48 thoughts on “What’s the invention?

  1. 11

    An examiner will reject the term lighter than air because the device is heavier than air it displaces.

    1. 11.1

      MCI,

      I do wonder just what your background is in relation to patent law.

      You simply are irretrievably wrong in this post here of yours.

  2. 10

    The specification says the invention is:

    an improved lighter-than-air drone, wherein rapid adjustments in altitude can be achieved without having to constantly run control propellers

    I would think this application is DOA because ballonets have been known to the art for decades, as has direct venting and compressed gas recharge. I don’t see model aircraft as being a very different endeavor than real aircraft.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    1. 10.1

      I would think this application is DOA because ballonets have been known to the art for decades
      SMH — read the claims. The invention is directed to more than a ballonet.

      Why is it so hard for people to understand that the claimed “invention” is more than some person’s abstract description of the invention?

      1. 10.1.1

        +1

        The hand waving that subsumes all inventions….

      2. 10.1.2

        I remember reading Donald Knuth writing random number generation.

        He said he figured that would be easy and hardly worth his time to think about. He wrote a first attempt at generating random numbers. It cycled every 5 numbers. He realized there was more to generating random numbers than he thought there was.

      3. 10.1.3

        Is there a reason why you’re calling out Martin on this issue rather than Crouch?

        1. 10.1.3.1

          Because it was marty’s asinine statement (coupled with his repeated avoidance of understanding the terrain upon which he would do battle) that more than justifies the aim.

          Your response is also asinine, Ben.

      4. 10.1.4

        uhhh the patentee said the invention is an improved lighter-than-air drone, wherein rapid adjustments in altitude can be achieved without having to constantly run control propellers

        1. 10.1.4.1

          marty should remember that “the invention” is defined by the claims (not merely the Abstract).

          Here is claim 1:

          1. A remote controlled lighter-than-air drone assembly capable of prolonged flight time, comprising:

          a balloon structure for holding lighter-than-air gas;

          a reservoir for holding a volume of said lighter-than-air gas,
          wherein said reservoir is separate and distinct from said balloon structure and is carried by said balloon structure;

          a propulsion system carried by said balloon structure for providing thrust to said balloon structure;

          a control unit for selectively controlling said propulsion system,
          wherein said control unit also selectively transfers said lighter-than-air gas from said reservoir to said balloon structure, and selectively vents said balloon structure;

          a receiver, carried by said balloon structure, that receives remote command signals from an external source,
          wherein said command signals are utilized by said control unit to operate said propulsion system;

          an electronics suite carried by said balloon structure for scanning an area below said lighter-than-air drone assembly when said lighter-than-air drone assembly is in flight.

  3. 9

    In looking at the picture, I realized that the guy in the suit lost his light sabre. He is in trouble if the drones continue their attack.

  4. 8

    Prof. Crouch — I have a comment held up in moderation because it includes several links. It would be 2.1 in response to Greg’s comment at 2. Please unmoderate it when you get a chance, thanks!

  5. 7

    I was going to say UFOs. But lighter than air toys I guess could be it also.

    1. 7.1

      Since this is the 40-year anniversary of “E.T. the Extraterrestrial”, it looks like it could be a method and system for E.T. to phone home. No circular saw turntable component though; perhaps that’s the improvement.

  6. 6

    Looks like the guy is playing Three Card Monty with drones that look like the one that Luke Skywalker was practicing his light saber with on the Millenium Falcon.

    1. 6.1

      ^^^

      Best answer.

  7. 5

    E.D.I.T.H.

  8. 4

    Good against remotes is one thing. Good against the living? That’s something else.

  9. 3

    Nothing that an engineer without a financial interest in patents would recognize.

    1. 3.1

      There goes Ben again – in his best Malcolm-like those-who-want-patents-are-nothing-but-grifters mode….

  10. 2

    I wonder how a couple in Stuttgart came to work with a fellow in FL/NJ to develop this technology. I do not see assignments recorded anywhere along the line in the history of this application, so presumably they are not in different lab facilities of a common employer.

    1. 2.1

      These kind of cases are always interesting — inventors all over the map with no obvious connection.

      Well, you got me curious, so I poked around a little. The NJ inventor seems to run this drone outfit — link to orbflyer.com. He also filed an earlier case in 2019 — link to patents.google.com — of which this current case is a CIP.

      The German couple have a company of their own that also deals in drones — link to skyspirit-technologies.com. So I would guess they are providing whatever content is new in the CIP. And no, I’m not motivated enough to compare it with the parent and figure out exactly what that new content is.

      As to how the German couple and NJ inventor ended up working together, that is still an unanswered question though.

  11. 1

    A practice that I advise against may provide a clue.

    In the background section, the applicant leads one (and avoid this leading due to obviousness tactics) to consider the “what” that the good professor asks here.

    [0007] One problem associated with lighter-than-air toys is that the altitude of the toy is very difficult to control. Lighter-than-air toys are very light and are easily moved by even a slight breeze or updraft. Furthermore, air density varies from point-to-point as does air temperature. All of these variables affect the altitude of a lighter-than-air toy. In all the previously cited prior art, the battery powered motors are used to help control the altitude of the lighter-than-air toy. This causes the control motors on the toys to constantly run as they compensate for wind drift. The constant running of the control motors consumes battery power and diminishes the effective time that the lighter-than-air toy can stay aloft.

    1. 1.1

      anon, I think it a pity that nobody has yet reacted to your comment. Initially, I was mystified by the question from Dennis. Then I read your comment and found in it an explanation of what Dennis is looking for.

      My guess is that Dennis seizes upon this particular patent application because i) the invention is a plaything anyway ii) its specification includes a useful example of a riff on the state of the art and the technical problem addressed and solved by the inventors and the claimed combination of technical features, and iii) in the USA, such drafting is seen as problematic. If I understand you aright, you “advise against” it.

      So what Dennis is seeking is a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of adopting a drafting style which resorts to what the psychologists term “framing”. It strikes me that NOT to avasil oneself of the opportunity, when drafting a patent specification, to frame the client’s creativity, insight and invention positively with respect to the state of the art, is to do the client a disservice. But this particular patent application, with its exposition of problem addressed and solved, is these days in the USA the exception rather than the rule, right?

      Of course, in my efforts to harness the psychological technique of “framing” the debate on patentability, I’m assuming that the PTO Examiner will be reading the specification before deciding what the invention is. Perhaps that assumption no longer holds?

      1. 1.1.1

        Thanks MaxDrei,

        I do not advise against framing per se, but framing should be done in view of what is known as patent profanity and to avoid leading the office to a direct obviousness position.

        In the US, one must be careful to not “over frame.”

        Being direct should not be done in a manner that provides the examiner (or future opponents) the roadmap for defeating the advance as an obvious improvement (be it an improvement innovation).

        As to assumptions to examiner behavior, we train our attorneys to NOT do as you suggest (presume that examiners will properly examine), but rather, to expect the worst and be prepared for the rest. Our good standard** is that the work product for protecting our client’s innovation will be tested before at least three different audiences: the examiner, the opponent, and the judge/jury.

        ** this of course may well be adjusted based on the client’s desires/directions.

        1. 1.1.1.1

          anon, you remind me of the formal language used by the English police when arresting a suspect, namely: You are not obliged to say anything but anything you do say will be taken down in evidence and may be used against you. I have no idea how in the specification you can write anything useful at all about the state of the art without the risk that it might be used against you.

          And I have no idea what the difference is, for a drafter not gifted with 100% hindsight knowledge, between framing (good) and your concept of “over-framing” (bad). Maybe you can elaborate?

          And see what I just wrote to Mark, about PCT Rule 5. You will surely also have a reaction to that, especially if your clients seek patent protection outside the USA.

          1. 1.1.1.1.1

            Why should anyone care overmuch about PCT Rule 5(1)(a)(iii)? It has no independent force and effect in any jurisdiction that can actually grant a patent. Meanwhile, as a practical matter, U.S. applicants routinely get claims in the rest of the world that are approximately the same scope as the claims that one obtains in the U.S. Daily experience tells us that the way that most U.S. practitioners draft their U.S. apps are “good enough” (so to speak) for the rest of the world.

            It is not really possible to draft in a manner optimized for all jurisdictions. Meanwhile, the U.S. is still the largest single market in the world over which one can obtain market exclusivity. It is simply the economically rational choice—if you have to err on the side of favoring one jurisdiction’s standards at the expense of others—to choose the U.S. as the jurisdiction whose standards you will favor.

            1. 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Can’t argue with any of that, Greg, Thanks for responding.

              Nevertheless, I am curious how much “daily experience” you have with engineering cases. In chem/bio (not my field) do you not have to include in your specification disclosure about “technical effects” delivered by the claimed subject matter in order to stave off obviousness objections, even at the USPTO? If so, you are unwittingly doing what is mandatory under PCT Rule 5. Perhaps that is why, in your field, you get outside the USA protection comparable with that in the USA. It’s a bit different (isn’t it?) in engineering cases under the problem-solution obviousness enquiry carried out by Patent Offices outside the USA.

              1. 1.1.1.1.1.1.1

                [D]o you not have to include in your specification disclosure about “technical effects” delivered by the claimed subject matter in order to stave off obviousness objections…? If so, you are unwittingly doing what is mandatory under PCT Rule 5.

                Sure. All patent systems in the world of which I am aware require basically the same things: (1) useful; (2) novel; (3) inventive; and (4) adequately disclosed. Therefore, an application that can be regarded as “well constructed” in one jurisdiction is going to be equally “well constructed” in another jurisdiction 95 times out of 100. It is only marginal cases where you will end up with an application that is solid in (e.g.) Europe but faulty in (e.g.) U.S.A.

                1. As you say, Greg. But 95% of my engineering cases are “marginal” in that it is marginal whether I can get the client claims of commercially useful scope. I baulk at your solid v. faulty binary distinction. Most US cases I get are very “solid” in their disclosure but nevertheless frustratingly thin on certain aspects of disclosure mentioned in PCT Rule 5. Fortune favours the brave, as we know. I would wish for a little more bravery from US attorneys telling the story of their client’s engineering invention.

                  Now, to continue our discussion, tell me the proverb that teaches us the opposite, that the reticent drafter does better in the end.

                2. But 95% of my engineering cases are “marginal” in that it is marginal whether I can get the client claims of commercially useful scope

                  Consider then that you are not doing this right.

                  Maybe – just maybe – have that mind willing to understand instead of that EPO Uber Alles ‘i’ve been around this same block fifty times, so this must be the path for everyone” mindset.

                3. 95% of my engineering cases are “marginal” in that it is marginal whether I can get the client claims of commercially useful scope. I baulk at your solid v. faulty binary distinction. Most US cases I get are very “solid” in their disclosure but nevertheless frustratingly thin on certain aspects of disclosure mentioned in PCT Rule 5.

                  I gather that by “engineering” you mean “mechanical.” I confess that your “95%” surprises me. It has been a few years since I have had a meaningful mechanical docket, but back when I used to prosecute mechanical device patents, I really did not notice much difference between my mechanical and my chemical dockets in terms of EP vs US.

                  Back when I used to handle a meaningful number of mechanical cases, the cases that were hard in the US tended to be hard in the EP, and the cases that were easy in the US tended to be easy in the EP. There were some cases that were hard in one jurisdiction but easy in the other, but not many.

                  Your experiences are your own, so I do not mean to contradict you. I can only say that this does not jibe with my experience.

                4. Thanks for your latest reply, Greg, observing that you did not experience much difference between prosecuting mechanical cases at the EPO and the USPTO. My experience of prosecuting at the USPTO is minimal and not up to date but my experience of prosecuting mechanical cases at the EPO for US-based corporations is that they are increasingly asking for their draft PCT filings to be reviewed by foreign counsel BEFORE they file the PCT at the USPTO and that is because of their perception that US-style drafting can hinder their quest for a full measure of protection outside the USA. It is not just m+f claiming. Rather, it is the toggling between technical features and technical effects which comes as second nature to those who draft for jurisdictions other than the USA but which, within the USA, in mechanical cases (predictable technologies) is, in my experience, abjured by many drafters. Perhaps this is what anon has in mind with his warning not to “over-frame” the subject matter claimed. Who knows?

                  But in chem/bio, such toggling is universal, right? The only way to draft, everywhere.

                5. My experience of prosecuting at the USPTO is minimal and not up to date but…

                  Let me finish that for you MaxDrei:

                  … but does not stop me from constantly tr0 11ing US patent law blogs extolling the comparative value of the EPO way.

                  In other words (same as always): being an EPO Uber Alles shill.

            2. 1.1.1.1.1.2

              Thanks Greg – that’s a nice way of putting it.

          2. 1.1.1.1.2

            There is no homogenous mass that can be termed the “rest of the world.” China has quirks that distinguish it from Europe. Europe has quirks that distinguish it from Japan. Etc. and so forth.

            European practitioners draft in a manner optimized for Europe, not for the “rest of the world.” The idea of a single way of drafting that optimizes for the whole world outside the U.S. is a whimsy, not an objective reality.

            1. 1.1.1.1.2.1

              Again, Greg, hard to quarrel with your observations about “quirks”, and the fantasy of a single drafting style that is optimal for all jurisdictions, but if we put “best practice” US-style drafting of engineering cases to one side and routine “European” style drafting for the same engineering invention to the other side, which draft would you choose, as the more promising basis for prosecution everywhere else in the world?

              1. 1.1.1.1.2.1.1

                Once you find yourself talking about “everywhere else in the world” as if that were a meaningful category, you have slipped into a category error from which clear and careful thinking will be very difficult. Best avoid approaching a question with that category in mind.

                1. OK, Greg, not “everywhere” else in the world. Quite right. I was forgetting that there are still a few hang-out countries which have not yet signed up to the PCT and its Implementing Regulations and not yet arranged their national law of patents to be in conformity with the road map that the PCT sets out.

      2. 1.1.2

        Anon, I do not think many US examiners read the specification unless they have to. It takes way too much time. When I was an examiner and could get the gist from reviewing the abstract and drawings, I generally did so. I also worked with searchers for several years and this was the general practice.

        Now that I’m in-house, we instruct outside counsel to avoid speaking about the problem and solution, except in fairly general language. I had a colleague who flat-out prohibited it. I personally prefer the technical problem/technical solution approach, but I recognize the hazards. Of course, it is a case by case approach. For a very narrow technical improvement, it may be more adviseable.

        1. 1.1.2.1

          Mark, how does that drafting style fit with the PCT Rules. See in particular the word “shall” in Rule 5(1)(a)(iii).

          With such a drafting style you are depriving Applicant of patent protection everywhere in the First to File world except in the USA. To your employer, is that of any significance at all?

        2. 1.1.2.2

          Mark the great,

          Thanks for your reply.

          Whether or not most US examiners read the specification, such IS required per the rules (See at least 35 USC 131 – noting that application includes all of the specification – including but not limited to claims, and drawings; and MPEP 704.1 “After reading the specification and claims, the examiner searches the prior art.”)

          I have had past conversations with 6, a current and long-standing examiner, and educated him against his prior view that merely doing a key word search on the claims was “good enough.”

          As to your in-house observations, you align fairly close to some of my experience, and of course, individual circumstances may implicate a variety of approaches – which is what I intended with my ** caveat.

          1. 1.1.2.2.1

            “I have had past conversations with 6, a current and long-standing examiner, and educated him against his prior view that merely doing a key word search on the claims was “good enough.””

            Obviously it isn’t good enough, it’s literally more than good enough. It’s basically what is outright required in current guidelines. Anon still disagrees with the office while larping that he disagrees with me.

            “Whether or not most US examiners read the specification”

            I’m sure they’re all good little boys and girls and obey anon.

            1. 1.1.2.2.1.1

              LOL – nice retrograde attempt there 6.

              not

              First – you HAVE switched your view point to mine (even as you may wish to disagree NOW – your p00r p00r widdle pride must be feeling hurt)

              Second – What is outright required is directly to my point – and proves your prior stance wrong. So you are doubly wrong in your attempt to put salve on your feelings.

              Third – this is NOT an “obey anon” thing — don’t sh 00t the messenger pal, I just led your horse to the well.

              1. 1.1.2.2.1.1.1

                Not even sure wtf you’re going on about. We have internal guidelines that state exactly what I just stated. Period. End of story.

                1. Except not.

                  If you have “internal guidelines” – produce them.

                  I have recently cited the law and the MPEP directly supporting my point.

                  Let’s see more from you than merely the feeble mouthing that we see.

                  Hint: I will take the law and the MPEP over your supposed internal guidelines at every opportunity.

                2. “If you have “internal guidelines” – produce them.”

                  Um no, get the official versions yourself. Lazy as.

                3. I have already proven you wrong time and again, even recently providing both 35 USC and MPEP support.

                  Quite opposite of La zy – and You have this “conveniently obscure” so-called support to the contrary?

                  No – you need be NOT La zy and support your wild assertion.

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