientists to program and control the genetic circuitry in engineered pathways and organisms. This technology was developed by scientists at Martin-Luther-Universitat Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, and it enables scientists to target and regulate expression within the genome.

Known as Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) Effector Technology, it acts like a navigation system for the genome. Control elements to any specified sequence can be delivered with pinpoint accuracy. TAL Effector technology allows proteins to be designed to target and bind to a chosen DNA sequence. Scientists are then able to deliver elements that control or change particular parts of cellular function. In addition, the technology gives researchers the ability to more accurately study and engineer gene function, with potential applications in energy, agriculture and healthcare.

The licensing agreement marks another step for Life Technologies in their strategic initiative to expand in the rapidly evolving synthetic biology market. This market is estimated to be worth up to $2.4 billion by the year 2013.

Following the licensing agreement, Life Technologies initially plans to offer the TAL Effector technology through its Geneart gene synthesis portfolio. Nonetheless, the company expects that the technology could be applied in other fields like stem cell research, drug discovery and bioproduction as well.

Life Technologies purchased about 59% of Germany’s Geneart in 2010, in order to increase its portfolio of custom gene-synthesis and gene-optimization services. Since then it has upped its investment in the company and now owns a 74% stake.

The TAL Effector platform was previously licensed to the Two Blades Foundation (2Blades) for all applications in plants, and 2Blades was a party to the new licensing agreement with Life Technologies along with the original inventors. While Life Technologies will have access to the technology for plant research, 2Blades retains rights to commercial applications in plants.

Apple Stands Behind iOS Developers in Patent Fight

Apple has officially intervened in a patent lawsuit that was initiated by Lodsys against several small iOS application developers who operate independently of Apple. These developers petitioned for Apple’s legal help and financial resources in defending against the patent case after receiving letters last month from Lodsys over alleged patent infringement of in-app purchasing technology.

The suit filed against developers by Lodsys, a patent holding company, cites two patents that were allegedly infringed. One patent is U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 which is related to a customer-based design module. The other patent is U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 and is in regards to making purchases inside an app.

The U.S. District Court for the eastern district of Texas, where the suit was filed, is likely to allow Apple’s involvement, which is good news for the developers. Apple claims it should be allowed to intervene because it already has a license to the patents in dispute.

Apple’s lawyers argue that this license also expressly permits Apple to offer and otherwise make available to its developers’ products and services that embody the inventions contained within each disputed patent. In addition, Apple claims that the license extends to the APIs it provides its developers for app development. Some of the specific apps that Lodsys has targeted in the suit include Twitterific, Mega Poker, Shadow Era, Labyrinth, Quickoffice, Daggers and Hearts.

Lodsys has responded that Apple’s claim of infallibility has no basis in law or fact, and that developers who continue to infringe will be targeted. They argue that Apple is only an agent of the developer with respect to the distribution of apps. Lodsys also said that it will pay $1,000 to any developer it sends a letter of infringement to, as a guarantee that those developers are not protected by an Apple patent license.