For the “Green Photonics and Sustainable Energy” category, the three finalists for the 2011 “Prism Awards” are:
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.