Innovation Review

Monthly information on a variety of economic, business, and technology related legal news as well as highlights and profiles of resources and events across New York state.


News from the Center


TCLP Work Continues This Summer

Classes might be out for summer, but the work of the College of Law’s Technology Commercialization Law Program (TCLP) continues apace, with seven students and staff coordinating several early stage commercialization law projects to assist entrepreneurial clients and economic development business partners. Working with the NEXUS clean energy accelerator and GeniusNY unmanned aerial systems the students gain crucial practical experience by taking the lead with clients and providing research on intellectual property protection for companies as they prepare to enter a crowded marketplace. They recently presented on IP Protection for Software and are putting together a guidebook on the subject. Check out their PowerPoint presentation here.


IP/Regulatory Law Watch


USPTO Director Discusses Patentability of Algorithms

In April, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing regarding oversight of the USPTO, which included a testimony from the office’s director, Andrei Iancu. During the hearing, the committee discussed how recent Supreme Court decisions like Alice v. CLS Bank and Mayo v. Prometheus Labs have caused a lack of clarity regarding patentability in the software and biotech industries. Because artificial intelligence will continue to become more valuable, algorithms in particular were discussed when Iancu was asked whether E=MC^2 would have been patentable. “This is one place where I believe courts have gone off the initial intent,” Iancu said. “There are human-made algorithms, that are the result of human ingenuity that are not set from time immemorial and that are not absolutes, they depend on human choices. Those are very different from E=mc2 and they are very different from the Pythagorean theorem, for example.” For more on the hearing, click here.


Bitcoin Regulations Proposed – Shubha Ghosh

In February, 2018, Congress held hearings on regulation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While the Senate Banking Committee expressed skepticism of the ability to regulate such online currencies, representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission were adamant about the need for regulation. Debates continue about the need for regulation and the competence of Congress to devise rules for something it, or few others, really understand. For more, click here.

Problems With Focusing Either too Much on the Details or too Much on the Big Picture

Early stage entrepreneurs often fall into two categories according to James Shomar at StartFast Venture Accelerator: Those that are too focused on the details of their business and those that are too focused on the big picture. The problem with the former is that companies understand near term problems, but struggle with long term strategy. And the problem with the latter is companies focus too much on large partnerships without having generated any revenue. The solution to both problems, however, lies in mentorship. “Solving (these problems) will require constant experimentation and data analysis before finding the right path forward,” writes Shomar. “Founders need a mentor or group of mentors who are willing to sit down with them every once in a while and advise them on their progress.” For more on the solution of mentorship, click here. New York State has a plethora of accelerators like StartFast, Ithaca Startup Works, Luminate, GeniusNY, Binghamton, RPI Innovation HubNEXUS-NY, Long Island High Tech Incubator, and University at Buffalo Incubators, that also help early stage startups with these same issues.

USPTO Proposes Replacing Broadest Reasonable Interpretation “BRI” with Phillips Standard – Shubha Ghosh

The USPTO has proposed eliminating use of the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard in prosecution and in PTAB challenges to patent validity. Instead, the Supreme Courts’ 2005 Phillips v. AWH Corp standard is being proposed. Under the BRU standard, a claim is given its broadest reasonable interpretation for determining patentability. The Phillips standard would require the PRO to adopt a narrower interpretation based on the text of the claims, with appeal to secondary sources such as prosecution history, dictionaries, and experts when there is ambiguity. Such a narrower reading will make it more difficult to find a claim invalid in light of the prior art. Many practitioners, however, support the change in order to reconcile the standards used in the agency and in the courts and to minimize confusion. For more, click here.


Around New York State


New York Business Plan Competition Winners

BitCrusher took home the $20,000 grand prize at the 2018 New York Business Plan Competition. The company, which hails from the University at Buffalo, is aiming to revolutionize the electric guitar by allowing a user to control digital sound effects right on the instrument rather than with effects pedals. In addition to the grand prize, there were also various winners in the service, advanced technology, IT & Software, NYSERDA Energy and Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship and Non-Profit competition tracks. For a full list of winners, click here.


UB Receives $32M State Grant to Establish Innovation Hub to Support Startups

University at Buffalo has received a $32 million investment from New York State to launch an Innovation Hub in its New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences that will accelerate the growth of Western New York startups. The new hub, part of the state’s second Buffalo Billion investment, will provide incubator space to house technology startups on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, establish a technology commercialization investment fund, and deliver mentoring and other support programs and services to guide innovators from idea to market. For more on the Innovation Hub, which is part of the Middle Class Recovery Act announced by Gov. Cuomo, click here.




Save the Date for NEXT 2018

NEXT 2018, cohosted by NYS STLC, will take place on November 15, 2018 at the Holiday Inn Convention center in Liverpool, NY. Now in its fifth year, the NEXT conference focuses on innovation in technology, manufacturing, and biotech. The event brings together fast-track companies, managers, researchers, medical professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs to meet and learn from each other and from global thought leaders and industry experts. The event will also feature two Keynote speakers, Chris Kelly, former Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook, and Rob Shepherd, head of Cornell University’s Organic Robotics Lab (ORL). You can register for NEXT 2018 here.


Concept to Commercialization Boot Camp – Workshop 1

Workshop 1 of Concept to Commercialization Boot Camp will take place on September 13, 2018 at the CNY Biotech Accelerator. The program is developed by the CNY Biotech Accelerator, High Tech Rochester, and NYS STLC and is aimed at aiding healthcare technology startups and early discovery innovators in pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech. The first workshop will focus on New Venture and Technology Commercialization, Legal Considerations for Startups, and Building an Effective Team. To register for the event, click here.




Global NY

Is your NYS business thinking about exporting? If you’re already sending some of what you make overseas, would you like to expand that part of your operation? Many small-to-medium companies want to reach global markets, but they need to manage their risks. As the result of President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEXT) and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Global NY initiative, the federal and state governments are willing to share this risk with you. Global NY can connect your company to the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. The STEP Program is offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) through Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s chief economic development agency. To learn more about STEP and how it can help your business, click here. NYS STLC has also compiled an Export Control Guidebook to assist individuals considering the export of their technology.

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