Archive for October, 2010

The Coupon Comeback

October 31, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Interesting links, Social Media, Trends

In this down economy we’re seeing one trend making a comeback: Coupons. Last year coupon-redemption gained 23 percent–the first gain in nearly two decades.

Before our current recession we saw many people dismissing the discounts, citing they were too much trouble. But the tough economic climate isn’t the only thing bringing them back into popularity. Internet coupons and discount codes that smartphone users can download are making deal-seeking hot again.

I just read an article over at Advertising Age about how many companies are copying the Groupon model for offering their fans and followers great deals. Groupon was launched just two years ago and quickly got 25 million subscribers.

The article cites two major brands, Wal-mart and Healthy Choice foods,  offering incredible deals to their shoppers. Last week Wal-mart launched a Facebook app that offered a whopping 18 percent off of a plasma television set once 5,000 people “liked” the ad.

Healthy Choice offered a similar coupon on Facebook that increased in value the more people clicked “like.” A few weeks ago Healthy Choice launched a coupon that increased from 75 cents to $1.50 off a two-for-one deal as more people liked it on Facebook.

Groupon was the first to try this model based on likes, and of course it encourages people to share it with their friends in order to unlock the savings faster.

What I find fascinating is that unlike paper coupons, social media coupons greatly increase the brand’s fan base without costing much money.  I think you’re going to see a lot more of this model in the future. Imagine how this type of internet marketing will impact the consumer spending habits on hotels, restaurants, toys, electronics and just about every industry you can think of.

Yez, please! First car with negative footprint is a dream for China

Imagine a car that has a negative carbon footprint.  In China, a new concept car called the  2030 Yez is the first automobile that promises to remove more pollution from the air than it creates. It’s an electric car that also combines several other technologies.

The photo looks like something out of this world, doesn’t it? It’s not by coincidence that the shape of the car resembles a leaf. The word Yez is actually Mandarin for leaf.

The car is produced by a little-known company, SAIC, which stands for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. SAIC is GM’s partner in China.  A few months ago SAIC showed off this innovative concept car which uses photovoltaic conversion, wind energy conversion and CO2 absorption to generate it’s power.

Even the wheels are energy efficient, acting like small wind turbines to capture and convert wind energy into electricity. I particularly like how its roof is filled with solar cells that can find the sun’s in the sky and then rotate to produce the maximum energy-absorption.

At the moment this is just an idea. The auto company says it is definitely something to shoot for in the future, but is for now far off from reality.

Google TV and the network big three

October 22, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos, Social Media, Technology, Trends

This week we’re hearing more on the strife between Google and television’s major networks, ABC, CBS and NBC and Google.

The Big 3 are blocking some of their most-watched and beloved shows from being watched on Google’s new Web-TV service, Google TV.

Google TV was launched in May, and allows us to search for and watch television programs through the Internet.

Here’s a great explanation of what Google TV is, and how it works.

Check out this video from Google released at it’s launch this past May:

Worries of pirating or just getting lost in the vast Internet universe isn’t stopping HBO, MTV or TBS from maximizing Google TV. But you won’t be able to watch episodes of NBC’s “The Office,” CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” or ABC’s “Modern Family.”

The station executives have said that the service will change forever the existing broadcasting business. I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing, or that the Big 3 will be able to stop the inevitable.

Oct 2010: Candy & Snack TODAY

October 20, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

The New Consumer: How Shopping Has Changed For Good

Candy & Snack TODAY, September/October 2010

Cheryl Perkins, founder and president of Innovationedge, LLC, a brand consultancy, expands on this notion: “Private label continues to be a focus for innovation. We’re seeing retailers figuring out how to deliver quality products while still maintaining lower prices for consumers. This is, of course, the value proposition that many consumers demand.”

Perkins also notes a key point of differentiation for many products is not cost alone. “New product performance and differentiated ingredients are driving both private label market share and margins,” she explains. “The growth of less expensive private label consumer goods that exhibit performance equal to national brands is an ongoing trend that began when the first signs of the recessionemerged.”

Full Candy & Snack TODAY article

private label

Tweet the front desk on your next visit

October 20, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Social Media, Trends

I travel quite a bit, and I always appreciate the extra mile hotel personnel will go to in order to make my stay excellent. So it’s no surprise to me the lengths the hotel industry goes to in the name of great customer service. These days hotels are looking to social media to improve service and connect with customers.

Remember when you had to call the front desk or wait in line for the concierge to ask a question?  Consumers can simply tweet a question or a request to the hotel’s concierge even while they’re out exploring the city. They do this by using or searching on a hash tag term such as #frontdeskhotelname. There they would see a string of conversations, recommendations from other guests and even alerts to coupons and deals in the area.

One UK hotel chain Premier Inn is encouraging its customers to tweet questions about anything that interests them, to the delight of enthusiastic guests. And Hyatt reports having great success with Twitter Concierge launched last year.

Twitter is also a tool used for resolving complaints, as Marriott has learned. The chain has two full-time people working its Twitter feed, who scour Twitter looking for tweets from people posting frustrations they’ve experienced at Marriott hotels.

Location-based apps like Foursquare and Facerbook Places are also gaining popularity with hotel guests. When Foursquare users use their mobile phones at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, they unlock a coupon for a complimentary glass of champagne.

What else are hotels doing to reach their customers via social media? Creating guest communities online, posting last-minute deals to reduce inventory and rewarding frequent travelers club members for starters, but most of these ideas are in the experimental stage. For now.

Shopping in the future

October 18, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Cool videos, Innovation, Technology

In two more days Cisco is unveiling its vision for Borderless Networks, along with a cool new video that shows end-users what the future of shopping might look like very soon. Here’s a sneak peek Cisco is showing the world today:

A Hotbed for Biotechnology Innovation

October 15, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Biotechnology, Innovation

Today  I am over  at San Diego State University where I’m teaching executive MBA classes. Along with cities like Madison, Austin, Raleigh Durham and Boston, San Diego is a key player in a field that may be more of a hotbed for innovation than any other: biotechnology. Genetic engineering, genomics, and molecular drug development are just a few of the industry terms that we are all becoming familiar with.

It’s an exciting environment here in San Diego. We’re anchored by research institutions and universities such the Salk Institute, Scripps Research Institute, University of California-San Diego, and hundreds of biotechnology firms, this could be the biological Silicon Valley for the 21st century.

With unequaled potential, the industry is still trying to prove it’s financial viability. This is because of many factors, but mostly it’s because it is researching the unknown and results can’t be predicted.

For example, in biopharmaceuticals, research for a new drug can take 10 years or more and cost more than $1 billion before any revenue is realized. On top of that it only takes one adverse study or regulation problem along the way to tip the scales between incredible income and huge losses. (more…)

Was a Nobel Laureate Initimidated into Not Filing a Patent for Graphene?

Graphene: A Planar Sheet of Carbon One Atom Thick

Graphene: A Two-Dimensional Planar Sheet of Carbon One Atom Thick

A number of people have commented about a recent story on Andre Geim, the inventor of graphene and new Nobel Laureate in physics, and his decision to not pursue a patent. One widely read recent tweet linked to a discussion on Slashdot that allegedly “Puts the lie to the claim that patents help small inventors.” The Slashdot page begins with an observation about why Dr. Geim didn’t patent graphene. Turns out he almost did, but chose not to after a conversation with someone from a big multinational company that could become a major user of graphene in the future. Here’s the content that supposedly shows why patents don’t help small business owners and lone inventors against the big boys of industry:

gbrumfiel writes

“As we discussed on Tuesday, Andre Geim won this year’s Nobel prize in physics for graphene, but he never patented it. In an interview with Nature News, he explains why: ‘We considered patenting; we prepared a patent and it was nearly filed. Then I had an interaction with a big, multinational electronics company. I approached a guy at a conference and said, “We’ve got this patent coming up, would you be interested in sponsoring it over the years?” It’s quite expensive to keep a patent alive for 20 years. The guy told me, “We are looking at graphene, and it might have a future in the long term. If after ten years we find it’s really as good as it promises, we will put a hundred patent lawyers on it to write a hundred patents a day, and you will spend the rest of your life, and the gross domestic product of your little island, suing us.” That’s a direct quote.'”

While some people, including some in the anti-patent community, see this as a self-evident case for the problem with patents, it’s actually just the opposite, in my opinion.

Look at the story again. A brilliant inventor on the verge of filing a foundational patent for a major breakthrough in technology approaches a large corporation who might benefit from the technology. The company learns that the inventor is about to file a patent. A valid patent would mean that the company would have to pay royalties for the invention, perhaps very expensive royalties. If no patent is filed, the company can use the technology for free and develop its own patents without having to cross-license or worry about what Andre Geim owns. Hmm, which would be better: paying a lot, or paying nothing? Having to work with an inventor or tech transfer office or new patent owner who may end up thinking an invention is worth billions, or having the whole thing pretty much gratis? Tough call, but I think the corporate leader was quick to recognize the advantages to nipping the patent threat in the bud. How could he talk the inventor out of a patent? What negotiating tactic to deploy? ah, how about the Hindenburg? That’s where you explain to the other party that their intended course of action would be a flaming disaster, with burning bodies falling out of the sky–oh, the humanity!–resulting in the adversary becoming toast themselves.

The Hindenburg

The Hindenburg

The Hindenberg it is. The corporate leader then explains that IF Geim is so foolish, so greedy, so inhumane as to file a patent, disastrous suffering will follow and he’ll be burned. “100 patents a day!” Overwhelming force! You’ll go into debt suing us for nothing! You’ll be toast, baby. One big flaming Hindenburg crashing into the ground.

All bluff and bluster. But the intimidation and scare tactics work. “OK, OK, I won’t file my patent. Sorry for even thinking about that. Now I see that patents don’t help the little guy, Mr. Big. Here, take what I’ve got for free.”

Patents are the great equalizer. It’s what gives lone inventors a fighting chance against the big corporation that wants to take what they’ve got for free. It’s not easy and may not work, but with patents you’ve got a chance and corporations know it. Good ones respect that and will work with out. Others will try to take what you’ve got anyway, or better yet if they can, talk you out of pursuing a patent. Without one, you’ve already surrendered. You might as well throw the keys of your car to any passing stranger and hope they will pay you someday after they drive away.

The story isn’t about why patents don’t help the little guy. In fact, I think it’s about how much some big corporations despise and loathe patents in the hands of little guys. So much so that they would make outrageous statements to trick a brilliant scientists into NOT doing the one thing that could have helped him most: filing a patent. Instead, he handed them his inventions for free. Score one for the big guys.

Oct 2010: pdma Visions Magazine

October 12, 2010 Cheryl Perkins No Comments » Media Coverage

What most companies don’t know about using low-cost intellectual asset strategies

pdma Visions Magazine, October 2010

pdma Visions What most companies don't know aboutn low-cost intellectual assets

Chemical Engineers Interested in Innovation, Startups, and Intellectual Property? Join Us at the 2010 AIChE Annual Meeting

Innovationedge is pleased to be playing a role in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship for chemical engineers at the AIChE 2010 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City. On Wednesday, Nov. 10, Innovationedge’s Jeff Lindsay will chair a session featuring four outstanding speakers on topics that should be of interest to many chemical engineers. If you are conducting research that could lead to a new business, if you are involved in leading or managing R&D, if you are part of an effort where intellectual property could make a difference, then you should attend our session, “Intellectual Assets in the Digital Era.” You need to register for this conference through AIChE.

Time: Wednesday, November 10, 2010: 8:30 AM-11:00 AM
Location: Salt Palace Convention Center, Grand Ballroom G, Salt Lake City, UT
Chair: Jeff Lindsay, Director of Solution Development, Innovationedge, Neenah, WI
Co-Chair: Ken Horton, Gore School of Business, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, UT

Schedule of Papers and Abstracts:
8:30 AM, Paper #406A, “Business Development, IP, and Manufacturing Success: Perspectives From Utah’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership” by David Sorensen, Executive Director of Utah’s Manufacturing Extension Program. (See biographical information below.)

Abstract: The Manufacturing Extension Partnership of Utah has assisted many companies in strengthening their strategy for success and continued growth. We will discuss what it takes to advance your business, including lessons relative to leadership, vision, intellectual property, and coping with changing regulations and policies.

9:10 AM, Paper #406b, “The Role of IP in Successful Startups,” Mike Alder, Director of Technology Transfer, Brigham Young University.

Abstract: Many AIChE members will be involved with a startup at some point in their career. While the capabilities of the management team is of utmost importance, in numerous cases, the success of the startup also depends on the quality of its intellectual property. In this era, an IP-savvy team can take several steps to secure competitive advantage and realize greater value from the technology, products, or services the company offers. This presentation will draw upon experience with many startups and startup teams and will provide guidance to researchers, business leaders, and future entrepreneurs on how to better prepare for success.

9:45 AM, Paper #406c, “An Introduction to IP Law: The Underpinnings of Intellectual Assets,” Ken Horton, Kirton & McConkie, Salt Lake City, UT

Abstract: An understanding of the basics of intellectual property law can help chemical engineers in advancing their own research, in evaluating competitive efforts, in building their own business, or in general advancing their career. This presentation will cover some of the key concepts that engineers should know, including the nature of patents, the different kinds of patents (provisional, utility, design), the role of trademarks and copyrights, what it takes to be patentable, and how changes in patent law may affect your career and business.

10:20 AM, Paper #406d, “Cost-Effective Pursuit of IP in a Down Economy,” by Jonathan Lee

Abstract: How does one get the most protection and benefit from intellectual property when the economy is down? How can patents and other forms of intellectual property be obtained in a cost effective manner when budgets are tight? In this presentation, an experienced patent attorney shares insights into cost effective IP with guidance directed to managers, research leaders, inventors, and entrepreneurs.

Biographical information:

David Sorensen
Mr. Sorensen has over 35 years of experience in a wide variety of technical and managerial assignments requiring comprehensive knowledge in several disciplines relating to engineering, manufacturing, information technology and business systems. He has been directly responsible for major contracts with industry and government agencies and has a proven record of technical competence, customer relations, and business planning in rapidly expanding technical companies. Mr. Sorensen has held increasingly responsible positions in product and service organizations. He is innovative, resourceful, and aggressive in accomplishing assigned responsibilities with major strengths in strategic planning, marketing and management. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering Science and a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Brigham Young University.

Since 1995 he’s been the Director of the Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP-Utah), serving primarily the 6,200 manufacturers in the state of Utah. MEP-Utah was selected to initiate and manage the NIST Information Technology Network for over 60 MEP Centers nationwide. Mr. Sorensen is also a BYU adjunct faculty member and the Associate Dean of Technology, Trades and Industry at Utah Valley State College. With a staff of 18, in one year MEP-Utah helped create or save 2,719 jobs in Utah, increased manufacturing sales by more than $121 million and increased employee payroll by more than $84 million.

He’s been the Chairman & CEO for Echo Solutions, a start-up software products and services company; Executive VP of Eyring Research Institute; General Manager of EG&G Services; Director of Engineering at EG&G Idaho Inc.; Manager of Architect Engineering and Construction at Aerojet Nuclear Company and Manager of Power Generation Equipment at Bunker Ramo. He also has experience with GE’s Nuclear Instrumentation as a Senior Applications Engineer, and in engineering positions at Kennecott Copper, Intermountain Industries, and F.C. Torkelson Engineers.

Michael Alder
Mike is Director of Technology Transfer at Brigham Young University, where his work has been nationally recognized by BusinessWeek and others for their success. Mike is also Chair of the Board for WestCAMP Inc. where he has also chaired the National Centers of Excellence (NCOE), a division of WestCAMP. Mike is formerly the CEO of the Biotechnology Association of Alabama. He was also a Venture Partner with Redmont Venture Partners, Inc. He has been heavily involved in the founding of Tranzyme, Inc.; Vaxin, Inc.; Folia, Inc.; Chlorogen, Inc.; Allvivo, Inc. and Cr3, Inc. All but one of these are biotechnology companies (Folia produces specialty biopolymers).

Mr. Alder has 30 years of experience in leading technology-based startup companies. He was previously CEO of Emerging Technology Partners in Birmingham, Alabama from 1997 to 2003. Prior to coming to Alabama in 1994 he co-founded the Grow Utah Fund that focused on creating technology-based businesses. In 1989 he was asked by the Utah Governor to head the State’s Office of Technology Development, which he did for 5 years as its Executive Director, helping bring Utah’s Centers of Excellence programs to national prominence. In 1973 he founded NPI, a plant biotechnology company in Salt Lake City, Utah and served as President, COO and Vice Chairman of that company for 15 years as it grew to over 700 employees.

Ken Horton
Ken Horton is a member of Kirton & McConkie‘s Intellectual Property Practice Section in Salt Lake City. His practice includes domestic and foreign patent prosecution, patent opinions, intellectual property litigation (including both state and federal court actions), domestic and foreign trademark prosecution, trademark opinions, copyrights, trade secrets, intellectual property evaluations and due diligence, as well as technology and intellectual property agreements. Mr. Horton has extensive experience in both pharmaceutical and semiconductor technologies. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of intellectual property law and strategy, speaking both at the 2007 and 2010 A.I.C.H.E. annual conferences and the 2009 A.C.S. annual conference. Additionally, Mr. Horton is an Associate Professor in these topics in the MBA Technology Management Program at the Gore School of Business of Westminster College.

Jonathan Lee
Jonathan Lee is a registered patent attorney and a member of the Utah State Bar practicing at ALG (AdvantEdge Law Group). His practice focuses on adding real-world value to companies, both large and small, by acquiring, securing, and protecting intellectual property rights.

Mr. Lee has prepared and successfully prosecuted hundreds of patent applications throughout his career, primarily in the electrical, electro-mechanical, and computer engineering fields. He currently helps a number of Fortune 1000 companies manage and develop their domestic and worldwide patent portfolios. He also regularly counsels clients in other aspects of intellectual property law, including litigation, licensing, and opinion work, as well as due diligence examinations, copyrights and trademarks, and patent reexamination proceedings.

Prior to joining ALG, Mr. Lee worked for nationally recognized law firms in Washington, D.C. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mr. Lee was recently selected as a Mountain States Rising Star by Super Lawyers, a peer-reviewed publication.