patents Stories January 14, 2016

battery-patent-sale

The 2011 purchase of Motorola was mostly a means by Google to get approximately 17,000 patents in order to defend themselves from the numerous lawsuits that were occurring at the time. However, things have significantly quieted down on the legal front and Google is now auctioning some battery-related patents from the purchase.

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patents Stories December 16, 2015

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A German court recently granted an injunction against HTC, and could lead to the Taiwanese manufacturer’s smartphones being taken off shelves in Germany. It’s not exactly the good news HTC was hoping for following a troubled year of slipping market share, dropping revenue and the lukewarm market response to its devices.

Wall Street Journal reports that a patent licensing firm named Acacia Research Group LLC won a lawsuit on November 27 which granted it an injunction against HTC smartphone sales through the country’s biggest telecommunications provider. HTC smartphones sold by Deutsche Telekom are expected to be pulled by the end of this month, although the manufacturer will be appealing to try to overturn the decision. HTC is understandably disappointed by the ruling, and is working with DT to ‘minimize disruption’ to its customers …

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patents Stories November 30, 2015

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A patent recently published by the USPTO and unearthed by Patently Mobile reveals Samsung could have plans to design and build foldable, bendable and scrollable devices with various designs. Of course, the technology underpinning this entire exploration is a flexible display, which made it in to mainstream smartphones a couple of years ago with the Galaxy Round and LG G Curve. More recently, Samsung used it in the Galaxy S6 Edge, but if these designs eventually make it to market, they’ll make the S6 Edge look dull…

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patents Stories October 26, 2015

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Google may have made leaps and bounds already in the development of future automotive technology with its autonomous vehicle program, but that’s not all it’s working on. A patent recently published by the USPTO reveals a concept for an in-car tool which uses your wearable device’s movements to work out if you’re the driver or passenger…

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patents Stories October 1, 2015

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Microsoft and Google have announced that they’re dropping their long-running smartphone and video game console patent disputes. This announcement brings an end to some 20 lawsuits in the States and in Europe. Neither company revealed the exact financial terms, but did announce that instead of fighting each other over technology, that they envisage a future where the work together for the benefit of their customers…

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patents Stories July 23, 2015

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Google today has started a program for startups to gain two non-organic patent families from Google, as well as the opportunity buy more patents from the company at some point down the line. To be eligible however, the interested startup must also join the LOT Network, which includes companies like Dropbox and Canon and focuses on stopping patent trolls (via TechCrunch).

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patents Stories June 10, 2015

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No, we’re not talking about Pied Piper here: Google is being sued by Max Sound Corporation over patented technology which allows for “far more economically efficient transport of digital content due to greatly optimized data capacity.”

The District Court of Mannheim in Germany has scheduled a December 8th hearing for the video streaming patent case against Google and YouTube, which was filed this past December. The whole case will be heard that day and a decision is expected to be brought down a few weeks later.

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patents Stories March 9, 2015

Former Google executive Michelle Lee to become head of U.S. Patent Office

According to a new report out of Reuters, former Google executive Michelle Lee will become the head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The position, the U.S. Senate says, has been vacant for more than two years. President Barack Obama was responsible for choosing Michelle Lee to head the patent office, with his choice also having been recently approved by the full Senate.

patents Stories June 16, 2014

MicrosoftAndroid

For the past few years, Microsoft has been licensing several of its patents with Android device makers. These agreements reportedly generate around $1 to $2 billion in revenue for the company. The software maker estimates that it has active licensing deals that cover around 70 percent of the Android devices in the US. So far, the company has never outlined what patents are being infringed on by Android, but a recent investigation by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) has uncovered a stockpile of patents and filings held by Microsoft while reviewing the company’s acquisition of Nokia.

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patents Stories April 25, 2014

Google buys communications-related patents from key Apple supplier Foxconn

Foxconn, best known for manufacturing Apple products, says that it has sold display patents to Google for an undisclosed sum. Details are vague, with the briefest of statements quoted in the WSJ stating only that they were related to “communications technology.”

Foxconn has been seeking to reduce its dependence on Apple, which provides around 40 percent of its business, with its own product lines. Patent sales provide a further form of diversification for the company, which says that it has been granted more than 64,000 patents to date, and applied for a similar number again.

patents Stories April 14, 2014

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Google will soon open its Glass explorer program to all US residents for one day only, however a recent patent application from the search engine kingpin might make you reconsider making a purchase tomorrow. Spotted by the folks at Patent Bolt, Google has filed a patent application for a micro camera component to compliment its recently announced smart contact lenses.

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patents Stories December 18, 2013

Google increases commitment to defending open-source software projects from patent trolls

Google’s Open Source Blog advises that Google has moved from an associate to a full board member of the Open Invention Network, an organisation designed to cross-licence Linux patents to reduce the risk of being sued by patent trolls.

Open-source software like Linux has spurred huge innovation in cloud computing, the mobile web, and the Internet in general. Linux now powers nearly all the world’s supercomputers, runs the International Space Station, and forms the core of Android. But as open source has proliferated, so have the threats against it, particularly using patents. That’s why we’re expanding our participation in Open Invention Network (OIN), becoming the organization’s first new full board member since 2007.

Companies that join the network are guaranteed protection from being sued by other members, provided that they make the same promise. Google will now sit alongside IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony on the board.

Google’s former head of patents, Michelle Lee, was recently named as the new interim head of the US Patent & Trademark Office, promising faster processing of applications and ‘higher quality’ patents – diplomatic language for greater barriers to patent trolls.

patents Stories December 12, 2013

MichelleLeeOfficialPortraitrevised

Google’s former head of patents Michelle Lee has been named as the interim head of the USPTO, starting work there on 13th January, reports Yahoo! Finance.

Although technically Lee is deputy director, the agency hasn’t had a director since David Kappos left back in February, meaning that Lee will be running the show for the immediate future at least.

The appointment is an interesting choice given Google’s vocal criticism of patent trolls …  expand full story

patents Stories October 31, 2013

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Google, Samsung, and several other Android handset manufacturers are being sued by Rockstar, a consortium backed by Android competitors Microsoft and Apple, over alleged infringement of several search patents acquired by Rockstar from Nortel in 2011. Last year HTC reached a ten-year agreement with Apple as part of a patent infringement settlement. That deal would result in both companies licensing existing and future patents from one another, but it seems that agreement does not apply in this case.

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patents Stories September 18, 2013

Google patent search now includes China, Germany, Canada, and WIPO patents

In a blog post today, Google announced that its patent search service has added data from four new patent agencies. Starting today, patents from China, Germany, Canada, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are now aggregated in the Google Patents search database. Most of the patents include artwork, as well as text descriptions, which thanks to Google Translate, are available in a variety of languages.

Last year, we launched two improvements to Google Patents: the Prior Art Finder and European Patent Office (EPO) patents. Today we’re happy to announce the addition of documents from four new patent agencies: China, Germany, Canada, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Many of these documents may provide prior art for future patent applications, and we hope their increased discoverability will improve the quality of patents in the U.S. and worldwide.

You can tryout Google Patent search on your own here.

patents Stories September 5, 2013

Google-versus-Microsoft01

CNET reports that Microsoft was awarded $14.5 million from Google Motorola for the abuse of the fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) patents by Google.

A federal jury in Seattle ordered the Google-owned handset maker to pay the software giant $14.5 million in damages for breach of contract for failing to license at reasonable terms standard essential patents covering wireless and video technology used in the Xbox game console. However, the award is half the $29 million in damages Microsoft had sought.

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patents Stories August 5, 2013

Photo: tractoroutdoor.com

Photo: tractoroutdoor.com

The WSJ reports that more than a billion dollars were wiped off Samsung’s market value today following President Obama’s veto of the decision to ban the import of iPhone 4 and 3G iPad 2 devices into the USA. The fall represented 0.9 percent of the company’s market cap.

While a Presidential veto over-rules the original ITC ruling, the Financial Times reports that Samsung is appealing the ITC decision on the grounds that it only upheld one of the four patents it believes Apple has infringed. The appeal is expected to be held in Q1 2014. Were Apple to lose then, however, the impact would be significantly lower, as Apple is almost certain to have launched new iPhones and iPads by then, with the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 likely removed from Apple’s retail and online stores and seeing only residual sales elsewhere …  expand full story

patents Stories March 28, 2013

Google, a noted supporter of open-source software, has pledged not to sue anyone developing, distributing, or using open-source software that uses any of a specified number of Google patents unless attacked first.

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patents Stories February 22, 2012

Microsoft requested European Union antitrust regulators to probe Motorola Mobility on claims that the United States phone manufacturer is blocking sales of Windows and Xbox products.

“Earlier today, Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google,” wrote Microsoft’s Vice President and Deputy General Counsel David Heiner in a blog post this morning. “We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products.”

Microsoft’s post, “Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web,” lambasted Motorola Mobility for not making industry standard patents available on reasonable and fair terms, and for using those patents to block competitors from shipping products.

The industry apparently agreed many years ago to define common technical standards for everyone to use and build compatible Wi-Fi and video products. However, Heiner contended, Motorola is backtracking on its word and attempting to use standard patents for “killing video on the Web.”

More information is available below.

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patents Stories February 20, 2012

Google is on a roll these days in regards to interesting patent filings. The company filed a patent for Android’s pattern unlock feature in November, and a new filing suggests more unlocking methods with one involving voice recognition and the other based on a two-icon methodology. Today, Patently Apple pointed to another document the search company filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Sept. 29, 2011.

Being made public only recently, it describes methods and apparatus for a Google TV remote that lets you search for televisions shows, movies, music and other media simply by asking. This sounds a lot like Apple’s Siri voice assistant the rumor-mill speculates could enhance an alleged Apple-branded HD TV set.

The difference, per the publication:

Apple has had a similar feature under Remote for several years now, but it doesn’t relate to live TV as Google’s will. Google’s real competitor on this particular front will come from Samsung who just announced their latest TV remote with voice controls and a touch pad. The race to bring the best next generation TV Remote to market is officially on.

One embodiment of the invention describes a situation where a user searches for the popular sitcom “Seinfeld” simply by asking their Android phone, “When is Seinfeld on?” The phone would parse and send the query up to the Google cloud, beaming down the results to your Google TV set-top box.

GPS positioning could enhance the scope of the invention in interesting ways:

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patents Stories January 3, 2012

Google acquired 217 patents from IBM, according to SEO by the Sea. Google’s most recent acquisition of patents from IBM, completed in the last week of December, comes after acquiring patents last summer. SEO by the Sea discovered the acquisition from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and we do not know the exact details currently. Google will most likely send out a letter giving exact figures soon.

Of the 217 patents, 188 were granted. Twenty-nine of them are patents pending that have been published.  The patents Google acquired range from video conferencing to instant messaging. Some of the noteworthy patents include modifying web pages for mobile devices, collecting data from NFC, rendering a section of a webpage, transferring webpages between mobile devices, voice based keyboard search, and a “computer phone.”

Last summer, Google acquired Motorola Mobility for its 17,000 published patents and almost 7,500 pending patents. The acquisition is still going through, but Google put up $12.5 billion for the company. Google continues to strengthen its patent portfolio to protect itself from lawsuits.

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patents Stories November 14, 2011

Ever wonder what patents Microsoft has been using to sign up Android vendors such as Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Acer, and over 10 others in cross-licensing agreements? Just last week Barnes & Noble asked US regulators to probe Microsoft’s anti-Android strategy, which sees the company collecting millions in profits from royalties paid by just about anyone shipping Android on their devices.

In their initial letter to the Department of Justice, Barnes & Noble claims Microsoft’s patents “cover only arbitrary, outmoded and non-essential design features,” and today we get a look into exactly what they’re talking about thanks to a detailed report from Groklaw of the exhibits attached to B&N’s letter.

Below B&N walks us through some of the patents Microsoft claims the Nook infringes on and also describes their stance for each. These could very well be some of the same patents the company is using to collect royalties from other Android vendors, patents B&N describe as only covering “trivial and non-essential design elements in Android”. expand full story

patents Stories September 29, 2011

All major Android backers are now paying royalties to Microsoft for using Android in smartphones, even the likes of Samsung and HTC. Goldman Sachs estimated the Windows maker could rake in a whopping $444 million this year alone from Android patent pacts, easily exceeding Windows Phone licensing revenues. Now that the $199 Kindle Fire tablet has come into full view, the question arises whether Amazon, too, will run to Microsoft’s arms seeking Android patent protection.

The two companies last year had cut a cross-licensing agreement. However, the Seattle Times notes that the 2010 deal covers the existing Kindle e-readers but not Android, which powers the Kindle Fire tablet. TechCrunch’s MG Seigler, who saw early prototypes of the Fire tablet, described  a forked Android version which is at the core of the Kindle Fire experience:

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patents Stories September 28, 2011

Microsoft just announced a cross-licensing agreement with Samsung. Akin to their patent deals with other Android backers, this one will have Samsung pay per-device royalties for mobile phones and tablets running Android. Microsoft has in total eight cross-licensing agreements with Android backers Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic, Wistron, HTC and Samsung.

Microsoft explained in a blog post that the agreement “gives both companies greater patent coverage relating to each other’s technologies, and opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform”.

Did the software maker just say that Samsung will focus more on Windows Phone in the future? Per press release, Microsoft and Samsung “agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone”. Could be just what Microsoft needs given their struggle to keep Nokia afloat. Patent expert Florian Mueller characterized the announcement on his FOSSPatents blog as “the most important Android-related intellectual property deal in its own right”, adding:

If Samsung truly believed that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the Android ecosystem at large, it would have waited until that deal is closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft. But Samsung probably knows it can’t rely on Google. It decided to address Android’s intellectual property issues on its own.

Samsung has circa 28,000 patents in the United States and more than 100,000 patents around the world. Curiously, Microsoft hasn’t targeted Apple’s iOS with its patents so far which leads us to believe that Oracle, Microsoft and Apple may be working together to derail Android or at least make it a pricey proposition for handset makers. Be that as it may, it is going to be interesting seeing how this Microsoft-Samsung patent protection affects the nine Apple vs. Samsung lawsuits in twenty countries around the world…

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patents Stories September 27, 2011

The second day of a two-day hearing between Apple and Samsung has brought resolution to a user interface-related patent claim by the iPhone maker. Webwerld editor Andreas Udo de Haes, who covers the hearing from a Dutch court room, wrote on Twitter that carriers are currently testing a firmware update for Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. It is said to tweak the user interface of the photo gallery program so it doesn’t infringe anymore:

Meanwhile, Samsung can get around this with an update for Android that changes the UI of the photo gallery, so is doesn’t infringe anymore

Some people are reporting that today’s 2.3.4 firmware update lost the bounce effect on whole Android and replaced it with the blue fading effect. For more intricacies of the legalities, knock yourself out here.

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patents Stories September 26, 2011

It’s litigation day as Apple and Samsung battle it out in courts the world over. In a two-day hearing which began this morning in Australia a judge asked for more time to study Apple’s claims, resulting in a brief Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch delay until the end of the month. Meanwhile, the first round of hearings is underway in The Hague over Samsung’s accusations that Apple’s iPad and iPhone infringe on Samsung’s wireless patents. The Korean company is seeking a ban on those products in The Netherlands.

Apple is represented by Rutger Kleemans (Freshfields) while Samsung’s legal counsels are headed by Bas Berghuis (Simmons & Simmons). Per information sourced from Webwerld editor Andreas Udo de Haes on Twitter and this Nu.nl report, Apple says Samsung is seeking a 2.4 percent charge of chip price for every patent. Apple has called those demands “simply excessive”. Sounds to us like Apple might have awoken the beast. Apple says because the two parties are still negotiating a licensing agreement of sorts, granting an injunction would be premature.

The Mac maker’s legal sharks stress Apple is buying its components from Intel and Infineon, hence no need for royalties to Samsung. Interestingly, Apple’s lawyers also explicitly stated that iOS devices sold in Europe do not use Qualcomm silicon found in CDMA versions of iPad and iPhone. Apple also said Samsung changed the license to Qualcomm to exclude Apple. In a nutshell, Apple’s argument is that Samsung’s technology and patents are already incorporated in Intel’s chipsets.

Samsung obviously disagrees and argues Apple has more than ten component suppliers and is obscuring them purposefully in order to make determining which components infringe on Samsung’s patents that much harder. Apple launched the iPhone in Holland back in 2008 without securing the necessary licenses, the lawyers for Samsung said. Apple denied Samsung’s claims and said Samsung, its parts supplier, wouldn’t demand a license until 2010 because Apple was an important customer. According to this Guardian article, the Apple account is worth fourth percent of Samsung’s total business…

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patents Stories September 13, 2011

This is a Samsung-branded Windows 8 tablet Microsoft is giving away to BUILD attendees today. Wanna take bets on possible actions from Apple? Go past the break for unboxing clips. Image courtesy of MobileTechWorld

The latest in the ongoing patent saga involving Apple, Google, Motorola and Samsung includes an unexpected twist as Samsung goes after iPhone and iPad with a complaint filed before a Paris district court in July. The filing alleges infringement of Samsung’s three technology patents, reports AFP. The first hearing is expected in December of this year.

Meanwhile, patent expert Florian Müller notes on his blog FOSSPatents that Apple has filed motions to temporarily halt two Motorola lawsuits until Google completes its $12.5 billion acquisition, which shook the technology world last month. Put simply, Apple argues Motorola waived its rights to sue when it transferred patents to Google. Apple wrote:

To further its pending acquisition by Google, Motorola has surrendered critical rights in the patents-in-suit, such that Motorola no longer has prudential standing to pursue this action. According to the publicly-filed Merger Agreement, Motorola has ceded control of the most basic rights regarding the patents-in-suit

As you know, Google has transferred some of the Motorola patents to HTC, in addition to the ones acquired from Palm and Openwave Systems. HTC then used those patents to counter-sue Apple. Back to Apple vs. Samsung…

Financial Times today opined that Samsung needs to hit the reset button, predicting a licensing agreement of sorts provided Apple succeeds in blocking Galaxy products in the U.S. next month. Contrary to the reports, the publication thinks “Apple is restricted from taking its chip business to Samsung’s rivals in Taiwan because Samsung offers a complete package of components that other firms cannot match”. However, there are indications that Apple’s been lowering Samsung orders for some time and it’s widely believed the company is eager to take its silicon business to TSMC beginning next year.

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patents Stories September 8, 2011

Japanese carrier Docomo sold 100,000 Galaxy S II phones in the first three days and today they launched an LTE version of the Galaxy Tab tablet.

Apple’s patent infringement claims against Samsung now include twelve courts in nine countries on four continents. Reuters reported this morning that Apple is now formally suing Samsung in Japan and seeking to block sales of Samsung phones and tablets in the country:

Apple has filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court seeking the suspension of sales of Galaxy S and its sequel S II smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7 in Japan, according to sources close to the matter. The first hearing was held on Wednesday, the source said.

The iPhone maker is seeking 100 million yen, or approximately $1.3 million, in damages. Apple previously had filed four complaints before the Tokyo District Court, according to patent expert Florian Müller. Coincidentally, Japan is also another high-revenue market for Apple. Other countries where Apple took Samsung to court include Germany, U.K., U.S., Australia and more.

Samsung’s Galaxy S has outsold the iPhone in Japan last year. In July of this year, Samsung announced sales of three million Galaxy S II phones in 55 days, the successor to the popular Galaxy S handset. Samsung is also the world’s #2 smartphone maker, after Apple. The Korean company surprised investors by deciding against divulging sales of phones and tablets in the face of growing competition with Apple. Android-based handsets and iPhones together hold well over three-quarters of the Japanese market for smartphones, forming a duopoly which is present in pretty much every other market where Google and Apple compete are locked in the battle for smartphone supremacy.

Apple is projected to sell 86.4 million iPhones worldwide in 2011 and its iPad is dominating the post-PC world with approximately two-thirds of all tablets sold worldwide. In an interesting twist, court in Australia recently advised the Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget giant to divulge iPad 2 sales figures in the U.S. and U.K. if the Samsung sales blockade is to hold. In a nutshell, judge wants proof that the similarities between Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and iPad 2, which had been first brought to light by Apple, have in fact hurt iPad 2 sales.

Last week Apple successfully banned the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 from the IFA show in Germany. Samsung will also cease to market that device in the country until its legal dispute with Apple is resolved. Samsung, also Apple’s supplier of memory chips, processors and other components, considers litigation with Apple as “destiny”, their CEO Choi Gee-sung told reporters in Korea last week:

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patents Stories August 23, 2011

You may have heard about “prior art”. In patent law, prior art is basically all information made available publicly before a date which might be relevant to a patent’s claims of originality. Hence, if any invention can be described in prior art, its patent can be invalidated. Samsung is resorting to some pretty sci-fi (literally!) arguments in its legal spat with the Cupertino gadget maker, having gone as far as citing Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ movie as prior art against Apple’s tablet.

The finding, discovered by intellectual property expert Florian Mueller on his blog FOSS Patents, stems from page two of an exhibit Samsung filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The document reads:

Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. The clip can be downloaded online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo. As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor.

The prior art claim is in Samsung’s defense against Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The company recently claimed in a Dutch court that Apple doctored Galaxy smartphone images.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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patents Stories August 22, 2011

You probably know by now that Google’s move to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion was seen as one specifically focused on acquiring their more than 17,000+ patents, many of which are thought to be key in protecting Android from other smartphone makers (Apple and Microsoft) in court. However, according to a report from Bloomberg, only 18 of those patents will be essential in fighting patent-infringement related cases against, namely, Apple.

According to CEO of ICAP Patent Brokerage Dean Becker (“global leader in intellectual property brokerage”) Google only needs a few of the 17000+ patents to protect it’s mobile IPs, he added:

“There are a lot of sweet patents in that portfolio…”- Dean Becker, ICAP Patent Brokerage 

The patents cover a little bit of everything that we’ve come to expect from a smartphone; touch-screen gestures, antenna designs, location-based services, email,etc. Among some of the more notable patents that will certainly provide value when protecting Android include one from 2001 that details disabling a “touch sensitive” display that detects a user’s head in relation to the device to prevent accidental input (sound familiar?), another shows a feature that would allow users to control when their location data is sent over a network via GPS (lack of these types of features were recently the subject of debate at a senate judiciary hearing in May where Apple and Google were questioned on their practices in relation to user location data). Other noteworthy patents include one related to increasing data storage for users and others that detail features we see in most modern smartphones.

Motorola, even before being acquired by Google, was and still is involved in mobile related legal issues. Most recently Apple filed patent-infringement complaints with the ITC in October, and also sued the company in civil court for “a pattern of unfair, deceptive and anticompetitive conduct”. Claims which also mirror those of Microsoft. Motorola seems to be confident in their patents, however, by going after Apple in lawsuits on three separate occasions and filing their own complaint with the ITC. expand full story

patents Stories August 18, 2011

Apple has already tried to ban the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in most of Europe (injunction lifted), but today they are going even farther with their legal proceedings, asking a Netherlands court to ban all Galaxy series devices. The ban includes the widely popular Galaxy S II, which has seen some success in Europe. On top of trying to ban sales, Apple is trying to push the thought of Samsung sending a letter to all of their partnered retailers within 14 days to end sales. Stated strongly:

“For the record we would like to mention the fact that by storing, offering and/or selling of the above mentioned Galaxy smartphones [and tablets], you commit infringement of the intellectual property rights of Apple Inc.,”

The trial will take place in The Hague, Netherlands September 15th, and the judge said  if he grants any injunctions, they would take effect no sooner than Oct. 13. (Webwereled via Computerworld)

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It’s no secret patent-related legal disputes have become the subject of most media coverage lately…Whether it’s Apple halting sales of Samsung’s tablets, HTC going after Apple, or Google snatching up Motorola to beef up their patent portfolio, it’s clear the company with the most patents will have an advantage over others in the legal proceedings that we’re bound to continue encountering down the road. This is why we’re intrigued by the graphic above (via GigaOM) from mobile analyst Chetan Sharma charting the number of issued patents (in the US and Europe) between 1993 and 2011.

While these estimates of mobile communications related patents don’t take the quality of patents into account (which is obviously a huge factor in determining their long-term value), you can see from the breakdown below that Nokia and Samsung top the list, with the other expected players including IBM, Microsoft, Sony, Motorola, and Intel following.

Noticeably far down the list is Apple, the one company who seems to have had more success than others fighting patent-related issues recently. Again, these numbers in no way represent the quality of patents and the ability for companies to protect their IPs in the courtroom… which is also a good indication that perhaps we should be looking more closely at the quality of patents rather than the sheer number. expand full story

patents Stories August 15, 2011

GigaOm is reporting that many companies were in the race to buy Motorola Mobility, including Microsoft. GigaOm contributes this as one of the reasons why Google made the purchase for such a high price, so other manufacturers couldn’t hurt their ecosystem even further with IP lawsuits.

The reason Motorola didn’t go with Microsoft was due to the fact Microsoft only wanted the company for its patents, rather than running a hardware business.

Talks between Google and Motorola began five weeks ago, reports GigaOm. Their sources say CEO Larry Page and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha were talking directly and only a few other executives were brought in. Also, Android co-founder Andy Rubin wasn’t bought into the talks until recently. The deal Google has struck gives the company 17,000 current patents and 7,500 patent applications.

Newsweek Technology Editor Dan Lyons makes some great points this morning regarding Google acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. First he talks about TechCrunch MG Siegler’s remarks that Google made themselves “look like huge asses in retrospect”. Lyons pretty much says Siegler’s opinions were just foolish. Lyons also makes an interesting point that Google most likely didn’t actually want the Nortel patents, they were just driving up the price for Apple and Microsoft with their PI (3.14 billion) bid.

And today it all makes sense. Google just sandbagged its rivals. The whole thing was a rope-a-dope maneuver. Google never cared about the Nortel patents. It just wanted to drive up the price so that AppleSoft (those happy new bedmates) would overpay. Today, with the Motorola deal, Google picks up nearly three times as many patents as AppleSoft got from Novell and Nortel. More important, Google just raised the stakes in a huge way for anyone who wants to stay in the smartphone market.

In the end of things, Google is earning 3 times the patents than they would have in the Nortel deal, but for three times the price. One last word from Lyons:

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The web is abuzz with the news that Google is snapping up Motorola Mobility in a deal valued at $12.5 billion. And while there are concerns that Google is pursuing the deal purely for the patents, CEO Larry Page said in a blog post that the agreement will let them “supercharge the Android ecosystem” by fending off patent threats from Apple, Microsoft and other companies. In addition, he dropped hints of “wonderful user experiences” in a nod at tightly integrated devices that Apple famously builds.

Now, conventional wisdom has it that the transaction will put other Android backers in an uneasy position as they get to compete with Motorola on an uneven playing field. Not to worry, Boy Genius Report has reactions from major Android backers that appear to be upbeat about the deal. For example, J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division says:

We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.

The publication quoted similar statements by executives from HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson that Google published on their site. On the other hand, as noted by Business Insider, Android backers cannot be satisfied with the outcome of this time, regardless of their voice of support. TIMN wonders what this deal means for the future of Motorola products and the level of Google’s involvement in product development. So far, this is about intellectual property. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha revealed in a conference call discussing the Google deal that his company controls a rich patent portfolio of 17,000 issued patents and 7,500 patent applications filed, indicating that Google will use this patent war chest as a powerful leverage against legal pressure from rivals Apple and Microsoft.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said this in the call:

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patents Stories August 4, 2011

With Google execs stepping out of character to share their frustrations with Microsoft and Apple “banding” together to acquire patents, it seems at least a few execs in Redmond are determined to set the record straight, and for good reason given the fact the company is slated to earn more off Android than their own Windows Phones, according to analyst Horace Dediu.

In response to the open letter from Google’s Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond accusing Microsoft and Apple of “banding” together to acquire mobile device related patents, Microsoft’ general counsel Brad Smith posted the following via his Twitter account this morning:

“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Microsoft surely doesn’t want to tarnish their relationship with Google, with Android-based HTC phones bringing in three times as much profit in the second quarter in comparison to their own Windows Phone devices. It makes you wonder why Microsoft is spending billions developing and bringing Windows Phone handsets to market when Android devices are clearly their bread and butter in the mobile space. expand full story

patents Stories August 3, 2011

Over the past few weeks, the patent arms race has been accelerating and the latest comes in a Bloomberg story that has old frenemies – Apple, Google and Samsung – locked in a fight for InterDigital’s patent portfolio. Samsung is said to be interested the most in InterDigita’s intellectual property their CEO claims is “stronger” than the 6,000 Nortel patents the Apple-led consortium recently acquired for $4.5 billion. People familiar with the matter tell the publication Samsung has been “approached to make a bid”:

Samsung is looking at the patents along with Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and other potential bidders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. InterDigital, which holds patents related to mobile technologies used to transfer information, said last month that it hired bankers as it considers a sale.

InterDigital’s patent portfolio covers technology for high-speed cellphone networks “now used by the world’s biggest handset makers”, including Apple’s iPhone as well as BlackBerry and Android phones. The portfolio includes 8,000 patents in total and is estimated to be worth $5 billion or more. “To hedge the risk, Samsung could go ahead with bidding, although they may have to pay a big premium”, says  Shinyoung Securities Co. analyst Lee Seung Woo…

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patents Stories July 29, 2011

Anticipating Android backers will face legal hurdles as Apple now has the upper hand in its case against HTC (here and here), Google has stepped up and bought more than a thousand IBM patents for an undisclosed sum. The news was first reported by the blog SEO by the Sea and picked up by The Wall Street Journal. The search company might use IBM inventions as a leverage against pending lawsuits that indirectly involve its Android software.

Google failed to outbid the Apple-led consortium which paid $4.5 billion for Nortel’s treasure chest of more than 6,000 patents covering wireless technologies, among them crucial inventions related to fourth-generation cellular networks. The new patent deal is in line with Google’s focus on snapping up patent portfolios left and right in creating a “disincentive for others to sue Google”as noted on their official blog back in April. The 1,030 granted patents Google bought from IBM cover varied technologies, including…

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patents Stories July 19, 2011

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has gone on the offensive and bashed Apple over patent infringement claims the company had filed against high-profile Android backers such HTC and Samsung. In what could be viewed as an effort to sway the public perception, he launched a nasty attack speaking at Google’s Mobile Revolution conference in Tokyo. To Schmidt, Apple’s taking rivals to court sends a strong signal, that of the lack of innovation and jealousy:

The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding. Because they are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits. We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success.

Schmidt re-iterated sales of 135 million Android phones since 2008 and highlighted more than 550,000 daily activations that exclude tablets and non-smartphone devices, which is up from 400,000 a day in May. He said Google will support HTC’s legal battle against Apple’s copyright accusations, but wouldn’t elaborate.

Whether or not Apple’s legal pressure stems from jealousy is up for debate, of course. Cynics might argue Schmidt’s comment draws from nervousness on Google’s part because Android backers are increasingly discovering hidden costs as Microsoft and Apple emerge as holders of patents crucial to Google’s mobile operating system. Apple’s victory over HTC may set what RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky painted as a high royalty precedent for Android devices that could further shrink the already slim margins on Android phones.

As if that wasn’t enough, Microsoft is already taking money from five Android vendors for patent protection, including HTC which is said to pay five bucks each time it ships an Android handset and General Dynamics Itronix. Microsoft is also understood to have targeted Samsung, seeking royalties in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget giant quoted Steve Jobs in a statement announcing the HTC lawsuit March last year:

Then Google CEO Eric Schmidt shares the stage with Steve Jobs at the January 2007 iPhone unveiling. The times of happiness would abruptly come to an end amid Android whispers, culminating with Apple announcing Schmidt’s resignation from its board August 3, 2009.

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patents Stories July 18, 2011

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Shares of the Taiwanese Android phone maker HTC fell 6.5 percent this morning following the ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the company violated two patents held by Apple. The company’s shares have been pretty much free-falling throughout last week. The agency’s commissioners still have to support the ruling, but investors are already panicking over fears that the ruling will favor the California-based gadget maker. This, in turn, would open doors to ITC’s ban on imports of HTC’s phones into the United States. In response to the crisis, HTC announced a share buy back program worth up to $760 million in an attempt to stabilize its share price and restore investor confidence, reports Financial Times:

The attempt to prop up HTC’s share price appeared to have little effect as the stock fell below HTC’s minimum purchase price of T$900 to close down 3.9 per cent at T$871. The sell-off highlights investor fears that the legal battle could have wider implications for the competitive balance between Apple and Google Android-based phonemakers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola.

HTC is thought to have recently acquired S3 Graphics for $300 million in a bid to secure a stronger ground in its legal dealings with Apple, which filed its patent infringement complaint against the Taiwanese company back in March 2010. Apple accused HTC of violating up to twenty patents related to the iPhone’s hardware, software and its user interface. ITC recently ruled in favor of S3 Graphics, deciding the iPhone maker infringed on two patents held by S3 Graphics. They also acquired a portfolio of 82 patents from US-based ADC Communications for $75 million and signed an Android protection pact with Microsoft. HTC is expected to use all of this in the hope of relieving some of the pressure from Apple’s legal sharks. If ITC decides to ban import of HTC phones into the US and the company does not reach a timely settlement with Apple, its stock price could free-fall further.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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patents Stories July 13, 2011

TechCrunch is reporting that Google is hiring numerous amounts of lawyers in order to acquire more patents. Currently Google only owns 701 patents, a very small number for such a large company. In contrast Microsoft was awarded 3,121 patents just last year. Google will continue to get slammed with lawsuits if they don’t acquire more patents.

On its Job page, Google is listing six open positions involving patents . TechCrunch points one out:

For example, the strategic patent licensing and acquisitions manager evaluates and values potential patent acquisition and licensing opportunities, and negotiates these deals (a.k.a. finds more patents for Google).

Perhaps Google will go after Richard “Chip” Lutton Junior, the chief patent counsel that just left Apple yesterday.

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patents Stories July 6, 2011

In case you didn’t notice, tech headlines recently are all about patents. Be it the ongoing case of patent troll Lodsys which is now suing The New York Times Company and five other firms that previously sued Lodsys (bringing the number of defendants to 33) or Microsoft going after Samsung and signing Android patent protection pacts with five more vendors or the Apple led-consortium winning a crucial $4.5 billion bid for Nortel’s patent trove – you name it, the blogosphere is all over it.

HTC is now joining the craze with the news that they will snap up graphics vendor S3 Graphics from Via Technologies. The transaction valued at $300 million is about – you guessed right – patents. A total of 235 patents and pending applications will change hands once regulators approve the deal (VIA’s and HTC’s boards of directors already have). The patent agreement should help HTC protect themselves from future patent litigation from rivals. There’s also this:

On July 1, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled that Apple infringed on some of the claims contained in two S3 Graphics patents. Judge E. James Gildea found that Apple infringed on U.S. Patent No. 6,658,146 directed to systems and methods for compressing images and U.S. Patent No. 6,683,978 directed to image data formats, both of which belong to S3 Graphics.

HTC has been trying to escape Apple’s lawsuits since March of last year, when Apple took the Taiwanese handset maker to court over an alleged breach of twenty patents pertaining to the iPhone hardware, software and user interface. With this acquisition, HTC may be out of trouble as both firms now have what the others want – intellectual property – even with HTC bringing a lot less to the negotiating table…

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patents Stories May 27, 2011

A report from Citi analyst Walter Pritchard made headlines this morning with claims that HTC agreed to paying five bucks per every Android handset sold. The basis for this is Microsoft’s patent settlement with the Taiwanese handset maker over intellectual property infringement, the analyst has found out. The fact that HTC makes Windows Phones obviously didn’t help dodge that patent hit.

Microsoft’s boss Steve Ballmer argued last October that Android wasn’t free just because it’s open-sourced. Some watchers are calling the Android platform a patent bomb waiting to explode. HTC is also being sued by Apple over alleged breach of iPhone patents and Oracle is suing Google over use of Java in Android. Pritchard warns other Android vendors can expect to pay royalties to Microsoft between $7.50 to $12.50 per device, which is troubling and here’s why.

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You may have heard about the latest scandal in the world of Apple involving an unknown company called Lodsys which came out of nowhere, applying legal pressure to the makers of popular iPhone apps that use in-app billing in an effort to extort royalties. Patent troll Lodsys (even though they beg to differ) claims Apple, Microsoft and Google signed licensing agreements with them related to in-app purchasing that don’t, however, include third-party apps. Acting on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s public letter calling out Apple for not stepping up for its developers, the iPhone maker publicly ensured developers that they are covered under its license.

Figuring out the extortionate strategy may have not worked out as expected, Lodsys is now apparently targeting Android developers with patent infringement claims. MacRumors spotted a Google Groups discussion thread which reveals that at least one Android developer may have found itself in Lodsys’ cross-hair. Here’s how that developer described his legal woes with the patent troll firm:

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