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Innovation

Invention Stories: Ring Tackles Better Home Security

As of 2022, Ring Inc. is estimated to be valued between 1.2 and 1.8 billion dollars. Founded in 2012, Ring’s lofty valuation was not achieved overnight. Prior to being purchased by Amazon in 2018, Ring captured attention for the problems it works to solve. As a home security and smart home company, it develops and deploys technologies in AI surveillance tools, Internet of Things (IoT) technology, mobile technologies, and end-user software applications to provide customers with industry-leading home monitoring while at home or away.

As a company specializing in innovation support using AI-based patent search and analytics, IP.com surveys the patent landscape for insight on the direction of intellectual property and technology domestically and globally. Here, we’re documenting how companies like Ring could hypothetically facilitate technological innovation with the latest AI tools.

Ring’s Solution to Home Security

At the heart of its original patent filings circa 2016, Ring sought to solve several core problems for its customers. The technology behind Ring’s flagship product, a smart doorbell, rests on three initial patents: one utility and two design. An approximation of the patent family background section of the initial patent filings states that Ring will use a number of technologies to help consumers improve home safety by using video and audio communications to monitor the doors and entryways where cameras are situated. Ring helps customers avoid the challenge and expense of hard-wiring similar systems. Ring’s smart doorbell is battery-powered and WiFi-enabled to create a power-efficient system that’s always on, easy to install, and accessible by the user from almost anywhere.

Patented Technologies

US20160191864: Wireless entrance communication device

Key Claim(s): A non-exhaustive list of claims includes: 1) “A computer-implemented method for a wireless communication doorbell including a plurality of motion sensors. 2) A computer-implemented method for a wireless communication doorbell including a plurality of motion sensors, the method comprising. 3) A computer-implemented method for a wireless communication doorbell including a plurality of motion sensors.
Link: https://patents.google.com/patent/US20160191864

USD822520S1: Wireless enterence communication device

Key Claim(s): The ornamental design for an audio/visual doorbell, as shown and described.
Link: https://patents.google.com/patent/USD822520S1/en

USD798177S1: Audio/Video doorbell

Key Claim(s): The ornamental design for an audio/visual doorbell, as shown and described.
Link: https://patents.google.com/patent/USD798177S1/en

Ring Founder Jamie Siminoff’s Success

Ring founder Jamie Siminoff’s story is both a familiar and extraordinary one; his success is truly storybook-esque. He’s almost a cliche as an entrepreneur who first failed and then triumphed to change the lives of the millions who use a product that generates nearly 200 million dollars in annual revenue.

Shortly after Mr. Siminoff presented Ring prototypes on Shark Tank, the entrepreneurial TV show where he was famously rejected in 2013, he likely ideated and articulated multiple Ring product iterations, eventually authoring the disclosures that led to patenting the product customers now know and love.

Ring’s Competitive Landscape

Mr. Siminoff’s failure on Shark Tank was not his only challenge. Canadian company and close competitor SkyBell had been working on similar technology as early as 2013.

Even in an established enterprise-level organization like Ring (now part of Amazon) assessing competitive landscapes, researching existing prior art, and assessing the feasibility of ideas early in the innovation lifecycle is a critical process. Invention teams need to monitor the latest market intelligence, including competitors, to monitor patents as they move through the innovation lifecycle.

Mr. Siminoff’s experience demonstrates that patent authorship is a multidisciplinary, multi-step process that requires extensive research and idea refinement. This is before a patent application is ever completed and submitted (and even then, work is not done).

Current Litigation

Enterprise companies know innovation is a rough-and-tumble process. As such, many innovations require litigatory considerations on a number of fronts. Ongoing and future litigation with Ring’s closest competitor SkyBell means the company needs access to patent assertion data, patent ownership data, and litigation data to assess infringement risks.

SkyBell asserts that Ring’s initial family of three patents infringes on its own that demonstrate original US9160987B1: doorbell chime systems and methods technology, US9055202B1: doorbell communication systems and methods, and US9118819B1: doorbell communication systems and methods. SkyBell currently has 71 registered patents, all discoverable via IP.com’s international legal databases, including the USTPO and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

Ring Grows Its Patent Portfolio

For Ring to beat its competitors, which now include the likes of Alphabet and Blackberry, in addition to SkyBell who has also matured as a company, Ring must continue to move quickly and decisively. To patent in a competitive space doubtless requires complete market intelligence and sound patent authorship to protect its IP and grow its portfolio.

As Ring pushes to protect its IP in court and guards against future infringement, it will continue to innovate. In 2021, Ring filed 17 new patents in the areas of AI-enhanced surveillance, object recognition, and biometrics. Now, in addition to the original home security and smart home spaces it helped define, Ring has entered a number of highly competitive technology markets.

In order to grow their IP portfolios, companies like Ring have to develop systems for ideation and articulation, prioritizing R&D, and writing accurate and defensible disclosures. IP.com’s ideation and workflow automation solution, IQ Ideas Plus™ 2.0, helps with all three. With IQ Ideas Plus, you can avoid ROI-killing delays like multiple disclosure iterations and resource bottlenecks.

IQ Ideas Plus Use Case: Ring Adds Object Recognition

IQ Idea Plus’s idea validation tools use natural language processes for powerful keyword analysis to assess idea novelty and create accurate disclosure descriptions. This helps differentiate technologies in the areas of object recognition and motion sensing. Ring would need to compete with companies like Alphabet and Blackberry as well as niche firms like AI Inc. to differentiate its idea. In doing so, it would have needed to quickly assess how similar technologies are being applied by other companies in related technology spaces.

Companies like Ring can use IQ Ideas Plus to create multiple iterations of an idea and receive a condensed and transparent novelty score to compare their ideas to the descriptions of existing prior art. In this hypothetical use case, Ring needs its growing smart surveillance technology portfolio to contain patents related to an improved surveillance tool.

Object recognition means Ring’s motion sensors accurately detect threats and ignore extraneous data. IP.com’s IQ Ideas Plus 2.0 can demonstrate how a description can be formulated to test idea iterations to differentiate from other object recognition software along the specific technical dimensions that matter most to Ring’s innovation teams. These are demonstrated in the keywords visualized in the above image depicting this real IQ Ideas Plus use case applied to an existing company. Terms like object and sensor are all highly relevant and with accompanying visualizations to provide context for their use in the invention description.

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