Amazon awarded U.S. Patent related to Autonomous Vehicle management

Amazon patent

On Tuesday (all US Patents are granted on Tuesdays), the US Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent entitled “Lane Assignments for Autonomous Vehicles” to Amazon Technologies, Inc. (U.S. Patent No. 9,547,986)


“Disclosed are various embodiments for coordination of autonomous vehicles in a roadway. A roadway management system can generate lane configurations for a roadway or a portion of the roadway. The roadway management system can determine the direction of travel for lanes in a roadway and direct autonomous automobiles to enter the roadway in a particular lane.”

Claim 1:

“An autonomous vehicle, comprising:

a plurality of sensors configured to detect environmental information associated with the autonomous vehicle;


a communications interface configured to facilitate communication with a roadway management system;


a controller configured to control operation of the autonomous vehicle, the controller being configured to cause the autonomous vehicle to at least:

detect environmental information associated with the autonomous vehicle, the environmental information comprising a location of the autonomous vehicle, a velocity of the autonomous vehicle, an orientation of the autonomous vehicle, and a status of surroundings of the autonomous vehicle;

generate a request to use a portion of a roadway, the request identifying a destination associated with the autonomous vehicle and including the environmental information; transmit the request to the roadway management system using the communications interface, the roadway management system monitoring a status of a plurality of autonomous vehicles using the portion of the roadway and assigning usage of the portion of the roadway to the plurality of autonomous vehicles;

obtain a roadway assignment from the roadway management system, the roadway assignment comprising a lane identifier, a lane assignment, and a velocity assignment; and

generate a routing instruction for the autonomous vehicle to enter the portion of the roadway according to the roadway assignment.”



In effect, the invention patented is sort of a “traffic cop” for autonomous vehicles.  It is predominantly in the form of a “method” patent – the method being the method for managing autonomous vehicles on a roadway.  Simply stated, according to the patent, the method/system involves an autonomous vehicle asking for, and being granted permission to enter a roadway.  Once permission to enter is granted, the “roadway management system” will provide a lane assignment and routing instructions to the vehicle.

Of note is that the Notice of Allowance of this patent was issued in only 10 months!  The latest statistics from the USPTO show an average patent pendency of over 2 years!  This was without Amazon’s apparently doing anything to expedite the application.

USPTO examination statistics

Published on: Jan 18 2017 by Karl Steins - Leave a Comment

Francis Ford Coppola sues winemaker in trademark suit

 Read the full Complaint filed in Federal District Court for the Central District of California

excerpt from


8/31/2016:  “Film director Francis Ford Coppola’s winery has sued Oregon-based vineyard Copa di Vino, claiming the winery is infringing its trade dress and trademarks.

Coppola, who is best known as director of “The Godfather”, is the owner of the winery, based in Napa, California.

GMYL, the owner of Coppola’s wine-related trademarks, filed the suit yesterday, August 30, at the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Copa, and its owner James Martin, are being sued for trademark and trade dress infringement, and unfair competition.

GMYL claimed Copa’s Winemaker’s Cut, which features the trademark ‘Copa’, was confusingly similar to its own wine, Director’s Cut, which features the trademark ‘Coppola’.

Claiming trade dress infringement, GMYL alleged that Copa had copied GMYL’s Diamond Collection Black Label Claret wine.

The trade dress includes a vertical rectangular black label on the front-centre of the wine bottle, the word “Coppola” in large, bold, capital letters, gold design elements and a thin gold net surrounding the entire bottle which “presents an overall diamond pattern encompassing the wine bottle”.

GMYL also claimed that Martin was aware of the Coppola winery as he had approached Francis Coppola Winery, a company affiliated with GMYL, and proposed a business venture on behalf of Copa in 2011.

Francis Ford Coppola, wine, trademark, trademark infringement, trade dress, The Godfather, Copa di Vino, GMYL”

The trade dress issue revolves around Coppola’s allegation that COPA’s bottle and label are “confusingly similar” to Coppola’s bottle and label.  Here is a comparison in a photo from


Published on: Dec 29 2016 by Karl Steins - Leave a Comment

A new frontier in virtual reality? Microsoft patents hints at Star Trek-like holodeck


Excerpt from

“Science fiction quite often predicts future technology. The very first science fiction movie, 1902’s A Trip to the Moon, predicted the moon landing 67 years later, and it’s also true of Star Trek, the best-known science fiction TV show. Star Trek has augured a host of gadgets that have already seen the light of day, like cell phones and “tricorder”-like devices .

One of Star Trek’s most well-known technologies is the holodeck, an enclosed room on starships where the computer projects entire worlds in seamless virtual reality that are fully interactive. While VR and augmented reality (AR) systems are in the works on a limited scale, Microsoft has applied for a patent to bring the Star Trek holodeck that much closer to reality, as MSPU reports.

More: Immersion is integrating Ultrahaptics with HoloLens to let you reach out and touch things

The crux of the patent, filed on June 17, 2015, and published on December 22, 2016, focuses on overcoming one of the limitations of Microsoft’s own HoloLens technology, namely its limited field of view (FOV). The patent technology would not overcome that limitation directly. Rather, it would project images onto surrounding objects in a room to extend the FOV of a head-mounted display (HMD) like HoloLens.


The holodeck-like room would be festooned with projectors, some of them with 3D technology, that would continuously work with the display to create a much larger FOV. As the patent states, “Different instances of the complementary computer-generated content can enhance each other. The complementary computer-generated content can extend a FOV, change the appearance of the real world scene (e.g., a room), mask objects in the real world scene, induce apparent motion, and/or display both public and private content, among other capabilities.”

Microsoft Research has been working on this technology in the real world, and the team created a video demonstrating how the patent technology might work. The entire solution would include eye-tracking sensors, along with the projectors, to make for a much more realistic virtual world.”

Read more:

Published on: Dec 28 2016 by Karl Steins - Leave a Comment

Jawbone Says Fitbit Drops Patent Challenge


Fitbit has dropped its patent case against fitness tracker competitor Jawbone, but Jawbone will still pursue a trade secret case against Fitbit, the company said on Saturday.

The legal maneuvering comes long after Fitbit and other players in the wearables market have all but decimated Jawbone. While Fitbit captured nearly one-quarter of the entire market in the third quarter, Jawbone’s share was too small to register, IDC reported.

Fitbit (FIT, +2.18%) had been seeking to have the United States ban the importation of some Jawbone gear because of alleged patent violations. But over the summer, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled that three of Fitbit’s patents were invalid. That followed an earlier ruling that some patents Jawbone was asserting against Fitbit were also invalid. Each side had been trying to have the U.S. bar the import of the other’s products.

“Jawbone believes this case–involving patents already found once to be invalid–should have been dismissed long ago by Fitbit,” Jawbone said in a statement on Saturday. “Fitbit’s pursuit of these baseless claims for so long was to burden Jawbone–an issue to be raised in Jawbone’s anti-trust claim against Fitbit.”
Fitbit confirmed the move but declined to comment further. The company withdrew its complaint after Jawbone stopped selling new products and was reported to be having financial difficulties, Fitbit explained in an two-page filing with the trade commission dated Dec. 23. “Given the substantial change in Jawbone’s business condition, together with the limited relief available in a Section 337 action, Complainant withdraws its Complaint in this Investigation,” Fitbit’s lawyers wrote.

The market for smart, wearable devices has been slumping lately and both companies have felt some pain, though Fitbit remains far ahead of its smaller competitor. Jawbone failed to find a buyer for the company earlier this year and has since been feuding with one of its top investors over control of its assets. Fitbit’s stock price has slumped 75% this year, as manufacturing problems and weak sales in Asia have led to major disappointments.

Aaron Pressman
Updated: Dec 24, 2016 5:40 PM PST

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Published on: Dec 27 2016 by Karl Steins - Leave a Comment – “How to Find a Killer Patent Attorney”


By Stephen Key
Co-founder, InventRight@stephenkeymedia

“Over the course of my career, I have filed many patents and worked with many attorneys. In fact, I have over a dozen patents in my name. So it is with certainty that I say: They’re not all created equal.

The truth is that patents are expensive. And although they can be of great benefit to you and your business, plenty of patents don’t have any value at all. All of which is to say, it is imperative that you find a patent attorney who has your best interests in mind. If you do, chances are that you will have a long and fruitful relationship.

When and if you have an idea that’s worth filing a patent on, these are the qualities you should look for in a patent attorney.

1. Success. How much experience does this attorney have writing patents that have actually been issued? In other words, what is his or her success rate? In my experience, getting a patent issued is never easy. In fact, it’s a road fraught with unforeseen obstacles. Hiring someone who has the experience to navigate these challenges is key.

2. Command of the written word. I like to say that patent attorneys are only as good as the information you provide them with. Before you hire an attorney, ask to read some of the patent applications he has written. Do you understand what he is saying? If you don’t, it’s unlikely that a judge, jury, or potential licensee will either. A patent only has value when its claims are written clearly and concisely.

3. Litigation experience. I had to defend my patents in federal court, so I truly understand how important it is that the patent attorney you hire to write your claims has experience with litigation. Defending intellectual property ownership is, in essence, a war of words. If you end up having to defend your claims, you will want them to have been written in the most expansive way possible.”

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Published on: Dec 21 2016 by Karl Steins - Leave a Comment