02Oct 2014

Patents.  The page documents the patent path of man’s pursuit of tethered propulsion. This has been a wide field of endeavour and this page by no means contains the full history. The timeline of related patents, one row showing the patents referenced by Frankie Zapata, one row shows the patents referenced by Raymond Li, and the final row show related patents that they did not reference at all, not mentioned or examined by either party.  You can make out the method that each party choose to form a background that their “invention” was novel.

 

03Apr 2015

Poor ol Mickey
This is part of our re-exam filing to cancel JLIP’s patent ‘772. We are all members of the Mickey Mouse club and never knew it.

Of course Mickey could have let go of the hose and slid down the ladder to safety on the ground. He could even have called his men and gone off home, if he liked, but he wasn’t made that way. He had a job to do, and, by golly, He was going to do it!
This being so, he clung to that bucking pipe and was carried high into the air with water squirting in all directions and the pipe swishing around like a live thing. “Wow!” screamed the firefighter.
It was like riding in an aeroplane to poor ol Mickey Mouse, and he could hardly believe that a hosepipe could be so alive. The landscape slid away beneath him, houses reeled far below him, and the fields and roads went spinning round giddily.
The fireman finally managed to ride the hose as one would ride a bucking bronco, however, and tried hard to get back to that window and have another attempt at quelling the cheeky flames.
“I won’t be beaten!” he yelled. “I WON’T!” And at last he managed to steer his strange steed toward the blazing house again.

Who invented “riding the hose”? Mickey Mouse, American, 1936, we also learned he steered and guided with intent. And “golly” is under utilized.

01Oct 2014

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has an online system called the Public Pair.  You can use it to review the status of a patent application, read the discussion of how a patent was issued, or follow the discussion a patent owner is having during a rewrite.  The system is not super easy, but once you see the basics, it is a great source of information.

Here are the steps to take a look under the hood of any patent.

  1. Go to the Public Pair website of the USPTO. ( http://portal.uspto.gov/pair/PublicPair )
  2. Enter the number from the Captcha system to gain access.
  3. Select the radio button for Patent Number and enter the patent number in the entry box below. Example 8336805
  4. This shows the record.  Now select the tab marked “Image File Wrapper”
  5. This is the full history of the patent submission and review. Each step of the process from initial submission to the fees for publication. You can read the claims as they initially filed them and the “prior art” that was submitted by the inventor and what was discovered by the patent examiner looking through the database of US patents. Each document is available in PDF form, or, you can check the box at the top right hand corner and download the entire file as on PDF by clicking on the “PDF” button next to it. Most of the documents of just legal steps, but the discussions of the claims and how the inventor answers are interesting. Gives a real look into the true intent of the patent and how deeply anyone actually looked for prior art. ( The answer is that the prior art search is always very limited ).
  6. One more step. Click the tab marked “Continuity Data”.  This shows if the patent is connected to anything else, in the case of 8336805,  the Continuity Data shows a pending internal re-examination with a new number. Clicking on the number 14/037,593 opens a new window on the data that they are trying to rewrite.

Knowing the Public Pair system is key to understanding how the Patent Office grants patents and where the strengths and weaknesses lie.

29Sep 2014

“JLIP” is Jetlev’s intellectual property holding company.  The company that holds the patents and things of value in case Jetlev goes bankrupt, making sure that the creditors don’t get anything of value.  Common business tactic.   JLIP is the company that, in the US, is currently suing Stratospheric for X-Jetpacks (we have yet to be formally notified so we don’t know all the details) and Jetaviation Inc for making the Jetovator.  For the sake of clarity, we’ll just call them Jetlev,  same owners, same lawyer, same style of doing business.

While we, Stratospheric have slapped Jetlev in the face by making a product that is superior to theirs while they are struggling to make even a working bolt-on jetpack, Stratospheric and Jetovator are just the legal warm up for Jetlev’s main event.  The real target is Flyboard in the US because the money numbers are a hundred times larger.  Jetlev started to sue the first Flyboard distributor and backed off at the time it was due to go to court. The reason?  The fact that they took patent 7900867 back to the patent office and asked for a do-over is a big clue. Contrary to popular speculation, no deal was made between the parties and no judgement was made, it is all open and ready to go again. This is the reason for no direct imports of Flyboards into the US.

Right now the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, is in the process of reviewing Jetlev’s attempted revision of the entire sport of hydro flight.  A revision which Jetlev will attempt to own, dictate and run in their own style.  This has a degree of legality in US patent rules.  Frankie did it with his Flyboard patent by removing the requirement for the hand cane jets from his original patent and having it reissued.  Jetlev has bolder ambitions. They are (attempting to) rewrite their jetpack patent into a super broad, “anything hydro” patent. For transparency the USPTO makes the internal re-exam process public.  Although it is super weedy and obscure to look into, all of the documents and discussions are online at a system called the Public Pair.

The basics are this:  after your patent has been issued, you go back to the patent office, and say “my bad, this is what I actually meant to say the first time”, and you rewrite your patent to fit what your competition is doing in the marketplace. You have to swear that you are not trying to add anything new, but it becomes a real word game. Patent holders try to make new definitions that will make their competitors “infringe”. The USPTO goes back and forth with them and they argue the new definitions.

You can read the proposals that Nick Lewis, Esquire, Jetlev’s in-house patent attorney is making to the patent office. Here is the document of their latest claims that they are attempting to sneak through in an attempt to own hydro sport.

This is one of our least favorite additions as it is such a craven grab:

26. The method according to claim 1, wherein the base unit is a vessel for transporting personnel.

Translation: Jetlev is trying to patent a person sitting on the jetski. So far the patent examiner appears to be calling BS on it, but they keep pushing.

Continue reading

16Sep 2014

There are a lot of misconceptions regarding patents.  What they are, how one gets granted, what a patent means, how a patent can be overturned. Inventors often don’t understand what rights a patent gives them, and we are pretty sure that not everyone who buys a patent understands how durable a patent can be in a challenge.  In our long experience in the action sports business, we have seen patents get waived around as a threat and usually that is enough to make most third parties fold and run. For example, the big Vermont snowboard company, built patent portfolios to bully the competition and force smaller players into licenses, at the beginning of the sport they even bought the patent for  the snowboard itself and tried to coerce the entire industry into paying them royalties.  (This tactic lasted about two months before a grassroots revolt).  The biggest issue is that patents have a reputation as being proof of invention, when actually they are certificates of provisional ownership of a definition.  The way it actually works, is that the inventor does the first research, the patent examiner quickly looks through US patents, however the real test comes when outsiders look at the claims and compare them to the whole world of “prior art” that came before, anywhere in the world.  The obscure writing style of a patent helps to make them more mysterious.  Being able to read a patent is the first step in a balance of power.

This post by Dan Shapiro gives a great guide on how to read a patent.  Patents are dense tangles of bad illustrations, run on sentences and word-play that seems intentionally designed to make you throw your hands up in the air.  The actual meat of a patent, and Dan explains, can be found in the claim section toward the rear of the document.  Here is his advice reduced to a few bullet points. Read his whole post on his website, it really makes the process clear.

Step 1: Skip the title

Step 2: Skip the drawings

Step 3: Skip the abstract

Step 4: Skip the specification

Step 5: Find the independent claims, and read them

Step 6: Back to skipping toss the dependent claims

Any claim that starts with The _____ of claim _____ is essentially a refinement or detail with narrower scope than the parent claim – if you infringe the baby, you’ll infringe the daddy too. Skipadoodle.

And that’s it!
Getting sucked in to a patent dispute is no good for any entrepreneur. … But if all you need is a quick summary, just cut directly to the independent claims. You’ll be done in a minute.

 

Use his method to quickly get to the heart of any patent.  It will cut out all the noise in a patent.

 

 

08Sep 2014

Wikipedia says about patents:

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state or national government to an inventor or his/her assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention.

The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which must be newinventive, and useful or industrially applicable. In many countries, certain subject areas are excluded from patents, such as business methods and mental acts. The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.[2]

All well and good, but how do you convince the government to grant you a patent?  This is where the problem starts. The system grants too many patents and leaves matters to the courts to clean things up.  It also allows people to use bad, mis-issued patents as cudgels to try and screw with other people and companies.  That is the state of the hydro market today. Hanging over everyone’s head is the “Jlip’s” patent number 7735772 and another one that they are currently in the process of reworking. More on this upcoming.  Jlip is a NPE, a Non-Producing Entity, meaning that they don’t actually make anything. They own the rights to the Raymond Li patent and are currently attempting to use it as a tool to sue people for making anything connected to water propulsion sport devices. Currently under suit are Jetovator and (as we have heard Stratospheric Industries, Inc.).  The same guys own Jetlev, LLC and well, no need to say more. Basically everything hydro, Flyboards, Jetovators, JetBlades, etc., hang under threat from the whims of Mr Jlip and crew.

There are many options when presented with an attack by a NPE like Jlip, one unpalatable option is that we leave the entire hydro sport market to the fine folks at Jetlev LLC and let them handle it in their inimitable style. That monopoly would be guaranteed to suck for the whole North American continent (except for Mexico) and is hardly the answer. Fortunately there is a remedy, and fortunately for hydro flight sport there is an abundance of published “prior art”.  History.  We have found prior art that covers all aspects of the current patents covering hydro thrust sport. Which we detail in this section of our site.

What many companies don’t realize, though, is that half the time a patent gun is leveled at them, it’s loaded with blanks, not real bullets. That’s right: About half of the patents asserted against companies end up invalidated when litigated in court or re-examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during what’s known as an inter partes review. If you include patents whose claims are narrowed as well as those cancelled entirely—and it’s the claims that define the limits of a patent’s value and an infringer’s liability—then a staggering 89% of all patents reviewed by the USPTO are judged either partly or wholly invalid

The Achilles heel of any patent is what is known as prior art. Prior art means any previous patent, technical paper, or public knowledge or use of an invention that makes it ineligible for a patent. Under the law, a patent may be issued only if an invention is useful, novel (i.e., not previously known or described), and nonobvious—meaning, not an obvious outgrowth of an existing technology. An examination of prior art determines whether an invention is novel and nonobvious.

Forbes magazine, “A Powerful New Weapon Against Patent Trolls

Sometimes when the NPE levels a gun at you, even he has not been told it is full of blanks.

You have a product/idea/business and you want to keep your competition beaten out of the market? Do it by making a better product. That is what we try to do everyday.

 

27Aug 2014

When we started this equipment development, this was the big question we were faced with. In this hypothetical situation, consider the following:

Someone comes up with some cool piece of equipment, let’s call it the WaterWidget by ACMÉ-LEV. A spark of something that could be big. We, and others imagine the potential, the advancements, the expansion of the initial WaterWidget. ACMÉ-LEV, however, holding a piece of paper labeled patent, relaxes because it is absolutely certain that there is no competition. They can make whatever they want, charge whatever they want, treat their dealers and customers however they want.

The WaterWidget just sort of stagnates, the development slows to a crawl. The founder of ACMÉ-LEV sells out, gets kicked out or perhaps becomes interested in the WaterWidgetDeux, the WaterWidget stays just a version one point zero one. People, both the users and the observers request more, they request better, they request more possibilities. ACMÉ-LEV just keeps doing what ACMÉ-LEV does and fails to meet the expectations of the market. They essentially tell the market, “shut up and ride the hose”.

Continue reading

25Apr 2007

Independent claim number 1.  Three parts.

1. A personal propulsion device, comprising:
a body unit having a center of gravity, wherein the body unit includes a thrust assembly having at least two thrust nozzles located above the center of gravity, the thrust nozzles being pivotally coupled to the body unit;

a delivery conduit in fluid communication With the thrust assembly; and

a base unit in fluid communication With the delivery conduit, the base unit capable of delivering pressurized fluid to the delivery conduit, wherein during operation the body unit is independently movable with respect to the base unit and capable of flight.

Independent claim 14, same parts as claim 1 with nozzle steering.

A personal propulsion device, comprising:
a body unit having a center of gravity, Wherein the body unit includes a thrust assembly having a main conduit and at least two thrust nozzles independently pivotable with respect to each other located above the center of gravity, and wherein the main conduit and the at least two thrust nozzles are independently pivotable about a transverse axis located above the center of gravity of the body unit;

a delivery conduit coupled to the main conduit; and

a base unit in fluid communication with the delivery conduit, the base unit capable of delivering pressurized fluid to the delivery conduit, wherein during operation the body unit is independently movable with respect to the base unit.

All of these details exist in the prior art, NPL.  The European Patent Office rejected the claims based on the previous patents alone. The NACA, NASA, ARMY documents further demonstrate the existence of all aspects claimed in patent 7735772.