Quantum Entanglement: Information faster than the speed of light?

quantum teleportation national geographicQuantum Entanglement is a phenomenon that is now moving from being mostly a gleam in a few scientist’s eyes, into the realm of reality, in a myriad of fields such as quantum computing. As time goes on, we will not only find more profound practical applications for this fascinating occurrence, we might even transform the way we exchange information in the future!

Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon where the state of two particles is related - such as a system containing a pair of photons where one has a spin-up, and the other spin-down. The interesting effect is that the two particles stay embraced in a perpetual tango, even when they moved far apart. When the spin of one particle is changed, the other instantaneously flips its spin so that the overall spin is conserved, and the universe is whole again.

In 2003, in one of those poetic and dramatic experiments, scientists tested entanglement across the Danube river in a Quantum Teleportation experiment, and showed that the particles can be separated by 600 meters and still stay entangled. Since then the phenomenon has been demonstrated in up to 100 kilometers of optic fiber.

So what does this mean? The most important implication is the almost “instantaneous” transfer of information over large distances.

wondersofphysicsAlthough the experiment seems to suggest that knowledge of the state of the particles is being exchanged instantaneously, the information cannot, however, be transmitted faster than the speed of light, upholding the theory of causality ie cause and effect, where the effect must always follow the cause, and not the other way around.

On a different, and somewhat amusing note, this morning it was reported that a company called Steorn has invented a “device” that supposedly “produces free, clean and constant energy - without recourse to external source”. Just what we need to solve the world’s power crisis!

Move over Perpetual motion machines - your new green competition is here!!

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Netsuite files for IPO

In yet another win for Larry Ellison, NetSuite (backed by Ellison) plans to file for an IPO that is expected to raise $75 million.

Value of a junk patent and patent strategy of a company

Local.com was awarded the patent number 7,200.413 by the U.S. Patent Office. It covers “Enhanced Directory Assistance�?, which will deliver keyword specific ad referrals based on user input on the phone.

If you look the lone claim (which defines the coverage and scope of the patent), it requires nine specific steps, each of which can be executed or bypassed. A few months ago, this patent might have had some inherent value but after the Supreme Court’s recent decision on obviousness and what is “patent worthy�?, I strongly doubt it if this patent can survive a spirited challenge.

Also this patent only has one claim, which is extraordinarily uncommon for a non-design patent and generally happens only if the patent offices trashes everything that is initially claimed and throws you a bone.

Some people might refer to patents like these as “junk” patents; they are very narrow and they are vulnerable to various legal attacks; so as a protect able IP component, they have limited value.

However, these patents do serve another important purpose, which is to get noticed by the investors. As soon as the enhanced directory assistance patent was granted, Local.com instantly added about $30-$50M to its market cap.

If local.com were to be sued by another company that holds a geo-specific patent, local.com would have the option of cross-licensing it’s patent as a trade.

The point that I am driving at is that building a patent portfolio is not just for creating a defensible IP barrier, but also to attract investors, and to have IP assets available for cross-licensing and bartering.

Some patents might not have inherent value, but they might have tremendous perceived value which is as important!

Patent strategy for a company is different depending on its gestation level, the technology it focuses on, and several other factors. A start-up might benefit from higher number of patents and a stable company might benefit from having more quality patents.

The key to success is to maximize the real, inherent value of the patent and take full advantage of the its perceived value in the market place.

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Record number of IPOs

U.S. Venture-Backed IPOs raised $2.73 billion, the highest quarterly total Since 2000, in second quarter of 2007.

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