Dawn Ellmore Employment's Blog

IP and Legal Industry Updates


patent application

Amazon Patents System of Storing Stock Underwater

Amazon filed for a patent entitled Aquatic storage facilities” in September 2016 that was recently granted.  The aim of this patented system is to increase warehouse space by increasing storage space by depth.

The proposed system would create underground warehouses by wrapping containers of stock items in waterproof packaging with depth control devices (to raise and lower the items) and storing them in giant water pools submerged under current Amazon warehouse floors.

The patent also mentions the possibility of using airplanes or drones to drop packages (fitted with GPS tags) into natural rivers or lakes where they would be stored at the bottom of the water until they were needed and they could then be retrieved using a sonar signal.

You can read more about the patent here:

Need a Second Opinion whilst out Shopping? Adobe’s Latest Patent may have the Answer!

Shopping has often been referred to as a national pastime.  Most people love shopping for new purchasers, in fact research from the Great British Wardrobe Report found that people in the UK spend an average of £1042 per year on their wardrobes.  Whilst there has been a trend over recent years for consumers to spend more money online, in store purchasers still account for a high percent of retail value.

Potential consumers who enter a shop on their own can often find they wish a second opinion before committing to a purchase, especially on clothes and shoes.  Adobe has come up with an interesting new piece of patented technology which could help with this as it aims to give consumers a virtual second opinion (advice from someone of the shopper’s pre-determined group on whether to buy the particular item or look for other items in the store) via their smartphones.

The technology works by using a monitoring device that monitors users’ movement and activities within shops.  This data is collected and stored building a shopping record for each consumer allowing all consumers to be categorized into similar groups.  After determining the group the system sends the notifications to rest of the similar group members about your choice while you are present in the shop.

The system allows the shop visitors to provide feedback to each other, helping people make the right choice before buying a product.  The new technology means that lone shoppers will always have user buyer advice from people similar to themselves instantly available on their smartphones as a virtual second opinion for them.  The aim of Adobe’s patented technological solution is to increase customer satisfaction and increase conversions for products.  We have to wait and see how Adobe might implement this new technology.



Emotion-sensing Technology Patented by Facebook

American corporation and online social media and social networking service Facebook have patented emotion-sensing technology that uses a user’s laptop webcam or smartphone camera when it is not turned on to detect the user’s emotions.  Using a sophisticated algorithm the technology is able to determine  whether users are happy, sad, depressed or excited (based on their facial movements and expressions) and display Facebook content that is more relevant to user’s current mood.  The adjustment in targeted advertising and content would happen in real time as a response to the data received about a user’s current state of mind.  It would also prevent irrelevant or upsetting content (any content that the user averts their eyes from) being shown to the user again.

You can read more on the patent here:

The patent for this technology was actually granted in 2015 but Facebook has not currently developed it.  Not all patents are precursors to consumer products and technology but they are usually a good indication of future technological focus for companies.  Fears over users’ loss of privacy could be one reason why the technology has not been currently launched.


PetLife Files Patent for Treatment of Cancer in Dogs

PetLife Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a US Veterinary Pharmaceutical company) has developed a high potency veterinary cancer medication for pets called VitalZul™ for which they have filed for patent protection in the United States and India.  The patent application is entitled “A Composition for Targeting Cancer in Canines and Humans”.  The patent formulation is intended for both animal and human use, pending further testing.

As the components of the formulation of VitalZul™ are natural as opposed to synthetic testing has shown them to have a very minimal level of toxicity.

Scientists and researchers will continue testing VitalZul™ with the aim of obtaining FDA approval and for the product to be on sale by the end of 2018.


Google Files Patent Application for Infrared Sleep-Tracking Device

Google recently filed a patent application for a device that monitors a person while sleeping using infrared technology.  The device measures the amount of infrared radiation bouncing off the person and returning to the device which aims to give information on the person’s sleeping patterns and behaviours.  The patent also mentions the possibly of interpreting breathing and heart rate patterns.

Devices that have the ability to log a person’s sleeping patterns represents technology that is not new – there are currently several devices that do this on the market today.  What is unique about the device mentioned in this patent application is that it is a stand alone device, meaning that users do not have to wear other devices (such as wristbands or watches) in order for it to work.  The independent, passive nature of the device mentioned in this patent application is its unique selling proposition as it would not disturb people when they are sleeping so the behaviours recorded would be the truest possible versions of the person’s sleeping patterns.  The device merely monitors users sleeping patterns from a distance using infrared beams of radiation that cannot be picked up by the human eye.

The other benefit of the device mentioned in the patent application is that it connected to a home alarm system which rings the alarm or alerts another family member in the house if the device finds the user’s breathing suddenly becomes very low.  This device thus has great safety potential for monitoring the healthy sleep cycles of both children and adults.


Land Rover’s Latest Patent Has Military Technology!

Land Rover recently patented a central tyre inflation system which aims to make going go off-road easier, improve fuel economy and correct tyre pressure for gradual wear and tear over time.

Although similar technology already exists in military vehicles, what is unique about Land Rover’s patented system is its ability to inflate or deflate tyres to specific pressures depending on the selected driving mode (which can be automatically detected based on sensory data).  Land Rover’s patent application for the central tyre inflation system has illustrations of 4 driving modes with associated tyre pressure levels, they are as follows:

1) on-road – most common setting for normal driving

2) economy – on this setting the tyres the tyres would fill with increased air pressure allowing for better fuel efficiency

3) off-road – at reduced speeds the tyres would deflate and once traction control finds the vehicle is stuck the tyres would inflate to the correct air pressure for the set off road condition.

4) recovery mode

The patented central inflation system would also be able to correct tyre pressure for general wear and tear over time which most consumers would find an added bonus.


Walmart’s granted patent will track when products are low and reorder them for you

American multinational retail corporation Walmart was recently granted a patent that will track when customer’s products are getting low at home and then automatically reorder those products for customers.  The technology would also be able to track how frequently products are used.

The abstract of the patent reads as follows:
“A system and method for item replenishment comprising a subscription device that associates tags with items, a tag tracking device for collecting data on the tags associated with the items, and a management system that monitors changes in use of the items, including analyzing use patterns to determine when the items should be replenished, replaced or upgraded.”

The frequency tracking offered by this patent could tell Walmart how often someone wears a pair of shoes, thereby allowing Walmart to calculate how quickly the shoes wear out and make suggestions to customers about what pair they might consider ordering next through personalised promotions.

This type of technology is not completely new, for example Amazon has dash buttons and a dash replenishment service which allow customers to reorder items when they are low at the touch of a button in their home.  What is unique about Walmart’s patented solution however is that it requires less work than similar solutions offered by competitor firms.  With Walmart’s technology customers would not need to do anything to prompt the reordering of a product.


Snapchat Bought Important Geofilters Patent for $7.7 Million

Snapchat is an image messaging and multimedia mobile application (app) created by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown and developed by Snap Inc which was released in 2011 and mainly used by teens and young adults.  One distinct feature of the pictures and messages sent through Snapchat is that they are only available for a limited period of time before becoming inaccessible.

Snapchat is reportedly worth $25bn and had 160 million daily users in 2016.  Snapchat is an app which is free to download and use.  The company gets its revenue by selling adverts (that play as short video clips between posts on the app) to companies that sponsor the lenses and filters used to augment photos (these sales represented $404.5m in revenue in 2016).

Snap, Inc., the company behind Snapchat was recently in the news after it reportedly paid $7.7 million for a “geofilters” patent.  The patent was entitled “Methods and Systems of providing visual content editing functions” and covers filters that are loaded from the internet rather than using the app’s local data so users do not need to update the app whenever a new filter is added to get the benefit of using it.  Although the purchase price of the patent was expensive it is easy to see why Snapchat require the patent for its business model as it could have been blocked from selling geofilters in the future if the patent was sold to a competitor company.


Ford Granted Patent for Rollover Car Protection

The Ford Motor Company was recently granted a patent for an external roof rack-mounted airbag system to protect passengers in the event of a car rolling over in a road accident.  The airbags would need to be stored inside the rack attached to the vehicle’s roof (thus requiring the vehicle to be fitted with a roof rack).  Traditional airbags inflate and deflate within fractions of a second, these external roof rack airbags would stay inflated for longer, as vehicle collision data shows a car may roll over several times before stopping.

Interestingly this patent doe not represent the first external airbag as Volvo had previously patented a “pedestrian airbag” that inflates across a car windshield, cushioning the blow for a pedestrian who rolls up the vehicle’s bonnet in a collision. This is however the first external roof rack airbag system that aims to prevent or minimise passenger harm in the event of car rollover situation as a result of a road accident.

Ford rollover patent

Visual showing the proposed external roof rack mounted airbag system from the filed patent document.

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