Happy Holidays from Intellectual Ventures

As we head into the holidays, I wanted to take a moment to recognize all the inventors, customers, partners, and STEM supporters we have the opportunity to work with every day in our quest to drive the world’s invention economy forward.

Happy Holidays from Intellectual Ventures

Through our collective contributions and diligent work together, we’re creating a market for invention – where inventors are laying the foundation for solving the world’s problems both big and small. In honor of the upcoming holiday season and on behalf of everyone at Intellectual Ventures, I want to thank you for your partnership and shared belief that invention creates opportunity.

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season.

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News You Can Use

In this week’s News You Can Use, we’re highlighting interesting stories about the relationship between entrepreneurship and innovation. Learn why millennials are prioritizing entrepreneurship more than previous generations, why patents are an untapped asset for startups, and how the UK hopes to encourage more collaboration between product manufacturers and innovators.

News You Can Use

Entrepreneurial Millennials and the C-Suite
According to a new survey profiled in Forbes, millennials are placing greater priority on entrepreneurship than previous generations. The article reports that many millennials believe that business ownership offers them the best opportunity to preserve a creative work environment, innovate, and develop business acumen quickly. But as a result, few millennials report planning to work their way up the ranks at the same company:

“Only 13% of survey respondents said their career goal involves climbing the corporate ladder to become a CEO or president. By contrast, almost two-thirds (67%) said their goal involves starting their own business.”

Patents as Untapped Source of Cash
Our own Raymond Hegarty, IV vice president of global licensing, was quoted in a Science Business story this week about how young start-ups can fund growth and gain credibility with investors through licensing and patents. Licensing demonstrates value and shows a product is “proven and viable,” says Hegarty. “At the same time, because you bring cash in, you may not need to give a piece of your company to investors anymore — you might be able to fund it from licensing those ideas.”

British NGO Calls for Additional Funding for “Innovate UK”
EEF, the British association for engineer and manufacturing companies, is calling for increased support for manufacturers seeking capital to fund innovation through Innovate UK, the government agency that helps encourage technological development. The Telegraph reports that the competitive program solicits applications from entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers to collaborate on research and development of new products. The program is part of a strategy to emphasize innovation as a key driver of the British economy.

Interested in how patents help entrepreneurs? Check out some of our previous work on the subject here, as well as stories about young entrepreneurs and how they’re following their dreams.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too.

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Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla

Inventors are doers, but first they are thinkers. And while some invent gadgets, others invent systems. This month’s IV inventor superhero thought long and hard about how to enhance the world we live in, and his inventions and system innovations are engrained in just about everything we use in modern life.

Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla

Inventor Superhero: Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)

Superpowers: Electrical currents, mathematics, radar technology, and energy conversion

Eureka! Moment: Tesla began his career in the 1800s in Budapest as an electrical engineer for a telephone company. He was fascinated with electricity, and one day while strolling through a park with a friend, he had a flash of genius that set a course for his life’s work: Tesla unraveled the solution to the rotating magnetic field. He stopped along his walk, grabbed a stick, and drew a diagram in the sand that explained the principles of the induction motor.

Superhero Lair: Wardenclyffe  — Tesla’s red brick laboratory on Long Island, NY, where he worked to establish a wireless telegraphy plant. Today, Wardenclyffe is Tesla’s only remaining lab building. In 2012, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, in collaboration with internet cartoonist Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) launched a campaign to purchase and restore the property.

Cool Gadget/Systems: Tesla invented the alternating current electrical system, which is still widely used around the world. He also developed the Tesla coil, a system of generators, and he harnessed the power of Niagara Falls by creating the first-ever hydroelectric power plant.

Childhood Hero: While we can’t confirm that Tesla’s hero was his mother, we know he gained his inventiveness and interest in electrical technology from her. Djuka Mandic was known for her creations and modifications of household appliances.

Nemesis: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla consistently butted heads over direct and alternating current. Even though Tesla came to the United Stated to study alongside Edison, they eventually split paths due to their conflicting, insistent beliefs on the most efficient type of current. In the end, Tesla was the unsung victor.

Who’s your favorite inventor superhero? Let us know who we should profile next @IVinvents.

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Watch: George Takei Visits IV Lab and Modernist Cuisine

To get a better picture of what’s happening within the wonderful world of invention, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and watch. View a few of our favorite videos highlighting the intellectual property business, science and research, and next-generation inventors. New this week: Actor and author George Takei chronicles his experience visiting Intellectual Ventures Laboratory and Modernist Cuisine's Cooking Lab.

Modernist Cuisine — Kitchen or Lab?
George Takei takes you on a quick tour of IV Lab and the Modernist Cuisine kitchen, where he “savors the flavors with visionary technology leader Nathan Myhrvold.” Learn how cooking can be an art, a science, and place for innovation.

Invention Capital at Work
Start-up company CF Global invented a process for turning coffee cherry pulp cast off in the harvest of coffee beans into a nutritious and tasty flour. Watch how Intellectual Ventures is helping CF Global transform the world of coffee from farm to table.

Think Again: What is Invention?
At Intellectual Ventures, we believe invention sparks progress and inspires the inquisitive. See how IV, our customers, and our partners are creating opportunity through invention.

What Makes a Person an Inventor?
It may sound trite to say that “inventors change the world,” but indeed, they do. Dating back to the first tool to the next generation of nuclear energy, inventors push the boundaries of science, industry and society.

Disrupting Innovation
Adriane Brown, IV’s president and COO, describes the importance that patent quality has on invention and the tech industry.

For more videos, follow Intellectual Ventures’ YouTube channel.


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News You Can Use

In this week’s News You Can Use, we’re highlighting stories about innovation — the people who drive it, the companies built off of it, and the best ways for executives to encourage it. 

Recognizing Innovating Veterans
As the country honors our veterans this week, The Military Times recognizes veterans’ leadership in business and how they are leveraging innovation to drive entrepreneurship. Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for Economic Policy, discusses how veterans’ continued contributions create jobs and boost economic growth:

“Possessing the qualities necessary to start and operate a successful business, returning servicemen and women are 45 percent more likely to be self-employed business owners than non-veterans. As a result, nearly one out of every 10 small businesses in America today are owned and operated by veterans. These veteran-owned businesses generate more than $1.1 trillion in receipts each year and employ nearly 6 million workers.”

Seattle’s Innovative Start-Ups
GeekWire rounded up its top 10 innovative startups in Seattle, and Intellectual Ventures’ metamaterials spinout Kymeta made the list. Kymeta shares the spotlight with northwest companies that have developed, among other things, a harvester that converts grocery scraps to liquid fertilizer and a water filtration cup that removes toxins to make water safe for drinking.

Purpose-Driven Innovation
What’s behind the best innovations? In a community where everyone is constantly striving to innovate and invent, business leaders are always looking for new ways to give their companies a competitive advantage. George Bradt, managing director at Prime Genesis, argues that purpose-driven innovation leads to the best outcomes. He recommends that executives encourage employees to think outside of the box and be willing to tolerate concepts failing hundreds of times before a breakthrough.

@IVinvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too. 

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Turns Out $29B Isn’t the Point At All

Last year, we asked if “$29B was the point?” Based on the popular findings from James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer’s “The Direct Costs from NPE Disputes” study in 2012, the pair have recently reversed course on their definitions of NPEs — so much so that the editor in chief of Intellectual Asset Management Magazine, Joff Wild, asks whether their argument on the “costs '[patent] trolls' impose on businesses, the taxes they levy on innovation, and the subsequent harm they do to the U.S. economy generally is now rendered completely meaningless.” 

Turns Out $29B Isn’t the Point At All

Despite the fact the term “patent troll” has become a rallying cry in the patent reform debate and a very convenient pejorative in patent infringement disputes these days, we’ve long since argued the term has been stretched to the point where it has almost no meaning at all. Looks like the professors might agree with us on that after all.

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News You Can Use

Have you been keeping up with the latest news coverage on intellectual property, technology, and innovation? Intellectual Ventures has been paying close attention, and we wanted to share a few compelling stories from the last week or two with you:

News You Can Use

IP Licensing
How did Kodak manage to find its way back to profitability after several years of dismal earnings? Intellectual Asset Management’s blog reports that IP licensing has been vital to Kodak’s renewed success:

“Despite [Kodak’s] past bankruptcy woes and the precarious situation it remains in, Kodak is turning itself around. As demonstrated by its patent sale to IV and RPX, and its continuing income streams from licensing, a longstanding commitment to investing in IP protection can pay off.”

Computer Patents
Dennis Crouch, a Law Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law and contributor to the popular Patently-O law blog, posted a chart showing the rise of computer patents since 1976. He parsed all the utility patents using keywords and found utility patents with computing claims rose from less than five percent in 1976 to up nearly 40 percent in 2015.

Funding Innovation
Is innovation generated more in the private or public sector? This question, posed by BBC, uses the story of Oxbotica, a spinoff from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group, to explore the changing landscape of funding for innovation.

“In general, many of the innovations of the 20th Century — from nuclear energy to space travel to GPS — came as a result of defense spending, first in the Second World War, then in the Cold War that followed. Now, with defense budgets under pressure, there is little chance of governments on either side of the Atlantic funding projects on a grand scale.”

Ideas are Valuable
Forbes tackles the question of whether or not it’s more valuable to invent ideas or products. Michael Blanding uses the founding of Facebook, among other examples, as he explores the inherent value of intellectual property.

@IVInvents shares IP and tech innovation news every week. Follow along, and let us know what you’ve been reading, too.

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Tools of the Trade: Instruments for Invention

Inventors are churning out new technologies every day, which means that state-of-the-art tools for designing and testing prototypes are in high demand. While we’ll always have a special place at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory for good, old-fashioned power drills, we also rely on a lot of high-tech machinery for our work. Check out a few of the fancier tools that fill our lab:

The Stratasys Object500 Connex

Not that long ago, 3-D printing seemed like a technology reserved for science fiction films. At IV Lab, we use this state-of-the-art printing system to create tangible prototypes that allow us to test designs and adjust components of our inventions almost real-time instead of just looking at them on a computer screen.

The Electrical Discharge Machine

When we’re developing custom coolers for LEDs for the photonic fence or trying to slice cookware in half for Modernist Cuisine, precision counts. That’s why IV Lab uses this wire or sinker electrical discharge machine to create components for designs and experiments to exact specifications. Because machining inaccuracies can set the Lab’s work back significantly, we rely on these machines for near perfection.

The Optical Gaging Products SmartScope

As we work on projects at IV Lab, we need to take advanced measurements of our work quickly and efficiently. The SmartScope uses three types of sensors to build a single model by fusing data from the individual measurements, which offers our scientists and instrument makers a more complete, accurate picture of an object.

Measuring mosquito antennae with the SmartScope

High Performance Liquid Chromatograph

The High Performance Liquid Chromatograph helps our scientists identify and separate components of liquids in organic compounds, such as Coffee Flour. The Lab uses this instrument to measure the amount of a pure substance like caffeine, or to check for trace amounts of extraneous substances in a sample.

Femtosecond Spectrometer

This high-tech instrument uses a pulsing laser to capture a “movie” of an ultrafast chemical reaction that occurs on the order of one quadrillionth of a second (0.000000000000001). Femtochemistry holds great promise for a broad array of applications, from improved materials for electronics to new diagnostic procedures for diseases.

To learn more about IV Lab, the hardware we use, and the projects we’re working on, visit the website hereWhat tools do you keep in your maker space? Send a picture to @IVinvents.

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IV’s Favorite Inventions: Typewriters

We believe that like ourselves, invention evolves. There are several examples of the evolution of invention at IV’s offices, including the antique typewriters in our lobby.

IV’s Favorite Inventions: Typewriters

Photo: The Oliver Typewriter on display in IV's invention collection.

As you’re walking through our hallways, you’ll pass plenty of computers on our employees’ desks before coming to a row of inventions that — less than a generation ago — would have far outnumbered their digital counterparts in the average office building.

Perhaps this invention’s evolution is most evident through sound instead of sight. If you close your eyes in IV’s halls, you might hear the gentle typing on computer keyboards or the pleasant chirps of cell phones. You will not likely hear, however, the staccato click-clacking of typewriters.

While the printing press was invented in the 15th century, the first modern typewriter wasn’t invented until the mid-1800s. The 400-year wait can be explained by a number of factors, including that the printing press was born in an age of abundant cheap labor. Fast forward to the mid-19th century, where labor was scarcer and the industrial revolution was at its peak. It was time for an invention to expedite the production of the printed word. 

After Christopher Sholes invented the first modern and commercially successful typewriter in 1866, a number of improvements were made to the model. Because the Sholes typewriter would jam due to quick typing, the keyboard was redesigned so that letters commonly used together would be placed apart. Look down at the left of your computer’s keyboard: the “QWERTY” design used today was born as a result of this typewriter improvement.

The Oliver Typewriter followed, invented by the Canadian Rev. Thomas Oliver in the late 1800s. This was the first effective “visible print” typewriter where its user could view a couple lines as they typed their manuscript. One of the typewriters in our hallway is the Oliver Company Model No. 9, which was produced in Chicago between 1915 and 1922.

As demand grew for the machine, so did its enhancements. Typewriters became more user friendly with softer keystrokes, better angles to the eyes and hands, and multi-colored ribbons. Shift keys were added, and then “shift lock” to spare your pinky finger from straining. Early electrical models began appearing as soon as the early 1900s, and typewriters were common in the workplace by the 1950s.

While the typewriter eventually conceded the spotlight to the computer keyboard, its legacy continues among its enthusiasts. We don’t blame them — even with its evolution concluding, the typewriter’s admirers will always prefer the music of click-clacks and dings and the heavy weight of keys beneath their fingers. 

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Six Spooky Halloween Inventions

Ideas are brewed here at Intellectual Ventures every day. While we’re usually devising inventions to solve big problems, ‘tis the season to let imaginations run wild. So, we’ve concocted a list of Halloween-related inventions to spook up your holiday spirit. Take a look at a few inventors’ more frightening and festive creations:

Six Spooky Halloween Inventions

Fog Machine
Will patent #5,676,886 transform your porch into an ethereal trick-or-treating zone? Halloween wouldn’t be the same without clouds of fog billowing as you enter a haunted house. Read the patent description to learn about the innovation behind this Halloween horror effect.

The “Batty Bat”
There are many spooky creatures that find a habitat in your front yard during Halloween, but nothing says scary like a ginormous bat hanging from your house. Patent #5,285,898 has an adjustable wingspan and realistic features to guide brave trick-or-treaters straight to your doorstep, or perhaps running in the other direction. 

All together now: "One two three spread out the wings..."

Illuminated Carrying Device
Decorations are a must, but tools to ensure a happy and safe trick-or-treating experience for little ghosts and goblins deserve a spot on the list. Patent #6,059,423 does just that, serving as a light-up bag to collect candy so you can remain visible while making street crossings.

Pumpkin Carving Kit
These tools are everything you need to make your pumpkin the best in the neighborhood. Varying in shape, size, and texture, you can think outside of the template jack-o-lantern triangle eyes and jagged teeth. Tools such as patent #4,828,114 could help you gut the most ghoulish gourd on your block.

Halloween bonus from IV Lab: Watch what happens when a freeze-dried pumpkin gets dropped from a 20’ person lift:

Halloween Portable Container
Patent #7,594,669 is designed to help you celebrate Halloween to the fullest. With an ability to store large amounts of goodies, and a push or pull feature, you can more easily help your little ones haul their candy stash from block to block.

Invisibility Cloak
Seeking a clever costume? Perhaps you'll be the one to invent the accessory everyone will want in their wardrobe – an invisibility cloak. Start researching metamaterials technology now, and you could be frightening everyone with your presence – or rather absence – at a future costume contest. For other inventive costume ideas, take a look at what our employees wore in Halloweens past.

Have a spooky invention to add to this list? Let us know @IVInvents. Happy Halloween!

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Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown

Adriane Brown is the President and COO of Intellectual Ventures.





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