China accounts for 40% of 6G patent applications with most of them being filed by Huawei, survey reveals

China is already working on the next generation of communication networks known as 6G that is expected to roll out commercially by the end of this decade.

Research conducted by Nikkei Asia and Tokyo-based research company Cyber Creative Institute shows that China topped the list with 40.3% of 6G patent filings, closely followed by the U.S. with 35.2%. Japan ranked third with 9.9%, followed by Europe with 8.9% and South Korea with 4.2%.

Around 20,000 patent applications for nine core 6G technologies were surveyed for this. This includes communications, quantum technology, base stations, and artificial intelligence. Countries with a greater number of patent filings are more likely to be ahead of the curve in terms of advanced technology and tend to have a greater influence over industry standards.

China’s 6G development had been expected to be slow due to sanctions imposed by the US government in 2019 on Huawei Technologies but, the Asian country has maintained its competitiveness by mobilizing state-run companies and universities.

6G patent applications by China are mostly related to mobile infrastructure technology. This makes sense considering aerial coverage such as satellites, combined with ground base stations for broader radio bands, will be needed in the 6G era.

A considerable amount of the patents (12%) have been filed by none other than Huawei which controlled 30% of the world’s base stations in 2020. Other prominent patent holders include state-run companies such as State Grid Corporation of China and China Aerospace Science and Technology.

6G is expected to be over 10 times faster than 5G and will be enabling fully autonomous driving, HD virtual reality, and worldwide internet, even in the most remote regions.

On the other end, the US has high technical prowess in software and terminals, thanks to it possessing many smartphone and internet companies. Qualcomm and Intel have acquired many patents for chips used in smartphones and other IT equipment.

Finally, Japan that ranks third in the number of patents, has Nippon Telegraph & Telephone. Nippon has filed many patents involving optical communications and mobile infrastructure networks in urban areas. This includes technologies for mitigating data congestion and delays.

The International Telecommunication Union and industry groups will likely begin discussing 6G standardization around 2024. China is expected to have a strong voice in the policy-making process thanks to the large number of patents owned by it.

Judge Says an AI Can’t Be an Inventor on a Patent Because It’s Not a Person

It all boils down to how the law defines an 'individual.'

Don’t worry, humans—artificial intelligence systems aren’t taking over the world yet. They can’t even appear as inventors on U.S. patents.

U.S. federal judge Leonie Brikema ruled this week that an AI can’t be listed as an inventor on a U.S. patent under current law. The case was brought forward by Stephen Thaler, who is part of the Artificial Inventor Project, an international initiative that argues that an AI should be allowed to be listed as an inventor in a patent (the owner of the AI would legally own the patent).

Thaler sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after it denied his patent applications because he had listed the AI named DABUS as the inventor of a new type of flashing light and a beverage container. In various responses spanning several months, the Patent Office explained to Thaler that a machine does not qualify as an inventor because it is not a person. In fact, the machine is a tool used by people to create inventions, the agency maintained.

Brikema determined that the Patent Office correctly enforced the nation’s patent laws and pointed out that it basically all boils down to the everyday use of language. In the latest revision of the nation’s patent law in 2011, Congress explicitly defined an inventor as an “individual.” The Patent Act also references an inventor using words such as “himself” and herself.”

“By using personal pronouns such as ‘himself or herself’ and the verb ‘believes’ in adjacent terms modifying ‘individual,’ Congress was clearly referencing a natural person,” Brikema said in her ruling, which you can read in full at the Verge. “Because ‘there is a presumption that a given term is used to mean the same thing throughout a statute,’ the term ‘individual’ is presumed to have a persistent meaning throughout the Patent Act.”

The judge also rejected Thaler’s claim that the Patent Office had to provide evidence that Congress did not want to exclude AI systems from being inventors.

Furthermore, Brikema stated that the nature of an inventor has already been examined in federal courts, which have ruled that neither companies nor states can claim to be inventors on a patent.

For his part, Thaler also tried to argue that the court should respect Congress’ intent to create a system that would “encourage innovation.”

“Allowing patents for AI-Generated Inventions will result in more innovation. It will incentivize the development of AI capable of producing patentable output by making that output more valuable…” Thaler said. “By contrast, denying patent protection for AI-Generated Inventions threatens to undermine the patent system by failing to encourage the production of socially valuable inventions.”

Nonetheless, Thaler didn’t have luck with that argument, either. Brikema said that these were policy considerations and thus must be dealt with by Congress, not the courts.

And it’s not like the Patent Office is refusing to consider what role, if any, AI should have in patents. It has requested comments artificial intelligence in patent policy and reported that the majority of responses reflected the belief that current AI “could neither invent nor author without human intervention.”

Ryan Abbott, a law professor who oversees the Artificial Inventor Project, told Bloomberg the group would appeal. Although Brikema squashed all of the project’s arguments, she didn’t say an AI could never be listed as an inventor.

“As technology evolves, there may come a time when artificial intelligence reaches a level of sophistication such that might satisfy accepted meanings of inventorship. But that time has not yet arrived, and, if it does, it will be up to Congress to decide how, if it at all, it wants to expand the scope of patent law,” Brikema said.


A Shot In The Dark

If you’re looking for lighting with a side of danger, you’ve come to the right place. This collection of lamps by Ceramicryan is dramatic, thought-provoking, and beautifully made. Slip-cast ceramic firearms with a black semi-matte glaze stand in contrast to the gilded interior of the shade, creating a luminescent juxtaposition that adds instant intensity to your home or office.

Malaysian students invent device that makes ocean water drinkable for ‘sea nomads’

An invention that could provide clean drinking water to "sea nomads" — communities living near the ocean — has earned three Malaysian students a spot to compete at the James Dyson Awards, an annual competition that recognizes young design engineers with inventive solutions to real-world problems.

Malaysia’s best: Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) sophomores Bennie Beh Hue May, Loo Xin Yang and Yap Chun Yoon won the top prize of 10,000 Malaysian Ringgit ($2,400) in Malaysia’s search for its official entry to the international design competition, MalayMail reported.

  • The product design students bested 120 other participants with their sustainable seawater desalination pod called the “WaterPod.”
  • Eighty-four international finalists are now vying for a chance to win the top prize of $40,000, with an additional $6,600 for the winners’ university.
  • According to the James Dyson Awards website, Dyson engineers will narrow the competitors down and announce a shortlist of the top 20 contestants on Oct. 13.

How WaterPod works: The invention utilizes a self-cleaning solar desalination system, which facilitates seawater absorption through a wick. It has a special semi-spherical cover exposed to sunlight that collects vapor, which eventually condenses into a potable liquid.

  • The desalinated water then flows into a storage chamber that can hold between 8 to 10.5 gallons (30.28 to 39.75 liters), which users can then collect using a pump.
  • In their online pitch, the students describe the WaterPod as an alternative to bigger desalination plants, since it “is designed to be simple and only uses basic science” to do the same process.
  • The students came up with the device’s floatation concept after studying the needs of local communities living near the sea, like the Bajau tribe in Sabah.
  • Eekang Ooi, a lecturer affiliated with a nonprofit that helps sea nomads, inspired the students to pursue the project.

Why this matters: Sea nomads, who live on the coasts and islands in Southeast Asia, reportedly collect rainwater or barter tap water wherever and whenever they can due to lack of access to clean water.

Forget Supersonic. This Hypersonic Jet Can Fly From NYC to London in Under an Hour.

J. George Gorant

Supersonic flight is arriving—in a hurry. In the last 18 months, Boom has successfully tested its XB-1 demonstrator aircraft and pre-sold 15 of its still-in-development 30-seat Overture models to United Airlines. Virgin Galactic and Rolls Royce rolled out a partnership to develop a 19-seater. Even the Russian Federation revealed plans to build a supersonic jet for commercial use.

Then there’s the Hermeus Quarterhorse. Think supersonic or Mach 1—the speed of sound—multiply by five and you have the hypersonic Quarterhorse.

More from Robb Report

Last week, the Atlanta-based company announced a $60 million award from the US Air Force to finance testing of the aircraft. Like the Greek god Hermes, this Hermeus is designed to travel seamlessly between worlds, with a projected top speed of Mach 5.5—or 4,219 mph. That makes it the fastest reusable aircraft on the planet, so a New York-to-London flight will take less than an hour.
Belly of the beast: The Quarterhorse’s engine is based on the GE J85 turbo jet, but has been modified to reach hypersonic speeds. – Credit: Courtesy Hermeus
Belly of the beast: The Quarterhorse’s engine is based on the GE J85 turbo jet, but has been modified to reach hypersonic speeds. – Credit: Courtesy Hermeus
Courtesy Hermeus
The speed will come from a unique engine set-up, a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) propulsion system. Such systems use a standard jet engine for launch and landing and to build enough speed in flight to feed air into a second turbine—known as a ramjet or scramjet—which produces more power, but requires high-speed air flow in order to ignite. The difficulty is managing the transition between the turbines and achieving the necessary aerodynamics.

Hermeus is off to a good start. In nine months, it designed, built and tested its engine, which is based on GE J85 turbo jet, and it has two advantages when it comes to testing. The Quarterhorse will fly autonomously, so the development team can get prototypes in the air and learn from them without risking pilots’ lives.

Strange 3D-printed shapes test 150-year-old mathematical theory

A strange shape described by mathematician Lord Kelvin in 1871 and predicted to behave unusually in a fluid has finally been fully studied in the real world thanks to 3D printing – and it seems Kelvin may have been wrong. The behavior of the shape, called an isotropic helicoid, has been described in fluid dynamics textbooks, but it hadn’t been directly measured until now.

An isotropic helicoid must experience the same amount of drag from a fluid regardless of its orientation, like a sphere, but also rotate as it moves through the fluid. So if you dropped an isotropic helicoid into a tank of a viscous liquid, it should spin as it sinks, similar to the way a propeller turns.

Greg Voth at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and his colleagues 3D printed five different shapes that should be isotropic helicoids, each a little more than a centimetre across, and dropped them into a tank of silicone oil. They were unable to detect rotation in any of them, meaning the predictions for an isotropic helicoid may be wrong.

“You’ve got to guess that somebody else has tried this in 150 years – in Kelvin’s original paper, it even sounds like he tried it,” says Voth. “I suspect that people have tried to fabricate these particles, but they were limited by defects in the fabrication so they simply didn’t publish, so the hypothesis of this behaviour has stayed with us.”

Upon delving into the hydrodynamic effects in play, the researchers calculated that there was almost certainly a link, or coupling, between the movement and rotation of their particles, meaning they fulfilled Kelvin’s criteria. But this was far too small to have any detectable effect.

“The coupling is tiny, but it still exists,” says Voth. He and his team are now working on building an isotropic helicoid where that coupling could be measurable, which would finally vindicate Lord Kelvin’s idea.

The World’s Oldest Bottle of Whiskey Just Sold for $137,500

Carbon dating says the spirit was likely bottled between 1763 and 1803.

A bottle containing what is believed to be the world’s oldest whiskey just sold for way more than anyone was expecting.

The handle of Old Ingledew Whiskey went for a staggering $137,500 on Wednesday following a spirited round of bidding overseen by Skinner Auctioneers, reports CNN. The gavel price absolutely shatters the $20,000 to $40,000 the spirit had been expected to sell for before the sale.

So why did this bottle, go for nearly $100,000 more than its high-end estimate? One reason: its age. Though the whiskey was long thought to date back to 1850, a recent laboratory test conducted by the University of Georgia and University of Glasgow revealed it’s actually much older. A sample of liquid was taken from the bottle and carbon tested; the results revealed an 81.1 percent likelihood that the whiskey was actually bottled between 1763 and 1803, putting it in the historical context of the Revolutionary War and Whiskey Rebellion.

This particular bottle of Old Ingledew also has an interesting backstory. It once belonged to Wall Street financier John Pierpoint Morgan, the founder of what would eventually become JP Morgan Chase & Co., who obtained the whiskey on a business trip to Georgia, according to Barron’s. But he was far from the bottle’s only famous owner. His son Jack gifted the bottle to future US Supreme Court justice and South Carolina governor James Byrnes in the early 1940s. Jack also gave two other bottles to Franklin D. Roosevelt (they were distant cousins) and Harry S. Truman. Skinner’s rare spirits expert, Joseph Hyman, said that the bottle that sold this week is only one that survives.

As shocking as the bottle’s final price may be—it’s not often that a lot sells for more than three times its pre-auction estimate—it doesn’t make Old Ingeldew the world’s most expensive whiskey. Far from it, in fact. That title currently belongs to a bottle of Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 that sold for $1.9 million in 2019. But the title of world’s oldest? That belongs to this bottle and this bottle alone.

It seems the patent office wanted number 11 million to be special, not soy

The US Patent Office issued utility patent number 11 million today, granting the milestone number to a patent entitled “repositioning wires and methods for repositioning prosthetic heart valve devices within a heart chamber and related systems, devices and methods.”

Even without understanding exactly what that means, it just screams progress, doesn’t it? Prosthetic heart valves? Surgery? This truly is the future that the patent system enables.

There have, however, been accusations that the patent office cherry-picked which invention would get the most notable number in years (patent 10 million was awarded back in 2018), aiming to give it to something exciting, rather than bland like, say, a soybean.

Could it really be true? To see if that was the case, I looked at the patents that were granted before and after it, to see if they really were as boring as Twitter alleged. And I found that they absolutely were. The prosthetic heart valve-related patent is, in fact, c-c-c-combo-breaking what would otherwise be a string of six soybean-related patents.

That’s not all, though. I looked back at patents 10,999,990 through 10,999,999, and before the soy starts, there’s a string of patents about corn, sorghum, and cucumbers. Yeah, it’s not a lot sexier. Going the other direction, patent 11,000,005 is for an edible (non-soy) bean called COWBOY, and 11,000,006 is about a tomato variant. Then things just start getting weird, with pet doors and farm equipment.

Whether the patent office purposefully stole soy’s thunder probably isn’t something we’ll ever know for sure, but to me the evidence is pretty compelling. The Patent Office sure made a big deal about 11 million on Twitter, tweeting about it more than a few times. Surely it must’ve known it wouldn’t have been as exciting if the celebrated patent had been one of six soybeans.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for any funny business around patent number 11,111,111 as this is, obviously, a very serious issue.

Taking an invention from idea to the marketplace

When Dr Fransisco Velasco started work on a Covid ward, he found himself commuting to work with his laptop and notes in a bin bag.

His brand new rucksack was made of canvas and could not be sterilised at the end of each day.

The doctor, based in Mexico, decided to contact the British company behind the bag and tell them about the problem. His girlfriend told him not to bother, as they probably wouldn’t care. Undeterred, Dr Velasco wrote a lengthy message.

Sarah Giblin, the owner and designer of RiutBag, responded immediately.

She told him: “I’m the designer, and I am so heartbroken you can’t use your backpack. Please give me half an hour of your time to tell me what you need.”

Dr Velasco spoke of the difficulties of his job, sharing details he had kept from his family, not wishing to worry them.

“He needed a stranger to listen,” says Sarah, who was contending with worries of her own.

Sarah’s bag company is a microbusiness that she runs herself from Manchester. She keeps in touch with a loyal customer base through social media and runs Kickstarter campaigns to fund her new designs.

But when the pandemic struck, with no way to travel for fun or commute to work, people had stopped buying bags and Riutbag was struggling.

  • However, after speaking to Dr Velasco, Sarah hunkered down with her sketchpad to design a rucksack that could be sterilised.
  • After researching ambulance bags and speaking to first responders, she chose a material similar to tarpaulin, found on lorries. On the sides of the bag, she added mask and hand sanitiser holders.
  • And there it was: RiutBag’s first Covid-era product line.
  • Sarah isn’t alone in having found inspiration in adversity.
  • Lockdowns have presented unique opportunities and challenges for many product designers and inventors.

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Made in Britain, a non-profit organisation representing the UK’s smaller manufacturers, told the BBC its membership jumped 130% this year compared with before the lockdown. By March 2021, the number of patent applications registered with the UK Intellectual Property Office increased by 6% from the previous year to 4,295. Time to reflect, changing job circumstances and anticipation of new products consumers may want to buy after lockdown have proved a fertile ground for British inventors.

Why did these people start businesses in a pandemic?

But like many product designers working during Covid, Sarah has also faced new administrative challenges.

For the last seven years, she has travelled with her designs to the warehouse she works with in south China. Normally she’s there at the end of production to make sure that every bag has the right fit, sturdiness of the zips, and matching seams.

Now, stuck in her Manchester studio, Sarah was unable to give her merchandise the in-person inspection.

My production manager in China is my eyes and ears when I’m not there and we really trust each other,” says Sarah.

After seven product attempts, or prototypes, the warehouse made the newest version of a RiutBag. Dr Velasco gave feedback on each of the samples. And the laptop backpack was released to the market in April.

“I could have kept designing that bag for the next 10 years, but we called time,” she says.

Tom Pellereau won the BBC show The Apprentice in 2011. He agrees with Sarah’s sentiment: the hardest part of inventing is deciding when to stop fiddling and start selling.

“I’m never happy to bring a product to the market until I know it’s fantastic,” he says.

Luckily, Lord Sugar, who is a director at Tom’s company STYLIDEAS, helps push his products to market.

“He’s quite terrifying and also he really knows what he is talking about,” Tom says.

This autumn Tom will release a new product to follow up his make-up brush cleaner. His invention, which took four years to develop, is currently confidential and the details of its release will be announced soon.

At one point, he ordered plumbing parts off the internet and cut them to size to improve a part of one of his cosmetic inventions. He admits that his house has cupboards full of make-up brushes and beauty tools.

The most important piece of advice he offers to inventors is to ask for feedback.

“You really have got to listen to what people think, otherwise you don’t actually know if you’ve got something that people would be interested in buying.”

Another piece of advice from Tom: don’t quit your day job. It can take a product 10 years to come to market and make money. During that time, inventors need to plan on how they will stay afloat financially.

“You need to try to be in the game for as long as you can,” he says.

Tom moved back in with his parents for five years while he developed the curvy nail file that made him famous.

He remembers how fellow engineering grads had taken up jobs with investment banks, bought houses and went on lovely holidays.

“And I was living with my parents and seeing their photos on Facebook.”

One technology that might have hastened Tom’s journey, had it been available when he was starting out and developing product prototypes, is 3D printing.

When inspiration struck John Docherty, it cost him just £70 to send his designs to Torus Technology, a company near his home in Shropshire.

The boxing and martial arts teacher had learned from his sensei that if he needed to throw a punch, it was good form to wrap his hand round an object of some sort, rather than use a tightly clenched fist.

Boxing gloves typically feature a bit of foam that performs this purpose. But after 30 years of combat and countless injuries to his hands and wrists, John started to question whether the design might be improved.

Then, when lockdowns hit, he was furloughed.

“I was at home with my partner and my little boy. There was a fun atmosphere that felt creative. And I suddenly had time to focus on this little invention,” he says.

He drew and got printed a grenade-shaped cone of silicone rubber meant to be stuffed into a boxing glove. It maintains the structural integrity of the hand when it lands a punch.

Another local production company called Protolabs agreed to manufacture his Boxing Hand Grenade.

John’s invention has garnered the attention of professional boxers and influencers on social media.

Filippo Di Nardo, considered the Ferrari of boxing glove makers, has agreed an exclusive deal to build John’s “grenades” into his gloves.

“I pinch myself every day and wonder why nobody else has done this,” says John.