Patent News | "Kiwi inventor wins champagne patent battle"

By : Business Day
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Category : Patent News

Kiwi inventor Bryce Stewart popped the cork on a champagne bottle and went out for a restaurant meal with his wife after being awarded US$864,500 ($1.06 million) in a High Court battle over infringement of his patented bottle opener.

Stewart, now resident in Australia, took a case to the High Court in Auckland seeking damages against an American marketing company, Franmara, which he had discussed licensing his patented "Stopper Removing Tool" to without success.

The 71-year-old former Mt Maunganui resident, who's been inventing stuff for many years, spent eight years slaving over a bottle opener that quickly and neatly extracts all the cork along with the wire restraint and foil wrapping from a champagne bottle.

By 2003 he'd finally perfected the design and the following year was awarded patents in New Zealand and the US to protect his intellectual property.

He was approached by Californian-based Franmara which signed a confidentiality agreement requiring the company to only use information on the bottle opener to evaluate its potential for marketing. It agreed not to copy or reproduce the invention without Stewart's permission.

After inspecting the design, Franmara president Frank Chiorazzi Senior made him an offer of only US$2,500 for the licence which he turned down.

Stewart claimed after he entered into an alternative distribution deal with a Chinese company, Zhejiang Zhogrun Tools, he discovered the Americans had breached his patent and distributed a copycat opener, the Champagne Xpress, based on his design.

It turned out Franmara had approached the Chinese manufacturer and attempted to order 2,000 bottle openers identical to Stewart's.

After the Kiwi inventor ended his deal with Zhejiang in 2007 due to his concerns over manufacturing issues, he wrote to a minister in the Chinese government in Beijing - whose name he had found on a website.

The Chinese government authorities took his complaints seriously and soon after raided Zhejiang's factory and broke the moulds it held for Stewart's bottle opener to prevent them being manufactured without his permission again.

He says the company was also fined by the Chinese authorities.

Although Stewart says he has sold around 800,000 of his bottle openers worldwide, he and his former Australian distributors had little success trying to break into the US market because Franmara was continuing to offer online its copycat opener.

In late 2010 Stewart wrote to Franmara warning he would take legal action if it continued infringing his patent but received no answer. Following the High Court hearing which the American company failed to defend, Justice Kit Toogood made an interim judgement ordering Franmara to pay US$864,500 in damages based on a "reasonable royalty" from September 2005 to March this year, calculated at the rate of US$133,000 per year. Interest is also due on the damages along with court costs.

Because online distribution occurs in countries with access to the world-wide web, including New Zealand and the US, the American company was found to be infringing Stewart's New Zealand patent.

In his judgment Justice Toogood said "in design, shape, style and operation, the defendant's bottle opener is a replication of the invention. I am satisfied the defendant has manufactured or otherwise obtained such bottle openers by copying the plaintiff's invention."

Still to be decided is Stewart's claimed breach of his American patent and alleged breach of the Business Professions Code of California.

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Patent News | "Apple mulls settling patent fights with Samsung"

By : ZeeNews
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Category : Patent News

Washington: Top executives at Apple and Samsung have met recently about a potential patent settlement, a media report said Thursday.

"Apple CEO Tim Cook does not seem to share his predecessor's passion about laying all foes to waste. Cook appears to view litigation as a necessary evil, not a vehicle of cosmic revenge," Xinhua reported quoting the Bloomberg Businessweek.

Last April, Apple sued Samsung in a US court, alleging that the Korean maker's smartphones and Galaxy line of tablet computers violated Apple's patent and trademark. Samsung later countersued Apple, pitting against the rival in courts around the world.

Besides Samsung, Apple has also been filing suits against other manufacturers like HTC and Motorola Mobility, which are actually proxies for Apple products' major competitor Android, the operating system Google gives away to device makers.

In the official biography of Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder told author Walter Isaacson that "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to and I will spend every penny of Apple's USD 40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," according to the biography.

As Bloomberg points out in the cover story titled "Steve Jobs' last war", the tech giant could save themselves considerable legal fees and distraction in the short run. The process may resolve similar litigation in the desktop computer field.

In 1997, Microsoft announced an investment of USD 150 million in Apple, saying the two companies had reached settlement to a long-standing dispute over whether Microsoft's Windows operating system infringes on Apple's patents.

In the long run, the competition between Apple and Google is nowhere near resolution, said the Bloomberg report. While fighting for dominance in mobile devices, the two tech giants, along with Microsoft are all gearing up for a future battle over the market for smart TV.

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Patent News | "Apple ITunes, Sony PlayStation Network Targeted in Patent Suit"

By : John Ribeiro
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Category : Patent News

A South African inventor has claimed in a U.S. federal court that Apple's iTunes and Sony's PlayStation Network infringe a patent relating to a "data vending system" issued to him in 2004. In lawsuits filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Benjamin Grobler alleged that Apple and Sony have infringed U.S. Patent No. 6,799,084 by making and offering infringing data vending systems such as iTunes and the PlayStation Network, and that the companies are inducing their customers' infringement by using these systems, according to Grobler's attorneys.

Sony and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuits.

The invention provides among other things a data vending system, including a data depot for storing digitized or analog music, video, games, information, and computer programs, and a data dispensing device in communication with the data depot, according to a record of the patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

It also provides for a uniquely identifiable recordable data carrier, described as a recordable device like a removal hard disk or flash memory, configured for recording data from the data dispensing device, and a database for keeping a record of the data recorded by a user onto the recordable device, at least a part of which is stored remotely from the device.

The invention aimed to address the issue of copyright infringement in which copying usually takes the form of unauthorized copies being made from an original or authorized copy. It also wanted to allow authorized end users to recover lost or damaged data without having to purchase again an authorized copy from the copyright owner or a licensed vendor, and also allows for the deletion of the data after a certain period if it is downloaded under a rental scheme.

The complainant has asked the court among other things for a judgment that Apple has infringed and continues to infringe the claims of the patent, besides a claim for damages to be decided at the trial. A copy of the complaint against Sony was not available in the court records.

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patent News | "AOL patents valued at $290m"

By : The Times Of India
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Category : patent News

NEW YORK: AOL Inc's patent portfolio would be valued at about $290 million in a sale, less than a third of the amount that shareholder Starboard Value LP has estimated it could generate, according to patent-advisory firm M-Cam Inc.

"That is the absolute ceiling price," David Pratt, president of Charlottesville, Virginia-based M-Cam, said yesterday. "It's worth much less than what investors have estimated, based largely on the fact that most of AOL's patents are not commercially viable, or junk grade."

AOL, based in New York, has hired Evercore Partners Inc to explore strategic options and find a buyer for its more than 800 patents. While Starboard has said the portfolio may yield more than $1 billion in licensing income, some of AOL's patents are variations on existing technologies that companies, including Google Inc, could license from others, Pratt said.

The ceiling price of $290 million for the patents reflects a "Google-like transaction," Pratt said, referring to the search company's proposed $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc, from which it could draw on more than 17,000 patents.

A lower valuation on AOL's patents could hurt the company's chances to generate enough dollars to spur a sale of the whole company, Pratt said.

Caroline Campbell, a spokeswoman for AOL, declined to comment.

Evercore is also helping AOL explore other strategic options. Private-equity firms, including Providence Equity Partners Inc, TPG Capital and Silver Lake, have approached AOL about taking the company private, yet those overtures haven't resulted in a deal, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

'Strategic buyer' A strategic buyer could bid a much higher price for the patents than M-Cam's estimate, said Erin-Michael Gill, chief intellectual property officer for MDB Capital Group LLC.

"There's a difference between a pure financial value for patents and a strategic value," Gill said by telephone yesterday. "A strategic buyer could bid higher because they realize the long-term value of licensing those patents."

Many of AOL's patents cover internet advertising and communications services, and the portfolio could fetch as much as $1 billion from a large technology company, Christopher Marlett, co-founder of Santa Monica, California-based MDB, said last week.

AOL, led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong, posted declining sales for each quarter last year. The company's revenue for the first quarter of this year is estimated to drop 4.6 per cent to $526.1 million, according to analyst projections compiled by Bloomberg.

Armstrong had been in talks with private-equity firms as recently as September, when the CEO approached potential financial partners about combining AOL with Yahoo! Inc, two people said at the time.

Starboard, which increased its stake to 5.2 per cent from 4.5 per cent late last year, said in a February 24 statement that it's "increasingly uncomfortable" with the direction the company and the board leadership are taking.

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Patent News | "Apple, Sony sued for infringing a patent"

By: Reuters
Category: Patent News

Patent News

Apple Inc, Sony Corp and four other companies were sued by Graphics Properties Holdings Inc, formerly known as Silicon Graphics Inc, for allegedly infringing a patent through their sale of mobile phones and other electronic devices.

The lawsuits against Apple, Japan-based Sony, Taiwan- based HTC Corp, South Korea-based LG Electronics Inc and Samsung Electronics Co were filed in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

The patent at issue relates to a computer graphics process that turns text and images into pixels to be displayed on screens.

According to the lawsuits, the defendants' infringing devices include Apple's iPhone and the HTC EVO4G, LG Thrill, Research in Motion Torch, Samsung Galaxy S and Galaxy S II, and Sony Xperia Play smartphones.

Graphics Properties said that unless the alleged infringements are halted, it will suffer irreparable harm. The lawsuits seek to stop the sale of infringing products and also seek reasonable royalties and other damages.

HTC spokeswoman Lori Rodney, LG spokesman John Taylor, Research in Motion spokeswoman Tenille Kennedy and Sony spokeswoman Sandra Genelius declined to comment on the substance of their companies' respective lawsuits. Apple and Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Silicon Graphics filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and sold much of its operations to Rackable Systems Inc. The remaining operations are based in New Rochelle, New York, and are owned by private investment firms and other investors, according to the complaints.

The lawsuits are all in the U.S. District Court, District of Delaware. They are Graphics Properties Holdings Inc v. Apple Inc, No. 12-00385; Graphics Properties Holdings Inc v. HTC Corp et al, No. 12-00387; Graphics Properties Holdings Inc. v. LG Electronics Inc et al, No. 12-00389; Graphics Properties Holdings Inc v. Research in Motion Ltd et al, No. 12-00386; Graphics Properties Holdings Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co et al, No. 12-00388; and Graphics Properties Holdings Inc v. Sony Corp et al, No. 12-00390.


Patent News | "Google Patents Ads Based on Environmental Conditions"

By : John Rampton
Source :
Category : Patent News

 Background noise, rain, snow, temperature, humidity, light and other environmental factors could one day affect the Google ads you see. Google just received a patent for “advertising based on environmental conditions” to users.

The official patent, submitted in early 2008, was granted March 20. It isn't hard to imagine these types of ads being combined with the rumored Google AI “Assistant” product.

A variety of sensors are mentioned. For example, when the temperature sensed by a device dips below a certain threshhold, the system could serve up ads for winter apparel, according to the patent. It also looks like included in the patent is the ability to serve ads based on sounds, light, and air composition.

Google's technology, should they decide to implement it one day, will allow them to listen to the background noise and market to you. It will listen to the background noise and analyze it, taking into account your location. For example, it will determine you're at a ball game and deliver relevant ads or links to your phone with sports scores or other relevant ads.

Google noted in the patent that “it is important to respect the privacy of the users,” and explained that users would have the option of “enabling or disabling some or all of the sensors for the purpose of gathering information to support advertisements,” as governed by a privacy policy.

News of this patent comes at a time when Google is facing scrutiny over its privacy practices.

Does this mean Google will use these environmental conditions to serve relevant ads or search results on any device equipped with a microphone or just Google products (e.g., Google Chromebooks, Android devices)? Many questions remain unanswered at the moment.

Is this a little creepy to anyone? Which is worse, the ability to determine what's going on in phone conversations or them getting a patent to be able to advertise to those people? I find both quite disturbing. It's kinds cool if you're on Google’s side, but I’ll be curious to see if this audio snooping will hold up in a legal setting.

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Patent News | "Facebook buys IBM patents"

By :
Source :
Category : Patent News

Facebook confirmed on Friday that it has added a trove of IBM patents to its arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Reports that Facebook bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM surfaced less than two weeks after struggling internet pioneer Yahoo! accused the thriving young firm of infringing on 10 of its patents.

"I can confirm that there was a purchase but I don't have any other details to share," Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu said in response to an AFP inquiry.

IBM would not comment.

Acquisition of the patents came as California-based Facebook prepared for an initial public offering and as internet titans increasingly battle in courts as well as in marketplaces.

Yahoo!, in a lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California on 12 March, accused Facebook of infringing on patents in several areas including advertising, privacy and messaging.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company asked the court to order Facebook to halt its alleged patent-infringing activities and to assess unspecified damages.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, a decade after Yahoo!, expressed disappointment with the move.

"We're disappointed that Yahoo!, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation," a Facebook spokesperson said.

In the suit, Yahoo! said that Facebook's growth to more than 850 million users "has been based in large part on Facebook's use of Yahoo!'s patented technology".

"For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo! got there first and was therefore granted patents by the United States Patent Office to protect those innovations," Yahoo! said.

"Yahoo!'s patents relate to cutting edge innovations in online products, including in messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising display, preventing click fraud and privacy controls."

Once seen as the internet's leading light, Yahoo! has struggled in recent years to build a strongly profitable, growing business out of its huge web presence and global audience.

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Patent News | "One patient, one record for Cone Health facilities"

Source :
Category : Patent News 

GREENSBORO — Imagine clicking on a link and accessing your patient records from your home computer.

Or your doctors logging on and viewing every blood test you took last year.

Hospitals and doctors are investing millions in electronic health record systems that share sensitive information beyond a hospital’s walls.

Cone Health is spending $120 million on its electronic records project — more than half what it’s paying to build Moses Cone’s North Tower emergency room expansion.

On Tuesday, Cone brought online 25 of its affiliated physician offices. Cone’s hospitals should be on the system in July. “The big benefit ... is one patient, one record,” said Steve Shanaberger, director of radiology for Cone Health.

The medical community has dabbled with computerized records for years. Some doctors bring smartphones or tablets into exam rooms to show patients X-rays or pictures from surgeries.

What’s new about Cone’s project — and those at other hospitals — is its comprehensiveness.

“It will reinvent the way we communicate with patients and physicians alike and enhance our ability to provide leading-edge health care,” said John McCullough, associate vice president of clinical applications at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Eventually, patients will have computer access, referred to as “patient portals.” How that information is presented — and how much each patient is allowed to see — will vary from hospital to hospital.

“The only thing I can figure is that it will be like logging into Facebook,” said Karen Harris, information technology manager at High Point Regional Hospital , whose background is in nursing.

“Somehow it’s got to know 'I’m me, and that’s my record.’ ”

The federal government is offering stimulus money and incentives to health care providers that embrace the technology by 2015. There are penalties for those who do not switch to computerized systems as the government looks for ways to lower health care costs and increase patient safety.

Some of these systems, for example, use software that allows nurses to scan a patient’s wrist ban and scan medicine the patient will receive. The computer will make sure the person is supposed to get that medication at that time.

If someone scans the wrong patient or the wrong medication, the computer flashes an alert.

“This is all about pushing the health care delivery system in the same direction so we are interoperable and provide better, cheaper care,” said Mark Bell, vice president for health information technology with the N.C. Hospital Association.

The information will become part of a computer exchange — for example, a doctor treating a patient in another part of the country could access those medical records with the patient’s permission.

“If the patient has had a CT scan at Wake Forest and I don’t have that information and the patient is not able to tell me, there is a very good chance I would order a CT scan, too,” said Dr. Bruce Swords, an internist and chief medical information officer at Cone Health.

“That would be a waste of money and (make) the patient exposed to more radiation than he or she needed to be.”

Cone is using the same vendor as Wake Forest and Duke Medical Center.

“If I have notes and opinions, it is much better than me trying to glean that information from the patient or sending a medical release to Wake Forest and waiting for a week to get it back,” Swords said.

Cone Health started with a gradual rollout of the system in February.

Some hospitals allow practices that are unaffiliated to tap in. Cone is charging a $3,000 upfront fee per provider plus $300 monthly .

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Patent News | "Amarin gets key patent; stock takes a ride"

By :  Lee Howard
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Category  : Patent News

Groton - The stock price of biotech Amarin Corp. plc resumed its flight Wednesday before coming down to Earth late in the session, one day after the company announced a key patent for its heart drug had won U.S. approval.

Amarin's shares ended the day virtually unchanged at $11.92 by the close of trading on the Nasdaq exchange. On Tuesday, the price rose about 20 percent immediately after the expected patent decision, and the stock has nearly doubled from where it stood just a few weeks ago, though it's still significantly off its high of nearly $20.

Amarin, an Irish company that has its research-and-development headquarters on Bridge Street, said Tuesday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published an approval notice for its so-called "598 patent" on the firm's lead medicine, the fish-oil-based AMR101. The drug has been shown in studies to reduce triglycerides, or fat in the blood.

"The issuance of a notice of allowance is a significant additional step forward in the execution of our plan to protect the commercial potential of AMR101," said Joseph Zakrzewski, chairman and chief executive of the company, which operates locally as Amarin Pharma Inc.

Zakrzewski added that this is the first of at least 16 patents being sought by Amarin, some of which would protect the commercialization of ARM101 to 2030. Amarin's stock price plunged last year as a series of patent questions dogged the company.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a ruling by July 26 on Amarin's request to receive regulatory approval to begin marketing AMR101 to patients with very high triglycerides.

The issuance of a patent makes Amarin a more likely takeover target, according to analysts.

"Tuesday's news adds a bit of newfound certainty to the situation and sets the company up for the next stage of development - which could be the landing of a major partner," said one analysis on the website Market Playground.

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Patent News | "Court throws out Prometheus drug patent"

Category: Patent News 


The Supreme Court unanimously tossed out medical patent claims for Prometheus Laboratories on Tuesday for a test that could help doctors set drug doses for autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease, a decision that could affect the burgeoning field of personalized medicine.

The justices unanimously agreed that the patents held by the company -- owned by Switzerland-based Nestle -- were invalid because they were based on the laws of nature, which are unpatentable.

The patent in question covers a blood test that helps doctors determine the proper dosage for a drug, thiopurine, to treat gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal autoimmune illnesses. The patent covers methods of administering thiopurine to a patient and then determining the levels of the drug or the drug's metabolites -- what's left after it breaks down in the body -- in the patient's red blood cells. That observation is used to adjust the amount of medicine needed for that patient.

"The question before us is whether the claims do significantly more than simply describe these natural relations," said Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the opinion. "To put the matter more precisely, do the patent claims add enough to their statements of the correlations to allow the processes they describe to qualify as patent-eligible processes that apply natural law? We believe the answer to this question is no."

The Mayo Clinic formerly used the Prometheus test, but its doctors announced in 2004 that they had come up with their own test and would put that one on the market. Prometheus sued to stop Mayo, but a federal judge invalidated their original patent.

Natural phenomenon cannot be patented, a lower court judge said. That decision was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, leading Mayo to appeal to the Supreme Court.

"The unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court will enable physicians and other health care providers to offer and use tailored diagnostic tests to benefit patients," said John Noseworthy, president & chief executive officer of the Mayo Clinic.

Personalized medicine is becoming big business in the United States, with companies trying to find the best way to use a person's genetic makeup to help tailor care and find the most effective individualized treatments for cancer and other illnesses.

Officials at Prometheus Laboratories Inc., in San Diego said they were disappointed in the court's ruling. "We believe that strong patent protection is important to encourage the investment of energy and resources to develop lifesaving diagnostic tests and treatment protocols," a company statement said. "Without the availability of patent protection, future healthcare will suffer as companies may opt out of new research and development. This decision will, in our view, encourage imitation, not innovation."

The court's decision could affect other companies fighting for their personal medicine patents in court, said attorney Gerald Flattmann of the law firm Paul Hastings.

"One danger ... will be that courts misapply the decision as broadly requiring the invalidation of any claim that recites a law of nature as one of its steps," Flattman said. "Such misapplication would have a profound negative impact on innovation in the field of personalized medicine and beyond since, of course, all invention is on some level based on the practical application of natural discoveries."

Breyer noted that Albert Einstein would not have been able to patent his discovery of mass-energy equivalence or "by claiming a process consisting of simply telling linear accelerator operators to refer to the law to determine how much energy an amount of mass has produced (or vice versa.)"

"If a law of nature is not patentable, than neither is a process reciting a law of nature, unless that process has additional features that provide practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the law of nature itself," Breyer said.


Patent News | "RIM, Samsung accused of emoticon patent infringement"

By: Dara Kerr
Category: Patent News

The latest in the everyone-sue-everyone patent war is an alleged infringement by Samsung and Research In Motion for installing emoticon shortcut menus on their mobile phones, according to tech news site Ars Technica.

A firm called Varia Holdings began the process of suing both cell phone makers on Thursday for using its "emoticon input method and apparatus" patent, reports Ars Technica. The company asserts that it owns the idea of pop-up emoticon menus, which let users easily insert a happy or frowny face without having to type out the characters one at a time.

"It is known that for many users, their email and instant messaging communications...often involve the use of emoticons, such as the 'smiling face' or the 'sad face,'" the patent says. "However, few email or instant messaging applications offer any assistance to a user to enter and use emoticons in their communications."

Jonathan O. Nelson invented the emoticon menu in question; the patent was filed in 2005 and granted in 2007 to a startup called Wildseed that was acquired by AOL, according to Ars Technica. A company called Varia Mobile later spun off from AOL and most likely that's how the patent ended up in the hands of Varia Holdings.

Now, Varia Holdings is saying that Samsung phones, including the Acclaim, Nexus S, Captivate, Epic, Galaxy Nexus, and Transform, infringe the patent, along with Bold, Curve, Pearl, and Storm Blackberry phones, according to Ars Technica. For these two companies that could mean a big :(.


Patent News | "Allied Healthcare Group granted Singapore patent, boosts commercial prospects for ADAPT®"

Category: Patent News 

Allied Healthcare Group’s (ASX: AHZ) subsidiary Celxcel has improved the commercial prospects of its ADAPT®-Tissue Engineering Process (TEP) with the successful granting of a patent covering the technology in Singapore.

Celxcel chief executive officer Bob Atwill said, “The Celxcel technology has a robust patent position around our current platform technology (ADAPT®-TEP) and we continue to pursue filings to cover our future portfolio of products.”

ADAPT®-TEP is a technology platform which has been used across a number of tissue types for use in cardiovascular, pelvic floor reconstructions and hernia repair applications.

Celxcel is also evaluating how the process can be used in orthopaedics and as a biological scaffold to grow and deliver stem cells.

The company has received patents in a number of key jurisdictions already including Australia, New Zealand and China.

Celxcel also has a number of patent applications in the pipeline in other key jurisdictions, including the U.S., Europe, Japan, Israel and Canada.

Highlighting the substantial progress Celxcel is making with its ADAPT®-TEP technology, the company successfully implanted its cardiovascular patch CardioCel® during a double valve leaflet reconstruction earlier this month.

Importantly, normal valve function was regained after these reconstructions and all animals survived the open-heart surgical procedures without any adverse effects or immediate complications.

Allied Healthcare Group managing director Lee Rodne told Proactive Investors previously that in the U.S. alone, the cardiovascular tissue space generates around US$700 million in revenues and is growing.

“We don’t need to capture all of that market share to have significant revenue,” he said.

The successful valve reconstruction demonstrates the wider applications of its ADAPT®-TEP technology.

“This technology has the potential to change the way paediatric surgeons approach individualised reconstructions of deformed or damaged heart valves using our technology,” Rodne said.

“Positive results will also open up further commercial discussions on the potential applications for CardioCel®.”

Allied Healthcare’s Growth

Allied Healthcare is on the cusp of building a global healthcare company. The company has expanding revenues, with the objective to increase this to $20-30 million within two to three years via organic growth and acquisitions.

The regenerative medicine market is currently around $3 billion and growing. Allied Healthcare has the upper hand, because at present there is no similar product available to surgeons on the market.

The initial application for the CardioCel® patch is congenital heart disease. About eight in 1,000 children are born with the disease and around half of them have surgery. This presents an extensive global market potential for the technology.

Celxcel is targeting the filing for approval of CardioCel® in various markets and the initial market launch in 2012-13.


Patent News | Are Yahoo's patents strong enough to topple Facebook?"

By: Jon Brodkin
Category: Patent News

Patent News
In its surprising patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook, Yahoo is taking advantage of several factors to pin its former partner into a position of weakness.
For one, Yahoo has existed longer than Facebook, giving it more time to obtain patents covering Web technologies, even if it didn't put all those patented innovations to good use itself. Second, Yahoo's lawsuit—filed Monday—was strategically timed to occur after Facebook's filing for an initial public offering, but before the IPO actually takes place. To satisfy investors, Facebook may be forced into a costly settlement rather than risk a long, legal battle that could harm the company's perceived market valuation.
Third, Facebook appears to have a tiny patent portfolio compared to Yahoo's. Facebook's patents or lack thereof have no direct impact on the merits of Yahoo's lawsuit, but a bigger and stronger patent portfolio could allow Facebook to file a countersuit against Yahoo, putting it into a position of strength in settlement negotiations.
If the lawsuit heads to a trial, Facebook can argue that Yahoo's patents are invalid, too broad, or simply aren't infringed upon by Facebook's technology. But arguing against every claim in each Yahoo patent will be a difficult task. The ten patents combined lay claim to 285 methods and technologies, and invalidating one portion of a patent doesn't necessarily invalidate the rest.
"Separate and apart from the question of the individual strength of any of these patents, there are still ten patents and a few hundred claims here," IP attorney Patrick Patras of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP in Chicago told Ars. "It would be very difficult for an accused infringer to succeed against all of that."

Is this patent really valid? It'll cost you to find out

To see a full list of the ten patents Yahoo is asserting against Facebook, consult this previous story, in which we noted Yahoo's claim that "Facebook's entire social network model … is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."
Determining whether each patent will hold up in a court of law is something that can't be done simply by skimming the patent summaries and claims. Many of the technologies that may seem obvious now may not have been when Yahoo filed for the ten patents between 1997 and 2007.
"This is the issue with patent law, until we spend millions of dollars litigating these patents we really don't have a good sense of how strong they are, what they actually cover, whether they're valid or not valid," Penn Law Professor R. Polk Wagner told Ars. "Patents are merely hunting licenses and nothing more. They simply give you the ability to claim against somebody else and they're subject to attack on a number of grounds."
Yahoo's patents broadly cover privacy controls, advertising systems, customization of data streams and web pages, integration between e-mail and IM, and managing the view of a social network user's personal information.
"What the Yahoo patents appear to be doing looks pretty similar to what Facebook is doing," Wagner said. "On the other hand, patents like this that have pretty broad claims often have problems in terms of the amount of prior art that can be used against them."

Poking holes in Yahoo's patent claims

Patents can be attacked based on whether they cover innovations that were obvious at the time of filing. They can also be attacked on the question of whether the technology described is eligible for patenting at all. Patras notes that patents are more likely to hold up in court if they can meet the "machine-or-transformation test," which requires use of a specialized machine or transformation of something from one physical state to another.
Patras points out one patent in particular that Yahoo will have a hard time defending in court. This is patent #7,373,599, covering a method and system for optimizing placement of advertisements on a webpage. Importantly, the advertising placement is determined in part by user requests. Patras believes Yahoo is vulnerable on this patent because instead of merely alleging direct infringement—which can be proven even if Facebook had no knowledge of the patent—Yahoo also alleges that Facebook is "inducing infringement by its users." To be found guilty of inducing its own users to infringe a patent, Facebook would have to have knowingly violated the patent. And in order drive up the amount of damages awarded to Yahoo, Yahoo would have to prove Facebook knowingly violated the patent for years. 
"One would not typically go to an indirect claim like inducement if you didn't have to," Patras said.
For the other nine patents, Yahoo alleges direct infringement, which is easier to prove. For all ten patents, Yahoo only notified Facebook of the alleged violations on Feb. 27, and filed suit two weeks later. Licensing negotiations typically take at least a few months, Patras said. The short time frame between the notification and lawsuit suggests Yahoo made little serious attempt to negotiate a license, and was simply planning to sue. 
While the short notification time frame is problematic for Yahoo's inducement claim, Patras said the act of making that notification and detailing it in the lawsuit helps provide a basis for Yahoo's argument that damages should be tripled in the event that it wins the case. Yahoo claims Facebook "willfully infringed" the patents. At the very least, Yahoo can argue that Facebook knew of the patent infringement allegations before the suit was filed and did not enter into a licensing agreement.

Facebook's IPO provides incentive to settle

While Patras noted that he has no inside knowledge about the case, he said the request to triple damages seems designed to add a "shock and awe" factor to the lawsuit, and cause worry for investors looking into Facebook's upcoming IPO.
"What likely will happen in the short term is Facebook will make a decision as to whether it thinks this lawsuit is having a significant impact on its forthcoming IPO," Patras said. "If it thinks it is having a significant impact then I suspect Facebook will come to a relatively quick license agreement with Yahoo to make this issue go away. If Facebook concludes it's not having a significant impact they will fight on and get to the merits of these claims down the road."
One common tactic for companies in Facebook's position is to file a countersuit, giving itself more leverage in settlement negotiations, both Patras and Wagner said. Facebook, though, apparently owns just 21 patents, compared to 1,029 for Yahoo. Yahoo built up its patent portfolio over many years, telling employees that it was a strategy for fending off patent trolls, as former Yahoo employee Andy Baio now ruefully says.
Facebook has financial ties to Microsoft, which has a large patent portfolio, and is a member of the Open Invention Network, a Linux-themed group building a defensive patent portfolio to protect its members. But ultimately, Facebook will have to bolster its own portfolio to protect itself from more lawsuits like the one it faces now.

Facebook's future—expect a much more aggressive patent strategy

In terms of building a defensive patent portfolio, "it looks like Facebook is not there yet,"  Wagner said. "Given Facebook's funding and valuation I'm quite sure they are attempting to rectify that problem. My guess is they're filing enormous amounts of patents on any innovations they can come up with at this point."
Patras also expects a much more aggressive Facebook to emerge from this case. "I suspect Facebook might take a page from Google's book and get themselves some more patents by acquiring patents or acquiring companies with patents," Patras said. "Even if Facebook takes a license [from Yahoo] now to eliminate this issue, I wouldn't be surprised to see them somewhere down the road come back after Yahoo for patent infringement, whether they're patents Facebook owns now or later acquires, to try to get some of that money back."

Roundup of more patent news

It's been a busy week in the world of patent wars, even without the blockbuster Yahoo/Facebook case. Here's a look at some of the other legal developments we saw in the past few days. You can also check out last week's patent wars roundup.
  • Samsung's attempt to ban Apple's iPhones and iPads in the Netherlands with standards-essential patents was rejected by a Dutch court. (The Verge)
  • A patent-holding company called Cascades Computer Innovation filed an antitrust complaint against Motorola, LG, Samsung, Dell, and HTC. (ITworld)
  • A trial in Oracle's patent infringement case against Google over use of Java in Android has been scheduled to begin April 16. A Google lawyer, however, is asking for a change to the trial date. (Groklaw)
  • Patents formerly owned by Nortel are now controlled by a consortium including Microsoft, Apple, EMC, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony. (Network World)
  • Apple has narrowed the scope of a patent infringement case against Samsung. (AppleInsider)
  • In another case, Apple accused Samsung of violating a court order requiring it to produce source code. (Bloomberg)
  • Tech patent trolls are targeting cash-strapped American cities over bus-tracking systems. (Ars Technica)
  • Motorola Solutions asked a court to throw out infringement claims a patent licensing company made against its RFID customers. (CBS News)
  • A German court delayed a lawsuit Apple filed against Samsung over slide-to-unlock technology, saying it doubts whether Apple really has intellectual property rights to the feature. (Reuters)

Patent News | "Kodak gearing up for patent sale: Sources"

Category: Patent News 

Bidders are lining up in earnest now that Eastman Kodak’s patent sale is set to resume.

After being placed on hold so that the 130-year-old photography pioneer could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, the auction for more than 1,000 of Kodak’s digital imaging patents is ramping up again, according to three sources close to the matter.

Investment banks Lazard Ltd and Jefferies & Company Inc, an adviser to the unsecured creditors committee, are working together on the patent sale, which they hope will bring in as much as $2 billion US , the sources said.

The banking tandem had previously worked in similar roles advising bankrupt telecom-equipment maker Nortel Networks Corp on the sale of about 6,000 patents to an Apple Inc-led consortium for $4.5 billion.

“We anticipate a robust and lively auction process which will assist us in achieving our objective of monetizing our non-core IP assets,” a Kodak representative said.

Kodak, the iconic company that invented the hand-held camera, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Jan. 19.

The company, which holds 10,000 patents, will focus a significant part of its restructuring on finding a buyer for the 1,155 U.S. patents within its Digital Capture and Kodak imaging Systems & Services portfolios. The portfolios also include more than 500 foreign patents.

Kodak, based in Rochester, New York, is expected to retain the patents associated with its core printing business, two sources said.

A number of global competitors are likely to emerge as interested parties - some of which are embroiled in patent litigation with Kodak - with Intel Corp, Samsung , Apple and Fujifilm among a list of possible buyers, two sources close to the situation said.

The auction will follow the terms specified under Kodak’s $950 million debtor-in-possession, or DIP, financing loan. That loan says that a motion has to be filed with the courts regarding the sale of the patents by June 30, 2012.

Kodak obtained its 18-month DIP loan from Citigroup Inc in February to continue operations while it went through the bankruptcy process.

“Consistent with the terms of our DIP agreement, we expect to file bidding procedures by June 30, 2012,” the Kodak representative said.

Kodak has yet to send out a “teaser” document containing basic financial information to prospective suitors, two sources said. The auction process is expected to follow a bankruptcy court-administered sale known as a 363 deal, which involves a “stalking horse” bid in which a buyer agrees to make a bid for most of the assets, setting the floor price for the process, two sources said.

In the Nortel auction, it had received court approvals for a “stalking horse” bid made by a unit of Google Inc for its portfolio of technology patents valued at $900 million. After three months and several bidding rounds, Apple and its consortium, which included Microsoft Corp and Research in Motion Ltd, made a whopping $4.5 billion bid.

Earlier this month, Kodak agreed to sell its online photo services business to Shutterfly Inc for $23.8 million.

Kodak will seek bankruptcy court approval of the sale and auction procedures of that business by late March.

A U.S. bankruptcy judge told Apple last week that it cannot pursue patent infringement claims against Kodak now that the latter is in bankruptcy. The infringement claims centre on a Kodak patent that lets consumers preview digital photographs on LCD screens.

Kodak had accused Apple of trying to slow the patent sale process.


Patent News | "Aussie inventor settles with Microsoft in patent dispute"

Category : Patent News

Profile: The Aussie who beat Microsoft
Ric Richardson, the Australian "man in a van" who has been fighting Microsoft in an eight-year legal battle has settled with the software giant out of court in a deal that could potentially net hundreds of millions of dollars.

In April 2009, a United States court found Microsoft had used Richardson's patented anti-piracy technology without his knowledge or permission, and ordered the software giant to pay compensation of $US388 million (then worth more than $530 million). The award was one of the highest in US patent history.

The verdict was overturned five months later. But early last year an appeals court upheld the original jury's decision that Microsoft had infringed his patent and, up until last week, a trial was under way before a federal jury in Providence, Rhode Island, to determine how much Microsoft should now pay for infringing the patent.
But the trial was withdrawn by both parties as it got under way, with Microsoft spokesman David Cuddy telling Bloomberg News last week that the company that Richardson made the patent for, Uniloc, had reached a “final and mutually agreeable resolution” with Microsoft to end the dispute which begun in September 2003.
Richardson, 49, of Byron Bay in NSW, patented the technology designed to deter software piracy in the early 90s. He is a serial inventor with over 40 patents to his name and does much of his thinking in his van, which he dubs the "DickMobile", near his leafy property in Byron Bay.

He was made aware of the settlement on Tuesday morning last week, he said in a telephone interview. "I was sitting on the edge of the bed and I got this message that we had settled."
Richardson said he then rang Uniloc co-founder Craig Etchegoyen, who told him him he "ought to be happy".
The Byron Bay inventor added that he was eagerly awaiting to see what the deal meant for him in financial terms "like every shareholder" of Uniloc but insisted he was "never in it for the money".

"I was in it because the right thing needed to be done," he said. It's understood the deal is a licensing agreement between Microsoft and Uniloc, with Richardson saying the deal didn't involve a lump sum payment.
Intellectual property law expert Trevor Choy said the settlement would net Uniloc millions of dollars.
"The 2009 order of $US388 million sets a rough ceiling, and with an appeal factored in, we would probably look at low 9 figures," Mr Choy said.


Patent News | "Gevo Granted Key Patent Covering Critical Technology to Enable Commercially Viable Yields of Isobutanol Production from Yeast"

Category: Patent News 

ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Gevo, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO), an innovative renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted U.S. Patent No. 8,133,715, entitled “Reduced By-Product Accumulation for Improved Production of Isobutanol.”

“Once again, Gevo believes that DuPont and Butamax continue to use technology that is not theirs”
“Yeast naturally produces isobutanol at low yields,” said Brett Lund, EVP & General Counsel of Gevo. “In order to produce isobutanol at commercially relevant yields suitable for commercial implementation several improvements to the pathway need to be made, including elimination of pathways that “hijack” carbohydrates. Pathway hijacking lowers yield and creates unwanted by-products. The patent issued today covers the technology to eliminate one of the hijacking pathways, and improves yield of isobutanol by 20 percent. Without this technology, it is doubtful that an isobutanol producing yeast would be commercially viable.”

“When you design a biocatalyst it needs to be efficient,” continued Lund. “Unwanted by-products need to be eliminated or yields would be too low to use the biocatalyst commercially. Our scientists were the first to figure out how to stop these yield reducing pathways. We strongly believe this modification is strictly required for achieving commercially relevant production of isobutanol. Thus, without access to this technology we believe our competitors will be unable to produce isobutanol at economically viable levels.”

“We are pleased that the USPTO continues to recognize our advances in this field,” said Lund. “We are pioneering commercially viable efficiencies in isobutanol production and are on target to startup the world’s first renewable isobutanol operation in 2012. By obtaining and protecting our intellectual property, we are securing our role as the global leader in the technology and commercialization of isobutanol. With this patent we continue to add to our portfolio of more than 300 patents and applications for the economic production of isobutanol, process innovations and downstream product applications.”

Gevo also filed a lawsuit against Butamax™ Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax) and its affiliate E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). Based on Dupont and Butamax public disclosures, the lawsuit charges Butamax and DuPont infringe this newly issued patent. “Once again, Gevo believes that DuPont and Butamax continue to use technology that is not theirs,” noted Lund.


Patent News | "India licenses generic copy of patented Bayer drug"

Category: Patent News

NEW DELHI (AP) -- India effectively ended Bayer's monopoly on a patented cancer drug Monday, licensing a much cheaper generic under a unique law aimed at keeping costs affordable.

In a decision likely to upset Western pharmaceuticals, the patent office approved Natco Pharma Ltd.'s application to produce the kidney and liver cancer treatment sorefinib.

Bayer Corp. -- a subsidiary of the German pharma giant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- markets sorefinib as Nexavar for about $5,600 a month in India under a 2008-2020 patent, making it "not available to the public at a reasonably affordable price," the patent office ruled.

"A right cannot be absolute," it said. The office can force companies to grant licenses to generics in cases of public emergency or where they can show patented products are priced out of reach.

Natco said its version would cost Indian patients $175 a month.

It was the first case of compulsory licensing under India's unique patent laws passed in 2005. Under the license Natco must pay 6 percent in royalties to Bayer.

Western pharmaceutical companies have been pushing for stronger patent protections and rules to clamp down on a $26 billion Indian generics industry they say is overstepping intellectual property rights. Aid groups counter that Indian generics are a lifesaving resource for patients in poor countries who cannot afford Western prices to treat diseases like cancer, malaria and HIV.

"We are disappointed about this decision," Bayer spokeswoman Sabina Cusimano said from Berlin, adding that the company was considering a legal challenge. "We will see if we can further defend our intellectual property rights in India."

Natco's general manager said the drug was needed by about 8,800 cancer patients in India today.

"This is a victory for Indian patients and for India's generic manufacturers, which are under attack," Madineedi Adinarayana said by telephone from the company's offices in Hyderabad.

Bayer's patent "was not working as a patent in India," he said, and predicted "many more such cases will follow."

A patent must be at least 3 years old before a generics company can apply for a compulsory license. Still, many Indian companies have been reluctant to push for compulsory licenses where they might jeopardize agreements to manufacture other drugs for wealthy Western drug companies.

Analysts and patient advocacy groups said the ruling could have wider implications for the pharmaceutical business worldwide.

"This is a rare instance where a general compulsory license has been issued, not bound by government use provisions or those requiring to show 'extreme urgency' or 'emergency," said Dr. Amit Sengupta of the People's Health Movement. The license given to Natco "without encumberances means a possible opening of opportunities for using compulsory licenses to promote competition."

Lawyer Anand Grover for the Cancer Patients Aid Association, who was not involved in arguing the Nexavar case, said the ruling should force foreign drug companies to be mindful of Indian market realities. "It would be interesting to see whether multinationals will change their practices" in developing countries, he said.

India's generics industry has been a focus in recent months with several Western pharmaceutical giants saying the 2005 Patent Act fails to guarantee investors' rights.

Swiss drug maker Novartis AG is now in the final stages of a Supreme Court case to overturn India's patent rejection on another cancer drug, Gleevec. That case revolves around a different legal provision allowing India to block "evergreening" -- or patents and extensions based on minor changes to existing treatments.

Lawyers, generic drug makers and aid groups like Medecins Sans Frontieres and Oxfam have also warned that ongoing free-trade talks between India and the European Union are threatening India's generics production with discussions about tightening intellectual property protections and making it easier for pharma giants to sue India's government, drug manufacturers and distributors. They say the EU's suggesting a clause to ensure nothing limits India's ability to produce and export lifesaving medicines is not enough of a guarantee.


Patent News | "Kodak pushing for patent sale"

Category: Patent News

Facing big money problems, Eastman Kodak Co. in July 2011 hired a New York City investment bank to help it shop around a huge cache of digital imaging patents.

Such a deal, potentially worth billions, did not come to pass in time to prevent Kodak from filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 19.

But Kodak still is pursuing such a sale and the big potential windfall — which would increase the odds that Kodak’s suppliers could get better than pennies on the dollar for their claims and that shareholders might even receive some returns. And Kodak is seemingly looking to seal a deal by midsummer.

Kodak received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval last month to hire New York investment bank Lazard Freres & Co. LLC to provide financial and strategic advice relating to a restructuring and an intellectual property sale — Lazard being the same company Kodak hired back in July.

Now Lazard is under some pressure to help turn such a deal around quickly. It stands to pocket millions in fees and bonuses in such a deal. But according to the terms of its contract with Kodak, the IP Sale Transaction Fee it would receive in such a transaction gets sizably cut if a court-approved sale isn’t consummated by June 30 — which is also the U.S. Bankruptcy Court deadline for Kodak submitting proposed bidding procedures for an auction.

What’s for sale is a portfolio of 1,100 patents covering various aspects of capturing, processing, storing, organizing, editing and sharing digital images. And the estimated value of that big stack of patents depends on who you talk to.

An analysis by Michigan intellectual property consulting firm 284 Partners LLC —hired by Kodak — put an estimated value on the patents of $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion.

But an analysis last week by New York intellectual property consulting firm Envision IP Inc. was more conservative — $1.7 billion to $2.6 billion.

And in a Kodak employee Town Hall meeting on Jan. 19, co-President Laura Quatela said Kodak’s own modeling indicated it could rake in $6 billion over the next four years in licensing those imaging patents or potentially more if it inked a deal with one of the warring giants in the smartphone/tablet field, such as Apple Inc. or Google Inc.


Patent News | The week in patent wars: Apple wins one, loses another, and asks for money"

By: Jon Brodkin
Category: Patent News

Tech industry members are suing each other and left and right, and lots of money is at stake.
Tech vendors seem to spend as much time suing each other as they do actually making products. The patent wars can be fascinating—but also a confusing mess of suits, countersuits, motions, settlements, and a billion news articles trying to make sense of it all.
We're trying a slightly different approach this week, with a recap of the week's top news in patent lawsuits, featuring some stories we've already reported and others that are notable but haven't yet received a mention on Ars. Apple in particular was busy this week, but the Oracle vs. Google case had some developments, Linux organizations looked to shore up their patent portfolios, and patent trolls targeted the gaming industry (and Apple).

The Apple patent chronicles

Let's start with Apple. On Monday, Apple won a motion to gain access to previously secret details about Google's development of Android, as part of its lawsuit alleging that Motorola smartphones violate Apple intellectual property. Despite protests from Google and Motorola (which are in the process of completing a merger), US District Court Judge Richard Posner sided with Apple's claim that it needs insight into the Android development process to determine how much money in licensing fees or court damages Apple should be entitled to from Motorola's (allegedly) infringing Android-based products. Exactly what is contained in those details wasn't revealed, and the judge also granted Apple access to information on Google's acquisitions of Android, Inc., and Motorola.
Apple's week wasn't all roses, though. The company's attempt to sue Eastman Kodak Co. was halted by a US Bankruptcy judge, who said Apple's pursuit of claims against Kodak would be inappropriate while the company is in bankruptcy. "Apple in February had asked the court for permission to lift a stay freezing a patent lawsuit pending in a federal court in Kodak's hometown of Rochester, New York,"Reuters reported.
In the pending case, Apple claims Kodak "misappropriated" its technology to wrongly obtain a patent allowing previews of digital images on LCD screens, The Register reports. The court suggested that Apple and Kodak find a way to settle the case without interfering with Kodak's plans to sell off its patent portfolio and emerge from bankruptcy, Reuters said. But Apple also wants to file a new infringement lawsuit against Kodak claiming that it violates Apple patents related to digital cameras and printers. The judge rejected Apple's request to revive its pending litigation as well as the request to launch a new lawsuit against Kodak.
Apple's strategy has generally been to prevent the sale of competing products that allegedly violate its patents, particularly when it comes to Android. But as Ars' Chris Foresman reported this week, Apple has softened that stance by offering to license some of its smartphone-related patents to Motorola and Samsung. Apple has reportedly asked for as much as $15 per handset in exchange for the patent licenses.

Open source patent wars

Oracle's long-running lawsuit claiming Google violated Java patents in Android has been diminished greatly, but is moving forward. Oracle faced a tough decision about whether to drop the remaining patent claims in its lawsuit, open source watcher Brian Proffitt at ITworld wrote this week.
"At issue for Oracle is the problem that nearly all of the patents they brought against Google in the patent and copyright infringement case have either been found to be invalid or are undergoing re-examination by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a process that could take up to 18 months and offers no guarantee for Oracle that the reexamined patents will even be found to be valid," Proffitt wrote.
On Friday, Oracle decided to drop all but two of its remaining patent infringement claims against Google, which will help get the trial underway faster.
The case involves both patent and copyright claims. Even if all the patent claims had been dropped, the copyright claims would move forward. Either way, Oracle wants royalties on those millions of Android phones being sold with each passing week. Groklaw has been posting frequent updates on the Oracle/Google case for those who want to catch up on the latest happenings.
Android isn't the only Linux-based open source project to face frequent patent threats. We've written about how Red Hat handles patent trolls. Red Hat is also part of an industry consortium called the Open Invention Network, which, along with IBM, Sony, Phillips, Facebook, HP, and dozens of others are building up a defensive patent portfolio to protect Linux-using members from potential lawsuits.
The more patents you have, the less prone you are to lawsuits. The threat of a countersuit can be enough to scare off a competitor's threat, or at least pave the way for mutually beneficial cross-licensing deals. The Open Invention Network is in the process of greatly expanding its coverage of software packages and Linux-based mobile operating systems, as ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote this week.

Miscellaneous: Patent troll with tie to Microsoft targets Apple; game companies fend off suits; Amazon shores up e-book patent portfolio

There are a few other stories worth noting before we sign off. Apple was sued by a patent holding company called Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l., which claims the iPhone and iPad infringe eight patents related to wireless communications, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
Core Wireless has an indirect affiliation with Microsoft. Core's parent company, Mosaid, owns patents it acquired from Nokia last year. Microsoft paid for a license to those patents and receives a "passive financial interest in future revenue generated by Mosaid from the licensing of those patents to others," Microsoft told The Register.
Patent trolls—loosely defined as companies that make no technology of their own but acquire patents to assert against companies that actually build products—have also been going after businesses involved in social gaming. In case you missed it, Ars' Kyle Orland examined this trend in the March 2 story "Patent troll lawsuits strike at the heart of free-to-play games, apps."
Among a couple other happenings this past week, Samsung filed a new lawsuit against Apple in South Korea on Wednesday, saying the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 infringe three patents related to displaying data, the user interface, and short text messages, Reuters reported.
Apple was already suing Samsung, in California. Samsung has been trying to get Microsoft to testify in the case because it believes Microsoft has prior art that would undermine Apple's claims. Microsoft doesn't want to get involved, however, and filed a motion on Tuesday seeking to block Samsung's subpoena because it's overly vague, Patently Apple reports.
On the e-book intellectual property front, Amazon looks to be bolstering its patent portfolio either to defend itself against lawsuits or launch attacks of its own. On Tuesday, Amazon was granted a new patent covering a method and system for annotating digital works. As you may recall, Microsoft's case against Barnes & Noble's Nook devices involves a couple of patents related to annotating documents. Amazon already has a licensing deal with Microsoft allowing it to use annotation technology in Kindle e-readers, however, so the company is safe on that front.