Bats, Birds & Blockchain

And a Door Stop

Good Evening,

Here’s this Tuesday’s rundown on newly granted patents that were funded in whole or in part by the federal government.  

If you need a data fix, you can go straight to this week’s FedInvent Patent Analysis with this link and to the FedInvent Patent Details Analysis here.) 

Patents by the Number This Tuesday

 For Tuesday, July 13, 2021, FedInvent identified 148 newly granted patents funded by the federal government. These patents have 160 references to federal agencies and departments. One hundred twenty-four (124) of these patents contained government interest statements. Another 39 are patents where the federal government is the assignee or was the applicant.

These 148 patents are the work of 476 inventors. Four hundred fifty-one (451) are the work of American inventors. Twenty-five (25) inventors are from outside the US. The American inventors came from 36 states.

CNBC announced its Top States for Business for 2021. We were curious if there was any correlation between CNBC’s places that are good for business and places where federal patents come from. Based on the tables below we’d have to say that there is none at least not this week. We’ll revisit this to see if anything changes when we do our year-end roundup for 2021.


The Technology Centers

Here is the count of patents organized by Technology Center.  The Technology Center is where a patent is examined.  The FedInvent Details page contains the Art Unit for each of the patents.


Scientific Domain

To help you get a better feel for the scientific domain where the taxpayer-funded patents are coming from we modified the Count by Scientific Domain panel on the weekly FedInvent Patent page to reflect both the "First" and the "Inventive" high-level CPCs.  The example below shows 27 patents that have Medical or Veterinary Science as the primary art in the patent.  Symbols in the same CPC location appeared 249 times in the 148 patents.  

Subscribers can access the complete list.


The Health Complex

This week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  57.  Fifty-five specifically cite the National Institutes of Health.  There are 69 citations for the individual institutes.  (Researchers can have funding from more than one institute.)

Under the Health Complex panel on the weekly FedInvent Patent report, we report on the new patents granted to the Department of Health and Human Services, its invention behemoth NIH and individual NIH institutes. We also report on the other major innovation hubs within HHS. This includes the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and others.

The Health Complex numbers don’t include the contribution of new health-related innovations from the Department of Defense and its medical commands and the Veterans Administration. FedInvent reports on these organizations under their Department for now. We’re working on a more integrated view of all of the health and biotech-related inventions funded by the government. Please stay tuned.


The HERD

This week, 93 higher education research and development entities, the HERD, are assignees on newly granted patents.


Read This Patent — NASA’s Smart Smart Contracts

THE SMART CONTRACT COMES OF AGE 

If you are an ETH HODLer or own CryptoPunk NFT or just wonder when someone was going to invent a serious Dapp using blockchain technology, NASA has a patent for you. 

11,063,759, Blockchain-empowered crowdsourced computing system has it all. They invented a blockchain-based machine learning application that enables any device that can run a smart contract to execute machine learning compute tasks. The invention uses the Ethereum blockchain and its smart contract to secure the peer-to-peer transactions between the multiple untrustworthy parties to enable autonomous decentralized and cooperative deep learning. The invention also uses homomorphic encryption, a form of encryption that permits users to perform computations on its encrypted data without first decrypting it.

When you read the description of the invention you’ll find a totally buzzword-compliant list of essential blockchain and smart contract features.

The smart contract can run on anything that can run an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).  Ethereum virtual machine is Turing-complete. That means it should be able to solve any computation problem. The code it runs has no access to other processes on your computer. A highly desirable feature. EVM can run on just about anything.   

The patent notes, "the hierarchical structure is employed with low-computation power devices such as cell phones, tablets, drones, other networkable devices such as networked sensors, cameras, small appliances and virtually any device capable of sharing data or both computing and sharing data via a network. The ability to harness cell phone data and computational capabilities, while maintaining privacy through the system here proposed, could be very promising in developing machine learning models for the protection of infrastructure, public safety, forecasting of natural disasters, and various medical applications."

MOVING ON FROM THE CLOUD

The inventors make a point of highlighting the shortcomings of The Cloud.  "In many instances, these challenges are addressed by relying on an outsourced cloud computing vendor. However, although these commercial cloud vendors provide valuable platforms for data analytics, they can suffer from a lack of transparency, security, and privacy preservation.  Furthermore, reliance on cloud servers prevents applying big data analytics in environments where the computing power is scattered. Therefore, more effective computing paradigms are required to process private and/or scattered data in suitable decentralized ways for machine learning." This paradigm is designed by exploring blockchain, decentralized learning, homomorphic encryption, and software-defined networking (SDN) techniques. 

Here is a link to the research paper that describes how this invention works without all the patent-speak.

The Senate added distributed ledger technology (aka blockchain) to its list of critical 21st-century technologies for American competitiveness.

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of the Ethereum Project, and Nick Szabo who was the first to define smart contracts would approve.


The Army Makes A Fashion Statement

The Army’s newest patent is 11060823, Camouflage for garment assembly. "Concealment through camouflage is used extensively by the military to reduce enemy perception of military installations, units, equipment, and personnel, to enhance mission success, provide tactical advantage and survival. ...An effective camouflage pattern is a first line of defense against an opposing force. Not being detected will increase survivability. It would be advantageous to provide a camouflage pattern that offers improved concealment and will enhance force protection and survivability for soldiers."

The new camouflage color scheme has six colors — intermixed colored blotches including an Olive 527 color, a Dark Green 528 color, a Tan 525 color, a Brown 529 color, a Bark Brown 561 color, and a Dark Cream 559 color with a seventh color, Light Sage 560, thrown in to complete the look.  It’s also a lovely color palette for Fall.

The patent is an interesting read as the inventors walk through the history of camouflage. The art and science of creating an effective woodland pattern.  There is even include guidance on how to create the blotches using Photoshop and the marching ants feature.  If you don't think camouflage is serious business, this patent has 24 claims and 42 sheets of drawings.

This is the work of the Army. HOOAH.


A Door Stop

D924,675 from the US Postal Service.  A design patent.  What more is there to say.


Spy vs Spy

The IC was busy this week.  From the CIA we have  11059609 — Satellite deployer with externally adjustable payload restraint.  National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)  was awarded 11063163 — Infrared photo-detector with low turn-on voltage. National Security Agency (NSA) received  11061463 — Systems and methods for synergistic software-hardware power budget management.  

The Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) funded the work of scientists at Florida International University that contributed to 11060095 — Method for isolating cross-reactive aptamer and use thereof.  This work is focused on generating aptamer biosensors for analytical applications including medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, and drug detection. 


From the Cybersecurity Junta

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the people who brought you the Risk Management Framework (RMF), the Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), and every major standard driving federal and by proxy commercial cybersecurity was granted 11062044 — Access control system and process for managing and enforcing an attribute-based access control policy.  A patent on cybersecurity.  "An access control system for managing and enforcing an attribute-based access control (ABAC) policy includes a minimum ABAC implementation that produces a representation access control list in an ABAC policy system; and a local host system that produces a resource repository access control list in the local host system such that the resource repository access control list is based on the representation access control list."

The people in the government charged with developing cybersecurity guidance for Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) have patents for attribute-based access control?  It’s puzzling. None of the NIST special publications written by the inventors are included as prior art? (Be sure to scroll down to the earlier version of the documents written in 2014 pre-dates the filing data for the application.) The patent is available to be licensed?   

Both of the major Cloud Service Provider platforms — Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure — have ABAC offerings.   A 2017 NIST publication, IST SPECIAL PUBLICATION 1800-3A — Attribute Based Access Control thanks its technology partners and collaborators including Microsoft that responded to the open call for feedback in the Federal Register.  (Also not cited as prior art.)

Is NIST now going to block them from deploying ABAC because their cloud service provider’s ABAC approach might be infringing the NIST ABAC patent?  Did NIST get a patent so they could license it to all comers at a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory royalty to make sure an important cybersecurity capability can be deployed?

What is going on here?  Wait until the cybersecurity pros get wind of this one.  They won’t be amused.


What’s Happening At the Y?

Emerging Climate Change Technology

This week USPTO identified three taxpayer-funded patents as having technology useful in combatting climate change.

Look Inside

Y02D — Climate Change Mitigation Technologies in Information and Communication Technologies 

11061463, Systems and methods for synergistic software-hardware power budget management, assigned to Intel Corporation in Santa Clara, California and funded by National Security Agency (NSA),   Intel has invented a power management system for hardware devices,  The invention is used for event-based initiation of power-saving by creating hardware resources to the one or more resource groups, and provide a power allowance to each resource group.

Intel’s patent includes examples of what would be covered by the power management system, "Examples of hardware elements may include processors, microprocessors, circuits, circuit elements (e.g., transistors, resistors, capacitors, inductors, and so forth), integrated circuits, application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC), programmable logic devices (PLD), digital signal processors (DSP), field-programmable gate array (FPGA), logic gates, registers, semiconductor device, chips, microchips, chipsets, and so forth."  Ok — all the hardware. 

Examples of software may include software components, programs, applications, computer programs, application programs, system programs, machine programs, operating system software, middleware, firmware, software modules, routines, subroutines, functions, methods, procedures, software interfaces, application program interfaces (API), instruction sets, computing code, computer code, code segments, computer code segments, words, values, symbols, or any combination thereof.  Ok — all the software.  Looks like they’ve got it covered.


Bat and Birds

Y02E — Reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) In Energy

11058103  Wildlife deterrence system arranged in wind turbine blade is an invention to deal with adverse impacts on birds and bats near wind turbines. The invention is a system and methods for deterring wildlife, such as bats and birds, from getting too close to an operating wind turbine. According to the abstract, "Wildlife species may be sensitive to transmitted frequencies, such as ultrasonic frequencies above the range of human hearing. ...A controller may direct the acoustical transmitters to transmit signals having ultrasonic frequencies to deter wildlife encounters. The controller may direct the transmitters to transmit only during periods where wildlife encounters are likely to occur (e.g. at night, during migration seasons, during favorable weather conditions, or the like)."   Save the bats and the birds.


Internal Combustion Engines Will Be Here for a While

Y02T — Climate Change Mitigation Technologies

11060497  Cold start strategy and system for gasoline direct injection compression ignition engine, is assigned to Delphie Technologies, IP Limited,  located in St. Michael, Barbados. Gasoline Direct-injection Compression-Ignition (GDCI) is an engine operating mode that shows promise in improving engine emissions performance and efficiency.

The invention improves the performance of internal combustion engines.  USPTO has been to this dance before.  In its Obama-era Green Technology Pilot program that let inventions beneficial to advancing clean technology jump to the front of the examination docket, Ford Motors received the second-highest number of patents for just that, improvements to internal combustion engines.

This patent was funded by the Department of Energy.  Delphi Technologies is a Barbados-based firm where Delphi Technologies, now a division of BorgWarner parks its intellectual property.


The Innovation Agenda

The FedInvent team monitors the latest developments in federal science and technology policy and projects.  Here is what came up this week.

ELIGIBILITY JURISPRUDENCE

The USPTO has issued a request for public comment on the current state of patent eligibility jurisprudence and its effect on investment and innovation. 

If you are not a full-time patent wonk, eligibility jurisprudence is patent speak for Court decisions that had an impact on what innovations can be patented and what cannot. While there have been court decisions on patent cases for almost as long as there have been patents, in an era of digital transformation these cases take on outsized importance. 

USPTO will use the responses to prepare a report requested by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Christopher Coons (D-DE) on how current eligibility jurisprudence may have affected U.S. investment and innovation, particularly in critical technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, precision medicine, diagnostic methods, and pharmaceutical treatments.   

ALL DIGITAL ALL THE TIME

The critical technologies the Senators are looking at and the others contained in S. 1260 United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021 passed by the Senate lean digital. The technologies Senators inquired about — quantum computing, artificial intelligence, precision medicine, diagnostic methods, and pharmaceutical treatments all have important digital and computational elements.  

Digital inventions are looked at through a different lens than other scientific and technical inventions. The first step in examining digital innovation patent application is to determine whether the claimed invention is directed to an abstract idea, law of nature, mathematical formula, or similar abstraction, If it is, the examiner proceeds to the second step—determining whether the way the claimed invention implements the abstraction contains an inventive concept, as contrasted with being routine and conventional. With digital patents, claimed invention is patent-eligible only if it contains an inventive concept.

ENABLING TECHNOLOGY

The sixth group of technologies the Senators were interested in include "…other computer-related inventions (e.g., software, business methods, computer security, databases and data structures, computer networking, and graphical user interfaces). These are the enabling mechanisms for the other six.  

STILL LIFE WITH FLOW CHARTS

We spent a good part of the last 16 months relying on these business methods and software inventions. Business methods patents don’t usually have mechanical moving parts. They operate largely inside a computer. One of the tell-tale signs of a business methods patent is one with a lot of flowcharts, hence the sobriquet, Still Life With Flow Charts. The other tell is a bunch of bloated language explaining how a computer works at the beginning of each claim. (You’ll know it when you see it.)

USPTO defines business methods as, "machines and methods for performing data processing or calculation operations in the practice, administration or management of an enterprise, or processing of financial data, or determination of the charge for goods and services." These inventions were broadly considered to be e-commerce inventions. You can find them here:

G06Q 10/00 — Administration Management Resource Management, Shipping, Human Resources, Hiring. 'Behind the scenes' aspects of business operations that customers normally don't see.

G06Q 20/00 — Payment architectures, schemes, or protocols. Electronic Funds Transfer, Billing Systems, Authorization.

G06Q 30/00 — Commerce, e.g., shopping or e-commerce. Sales, Customer Service, Marketing. These represent the up-front, customer-facing aspects of business operations. Advertising falls here.

G06Q 40/00 — Finance; Insurance; Processing of taxes Banking, Accounting, Credit/Loan approval. This includes financial portfolio inventions.

G06Q 50/00 — Systems or methods specially adapted for a specific business sector, e.g., utilities or tourism, social networking, real estate, legal services, healthcare.

Last week’s USPS Informed Delivery patent is a business methods patent that had G06Q 10, G06Q 30, and G06Q 50.

The Senators seek input from a wide range of stakeholders not just from patentistas. Comments are due on September 9, 2021. You can read the Federal Register notice here.

That’s this week’s rundown.  There is a lot of other interesting work in this week’s data.  Dig around.


Thanks for reading FedInvent.  See you Friday.

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About FedInvent: FedInvent is Wayfinder Digital's new project that takes a comprehensive look at the federal innovation ecosphere and the inventions and innovation it creates. 

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