Hottest Patent Classes in 2014

The patent industry includes hundreds of patent classes and thousands of subclasses. The most prominent classes typically receive the most patent grants each year. These classes indicate where the market focus is and which companies are thriving in those areas. These classes often show big, aggressive companies as patent holders.

According to ipAnalytx, in 2014, Class 370 – Multiplex Communications is listed as the most active class with 11,664 patent applications, 24,145 patent transactions, and 12,004 patent grants. This class received the most patent grants in 2014 out of all classes, with more than 2,400 patents grants than the previous year. It also had an increase of more than 1,200 patent applications from the previous year. Class 257 – Active Solid-State Devices (E.g., Transistors, Solid-State Diodes) received the most patent applications with 14,109, which is nearly 1,900 more than the previous year.

Among these top classes are subclasses that specify in more detail the types of granted patents and patent applications. The following five subclasses represent the top 2014 applications of Class 257:

1. 040000 – Organic Semiconductor Material with 1,835 patent applications, which nearly doubled from the previous year.
2. 098000 – With Reflector, Opaque Mask, Or Optical Element with 556 applications.
3. 043000 – Semiconductor Is An Oxide Of a Metal Or Copper Sulfide with 535 applications.
4. 774000 – Via (Interconnection Hole) Shape with 432 applications.
5. 076000 – Specified Wide Band Gap (1.5ev) Semiconductor Material Other Than Gaasp Or Gaalas with 398 applications

The following five subclasses represent the top 2014 grants of Class 370:

1. 329000 – Channel Assignment with 1,343 issued patents.
2. 252000 – Determination of Communication Parameters with 940 issued patents.
3. 328000 – Having a Plurality of Contiguous Regions Served by Respective Fixed Stations with 828 issued patents.
4. 331000 – Hand-Off Control with 502 issued patents.
5. 338000 – Contiguous Regions Interconnected by a Local Area Network with 472 issued patents.

These subclasses include a large variety of invention titles that involve ways to effectively enhance communication methods and daily lifestyles. These inventions can include mobile communication devices and services, semiconductors, lighting, video displays, VoIP networks, WiFi, and much more.

Five Companies That Abandoned the Most Patents in 2014

While the word “abandon” implies neglect, companies abandon patents for a couple of reasons. Sometimes, companies inadvertently abandon a patent because they miss a maintenance fee due date. Other times, companies purposely abandon patents because the patent no longer holds value. Advancements in a particular field, such as technology, can quickly render some patents obsolete.

The following companies abandoned the most patents in 2014:

1. International Business Machine (IBM) abandoned 1,359 patents.
2. Hewlett-Packard abandoned 750 patents.
3. Micron Technology abandoned 718 patents.
4. Canon Kabushiki Kaisha abandoned 625 patents.
5. Toshiba (listed as Kabushiki Kaisha Toshiba) abandoned 589 patents.

The top patent classes abandoned for these five companies were as follows:

1. 438 – Semiconductor Device Manufacturing: Process
2. 257 – Active Solid-State Devices (e.g., transistors, solid-state diodes)
3. 347 – Incremental Printing of Symbolic Information
4. 707 – Data Processing: Database and File Management or Data Structures
5. 709 – Electrical Computers and Digital Processing Systems: Multipcomputer Data Transferring

The companies that abandoned the most patents have large patent portfolios and play a huge role in the technology realm. So what do all of these abandoned patents mean? The companies listed are large ones. they have thousands of patents to deal with, which means they could have inadvertently missed maintenance fee deadlines. In such a case, there may be a window of opportunity for another company. However, since these are technology firms, it is likely that many of the patents have become obsolete. The technology industry is extremely aggressive, coming out with new advancements quickly. Therefore, what hits the market can become obsolete just as quickly because these big tech companies continually make improvements. This is why it is often necessary to upgrade laptops, cell phones, and other electronics so frequently.2828

College Football Playoff Trademark Downfall

Trademarks are a useful and valuable tool for business owners and organizations. They help companies and their products stand out by providing brand recognition. Without trademarks, consumers wouldn’t know the difference between a pair of Nike gym shoes and Adidas gym shoes. Colleges are no different. With trademarks, colleges can sell products, entice students to enroll, lure sports fans, and much more. Trademarks allow colleges to keep others from profiting on their name or likeness, which would take away funds needed to support them.

College sports draw large crowds who associate with the trademarks of their favorite college team. Within college sports, football draws some of the largest numbers of spectators. And this past year was particularly noteworthy with college football’s first national playoff. In fact, the games made history for ESPN as it boasted the two largest audiences of its time with more than 28 million viewers for both the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl—the two bowls that would determine which teams would play in the national championship. It turns out that the bowl games were just a precursor to the largest audience in ESPN’s history with the national championship attracting 33 million viewers.

If the first year is any sign of future playoffs, then the College Football Playoff should experience successful outcomes apart from this year. Could it become as popular as Super Bowl? There may be potential. However, one thing the Super Bowl has going for it over the College Football Playoff is its name. Super Bowl is unique and specific to the NFL championship game. The name is simple and flows effortlessly when pronounced, making it easy to remember. On the other hand College Football Playoff doesn’t stand out and has a generic ring to it. In fact, the USPTO has rejected it for being too descriptive and generic.

Trademarks fall into five categories of distinctiveness: generic, descriptive, arbitrary, suggestive, and fanciful. These categories lend directly to trademark strength in a legal context. Generic and descriptive trademarks generally represent the weakest strength, with generic having no value (e.g., aspirin). Descriptive marks can be valuable when they take on a second meaning (McDonald’s), which means that there is some public meaning beyond the obvious meaning of the terms comprising the trademark. Suggestive marks suggest a quality or characteristic of the good or service that it represents (e.g., Florida’s Natural branded orange juice). Arbitrary and fanciful trademarks represent the strongest trademarks. Arbitrary marks tend to describe goods or services that otherwise have no relation (e.g., Amazon, Apple). Fanciful marks tend to describe goods or services that likely have no other precedent in the market (e.g., Lipitor).

Generally, fanciful marks represent the strongest trademarks. These work the best because there is no other precedent in the market. Often, the best trademarks are unique, catchy, memorable, and recognizable. Therefore, in order for the College Football Playoff organization to fully capitalize on its trademark, it should create a unique name that spectators worldwide can identify with. Something that is easy to remember, yet sticks out. While the organization indicates it wanted something simple and descriptive, the trademark does little for marketing efforts. How does College Football Playoff create revenue? It’s a long mark that many people would use in general terms. It’s not catchy. If it is too complicated or generic, it does no favors for the organization. Imagine if the Super Bowl were titled Pro Football Playoff. It wouldn’t carry significant meaning. As it stands, advertisers cannot use the term Super Bowl. They must use other forms of identifying the championship game because the NFL has full ownership of the use of the word Super Bowl. This is what a good trademark affords an owner. While the College Football Playoff organization argues that its mark is distinctive among the demographic being served, so far the USPTO has yet to agree. In the meantime, the organization cannot prevent others from using the term. Therefore, it loses revenue-generating opportunities. While the name probably won’t stop sports fans from watching or attending games, the organization would probably build more brand recognition if its name were more fanciful.

Ohio State Win Increases Value

In the sports world, fans like nothing more than a big win in their team’s favor. For the sports organizations, a big win means more value. For college teams, a big win means big news for the college as well as the team. Luckily for Ohio State, its football team made the biggest win of all time. On January 12, 2015, Ohio State literally made history. Not only is the team the first to win the College Football Playoff National Championship, but the circumstances behind the win makes the team more remarkable.

Labeled as the underdogs, predictions indicated that the Buckeyes would lose by six points. After all, they were working under their third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones. Having only played two games the entire season to this point, the odds were against him. However Jones proved strong under pressure, winning the game with his teammates at the tune of 42-20 over the Oregon Ducks.
Not only do the Buckeyes enjoy bragging rights as the first-ever College Football Playoff National Champions, but their win means big value in many ways. Since the hype and the actual win of the national championship, several of the country’s top-ranked recruits committed to the Buckeyes. The Empire State Building lit up with Ohio State colors after the win. The win landed Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer on the Late Show with David Letterman. Predictions indicate that Ohio State is already at 5-1 betting odds for winning the 2015 championship game. The team was honored during a Cleveland Cavaliers game on January 19. And the accolades, recognition, and excitement just keep coming.

What does all this mean? It means that the constant positive exposure makes Ohio State’s value climb. It’s no secret that successful sports programs and positive publicity provide great marketing opportunities to their overall organizations. Just days after the win, fans scrambled to purchase the newest products plastered with national championship recognition. As already mentioned, the hype helped to solidify the commitments of future team prospects. Fans will continue to pay big bucks for game tickets. Full of pride, alumni may increase donations. Even before the big win, the football team ranked as the most valuable college football team at $1.1 billion. Since no other college had ever reached the $1 billion mark, this valuation is another first in history attached to Ohio State. It will be interesting to see how this number changes with the recent win.

It is likely that Ohio State will continue to be the rage in college football throughout the year. With a young team, three starting quarterbacks, and top-ranked recruits on the horizon, Ohio State currently seems unstoppable. Fans and competitors alike will eagerly watch to see how the team fares. In the meantime, the team is rightfully basking in the limelight as undisputed national champions and the most valuable team in college football.

Bill Cosby’s Value Demise

More than fifty years ago, one of the most famous comedians of our time was just beginning his career. Bill Cosby’s career began in the early 60s with stand-up comedy and a starring role in I Spy, a drama television series. But his real claim to fame began in the 1980s with the widely popular television series The Cosby Show, which was based on material from his stand-up comedy acts. The show aired for eight seasons and received a host of achievements including Emmy awards, Golden Globe awards, NCAA Image awards, a Peabody award, and People’s Choice awards. Decades later, the sitcom continues to air and DVD releases for the seasons still sell today. Along with the stand-up comedy acts and the highly successful sitcom, Cosby has appeared in various films and other sitcoms. He has hosted a game show and a kids’ show. Today, he continues to perform stand-up comedy and has many projects in the works.

Cosby’s career and personal life portray him as a nice, fun, approachable, and loving man. He keeps his comedy material clean so that a family could be comfortable attending his show. In real life, he is a family man with several children and has been married about as long as the span of his career. In addition to his acting and comedy career, Cosby is an advocate for education, creating his own cartoon series with Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids and Little Bill, serving on various educational boards, and delivering speaking engagements. His fight for education and morals further make him “America’s Dad.”

As America’s Dad, the recent rape allegations from as many as 20 women come as a huge shock to the public. While Cosby has yet to be indicted, and may never be, the sheer confusion and shock of these allegations creates a negative perception in the eyes of the public. As a celebrity, what the public perceives is what counts the most when it comes to value. Whether guilty or not, the damage has been done. It is unlikely that Cosby will be able to fully recover from this. While the public often forgives celebrities who suffer from addiction, when it comes to sexual offenses, the public is less forgiving. Take for instance Michael Jackson and Penn State’s Joe Paterno where allegations followed them to their deaths. It is likely that Cosby will face the same demise.

Whether Cosby is guilty or not, the public is too confused and hurt to let it go. Both doubters and believers exist, but the image portrayed by Cosby for over fifty years versus the sexual abuse allegations (by many women) he now faces is just too much to comprehend. Further, many other factors in play right now are not helping the situation. For instance, it doesn’t help that Cosby publicly admitted to an affair in the past. Nor does it help that the media implies that the Cosby team is investigating each accuser in the hopes of digging up dirt to make them unreliable resources. In addition, Cosby’s silence makes him appear guilty to some people. Also, the fact that educational institutions dropped him immediately, scheduled shows have been cancelled, and other projects have been put on hold indicate that he is guilty or at the very least that his image has been tainted.

Currently, Cosby’s net worth is $400 million. However, it is likely that his net worth may fall or become stagnant at this point. More than likely it will fall because the demand for his presence will be far lower than he has ever experienced, and he will have to pay lawyers and public relations experts to fight all of the accusations in court or otherwise. While a celebrity’s value naturally starts to fall because of death, ill health, or other problems that face aging celebrities, Cosby’s is likely falling based on accusations and public perception. Unfortunately, at his age, he may not have time to overcome the negativity to stop his value from falling.

Joe Cocker Masters Generating Value From Covers

For most musicians, singing cover songs takes them to local bars, coffee shops, and other small venues. Rarely do musicians make it big unless they write their own music or at least sing originals from a paid writer. Joe Cocker was an exception. While he spent nearly a decade in local bars before he became famous, he defied the odds with his popular renditions of classic covers from some of the biggest musicians in the world. Cocker did write some of his own songs, but it was his cover renditions that helped him gain fame.

According to Celebrity Worth, Cocker was worth $60 million at the time of his death—no small amount for a cover singer. How did he do it? Cocker didn’t just sing cover songs; he made them his own. They had a completely different feel with often just a hint of the original sounds. But perhaps more importantly, Cocker became a phenomenon for the way he sang those songs. No other singer in the world compared to Cocker’s singing antics. He was one of a kind. His wildly spastic performances, along with his raspy, bluesy voice made him stand out. In the music world, he was a genius for taking other people’s songs and making them his own with voice and motion. By doing so, he created a brand for himself.

While all celebrities create their own brand in some way, Cocker’s brand was especially unique because he based much of his brand off other people’s work. Typically, a celebrity finds fame by bringing something original to the industry. Yet, Cocker seemingly tackled the impossible—and won. But not without a struggle. The fame, pressure, and constant touring took a toll on Cocker, leading him down a path of depression and alcoholism for a while. Luckily, he persevered and overcame addiction.

Through his perseverance, Cocker brought one of the most memorable voices to the music industry. His raspy voice made each performance seem like an incredible effort. But it was his hoarse voice that lent credence to his talent and endurance. Over the span of his career, Cocker’s antics and singing ability provided fodder for comedians, landed him in the musical Across the Universe, and made him world famous. He released more than 40 live, studio, and compilation albums and enjoyed nearly 70 singles. In 2011, the Queen of England awarded him an Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the music industry. He also won many other awards including Grammy awards and Golden Camera awards.

Based on his accolades, it is obvious that the world recognized Cocker both visually and lyrically, which is important to his brand. A person’s brand presents the most value when it is in demand. In order to be in demand, a brand must be recognizable. While his music fell into the mainstream as he aged, he continued to perform and release albums. Both imply that demand still existed. And with any brand, constant exposure provides more recognition and value. Cocker’s refusal to give up, his ability to reinvent songs, his signature moves, and one of the raspiest voices in music history all helped make him a master of cover songs. He goes down in history as one of the most recognized in the music industry.