There’s a battle brewing over patents for “Covfefe” and Amazon looks to block online price checking in the latest patent news.
In the world of intellectual property and patents, there’s generally a balance between exciting innovations and patent applications that make us scratch our heads.
Recently, there’s been more of the latter, as major companies make intriguing patent submissions and cultural events impact the efforts of both innovators and consumers.
Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting (and perhaps most surprising) patent news to surface recently.
Covfefe Is Everywhere…Especially in the Patent Office
Since U.S. President Donald Trump infamously tweeted the unintelligible word “Covfefe” on May 31, people all over the country have attempted to trademark various items that use it.
According to the Washington Examiner, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has received 32 trademark requests for items utilizing Covfefe since Trump’s tweet…and the array of merchandise submitted is truly astonishing.
One man submitted a trademark request to use the word on “clothing for domestic pets,” while others submitted requests to use Covfefe on human maternity clothes, Halloween costumes, and hats.
One person even sought to trademark the phrase “Covfefe Coffee,” while the Seattle Biscuit Company sought to trademark the word for use on a specialty sandwich.
Several of the trademark submissions combined the word with a hashtag, with submitters seeking to put the word on mugs, knick-knacks, and other merchandise for sale in the U.S.
The White House never explained what the President meant by the cryptic tweet, but the unclear meaning hasn’t stopped thousands of American inventors (and opportunists) from trying to capitalize on the cultural wave it created.
Price Checking is Great—Unless You’re in an Amazon Store
Amazon has a long history of encouraging users to price-check products with their app and website while visiting competing brick-and-mortar retailers.
However, Amazon’s fervor for price checking doesn’t appear to extend to its own retail spaces.
A new patent granted to the eCommerce giant details technology for preventing customers from price checking while inside Amazon stores.
The patent, titled “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” includes methods for tracking customers’ online surfing while inside a brick-and-mortar Amazon retailer…and actually blocking the customers from visiting certain sites to get price comparisons.
The technology may send shoppers with a wandering eye to a completely different, Amazon-centric webpage—or it may shut down their Wi-Fi access altogether.
The patent showcases Amazon’s idea for intercepting a customer’s internet connection if that customer is deemed to be perusing web content that is “associated with or potentially associated with a competitor or an item of interest.” If you’re inside an Amazon store, your internet activity is essentially their domain.
And the intrusion doesn’t stop at your phone’s web browser.
The patent also details methods for sending shoppers unsolicited text messages and push notifications to sway them from continuing their pesky price-checking ways while inside Amazon’s stores.
You might think, “Well, there aren’t that many Amazon stores near me, so I’m fine with this.”
That is until we remind you that Amazon recently acquired Whole Foods for a cool $13.7 billion.
Oh, Amazon. You’re making people mad.
Dana Reaches Patent Landmark with 10,000 Patents
In a happier bit of patent-related news, 113-year-old automotive technology company Dana Incorporated has reached an important milestone in innovation: its engineers and inventors have officially been granted 10,000 patents from the USPTO.
The company’s chief technical officer, George Constand, applauded the company’s history of focusing on innovation and advancing technology in their industry and beyond.
Clarence Spicer, the company’s founder, was issued his first patent in 1904. That patent was for an encased universal joint that would revolutionize the automotive industry.
Dana’s annual automotive sales are approaching $10 billion per year, and they have installed 16 technical centers in strategic locations around the world, to ensure they can serve customers’ needs when and where they arise.
As the company looks towards the future, continued innovation is a key ingredient in all of their plans.
Supreme Court Rules Against Lexmark in Patent Feud With Resaler
Lexmark, a Chinese-owned laser printer and imaging company, has lost its long-standing patent infringement lawsuit against a much smaller company.
Lexmark initially brought suit against Impression Products (a small business out of Charleston, West Virginia) in 2010, on the basis that the smaller company was infringing upon Lexmark’s patents by acquiring empty Lexmark cartridges, refurbishing them and reselling them to the public.
Essentially, Lexmark sought to quash the efforts of consumers who purchase, tinker with or alter their products in any way—even after the products are paid for in full and “owned” by the purchaser.
Lexmark even included a “post-sale restriction” on their single-use cartridges, which stated that consumers couldn’t attempt to tinker with or refill the cartridges after one use.
The Supreme Court disagreed with Lexmark’s patent infringement quabbles, ruling in a unanimous decision that the company had relinquished its intellectual property rights over a product after selling that product to the public.
The decision will have a sizeable impact on Lexmark and companies like it, who rely on control of aftersale revenue to fund many of their technology ventures. Without the ability to successfully sue resalers for patent infringement, these companies will have to change their business model to protect their revenue streams.
It appears that, for now, the Supreme Court is siding with consumers on this one.
Questions About Patent Infringement Rights? IPVision Is Your Go-To Source for Insights
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IPVision is proud to provide a number of patent resources that will help you make the best decisions for your company, your inventions and your future.
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Want to learn more about our tools and resources? Need advice on patents rights or your competitors’ patent activities? Contact IPVision today.