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News Feed and Competitive Insights

Every week, the Magic Number team connects intellectual property changes with market activity.


Will You Bet on IBM?

Securities Tokenization Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

Sports Betting has exploded in popularity as a means of both recreation and putting money in people’s pockets, but what about betting on other types of events? In April 2021, IBM was granted a patent on a blockchain method for facilitating betting on various types of events. In particular, the method uses zero-knowledge verification to ensure user privacy while also keeping users who bet money accountable for their wagers. A key problem of online betting is how to ensure that users can actually collect their earnings. If individuals are able to, for example, delete their account and remain unaccountable for their bets, then the entire system would unravel. At the same time, however, requiring users to insert a form of ID could be a major privacy breach during the blockchain checking process for facilitating the exchanges related to the bets. IBM’s patent appears to address both the issues of accountability and privacy.

IBM is no stranger to cryptocurrency technology or the Securities Tokenization Sector. In 2019, it launched Stablecoin along with several partners. More recently, Deutsche Bank approached IBM to develop a crypto trading platform. Given IBM’s strong advocacy of blockchain technology, it is not surprising to see it as one of the largest assignees in the sector, but its recent expansion into blockchain-based betting systems demonstrates it is constantly pushing in different directions within the industry. This continued investment in the sector in addition to a partnership with a major financial giant such as Deutsche Bank signals investors should keep an eye on future partnerships and licensing operations for IBM.

To keep up with IBM’s future innovations and partnerships, check out the Securities Tokenization Patent Forecast®!

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T-Mobile Partners with Lumen. One Reason? Enormous IP Portfolio.

Edge Computing Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

Lumen (formerly known as CenturyLink) has struck a partnership with T-Mobile to offer edge computing services over T-Mobile’s 5G Network. This partnership follows deals with cloud providers like Google and Amazon who have also paired with Lumen on their edge technology. Lumen also stated an interest in finding other partners in the space to continue expanding the opportunities for the fledgling edge computing service.

This move into the space was very likely due to the patent activity in the space by CenturyLink (now Lumen). They have been active in the communications category of edge computing for over ten years and have had the second most patent assets (31)  in the category over the past five years. Only Cisco leads them in the category. Lumen unveiled a roadmap to offer edge computing service back in August of 2019, but the patent activity indicated their strong interest in the industry long before that roadmap was announced.

It will be worth watching Lumen to see what other partnerships they make and if they can surpass Cisco in the communication category of edge computing. To keep an eye on Lumen’s future moves in the space and watch out for companies seeking to create partnerships, check out the Edge Computing Patent Forecast®!

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Driving While High? Cannabis Sobriety Testing Heats Up.

Cannabis Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

What’s the future of cannabis innovation? We see things before they happen using our Patent Forecast®. One of those is the development of sobriety tests for what is bound to become a future issue in America. That is, driving while high. Just as people can’t resist it while drunk, there will be people that can’t resist driving while high on cannabis, especially as more states welcome legal cannabis. It wasn’t until recently that breathalyzers detecting THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis that produces a high, were created. For officers to be able to tell if a person is high or not is quite a task and traditional sobriety tests can’t always be relied on. Is there a safe limit for THC detected or will it be like alcohol where there’s a zero-tolerance status in many places? 

These are the questions that are currently being worked on. As of now, THC is a zero-tolerance matter. Anyone found with THC in their system while driving will be taken downtown for it. First to come to market was Hound Labs, Inc. of Oakland, Ca. Hound Labs received its first patent for a THC breathalyzer in August of 2017 and since has become the leading assignee in impairment testing for cannabis with 4 total granted patents. In January of 2021, Hound Labs partnered with Avetta to bring on-site recent cannabis use testing to help maintain safety in all areas of the supply chain of jobs, especially those in states with legal recreational use. Hound Labs will assist Avetta marketplace suppliers with their compliance regulations using the Hound Marijuana Breathalyzers which detect THC use within the past few hours. 

Now there’s a new sniffer trying to compete in the sobriety testing space - Cannabix Technologies Inc. Cannabix Technologies just received its first patent in January of 2021 and has two (2) pending patent applications for sobriety testing technologies. In February of 2021, Cannabix announced its 3rd generation THC detection breathalyzer, enhancing its usability in the field. Breathalyzers will become more in demand as more states begin to legalize cannabis, just as NY recently did.  

Use our Cannabis Patent Forecast® to detect key players in an industry such as Hound Labs and Cannabix Technologies. Start your free trial today! 

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Microsoft Debugs Quantum Software in Virtual Reality, Catches Up To Minority Report

Quantum Computing Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

In almost every Sci-Fi film, there is a scene where some scientist is manipulating holographic images with just their hands. Microsoft is interested in making that technology a reality. Patent Forecast® has captured Microsoft in Quantum Computing - but it’s not their normal type of patent.  A patent issued in March 2021 to Microsoft for a way to debug quantum programs using virtual reality. A question comes to mind: why do you need virtual reality to do this when programmers debug software all the time without it? The question brings into focus coming challenges to implementing quantum technology. 

Let us explain. With a classical computer, debugging is often done with a debugging tool, which runs the program and looks for breakpoints in the code, where there might be a misplaced symbol or an early termination to the program. Classical computers can operate like this because, when coding, the physical bits being manipulated don’t need to be considered by the programmer: the logic of the software program is the only major concern. However, with quantum computing, the physical hardware begins to be a limiting factor. The logic of the code for a quantum computer might make sense, but it could inadvertently change the state of one or more of the qubits without the programmer even noticing. Microsoft’s invention is meant to address this issue, by allowing quantum programmers to directly visualize individual qubits and detect if there is an erroneous change in their states. 

Microsoft’s patent is unusual for the Quantum Computing Patent Forecast®, but in line with Microsoft’s tendency to approach the field much differently than its competitors. For example, while Microsoft’s competitors tend to use superconducting qubits (e.g. D-Wave Systems, IBM), ion trap qubits (e.g. IonQ), or Photonic qubits (e.g. PsiQuantum), Microsoft has unusually chosen to focus on topological qubits. Topological qubits are based on two-dimensional quasiparticles called anyons. Unlike three-dimensional particles, like fermions and bosons, the position of two identical anyons can be swapped while still resulting in a change in each anyon’s wave function. Much less is known about anyons than traditional three-dimensional particles, but they appear to offer a way to generate a more robust quantum computer.

While companies like D-Wave Systems and IBM are on track to build a working quantum computer quickly, if a sudden paradigm shift occurs in quantum computing, there’s a good chance Microsoft is behind it. To catch new developments in quantum computing before they are taken to market, make sure to check out the Quantum Computing Patent Forecast®!

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Ballogy keeps growing, but it’s forgetting one critical thing

Sports Analytics Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

In a recent insight, we highlighted some impressive growth for the Austin-based start-up Ballogy. They recently secured $6 million in Series A funding from an impressive list of athletes and sports executives. But this growth in size is not matched by growth in their IP portfolio: they only own three (3) patent assets within the Sport Analytics Patent Forecast®  sector, all of which are patent applications still pending. So, Ballogy has no enforceable rights to exclude competitors.

Similarly, Ballogy continues to release new features having limited disclosure in their assigned applications. Its most recent feature, an official shooting skills assessment targeted towards amateur players for use in applications such as college recruiting, appears to be disclosed in a 2019 application (U.S. Pat. Pub. No. 20190111317), but the claims of this patent seem to be fairly narrow and likely wouldn’t offer the protection necessary for such a game-changing invention. 

Considering this, Patent Forecast® has one recommendation for Ballogy: use some of your most recent funding round to invest in IP. Time and time again, start-ups with great ideas get squeezed out of their markets by bigger companies due to lack of protection surrounding their product. Ballogy has a great product as evidenced by both its rapid growth in users and its recent funding round, but it is crucial to make sure that you protect your product. However, it is not all bad news, as the generally early priority dates of Ballogy’s standing applications could provide great building blocks for a strong portfolio, it’s just a question of whether or not Ballogy will prioritize this in their next growth stage.

 

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A New Player Enters the Biodegradable Packaging Sector. Who Cares?

Biodegradable Packaging Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

After officially being incorporated in August of 2020, Enlightened Product Solutions already has its first patent application for renewable sourced biodegradable polyolefin packaging.  Enlightened Product Solutions does not currently have a website nor is there any significant news about it. However, one of the listed inventors on the application makes the company a little more interesting. 

Randy Soibel is a technical portfolio manager at Instant Brands, was a Product Development and Engineering Manager at World Kitchen, and was a New Product and Business Development Manager at Sunstar Americas. Soibel has experience in product development and developing and supporting new business opportunities. This provides a promising outlook for a company that has provided little indication of its direction. 
 

Jonathan Tammara is listed as one of the officers of Enlightened Product Solutions and is related to Food Marketing Consultants, a freight shipping and trucking company. Food Marketing Consulting Inc. doesn’t have a website so this appears to be a common trait between the companies. Furthermore, Jonathan Tammara is President of San Bernardo Ice Cream, which will benefit from the biodegradable packaging for gelato trays described in Enlightened Product Solutions’ patent application. Tammara also founded New Day Care Products in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic because Tammara was having issues obtaining personal protective equipment.  Tammara appears to have success at developing companies to solve problems, which bodes well for Enlightened Product Solutions. 

Enlighted Product Solutions is a relatively new company but is spearheaded by experienced and driven individuals and has ties to companies that already have established market positions and connections. Competitors should care because this management team has a track record of solving problems with innovative solutions. Their patents might block you in the future. Check Patent Forecast® to track companies such as Enlightened Product Solutions. 

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Capital One is Investing in AI Biotech? What’s in their wallet?

AI Biotech / Diagnostics Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

In the past 18 months, Capital One has expanded past its usual banking activities, and begun exploring the AI Biotech Sector. But do they belong? While 2 assets in 18 months may not seem substantial on the surface, the AI Biotech field is a large jump from the financial field where Capital One holds most of their IP. A further dive into these 2 documents raises questions about Capital One’s motives. The first patent, (U.S. Pat. No. 10346541) teaches a method that uses AI to decipher and send messages conveying a user’s mental state through messaging apps. Their other asset, (U.S. Pat. Pub. No. 20210090710) teaches a method of analyzing a user's online activity to diagnose unhealthy online behaviors and provide treatment plans to reduce the negative effects of a user’s time online.

Both describe the costs often associated with mental health issues, but do little else to hint at why a banking company would be patenting technology related to diagnosing these disorders, or what the company may be planning to do with the technology. Capital One focuses primarily on banking, but does have some interests in Sports Marketing and identify theft/fraud protection.  

While the future of banking remains unclear in light of technologies such as blockchain and crypto currency (which by the way, Capital One holds a massive amount of IP in), Capital One’s interest in deciphering the mental state of its users certainly raises the question: What does Capital One intend to do with this information? Check back to the Patent Forecast® to see if Capital One continues to pursue IP in the AI Biotech Sector. Staying on top of Capital One’s IP in this sector could answer this question much sooner than waiting for a press release or public announcement!

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Apple Is Late To The Brain:Computer Interface Party - Stay Tuned

Brain Machine Interface Patent Forecast®

April 8, 2021

Brain:Computer Interfaces (BCIs) have tremendous potential. Like all technologies, a consumer product will really rocket its development. That’s where Samsung, Sony, Panasonic and the other major consumer electronics companies are. But Apple...it's late and sputtering.  It only has four filed applications. In contrast, the top 5 companies have over 200 assets. Because we know patent activity leads market activity, we’re expecting to see good things from Apple in the future. 

But they’ve got some catching-up to do. Maybe partnership or M&A?  One possibility is Emotiv, a crowd-sourced research startup. They have several patents, plus they would bring an expandable research team to the table. It could be a match made in human evolutionary heaven. Check out the Brain:Computer Interface Patent Forecast® for other possible M&A partners for Apple.


 

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Dapper Labs Raises $300M Amidst NFT Hype

Cryptocurrency Patent Forecast®

April 1, 2021

Canadian startup Dapper Labs has developed a number of games, blockchain networks, and NFT digital collectibles platforms. Its platform, backed by patent-pending technology uses a more efficient consensus that may prove to be even more valuable as NFT markets expand. The company's most popular product is NBA Top Shot, which allows users to buy and sell game highlights backed by a non-fungible token. The latest funding round raised $305M from VC funds as well as professional athletes and celebrities, bringing total funding to $357M. 

NBA Top Shot maker Dapper Labs is now worth $2.6 billion thanks to half of  Hollywood, the NBA and Michael Jordan | TechCrunch

Is Dapper Labs exposed to competition? It has only one patent application for scalable decentralized computation, which is an important backbone for platform development. The invention is focused on efficiency, moving away from the energy-intensive Proof of Work (PoW) consensus. As NFT becomes more popular, artists have expressed concern about environmental impact. Dapper Labs' alternative methods may prove to be even more attractive for building future cryptocurrency and blockchain platforms, and save the planet at the same time. NFT art and related markets are exploding; the patent investment boom has only begun. Other NFT sports platforms such as Verasity have a huge lead. Dapper Labs has to step up its patent game. 

You can follow this company and more on the Cryptocurrency Patent Forecast®

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Fidelity Is New to Edge Computing. Without Patents They Are Forced to Partner.

Edge Computing Patent Forecast®

April 1, 2021

Telecommunications provider Colt Technology Services is extending its partnership with IBM to incorporate IBM’s Cloud Satellite with Colt’s edge network. But who has the upper hand in the patent space?

Colt Technology does not have any published patents for its edge technology, which provides high-bandwidth data services to customers. IBM, on the other hand, has close to 50 patents in Edge Computing. The partnership implements IBM’s distributed cloud systems at Colt’s edge nodes to securely extend the reach of cloud services. Colt is owned by Fidelity Investments, which suggests that the provider has ample capital. However, the company is at risk of losing out if it doesn’t secure a patent portfolio. Other telecommunications companies with large customer bases including Verizon and AT&T have patents for edge computing. Israeli startup Saguna Networks, which has raised over $8M in funding, has 15 patents and applications for implementing edge computing on communication networks. 

Developing new technologies without patent assets can be risky, especially because patents often precede market activity. You can sign up for the Edge Computing Patent Forecast® today to stay on top of all the latest updates. 

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