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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

Hey everyone, I’m J.D. Houvener, and welcome to the Bold Today Show. This is a weekly broadcast with me, the owner here at Bold Patents Law Firm. I’m here to talk about patent law. Okay, so bring on your questions. Come inventors, business owners, entrepreneurs. This is a live forum right now, and so I encourage you to think about raising questions that are not confidential, okay? Process-related, maybe even thinking about inventing, and you wonder what’s next. How do I get started? This is the place. So please keep things hypothetical, and as an attorney, it’s certainly my job to make sure you know this is not a place to put confidential invention subject matter. I will be providing later a link for you to schedule a confidential screening session with us if you’d like to move forward.

Today, we’ve got a topic, as you saw, how to patent software. Okay, it’s a big topic, and I’ve got a really special guest today. He’s actually a client of ours, and so I’m humbled to have him on. He’s going to be sharing his solution for the trucking industry, so hang tight for that. Coming up after I get done with that, we’ll be visiting and answering those Avo.com questions. So if you’re from Avo, hang in there. If you’re in a hurry and you’re watching this afterward, you can forward along the video to the end and get to that. But I encourage you to hang with us and learn about software here. This is going to be fun.

Next up, I’ll be offering a free book link. Okay, if you want to get a copy of this book behind me, where is that? There, ‘Bold Ideas: The Inventor’s Guide to Patents.’ It’s about a 100-page tutorial. It’s going to walk you through everything related, the difference between patents and trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks. So there’ll be a link to that coming up here as well.

All that said, for those who may have missed it, I’m J.D. Houvener. I’m the managing partner and owner here at Bold Patents Law Firm, and we’ve got a special guest today. His name is Andy Hedrick, and we’ll bring him on. Andy, welcome to the show.

Andy: Thanks for having me, JD.

You’re welcome. Yeah, it’s my pleasure. You know, bringing clients on with the thought that we can finally have a discussion about your invention that we’ve got you patent pending. Certainly, you’re no stranger to business, and so tell us a little bit about Trucking Tower. What are you up to there?

Andy: Sure. So, my journey started back in 1992, actually working for an early-stage software company in the trucking industry, doing manual entry of driver logs into Lotus 123 spreadsheets. So, I’ve been fortunate to roll out a number of different technologies in trucking across 25 years. In the last couple of years, I had an idea for some business intelligence that executives were asking me for. So, results from engines without having to manually pull together all these reports, and then also how do they compare with others, other fleets. So then I had this idea to bring some software to the market.

Right, right. So, I guess what is the, you know, there’s all sorts of data, I’m sure. From your history, what are the biggest pieces of data? What is the most important information for owners, operators of trucks?

Yeah, so the US spends 1.2 trillion dollars a year on fuel in big rig trucking alone, just the classic big rig trucks only, not the sprint vans and everything else. So that fuel economy and knowing how to get better fuel economy is extremely important to these companies. It’s either the second or the third highest cost for a trucking company. And so we’ve been able to pull data from engines and show before and after results and then comparatively, anonymously compare across fleets. So that’s what we’re up to, basically up to a 30% reduction in fuel is possible with these technologies that are available. But companies want to know what should I deploy, what are having the biggest impacts, how do I compare, you know, those sorts of things, wanting to answer those questions.

Right, right. Yeah, being an ex-aeronautical engineer, one of the things I always notice on trucks are those interesting aerodynamic features, right, trying to cut on drag. But this is sort of going beyond the external drag. Is it true that a lot of the stuff that you help with is in the engine, or are you looking at all aspects, really?

Andy: It’s all aspects. So, you know, what we’re really doing is comparing engine loads apples to apples before and after deploying, whether it be trailer fairings, wind flaps, combustion technologies, oil bypass systems, driver performance softwares. There’s a number of different technologies aimed at reducing fuel. What we’re doing is basically saying, okay, with that technology, here’s the kind of results you can expect before and after. And then the top fleets, you know, the top 10 out there, here’s the kind of fuel economy they’re getting and the technologies they’ve deployed in order to make that happen.

Right. Walk me through the evolution, take us back even 10 years. What were the most recent problems that sort of have been overcome recently, you know, in this space? What’s becoming available now in this space?

Sure. So, there are a number of different fuel nano-technologies available these days that have emerged within the last 15 years or so. There are oil bypass systems, keep your oil cleaner longer and help with your fuel economy. There are the wind flaps I’m sure many of your viewers have seen on the sides of trucks on the trailers. Actually, there’s wind covers over the wheels for better aerodynamics. There are trailer fairings at the back to help with drag. There are a number of different, and then driver performance software I mentioned as well. The driver, it’s actually been shown controls up to 30% of the fuel economy on the truck as well. So, that’s a big impact. And so there’s a number of different technologies and, you know, they’ve got various different results and various different costs as well. So, you know, what we’re doing is basically bringing intelligence, business intelligence, to the market for apples to apples comparisons and not just conjecture and myths and so forth. We wanted to bring the data to the market to show what the actual scientific impacts are. And you and I both have an industrial engineering degree. So right, this is a very familiar space for us, looking at results scientifically before and after, whether it be process or technology. Those sorts of things, basically looking at the scientific impacts of it. And then, of course, every executive, I think I’ve ever met wants to be the best. They want to be the top tier, top five, top number one, and how do they get there? And not just, I heard this does such and such, I’ve heard about this other thing. What do you think? It really needs to be based on data, based on the data that there is available. And so, you know, about 12 years or so ago, the DOT, Department of Transportation, required every driver to have an electronic logging device connected to the engine. And the reason for that is to track the number of on-duty hours, the number of driving hours, and those there’s limits on those. But the good news is on those engines, there are over 100 fields of data available. And so we figured out a way to get out that data and pull it. And so that’s kind of what we’re doing.

Yeah. Well, excellent. Thank you for sharing that. I wanted to share with our viewers a little bit about your website so they know how to get a hold of you if they want to follow up for more information. And I’ve got pulled up here your, well, you’ve called it the Fleet Compete platform. And so I’ll share that with you and you can kind of walk us through what this is.

Thank you for doing that. And also, thank you, by the way, before I forget, you sent me this really cool package in the mail. I’m patent pending, and I really appreciate that. That was really neat to get that in the mail, and that was a big milestone for our company.

Specifically, what we’re doing is helping companies learn how to reduce fuel consumption up to 30%, learn what engines are the most fuel-efficient, learn what technologies are having the greatest impact, see detailed fuel economy before and after technology deployments, view detailed engine diagnostics and fuel economy reports, and then anonymously compare their results against other fleets. Well, that’s what we’re doing with this platform.

That’s really cool. And that Fleet Compete part, right, you’re able to get a little insight. Yeah, I really like that. That is fun. I’m sure you get a lot of interest in that.

Andy: These executives are very competitive, and they want to be number one. And we’re helping them understand how to get there, basically.

Very cool. Well, good. And all right, well, thanks for that. And if anyone wants to get a hold of you, I want to be able to provide an email address. And so what I’ll do for our viewers here is put that email down there. And so it is andy@truckingtower.com. It’s all andy.hedrick@truckingtower.com.

Okay. I’ll put that in there to contact Andy.

Perfect. Well, Andy, thank you so much for sharing with us a real brief of what you’re up to. What we’ll do is we’ll put you backstage, and I know sometimes it takes a while for viewers to kind of watch and see if they have any questions. So what I’ll do is I’ll invite you back to join us once we get to our Avo questions. So thanks for being on, Andy. Yeah, thank you. All right, excellent. So let’s do our Avo question. I did see we had one in our patent infringement category. This question comes out of Sacramento, California, on May 22nd, and so I’ll put that question here. It’s a long one, so it might be a double paragraph, and I’ll put this up so folks can watch it. All right, so this question is about a recent patent that Warner Brothers just landed, and I was covering up my face in their ground spine. How far-reaching is Warner Brothers’ patent of their nemesis system for video games? I’m an indie game developer and have been conceptualizing a system that adjusts locations and non-player characters procedurally in response to actions the player takes in a game, as well as specifically flagged non-player characters based on various algorithms to produce an experience that’s never quite the same. Okay, it’s kind of simulating a bit of randomness from an NPC and location appearance to traits, to AI tactics, even state of politics. Oh, goodness. All right, well, that sounds quite specific. Okay, and what I did, I did take a look at this question before, and so I did pull up the Warner Brothers patent.

So let me just share that with you.

Okay, so this patent was issued just this year, so 10 million 926 100 179. That’s a lot of patents, right? We’re actually over 11 million now as of just two weeks ago we hit 11 million. All right, so this is assigned, you can see who applied for it. Okay, is the company Warner Brothers. A lot of inventors involved here, which is pretty cool, from my home state of Washington, which is great to see, and the owner is Warner Brothers. Okay, they’ve all assigned their inventor rights to the company. It’s likely because they’re obliged obligated to being employees. Okay, I’d like to point that out in terms of who owns the patent. A lot can be learned from this first page, and I won’t get into all the different categories, but right from the abstract, you can get a little bit of a sense. This is about protecting a method. It’s a method patent, a method for managing, and here’s this term non-player characters, and power centers. I’m not sure what a power center is, but there it is in a computer game based on a character hierarchy and individualized correspondences. So some communication between each character’s traits or rank and events that involve other non-player characters or objects. So that’s a mouthful. It’s a lot. I think I’m tracking about 75% of that. I think we can get the feel for what this is about. This is a fairly nuanced method that is now patented. So to find out what they own, you don’t look at the disclosure. You don’t get overwhelmed and think that they own all of the flow charts and the images that you might see. They don’t own the specification, which is all this writing here. Okay, what they actually own is way at the bottom. Okay, in a set of numbered claims. And so I typically will go here first, and you’ve got to scroll down. This is a lengthy patent application or patent rather. So there it is. Okay, we’re on page 36, 38. The invention claimed is, okay, they kind of make it hard to see, but this is independent claim number one. So I’ll make it a little bit bigger for those that are perhaps on their phones. And method comprising, okay, so there’s a controlling aspect detecting, changing, and outputting. You see these terms, these are all verbs, right? Actions, and they’re steps. Okay, they’re verbs. These four generic clauses are what must be shown in an infringing method. Now, in other words, you have to do all four of these steps to be infringing this patent. So just before I start reading and kind of get into the details, that’s number one is the scope of their rights. If you only do elements, if you only do controlling, detecting, and changing, and you’re not doing this outputting, you are not infringing. Okay, so really clean. I know this question talked about, hey, am I infringing? Is there any way to design around it? And now it’s time to dive in. Obviously, someone is going to jump in a little bit on this first clause, but just know that the answer I’m giving you today is not going to be binding, certainly not going to be a written opinion, and you should, before you were to go to market, invest any money into developing a competitor product, you want to get an opinion from a patent firm. Certainly, our firm would be happy to help you answer the question, is my software, is my game infringing this method? And that is going to be a little bit of quite a bit of work to make sure that each one of these clauses is or is not affected. So this first one, controlling by a processor game events in a computer-implemented game. Okay, I think we’re so far the same as that question asker. The game events involving an avatar, that term is new, but I think that just means, right, representation of the player that is operated in response to input from a player. Okay, right, that’s your character. Let’s say. And a first non-player character. Okay, that’s controlled by the computer. And to, um, that is to respond and to automatically oppose avatars. Okay, oppose is this interesting word. But let’s say, so it’s going to respond to inputs from a player, right? This is not this computer. It’s going to respond to an input from the player, based on first character parameters. Then it’s got to detect. I mean, this first clause, this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking at all, right? This is I press up on the button, and a computer sees that button and does something else, right? Responds to that input. Now, they’re detecting by the computer the occurrence of a predefined one of the game events involving interaction between an avatar and a first non-player character. Okay, so that’s a predefined set of rules. Okay, so it’s not just any input, okay? The player says it’s within some realm, right? So there’s a detection phase. Hey, you didn’t just, you know, have to be a directional. It can’t just be a, b, and c buttons. Okay, all right. It’s detected that it’s one of the a, b, and c buttons. Got it. And this one is a changing by the computer a second character parameters defined by the computer based on detecting when the second non-player character is controlled by the processor. Okay, so now we’ve got a second right computer character. And they’re going to respond automatically based on how the first character interacted. So sort of this chain event. All right. So, uh, right, think Pac-Man really simply, right? You’re controlling Pac-Man. You go up, or you press a, let’s say, and it goes up. The non-the non-player character bad guy sees that, and they will move toward you. Okay, because they move toward you, the other computer-controlled character automatically makes some maneuver, okay? Changes. And then, at the last part, right, outputting to a device an indication of that second character that moved automatically. Um, that are changing, so it sort of shows or somehow indicates, provides display or information. It doesn’t say who or where they kept it pretty generic, as this indication. But somehow has to be known. It’s communicated that it’s changing its form or value. All right. I know I went quite a bit deep on that. I enjoyed that example, and I really appreciate that question. What I’ll do is I’ll stop our screen share and see if we have any questions. I do have two live viewers on. Um, appreciate you guys hopping on. If this is your first time viewing, I do encourage you to give us a thumbs up and like the channel. It’ll help us bring more inventors to our community here. I want to get as many in these needs as possible. We’ve had as many as 10 or 15, but two is great. So it’s really nice that you guys are here. So thank you for your time and attention. At this time, I would like to offer a screening session not only to you two that are with us live, but to anyone that’s watching this afterward. And so I’ll provide that link here right now. Okay, so know that this is not just a screening session; this is actually going to be a PDF copy of this book right behind me. Okay, so if you take action, you’re gonna thank you for that like, by the way, if you take action, you’re gonna get a um get a copy of the book and get some information, right? And with some of the best clients we have had over the years are those that invested themselves in this process and educate along the way. Right? It’s going to make our job a lot easier to be able to focus on giving you the best patent possible. Excellent. Well, I want to do is bring Andy back on. Andy, how you doing? How was it backstage? Very good. Uh, that was a very interesting question posed there, right? Software. Did you have any thoughts on that? Any, are you a gamer by chance? Any input at all? You know, I do a little bit. Um, you know, and so the nephew, 15-year-old that I play some games with. And, uh, it’s really popular this, um, you know, the avatars and coming in and competing on a team against others. I know that’s a really popular area. So it was pretty intriguing to see that, right? Yeah. And, uh, yeah, the priority date back on that I didn’t touch on that goes back to 2016. You know, so any anyone that, uh, you know, any adventure that tried to come in after that date, um, they, you know, the Warner Brothers patent will win. So they’ve got a pretty good patent there, looked like covering pretty broad disclosure on multiple non-characters. Well, switching gears, I do want to, uh, thank you again for coming on, Andy, and sharing your Fleet Compete with us and what you’re doing within the trucking industry with providing owners and executives really valuable information to be more fuel-efficient and just be better business owners. I want to give you an opportunity if you would, uh, please share with those on the show today, uh, what your experience has been so far working with Bold Patents. You know, I was really impressed. It was a really good process. I was my first patent ever. So, uh, I felt like you guys walked me through the process really well. Um, you know, and on the front end, of course, you do a patent search like you mentioned and investigating whether you have a patentable idea, which was really important to me. Is it patentable? So that was important. And then just the automation you use and the follow-ups that you guys do, you’re very proactive and pushing the process forward. So I was really overall impressed. Wonderful. Well, I’ll make sure to pass that along to Reed, and it’s wonderful that, you know, you had a good experience with us. So thanks again. I’m happy you ever come on. Uh, we’ll have to bring you back perhaps, you know, once you, uh, once you get the patent granted and, uh, kind of walk us through that process. I think there’s a lot of people interested to know about that too. So you’ve got some work ahead of you on the patent stage, but for now, congratulations on being patent-pending and, uh, wish you a wonderful rest your day, Andy. Thank you, JD. Thanks for everything you’ve done. Appreciate it. You’re welcome. All right, everybody. That’s the end of our show. I do welcome you guys back here; we’re here every Wednesday at 9:00 a.m Pacific and noon on the east coast. Uh, I’m J.D. Houvener; I’m your host, a patent attorney and owner here at Bold Patents law firm. Hope to see you next week. Go big, go bold.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at https://boldip.com/contact/