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Third time's the charm...?

Solar Thin Film Photovoltaics Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

Elon Musk announced that Tesla is about to complete the third version of its solar roof. Its cost is expected to be "equal to a comp shingle roof plus someone's utility cost or [be] lower than that." The company has been focusing on the aesthetics and structural integrity of its products, which may explain the lack of recent patent activity by Tesla in the Thin Film Photovoltaics sector. However, with the imminent product launch and news that bifacial photovoltaic modules—the subject of the company's most recent patent from subsidiary SolarCity—are now officially exempt from President's Trump's trade tariffs, Tesla may soon show increased patent activity as it prepares to enter its next stage and compete with new foreign competitors.

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GE's perseverance

Energy Financial Settlements Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

After struggling with debt and growth, and having described 2019 as a "reset year," GE Power introduced new predictive analytics applications for the power industry. The applications include reducing outage restoration time, finding data errors and maintaining network data integrity, and mitigating the impact of inertia from large power generators on grid reliability.

In the Energy Financial Settlement sector, General Electric was issued a patent last year for economic optimization of power generation systems, indicating its general direction towards targeting inefficiencies in the grid and energy usage. However, it noticeably lacks patent filings in the past 5 years. Will this announcement of new technology applications signal upcoming patent activity for GE?

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Revealing Libra's face

Cryptocurrency Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

Amidst the continuing hype, Facebook has published a white paper explaining how its new digital currency Libra will work. Although it will not launch for another year, the company clarified that it aims to bring financial services to the 1.7 billion around the world who don’t have bank accounts. Facebook's entire patent portfolio in the Cryptocurrency sector is dedicated to creating a new virtual currency system for e-commerce applications. Some argue that Libra is not a true cryptocurrency since it is not truly decentralized. We will be keeping an eye on Facebook to see if this coin will affect their IP strategy.

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Vinventions making good on sustainability strategy

Biodegradable Packaging Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

North Carolina based Vinventions is an international supplier of wine closure systems and oenological equipment. Founded in 2015, the company has gone on to create many strategic partnerships and employs over 550 worldwide. In June 2018, they announced a shift in their strategy to focus on sustainability initiatives, and patent disclosures suggest they have followed through. Recently published but filed in November 2018, Vinventions has applied for two patents regarding biodegradable wine corks that do not use glue, and their related closure devices. The company has two issued patents and two other applications regarding these tools as well. As they expand their sustainable product line, patent applications and global growth will likely follow.

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Green Cubes Technology and Preferred Freezer Services Create Largest Lithium Battery-Powered Materials Handling Fleet

Energy Storage: Multi-battery Charge Equalization Circuits Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

Green Cubes Technology and Preferred Freezer Services have partnered to launch the largest lithium battery-powered fleet in the cold storage industry.  Maintaining warehouses at a frigid -20 C is a problem for lead-acid battery systems, causing them to lose power and operating efficiency over their short cycle life, with decreased performance of up to 50 percent.  Preferred Freezer Services is using Green Cubes' Lithium SAFEFlex® battery systems to replace lead-acid battery systems to increase efficiency and durability in cold environments. Green Cubes has been producing lithium ion batteries for forklifts, medical carts, and motive power systems for more than 30 years, but only started filing patents in 2013. Currently they have two issued patents and two pending applications. Their most recent patent application deals with multi-cell battery management. The applications do not appear to be directed to cold environments, however.

 

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Can Philips improve sleep in deep space?

Consumer Sleep Technology Patent ForecastTM

June 20, 2019

Philips announced this week that the company’s SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband will be used in research funded by the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), which receives funding from NASA. The research will use the company’s Deep Sleep Headband to determine whether auditory stimulation can improve sleep during deep sleep exploration. Additionally, the research will examine the Deep Sleep Headband’s impact on cognitive performance. 

The company’s Deep Sleep Headband faces competition from several companies active in the Consumer Sleep Technology patent field, including Dreem and Sleep Shepherd. All three companies sell devices that use EEG data to provide audio stimuli to enhance sleep. However, while Dreem has a single patent application and Sleep Shepherd has a single issued patent, Phillips continues to dominate in this market with 29 environmental control documents alone. Smaller companies will need significant differentiation to succeed in this space or appear attractive to Philips.

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Protect your cells

Solar Thin Film Photovoltaics Patent ForecastTM

June 13, 2019

At the 2019 SNEC Solar conference last week, DuPont announced its new product Fortasun™, which "increases durability, stability, productivity, and overall performance of solar panels and helps lower cost per kilowatt-hour and lower long-term cost of ownership." The technology is built upon that of Dow Corning, which began as a joint venture between Dow and Corning, and eventually replaced the latter with DuPont. In April 2019, Dow spun out from DowDuPont. Dow has one published application in the Thin Film Photovoltaics sector, and Corning has six documents directed to substrate technologies. With the shifting landscape of spin-outs and joint development projects, new solar technologies may appear soon in the patent forecast.

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Sophos Continues Acquisition Trend

AI Cybersecurity Patent ForecastTM

June 13, 2019

British security software giant Sophos recently announced its acquisition of Rook Security, a managed detection and response startup. The move increases Sophos’s ability to provide around-the-clock monitoring to its over 45,000 clients. Earlier this year Sophos also acquired DarkBytes in a move to expand their commercial offering and reach. While Sophos has a large portfolio, with over 75 issued patents, neither Rook Security nor DarkBytes owns any IP. Instead, these acquisitions will allow Sophos to reach out past their traditional <5,000 employee organization market to larger corporations, and we will likely see more patent applications in the managed detection and response space.

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Keep an eye on Johnson & Johnson's smart contact lenses

Consumer Sleep Technology Patent ForecastTM

June 13, 2019

A new sleep tracker may be on the market soon, in the form of smart contact lenses. While companies like Google X have been focusing on contacts for diabetics, Johnson & Johnson is using contacts to monitor users' sleep. Johnson & Johnson hasn't announced any consumer products using this technology, but it continues to stay active in the patent landscape since it entered in 2015. David Turner, Johnson & Johnson's head of contact lens research and development, believes market activity could come in the next 10 years. Could we see more people wearing their contacts overnight in the near future?

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Crossing the bridge deeper into the energy industry

Energy Financial Settlements Patent ForecastTM

June 13, 2019

Accenture announced last week that it has acquired BRIDGE Energy Group, a Boston-based consulting and systems integration firm that provides grid modernization, analytics, and security services to utilities in North America. BRIDGE Energy Group has an issued patent on a platform configured to manage and integrate various operations in a smart grid environment. This technology serves Accenture's goals in this acquisition by helping it apply new tools to meet the demands of its utilities clients. Accenture has multiple patent documents of its own in the Energy Financial Settlement sector, one of which is directed to optimizing energy costs in a micro grid, a fairly active area of development. However, it noticeably lacks patents directed to smart grids in this sector, which may help explain its motivation behind the acquisition. Perhaps the technology of BRIDGE Energy Group will help bridge the gap between utility companies and advancements in smart grid technology.

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