Archive for the IT land Category

Traffic Report

Posted in 1P, Branding, Google, IT land, Trade Mark with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2011 by 1place

Google AdWords + Trade Marks

Reduce your mortgage.  Improve your…stamina.  Lose weight.  Create more web traffic.

Unsolicited Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services are the new spam.  Clearly securing Google page one real estate must be something constantly troubling us all. Continue reading


1981 Newspapers by computers

Posted in IT land, Photo on June 3, 2010 by 1place

The Open Source patent – A Disruptive or the Middle Way?

Posted in 1P, Article, IP Protection, IT land, Patent, Tech with tags , on April 17, 2010 by 1place

Is open source patenting a possibility? Is patenting totally contradictory to the idea of open source?

There are plenty of people who espouse the view that patent protection is simply a tool for big business to flex its muscle and block access to innovation by small players and competitors.

However, the underlying rationale of patent protection is to force an invention onto the public record. Sure, the patent owner gets a monopoly but it is limited for a specific period of time (very limited if you compare it to the monopoly a copyright owner gets) and after that it is free for all to use – down to the very last detail. In fact, you can’t get a patent unless you put in the detail.

So the patent databases in reality form the largest standardised library in the world…publicly accessible (no paywall / subscription fees) and reliable (at least in relation to granted or issued patents).

Why should the open source community consider patenting? Getting a patent for an invention blocks another party from getting a patent for the same invention. So, if a group of open source collaborators can secure a patent, it can choose to grant a royalty-free licence to the open source community to use it (just as open source software is licensed). This secures the invention for public use immediately. In other words, it blocks the ability for another party to patent that invention and prevents that other party from exploiting it for commercial gain. Check mate.

Secondly, it secures the open source community the right to continue using the patented invention subject to the terms of the patent licence. A term of the licence may be that any modifications, enhancements or improvements are owned by the (open source) patent owner, thereby retaining all enhancements for public use.

Thirdly, open source patented innovations reside on patent databases and thus form part of the same public record, which makes the public record more comprehensive and useful to the community at large.

So, how is open source patenting workable?

One of the key hurdles to patentability is that an invention needs to be novel (new). This means it cannot be publicly known or used before the patent is applied for. How can open source collaborators collaborate without destroying novelty?

One suggestion for making it workable would be to exploit the “grace period” available under patent laws in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan and the USA.  A grace period means that you can still apply for a patent after disclosing your invention (sharing it with open source collaborators) so long as you lodge your patent within 6 to 12 months (depending on the country). Sure, it’s not foolproof because not every country has a grace period (Europe is a notable exception) but we’re talking about ways to overcome hurdles to enable open source collaborators to tap in to the benefits of patenting.

Another suggestion is that a project be flagged for patenting at its inception (before any detail is provided) and collaborators sign up under an NDA before they can view and contribute. For example, an inventor could:

  1. provide a high level view of their invention onto a site;
  2. invite contributions or help from the peer to peer to join in drafting a patent description;
  3. interested participants could subsequently request to join the community specifically associated with drafting that patent description;
  4. The inventor and associated community can then let the new contributor join if they show skills that are helpful to the patent’s description generation; and
  5. All contributions would be logged against each contributor so as to determine if they are making a technical or inventive contribution.

What about costs?

Building a community of particular skill sets to help draft the description of an invention for a patent would offset patenting costs and aid in obtaining a contribution by a community in an Open Source manner. The patent once described (e.g. as per the steps above) could have a patent attorney draft the claims or oversee the claim drafting, rather than being involved throughout the process.

If the patent is successful, then:

  1. it could be offered as a kernel to build further inventions off via divisional patents, etc.
  2. if there is a commercial use (even by donation) then any funds received can be made available for use:
    1. by the contributors/inventors, or
    2. the community

to promote further open source patent opportunities such as a contribution for payment of Official Fees in each jurisdiction.

We see this approach as an open source solution to promote access and availability to the excellent resources available both in the community and in the patent offices around the world.

Why We Need More than more of same

Posted in 1P, IT land, Tech with tags on April 5, 2010 by 1place

Today it was reported that Apple may build its own search iPhone-centric search engine to keep valuable iPhone-user search data out of the hands of Google:

Why would Apple produce another search engine? Google is the default search engine on the iPhone and data about what iPhone users are searching for can help Google tailor software and services for its own mobile smartphone.

But is just another search engine valuable to consumers?

I say that as consumers we need something more:

Think: what is the next step from search engines? What if you could have a “Transaction Engine” that would allow you to type in your search and that then takes the search results and places the information sourced from multiple places into a coherent answer – like a self-forming Wikipedia.

Imagine – you have a legal question and you can place your question into a Transaction Engine so that it could ask you questions, and form say an agreement, essay, advice, … from multiple sources of information.

Consequently, the Transaction Engine also acts as a learning– teaching device. Our website at has a question/answer expert system. Expert systems are known. However, a Transaction Engine would allow users to draw from the masses of information on the net – quite a different tool, which would be valuable in many contexts.

Would this provide us with something more than another search engine – I believe that it would.


Posted in 1P, Article, IP Protection, IT land, Tech on March 8, 2010 by 1place

Going through the motions of applying for a patent will help you punch holes in your startup offering so that you can identify hurdles.

So let’s test your startup proposition by stepping through what you need to put a patent into place first.  This is a comparatively low cost approach which helps you to identify the detail and iron out some of the hurdles to getting your offering to market.

An added bonus is that a patent may allow you to outsource costs while building profits through licensing your inventive offering to those that have the expertise e.g. for manufacture and distribution.

What’s your offering?

1. Does your startup offering (whether a product or a service) solve a problem or address a need?

Don’t let it be something you have to rationalise with proposed market trends when you explain it – you may have a solution but don’t justify its veracity with puff!

Your offering should have:

  • a clear purpose (e.g. to automate a manual process);
  • a vision for how to achieve that purpose (e.g. a breakdown of the steps required to automate and a timeframe for achieving each step, or the components required to perform the automation);
  • the field in which your offering is useful – who would want your offering; and
  • why others have failed in coming up with a suitable solution to the problem or need that you have identified.

If you can’t articulate the above, you’re done before you begin.

Drilling down into the detail

2. Can you describe your offering?

If you can’t describe your offering from your own understanding of it, then sadly it is still a mere idea, not a product or service offering. Drilling into the detail required for a patent application is useful for developing the detail of your offering for the market.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you a person skilled in the art? Have you invented in your own area of expertise? Do you have and understand the detail needed to get a product that embodies your offering onto the market?
  • If you can’t describe the detail then will you be able to follow it through to launch it into market? This is also a test on whether you can do it on your own or what other skills you need.  Test yourself before you test the market with your offering!

To get a patent, you have to describe your invention in detail – including how to perform the invention in sufficient detail so that any person in the same technical field can work the invention.

Product features

3. How will your offering come together?

Having identified at a high level what your offering IS (e.g. a way to automate a manual process), you then need to think: how will it come together? What are the components or bits that need to work together to deliver the benefit that you have described? In patent terms, this is referred to as the “embodiments” of an invention.

Does your offering include a number of embodiments and arrangements? In other words, are there a number of different ways to achieve the offering you have come up with? What is the overlap between those ways – i.e. what is absolutely essential to all of the ways you have come up with for delivering your offering? Do those essential bits have to take place or work together in a certain order, or can they be arranged in various ways to achieve the same effect?

What is your target market?

Can you describe your offering so you can change direction with agility? Markets change, in some fields very quickly. Thinking through the embodiments and arrangements of your invention early on also enables you to manage quick changes in direction as the need arises.

4. Can the market understand your offering?

From a usability stand point, your patent needs to describe your offering sufficiently so that the target audience can get your offering quickly and easily from your description.

5. How different and inventive is your offering from the competition?

Have you covered off your offering in the simplest possible way so your competition cannot further simplify it and make it sticky to the market?

Think whether competitors could try to copy your inventive offering but remove some of the features that you have put into place. To can help you test the potential strength of your startup and patent position.

What’s the competitive landscape?

6. Why have others failed?

Identifying the “prior art” that exists in the same technical field as your invention is a part of the process when trying to apply for a patent. Understanding the relevant “prior art” (what else is out there that offers a similar advantage/feature, what advantages and disadvantages does the prior art have) helps your startup to identify the competitive advantage of its offering to the marketplace.

Whose toes are you treading on?

This also raises the important question of: do you have the freedom to operate in the market? This goes to infringement risk and is unfortunately often forgotten in the excitement of getting a new offering to market.

7. What are the obstacles that the competition has in place?

Are you treading on somebody else’s offering to the market (i.e. their kernel) & do you need to acknowledge this? Test this on paper with a patent as a means to flush out your SWOT before you launch your offering on the market.

The value proposition

From here you can build your “value proposition” – why people would want your startup’s offering.

8. Do you have a “value proposition”?

A common misconception among individuals who come to us with “the next big thing – I just need to patent it and sell it for millions” is a lack of detail.  Having gone through the process of preparing a patent application (whether or not you take the step of applying for a patent), helps you to identify your offering’s value proposition.

Thus understanding the patent process is a useful business tool. Identifying competitive advantage and value proposition is a key part of any business and marketing strategy. However, using patents as a methodology for helping startups to identify their offering’s competitive advantage is quite unusual. We think more businesses would benefit from this rigorous and technical approach to the detail.

Value = exit

If your offering has teeth, can you exit with cash in your pocket?  A patent enables succession – you can get the cash and make the dash…to your next startup.

9. What is your exit plan?

A patent lives for 20 years and so it encourages you to see an end. Companies often forget the necessity to continuously innovate…and to reap the benefits from exiting one innovation and moving to the next.

One of the big reasons for not getting a patent that we often hear from startups is “we haven’t got the cash”. But the initial step of describing your offering sufficiently for a patent is relatively cheap.

One indicator we use is: if a startup won’t even consider investing “skin” of its own at the early stages, by investing in describing the fundamental detail of its offering to secure protection of the entire basis for its business, then why should it expect the market (or a VC) to do so? A patent gives comfort to an investor, if nothing else.

Modelling your offering to the market via a patent is a means to create revenue and to test your offering before:

  1. mortgaging your house;
  2. pimping your offering to VCs; or
  3. burning your, or your family + friends, cash.

Remember, you are the one taking the risk. Putting a patent into place can stop others from stepping on you. It is also a means to model the offering and its positioning in the market without first risking the house.

Test your startup proposition by stepping through the detail needed to put a patent into place. Consider investing in your key startup asset by putting patent protection into place (preferably 1Place) before you launch.

Michael Bates / Josephine Inge
1 Place Patent Attorneys + Solicitors

Coming To America Event Wrap Up

Posted in 1P, IT land, Patent on October 22, 2009 by 1place

Coming To America Event Wrap Up.

Our client InteractiveTV presented their nextgen IPTV device at Coming to America…see the wrap up in TechNation

CloudCamp Sydney

Posted in IT land on August 28, 2009 by 1place