Yes, Arkansas does have a flourishing Startup scene!

By: Debby Winters

I don’t usually blog about things that are regional but I’ve been involved in the Arkansas Startup scene for several years now and I’m pretty proud of what we have here. Everyone knows about what is going on in California, Boulder CO, the Northwest (Oregon and Washington), Maryland, and Massachusetts, just to name a few, but not everyone knows about all of the great technology resulting in great Startups in Arkansas, and specifically in Fayetteville!

Erica Swallow, who grew up in Arkansas and now writes for Forbes magazine, recently visited “home” to see how things have changed. As small as the world is, I ran into Erica and Jeannette Balleza Collins (Director at the ARK Challenge) walking around the downtown square while Erica was working on the piece. I imparted my wisdom, as we walked the block of Center Street from the Welcome Center to the Bank of Fayetteville, about my role in the Fayetteville Startups and the ones I had worked with through the ARK Challenge and Gravity Ventures. I’m proud to share Erica’s story in Forbes with you.

How’s it going with the First-to-File Patent System?

By: Debby Winters

Design Patent D685,381, issued to b
luelounge, is the first patent filed under the new First-to-File system to issue. It was filed April 1, 2013 and issued July 2, 2013. It is a design patent directed to a foldable laptop stand. It was issued as part of the Design Patent “Rocket Docket” System, which is one way that it issued so quickly. The process of applying for a design patent has been made speedier though the use of the “Rocket Docket.” The “Rocket Docket” allows an applicant of a design patent to move their application ahead of other applications by paying a fee, conducting a pre-examination search, making sure the drawings are in compliance with strict patent guidelines, and submitting an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) with the application. Typically the IDS is submitted later in the process. Even design patents that are filed without requesting expedited examination typically issue much quicker than utility patents. As such, an inventor may again decide to apply for both a design and utility patent, because the design patent may issue in a year, whereas a typical utility patent may take between one and three years. However, this one issued in 3 months time…that’s quite a “rocket” it was on.

Three other applications that have been filed post-AIA have been published. These all claim priority to filings that were made before the system changed and are really subject to the first-to-invent rules. Stay tuned for any major legal challenges associated with the first-to-file system as they are likely to take another year or two to surface.

What is AMOLED display and why should I care?

By Debby Winters

If you don’t know the answer to that question, you may soon find out. Since innovation in the smartphone industry is constantly evolving and companies strive to come up with smarter and more sophisticated technologies that will give them that marketing advantage, they are looking to make changes in areas such as the display.

It is predicted that the display for smartphones will move from LCD (liquid crystal displays) to AMOLEDs that are self-emissive. AMOLED or OLEDs is a different approach that uses “active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes” to directly emit light. This technology will provide even sharper display with less battery drain. AMOLED display also allows the phone to be thinner and lighter, because it eliminates the weight and thickness of the backlight. The AMOLED screen further boasts a high pixel density, which provides sharper video and better-defined images that the user can read without having to zoom in. Further advantages include their ability to be flexible rather than rigid and have larger fields of view. While the advantages do sound great, there are also a few disadvantages that hold
this technology back from jumping right into our hands. This display type has a shorter lifetime, so would have to be replaced more often. The manufacturing cost is already higher and if that doesn’t come down, replacing your phone more often will turn into even higher cost for the consumer. Another thing that is holding this technology back is its lack of water resistance and we all know how important it is that your phone not die if splashed with a little water.  

Making changes in things like the display, sensors, and battery life will not only make the smartphones get even smarter, but it is absolutely vital for survival. The smartphone is in a very high-stakes and competitive industry so protecting intellectual property for these new ideas is an absolute must. Companies are rushing to be the first to file for patent protection. It is predicted that one-quarter of U.S. patents issued in 2013 will likely be related to mobile technology. Protecting intellectual property in the areas of next-generation smartphone technology will allow companies not only to obtain a marketing advantage over their competitors, but also to use these patents in areas to change the competitive landscape of the smartphone industry.