If you have a Discover card, you’ve probably seen this offer: 10% off  when you use it with Apple Pay — on up to $10,000 by the end of the year.  If you don’t have a Discover card, well, this could be a reason to get one.  Not that you want to go nuts and spend $10,000; that’s no way to save money.   But you might buy a whole lot of gift cards near the end of the year at stores — like CVS — that you actually do shop at consistently.  Even if it takes you a year to “use up” the value of those cards, you’re getting 10% tax-free on your money just by tying it up.  Not a bad return these days.

[UPDATE: Gift Cards are excluded!  Argh!  Though a credit-card sharp I know writes: “That is standard verbiage in all such offers. Generally they can’t tell what you purchased from the store, especially if the gift card purchase is blended with other items, so it isn’t really enforced.”  Either way, if you buy a couple years’ supply of stuff in December that you would have bought over the next year or two anyway, you’ll be able to stretch out the benefit of the offer.]


I had never heard of AeroPatent — or “patent landscaping” — but as a long-time holder of shares in Borealis, which owns most of Chorus Motors, which owns most of WheelTug, I was pleased to receive this report:

eTaxi Patent Landscape 2005-2015


The number of published patent applications for electric-taxi systems reached an all-time high this year, yet we continue to await widespread commercial exploitation of the technology after years of well documented research, development and testing. Just how long it will be before airports start decommissioning tugs and auctioning tow-bars is hard to say, however, the corresponding patent landscape offers a fascinating glimpse of the strategic direction of those aerospace companies developing eTaxi solutions.

This independent report explores newly published eTaxi patents, capturing a diverse range of associated technologies from system architecture and integration, through flight-deck control and operational procedures . . .

There are graphs showing how many more patents we’ve filed than others, and what kinds.  (“The WheelTug team at Borealis have been busy. They top the league of newly published eTaxi patent families and hold the top-5 inventor spots.”)

It’s a long report.

And there’s this heartening section (with an appropriate final caution):

If you’re a competitor of Borealis Technical, or perhaps planning to enter the eTaxi arena, you’d be well advised to keep a close eye on their historic patent portfolio, and the status of newly published patent families identified in this report.

The reason? Well, Borealis have – like their competitors – filed multiple patent applications to protect their system architecture comprising gears, bearings, clutch assemblies, power connections and electronics. No surprise there. However, they’ve gone one significant step further in seeking to protect the operational use of generic eTaxi systems, and the corresponding patent applications might well raise eyebrows amongst interested parties.

For example, Borealis have filed specific patent claims for the use of eTaxi systems:- to reduce airliner fuel requirements; to reduce carbon taxes paid by airlines; to reduce aircraft maintenance costs and improve service life; to improve pilot efficiency and air quality around airports; and to streamline operations within and around the airport ramp. The company is also making efforts to protect: UAV’s with eTaxi capability; simulation platforms to train pilots to operate eTaxi enabled aircraft; communication systems between air-traffic-control and eTaxi aircraft; and the creation of slots for aircraft to operate under eTaxi power within airport curfew periods.

A well published advantage of the nose-gear integrated WheelTug claimed by Borealis is its ability to position an airliner close to, and parallel with airport terminal buildings – what the company refers to as ‘the twist’. This process enables two air-bridges to be connected to the aircraft, potentially speeding up the boarding and disembarkation process. The twist is well covered in multiple patent applications . . .

Of course filing a patent application is relatively straightforward. Having that patent application granted by a patent office examiner – particularly in the US – is a more challenging exercise. A fundamental principle of patentability is ‘inventive step’, that is to say that an invention needs to be considered ‘not-obvious’ to be granted. This is often a subjective requirement and in respect of some patent applications referenced above, could well present an expensive hurdle for Borealis in patent office examination fees, and if granted, in the defence of invalidation proceedings were they to be brought by a third party in the future.

E-taxi does seem to be inching ahead.  Our solution seems to me the most compelling — and perhaps the best patent-protected.



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