Tag Archives: Software Patents

software-patents

Samsung, Google sign patent deal

The two companies which created the Android empire, giving users more option in a monoculture dominated by Apple, have signed a patent deal to licence each other patents. Samsung says that this ‘mutually beneficial agreement covers the two companies’ existing patents as well as those filed over the next 10 years.’

“This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry,”said Dr. Seungho Ahn, the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center. “Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”

While it’s good news for the Android ecosystem as these two close allies won’t have any conflict it’s bad news the opponents of the broken US patents & copyright system. It simply shows that this broken system has swallowed one of the most vocal players which was not crazy about patents – as were other US IT companies. Google did need such a deal as it is entering the hardware business and may step on a lot of patents claimed by Samsung.

Microsoft, Apple gang create bogus company to sue Android

Microsoft (and Apple) just doesn’t know how to compete with better products. The company has ,once again, teamed up with Apple to attack Android.

Microsoft has created yet another patent troll company, called Rockstar Consortium, where the most notorious ‘Gang of Silicon Valley’ has pooled the patents they obtained via Nortel acquisition to attack Android.

US regulators approved the acquisition of Nortel by Microsoft and Apple lead consortium under the promise from these companies won’t abuse these patents.

So how to bypass that Promise? Simple. Create a proxy company which won’t be bound by such rules and abuse the patents.

Now the Microsoft co-owned company has sued Google, along with almost every other Android maker, accusing them of infringing upon ‘Nortel’ patents.

The gangs of silicon valley have one again succeeded in abusing the broken patent system to stifle competition.

Congress can you please fix this?

Some iPhones and iPads banned in the US after Samsung’s victory

It was long due when Apple needed to taste it’s own bitter medicine. Desperate to get competitor’s products banned (without any success so far) Apple got its own iPhone (4, 3 and 3GS) and  iPad (3G, 2 3G) banned from the US. The ban came from the ITC as these devices infringes upon Samsung’s patents related to cellular data. This ban effects only the AT&T models which use these patents.

The ban may not have any impact on Apple as these are older models, it does create a massive dent in Apple’s image, which is already facing a price fixing case.

Since it’s an ITC ruling, its firm and only the White House or the Federal Circuit can overturn it.

No one wants patents and courts to deprive users from better products, but it was Apple that waged a ‘thermonuclear’ war on Android.

Apple wants to grab Samsung’s money and run

The never ending story of Apple vs Samsung lawsuit sees more pages of the script written by Apple. Samsung wanted a stay in holding a new trial and Apple doesn’t want that (as expected). Apple doesn’t want to wait for USPTO to invalidate its patents or courts finish its reexamination of the two Apple patents.

If that happens Apple won’t have any case against Samsung, so the company doesn’t want to wait for that to happen and instead wants to get damages from Samsung. So even if later it’s proven that those patents were invalid and Samsung did not owe any money to Apple, Apple already got all the money it wanted.

Groklaw’s Pamela Jones explains:

“…The real game is to get the appeals over with before the reexaminations plus all its appeals are finished, because, as Apple itself states, if a final invalidity ruling arrives after the appeals process is over, it doesn’t “disturb an earlier final court judgment awarding damages for past infringement of those claims.” So that’s Apple’s game. Take the money and run. It wants the damages trial to happen right away, so that the appeals process can get going quickly, to try to beat the timeline on the USPTO findings of invalidity. That way, even if the patents are ultimately found to be indeed invalid, Samsung will still have to pay the damages the deluded earlier jury sets.”

Apple has lost quite many patents recently and it doesn’t want to risk the ‘damages’ the misguided jury presented to it on a platter.

Microsoft signs bogus license agreement with Foxconn over Android and Chrome

Opinion: Microsoft has signed yet another ‘bogus’ patent deal with Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s lagest electronics maker. In a Microsoft blog the company claimed, “Microsoft Corp. and Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn, signed a worldwide patent licensing agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for devices running the Android and Chrome OS, including smartphones, tablets and televisions.”

Foxconn seems to have chosen the ‘easy’ path of simply paying up a ‘tiny’ fee to Microsoft instead of going to the court. There is no doubt that Microsoft’s claims that Android infringes upon it’s patents are bogus as we have already seen in the B&N case where the company was taken to the court and then fearing that the case will expose Microsoft, the Windows maker surprisingly settled outside the court and ‘paid’ a heavy fee to B&N in the name of an alliance.

Can we know how much is overly excited Microsoft getting per Android/Chrome unit and which patents are being violated?

No

Microsoft’ blog further says:

While the contents of the agreement are confidential, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Hon Hai under the agreement. Hon Hai joins a growing list of contract manufacturing and original design manufacturing companies with Android and Chrome patent licenses.

Since Microsoft signs an NDA we never get to see which ‘patents’ is Android violating, it could be tiny things like FAT partition. Since we also don’t know how much Microsoft gets per device, it could be few pennies per device.

Even if the sites like The Verge claim that “Android is growing into a wonderful source of revenue… for Microsoft” we actually don’t know how much is Microsoft getting from Android.

These deals are less about money and more about PR stunts, a game Microsoft loves to play.

Microsoft, if you are really making any money from Android, why don’t you disclose how much are you charging per Android device and which patents do Android and Chrome violate. Until then it’s just bogus and the reason of these ‘successful’ deals is that companies like Foxconn chose it cheaper to throw a bone at the dog than to chase it.

Only company that’s throwing the keyword Android and Chrome in such agreements is Microsoft. Even in the statement that was published on Microsoft blog,  Samuel Fu, director of the Intellectual Property Department at Hon Hai (the parent company of Foxconn) did not mention Android or Chrome. He made a generic statement.

“Hon Hai is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer that holds more than 54,000 patents worldwide. We recognize and respect the importance of international efforts that seek to protect intellectual property. The licensing agreement with Microsoft represents those efforts and our continued support of international trade agreements that facilitate implementation of effective patent protection.”

No mention of Android and Chrome? Not surprising.

Licensing is a normal practice
At the same time licensing is a normal practice in the market and Microsoft itself is a licensee of thousands of technologies developed by others. It’s just that the declining abusive and monopolistic force of the past is now using such deals as a PR stunt, which is unfortunately not helping the company. Gone are the days when Microsoft could crush competitors through unethical business practices (though they are still trying). Now, when we have strong competitors like Google, Apple, Mozilla – Microsoft is turning out to be a company with a huge pile of failed products – from Windows 8 to Bing to Windows Phones.

Apple gets patents on folder creation on iOS, more trouble for Android

The competent USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) has granted yet another patent to Apple related to folder creation and arrangement of icons. If you are an Android user you may be aware of the method also introduced by Google in Android where you can drag and drop any icon on each other which creates a folder. At the same time when you move more icons in a folder it rearranges other icons accordingly.

The patent application explains:

A multifunction device displays a plurality of selectable user interface objects on the display. In response to detecting the first input, the device moves a first object in the plurality of selectable user interface objects across the display to a location on the display that is proximate to a second object in the plurality of selectable user interface objects. In response to detecting that the first input meets predefined folder-creation criteria while the first object is proximate to the second object, the device creates a folder that contains the first object and the second object.

Will ‘sue’-cidal Apple use this patent against it’s competitors such as Samsung or Google is uncertain, but USPTO granting such patents is simply arming Apple with more patents to attack competitors.

Google also innovated and introduced many features in Android which were copied by Apple in iOS, but Google neither patented those ‘features’ not attacked anyone else. If Apple comes after Google with this stupid patent, should not Google find a way to force Apple to stop ‘copying’ it’s own technologies.

Let’s see when will apple use this patent against Android.

Google pledges not to sue open source software, unless first attacked

When companies like Apple and Microsoft are abusing the already broken patent system and using their patents as ‘weapons’ against competitors Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In it’s pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor or developer of open-source software on specified patents, unless first attacked.

Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time  they intend to expand the set of Google’s patents covered by the pledge to other technologies.

Duane Valz, Senior Patent Counsel, Google writes on the official blog, “Our pledge builds on past efforts by companies like IBM and Red Hat and the work of the Open Invention Network (of which Google is a member). It also complements our efforts on cooperative licensing, where we’re working with like-minded companies to develop patent agreements that would cut down on lawsuits.”

Google is also making a call to other patent holders to adopt similar approach towards patents so as to encourage innovation and development and healthy competition. This is a commendable move by Google to fix an abysmally broken patent system by such initiative through the industry.

Red Hat, Rackspace defeat the patent troll Uniloc USA

Red Hat and Rackspace have won the court battle with patent troll Uniloc USA, Inc. The company alleged in its complaint that the processing of floating point numbers by the Linux operating system violated U.S. Patent 5,892,697. A federal court decision had granted an early dismissal of all claims in a lawsuit brought by Uniloc USA, Inc.

When Uniloc USA, Inc. filed the complaint against Rackspace in June 2012 in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, Rackspace and Red Hat immediately moved to dismiss the case prior to filing an answer.

In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc’s claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter. In the ruling released today, Judge Davis wrote that the asserted claim “is a mathematical formula that is unpatentable under Section 101.”

Rob Tiller, Red Hat’s Assistant General Counsel for IP, provided the following statement in addition to the press release, “NPE patent lawsuits are a chronic and serious problem for the technology industry. Such lawsuits, which are frequently based on patents that should never have been granted, typically cost millions of dollars to defend. These suits are a plague on innovation, economic growth, and job creation. Courts can help address this problem by determining the validity of patents early and with appropriate care. In this case, Judge Davis did just that, and set a great example for future cases.”

Google Filed More Patents Than Apple In 2012

The broken US patent system is ‘forcing’ companies to increase their patent filing. Even the companies, like Google, aversive to software patents are now being dragging into this rat race, thanks to ‘thermonuclear’ warfare started by Apple against Android. Google has beaten Apple in the year 2012 by filing more patents than the iPad maker.

Google made it first appearance on 2012 top 50 US patent assignees’ list. Google holds 21st spot beating Apple which holds 22nd spot with 1136 patents, whereas Google filed 1151 patents last year.

IMB reclaimed the #1 spot with Apple’s arch-rival Samsung on #2 spot with 5081 patents, so those Apple fans think Samsung just copies Apple need to reconsider as Samsung filed 3,945 more patents than Apple that year.

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Major Defeat For Apple, US Judge Rejects It’s Design Patents, No Injunction On Samsung Products

In one of the most dramatic, controversial and written about court cases, judge Koh has denied Apple’s motion for an injunction against Samsung devices. According to Groklaw, the judge says Apple has failed to prove Samsung caused any irreparable harm to the iPhone maker.

The judge wrote in her order:

The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents. Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions. Especially given the lack of causal nexus, the fact that none of the patented features is core to the functionality of the accused products makes an injunction particularly inappropriate here.

However, the judge also denied Samsung’s request for a new trial. The judge seemed to have bought Apple’s argument that Samsung could have discovered about the foreman’s involvement earlier, a reason Samsung cited for the new trial. None of this is important, the gem that came out of this case is the fact that this judge has also, just like judges in the UK, Germany, The Netherlands and many other countries, rejected the value of Apple’s design patent. As the Groklaw reports, the judge wrote in her ruling:

First, though more specific than the general “design” allegations, they are still not specific enough to clearly identify actual patented designs. Instead, they refer to such isolated characteristics as glossiness, reinforced glass, black color, metal edges, and reflective screen. Apple does not have a patent on, for example, glossiness, or on black color.

The judge also refused any injunction based on trade dress accusations, she wrote:

Further, the Court has found that neither the inadequacy of money damages nor the public interest favors an injunction here, for either patent infringement or trade dress dilution. Regarding trade dress dilution specifically, as explained above, the case for an injunction is especially weak, because there are no diluting products still available, even without an injunction.

The judge then wrote:

In sum, to the limited extent that Apple has been able to show that any of its harms were caused by Samsung’s illegal conduct (in this case, only trade dress dilution), Apple has not established that the equities support an injunction.  Accordingly, Apple’s motion for a permanent injunction is DENIED.

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