Archive for January, 2011

Patent Office Inefficiency Gives Away U.S. Jobs

January 26, 2011

Story of Stolen Ideas Familiar To Powersports Companies

President Barrack Obama’s call last night for stepped up innovation is right on the mark. Innovation and product development are two things that we do better than anyone else in the world.

Unfortunately, we may be giving away this advantage every day by disclosing our ideas and research before we can produce the related products and services. Losing intellectual property to unscrupulous foreign manufacturers is an all too frequent experience of many U.S. powersports manufacturers.

So, what’s the latest problem with protection of our ideas?

According to one recent report, the U.S. Patent Office is functioning so poorly that it can take years to act on a patent application, long after the application has been posted on the Internet and examined by potential competitors.

Here’s the story, according to a report prepared by John Schmid, a reporter with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper that ran Jan. 16, 2010. The key points presented by Schmid include:

  1. Lack of funding and an inefficient bureaucracy are causing patent applications to be delayed in processing at the same time that they are released by the Patent Office on the Internet.
  2. Patent applications are published by the office online 18 months after they are filed, whether or not they have been acted upon. “That puts American ingenuity up for grabs,” writes Schmid, “free to anyone with an Internet connection.”
  3. Thousands of Chinese engineers sit at computers every day reading U.S. patents on the Internet. “They use the technology for free.”
  4. Applications are delayed so long that technologies often become obsolete before a patent is ruled upon.
  5. The agency took 3.82 years on average to process each patent it issued last year, up from 3.66 years in 2009.
  6. Some 1.22 million patents await a final decision today.
  7. Last year, a total of 708,000 applications were waiting an initial review.
  8. In 2010 the Patent Office collected $53 million in fees that it was not allowed to keep because of limits imposed by Congress. At the same time, its $2 billion annual budget—all of which comes from fees— is often used in part by Congress for other unrelated government purposes.
  9. A study conducted by British patent authorities estimated that the  U.S. wastes at least $6.4 billion each year in lost innovation— legitimate technologies that cannot get licensed and start-ups that can’t get funded because of problems at the U.S. Patent Office.

In his report, Schmid quotes Paul Michel, a former patent court judge: “Everyone goes around saying that innovation is the key to job growth and the key to recovery from the recession. But with the growth of applications and the continued neglect of Congress, the Patent Office is making little progress and in some ways is sliding back.” A lot of companies actually die waiting for the Patent Office, Michel says.

President Obama is on the right track in pushing innovation as an engine to job creation, but Congress should wake up and plug the leak at the overextended Patent Office so that we stop providing free ideas to the rest of the world.  JD

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Joe Rocket Dry Tech Nano gear long-term test: A year of of all-weather riding

January 19, 2011

by Trevor Trumbo, former Advanstar group marketing director, Powersports and Veterinary divisions

It’s difficult to find good riding gear that you can live with day in and day out all year long. But this 2010 offering from Joe Rocket may be the only set of gear you need to buy. I’ve been wearing the Dry Tech Nano jacket and pants for more than a year, and I have put both pieces to the test. Consider this background on my riding:

A motorcycle is my only mode of transportation in California. I commute to work five days a week on my motorcycle. The total round trip distance is 54 miles. I take day/overnight trips around California every weekend on the motorcycle and consistently log 300-plus miles. Each week I ride between 500 and 800 miles.

The jacket and pants have held up to harsh commuting conditions consisting of highway riding at 70-plus mph through heat, cold, and rain. I’ve had other jackets and pants that show fraying edges after a few months of riding. The Joe Rocket set looks almost new (except for the dirt and grime, see pic below) and I can confidently report that the stitching and seams remain in excellent condition. Both jacket and pants have multiple highly reflective panels that do a great job of making sure you’re seen when riding at night or in low-light conditions.

The jacket and pants provide plenty of ventilation during the summer, when many riders either wear a mesh jacket or don’t wear a jacket at all. The Dry Tech Nano jacket flows enough air to keep you cool in all conditions, except 100-plus degrees and sitting still. I wear the jacket all 12 months of the year. When the weather begins to cool down, you can zip in the removable liner and be comfortable down to about 20 degrees (that’s the coldest temperature I’ve ridden in). Colder than that and you’ll want heated gear anyway. The pants feature a removable liner that you only need in the coldest of conditions.

I was most impressed with the ability of the jacket and pants to keep me warm and dry, even in torrential downpours. I can tell you that I don’t miss pulling over on the side of the road and trying to change into rain gear at the first sign of a storm and then having to change out again. The Joe Rocket gear lets me keep on riding without worrying about the weather. The pants feature full-length waterproof zippers up the legs making them easy to get into and out of. The Nano web material used, according to Joe Rocket, was originally developed as an air filtration system. No matter, it certainly works as advertised and is 100 percent waterproof and dries very quickly.

The jacket is adjustable for a variety of rider sizes with elastic/button adjusters on the sleeves and Velcro straps around the waist. And with adjustable CE-rated armor, you can get the right fit whether you are wearing layers or just need some additional room after stuffing yourself at the buffet. The pants have Velcro adjusters at the waist to ensure a tight fit as well as removable suspender straps.

Overall, this is a great set of riding gear whether you’re motorcycle adventure takes you to work and back or across the country. The Joe Rocket Dry Tech Nano is an affordable option to semi-custom touring suits of similar quality.


Polaris Kicks Off 2011 With RZR XP 900

January 1, 2011


Polaris RZR XP 900

Polaris Industries started the new year in powerful fashion today announcing its new RZR XP 900 in what it calls “a whole new class” of SXS vehicles. The 2011 RZR XP 900 has a new 875cc,  88 hp, ProStar 900 Twin EFI engine with dual overhead cams (DOHC) and a new 3-link trailing arm independent rear suspension with 13 inches of ground clearance. You can read a complete information package on the Polaris website by clicking here.

“When we set out to design the RANGER RZR XP 900,” said Matt Homan, vice president and general manager of Polaris’ Off-Road Vehicles Division, “we wanted to create a ground-breaking, high performance vehicle to complement our current, best-selling RANGER RZR line. The result is simply incredible.”

How will the RZR 900 be received? Interesting question. Here’s one comment from a discussion last month speculating on the new Polaris release: “I sure hope it is something worth while. If they make this big announcement for an 850 it will be a disappointment in my eyes as far as lot of others as well. Come on 951 CC or 1100 would be even better!”

Well, the 875cc power plant didn’t make that mark and it doesn’t match the top-of-the-line BRP Commander 1000 on several points, notably engine size (875cc vs. 976cc and price, $15,999 vs $14,999). It does win on horsepower (88 vs 85) and ground clearance (13 inches vs. 11 inches), however. If you’re interested in making more comparisons between the Polaris RZR 900 and the BRP Commander 1000, click here for RZR 900 specs and click here for BRP Commander 1000 specs.

The RZR 900 also includes several premium features, including the industry’s first factory LED headlights, performance brake calipers and large diameter, ventilated rotors on all four wheels, completely adjustable Fox Podium X 2.0 shocks on all four wheels and high performance  ITP 900 XCT tires. The RZR 900 also features a large grill opening and a front air dam for improved air flow. For safety, the RANGER RZR XP 900 has a certified roll-over protective structure (ROPS).

The RZR XP 900 carries an MSRP of $15,999 and will be available in Polaris dealerships this month. JD

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