Patent News | "Nvidia Files Patent For Hierarchical Graphics Processors "

By : Douglas Perry
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Category : Patent News

Filed earlier this year as an extension of the existing patent 7,634,637, Nvidia has applied for a patent that describes a hierarchical processor array. The idea is that there are two or three tiers of processing cores with dedicated functions that alleviates a problem in core design that results in increasingly wide and ineffective graphics rendering pipelines.

Those pipelines include various shaders, such as a vertex shader unit, a geometry shader, a pixel shader, among others, and each of these shaders are getting wider at every level of parallel execution hardware. Nvidia says that "each massively parallel stage in a stage-by-stage pipeline tends to provide little granularity of control of portions of each parallel stage", each "massively parallel stage becomes unwieldy and prohibitively time-consuming to design". Additionally, "the level of utilization may decrease, as the massively parallel stage struggles during operation to find sufficiently wide units of work to fully occupy the data path."

To keep parallelization efficient, the company describes a processor with multiple levels of processing hierarchies with "multiple classes of graphics operations being associated with a different stage of graphics processing." However, each level would also include at least one module that is capable of processing all graphics functions. There would also be one top-level component that is able to distribute certain classes of work to lower level classes of processors. The patent specifically mentions a third-level class in the processor hierarchy that would be reserved for general purpose computations, as well as "at least one" specialized graphics function module that "is capable of performing a class of graphics operations carried out based on frame buffer data for scan out to a display."

According to the patent application, the resulting core design is "advantageously configured to execute a large number of threads in parallel, where the term 'thread' refers to an instance of a particular program executing on a particular set of input data." For example, a thread would refer to the execution of a single vertex in the shader program or individual pixel being processed by the pixel shader.

Besides greater processing efficiency, the document states that a hierarchical structure of multithreaded core array also enables a faster design of "derivative chip designs." Faster GPUs could be built simply by "adding additional components at one or more of the levels of the hierarchy".

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Patent News | "Fairchild, Power Integrations infringe patents"

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Category : Patent News

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: The legal diatribe between Fairchild and Power Integrations (PI) is back again.

Back in 2006, PI dismissed the suit filed against it by Fairchild and in 2010, Fairchild planned to appeal PI patent ruling. While the two companies have been into this legal battle, each accusing the other, both of them have been found to infringe patents.

A federal jury found that, PI infringes a U.S. patent held by Fairchild and found that Fairchild infringes two patents held by PI. According to Fairchild, The jury in the District court in Delaware found that PI products infringe the patent, U.S. No. 7,259,972. Some of those PI products included some LinkSwitch II and LinkSwitch-CV products.

At the same time, the jury also found that, some of Fairchild's pulse width modulation (PWM) controllers infringe on two patents held by Power Integrations, reports Dylan McGrath of EETimes.

Fairchild said, the jury found that Fairchild did not infringe on two other patents Power Integrations had asserted against the company.

The litigation began in 2008 and the verdict concluded the first phase of the trial. The second phase will determine the wilfulness and damages in the case and it may occur after appeals of the first phase, said Fairchild.

Tom Yang, senior vice president of technology for Fairchild’s Power Conversion, Industrial and Automotive products division, who is the inventor of the patent found to be infringed, said, "I am delighted and gratified that the jury has affirmed the validity of our patents.”

There are three other patent lawsuits in which PI and Fairchild are involved. Fairchild is asserting patent infringement claims against PI in China. The two companies are awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in their appeal of a 2004 lawsuit. In a case scheduled for trial, next year in Federal court in San Francisco, the companies are assessing patent infringement claims against each other.

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Patent News | "Yahoo Claims Facebook Bought Patents to Countersue It"

By : John Ribeiro
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Category : Patent News

Facebook purchased in the last five months eight of ten patents it has cited in a counterclaim to a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Yahoo, and several were purchased after Yahoo filed the suit, the Internet portal claimed in a filing on Friday before a federal court.

Yahoo has also alleged that Facebook has infringed two more of its patents in addition to the ten patents it sued for last month.

Facebook denied earlier this month Yahoo's claims that it had infringed the 10 patents, and filed a counterclaim that Yahoo had infringed 10 Facebook patents.

"On information and belief, many, if not all, of these patents were acquired by Facebook for purposes of retaliation against Yahoo! in this case," Yahoo said in the filing on Friday.

Contrary to an agreement that is said to exist between the in-house counsels for the two companies to raise intellectual property issues with each other in the first instance, Facebook did not provide a notice to Yahoo of any alleged infringement, and did not attempt to resolve the alleged infringement of any of its patents by Yahoo before asserting them in litigation, Yahoo said.

The eight patents were acquired by Facebook from patent firms IPG Electronics 503 and Right Point, patent holding company Cheah Intellectual Property Licensing, and the New York University's intellectual property licensing department, Yahoo said in the filing before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division.

Facebook acquired 750 patents from IBM in March, and more recently agreed to buy a portion of the patents Microsoft is to acquire from AOL in an over US$1 billion deal.

The move by Facebook reflects growing interest from technology companies to acquire patent portfolios both to counter and initiate patent litigation. Ailing companies are also looking at patent sales as a way to raise cash. Bankrupt Nortel Networks raised $4.5 billion through the sale of patents and patent applications to a consortium consisting of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony. Eastman Kodak has also said that it is considering the sale of its digital imaging patent portfolios as one of its strategic alternatives to come out of bankruptcy protection.

In its reply and counterclaim on Friday to Facebook's reply, Yahoo has denied infringing the ten patents, and claimed Facebook purchased and asserted patents tainted by inequitable conduct, including allegedly the intentional failure to name a known inventor, and adding new information to a patent.

Facebook is also said to have asserted its newly acquired patents against aspects of Yahoo's products for which there is little to no publicly available information. "Unless Facebook has unlawfully acquired Yahoo! confidential business information, Facebook could not have developed a good-faith basis for many of the infringement allegations in its counterclaims," Yahoo said.

Facebook could not be immediately reached for comment.

Yahoo has also alleged that Facebook has infringed two other patents. The first patent called: "System and method to determine the validity of and interaction on a network," bearing U.S. Patent No. 7,933,903, was issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Yahoo in April, 2011, while the other U.S. Patent No. 7,698,315, titled "System and method allowing advertisers to manage search listings in a pay for placement search system using grouping," was issued by the USPTO on April 13, 2010.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is

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Patent News | "Sony awarded patent for Xperia Play with double the keyboards"

By : Jordan Mallory
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Category : Patent News

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has assigned Sony a patent for "electronic devices having multiple keypads and related methods," which when translated out of Patentese and into The Queen's English, means "cell-phones with two sliding keyboards and stuff."

The patent application is chock full of ballistically confusing descriptions like "a second slidable unit having a second keypad thereon, the second slidable unit being slidably connected to the upper unit and the first slidable unit," but the basic idea of the patent is fairly straight forward: Rather than having one slide-out keypad like the existing Xperia Play, this device would have two keyboards stacked on top of each other, and the user would decide which to slide out depending on the situation.

Obviously, the most practical application of this tech would be to equip one keyboard with a QWERTY layout and the other with PlayStation controls, but whether or not this patent will get any actual use remains to be seen. With phones getting larger, physical keyboards falling to the wayside and the PlayStation Suite still in beta testing, the chances of Sony taking a risk on a device that's market is slowly waning seems unlikely.

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Patent News | "House pushes college patents"

By : Kelley Shannon
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Category : Patent News

AUSTIN — Universities could partner with outside entrepreneurs more often to bring new technology to market if the state provided some seed funding, researchers and business people told legislators last week.

Patents and startup companies resulting from these joint ventures generate money for the schools and jobs for communities, said James McGinity, a professor in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin.

"The state of Texas has some very, very smart people in universities and in the private sector. With these seed grants, we could really expand tremendously," said McGinity, who also is an entrepreneur. "We can start small and eventually grow to be a sizable force in the business community."

Funding is needed to get a company going early, even before the business prepares for venture capital or applies to the state's Emerging Technology Fund, said McGinity, focusing on faculty-generated startup companies.

He and others testified at a joint hearing of the House Higher Education Committee and Economic and Small Business Development Committee on Wednesday. Heading into the 2013 legislative session, the panels are looking at ways to promote public-private partnerships to enhance commercialization of new technological discoveries.

Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, chairman of the Higher Education Committee, said university research often is the foundation for lifesaving drugs and technologies.

He said university-private partnerships have strong economic potential because universities can receive royalties from patents and, potentially, revenue from technology companies once they are thriving.

"It seems to me we ought to be encouraging more of this," Branch said.

McGinity noted that the University of Texas offers lectures on patents to graduate students and prepares them for competitive jobs.

Through his questioning, Rep. Rodney Anderson, R-Grand Prairie, asked how many of the startups don't succeed. "There are probably more failures than successes," McGinity said.

"Part of my concern in providing pre-venture capital is the failure rate," Anderson said.

Those testifying didn't recommend an amount of seed money the state should consider budgeting.

McGinity told of UT-Austin's success stories in partnering with private businesses. One case in point: Enavail, a company with offices in Austin that is launching a manufacturing center in Abilene. The company's main operation is hot-melt extrusion technology at the manufacturing center, and there is space available for other types of work, he said.

In another case, the university receives $10 million to $11 million per year in patent revenues from a formula that helps deter abuse of the drug OxyContin, McGinity said.

But, he said, of his many patents only a few are being commercialized.

Rice University Provost George McLendon said he wasn't asking for state money, but praised legislators for their support of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, initiated by bonds and designed to spur medical breakthroughs in Texas in the battle against cancer.

McLendon said the institute and the Texas Medical Center in Houston are in the process of attracting technology and capital to Texas from the east and west coasts.

Dan Peterson, an Austin neurosurgeon and founder and chief executive of Alafair Biosciences, told of his research partnership with the University of Texas to develop a product used to treat post-surgery scarring and pain.

To succeed, startup companies must have enough funding to get through what is known as the "valley of death," when expenses increase dramatically as a product heads into commercialization, he explained.

Meanwhile, Texas State University, recently designated as being an "emerging research" university in Texas, is in the midst of developing a new nanomaterials research center, said university President Denise Trauth. Texas State is joining with private-sector partners in work on commercialization of the minute materials, she said.

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Patent News | "Fairchild, Power Integrations found to infringe patents"

By : Dylan McGrath
Source :
Category : Patent News

SAN FRANCISCO—Fairchild Semiconductor International Inc. said Friday (April 27) that a federal jury found that Power Integrations Inc. infringes a U.S patent held by Fairchild and found that Fairchild infringes two patents held by Power Integrations.

The jury in the U.S. District Court in Delaware found that Power Integrations products, including some LinkSwitch II and LinkSwitch-CV products, infringe the patent, U.S. No. 7,259,972, according to Fairchild. The same jury also found all asserted Fairchild patents valid, Fairchild said.

But the jury also found that some of Fairchild's pulse width modulation (PWM) controllers infringe on two patents held by Power Integrations. The jury found that Fairchild did not infringe on two other patents Power Integrations had asserted against the company, Fairchild said.

Fairchild said it has already introduced next-generation, replacement PWM controllers and that the company would be contacting customers about which products are affected by this lawsuit.

The verdict concluded the first phase of trial in the litigation which began in 2008, Fairchild said. Willfulness and damages in the case will be determined in a second phase, which has yet to be scheduled and may occur after appeals of the first phase, the company said.

"I am delighted and gratified that the jury has affirmed the validity of our patents," said Tom Yang, senior vice president of technology for Fairchild’s Power Conversion, Industrial and Automotive products division, in a statement. Yang is the sole inventor of the patent found to be infringed.

Fairchild and Power Integrations are involved in three other patent lawsuits. Fairchild said it is asserting patent infringement claims against Power Integrations in Suzhou, China. The companies currently await a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in their appeal of a 2004 lawsuit and the companies are also asserting patent infringement claims against each other in a case scheduled to be tried next year in federal court in San Francisco, Fairchild said.

A spokesman for Power Integrations did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Patent News | "PMU Professor Obtains Patent on Algorithm Research "

By : Asif Anwar Alig 
Source :
Category : Patent News

Al-Khobar , 22 April, (

The Al-Khobar based, newly established, Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd University( PMU) is in global limelight once again through a patent in bio-informatics obtained by one of its professors, Dr. Loay Al-Zubaidi.

The patent title, “Method and device for the intermittent occlusion of the coronary sinus” is patented under the U.S. Patent (Patent Number: US 2011/0196297) and European Patent (Patent Number: EP 1753483) whereas the U.S. Patent Number is US 7780604.

Dr. Al-Zubaidi, who is the Chairperson in the College of Computer Engineering and Science at PMU, obtained the patent in this research; “an algorithm to calculate and control blood pressure during open heart surgery through inserting an air balloon into the coronary.”

This research is a collective effort in collaboration with a group of Austrian researchers representing the University of Vienna’s Faculty of Medicine, said Dr. Al-Zubaidi, commenting that “blood pressure can be controlled through minute adjustments to the air volume inside the balloon in response to real-time measurements”.

The expert teams involved in the patent issuance from both the USA and Europe recognized this new research finding. They evaluated it thoroughly prior to granting patent status.

Dr. Al-Zubaidi further added that “an agreement was also concluded with a prominent medical equipment firm to initiate manufacturing of a new apparatus that will be exclusively based on this technology”.

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Patent News | "Law firms help NIF double its patents"

By : The Indian Express
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Category : Patent News

The National Innovation Foundation (NIF) has seen a sharp rise in the number of patents it has registered in the last 13 months, after it hired the services of law firms across India.

Till the end of February 2011, the foundation had registered 269 patents in the name of its grassroots innovators and inventors. Some held multiple patents.

However, in February the foundation's heads decided to see if they could rope in some of the law firms they had been hiring over the past decade to help boost patent numbers. They began writing letters to about 10 of them. The response is now evident — 206 patents have been filed since, almost replicating 13 years' worth of achievement in less than 13 months.

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Patent News | "AstraZeneca seeks a remedy for its patent pain"

By : The Telegraph
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category : Patent News

He is likely to face painful questions about the drug maker’s prognosis, as some of its best-selling drugs encounter generic rivals and its cabinet of new medicines remains paltry.

Such questions are not new, but with the “patent cliff” fast approaching, some investors are apparently fractious and analysts are wondering just what is the remedy for Astra’s ills.

Ten years ago, Britain’s second-biggest drug maker was the top-rated stock in European pharmaceuticals, with future blockbusters such as cholesterol-fighter, Crestor, coming through the pipeline. But a decade and a string of drug failures later, its valuation is one of the lowest in the sector.

The latest disappointment came in March, when the Anglo-Swedish drug maker pulled the plug on a potential anti-depressant it was developing with America’s Targacept.

That failure will cost Astra $50m (£31m) and follows setbacks with new medicines for ovarian cancer and diabetes. However, the diabetes pill did get a fillip on Friday when European regulators backed its approval. But research stumbles leave Astra’s stock of future medicines running low at a time when the company is hitting the patent cliff, where patents protecting a drug expire, allowing generic companies to make cheaper versions of the same medicine.

Astra’s patent cliff is particularly steep. Breast cancer drug, Arimidex, has already lost patent protection and sales halved last year. This year’s pain from the loss of Seroquel’s American patent could be severe, with the anti­psychotic medicine currently raking in annual sales of almost £1bn.

There is more to come. Nexium for acid reflux will face American generics in 2014 and Crestor, Astra’s biggest-selling drug, loses patent protection in 2016. Crestor is already facing a challenge as cheaper versions of Pfizer’s rival drug, Lipitor, enter the market after its patent expired in November. More sanguine observers, however, argue that Crestor will be protected by its position as a treatment for higher-risk patients.

Elsewhere in Astra’s cabinet of heart medicines, some analysts are concerned that sales of its new blood-thinning drug, Bri­linta, are not ramping up quickly enough. Such challenges put the business under pressure as it ­battles to rejuvenate its pipeline.

Analysts argue that it is difficult to pinpoint why Astra’s research efforts have not borne much fruit. Jack Scannell, an analyst at Bernstein, said: “Every­one knows that research and development (R&D) is difficult and unexpected things happen; even the companies that win don’t win very often.”

His colleague, Tim Anderson, added that once a company has struggled with R&D, it is difficult to escape that mindset. “Astra has a mixed track record over many years and I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily because they went down a different path,” he said. “I just don’t think they were aggressive enough in their investment and probably didn’t value trying to be cutting edge.”

But Astra has taken action to address the paucity of its pipeline. Two years ago, the business revealed a new strategy aimed at revitalising its discovery efforts and slashing costs. It outlined moves to cut jobs and reduce the number of diseases it researches, pulling out of areas such as schizophrenia. Alongside that, it is returning billions to shareholders through buy-backs.

Astra has also created a series of “innovative medicines units” – or iMeds – that source the most promising science inside and outside their walls.

Partnering, or in-licensing, is not new – Crestor was the pro­duct of a partnership with Shio­nogi – but Astra is redoubling its efforts in the field. Earlier this month, it signed a deal with America’s Amgen to jointly develop and sell five biotech drugs. Astra has also created a neuroscience “virtual” iMed comprising a small hub of scientists who will work with industry and academia to develop drugs.

Shaun Grady heads up strategic partnering and business development at Astra. He said: “We partner, in-licence and acquire because we firmly believe that we don’t have all the answers internally in our labs, we don’t necessarily have the best science in our labs, so we’re absolutely committed to this balance between what we originate and develop internally and pro­jects and programmes that come from outside the company.”

“This isn’t a short-term fix to plug gaps in our present pipeline, this is how we’re going to generate products for patients going forward,” Grady stressed.

Astra gets 40pc of its pipeline from external collaborations and its late-stage pipeline comprises assets licensed in over the last three years, like an arthritis drug from Rigel.

While the company is interested in sourcing science from academia, Grady added that the focus is on finding later-stage assets or products that are on the market but require another commercial partner. Over the next year, Astra is expected to ink more such deals and is keen to do “peer collaborations”, as well as pursue partnerships in emerging markets.

Although some shareholders are speculated to have been agitating for change, one investor stressed that they were suppor­tive of Astra’s board and the dir­ection it is taking. They believed that Astra was right to get smarter about research and be more ruthless with its pipeline.

Graham Taylor, a fund manager at Legal & General (L&G), which is a top-ten investor in Astra, added: “Expectations are so low that any pipeline success will come as a very positive surprise and would force investors to reappraise the company.”

But there are questions about whether Astra is going far enough to rejuvenate the business and release value.

Gbola Amusa, an analyst at UBS, suggested in a note this month that Astra could further shrink its R&D budget, estima­ting that a cut of 25pc would generate enough funds to make an acquisition worth $13bn. Alternatively, he suggested that Astra’s “dramatic” valuation means a potential suitor may emerge, with a buyer unlocking value by shutting the company’s research and development.

Further shrinking of R&D was also mooted by the Bernstein analysts. Last month, they published a note suggesting: “One area that could be axed – theoretically at least – is R&D.”

“Value-based investors would likely cheer this – assuming it would translate into higher dividends and share buy-backs – but it remains uncertain whether any big drug company will really put itself in a “run-off” mode,” they added. That remains mere hypothesis, with Astra itself remaining committed to its in-house science capabilities.

But in the absence of more radical action, some in the City believe Astra will get out its chequebook. The last large deal Astra struck was its $15.6bn purchase of MedImmune in 2007. Even though Brennan has stressed he would not do a deal as big as MedImmune, that has not stopped the City from speculating over a significant buy.

Liberum analysts recently suggested America’s Forest Labs as a possible target for a $10bn deal while Shire, the FTSE 100 maker of rare disease drugs, is often touted as a target. Bernstein ­suggested last month that hypothetically, it could make sense given that Shire would bring a combination of complementary research areas.

“Our belief is that the status quo is not sustainable,” said Bernstein analysts. They contemplated two different courses: further big spending cuts, or resorting to M&A. They concluded that the latter seemed more plausible, with Astra most likely to pursue deals of $10bn or less. That seems to be the course favoured by other drug makers. Glaxo last week made a $2.6bn tilt at Human Genome Sciences, with which it has developed a lupus drug, only to be rebuffed.

“Given its strong cash position, Astra could easily make a few mid-sized acquisitions,” added Mr Taylor of L&G. “Astra’s valuation is now so low that it’s hard to imagine that a sensible deal, contributing to earnings and growth, would not be welcomed by most investors.”

Caution over a mega-deal was echoed by Justin Smith, an analyst at Oriel Securities. “It would set the R&D organisation back by at least five years if not more,” he said, adding that buying a company like Shire would lack strategic rationale as its rare disease drugs are not scaleable.

Instead, he argues for maintaining the status quo, doing more deals like the one with Amgen, and for patience. He pointed out that even in the worst case scenario if the share price does stay flat for five years, the dividend-per-share is still going to grow with Astra remaining disciplined about how much it returns to shareholders.

While some investors appear to be agitating for a board shake-up, Smith argued that a change of chief executive would probably not make a difference. Bren­nan last week dismissed spec­ulation that investors were growing restless with his captaincy, stressing it was business as usual. Astra added the board is focused on driving its strategy.

“If you change the chief executive, what’s the new chief executive going to do that the existing one isn’t doing already?” said Smith. “Most likely very little, because the existing chief executive is already aggressively res­tructuring and taking cost out of the company, returning a huge amount of money to sharehol­ders and executing reasonably well on a clear five-year strategic plan.

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Patent News | "Patent Dispute: Apple, Samsung CEOs Ordered to Kiss and Make Up"

By : Jonathan Charles
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Category : Patent News

Apple and Samsung executives will be involved in settlement talks to end a patent dispute, according to a court filing. The dispute is over smartphone and tablets.

Apple had sued Samsung last year, claiming the Samsung Galaxy line of phones and tablets were "slavishly" copied from iPhone and iPad. Samsung denied the accusation and countersued Apple.

The court filing means both companies have agreed to a settlement. U.S. Distirct Judge Lucy Koh has referred the companies to a San Francisco-based magistrate judge, who will lead the talks. Both of the company's CEOs, Tim Cook and Choi Gee-sung, will be present at the talks, along with the companies' general counsels.

The legal dispute between the two companies involves more than 20 lawsuits across 10 countries. In a separate filing, Apple and Samsung said they were "willing to participate" in talks and the CEOS and general counsels will be the "appropriate decision-makers."

"The parties have indicated that they are willing to participate in a Magistrate Judge Settlement Conference," Judge Lucy Koh wrote in a Tuesday court filing.

There is a 90-day deadline for an agreement to be reached between the two parties. Both parties will file a separate statement on the matter by April 30.

Both companies have to make their CEOs available during the talks, as either party could be viewed as non-cooperative.

When Google and Oracle were in a similar situation last year, both companies went to trial. So while both companies are making CEOs available, a settlement is far from certain. The court can't force a settlement.

In case the settlement fails, a trial is scheduled for late July, and a hearing before the International Trade Commission is scheduled for June.

Apple has enjoyed near-universal dominance in the tablet market since launching the original iPad back in 2010, and currently controls around 50 percent of the market. The new iPad, which launched earlier this year, sold three million units during its debut weekend.

However, Samsung has put the heat on Apple by launching the Galaxy S devices, including the Galaxy Tab.

"In a market that is really fast growing, they have used whatever they can possibly do to compete with each other," Andrew Milroy of Frost & Sullivan said to the BBC.

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Patent News | "Court: Judges can consider new patent evidence"

By : Bloomberg BusinessWeek
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Category : Patent News

The Supreme Court says federal judges can review unsubmitted patent evidence when inventors challenge their rejection by the Patent and Trademark Office.

Gilbert Hyatt asked for patents relating to a "computerized display system for processing image information" in 1995. They were rejected and he sued in federal court. But Hyatt offered judges evidence of the suitability of his application that he never showed to patent officials. Patent officials asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to dismiss the case because Hyatt never showed them his evidence.

But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the unanimous decision on Wednesday there are "no evidentiary restrictions" beyond the normal ones in these cases. Courts, however, can consider whether inventors could have shown their new evidence to paetnt officials, he said.

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Patent News | "Transforming Nortel’s patents into gold"

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Category : Patent News

OTTAWA — Now comes the hard part for the engineers at Rockstar Consortium in Kanata. The region’s newest patent licensing stars are busy searching for evidence that the technology industry is using Nortel Networks’ patents without payment.

Rockstar paid an unexpectedly large sum — $4.5 billion — for 4,000 Nortel patent assets last June in a deal that transformed the intellectual property industry.

It is still early days for Rockstar — it won U.S. anti-trust approval just six weeks ago — and the company doesn’t have the usual corporate signs in new offices next to the Brookstreet Hotel.

But the team was happy to celebrate when we visited. Like 20-somethings at hot startups, the engineers played with music industry symbols to celebrate the emergence of their new company and Nortel’s rich patent legacy.

They are industry veterans, each with 10 to 32 years at Nortel.

“We have some very good patents and we’re doing the reverse engineering,” said Dan Lingman, who worked for Nortel for 14 years. “It’s going to make buckets of money.”

It is deadly serious beneath the exuberance.

With huge patent sales involving Google, AOL, Microsoft and IBM and the legal wars between Apple, Google, Oracle and others, their work will be watched closely.

The Rockstar name is improbable for a company immersed in hardware and software design and the once deadly-dull world of patent law. The label was dreamed up by Ericsson, the Swedish wireless giant, for one bidding vehicle in last year’s hectic auction war for the Nortel prize by industry giants in a Manhattan law office.

Apple, after bidding independently for several rounds, emerged to bankroll the victorious Rockstar group, including Microsoft, Research in Motion, Sony and Ericsson, in 20 rounds of bidding.

The final bid — more than three times initial expectations — thwarted a consortium led by Google and Intel. The price was 60 per cent more than Nortel got during previous auctions for all its operating businesses.

The patent auction set off a tidal wave of high-priced deals in which Google, Facebook and other companies paid rich premiums for patents owned by IBM, Motorola and Mosaid. Smaller patent-licensing companies watched their stocks soar.

Rockstar thinks it has an edge.

“We are different from some patent licensing companies,” director of operations Vicki Carver said. “We don’t just acquire patents, we have the people in our reverse-engineering labs who developed some of the original technology.”

Rockstar now has 32 engineers, lawyers and other employees in Ottawa and Richardson, Texas. About 75 per cent worked for Nortel.

The chief executive officer of the operation is John Veschi, a one-time U.S. military officer and patent lawyer for California chip giants LSI and Agere. He took over the Nortel Intellectual Property division in 2008 and was deeply involved in the auction. He divides his time between Ottawa and operations in the U.S.

“The entire industry has benefitted from Nortel’s groundbreaking innovations,” he said in a company mission statement, “and we are eager to work with them to establish licenses enabling the continued use of this technology.”

Rockstar is talking to potential companies about licensing deals but, not surprisingly, isn’t disclosing the status of negotiations or potential lawsuits.

However, David Smith, director of Rockstar patent sales and acquisitions, said the company is not providing evidence in the Apple suits. In addition, the U.S. anti-trust approval of the Rockstar takeover contained conditions requiring open licensing to prevent unfair competition.

Rockstar is busily assessing the 6,000 patents to determine their value now and in the future. Smith said Rockstar could sell small groups of patents that are not critical to its plans — a strategy that could exploit the current high price of patents.

Many new successful companies like Google and Facebook, which have relatively few patents, are willing to pay lots to acquire them because they are vulnerable to lawsuits. The acquired patents are valuable as much for intrinsic value as for ammunition in counter-suits or negotiating cross-licensing deals to stop court actions.

The average price of patents sold has jumped from $750,000 each for the Nortel patents to $1.3 million in the Microsoft-AOL deal earlier this month.

Smith, a native of Belleville where Nortel had roots that predated the Ottawa operation, said a welcome benefit of the $4.5 billion Rockstar is the opportunity to replace some of the losses that thousands of Nortel pensioners suffered a year ago in the elimination of benefits and reduced pensions.

Smith said the Nortel patents are likely more valuable than some held by established giants. The reason, he said, is that Nortel allowed many border-line patents to lapse rather than pay maintenance fees during the tough times.

Even more significantly, Nortel made little effort to license the vast array of patents.

That means there are no existing agreements based on the weaker market prices of the past to prevent Rockstar from getting higher prices now.

Finally, he said Rockstar could benefit from inventions that Nortel was never able to exploit because they were too advanced for the markets of the day. Some involve traditional Nortel strengthens in wireless and optical products while others involve unrelated fields like computing, social networking and electronic commerce.

While it was alive, Nortel was frequently criticized for designing over-engineered products when the market was happy with stripped-down competition. Now the Nortel legacy may finally pay off for Rockstar.

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Patent News | " Everybody's Gushing Over Twitter's Bogus Anti-Patent Pledge"

By : Business Insider
Source :
Category : Patent News

Yesterday, Twitter published a pledge that it would only use patents for "defensive" purposes, and a lot of folks in the tech industry are lining up in support.

Yammer CEO David Sacks, who is so angry about Yahoo's patent lawsuit against Facebook that he offered a $25,000 signing bonus to fleeing Yahoo employees, has promised to support the agreement via Twitter.

VC Fred Wilson said that Union Square Ventures is "committed" to supporting it. Startup accelerator TechStars said it would incorporate it into the standard formation documents for all its startups, although founders are free to ignore it.

Despite all the congratulations going on, the pledge actually doesn't mean much.

As Michael Kanellos pointed out on Forbes yesterday, the agreement has holes.

For instance, Twitter's pledge doesn't apply to any company that's filed its own patent infringement suit in the last 10 years. So even if you're a real company making real products, and you filed a lawsuit to prevent somebody from blatantly ripping off your IP, Twitter reserves the right to sue you first.

Another example: the pledge says that Twitter can use the patents offensively to "deter a patent litigation threat." So if Twitter feels threatened, it can sue.

Twitter's pledge also gives employees -- the actual inventors -- an uncomfortable amount of power. Kanellos lays out a hypothetical situation in which a rip-off company clones Twitter, then bribes a key patent holder to withhold consent so Twitter can't sue.

Geekwire interviewed three IP experts who agreed that the pledge is full of loopholes. One of them called it "both dumb and disingenuous."

Among other problems: you can't use patents defensively against most trolls, because they don't make any product. By definition they can't possibly violate your patents.

You can really only use patents "defensively" when another company sues you, or threatens to do so.

So what's this really about?

This is about Twitter trying to portray itself as an innovative good guy in a world full of big, slow competitors. Think Yahoo. Or Microsoft.

That's fine marketing -- it may even be true -- but it's not a serious attempt to fix the patent system and shouldn't be regarded as such.

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Patent News | "Google CEO Larry Page evasive in Oracle patent suit testimony"

By : Jessica Guynn
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Category : Patent News

SAN FRANCISCO — Larry Page, the co-founder of Google Inc. who returned as its chief executive one year ago, has commanded respect for making decisive, bold moves to recharge the search giant.

But the usually self-assured Page appeared uncomfortable on the witness stand Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He was there to dispute allegations that his company infringed Oracle Corp.'s patents and copyrights to build its Android mobile software, which now powers more than 300 million mobile devices.

It's a high-stakes legal fight for Google, which is banking on Android to help it become as dominant on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers. A flurry of lawsuits over Android could slow Google's momentum in mobile and increase the cost of making Android phones.

Dressed in a suit and tie — a rarity for the tech executive, who sports casual attire at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters — Page rarely made eye contact with Oracle's feisty attorney. That's David Boies, a veteran litigator who humbled another multibillionaire, Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, in 1998 during the federal government's antitrust lawsuit against that company.

Page answered "I don't recall" to so many of Boies' questions that business news channel CNBC summed up his testimony with the headline "Blank Page?"

During his testimony, which lasted nearly an hour, Page repeatedly denied knowing the details of documents and negotiations and deflected questions. Page did, however, insist that Google had done nothing wrong. He said Google tried to negotiate a deal to license Java, the programming language that Oracle obtained in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems for $7.3 billion, but conceded that it never had. Google used Java to build its Android mobile software.

"We really wanted to use Sun's technology," Page said. "It would have saved us a lot of time and trouble to use Sun's technology. When we weren't able to have our business partnership, we went down our own path."

Boies was trying to prove that Page and other Google executives knew as far back as 2005 that they would have to pay licensing fees for Java. It was unclear if Page's foggy memory worked for or against him with the jurors.

"His denial of knowledge and recollection contrasts with evidence of his personal involvement with the decision to use Java without a license," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and author of a popular blog on patents. "There's a lot at stake here not only for his company but also for his own reputation."

Page quickly left the federal courthouse after wrapping up his testimony and refused to answer questions. It was his second day on the stand. He testified briefly Tuesday before the court recessed, forcing his return Wednesday. U.S. District Judge William Alsup told Page that he may have to return to testify again before the trial ends.

Legal experts said Page's testimony could hurt his credibility if jurors interpret his evasiveness as a lack of candor.

"I think it's not unreasonable to expect that people don't remember details of every email they sent or received," said Tyler Ochoa, professor at the High Technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. "But certainly when it comes to something as important to Google as the use of Java and the development of Android, you'd think that's something he would have better recall about."

Oracle accuses Google of infringing copyrights and patents for Java in creating the Android software. It's seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order that would force Google to pay licensing fees or stop using Java technology to run Android. The legal showdown between the two Silicon Valley powerhouses, which could last 10 weeks, got underway Monday.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison testified Tuesday that he met with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software, but the companies could not reach an agreement.

Google is "the only company I know" that hasn't taken a license for Java, Ellison said.

Oracle is looking to get a piece of the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices.

A lawyer defending Google told jurors that Oracle explored taking on Google in the smartphone market but decided to sue its would-be rival instead.

It's hard to predict how juries will react, said Pamela Jones, founder of the blog Groklaw. During his testimony, Ellison contradicted statements that he made in his deposition, she said.

"You can't predict juries," Jones said. "But telling the truth tends to matter to juries."

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Patent News | "Fonterra contract at heart of dairy monitoring patent stoush"

By : Paul McBeth
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Category : Patent News

BUSINESSDESK: The cashflow associated with servicing New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra Cooperative Group, is at the heart of a patent dispute worming its way through the courts.

Christchurch-based BayCity Technologies is seeking to revoke DairySense’s patent on a remote data acquisition system, and faces a counterclaim from the Wisconsin-based company alleging BayCity’s UAD4 data logger infringes its own patents.

Judge Helen Winkelmann knocked back a bid by DairySense for more and better discovery orders in a March 21 judgment.

The decision in the High Court in Auckland was published on the Justice Ministry’s website this week.

At the heart of the dispute is BayCity’s deal with Fonterra, which buys its UAD4 milk monitoring system – a contract DairySense says infringes its intellectual property.

DairySense isn’t pursuing the dairy exporter direct because it wants to take over the contract.

“DairySense wishes to be able to supply the patented system to Fonterra for use, and it believes its prospects for sales would be detrimentally effected were it to make an allegation that Fonterra is in breach of its patent," Judge Winkelmann said in her decision.

The conflict dates back more than seven years, when BayCity was tackling the previous owner of the disputed IP, Michael Uttinger, with whom it reached an out-of-court settlement in 2005.

BayCity paid Uttinger $55,000.

BayCity resumed its action in 2010, claiming Mr Uttinger had breached the terms of the deal when the patent was transferred to DairySense, of which he is a director.

In a 2010 judgment by Judge Christopher Allan, BayCity sought to revoke the patent on the grounds it wasn’t new and lacked novelty, and didn’t involve an inventive step from work done in the mid-1990s.

DairySense New Zealand was struck off the Companies Office register in 2005, and was affiliated with Wisconsin dairy business management firm Dairy Strategies.

In its counterclaim, DairySense is pleading its ownership of the patent is being breached by BayCity’s UAD4 devices.

Mr Uttinger filed an affidavit saying he saw two Fonterra supplier farms using milk vats with those monitoring systems installed.

“BayCity is implicated because it sells its product as being capable of being used to transmit such information to a milk processing company, and it installs its products on Fonterra farms knowing that Fonterra intends to use the data logger as part of an infringing system,” the judgment said.

Judge Winkelmann took a dim view of DairySense’s request for a wider discovery order, saying “it is so broadly expressed as to capture material not even related to the dairy industry".

"This is a fishing exercise, not tied in any way to a pleading.”

She ultimately rejected making an order for further and better discovery in that the applications were too broad and its pleading obscure.

“It may have valid commercial reasons for being obscure in its pleading, but those reasons cannot relieve it of the obligation to properly plead its claim,” the judgment said.

“It cannot seek discovery or issue interrogatories, or, indeed, seek rights of inspection in reliance upon unmade or unparticularised allegations.”

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Patent News | "Viagra patent to be challenged in Canada's top court"

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Category : Patent News

OTTAWA - Pfizer Canada Inc., could face some stiff market competition if Canada's top court rules the company's patent on the erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra is invalid.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear a challenge to Pfizer's patent Wednesday from generic drug company Teva Canada Limited. Teva Canada, which wants to produce a generic version of the drug developed and manufactured by Pfizer, is arguing that the Viagra patent is invalid because Pfizer did not disclose sufficient information when it applied for it.

Specifically, Teva says Pfizer did not sufficiently disclose the exact compound that is effective in treating erectile dysfunction among a lengthy list of chemical compounds named in the patent, according to court documents.

``Our position is that a patent that maintains commercial secrecy over the one and only compound out of billions and billions that was made and tested and found (in secret) by Pfizer to work is invalid,'' said Ildiko Mehes, vice-president and general counsel for Teva Canada, in an email to Postmedia News.

``It does not meet the patent bargain: that of providing the public with an accurate and meaningful teaching in exchange for a monopoly. Our view is that Pfizer effectively hid a leaf in the forest.''

A judgment on Wednesday's hearing is not expected for several months but if Teva is successful, not only could the company put a generic version of Viagra on the market immediately, but Teva could claim damages for all of the years of lost potential sales.

Teva will consider its future options if successful, but has not made any decisions at this time, Mehes said.

Counsel representing Pfizer Canada did not immediately respond to interview requests Tuesday.

The case has wide implications for patent disclosure in Canada, said Richard Gold, a patent law expert and professor in the faculty of law at Montreal's McGill University.

The Federal Court has already ruled in favour of Pfizer, whose patent on the drug expires in 2014. If the Supreme Court upholds that decision, it would give skilled patent agents further license to try to hide, as much as possible, what exactly they invented, Gold said.

There is an inherent tension between what the patent applicant wants, which is protection but no disclosure, Gold said, and what the public wants - limited protection and great amounts of disclosure.

``The question is where is the court going to draw the line?'' Gold said.

``The fact that the Supreme Court took this case, and they rarely do, can be seen as an indication that they're going to try to set limits about how far patent agents are allowed to go.''

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Patent News | "Generic-drug makers win high court patents ruling"

By : SFGate
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Category : Patent News

The U.S. Supreme Court boosted generic-drug makers in seeking federal approval for treatments, saying they can argue in court that their brand-name rivals overstated the reach of their patents in regulatory filings.

The justices unanimously sided Tuesday with Caraco Pharmaceutical Laboratories Inc., a generic-drug company trying to sell a lower-cost version of Novo Nordisk AS's Prandin diabetes drug.

The decision gives generic companies what they say is an important tool to prevent brand-name drugmakers from abusing the Food and Drug Administration approval process to thwart competition. It overturns a lower-court ruling that a 2010 Morgan Stanley research report said would have let brand-name companies delay generic versions of select drugs.

Caraco and its parent company, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., contend that Novo improperly extended its monopoly over Prandin until 2018 by misrepresenting to the FDA the reach of one of its patents.

Caraco says the patent covers only the use of Prandin with another diabetes drug, metformin. The so-called use code Novo provided for the FDA's Orange Book, which lists the patents for branded drugs, suggests the company can preclude any use of Prandin until 2018.

The FDA pointed to that Orange Book listing when it rejected Caraco's application to sell a generic version of Prandin, also known as repaglinide.

The Supreme Court said Caraco could challenge the listing by filing a counterclaim in Novo's patent-infringement suit against the generic-drug maker. Writing for the court, Justice Elena Kagan said Caraco could invoke a provision in the Hatch-Waxman Amendments letting generic-drug companies challenge information submitted to the FDA in some circumstances.

That provision "enables courts to resolve patent disputes so that the FDA can fulfill its statutory duty to approve generic drugs that do not infringe patent rights," Kagan wrote.

Novo argued unsuccessfully that the counterclaim provision applies only if a patent doesn't cover any approved methods of using a drug.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called on Congress or the FDA to fix a system that forces generic-drug makers to engage in "expensive and time-consuming litigation" to challenge an overly broad use code.

Sotomayor faulted the FDA for its "opacity in describing what is required of brand manufacturers" and suggested the agency should evaluate the accuracy of use codes on its own.

The Supreme Court decision reversed a federal appeals court ruling. The appeals court decision, the first to address the issue, might have helped AstraZeneca PLC, Sanofi and Novartis AG, according to the Morgan Stanley report.

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Patent News | "Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits"

By : Alexei Oreskovic
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Category : Patent News

Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them. Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to 'impede the innovation of others,' the company said in a post on its official blog. 'It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees inventions in offensive litigation without their permission,' Twitter said on the blog. Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many. Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility. Some patent holders are derided as 'patent trolls' by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money. Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovators Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold. Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitters announcement will burnish the companys standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies. 'Unquestionably, its an effort to define Twitters brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldnt make such a promise,' said Goldman. (Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Patent News | "Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents"

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Category : Patent News

SAN JOSE, CALIF - SAN JOSE, Calif. - As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.
Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.
"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states. Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.
The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.
"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.
The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.
With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.
Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola - a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.
But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.
Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android - "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson - it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.
A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.
"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

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Patent News | "Why a U.S. ruling could upend the smartphone patent wars"

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Category : Patent News

With a single ruling this week, U.S. District Judge James Robart of Seattle federal court may have fundamentally altered the balance of power between Motorola Mobility and the leading opponents of Motorola's soon-to-be-parent Google, Microsoft and Apple.

In another indication that the smartphone war is shifting away from individual infringement suits, Justice Robart granted Microsoft's motion for a temporary restraining order, which effectively bars Motorola from acting to enforce whatever relief it is granted in an ongoing German patent case. In that case, before a court in Mannheim, Motorola has claimed Microsoft Windows and Xbox products infringe German patents that are part of Motorola's standard-essential portfolio. The Seattle judge, according to this transcript of the order he issued in open court, agreed with Microsoft that the German patents are already at issue in Microsoft's case before him, which accuses Motorola of breaching its obligation to offer standard-essential patents on fair and reasonable licensing terms.

Justice Robart granted the temporary restraining order under the Anti-Suit Act, which is intended to restrict forum-shopping and harassing litigation. That is how Microsoft and its counsel at Sidley Austin described Motorola's German suit. According to Microsoft, Motorola first tried to extract exorbitant licensing fees for a portfolio of about 100 worldwide standard-essential patents. Then, after Microsoft filed a Seattle federal-court suit asserting that Motorola's licensing demand was a breach of its contract with a European standard-setting body, Motorola sued Microsoft in Germany for infringing German patents that were part of the portfolio at issue in Seattle.

The judge agreed that Motorola appeared to have run to Germany to obtain an injunction there before he could decide the merits of Microsoft's contract case. Microsoft's U.S. suit, he said, included the same patents Motorola was asserting in Germany, because those German patents were part of the portfolio for which Motorola demanded allegedly improper licensing fees. Justice Robart concluded that under the Anti-Suit Act, he has the power to block Motorola from enforcing whatever relief it wins in Germany until he rules on the larger question of reasonable licensing fees for standard-essential patents.

“The battleground in this … is whether the United States action, or resolution of it, would be dispositive of the foreign action to be enjoined,” the judge said at Wednesday's hearing. “And I will add, for the edification of the Court of Appeals, so it knows where I'm coming from, that I consider the preservation of my ability to resolve this dispute to be something that needs to be carefully guarded, otherwise we run into the possibilities of conflicting resolutions, duplicative litigation, and unfortunate results that don't follow appropriate law.”

Why is the ruling so significant? Injunctions are hard to obtain in U.S. patent litigation, so patent holders in the last five or so years have taken advantage of easier injunction standards in Germany and elsewhere to gain leverage in global patent disputes. The Robart ruling holds that, at least in cases involving worldwide standard-setting portfolios, U.S. litigation trumps cases elsewhere. That's a potentially significant shift in the balance of power between patent holders and licensees.

Expect to see Apple, for instance, point to the ruling in its own standard-essential litigation with Motorola. Apple sued Motorola in San Diego federal court in February, making essentially the same argument as Microsoft. It claimed Motorola's German assertion of standard-setting patents against Apple violates Motorola's contract with the standard-setting body. The parallels with Microsoft's case suggest that Apple will also be able to use the Robart ruling to block Motorola from enforcing any German injunction it obtains.

The leading authority on standard-setting patents, Jorge Contreras of American University's Washington College of Law, told Reuters Robart's ruling is “pretty astounding.” He said he has never before seen a contract case involving standard-essential patents serve as the basis of an Anti-Suit injunction – and said that the U.S. judge's assertion of his authority to block foreign patent actions is “very surprising.” Motorola, he said, has to offer a worldwide portfolio of patents to licensees of standard-essential technology. So to say that conclude that such an offer precludes litigation over patents in the portfolio outside of the U.S. “seems like a significant reach….I can see this being a really important decision.”

Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard told Reuters that the ruling means “Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise.” Motorola, pointing to the $100-million bond Justice Robart ordered Microsoft to post, said the ruling means Microsoft is committed to license its standard-essential patents. Motorola patent counsel K. McNeill Taylor and outside counsel Steven Pepe of Ropes & Gray was not available for comment.

Motorola has not said whether it intends to appeal the temporary restraining order, which is set to last only until a May 7 hearing on Microsoft's motion for summary judgment. The Mannheim court, meanwhile, is expected to issue its ruling in Motorola's German injunction bid on May 2.

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Patent News | "Asentinel Announces Another Patent License Agreement"

By : Times Colonist
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Category : Patent News

Asentinel, a technology-driven Communications Lifecycle Management company, today announced it has entered into Telecom Expense Management (TEM) patent license and settlement agreements with Cass Information Systems. Under the terms of the agreements, Asentinel has provided a worldwide nonexclusive license to U.S. Patent Nos. 7,340,422 and 7,805,342 and related U.S. and foreign counterpart patent applications to Cass.

The patents owned by Asentinel relate to systems and methods for providing telecom expense management that enable large corporate users to save millions of dollars on their telecommunications services. These patents include more than 80 claims issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

On September 30, 2010, Asentinel announced that it had filed a patent infringement complaint against three competitors; AnchorPoint, Cass Information Systems, and Veramark Technologies. Asentinel filed the complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee accusing the defendants of infringing the referenced patents. Under the terms of the agreements, Asentinel agreed to dismiss with prejudice the pending litigation with Cass. Additional terms of the agreements are confidential. With the agreement with Cass, Asentinel has now completed patent license agreements with all three of the originally named companies as well as another unnamed major player in the TEM industry.

“The purpose of our patents and of the subsequent infringement activities and related settlements has been to protect and recognize the distinctiveness of our application and solution, our unique technologies and our intellectual property,” said Asentinel CEO David C. Perdue. “We are pleased with our success in patent licensing. We anticipate and look forward to other TEM service providers approaching Asentinel to license our software and/or patents to create win-win business arrangements.”

Asentinel is represented by Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox PLLC and Farris Bobango PLC.

About Asentinel

Asentinel meets the needs of customers by providing communications life-cycle management through comprehensive TEM solutions and services - saving its customers millions of dollars since its inception in 2002. Asentinel holds the only comprehensive United States patents (#7340422 and #7805342) in Telecom Expense Management for its groundbreaking software, Asentinel 7.0. The company continues to grow its customer base of Global 2000, Fortune 1000 and multinational entities that realize the power of TEM to reduce spend, increase efficiency, manage inventory and generate business intelligence. Asentinel is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and has offices throughout the US and in Europe. For more information, please visit

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Patent News | "Oracle-Google patent trial starts today"

By :  Rachel King
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Category : Patent News

Oracle's patent infringement lawsuit against Google is finally set to go to trial at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco today, but there are certainly plenty of questions looming as to where this will end up.

The fact that these two Silicon Valley giants will finally have a trial under way is fairly incredible (and slightly unbelievable), given how much back-and-forth there has been over the last two years since Oracle initially filed suit in August 2010.

Since then, there have been numerous delays with potential start dates assigned for October 2011, January 2012, and March 2012. It was only just last month that April 16 was given the green light. That date was solidified once the last-ditch effort for another round of settlement talks fell through.

One of the biggest hurdles for getting this trial under way is that these two companies just can't even seem to agree upon on what they're fighting over.

Yes, it's clear that Oracle is suing Google over patent violations involving Android and Java -- patents that used to be owned by Sun Microsystems but now belong to Oracle. Google has reasserted time and again that Sun was a big supporter of Android, and that the programming language was free to use. To clarify matters before going into trial, Judge William H. Alsup issued an order on April 6 asking each side to "take a firm yes or no position on whether computer programming languages are copyrightable."

But Oracle has also repeatedly failed to pinpoint and narrow down which patents being violated. Furthermore, it hasn't helped that settlement talks have continuously stalled proceedings. Even dragging in Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page didn't do any good.

The big debate going into the trial is what is at stake here for Oracle and Google. Even more to the point: How much money is Oracle going to win, and will it get a cut of Android revenue going forward?
It's all but said and done that Oracle is going to have some kind of payday. During a court hearing last July, Alsup declared that Google is definitely going to pay up "probably in the millions, maybe in the billions" at some point.

Last September, Oracle wanted at least $1.16 billion in damages from Google, which is considerably less than the $6.1 billion it was asking for in July. Yet some followers of the cast have said that Oracle would be lucky to extract even $100 million in this intellectual property suit.

Likely accepting that some sort of defeat is inevitable, Google did put one offer on the table a few weeks ago. Google offered to pay Oracle up to $2.8 million in damages over two patents in question. Furthermore, Google also offered a deal of 0.5 percent from Android revenue for one patent through December 2012 and 0.015 percent on a second patent through April 2018.

However, that bargain would only be offered as a stipulation for damages if (and only if) Oracle prevails on patent infringement. Oracle rebuffed the deal anyway.

Whatever Oracle ends up with (or not), we should know relatively soon, as the trial is only expected to last eight weeks -- an incredibly short time when you put all of these other proceedings into perspective.

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Patent News | "Patent wars plague Internet Age"

By : Agence France-Presse
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Category : Patent News

SAN FRANCISCO - The Internet Age is becoming as known for patent litigation as it is for online innovation.

From the makers of computer chips to creators of smartphones and designers of videogames, rivalries have spread from marketplaces to courtrooms with combatants warring over rights to use technology.

"For many years, there was basically a stalemate in the patents arms race with an understanding that companies wouldn't sue each other," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.

"That was disrupted by a new business model of patent assertion," she continued. "It has become acceptable to violate the gentlemen's agreement of not suing and now it is the new norm."

The break in the unofficial truce was inspired in part by "patent trolls," entities that buy or file patents with the sole intent of some day suing entrepreneurs who use the ideas.

Ranks of patent trolls are growing, as is the number of large companies turning to patent litigation not just to cash-in but to gain or protect market terrain, according to Chien.

"What do you call an AOL or a dying company that turns to patent lawsuits?" she asked rhetorically. "Do they become corporate trolls?"

Struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! last month filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social networking star of infringing on 10 of its patents.

The suit claimed that "Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."

Facebook returned fire with a countersuit accusing Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! of being the one infringing on patents, and not the other way around.

Even business software giant Oracle has weighed in. A trial will get underway on Monday in a patent case Oracle filed against Google based on software used in Android operating systems.

As patent suits proliferate, Internet firms with ample war chests are spending small fortunes to arm themselves with portfolios purchased from technology companies selling off intellectual assets.

AOL this week announced plans to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a $1.056 billion deal giving the faded Internet star a needed cash injection.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said that the software giant is getting "a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years."

Facebook in March confirmed that it bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM to beef up it arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Early this year, Google bought 188 patents and 29 patent applications related to mobile phones from IBM but did not disclose how much it paid.

Last year, IBM sold Google 2,000 or so patents ranging from mobile software to computer hardware and processors.

Google has been strengthening its patent portfolio as the fight for dominance in the booming smartphone and tablet computer markets increasingly involves patent lawsuits - with Apple a prime litigator.

The Mountain View, California, technology titan behind Android mobile device software last year transferred patents to smartphone giant HTC Corp. to help the Taiwan-based company in an intellectual property clash with iPhone maker Apple.

Apple has accused HTC and other smartphone makers using Google's Android mobile operating system of infringing on Apple-held patents.

Some of the patents that HTC got from Google had belonged to Motorola Mobility, which Google is buying for $12.5 billion in cash in a quest for precious patents.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Google chief executive Larry Page said when the Motorola Mobility buy was announced.

Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha told financial analysts the US maker of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers has over 17,000 issued patents and another 7,500 pending.

Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft allied in a consortium that outbid Google to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel Corp. in what was branded the largest transfer of intellectual property of the Internet Age.

"The reality is, there is more and more liability in making a product," Chien said. "Companies like Google and Facebook with few patents but big roles in the marketplace have the most to lose."

Patent suits in hot Internet markets are not necessarily bad news for consumers, provided that companies cashing in use windfalls to develop even more innovative products, according to Chien.

Managing patents could also become a potential source of competitive advantage for startups.

"The Facebook example shows that you can go out and buy patent protection," Chien said. "It is only when you are making money that you become interesting as a target, and when you are making money you can afford to buy patents."

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Patent News | "LNR Industries Announces Their Patented "A" Clamp Will Save Taxpayers Money In Western NY"

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Category : Patent News

While there are many sources for influent infiltration, these sources can be controlled by simply putting LNR Industries' patented "A" Clamp into municipal building codes. With the stroke of a pen, the problem can begin to be solved. Either the homeowner or the municipality can absorb this one-time expense and stop wasting tax dollars year after year processing clean ground water.

Newfane, NY (PRWEB) April 15, 2012

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars are spent treating water that does not need to be processed. LNR Industries, in Newfane, NY, has been committed to providing a solution to that unnecessary waste since 1995. With their patented "A" Clamp, they are able to offer both municipalities and homeowners an affordable and effective solution.

Due to poor seals and leaky pipes groundwater is often able to enter the sanitary sewer systems of towns and cities around the nation. This causes the sewer treatment plants to become overloaded, as they are now treating both wastewater and clean groundwater. The "A" Clamp, once installed, will provide a much more secure seal for this system, allowing treatment plants to focus on treating only the water that needs to be processed. This not only makes the plants more efficient, it also saves the taxpayers from losing money to unnecessary treatments.

It only takes one leaking vent to allow several thousands of gallons of clean groundwater into the sewer system, forcing treatment plants to process it. Aside from wasting taxpayer money, this also has the terrible effect of forcing sewage treatment plants to release excess water (water that is often untreated) into the environment. The "A" Clamp is designed to fix this.

After paying the affordable one time expense to install the "A" Clamp, homeowners and municipalities will save thousands of tax dollars each year. These savings will easily offset the cost of the "A" Clamp, making it an efficient and cost-effective solution to a problem every town faces.

About the company:

LNR Industries, a family run business, which operates out of Newfane, New York, has researched and developed a product that will eliminate influent infiltration due to leaking vent and riser pipes. The product is a mechanical device, which will couple the sewer vent or riser pipe disallowing the seal to be broken. LNR Industries obtained the patent to the "A" Clamp in 1995. Visit their website at

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Patent News | "High-stakes Oracle-Google trial has tough veteran federal judge at helm"

By : Howard Mintz
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Category : Patent News

During one of the countless pretrial hearings in the legal showdown between Silicon Valley titans Oracle and Google, U.S. District Judge William Alsup offered up a simple description of their billion-dollar conflict.
"This," the veteran federal judge said, "is the World Series" of high-tech law cases.

When the two sides square off Monday for trial in their high-stakes patent and copyright feud, the umpire in that legal World Series will be Alsup. The judge is a 66-year-old, no-nonsense son of the South who has been running one of the tightest courtroom ships in the Bay Area since former President Bill Clinton put him on the bench in 1999.

Courtly but sometimes curt with lawyers who cross him, Alsup has put his stamp on a host of crucial cases in his nearly 13 years in black robes, from presiding over a rare federal death penalty prosecution to jailing home run king Barry Bonds' personal trainer for his refusal to testify in the government's perjury probe.
This is a judge who arrives at work in predawn darkness, never later than 5:30 a.m., and has been known to run the steps of the 20-floor federal building for his exercise. He leads mountaineering expeditions in the High Sierra, and his Ansel Adams-style photography adorns the walls of the attorney lounges in the San Francisco and San Jose courthouses.

And as lawyers for Oracle and Google have discovered, Alsup lives up to his reputation for brilliance and brashness: He at one point ordered high-level settlement talks in a last-ditch attempt to avoid this week's trial. The order later forced the two companies' powerful chieftains, Larry Ellison and Larry Page, to meet personally. The two executives could not settle their differences.

"He can be out-of-the-box," said Matt Borden, a former law clerk. "But it's so intellectually stimulating. This is a guy who is thinking a million miles an hour all of the time."
During an early morning interview last week in his chambers, Alsup discussed everything from his reputation for running a tough courtroom to his days as a student fighting for civil rights causes on the Mississippi State campus during the 1960s.

Alsup would not discuss the Oracle-Google clash, in which a jury will consider Oracle's claims that the search giant's Android mobile phone technology infringes on its patents. But he downplayed the suggestion that overseeing such a big case may change his courtroom style.
"It probably affects me some," said Alsup, his Mississippi upbringing still flavoring his words. "But, really, in most ways, no."
In fact, he has thus far been vintage Alsup in the Oracle-Google case, often coming up with novel ways to shape such an epic trial. At one point, he took the unusual step of enlisting an independent expert to evaluate the damages at stake after questioning Oracle's estimates.
Oracle and Google's elite lawyers can expect a judge with an entrenched way of conducting courtroom business. They will also find a judge who makes his views known -- during a lengthy racketeering gang trial last year, an exasperated Alsup told the lawyers they were "the most contentious group I have seen in 40 years."

"It is like walking into a blast furnace every day," a legal blog quoted him saying.
"I do think I have high expectations," Alsup said. "It's not because of me. It's because of the courts. This is the United States District Court, where the practice should be at the highest level. It's not to be mean to a lawyer for the sake of being tough on them."
Alsup calls the complex four-year gang case, which originally involved dozens of notorious San Francisco Mission District M-13 gang members and began as a death penalty case, "the hardest thing I ever had to do professionally, without any doubt."
John Philipsborn, one of the lead attorneys in the case, conceded there was ample tension in the trial. But he praises Alsup.

"He can be a tough taskmaster if you're interfering with his schedule," Philipsborn said. "That said, I think at times he takes a unique perspective of litigation that is useful. He has ... a view of how things should be done."
No one doubts Alsup's blue-chip legal credentials. He graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and worked in the U.S. Solicitor General's Office during the Carter administration. He wound up at powerhouse Bay Area law firm Morrison & Foerster before he was tapped for the judgeship.
On the bench, Alsup has had blockbuster cases. He upheld Oakland's ban on liquor billboards in residential areas, tossed out a major patent suit Genentech brought against Amgen, sided with the Bush administration during a testy 2002 West Coast port lockout and blocked the federal government from revoking doctors' licenses for prescribing medical pot.

Alsup has had his share of reversals, but he said that comes with the territory.
"It does not bug me to get reversed in a close call," he said. "I do feel there are occasions where the good reasons that supported my decision got swept under the rug."
He will have ample opportunity to make crucial calls in the Google-Oracle trial. Lawyers who've been before him say he's the right umpire.

"(He) is careful and conscientious," said K.A.D. Camara, who represented a tech company in a patent feud with Apple. "He has, of course, presided over many technology cases. It's good for the law that the (Oracle) case was assigned to him."

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Patent News | "China’s smartphone firms warned of patent disputes"

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Category : Patent News

Beijing: China's smartphone companies are at risk of becoming embroiled in disputes over intellectual property rights since many important patents are held by international companies like Google and Microsoft, experts have said.

In 2005, international mobile phone-makers occupied over half the Chinese market. But in 2011, China shipped 455 million mobile phones, among which domestic brands made up 72 percent.

Telecommunications experts have warned Chinese companies that they may be hit with charges of violating intellectual property rights, the China Daily reported.

The Mobile Terminal White Paper, issued by the China Academy of Telecommunication Research, a branch under the ministry of industry and information technology, said China shipped more than 110 million smartphones in 2011.

"As more Chinese mobile phones pour into the global market, it is much more likely that international rivals will use intellectual property rights as a weapon in competition," said Xu Zhiyuan, an engineer at the China Academy of Telecommunication Research.

"Chinese companies should watch out," the daily quoted him as saying.

China is the world's largest producer of mobile devices. In 2011, it produced 1.13 billion mobile devices, including mobile phones and tablet computers.

The report said domestic brands like ZTE Corp, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Lenovo Group Ltd have made significant progress in producing mobile phones.

ZTE's mobile device business earned around 27 billion yuan (over $4 billion) in 2011.

Domestic phone-makers have gradually squeezed the market share of their overseas counterparts, the report said.

Experts said most smartphone patents held by domestic makers have to do with designs or physical forms, and few are related to the central technologies.

Xu Zhiyuan said international mobile companies often invest heavily in acquiring patents in the hopes of curbing competition through the use of patent lawsuits.

"In the mobile device industry, there are patent lawsuits everywhere. The disputes surrounding Google's Android mobile operating system are one of the current topics of discussion," he said.

Although Chinese companies such as Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group have developed their own mobile operating systems, their combined market share lags far behind the share enjoyed by international operating systems like Apple's iOS, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows phone.

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Patent News | "Why Startups Should Pay Attention To Skyrocketing Patent Prices"

By : Leonid Kravets
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Category : Patent News

Editor’s Note: Leonid (“Lenny”) Kravets is a patent attorney at Panitch, Schwarze, Belisario and Nadel, LLP in Philadelphia, PA. Lenny focuses his practice on patent prosecution and intellectual property transactions in computer-related technology areas. He specializes in developing IP strategy for young technology companies and blogs on this topic at StartupsIP. Follow Lenny on Twitter: @lkravets and @startupsIP.

As large companies increasingly look to protect their revenue streams through IP risk mitigation, startups with strong patent holdings will become increasingly valuable because they provide an opportunity to remove dual potential threats to the potential acquirer’s revenue stream — as a competitor and as a patent threat. Startups that are able to position themselves as part of an acquirer’s IP risk mitigation strategy make themselves more attractive targets for acquisition.

For example, Twitter acquired Tweetie days after Tweetie filed for a patent application on the pull down to refresh feature and Google recently acquired Apture and Katango, two small startups with multiple pending patent applications relevant to Google’s businesses. Although some have described these deals as talent acquisitions, the value presented by the associated IP to the acquirer should not be ignored.

Potential acquirers viewing target companies as part of their risk mitigation strategy should result in increased patent prices being reflected in smaller patent deals, as well as in increased valuations for startup companies with IP holdings. Unfortunately, despite the evidence of how valuable patents are to large companies, parts of the technology community see filing patent applications as a scarlet letter for startups.

While some members of the technology community argue that patents are more trouble than they’re worth, the average price of sold patent assets keeps skyrocketing. Monday’s acquisition of 800 AOL patent assets by Microsoft set a new high water mark for the value of an average patent asset (a patent or patent application) of 1.25 million dollars. Other recent deals include the purchase of Novell’s patent portfolio for $450 million, the purchase of Nortel’s patent portfolio by a group including Microsoft and Apple for $4.5 billion, and the acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google for $12.5 billion.

While each of these deals have been reported as being a “patent” sale, in each case, only a portion of the total patent assets are issued patents, with the rest being patent applications. In practice, patents and patent applications are not valued equally because the value of a patent application can change drastically during the course of prosecution and the owner of the application must expend significant resources relating to its prosecution.

It is difficult to identify a specific breakdown between patents and patent applications in each of these deals. However, the true price per issued patent is likely to be substantially higher than what was reported.

Thus far, these higher per-patent valuations for large portfolios do not appear to have filtered down to smaller portfolios such as those held by startups and other small companies. This may be due to the fact that companies will pay a premium to purchase large portfolios, since it is easier to structure a single transaction instead of many smaller transactions, and because a large portfolio can provide coverage for a broad range of technologies related to the acquiring company’s core businesses.

However, the conclusion to be drawn from the above-mentioned sales is that the true value of a patent is what someone is willing to pay to keep that patent (or patent portfolio) out of a competitor’s or Non-Practicing Entity’s (NPE) hands.

While it has been argued that the increased patent valuations amount to a patent bubble, these valuations signal a new view of patents as an IP risk mitigation strategy that minimizes exposure to IP threats. Similar risk hedging strategies are employed in many other industries. For example, in the airline industry, hedging of fuel prices is a commonplace, accepted practice. Thus, while current patent prices may be overly inflated, it is likely that increased prices are here to stay.

The view of IP in terms of risk mitigation will likely make small technology companies the next beneficiaries of the increased patent values. As the remaining available large portfolios find new homes, large companies will be forced to look to smaller technology companies to continue mitigating their IP risk by preventing patents from falling into the hands of NPEs or litigious competitors. After all, many of the NPEs were at one point operating companies or acquired patents from them.

The result is that the increased valuations and competition for patents provide an opportunity for smaller technology companies to monetize their own assets regardless of the success of their business, as shown by Google’s acquisition of the Cuil patent portfolio. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram (which does not appear to have any patents or published patent applications, but may have unpublished patent applications) showed that patents are not strictly necessary to make a startup an attractive acquisition target. Still, it would have been interesting to see how much Facebook would have been willing to pay for Instagram if it had a patent portfolio.

Patent applications can be expensive to write and prosecute (typically costing between $15,000 and $75,000), and are not for every company. However, the increased emphasis on, competition for, and value of patents shows that dismissing patenting out of hand can be a competitive disadvantage by foregoing part of the value proposition a company with IP can offer to a potential acquirer.

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