Rochester inventors come up with a lot of patents. They came up with 527 in the first quarter of 2011 alone, despite the fact that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a backlog of over 700,000 patent applications. Even without the backlog, it can take years to process an application.
In Albany, intellectual property attorneys Michael Hoffman and Spencer Warnick review USPTO data to compile quarterly reports on patents issued nationally and in the Rochester and the Technology Valley or Capital region.
In April, they selected an immersion lithography patent issued to IBM employees in Albany for “Patent of the Quarter” recognition.
The Daily Record asked the patent law attorneys what, if any, patents issued in Rochester in the first quarter of 2011, they felt were also innovative and worthy of recognition.
Their response was the selection of a patent issued to Xerox in March to estimate the amount of color in a document (US7907305) and a patent issued to Kodak in February for correcting unintentional camera rotations (US7893963).
“I think they give a sense of the types of technologies these two companies are working on,” Hoffman said.
Kodak and Xerox still produce the most patents in the Rochester area. They produced a combined total of 345 in the first quarter.
Kodak Corporate Research & Engineering Director of Communications Bruce Graham said the Kodak patent uses “a modern computational technique in a camera to figure out what’s wrong with a photo and adjust it accordingly.”
“It’s using mathematics on a raw image to detect what’s wrong with a photo and correct it,” Graham said in layman’s terms.
In non-layman terms, it’s an “algorithmic innovation.”
Graham said the correction device is built into the camera for automatic correction.
“When you’re taking a picture of a scene and it’s underexposed, blurry or not perfectly horizontal, most people don’t go to Photoshop to make corrections,” he explained.
The abstract of the examiner approved patent said the method of correction detects a set of lines in a captured digital image to determine a rotation angle and modifies it before storing the image.
The application was filed in September of 2005 meaning it took over five years to approve.
Establishing regional patent examination offices is one suggestion the USPTO is looking at to help clear up the backlog and Warnick said upstate New York and/or the Rochester area would be a good location for a regional office due to the high number of patents issued per capita here.
The Xerox patent devised a system and method for estimating the amount of color in a document according to USPTO examiner, Charlotte Baker.
By estimating how much color is present in a document customers can be billed for that amount.
In many cases customers are billed for an entire color document if it contains any color at all.
“Accordingly, what is needed in this art are increasingly sophisticated applications and advanced technologies for color management systems which correctly estimate the amount of color content in a multi page document…” the examiner explained in the approved Xerox patent.
Hoffman and Warnick said Kodak and Xerox patent approval numbers have remained strong in recent quarters as have issuances from other companies in the region.