Ned Today

01Sep20 – Many claim an interest in and talk about patents and IP strategy, but creativity is scarce.Few create, or even discuss, examples of IP generation within a technology company and how a portfolio might be created.That is exactly what @nedmaude is doing on Twitter.Follow #CDNIPexp to explore the emergence of a company from fundamental University research, including exploring the filing of patent applications.See how a patent portfolio is generated from scratch.

05Aug20 –“Deep tech” is popping up more and more. VCs are putting it on their websites, their twitter bios and pretty much everywhere. They must be running low on (insert here)tech. Interestingly so-called deep tech is closer to what I would call fundamental technology. It just might be closer to research-derived innovation than the average app VC s like to support. At the same time BDC announced a $160 million fund to support IP-intensive companies.

The common thread; both will require a fundamental understanding of technology. It will not be enough to be a “lover of tech” or be able to identify what could be marketed to the masses. A deep understanding of technology is essential to fully realize the potential, including the patent potential. An era where understanding technology becomes important may be upon us.

02Jul20A 9to5Mac article described a curious bit of Apple patent analysis at Bank of America.  20 Apple patents were selected to illustrate continued innovation at the company. First impression; it all seems a bit comical.  Enjoy!

23Jun20The WWDC2020 Keynote has come and gone.On the way we got a very big OS update and Apple’s own processors for the Mac.On May 11th we wrote “Could it [Neural Engine] be used, again with load balancing, to finally turn Macs into gaming machines? Could it work in co-ordination with the GPU and CPU for image processing and graphics rendering?”.Yesterday that is exactly what they did.Game on!Bean counters will look at the numbers and make pronouncements. Apple will dream about what they can do with semiconductor design.Get the product right and the numbers will follow.

05Jun20– The final instalment of our three part look at IP and innovation in Canada is posted. This instalment considers the current perception around patents and patent ownership.Both need to change to improve patent filings and Canadian control f innovation.The whole article is here.

07May20 – why is AppleTV so neglected?

New rumours about the AppleTV surfaced in the usual Apple blogs today.  This one said an AppleTV equipped with A12 is ready for release.  It talks of economies of scale and more CPU power.  Those would be contributions to any reasoning, but there is also a chance to differentiate.

In March 2019 we pondered an AppleTV with an A12.  Yes the CPU and GPU are more powerful, but is there anything else?  Are there bits of design a.k.a “blocks” providing  functionality that could differentiate the service ?  We thought there were.

It has always been a bit of a surprise that Apple has not  put more focus on the TV ecosystem because it is still a central part of households and content consumption.

20Apr20 –  part two: Made in Canada posted !!

In this three part series we are exploring IP and Patents in the Canadian innovation strategy.  Part I thought about the role Canadian private capital might play in retaining the spoils of innovation in Canadian hands.  Now, Part II looks the possibility of a Made in Canada solution and the role of education.  With regard to this latter point the importance of education can not be stressed enough.  It is key that inventors be inspired to file patents and the IP system be able to ensure these patents are high value.


13Apr20 – almost here …part two: Made in Canada

When you hear “Made in Canada” you might think of someone at a mall, checking the label of the thing they want to buy.  Does this apply to Intellectual Property (IP)? Does it apply to patents?  The analogy holds.  Can Canada develop and execute a Made in Canada strategy that improves our IP competitiveness, and brings an increased value from our research to Canadian society?  I think it can be done.  Many pieces have to be put in place, but the fundamental base of innovation is there. We “just” have to build on it.  We have to develop a model that increases the value of our investment.  It is time to work harder at a system and strategy to retain the spoils of innovation within Canada.

08Apr20 – A new patent count was published the other day and Canada did not fare well.  Is this a point for discussion? Yes.  Is there much in the way of possible solutions being published?  Not as much as one might hope.   

Patents do not simply appear out of thin air.  Each discloses an advance in an aspect of technology.  So, if we want to have more Canadian filings we need to ensure the owner is Canadian and we have to educate.  We have to educate both potential owners and inventors about patents and Intellectual Property.

So … what should this education look like.  Anyone in the trade has seen or given generally boring introductions to patents.  A standard law firm presentation focuses on disclosure, costs and filing a name change at the EPO.  Ok the last one may be made up, but there is far too much emphasis on the “bureaucracy” of obtaining a patent.  We have to make patents interesting.  We have to discuss them in terms of technology, which is what patents are all about.  There have to present real, relevant and current examples from various fields of technology, and there should be examples of a patent’s use in real life.  Canada needs to bring patents to life and get SME’s on board.

16Mar20 – The world is focussed on COVID-19, its personal impact, societal impact and economic fallout. It is important to heed the advice of authorities and experts in this time.ned, maude, todd & rod inc. is not qualified in this area.We therefore refrain from posting or tweeting about COVID-19.At the same time we note the problems confronting society before this crisis will still be there after COVID-19.An understanding of technology is still needed to address these problems.If anything it is actually more important as society will have fewer resources to lose on those ideas and approaches with less merit. This is on what ned is focused and qualified.Thus, we will continue to post information and thoughts around technology.

27Feb20 – A much needed discussion around IP education is taking place in thank tanks and the opinion pages of various daily newspapers.  Some have suggested that CIPO can play a bigger role in this education.   Earlier this week we listened in on a CIPO webinar designed to introduce patents to startups in the cleantech space.  How did they do?

The webinar really left one wanting and I am not sure how much of the audience would be inspired to file patent applications.  There was too much information and some of the it was not quite true.  It was also way too dry.  There were plenty of details and graphs but nothing that said “Hey … this is me, and this is how I will look at patents”.

If we really want to increase filing rates and improve patent relevance we need to inspire filers.  They need to see real life examples, delivered with passion.  Few tend to be motivated by an unmotivated speaker.  There needs to be more information to which new filers can relate than obscure numbers around filing rates.

12Feb20 –  A report entitled Intellectual Property in Ontario’s Innovation Ecosystem was published yesterday.  It follows numerous editorials and articles in The Globe and Mail discussing Canadian innovation and Intellectual Property.

The ongoing discussion often focuses on startups and marketable ideas.  It is more interesting to look at fundamental research.  There is some really interesting IP at this level.  It is at the “ground floor” of technology development.  As noted in ned’s article “part one: play their game” (link below) the Googles and Huaweis are operating at this level. 

At the instant we are drawn back to last March’s story about grapes catching fire in the microwave.  This was a nice bit of basic research driven by a casual observation.  The IP at a level just above this “mere scientific principle” will be interesting.  Will it be in Canadian hands?

More to come …

15Jan20 – Many editorials around Intellectual Property and innovation have appeared in the Globe and Mail over the 18 months.  They have talked about an Innovation Arms Race, Made in Canada solutions and, more Recently Innovation Leakage.  An overriding premise is that Canadian innovation, particularly that which is at least partially publicly funded, is landing in the hands of non-Canadian corporations.  AI and 5G are the most common examples.  Upon reading and digesting these it strikes that there is much commonality to these discussions. 

This concept needs some thought cycles.  The first step is to look back at an article posted at ned several years ago.  It considers the relationship between fundamental research and patents.

… more to come

12Dec19 – #TBThursday returns to May 2018 and some thoughts on #IPStrategy.  The first question for a patent agent is usually how much filing and prosecuting an application will cost.  That is understandable.  But, no one ever asks how much not filing might cost.  Hint; it is much larger.  We constructed a scenario ( not too far from a company we are monitoring) where a company started with licensed patents, but did not continue filing.  The end game has not played out in real life, but it was fun to put some thoughts on paper.

05Dec19 – Traditionally, the world is pretty much in one of two camps with respect to patents. There are those that make sweeping overly-broad statements and those that focus on a legal reading of a #patent, where each word in a Claim is construed to give it and the entire Claim a very specific meaning. There is a very large space between these two camps; a space that seems to be rarely visited. 

#TBThursday goes back to these thoughts that were first posted in 2016.  It is still the case today.  Maybe more people should read the article. #innovation #technology #Ottbiz #CDNtech 

25Nov19 – When does an article about a technology become a romp in marketing?If you are lucky, you see an article about a corporation and/or technology in which you are interested, in a respected source.Unfortunately, that does not always guarantee the article will fill in the gaps in your knowledge.It may fall into a marketing language trap.In this trap everything has great potential and is wondrous.This can blur the truth.The technology may be wondrous, but the basis of this view should not be flowery language.This comment about Smarter Alloys and an article in the Globe & Mail thereabout is eighteen months old, but it is still very relevant.

06Nov19 – … revisiting Fuel Cell Energy’s US9,502,728 today in light of their Press Release this morning.  The ‘728 patent considers aspects of a carbonate fuel cell as may be applied to carbon capture.

01Nov19 – ned often comments about the overabundance of gee-whiz.  Many authors and outlets seem to focus on the fantastical.  Yes, it can be interesting and a bit of fun, but it is receiving funding.  That is the scary part.  On the other end of the spectrum are those that overcomplicate the picture.  There is a real possibility that some want to confuse.  Mutual funds have been known to do this.  The common phrase is “leave it to the professionals”.

ned wants to be between these two extremes.  ned wants to be fascinated with technology, and revel in the possibilities; but stay in the real world.  ned also wants to make technology understandable.  It can be done.  One needs to look at multiple sources of information and extract a coherent picture.  This approach was explored in a post about an Omron blood pressure monitor.  It was fascinating to see what patterns emerged when one considered marketing, patents and reverse engineering.  Pieces started falling into place.

22Oct19 –  An article in The Logic this morning asked how last night’s election will impact the Canadian Innovation Economy.  But, what is the Innovation Economy?  Should we a priori know?

On one level it often seems to embody anything trending.  It often also seems to only encompass software or , at least, have a large software component.  The current list, by no means complete, includes AI, rewards programs, food delivery, app-based bookings.  If this is at all true one must ask if the Innovation Economy is the basis of or future for the Canadian economy.

The economy is so much more than ordering lunch with your phone.  The economy will always require tangible devices.  It will require energy and it will require sustainable disposal of our waste; not just that created by all the take-out food.

The Innovation Economy should include tangible stuff.  It should include solving problems that are facing society.  There are some big ones, and food delivery is not one.  It should also include a real conversation about the technology used in the solutions.

01Oct19 –  Paul will be presenting a talk at University of Ottawa Engineering on Oct 7th. “1 um … 28 nm …today: a tale of materials innovation in integrated circuits” will consider two key components in a cellphone; logic and storage.He will look at how the technology has evolved and shrunk by two orders of magnitude over the last 20 years.He will also muse about what other problems might benefit from this accumulated knowledge.

24Sep19 –  What is a “desired result”?  Simply put, it is a hoped-for outcome.  It is a patent concept  that relates to the Claims; the bits of a patent that define the technology receiving legal protection.  One might have a machine or method that produces this hoped-for outcome.  The Canadian Intellectual Property Office will reject a Claim if it refers to a desired result.  Instead, the Claim must refer to aspects of the machine or steps in a process.

OK, but how does it relate to me? 

Technology articles all too often fall into a “desired result” rut.  They go on-and-on about what one wants to happen with little or no detail on how one gets there.  The results seem simple.  But, without this detail the articles read like marketing literature.  Today, it was an article that presented an IoT and AI panacea for environmental problems.  There were one or two interesting ideas.  But, there were too many assertions with little detail and no apparent self-reflection of what was being proposed.

Keep your eyes open they are everywhere.

22Aug19Phononic was in the press today.  A Forbes article highlighted a recent $159 million funding; bringing their valuation to $280 million. 

 What does Phononic do?  They are working on thermoelectrics and solid-state refrigeration.  Back in 2013 another Forbes article noted “It’s hard to pry much information about Phononic’s technology from Atti”.  That brought back memories of Erasure’s “Chains of Love” anthem and the phrase “don’t give up”.  It was time to write.  ned took at look at the USPTO databases and highlighted some of the  IV-VI technology in one of their patents.  The IP position has evolved since then, but the early thoughts on the technology echo that being discussed today.

It is nice to see progress in thermoelectric materials.  With uses that potentially span refrigeration to energy harvesting, it is a technology worth following.

04Jul19 – There is plenty to think about in “In an Arms Race of Innovation ..”@CIGIonline.It may be a bit dramatic, but one should focus on the notion of an IP education.This is a multi-faceted concept.There is the basic legal stuff that one sees in every patent presentation;filing deadlines, provisionals and rules of national entry.But, what about the technology strategy.What are the problems that need to be solved?Are they important to the field moving forward?Can one easily work around the Claimed solutions?Do the innovators know how their technology fits in the puzzle? Yes … there is definitely plenty to think about.

10Jun19 – We have played with the idea that a bit of information can exist in avoid.No, this is not some new law of physics.It is about the communication of ideas.As bits of information become smaller and more fragmented it becomes more difficult to see how any one of these bits fit into a bigger picture.The current paradigms of communicating information does not take the time or have the experience to ask questions or think about the context around a given development.  Some coverage of Smarter Alloys in The Globe and Mail provided a good example.  ned wrote about it here.

 30May19Sometimes patents are presented as a mythical creature; able to ensure dominance over a broad area of technology.  In reality patents disclose an aspect of technology that, in many cases, is reasonably narrow.  In a good scenario this bit of technology is important to the broader area of technology, and the Claims accurately capture it.    

Patents are not a mythical creature, and one can go in and think about the disclosed technology.  Questions can be asked.   What is the problem? What does the technology need to do?  How is it doing this?  What are the “pinch points” or hurdles to a successful outcome?

In 2015 Boeing’s US 8,981,261 i.e. “Method  and System for Shockwave Attenuation Via Electromagnetic Arc” gained this mythical status.  Media coverage focussed on gee-whiz, obscuring the actual technology.  Ned’s coverage did ask questions.  It thought about the actual technology.  It gave the technology some respect.

boeing’s shockwave patent stripped of gee-whiz

23May19 – The website has been updated! The new look and structure will improve navigation so you can see how ned approaches information.  Enjoy.

27Mar19 – Many have commented that Apple’s “Show Time” event was light on details.  It seemed more like a placeholder for ambitions, than actual available services.  The lack of hardware was noteworthy.  Yes the pundits predicted this, but there must be more.  The Apple Arcade section, for example, discussed bringing AI and AR to the living room i.e. TV.  The current Apple TV and its A10X would not be able to do this.  Thus, our ongoing belief that the A12 or A12X will appear in a new Apple TV before long, and bring the promised features to life.

22Feb19 –  Here is a priceless sentence from mainstream media; “… unit shouldn’t be confused with a generator, which creates mechanical energy and delivers it only as a backup, when existing systems fail.’’. How is electricity generated without a generator?

Now the title of the article is “Could this off-the-grid technology be the future of electricity?”.  Maybe, just maybe, thinking about how electricity is actually generated is the place to start the discussion.

07Feb19 – Another article discussing Apple’s rumoured work on a baseband processor appeared today.   We have also been thinking about Apple’s possible design of a baseband.  Is it simple economics and royalties, or can Apple fulfill Steve Jobs’ goal of using semiconductor design to differentiate the end product?  More to come …

21Jan19 – An article in AppleInsider wrote “Years down the road, Apple could release a new operating system that requires the T2 chip to run, so 2018 MacBooks including the MacBook Air could run the latest macOS versions for many years.”  This almost reads that the T2 has an emulator block for the move to an ARM kernel for macOS.  It is an interesting thought.

13Dec18 – There is renewed chatter around big tech designing SoCs.  Some are again commenting that Apple was “early in the cost-cutting trend”.  This view does not seem to appreciate semi. design, what can be achieved, and how it is useful to end functionality.  When Apple acquired PA Semi in 2008 Steve Jobs commented it was to further differentiate their products.  See our article in EETimes about the role of semi. design in Apple’s journey to $1 trillion market cap.

03Dec18 – There are often several competing technologies after the same goal.  Gasification is a good example.  When one pulls out in front where the others failed, did they solve a problem or is the marketing better before they too hit that wall?

09Nov18 – The A12X should be in the TechInsight’s hands by now.  We are looking forward to the die photo, to see just how big the blocks are.

06Nov18 – Macworld published some iPad Pro reviews.  A common thread questions whether the A12X is too powerful for iOS. It will be interesting to see how developers access the available power.  Adobe commented that they were running a “full” version of Photoshop in the Keynote.  There will certainly be more to this discussion going forward.