Patent News | "Apple-Samsung Patent Battle Shifts to Trial"

Category : Patent News 

Patent trials are part bombast, part boredom. Lurid accusations of corporate skulduggery and deceit quickly give way to a mind-numbing slog through the technical details and vague language of patent claims.

A jury will be asked to sort through all that to settle a dispute between Apple and Samsung Electronics beginning Monday in a federal court in San Jose, Calif.

The jury trial is the latest phase in a global campaign of smartphone patent litigation that began more than two years ago. The legal clashes mainly pit Apple against rival smartphone makers whose handsets are powered by Google's Android software, notably Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility, which Google bought last year. Dozens of lawsuits and countersuits have been filed in courtrooms around the world.

Yet the escalating patent battle is more than just legal maneuvering. Patents can be powerful tools for determining the rules of engagement for major companies in a fast-growing industry like smartphones.

Patents are declarations of invention that are often easily obtained from government patent examiners, but their real value -- their validity and strength -- is determined in court.

A few significant rulings in favor of one side or the other, industry and patent experts say, could shape the competitive landscape in smartphones and a sister industry, tablet computers. Court decisions, they say, can provide the basis for negotiating the terms and cost of licensing and cross-licensing of patents -- or for keeping certain patented features exclusive to one company.

"Once you determine who is the genuine innovator, and in what technologies on the product, you reset the playing field," said Kevin G. Rivette, a Silicon Valley patent consultant and former vice president for intellectual property strategy for I.B.M.

But to bring a real shift in the marketplace, Mr. Rivette added, one side must have "strong patents, not incremental ones."

That issue is much debated, and litigated, in the smartphone arena.

Apple scored some points in June. Judge Lucy H. Koh, who will also preside over the jury trial that begins this week, issued a preliminary injunction against Samsung, ordering it to stop selling its Galaxy Nexus smartphone in the United States.

Judge Koh found that Samsung had infringed on an Apple patent for a "universal interface," which broadly describes crucial ingredients found in Siri, Apple's question-answering application (though the patent itself was filed by Apple before it acquired Siri in 2010).

But the power of smartphone patents in general suffered a blow in another federal court in June.

Richard A. Posner, a prominent federal appeals court judge in Chicago, dismissed a case involving Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility subsidiary. In his "pox on both of your houses" ruling, Judge Posner ridiculed Apple's broad claims for its user-experience patents and Motorola's claim that Apple should pay it a rich royalty on its basic communications patents. Both companies are appealing that ruling.

Fierce patent battles in new industries have been the rule for more than a century, from the steam engine to semiconductors. The lessons of history are decidedly mixed.

Sometimes, patent warriors can hold off rivals for years, as the Wright brothers did in the airplane business -- though the cost in time, money and innovative energy diverted was daunting even then. In 1912, Wilbur Wright wrote, "When we think what we might have accomplished if we had been able to devote this time to experiments, we are very sad."

In smartphones, some analysts say, the sheer number of patents and the speed of innovation in product development undermine the power of patents. Because a smartphone combines many communications and computing technologies, as many as 250,000 patents may touch the device, according to estimates by RPX, a patent licensing company.

"You necessarily litigate individual patents, but there are thousands of patents behind the ones in court," said Mark A. Lemley, a patent expert at the Stanford Law School. "That complexity and the speed of innovation may well make it easier to invent around the patent system in smartphones."

Indeed, for its new Galaxy models, Samsung developed an alternative to one of the Apple-patented features cited in this week's trial.

One of Apple's many patents on user-experience programming covers its "rubberbanding" or "bounce" feature -- when a user pulls a finger from the top of the touch screen to the bottom, the digital page bounces. On the new Samsung phone, the same finger stroke brings a blue glow at the bottom of the screen, not a bounce.

"There is no single killer patent in this lawsuit," said Florian Mueller, a patent analyst and blogger. "Apple cannot deal a knockout blow to Samsung."

Trial briefs filed last week lay out the narrative and some of the details that Apple and Samsung plan to present in court.

Apple asserts that Samsung made "a deliberate decision to copy" the iPhone and iPad, in both product design and software that creates the user experience. The unredacted version of Apple's filing quotes internal Samsung documents saying that its smartphone design "looked like it copied the iPhone too much" and that "innovation is needed." Another analysis done for Samsung concluded that the icons on its phone were "too iPhone-like" and were "strongly associated with the iPhone UI," or user interface.

In its brief, Samsung contends Apple is using patents to try to "stifle legitimate competition and limit consumer choice to maintain its historically exorbitant profits."

Samsung cites internal Apple documents and deposition testimony to conclude that Apple borrowed its ideas from others, especially Sony. Apple, according to Samsung, was clearly innovative in refining the ideas of others, but it was not the original inventor.

Samsung, quoting its own documents, said it had touch-screen phones in development before the iPhone was introduced in January 2007, pointing to the Samsung F700 model. (The F700 had a touch screen, but also a pullout keyboard underneath.)

According to Samsung, the corporate documents Apple quotes in its brief come from "benchmarking" sessions conducted by Samsung, a standard industry practice.

"Apple," the Samsung brief observed, citing deposition testimony, "also assembled an 'Android war room,' where its employees can study Android products."

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Patent News | "Facebook meets Excel: Microsoft seeks patent on social networking inside spreadsheets"

By : Todd Bishop  
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Last year, a Facebook application called made news by providing an alternative interface for the social network — putting a user’s Facebook news feed inside a fake Excel spreadsheet, aiming to make it easier for desk jockeys to discreetly check and post to Facebook while appearing to work.

Turns out Microsoft has been thinking along the same lines, exploring the possibility of posting to Facebook and other social networks as a feature of real Excel spreadsheets.

A newly surfaced patent application from Microsoft, made public July 26, outlines different ways of representing people inside spreadsheets, with a variety of data about those people, and various forms of interacting with them. The patent application explains …

    “A person spreadsheet object may also be associated with one or more social networks. … For example, social networking posts that are associated with a person object may be automatically included within a spreadsheet. A user of the spreadsheet may also post to a social network or some other network location (e.g. blog, web page, file) directly from within the spreadsheet.”

Microsoft has already been moving to incorporate some social networking features into the traditional Office programs, and the company’s recent acquisition of Yammer for $1.2 billion promises to make this happen even faster.

As with most of these patent applications, there’s no indication about when or even whether Microsoft would build social networking directly into Excel cells.

For the record, even though it was made public only recently, the company’s patent application was originally filed in January 2011, about six months before debuted.

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Patent News | "U.S. Grants Facebook Series Of Patents"

By : Laurie Sullivan 
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Category : Patent News 

Search marketers are familiar with customizing Web pages and granting permissions to create a personal experience. Identifying the site visitor before she arrives allows the brand to serve up custom content and build a closer relationship.

Apparently, Facebook wants to do the same. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted Facebook a series of patents in July for everything from storing large amounts of data objects in secondary files -- which would enable the company to store more information in less space -- to using cookies to support and save permissions and settings.

Along with section ID, SEO by the Sea founder Bill Slawski said cookies can allow the site to save settings as members go from one page to another in the social network. The broad patent explains how Web pages contain various embedded resources like data records or more complex digitally encoded multimedia content like software programs or other code objects, graphics, images, audio signals, and videos.

The nuances that make this patent unique are not apparent, Slawski said.

The USPTO also granted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg his first patent application approval. Zuckerberg's first patent, written along with co-author Chris Kelly's, explains a "system and method for dynamically generating a privacy summary." The six-year old patent application describes how a profile for a user is generated.

The patent reads: "One or more privacy setting selections are received from the user associated with the profile. The profile associated with the user is updated to incorporate the one or more privacy setting selections. A privacy summary is then generated for the profile based on the one or more privacy setting selections."

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Patent News | "Carfax to Obtain Patents to Help Insurance Industry"

By : Insurance News Net 
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Category : Patent News 

Carfax, Inc. announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has published a Notice of Allowance for U.S. Patent Application Serial Number 13/181,736 titled "System and Method for Insurance Underwriting and Rating" and for U.S. Patent Application Serial Number 13/181,739 also titled "System and Method for Insurance Underwriting and Rating".

According to a release on July 20, a Notice of Allowance is issued after the USPTO makes a determination that a patent can be granted from an application. The issued patents would cover a system and method in which insurance underwriting and rating are based on vehicle history attributes.

"The issuance of these Notices of Allowance to Carfax cements our position as the leader in development of vehicle history based products and services," stated David Lackey, General Manager of Carfax Banking & Insurance Group. "These patent applications are part of our ongoing efforts to provide cutting edge services to the insurance industry."

Carfax is a company focusing on vehicle history databases

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Patent News | "USPTO Releases Proposed First-Inventor-to-File Rules and Examiner Guidelines"

By : Morrison & Foerster LLP 
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Category : Patent News 

Implementation of the “first-to-file” provisions of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) took a step forward yesterday when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published proposed rules and proposed examination guidelines for the first-inventor to-file provision of the AIA. Both are open for comment until October 5, 2012. The final versions will go into effect on March 16, 2013, and will apply to all patent applications with an effective filing date of March 16, 2013, or later.


The AIA was enacted on September 16, 2011, and although signed into law on that date, numerous provisions of the AIA required rulemaking by the USPTO before they could be effective. Prior Morrison & Foerster client alerts on the AIA and a chart of effective dates of the various provisions of the AIA can be found in our Patent Reform Resource Center.

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Patent News | "$29 Million Patent Demand for RealPlayer"

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Category : Patent News 

RealNetworks, whose RealPlayer app has been downloaded nearly 300 million times, owes a patent holder $29 million in license fees, VoiceAge Corp. claims in Federal Court.
     VoiceAge claims RealNetworks licensed patents it needs to operate some of its products under the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) standard, but has failed to pay any royalties under the agreement.
     AMR-WB, developed by VoiceAge and Nokia, is a patented speech coding standard that provides better speech quality than narrowband speech coders, VoiceAge say in the complaint.
     Wideband speech coding is used in 3G mobile communication systems, audio and video teleconferencing and various Internet applications.
     "Significantly, the AMR-WB patents licensed by VoiceAge enable the data compression of digital audio signals containing speech," the complaint states. "Such data compression is crucial to licensees like RealNetworks in order to minimize the bandwidth (or storage capacity) needed to transmit or play a media file on their products.
     "Of particular relevance here, the license agreement allowed RealNetworks' hugely popular RealPlayer product, which is an application widely downloaded by users to play audio and video files on their personal computers, to operate under the AMR-WB standard. Although RealNetworks obtained the benefits of utilizing VoiceAge's AMR-WB patents in its RealPlayer product - distributing approximately 291 million downloads of RealPlayer containing the AMR-WB patents licensed from VoiceAge to its customers in the period from January 2010 through April 7, 2011 - RealNetworks has completely reneged on its agreement to pay VoiceAge for the use of those licensed patents. Indeed, RealNetworks has yet to make a single royalty payment to VoiceAge for its use of the licensed AMR-WB patents in the nearly 300 million RealPlayers downloaded by RealNetworks' customers in accordance with the express terms of the license agreement." (Parentheses in complaint).
     RealNetworks, of Seattle, makes and distributes software applications that provide access to digital media on various devices. According to the complaint, "RealNetworks is a sophisticated player in the intellectual property arena, having entered into dozens of patent and other licensing agreements covering its products, including RealPlayer, with various third parties like VoiceAge."
     VoiceAge claims that in early 2010, RealNetworks agreed to renew its license agreement for the AMR-WB patents used in RealPlayer, after VoiceAge discovered that a previous agreement covering the patents had expired in 2006.
     Calling the lapse of the agreement an "oversight" on its part, RealNetworks spent 6 months negotiating the new contract, which it signed in December 2010, VoiceAge says.
     It claims that RealNetworks agreed to pay 10 cents per download of its products incorporating the AMR-WB patents, including RealPlayer, for downloads completed before and after the effective date of the agreement.
     VoiceAge claims RealNetworks owes it more than $29 million on RealPlayer downloads, but hasn't paid dime one.
     "In an effort to justify this refusal to pay the royalties owed to VoiceAge, RealNetworks did not assert that the plain language of the license agreement does not require the payment of royalties to VoiceAge for use of the AMR-WB patents in its RealPlayer product," the complaint states. "Instead, RealNetworks took the position that RealNetworks 'never intended' that it 'would pay ten cents per download, which could amount to tens of millions of dollars per year, for the inclusion of one seldom-used code in a product that Real broadly distributes for free. Such an arrangement would make no economic sense.' Accordingly, RealNetworks claimed the license agreement was 'subject to reformation on grounds of mistake.'"
     But VoiceAge says RealNetworks made no mistake, and that it owes royalties on RealPlayer downloads whether it offers downloads for free or not.
     VoiceAge seeks damages for breach of contract.
     It is represented by Andrew Gordon with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

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Patent News | "Latest Patent Troll Sues Foursquare Over GPS "

By : Zach Walton  
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Category : Patent News 

Patent trolls are the scum of the technology world. Ask anybody and they will tell you the exact same thing. Frivolous lawsuits being brought against small companies in the hopes that they settle. Most of these patents don’t even have any relevance to the technology at hand. The latest attempt from a patent troll almost seems too stupid to be true.

A shell company going by the name of Silver State Intellectual Technologies, Inc. has brought a patent lawsuit against Foursquare. The patents in question are for the “System and method for user navigation” and “GPS publication application server.” In other words, these guys are suing Foursquare over GPS.

Of course, GPS is in everything these days, so why go after only Foursquare? Only the company controlling Silver State Intellectual Technologies knows for sure, but it’s odd that they’re only going after Foursquare. Other companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google rely heavily on GPS for their services. They may have their own GPS patents or license other patents, but it’s still a confusing choice nonetheless.

The ubiquity of GPS in today’s world makes this case odd nonetheless. This is just another reason to push for core technologies like GPS to be included in the basic technologies that all companies can license at an affordable cost. We probably won’t see any progress on patent laws until larger companies are forced to stop hiding behind shell companies for their patent litigation.

If you want to see how flimsy Silver State’s argument is, check out the court document below. It appears that they don’t even know how Foursquare is violating their patent, but that’s not going to stop the patent trolls.

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Patent News | "Apple considers Twitter stake buy for a slice of social media pie"

By : Evelyn M Rusli & Nick Bilton 
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Category : Patent News 

Apple, which has stumbled in its efforts to get into social media, has talked with Twitter in recent months about making a strategic investment in it, according to people briefed on the matter.

While Apple has been hugely successful in selling phones and tablets, it has little traction in social networking, which has become a major engine of activity on the web and on mobile devices. Social media are increasingly influencing how people spend their time and money — an important consideration for Apple, which also sells applications, games, music and movies.

Apple has considered an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars, one that could value Twitter at more than $10 billion, up from an $8.4 billion valuation last year, these people said. They declined to be named because the discussions were private.

There is no guarantee that the two companies, which are not in negotiations at the moment, will come to an agreement. But the earlier talks are a sign that they may form a stronger partnership amid intensifying competition from the likes of Google and Facebook.

Apple has not made many friends in social media. Its relationship with Facebook, for example, has been strained since a deal to build Facebook features into Ping, Apple’s music-centric social network, fell apart. Facebook is also aligned with Microsoft, which owns a small stake in it. And Google, an Apple rival in the phone market, has been pushing its own social network, Google Plus.

“Apple doesn’t have to own a social network,” Timothy D Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said at a recent technology conference. “But does Apple need to be social? Yes.”

Twitter and Apple have already been working together. Recently, Apple has tightly sewn Twitter features into its software for phones, tablets and computers, while, behind the scenes, Twitter has put more resources into managing its relationship with Apple.

Though an investment in Twitter would not be a big financial move for Apple by any stretch — it has $117 billion in liquid investments, and it quietly agreed to buy a mobile security company for $356 million on Friday — it would be one of Cook’s most important strategic decisions as chief executive. And it would be an uncommon arrangement for Apple, which tends to buy small start-ups that are then absorbed into the company.

But such a deal would give Apple more access to Twitter’s deep understanding of the social web, and pave the way for closer Twitter integration into Apple’s products.

Twitter has grown quickly, amassing more than 140 million monthly active users who generate a vast stream of short messages about their lives, the news and everything else. An Apple investment would give it the glow of a close relationship with a technology icon, and would instantly bolster its valuation, which, like that of other start-ups, has languished in the wake of Facebook’s lacklustre market debut. In fact, word of the talks comes at a time when some are asking whether expectations for the potential of social media companies have gotten out of hand, and shares of Facebook, Zynga and other companies have wilted.

But Twitter does not need Apple’s cash. Earlier this year, Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company had “truckloads of money in the bank.”

The truckloads, according to people familiar with the matter, add up to more than $600 million in cash on hand. This comes from the $1 billion in financing it has raised over the years and, more recently, from a healthy flow of advertising revenue.

Regardless, Twitter is widely expected to pursue a public offering within the next couple of years, whether or not it agrees to deals with investors like Apple.

Apple and Twitter are logical partners in some ways. Unlike Facebook or Google, Twitter has no plans to compete with Apple in the phone business or elsewhere. And as Apple has found, social is just not in its DNA. “Those guys are a great partner,” Costolo said of Apple in a recent interview. “We think of them as a company that our company looks up to.” Costolo would not discuss any potential investments or anything else related to the company’s relationship with Apple.

Spokesmen for both Apple and Twitter said on Friday that their companies did not comment on rumours.

If an investment were to happen, Twitter’s chief financial officer, Ali Rowghani, would be instrumental in cementing the deal. Rowghani joined Twitter in early 2010 after nine years at Pixar Animation Studios, where he worked directly with Steven P Jobs, Apple’s co-founder.

Ties between Apple and Twitter are strengthening at a time of great uncertainty in the mobile market. Battle lines that seemed clear just a year ago are rapidly blurring as companies push into new areas of the market and clash with former allies.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is said to be working on developing its own phone or core software for phones. Similarly, Google acquired Motorola Mobility last year and is now in the business of building phones.

The jumbled landscape reflects the rising significance of mobile, as more consumers neglect their desktops in favour of computing that fits in their pockets.

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Patent News | "The PROSUR approach to patents: shared information, independent decisions"

By : Sofia Castillo 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Earlier this month in Santiago, Chile, nine South American countries signed a cooperation agreement on intellectual property rights called PROSUR.  The initiative seeks to promote innovation, competition, and entrepreneurship in the region’s scientific community, large companies, SMEs, and universities through the strategic use of intellectual property rights.

At the first stage, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname will share information regarding patent applications.  Chilean Economy Minister, Pablo Longueira, explained that since many of the standards and mechanisms of registration for the protection of IP are negotiated at the multilateral level, establishing strong regional partnerships will strengthen the work of national IP offices and promote innovation.  For instance, one problem that affects all IP offices is the backlog of patent applications as a result of increasingly sophisticated technological advances.  In order to address this issue, Brazil and Argentina generated a trilingual electronic platform, called e-PEC, that allows the exchange of information and opinions on patent applications that are simultaneously analyzed by each individual office.  e-PEC can be used by examiners in one or several national offices; each user can only edit information submitted by its own office. Significantly, although e-PEC facilitates information sharing, the system gives each office the ability to make an independent final decision on whether to grant a patent registration. As a result, an identical patent application may be approved in, say, Ecuador, but not in Argentina or Brazil.  In this sense PROSUR really is limited to information sharing and does not reach the level of a unified patent system.

PROSUR’s next area of cooperation will be trademark. It is unclear whether PROSUR’s approach in this area will be a region-wide registration system or an information-sharing scheme similar to e-PEC.

Previous cooperation agreements have also established IP links among South American nations, although none have enabled the sharing of information to the same level as PROSUR.  The Andean Pact, a cooperation agreement between Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, provides for certain reciprocal rights to trademark, patent, and industrial design owners.  For example, according to Article 9 of Decision 486, an entity that first applied for registration of a trademark or a patent or an industrial design in any Member Country may lodge an opposition against a similar trademark, patent, or industrial design filed in the other Member Countries.

The Chilean National IP Institute, INAPI, currently presides over PROSUR on a temporary basis.  The Inter-American Development Bank has been PROSUR’s main sponsor since its inception.  WIPO announced its support for the PROSUR project in 2011 and offered its WIPO Case Platform as an example after which to model the PROSUR shared patent system. The e-PEC system provides participating offices with the possibility of producing a more uniform patent landscape in the region. Based on the information available, however, e-PEC could also potentially complicate the application process.  For instance, ensuring that examiners have a sufficient understanding of each participating country registration requirements –not just their own– will be crucial to guarantee that their decisions comply with national legislation.

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Patent News | "iPhone 5 could be used as universal remote control for the home"

By : Ashleigh Allsopp 
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Cateogry : Patent News 

A Near Field Communications chip in future iPhones could be used to control digital devices around the home according to a new Apple patent application.

The submission, discovered by Apple Insider, reveals that Apple is interested in using NFC chips to allow an iPhone act as a remote control for various devices around the home, including other Apple products, games consoles, digital cameras or even sprinkler systems and thermostats.

“A person may use a wide variety of electronics each day, including computers and media players, televisions and other entertainment devices, thermostats and other utility devices, and/or consumer electronics such as digital cameras,” reads Apple’s patent description. “Each electronic device may generally be controlled locally or using an associated remote control device.”

Apple’s aim is to make controlling multiple devices using a single control, such as the iPhone. “The control information may be received from a near field communication interface of the controllable electronic device or from a radio frequency tag associated with the controllable electronic device.”

Scanning a barcode with the iPhone could also pair electronic devices and provide control.

Other devices mentioned by Apple that could be controlled using an iPhone include a games console, video recorder, DVD player, TV, projector, light switch, home security system, and garage door.

The iPhone could use its weather app to help adjust the thermostat to the appropriate temperature, and could enable users to control a camera to zoom in and out, change other setting and capture a photograph.

This is not the first we’ve heard about the possibility of an NFC chip being introduced in the next iPhone. Data from alleged iPhone 5 prototypes lead developers to conclude that NFC will be used with Apple’s new Passbook app, which is set to arrive with iOS 6 this spring.

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Patent News | "Ford Global Technologies Assigned Patent for Method of Making Foamed Mycelium Structure"

By : Targeted News Service 
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Category : Patent News 

Ford Global Technologies, Dearborn, Mich., has been assigned a patent (8,227,233) developed by Raymond Edward Kalisz, Livonia, Mich., and Charles Alan Rocco, Milford, Mich., for a "method of making foamed mycelium structure."

The abstract of the patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office states: "A method of making a molded part, including forming a liquid aggregate from a mixture of finely ground aggregate and a fluid. A mixture of a fungal inoculum and the liquid aggregate is formed. Nanoparticles are homogenously distributed throughout the mixture. The mixture is inserted into a mold cavity. Live mycelium is grown to fill the mold cavity. The live mycelium is heated to terminate further growth and develop a formed part."

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Patent News | "Apple files patent application for high-resolution display in video glasses"

By : Eric Abent 
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Category : Patent News 

Apple has applied for yet another patent with the US Patent Office, but instead of smartphone-related features, this patent covers high-resolution display in video glasses. The timing may seem suspect, what with Google’s current Google Glass push going strong, but Apple has actually been filing patents related to video glasses since 2006. Indeed, this is nothing new for Apple, and with this latest patent application, it seems that the company is getting closer to achieving what it ultimately wants: bringing a retina-like display to the smaller screen you’d find in video glasses.

PatentlyApple points out that this display would feature both a smaller screen and a smaller battery than the ones featured in the iPhone, something that could cause some challenges for Apple if it’s looking to boost pixel density in the heads-up display. Also worth noting is that fact that Apple’s patent application states “other embodiments may take the form of other types of display devices such as television sets, computer monitors, projection systems, and so forth,” so it isn’t looking to restrict this technology to just video glasses.

With as strange as that patent drawing pictured above looks, it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t a design patent. Apple likely just came up with some concept drawings to submit with the application, and will probably work a little bit harder on the design of final product before shipping it. Still, this is a pretty exciting development, as it seems that everyone wants a bit of the video glasses pie. Stay tuned, because this could get interesting very quickly.

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Patent application | "Mark Zuckerberg Finally Wins Approval of First Patent Application"

By: John Letzing
Category: Patent News

Back in the summer of 2006, when Facebook Inc. was still a budding social network available only to college students, then 22-year-old Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg filed an application for a patent that covers a way for Internet users to select privacy settings. Last week, that patent was finally approved following initial rejections by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to public records.

The patent, for “dynamically generating a privacy summary,” credits both Mr. Zuckerberg and former Facebook executive Chris Kelly as inventors. Mr. Kelly left his post as chief privacy officer at the company in 2009 and later made an unsuccessful bid as candidate for California Attorney General, ultimately losing in the Democratic primary to Kamala Harris.

According to public documents, the patent covers a way of accessing a user profile and selecting different privacy options, much the way that Facebook’s users can now opt to share or hide items like email addresses from various contacts. The patent office wasn’t impressed with the invention at first, handing Messrs. Zuckerberg and Kelly a series of rejections over the years that complained of vagueness and the obvious nature of the invention.

A phone conversation between Facebook’s legal counsel and the patent examiner followed this April, according to the documents, and in June the office let the company know the patent was projected to issue this month.

Such back-and-forth between the patent office and applicants before a patent is awarded is commonplace. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.

The recently-awarded patent is not Mr. Zuckerberg’s first. The young CEO has been named as an inventor on eight different U.S. patents, according to public records.

Facebook pressed its case on Mr. Zuckerberg’s first invention perhaps partly due to its recent initiative to stock up on as much intellectual property as possible as it wades further into the dangerous world of high-tech patent disputes. In its paperwork for its initial public offering in May, Facebook said it had 774 U.S. patents and 546 applications as of March. The company may update those figures when it reports quarterly results this Thursday.

One of Mr. Zuckerberg’s other patents was used to counter-sue Yahoo Inc. in April. Yahoo had filed a high-profile suit against its younger peer, alleging infringement of ten patents. The companies have since settled the matter with no money changing hands.

Also in April, Facebook said it would pay $550 million to Microsoft Corp. for some of the patents the software giant recently bought from AOL Inc.

Mr. Zuckerberg’s new patent approval was earlier reported by blogs such as ReadWriteWeb.


Patent News | "Starcounter Receives Notice of Allowance for Database Technology Patent Application from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office"

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Category : Patent News 

Starcounter today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has examined the application for its innovative database technology and allowed it for issuance as a patent (U.S. patent application number 12/571,521, titled “SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR MANAGING DATABASES”). 

Designed to improve database performance, Starcounter’s VMDBMS technology integrates the Virtual Machine and the Database Management System. It is more than 100 times faster than traditional databases and physically stores data in only one place, eliminating costly data transfers between the application code and the database engine. The VMDBMS also reduces hardware and development costs due to its faster execution speed and simplified development model.

“The notice of allowance for our patent application is a major milestone for us and our in-memory database built on our VMDBMS technology,” said Asa Holmstrom, CEO of Starcounter. “The VMDBMS is our key differentiator in the in-memory database industry, which is the main driver behind our outstanding performance. It enables us to provide customers with the unique combination of performance and true consistency they need for today’s large-scale, real-time and highly-transactional applications.”

Starcounter expects its patent rights to be granted within the next two months. 

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Patent News | "Inventor Challenges New U.S. Patent Law"

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Category : Patent News

An inventor claims in court that the America Invents Act of 2011 violates inventors' rights, by replacing the "first to invent" patent system with a deficient "first to file" rule.
     Mark Stadnyk and his company MadStad Engineering sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, its director, David Kappos, and the United States of America, in Federal Court.
     Stadnyk says the America Invents Act (AIA), which took effect last year, is "special interest legislation" that favors big corporations at the expense of small businesses and individual inventors.
     Under the new law, Stadnyk says, the first one to file a patent application gets exclusive rights to an invention, even if the applicant is not the original inventor.
     "The AIA, signed into law by the president on Sept. 16, 2011, is a radical change that threatens the U.S. economy and American jobs," the complaint states. "It discards the 'first-to-invent' patent system crafted by the Constitution's founders - a system that led the world in science, technology, and industry for more than two centuries - and substitutes a failed 'first-to-file' system.
     "Traditionally, the U.S. patent system has awarded patents to the first person to invent a new discovery. The AIA changes this long-settled approach. Although the AIA is labeled as a 'first-inventor-to-file' system, that label is a smokescreen. Under the AIA, the patent will be awarded to the person who is first to file a patent application, regardless of whether the applicant was the actual first inventor of the technology in question. In fact, the AIA removes from the 'conditions of patentability' of Section 102 of the Patent Act (and thereby from the conditions of patent validity) the requirement that the named inventor actually invented the claimed subject matter." (Parentheses in complaint).
     Stadnyk claims the first-to-file system violates the Intellectual Property Clause of the Constitution, which states that patents can be awarded only to original inventors.
     The complaint states: "The Intellectual Property Clause prohibits Congress from vesting patents in anyone but actual 'inventors' of genuine 'discoveries.' Congress is not authorized to award patents to the winners of the race to file at the PTO [Patent and Trademark Office].
     "The new 'first-to-file' approach will discourage innovation. Countries using a first-to-file approach have experienced a relative decrease in the number of inventions. One reason is that individual inventors, start-ups, small businesses, and research organizations simply lack the resources to compete with big corporations in the race to file patent applications with the PTO. They will be unable to afford the expense of the multiple applications that are necessary to protect inventions, update a pending patent, and attract new sponsors and researchers.
     "The AIA is special-interest legislation, pure and simple. It favors large corporations and multinationals, while discriminating against the small inventors - individuals, start-ups, universities, and independent research institutes - that have always formed the backbone of U.S. innovation. If the Act had been law in the twentieth century, the Wright brothers would have been denied a patent for the airplane, and the founders of Hewlett-Packard would have been denied a patent for the variable frequency oscillator. Not surprisingly, the AIA was passed over the vehement objections of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and patent law experts.
     "The core issue facing the U.S. patent system is the mounting backlog of over 700,000 patent applications at the PTO and the inexcusable delay in processing them. It now takes three years, on average, for a patent application to be processed. This situation is intolerable, but the AIA does nothing to fix it. In fact, the new Act will only make the problem worse. It contains a host of additional administrative review procedures that will further burden the PTO. The Act will also trigger a flood of hastily drafted, poorly explained patent applications, which will only serve to increase the administrative backlog and foster additional patent litigation."
     Stadnyk, an inventor and small business owner, says the first-to-file standard cancels a crucial condition of patentability: that the patent holder of a technology be its actual inventor.
     "The AIA contains a provision requiring an oath by a patent applicant to the effect that a person believes himself or herself to be an inventor," the complaint states. "But this provision is not effective or sufficient to avoid the reality that the AIA authorizes granting the exclusive rights to non-inventors. Under the AIA, there is no effective statutory requirement that the applicant be an 'inventor' for a patent to be valid. The AIA awards patents not to the actual inventors of genuine discoveries but rather to the first filers to invoke the administrative process of the PTO."
     Stadnyk claims the standard is unconstitutional and inconsistent with U.S. patent law tradition.
     He says the original Patent Acts, of 1790 and 1793, which set the standard for hundreds of years, rejected the first-to-file rule and granted exclusive rights to first inventors.
     "A first-to-file system thus violates the text and original understanding of the Constitution," the complaint states. "It also violates one of the key purposes behind the Intellectual Property Clause, which was to avoid the abusive system of royally granted monopolies that had emerged under the English Crown. First-to-file would replicate the British scheme of making patent rights dependent on government-granted privileges, rather than on the ingenuity and hard work that the framers believed were the basis of patent rights. Allowing the government to redefine an 'inventor' to be the person officially designated as such, on the basis of a procedural filing with the PTO, is exactly the kind of system the framers rejected."
     Stadnyk, who holds three patents and has inventions at different stages of development, says he faces increased expenses and burdens from having to protect his inventions under the new law.
     "Much of today's intellectual property ('IP') is created on or stored on computers, virtually all of which are connected to the Internet for reasons of research, communication and collaboration," Stadnyk says. "Since the AIA no longer concerns itself with who actually invented an invention prior to filing, the new law makes it attractive and profitable for computer hackers to steal IP and file it as their own (or to sell it to the highest bidder). That means that inventors must invest in greater protection and security for one's computers and networks, placing increased financial and technical burdens on inventors, most of whom are not information technology (IT) specialists." (Parentheses in complaint).
     Stadnyk says the law harms individual inventors and entrepreneurs the most.
     He claims that since the law took effect, he has spent more than $100,000 on computer security, equipment, facilities and engineering expertise, to develop and test his inventions in-house and protect them from competitors.
     And he says the law forces inventors to rush their patent applications, decreasing their chances of getting a patent, or to spend more money on various applications for the same invention at different stages of development.
     Stadnyk wants the defendants enjoined from enforcing the law.
     He is represented by Michele Leo Hintson with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick.

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Patent News | "Apple Patent Application Indicates Improved ‘Made for iPhone’ Support"

By : Maricris 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

In line with Apple’s release of iOS 6 this fall, the company filed a pair of patent applications to support its new “Made for iPhone” hearing aids further. The new filings offer a glimpse of how the iPhone maker could provide further benefit to users who are hearing impaired.
New ‘Made for iPhone’ Patents

Apple filed two applications that were published by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week. The filings are entitled, Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid Setting and Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile. Both patents describe these components as smart hearing aids, which can wirelessly connect to devices to make life easier for users with hearing problems.

The patent applications come as the company is set to release its built-in support for the new Made for iPhone hearing aids later this year. Together with the launch of iOS 6, the new accessories will be compatible with Apple’s iPhone 4S. However, the company’s latest patent application looks like more than a certified iPhone accessory.

For instance, the Social Network for Sharing a Hearing Aid setting is meant for hearing impaired users to communicate with one another. This will enable them to share information and can improve the overall quality of their lives. As stated on the patent application:

    With the advent of programmable hearing aid whose signal processing can be at least partially modified, what is desired is providing a hearing aid user the ability to modify audio processing of the programmable hearing aid in the context for which the hearing aid will be used.

The company’s proposed network system will rely on the user’s mobile device, which is connected to the wireless hearing aid. The iPhone will then communicate with other users and share settings, so that they can acquire ideal hearing aid configuration depending on what they’re doing and their location.

The good thing about this technology is that users can store their hearing aid preference and share it through other devices.

On the other hand, the Remotely Updating a Hearing Aid Profile refers on how a system could save different configured user preferences. This will enable users to change his programmable hearing aid’s audio process in real time, depending on his current location and activity.

The configured hearing aid user preference can also be shared across iPhone’s social networking concept. The moment Apple turn these patents into reality, users with hearing impairment will now be able to communicate with other people more easily.

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Patent News | "Google thinks iPhone patents should be considered industry standards"

 By : Chris Smith   
Source :  
Category : Patent News 

Innovations are so popular they can't be left out, Google reckons  

Patented features on gadgets like the iPhone have become so popular that they should now be considered de facto industry standards, according to Google.

The search and mobile giant, currently embroiled in an ocean of patent litigation, says leaving certain, popular features out of its tech would be doing a disservice to the customer, regardless of IP issues.

In a letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee Google's counsel Kent Walker says some of these proprietary innovations should now become de facto standards.

Consumer welfare or Google welfare?

He wrote: "While collaborative Standards Setting Organizations (SSOs) play an important part in the overall standard setting system, and are particularly prominent in industries such as telecommunications, they are not the only source of standards.

"Indeed, many of the same interoperability benefits that the FTC and others have touted in the SSO context also occur when one firm publishes information about an otherwise proprietary standard and other firms then independently decide (whether by choice or of necessity) to make complementary investments to support that standard in their products.

"Because proprietary or de facto standards can have just as important effects on consumer welfare, the Committee's concern regarding the abuse of SEPs should encompass them as well."

Nothing to do with standards, says Apple

Naturally Apple disagrees with Google's stance on the issue, as it would, considering the huge raft of complaints it has against the Android operating system.

Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell argues that just because "a proprietary technology becomes quite popular does not transform it into a 'standard' subject to the same legal constraints as true standards."

Sewell also highlighted the billions spent by Apple in order to create the proprietary tech on the iPhone and says that has nothing to do with standards.

He added: "The capabilities of an iPhone are categorically different from a conventional phone, and result from Apple's ability to bring its traditional innovation in computing to the mobile market.

"Using an iPhone to take photos, manage a home-finance spreadsheet, play video games, or run countless other applications has nothing to do with standardized protocols. Apple spent billions in research and development to create the iPhone, and third party software developers have spent billions more to develop applications that run on it.

"The price of an iPhone reflects the value of these nonstandardized technologies — as well as the value of the aesthetic design of the iPhone, which also reflects immense study and development by Apple, and which is entirely unrelated to standards."

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Patent News | "Minecraft developer sued by aggressive litigator over DRM patent"

By : Ryan Paul 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Copy protection company Uniloc has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Mojang, the development company behind popular block game Minecraft. Uniloc claims that the Android version of Minecraft infringes patent number 6,857,067 describing a "system and method for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data."

Uniloc is a serial litigator that has filed lawsuits against nearly 80 companies, including Microsoft, Adobe, and Sony. The company contends that its suite of copy protection patents broadly cover common practices for digital software licensing, protection, and activation.

Mojang founder Markus Persson, also known as Notch, briefly discussed the lawsuit on Twitter and vowed to fight against it. He also published the full text of Uniloc’s filing, which indicates that the company is seeking damages and ongoing royalties. The filing erroneously calls Mojang’s product "Mindcraft."

"Unfortunately for them, they’re suing us over a software patent. If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don’t get a cent," Persson wrote on Twitter. "Software patents are plain evil. Innovation within software is basically free, and it’s growing incredibly rapid. Patents only slow it down."

Uniloc has a number of licensees and has succeeded in winning settlement payouts from some of the companies that it has sued. Uniloc’s eight-year lawsuit against Microsoft ended in March when the Redmond giant agreed to settle under undisclosed terms.

A 2009 jury ruling found Microsoft guilty of infringing one of Uniloc’s patents and called for the Redmond giant to pay a whopping $388 million in damages. The 2009 damage computation was later thrown out by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in a landmark decision that eliminated the so-called 25 percent rule.

It’s worth noting that the patent at issue in Uniloc’s lawsuit against Microsoft was one that specifically focused on product activation, not the ’067 patent that the company is citing in its lawsuit against Mojang. Alongside Mojang, Uniloc is also suing Electronic Arts, claiming that the popular game Bejeweled 2 violates the ’067 patent.

Both suits have been filed in the Eastern District of Texas, a court system that is often sought by major patent litigators due to the perception that it tends to be more favorable to plaintiffs in patent disputes.

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Patent News | "Apple Gets New Patent Approved That Rivals May Actually Fear"

By : Ed Silverstein 
Source :  
Category : Patent News 

There’s a great deal of celebration over at Apple about one of its new patents that just got approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Rivals are watching the events carefully. They may even be nervous.

The office approved 25 patents altogether but one of them “represents another major iPhone and iOS interface victory for Apple,” Patently Apple reported. “Apple reinvented the smartphone…and they get another patent victory to celebrate that fact.”

The promising patent relates to the iPhone's graphical user interface. It is connected to the display of electronic lists and documents, according to news reports.

Phandroid has actually called the patent the “mother of all smartphone software patents,” according to BGR News.

Investor Place added that for Apple’s rivals it could be “swift and lethal.”

In another statement, Cult of Mac proclaimed, “This patent could be Apple’s biggest weapon against the competition yet.”

The patent is No. 8,223,134. In its review, BGR News said the new patent could mean particular trouble for Google’s Android operating system.

Apple has been involved in many patent disputes over technology. In fact, one report claims that Apple is “at the center of 60 percent of all major patent suits,” according to Cult of Mac.

“The bad news for Android and its hardware partners is that this [new] patent will likely become a stable of future patent infringement claims coming from Apple’s court,” Phandroid speculated.

In a recent report, TechZone360’s Oliver VanDervoort added in a comment that “Apple rarely loses a patent court fight.”

In a rare twist of their luck, Apple however did lose out to Proview, which is based in China.

“The iPad maker was ordered to pay about $60 million to Proview and in what can only be described as an illustration of the massive amount of money Apple’s CEO is raking in, it seems that [CEO Tim] Cook basically paid this fee out of his own wallet,” VanDervoort said.

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Patent News | "Apple wages war on the entire Android market with new patent law"

By : Android Market 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

It looks like the Android Market may be in serious trouble.

It has been confirmed Apple is the author of a wide-ranging patent for displaying content on touch-screens. U.S. Patent 8,223,134 applies to the display of lists such as pictures, albums and e-mails as well as individual documents. It is, essentially, how the device responds to finger gestures and what additional elements such as beams are shown.

Ultimately, this operating concept is widely protected, Apple has developed it since 2007 for the iPhone and the iPad tablet. The patent covers, among other things, the scrollable display of documents, and the scroll bar itself.

Google has implemented the disappearing scroll bar on the IT blog "The Verge". According to experts, this could " kill of Android completely".

However, the granting of the patent does not mean that competitors need to change like design concepts entirely. Generally, applicable standards called FRAND conditions are required to enable the fair and non-discriminatory access to certain technologies. The owners allow them access to their patents against royalties.

In addition, many patents - particularly in the U.S. - are granted without big test, says the patent law expert Florian Mueller. The question was whether they were in court. Perhaps similar techniques in other countries are protected by law.

However, the company from Cupertino gets new ammunition for its biggest rival, Samsung. Even competitors such as HTC, Motorola, and Sony use Android.

Apple already holds several important patents for the use of touch-sensitive screens, which are also used in the global patent procedures. The U.S. Patent Office granted Apple several other patents that deal primarily with computer technology, such as processors and memory. To stay updated with all the latest gadget news, please subscribe.

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Patent News | "Patent of the Day: Displaying Electronic Lists "

By : Matthew Yglesias 
Source : 
Category : Patent News

Another day another absurdly broad software patent in the mobile phone industry as we learn about Apple's patent for displaying electronic lists on a mobile device. I note that a lot of my items on this subject come from Apple not because Apple is a uniquely abusive patenter, but because their iOS devices were so genuinely innovative. Having solved the really difficult engineering problem of creating an affordable attractive looking multi-touch pocket-sized telephone with a highly responsive user interface first, Apple also got to be the first to tackle all the totally obvious issues and then start furiously filing for patents. But the policy problem is much larger than any one company or even than merely the mobile devices space.

Somewhat coincidentally—and separate from the policy questions of patent law—I've seen three different studies over the past 10 days or so that were attempting to reach some kind of conclusion about the state of innovation or the rate of technical progress that chose to use aggregate patents granted as the numerator in some equation. This seems like an egregious example of the unreality problem that often afflicts quantitative studies of social science topics. Treating "mathematically rigorous model with crap input data" as some kind of close second-best to "mathematically rigorous model with accurate input data" makes no sense, and it's clearly the case that the volume of patents is determined by the laws and norms governing the patent system rather than the quantity of inventions.

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Patent News | "IDT Announces Spin-Off of Patent and Licensing Subsidiary"

By : Market Watch 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

IDT Corporation announced today its intention to spin-off its patent and licensing subsidiary, Innovative Communications Technologies, Inc. (ICTI) to its shareholders. ICTI's intellectual property portfolio includes patents that principally relate to communications over computer networks.

"During the past year, ICTI has pursued active enforcement of its IP while evaluating the burgeoning IP marketplace in order to both realize the value inherent in its extraordinary portfolio and to manage risk," said Howard Jonas, IDT's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

"Having considered our options in light of current trends, we now believe that a spin-off presents the path to the greatest value for our shareholders," he added.

"We have carefully compared the opportunities and limitations of continuing the effort to monetize ICTI's patent portfolio within the IDT corporate structure versus alternative strategies," said Jeff Ballabon, Chief Executive Officer of ICTI. "After a year of due diligence and market research, it has become evident that separating ICTI completely from IDT is the optimal way to maximize the value in this portfolio."

Completion of the spinoff is subject to various conditions and contingencies, and is subject to changes in the marketplace and the other assumptions underlying the decision.

ICTI will prepare an information statement regarding the proposed spin-off and distribute it to IDT stockholders following completion of review of the proposed spin-off by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Patent News | " iPhone 5 Rumors: Patent Granted for Mini Dock Connector"

By : Johnny Wills 
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Rumor has it that one of the major changes in next generation iPhone is the size of dock connector. Working on the same track, U.S. Patent department granted Apple with a patent for a mini dock connector implying that the existing iPeripherals may soon be obsolete.

United States Patent and Trademark Office approved Apple's patent, which was originally filed back in July 2010, for a new standard for dock connector under a new patent with patent number 8222773. The new patent has mentioned of the long-rumored micro/mini dock connector.

Looking at an image accompanied with the patent, the new dock connector appears to be identical to the original Firewire 400 connection. The new port looks like an alternative to microUSB, which is a standard supported by rival smartphone manufacturers. However, Apple's variant has a triangular edge at one side, which seems to build for stopping users from plugging in the cable the wrong way.

The new patent triggers speculation that Apple is ditching the old 30-pin dock connector in the next generation iPhone. The patent abstract data reassures that the connector will transport power (for charging) as well as data transfers.

Last month, folks at TechCrunch "independently verified" that iPhone 5 will have smaller 19-pin dock connector, instead of the age-old 30-pin dock connector that is being featured in iPhone, iPod, and iPad since day one.

Things are convenient at the moment as every iGadget uses the same connector. If you have one charging cable plugged in, you can use it to charge every iGadget of yours. The dock connector is of no much concern for us but the accessories associated with iPhone are. If Apple really changes the dock standard from a 30-pin connector to a 19-pin one, all of your existing iPhone accessories will become obsolete.

Travel charger, in-car entertainment add-ons, docks, external speaker, and every other iPeripheral that you purchase for your iGadget will not work on the next iPhone. This change means that you have to purchase new peripherals for the next iPhone.

We can assume that third-party developers will manufacture adapters that will let you connect the 19-pin iPhone to existing 30-pin peripherals. However, we cannot bet on that as Apple may approach for a ban on such products.

In such a scenario, we would recommend that you (if you are planning to buy iPhone 5 as soon as it comes out) get ready to pile some extra cash to buy new accessories.


Patent News | "ITC patent disputes highlight growing antitrust concerns"

By : Raymond Barrett   
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Antitrust considerations must play a larger role in the functioning of Standard Setting Organizations (SSOs), according to John Conyers (D-MI), Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. His comments were made during an 18 July hearing before the committee on the role of the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in patent disputes.

A rise in the number of patent assertion entities (PAEs, or “patent trolls”) seeking exclusion orders for alleged patent violations through the ITC has led companies who have faced such injunctions -- including Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Ford (NYSE:F) -- to describe the actions as bad for consumers.

The committee also considered the problem of companies such as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) assembling large portfolios of standard essential patents (SAEs) and employing them in methods that should be addressed by antitrust law.

Conyers said US consumers need be protected from “monopolistic and anticompetitive practices” and that there is “insufficient antitrust enforcement” in this field.

Conyers added that companies that are collecting patents as a way to attack competitors are “concentrating market power in an unhealthy way”.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland told a Senate hearing last week the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) Antitrust Division is closely monitoring a number of pending actions before the ITC involving standard-essential patents.

In the 18 July hearing Conyers proposed that SSOs, which oversee the selection of the SAEs that powerful companies and patent trolls have both employed as a powerful legal tool, ought to pay more attention to antitrust concerns. One proposal suggests that in order for patent holders to receive an SAE, the SSO should compel them to first waive the right to seek an injunction or exclusion order at the ITC.

The idea that antitrust issues must play an increased role in the functioning of SSOs was also endorsed by Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, during the same 18 July House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Following the hearing, Foer told PaRR that the DoJ and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should publicly state which direction they want SSOs to go in terms of antitrust issues.

Foer said if SSOs cannot be persuaded to change their behavior voluntarily, the agencies should give more specific guidance.

“I could imagine joint guidelines between the FTC and the Justice Department, involving the various agencies involved in international trade and the SSOs,” he said.

Along with the issue of patent trolls, the high-profile patent disputes involving Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and others have also thrown a spotlight on how such disputes might affect competition in the telecommunications sector.

Foer characterized the current environment, in which companies are forced to acquire large portfolios of patents in order to compete, as one of “mutually assured destruction” that blocks rather than helps innovation.

Foer said coalitions of leading competitors should not be allowed to purchase portfolios of patents with the intent to exclude competitors.

However, Bernard Cassidy, general counsel to Tessera Technologies (NASDAQ: TSRA), a tech company that has won patent infringement cases at the ITC, said a blanket rule prohibiting exclusion orders to holders of SAEs would tip the balance in favor of infringers.

He said such proposals would essentially create a compulsory licensing regime and might create disincentives for innovators to participate in SSOs.

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Patent News | "Patent Deals Give Investment Banks a Boost"

By : Serena Saitto  
Source : 
Category : Patent News 

Amid the dearth of global mergers and acquisitions, a handful of investment banks are finding business advising companies on patent sales. Lazard (LAZ), Evercore Partners (EVR), and Barclays (BCS) are moving in on turf traditionally dominated by lawyers. While global deal volume is down 24 percent this year as of July 18, patent deals have jumped in the past 12 months to $18.8 billion from $450 million the year before, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Patents have historically been a small, private, and illiquid asset,” says Robert Heath, head of corporate development at RPX, a San Francisco firm that buys and licenses patents. “Now you have money piling in from all kinds of sources.”

For technology companies, patents have become a valuable asset to wield against competitors and to defend themselves against intellectual-property infringement lawsuits. The competition among Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), and Facebook (FB) to dominate the wireless market accounts for much of the rise in patent deals. Activist investors including Carl Icahn and hedge fund Starboard Value have been riding the trend, urging companies such as Motorola Mobility Holdings and AOL (AOL) to extract value from their patents.

Until recently, most Wall Street firms stayed on the sidelines in patent deals because they’ve been “too much of a niche asset,” says Craig Opperman, partner and intellectual-property asset specialist at law firm DLA Piper. “Lazard, Evercore, and Barclays are the banks that I come across the most” in patent deals, he says.

Lazard’s specialty is selling patents out of bankruptcy, a skill it honed when it advised Canadian telephone equipment maker Nortel Networks on its restructuring after it filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2009. The bank’s strategy was to first sell Nortel’s operating units, making sure not to give away each asset’s underlying patents, says David Descoteaux, a Lazard banker who worked on the deal. After 18 months of negotiations and an auction, Nortel sold the patent portfolio last year to a group including Apple, Microsoft, and Research In Motion (RIMM) for $4.5 billion, five times Google’s initial offer of $900 million.

Lazard then advised Google when it agreed to buy 100 percent of Motorola for $12.5 billion last year. The deal was motivated largely by Google’s desire for Motorola’s patents after it lost its chance for Nortel’s. The sale came a month after Icahn urged Motorola to explore ways to make money from its patents. “Banks are contributing to make the patent market more liquid by attracting more potential buyers,” says David Berten, founder and partner of Global IP Law Group, the law firm that advised Nortel together with Lazard.

Patents will represent as much as 20 percent of Evercore’s technology business this year, up from 5 percent a year ago, according to Naveen Nataraj, a technology banker. Evercore, along with Goldman Sachs Group (GS), advised AOL when it agreed on April 9 to sell its patent portfolio to Microsoft for about $1.05 billion, more than triple the $290 million value patent advisory firm M•Cam had estimated. “The success of the Nortel and AOL patent sales has added to a growing awareness among large patent holders of the value trapped in their portfolio of inventions,” says Nataraj. “It’s traditional M&A with a few important tweaks and some esoteric aspects.”

The bottom line: While global M&A volume is down 24 percent so far this year, patent deals have jumped to $18.8 billion in the past 12 months.

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Patent News | "HTC files patent counterclaim against Apple"

By : Ryan Huang  
Source :  
Category : Patent News 

Taiwan smartphone maker HTC has filed a counterclaim against Apple in a Florida court over a patent infringement claim made by Cupertino in March, according the Wall Street Journal.

In the report Friday, HTC claimed in its lawsuit that Apple's MacBooks and iPhones infringed two patents it had acquired from Hewlett-Packard last year, related to computer networks and desktop remote control management.

Last week, UK courts had ruled that the Taiwan company did not infringe on four of Apple's European-held patents. It decided three of those four patents were invalid, with the only patent that stood relating to Apple's photo-management software, but found HTC not guilty.

The other three invalid patents relate to Apple's multi-touch software, alphabet-changing software, and the iPhone and iPad's slide-to-unlock feature.

HTC said in a statement that it "respects innovation and intellectual property rights and will continue to aggressively protect our intellectual property," according to the report.

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Patent News | "Samsung gains edge in Apple patent war"

By : Cho Ji-hyun 
Source : 
Category : Trademark Infringement 

Samsung Electronics has gained an edge in its global patent battle with its rival Apple Inc. as a UK court ordered the Cupertino-based firm to publish public notices that Galaxy tablet PCs did not copy the iPad’s designs.

On Wednesday, UK Judge Colin Birss ordered Apple to post a notice on the firm’s UK website and in British newspapers alerting people that Samsung did not copy the designs of the iPad for its Galaxy Tab.

The order follows a July 9 London court decision that the Suwon, Gyeonggi Province-based firm’s tablets do not infringe on Apple’s registered designs. Birss also said the notice should be posted on Apple’s UK website for six months as well as in several newspapers and magazines -- such as the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, Guardian Mobile magazine and T3 -- to correct any impression that Samsung was copying Apple’s products.

Apple responded by stating that the court’s order indicated it had to publish “an advertisement” for its rival, further elaborating that “no company likes to refer to a rival on its website”.

Samsung declined to comment on the issue, saying that it was seen as a follow-up measure to the court’s ruling reached earlier this month.

The decision, however, is most likely to deal a blow to Apple, especially considering that it is a matter involving what Apple values most -- its design.

Apple has been labeling Samsung as a “copycat” since the Korean company started launching its Galaxy-named wireless gadgets, including smartphones and tablet PCs.

The UK court’s decision also takes place shortly after the US firm recently won favorable ground in its home turf.

Last month, a US court gave the green light to immediately block the sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, taking Apple’s side on patent infringement. It gave an additional week of sales for the Galaxy Nexus -- a smartphone developed jointly with Google -- but it has also been put on the US sales ban list.

With Samsung already filing an appeal to the injunctions, the two firms are scheduled to stand in US court for their first trial on July 30.

Apple showed it has already been long engaged in preparation as a US judge approved its request to bar disparaging statements made by Steve Jobs about Google’s Android platforms from its patent trial with Samsung on Wednesday.

Apple’s co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs told his biographer that he was willing to go “thermonuclear” to “destroy” Google’s operating system.

“This is the first trial globally, not another injunction, which indicates that the results of this one will most likely have massive impact on the two companies,” said an industry source.

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Patent News | "Apple granted another important mobile device patent for iOS"

By : Mike Schramm
Source :
Category : Patent News

Patently Apple notes that among 25 Apple patents officially published by the USPTO today, one was a whopper. US patent number 8,223,134, which covers a "Portable electronic device, method, and graphical user interface for displaying electronic lists and documents," includes 30 separate claims in all. The patent was originally applied for in 2007 and the application was renewed in March of 2012.

As you might imagine, that's a pretty broad patent, which means this is a significant victory for Apple in the smartphone patent field. This patent covers almost all of the UI features of modern smartphones, including the displaying of documents on a screen, UI modules for a telephone, video player, camera, and browser, and even scrolling and a multitouch interface feature.

Just being granted this patent doesn't grant Apple immediate victory in all of the various current patent cases. But it does provide another plank in the platform that Apple's using to stage its defenses. Yes, the patent battles can get to be a little much after a while, but Apple did do a ton of R&D and other work to reinvent the smartphone and its market, and patents like this are designed to make sure Apple gets the credit it deserves for doing that. Maybe, by picking up an important intellectual property chit like this one, Apple can bring some of these ongoing patent battles to a quicker and easier close.

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Patent News | "Hilti AG Files Patent Application for Clamp for a Plate Element Especially for a Photovoltaic Module"

By : Laser Focus World
Source :   
Category : Patent News

Liechtenstein based Hilti AG filed patent application for clamp for a plate element especially for a photovoltaic module. The inventor is Kemple Lorcan.

Hilti AG filed the patent application on Dec. 2, 2011. The patent application number is 1517/KOL/2011 A. The international classification number is H01L31/00.

According to the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks, "The invention relates to a clamp for at least one plate element, with a first clamp part and a second clamp part, whereby the clamp parts can be adjusted relative to each other between an open position and a clamping position for the plate element, and with at least one elastomer profile that is arranged between the two clamp parts and that has an area with a U-shaped cross section for gripping the plate element. According to the invention, it is provided that the elastomer profile has a clamping section that is clamped between the two clamp parts when the clamp parts are in the clamping position." 

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Patent News | "Microsoft Assigned Patent for POS Hardware Abstraction"

By : Targeted News Service      
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Category : Patent News

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., has been assigned a patent (8,225,333) developed by Andrew Yue Hang Ng, Hong Kong, and Sylvester M. La Blanc, Issaquah, Wash., for a POS hardware abstraction.

The abstract of the patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office states: "A framework for point of sale system is discussed. The framework includes an application program stored on a tangible computer medium. When executed by a computing device, the application is capable of communicating using a first protocol. The framework further includes a first point of sale hardware device externally located from the computing device and configured to communicate with the computing device using a second protocol and a device abstraction layer capable of communicating with the application program using the first protocol and the first point of sale hardware device using the second protocol to pass information between the application program and the first point of sale hardware device."

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Patent News | "Google hybrid laptop-tablet patent application hints at next Nexus"

By : Chris Davies     
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Category : Patent News

Google may have the Nexus 7, Nexus smartphones and Chromebooks, but the company could be working on a hybrid convertible touchscreen notebook if a new patent application is anything to go by. The filing – “Moveable display portion of a computing device” – details a tilting, sliding and potentially even rotating hybrid laptop that could be used as a regular notebook or, after some Transformers-style manipulation, as a touchscreen slate.

Google’s patent suggests that such a design might be useful in a world where the user has a wide array of input and control options to play with. Keyboards, mice, touchscreens and other options are all cited, but “may be cumbersome to use and/or may not produce results at a desirable speed, level of accuracy, and/or with a desired effect.”

To address that, Google’s concept features a screen section that can either be opened up as per a normal notebook or, thanks to a grove either in the edge or top of the lower-half of the computer, pulled forward and then pushed back flat. With a double rail system, the display could be shifted between these two orientations; however, Google also suggests a special hinge and a single grove, allowing the touchscreen to rotate around a point at its corner (as per the top image).

Meanwhile, Google suggests that the software could react to the different orientations of the hardware; so, for instance, the keyboard could be automatically disabled if the display is shifted forward. Alternatively, the touchscreen could be locked if the computer is in notebook orientation.

Now, patent applications don’t necessarily lead to shipping products, but with Google’s Chrome OS and Android Jelly Bean platforms each maturing, a product that could deliver the best of both worlds might be an attractive addition to the Nexus portfolio. More images of the design in the gallery below.

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Patent News | "Patent application reveals secrets of Google Glass"

By : Anurag Tagat    
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Category : Patent News

Google Glass is likely to include a touch-pad, camera, microphone and see-through display all rolled into one to fit on the bridge of your nose.

A patent document submitted to the United States Patents and Trademarks Office gives a few hints about Google Glass' controls, specifications, features and design.

Google Glass is described as a "wearable computing device" in the document, comprising of a see-through display lens with a projector, a camera positioned on the extending side-arm and a touch-pad interface including a keypad.

Apart from the buttons and touch-pad, the glasses will also detect speech commands. Shout out a name of a friend, and it will open your contacts book. Start the engine of your car, and Glass could throw up GPS directions.

Even cooler is the mention of a "controller" which can determine the wearer's skin tone, hand shape and size based on an image of the wearer's hand.

The user interface for the glasses is located "outside of the field of view of the wearer", which means it is probably located near the temple of the user's head, along one of the arms of the glasses.

The patent, which names Google's David Petrou as the inventor, explains user interaction through an interface that "could be, for example, a touch pad, keypad, an arrangement of buttons, or any combination thereof".

For the sake of imagination, Google says it is considering using "coloured dots" for visual representations.

"Coloured dots may appear in response to physical contact or close proximity with the interface. Further, the dots may create an illusionary effect such that the wearer feels like that the interface is right in front of the wearer," the application reads.
Sources of input data

Some illustrations, which you can see as part of the patent application show that the glasses include a microphone, a keyboard, a camera, and a touch-pad.

Project Glass speech commands can also be used to play videos, open applications, translate sentences heard or spoken, answer questions and convert spoken words to text.
Winter is coming? No problem

It seems like Google Glass is also winter-friendly. Glass will detect the temperature outside and switch to a hands-free mode, in case the user is wearing gloves.

Glass will include "an antenna and transceiver device" for wired/wireless communications between itself and "a remote device or communication network". This could mean 3G and 4G networks, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

This will probably allow connectivity between Glass and phones, tablets or other "wearable computing devices or a server in a communication network".

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Patent News | "Apple Patent Application Reveals Integrated Charging Contacts in iPod Nano Clip"

By : Eric Slivka
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Category : Patent News

A newly-published Apple patent application (via AppleInsider) reveals Apple's interest in exploring the use of the iPod nano's clip as a charging and docking mechanism, a move that would eliminate the need for a dedicated docking port on the bottom edge of the device as found in the current design. 

By incorporating electrical contacts into the clip and using a dock adapter to provide compatibility with Apple's current docking stations, the clamping action of the iPod nano's clip could hold the device in position for charging purposes.

In some embodiments, a portable user device may include a rechargeable battery, and a clip member that is electrically coupled to the rechargeable battery. The rechargeable battery may be charged by electrically coupling the clip member to a receiving receptacle. In some embodiments, the clip member may provide a clamping force which aids in maintaining contact between the receiving receptacle and the clip member.
Apple's patent application also describes a number of other implementations for the clip-based charging mechanism, including the ability to clip directly onto a charging point on the bezel of another device.

The newly-published patent, originally filed in January 2011, is not the first time Apple has proposed a means to increase the utility of the iPod nano's clip. A May 2010 application proposed integrating a piezoelectric speaker into the clip, while a prototype device has hinted at plans to equip the device with a rear camera that would project through a hole in the clip.

A new rumor surfacing earlier this week claims, however, that Apple will be abandoning the current iPod nano design later this year in favor of an oblong design with a larger screen and a home button similar to that found on iOS devices.

Apple is also rumored to be bringing a smaller dock connector to its iOS devices later this year, a feature that could make its way to the iPod nano as well given that the device currently uses the same dock connector design seen in iOS devices. 

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