Hive Lighting, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA recently won first prize and a $25,000 cash investment in the Seventh Annual “Survivor” business pitch competition for Southern California entrepreneurs, held by Tech Coast Venture Network last week at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
Hive Lighting produces a line of lamps for the film, television, digital, and stage production industries that, according to its website, utilize single-point plasma sources that last “10,000+ hours, are flicker-free, [provide] universal orientation, and produce full, even spectrum 5600 CCT daylight balanced light with a CRI of 94.” According to Hive Lighting’s CEO, Robert Rutherford, Hive’s products utilize 50%-90% less energy than conventional filament-based lamps.
A search of the USPTO database finds one published patent application (U.S. Pat. Appl. Publ. No. 2012/0230030) assigned to Hive Lighting for hexagonal-shaped modular light housings that can be interconnected together to “form a tesselation array” (i.e., a two-dimensional array of lamps). Looking at the figures of this U.S. patent application, the origin of the company’s name is clear.
A check of the patent application’s status shows that the company had requested that the USPTO not publish the patent application, but the non-publication request was not recognized by the USPTO because it was not signed properly by the patent attorney filing the application. An electronic signature (or “S-signature”) was used, which requires a first forward slash, then an alphanumeric identifying sequence, followed by a second forward slash (e.g., /Bruce Itchkawitz/). But apparently, since the filed S-signature did not include the trailing forward slash, it was not recognized by the USPTO. (Just another reason that I use a handwritten signature wherever possible, not an S-signature.)
According to Cogenra’s website, its Sunbase® and SunDeck® solar cogeneration solutions are sold as turnkey installations for solar hot water and electricity to commercial, industrial, and government customers. The company touts its combination of photovoltaics and thermal transfer system as a “proprietary technology [that] captures up to 75 percent of the sun’s delivered energy and converts it into both electricity and hot water within a single solar array” yielding five times the energy of traditional PV systems.
According to the USPTO database, Cogenra has 8 pending U.S. patent applications and two pending PCT applications, directed to various aspects of its technology. Cogenra was successful in using the USPTO’s “Green Technology Pilot Program” to get expedited examination of one of its U.S. patent applications (US2011/0017267 A1), but unfortunately, this examination has so far resulted in the claims of this application being rejected twice. While Cogenra is continuing to pursue these claims, the company has apparently soured on expedited examination, since it has not petitioned for such examination on any of its other applications.
In my experience, the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program is a great way to speed up the process of getting a patent through the USPTO, and it’s free (except for the relatively minimal cost of having the petition prepared and filed by your patent attorney). Even though Cogenra has run into some difficulty getting the one application to issue, it’s probably worthwhile to expedite at least some of its other applications, especially since there are only approximately 500 spots left in the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program. The USPTO does have a new “Prioritized Examination” program (part of the America Invents Act recently enacted into law), but it costs an additional $2,400 (for small entities; $4,800 for large entities) to apply. For applications directed to any technologies that can be characterized as “greentech,” the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program can be a less expensive way to get a U.S. patent in hand sooner rather than later.
According to its website, nanoplus was founded in 1998 by former members of the Applied Physics Department at Würzburg University. The company recently announced its distributed feedback (DFB) laser diodes with wavelengths between 2900 nm and 3500 nm, stating that its “patented distributed feedback laser diodes deliver single mode emission with well defined optical properties enabling a wide range of applications.” The company explains that since “[t]he near-infrared wavelength range up to 3 μm comprises many absorption features of gases of great relevance for industrial applications, such as water and carbon dioxide,” its DFB laser diodes can be used in industrial gas sensing applications to monitor pollutants and greenhouse gases and to monitor and increase the efficiency of burning processes.
According to the USPTO database, nanoplus has 7 U.S. patents, some of which are directed to the company’s lateral coupled grating technology (e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 7,776,634) which is presumably used in its 3 μm DFB laser diodes.
According to Opalux’ website, the company’s mission is to “accelerate the commercialization of new technologies and applications based on the exciting platform of photonic color.” Its “Photonic Ink” or “P-Ink” technology “combines the Photonic Crystal structure with electrically active polymer materials” whereby the dimensional changes induced in the active polymer shift the wavelength of light reflected from the material. A company video shows a “P-Ink” numeric display in action, in which the portions of the numeric display change color, primarily from red to green, but with some instances of blue and yellow seen as well. Opalux is coming into the Photonics West conference having recently been awarded the “IDTechEx Printed Electronics USA 2011″ award for “Best Technical Development Materials.”
According to the USPTO database, Opalux has four pending U.S. patent applications (e.g., US2011/0164308 A1), all national stage filings from PCT applications originally filed in Canada. At first, I was struggling to see why the “P-Ink” technology would be placed in the “Green Photonics and Sustainable Energy” category. While the technology may lead to more efficient displays in the future, it seemed like the reason may be that the fit into the other categories is even more strained. However, another of Opalux’ US patent applications (US2011/0104535 A1) is directed to using the technology for battery life indicators – a use which seems to fall more squarely into the “green photonics” category, and which may end up being the first commercial use of the technology.
If you like, you can register your guess regarding which product you think will win the Prism Award in the poll below. Based on the fact that it already has some U.S. patents and its product has a strong “green” utility, I’m guessing that nanoplus will win.
Also, if you’re planning on being at the Photonics West conference and are interested in talking about patents, I’d enjoy meeting you, so feel free to contact me at @Itchkawitz or at bsi “at” kmob “dot” com.
According to the ’396 patent, photovoltaic devices using thin-film compound semicondutor materials such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) can provide electricity at higher efficiencies and lower cost, as compared to silicon-based devices. However, existing techniques for forming such thin films are difficult to scale up to commercial production levels while maintaining requirements of film uniformity and compositional control. The ’396 patent discloses a method for producing compound semiconductor thin films by depositing a precursor film containing at least two chemical elements and inducing a chemical reaction in the deposited film giving the film a different chemical composition by introducing additional amounts of one of the chemical elements. The disclosed process is described as “provid[ing] superior compositional uniformity,” “enabl[ing] more flexible control of the film’s morphology,” and “improv[ing] intergrain electrical transport” and intergrain adhesion.
According to its website, Sunlight Photonics “is a venture-backed company focused on developing low cost, high efficiency renewable energy sources based on solar power.” The company’s goal is to “develop and bring to the mass market innovative technology to harvest solar energy with high levels of efficiency while providing cost-competitiveness with those of fossil fuel-based electric power plants.” Sunight Photonics is guided by the former management team of InPlane Photonics, which was acquired by CyOptics in 2007. According to the USPTO database, Sunlight Photonics owns three U.S. patents, including the ’396 patent, and another (U.S. Pat. No. 7,923,282) recently issued on April 12, 2011.
The ’396 patent resulted from an application filed in October 2009. About one year after filing, the application was accepted into the USPTO’s “Green Technology Pilot Program,” in response to a petition filed by Sunlight Photonics. Under this program, the application was given special status so that it could be advanced out of turn for examination. As a result, the application was examined and allowed in February 2011, resulting in a pendency of about 17 months, which is significantly less than the average pendency for this technology in the USPTO of about 30 months (using FY’09 statistics).
This pilot program is scheduled to continue until December 2011, and approximately 1/2 of the 3,000 spots in the program currently remain available. If your application can be characterized as being related to green technology (e.g., greenhouse gas reduction, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources, etc.) then it may be worthwhile to file such a petition to put your application on a faster track through the USPTO.
The Photonics Patents™ blog is my personal blog. I am a patent attorney at Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear LLP ("Knobbe Martens"), but the Photonics Patents™ blog is intended to be used merely for informational purposes only; it contains no legal advice whatsoever. Publication of the Photonics Patents™ blog does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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