Tag: patent

Court delivers a nasty precedent for patent trolls


TrollhunterMoviePosterPatent trolls have been as difficult to kill as cockroaches and Keith Richards, not even a 2014 US Supreme Court decision could stop them.

But federal judge Denise Cote has come up with a novel tactic which could stuff them up by hitting them in the legals. She slapped a half-million-dollar bill on the lawyers and said that they were personally responsible for paying it, not their client.

The move could make lawyers less keen to take on patent trolls as clients. Part of the patent-troll economic model is based on lawyers taking a contingency fee, meaning that they take a percentage of whatever money is extracted from victims rather than being paid an hourly fee.

Cote said that this method makes the lawyers more of a partner than a traditional contractor and they must share the risk of the case.

If lawyers start demanding upfront hourly fees patent trolls will have to give up on chasing the most tenuous lawsuits in the hope of settling.

The case at the centre of the ruling was Gust vs. Alphacap Ventures and Richard Juarez. Cote found that patent troll Alphacap had pursued a case against Gust, despite the US Supreme Court ruling that made it clear it couldn’t succeed. The idea was to force the  flakey case to settle and give the troll and the lawyer a profit.

Normally, patent trolls rely on large numbers. If they threaten many companies, they’ll make more than enough to justify their efforts. Then, by suing a handful of other companies, they scare more innocent firms into paying or else.

What the judge specifically did was to tell Gust that it could retrieve the court’s ordered money from either the law firm or the patent troll.  This was a slap in the face to the lawyers representing the patent troll who had already told the firm that suing the patent troll was pointless because it had no money, making it judgment-proof.



Apple wins more cash on slide-to-unlock case

apple-dalek-2A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated a $120 million jury award for Apple against Samsung in the now terminally daft patent war between the pair.

The court said that there was substantial evidence for the jury verdict related to Samsung’s infringement of Apple patents on its slide-to-unlock and autocorrect features, as well as quick links, which automatically turn information like addresses and phone numbers into links.

Friday’s decision was made by the full slate of judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. In an 8-3 ruling, the judges said that a previous panel of the same court should not have overturned the verdict last February.

The three-judge panel did not follow U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of its review, because it examined evidence outside the record of the case, the decision said.

In May 2014 a federal court in San Jose, California, which ordered Samsung to pay $119.6 million for using the Apple features without permission.

Infringement of the quick links feature accounted for nearly $99 million of the damages.

The jury had also found that Apple infringed a Samsung patent on digital photo technology and awarded $158,400 in damages. Friday’s decision upholds that award.

In December, Samsung paid Apple $548.2 million stemming from a separate patent case. Part of that dispute has been appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear it on Tuesday.


Apple getting into virtual reality

apple-dalek-2Fruity cargo cult Apple is conducting R&D into virtual reality which suggests in might have a cunning plan to release its own specs.

Apple has been given a new patent  for a  transparent, high field of view display which looks to be aimed at the augmented reality sector.

Jobs’ Mob appeared to be delaying entry in the AR/VR market until everyone else had taken the risks and then it could enter into and claim to have invented everything.

This patent aside, it has also been buying up AR/VR technology and hiring expert staff.

The patent was filed in June 2012 and the patent extends an even older application, originally filed back in 2006.

It is basically an AR display that seems to utilise technology similar to optical waveguide, a way to bounce light from a source to a destination with minimal loss of signal. In this case, the image is projected from a source off axis, reaching the eye via a transparent material (such as a visor or plate mounted over the eyes).

Microsoft’s HoloLens uses a technique to display a virtual overlay onto the user’s view of the real world to create it’s so called “holograms”. Apple’s diagram, which really does not show the technology working is supposed to have a higher field of vision.

“A computer program product, stored on a non-transitory machine-readable medium, for projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus, the head-mounted display apparatus having a display operable to project a display image viewable by a user and a peripheral light element positioned to emit light of one or more colours in close proximity to the periphery of the display, the computer program product comprising instructions operable to cause a processor to: receive data representing a source image; generate, based on the data representing the source image, a display image; generate, based at least in part on the data representing the source image, a set of peripheral conditioning signals to control the peripheral light element; display the display image on the display; and use the set of peripheral conditioning signals to control colours emitted from peripheral light element,” the patent claims.

However, patents and staff aside, Apple is a long way away from getting any product to market. Sure once it does it will be able to roll over the competition but it might find that whatever it comes up with is either too expensive or not innovative enough to meet fanboy’s expectations. The technology either requires huge investments in computer power or is just a bit disappointing all things which slots the technology away from Jobs’ Mob’s business model. Basically Apple has to make a headset for $200 and charge $600 for it to be part of Jobs’ Mob’s standard business model. This would produce a low quality VR experience. To get a quality VR going properly you need a $1000 GPU and a $700 computer. This would mean that Apple would have to pair it with its top of the range work stations and, following the normal Apple pricing would hit the shops at about $3-4000.


Florida man claims to have invented the iPhone

mobileFlorida resident Thomas Ross claims he invented the “iPhone” and has filed a lawsuit against Apple.

Ross said that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod infringe upon his 1992 invention of a hand-drawn “Electronic Reading Device” (ERD) and he wants large sums of money to go away. The court filing claims the plaintiff was “first to file a device so designed and aggregated,” nearly 15 years before the first iPhone.

Between May 23, 1992 and September 10, 1992, Ross designed three hand-drawn technical drawings of the device, primarily consisting of flat rectangular panels with rounded corners that “embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992.”

What Ross contemplated, was a device that could allow one to read stories, novels, news articles, as well as look at pictures, watch video presentations, or even movies, on a flat touch-screen that was back-lit.

The patent also describes the possibility of communication functions, such as a phone and a modem, input/output capability, so as to allow the user to write notes, and be capable of storing reading and writing material utilizing internal and external storage media.

He also imagined that the device would have batteries and even be equipped with solar panels.

He might have a case.  However, he applied for a utility patent to protect his invention in November 1992, but the application was declared abandoned in April 1995 by the US Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to pay the required application fees. He also filed to copyright his technical drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2014. We are not sure how he will argue past that particular  issue.

While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money,” he has demanded a jury trial and is seeking restitution no less than $10 billion and a royalty of up to 1.5 per cent on Apple’s worldwide sales of infringing devices.


Chinese court bans iPhone 6 sales

big-trouble-in-little-chinaFruity cargo cult Apple is having Big Trouble in Big China after its iPhone 6 phone was banned from by a court because Jobs’ Mob is alleged to have stolen the designs of a Chinese company.

A Chinese regulator has ordered Apple to stop selling two versions of its iPhone 6 in Beijing after finding they look too much like a competitor, but Apple insists that sales are going ahead while it appeals.

While Apple is hoping that Chinese sales will save its bacon, the outfit is having huge problems getting its goods to market behind the bamboo curtain. Apple’s iBooks, iTunes Movies, music service has also been banned in China. Meanwhile what is left of Apple’s business faces completion from local brands including Huawei and Xiaomi.

The order by the Beijing tribunal said the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus looked too much like the 100C model made by Shenzhen Beili, a small Chinese brand. The order was issued in May but reported this week by the Chinese press.

Apple said a Beijing court stayed the administrative order on appeal and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus still were on sale.

Already Apple has to share the name “iphone” with a Chinese bag maker, which got the name first. Apple said it would appeal that judgement too.

Nvidia’s patent trolling flops

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollA move by Nvidia to find a replacement for a lucrative patenting deal it has with Intel by patent trolling two other big names has backfired.

Since January 2011 Nvidia had a cushy deal with Intel where Chipzilla would pay it $1.5 billion.  It was great while it lasted but Intel has almost paid up and Nvidia thought it could get a similar licensing deal from Samsung and Qualcomm.

It unleashed its mighty briefs in September 2014 claiming that Samsung and Qualcomm had breached United States Patent Nos. 6,198,488, 6,992,667, 7,038,685, 7,015,913, 6,697,063, 7,209,140 and 6,690,372.

These patents were allegedly used in now ancient Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, 400, 600 or 800 series of processors, and devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3 (LTE), Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S III and the Samsung Note Pro LTE, Galaxy Tab 4, and Galaxy Tab 3 tablet.  It should have had Nvidia on a nice little earner.

Then something odd happened. Nvidia only mentioned Samsung in the lawsuit and stopped talking about Qualcomm. In September 2015 judge ruled that Samsung and Qualcomm actually didn’t infringe two of the patents.

It seems then that Nvidia went back to the negotiating table. It appears to have got a few minor agreements from Samsung and Qualcomm, but nothing like the sort of money it got from Intel.

The deal was so minor that Nvidia doesn’t want to talk about it. All the company is saying at this time the agreement covers the licensing of a small number of patents by each company to another.




Inject Google into your eyeball

13534691._SX540_Search engine Google appears to believe there are people out there who are willing to having things injected into their eyeballs.

Google has filed a patent for a vision-correcting electronic device, This sounds pretty good until you discover it has be injected directly into your eye.

Google said that the device is designed to help the focusing of light onto the retina, resulting in the correction of poor vision. It will contain its own storage, radio and lens and will apparently be powered wirelessly from an energy harvesting antenna. Good vision is better than a poke in the eye with a short stick after all.

Knowing Google it will probably force you to see advertising, or some other atrocity, but its biggest problem is that it will have to be injected. This is probably one of the worst nightmares anyone can have.  It is all fun and games until someone has their eye out.

Although Google has filed the patent, that’s no guarantee that we’ll see the idea come to life anytime soon, or even at all.


Samsung gets patent for smart contacts

don_t_blink_by_risarocksit-d68mtdmWho needs VR specs?  Samsung has come up with contact lenses which can do something similar in a blink of an eye.

Samsung has received a patent in South Korea for interactive contact lenses that can receive or send data to a nearby phone.

According to the patent, the way Samsung’s “smart” contact lenses integrate a camera, movement sensors, a transmitter, and a display unit in the lenses’ glass. They can be controlled by blinking.

To take pictures or interact with data displayed on their contact lenses, the user must blink. The motions are picked up by the sensors, and the commands are relayed to the user’s phone for processing, with the results being sent back immediately.

The user can stream video or send images to their contact lenses from their smartphone, and send pictures they took with the integrated camera back to their mobile device for storage.

Some circuits are visible in the contact lenses, but they’ll be placed towards to glass’ edge, not to impede vision or the received images.

Samsung is not alone in its quest for manufacturing contact lenses. Back at the start of March 2016, Swiss healthcare startup Sensimed was granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start testing so-called smart contact lenses that can cure glaucoma.

Additionally, Google has also been working on the same type of technology, for which it receives a patent in March 2015, but never got around to releasing a prototype.

Samsung’s project has nothing to do with health-related applications and seems only to be a project aimed at exploring methods of integrating augmented reality with today’s devices.

The Samsung patent, filed on September 26, 2014, was only approved by South Korean authorities two days ago.

Daft patent awarded for “form letters”

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollMore than 100 companies have been sued because the US Patent Office was daft enough to issue a patent for form letters.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s patent lawyers found a patent describing a way of “presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services”. The patent is owned by Phoenix Licensing which is a patent troll controlled by Richard Libman, an Arizona man who has sued more that 100 companies.

US Patent No. 8,738,435 is little more than a description of sending a “communication” with “identifying content” to a “plurality of persons”. The patent describes any type of personalised marketing, as long as it involves a “computer-accessible storage medium”.

Apparently earlier mass-mailing systems “produced output that was either non-customised or just customized to address a given person” and could not select products and “characteristics appropriate for a given person,” Libman’s lawyers wrote.

EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer explains in his bog that patents which are just “do it on a computer” claims should get tossed out as “almost surely invalid” under the Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court precedent.   Libman has filed patents in the Eastern District of Texas where they think Alice probably voted for Obama and is almost certainly a socialist.

Of course the idea of patent trolls is that they never get to court, let alone any appeal and that the company will pay up rather than waste money on an expensive trial.

Troll regrets accidentally suing New Egg

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollA patent troll that accidently sued New Egg is suddenly finding itself in more trouble than it wished for.

Minero Digital normally spends its days exacting royalty payments from USB hubs, suing more than two dozen retailers and manufacturers last year.  But it bit off more than it could chew when it threatened Newegg subsidiary Rosewill.  It dropped the case with the hope of getting on with its normal business suing those who would not fight back.

However it’s not going to be easy for Minero and its president, Texas lawyer Daniel Perez, to walk away. Newegg filed its own lawsuit against Minero in Los Angeles federal court, asking a judge to rule that Rosewill products do not infringe Minero’s patent.

Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng says the move is necessary since Minero dismissed its Texas lawsuit without prejudice, meaning it can refile the case whenever it likes.

Cheng said that “Minero’s case did not have merit. Its patent is not only expired but would suck even if it wasn’t expired. Now that they have started the litigation, it would be irresponsible for Newegg to not finish it.”

Minero litigates against other retailers that sell Rosewill-branded products and that Newegg may have defence obligations to those other companies, he said.

Newegg’s lawsuit asks only for a judicial ruling of non-infringement, not money damages. Still, having to face a separate litigation in Newegg’s home district could be a time-consuming distraction for the patent-licensing entity, which only has a single Texas laywer.

Minero Digital filed its wide-ranging lawsuit in September of last year, citing US Patent No. 5,675,811. The patent was acquired by Intellectual Ventures in 2003 and passed on to Minero in April 2015. It describes a system of “intelligent daisy-chainable serial” bus connections, originating at Apple spinoff General Magic.

Rosewill was created in 2004 as a private-label brand wholly owned by Newegg. The company specializes in computer peripherals like power supplies, cases, memory, and cables.