Google isn’t innocent in the patent wars

John Gruber:

But Motorola — a wholly-owned Google subsidiary — has filed patent lawsuits against Apple all over the world. Just one month ago Apple finally put an end to an 18-month injunction that prevented iCloud users in Germany from getting push notifications for email — because of a patent lawsuit filed by Google.

I’m in total agreement with Gruber on this one. Like most people, I hate these stupid patent trolls, but too many people are trying to make Google seem like a victim here. They’re not.

Google’s Motorola a convicted patent troll

A federal jury yesterday rendered a verdict that makes Google (Motorola) a convicted patent troll. It has been found to have breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing flowing from Motorola’s FRAND licensing pledges to standard-setting organizations. None of the companies typically described as trolls have actually been convicted of similarly unlawful conduct.


Patent trolls sue Apple 171 times in 5 years

After being hit with 171 lawsuits from non-practicing intellectual property owning entities in the last five years, Apple has further solidified its place as the No. 1 target for so-called patent “trolls.”

No company should be sued by patent trolls. Something has to be done.

Apple patents new hinge to make laptops even thinner

The size of our devices are stuck at something of a bottleneck. We can’t exactly make them smaller because they’re so reliant on large, easily visible displays. So, the industry makes do, and makes the devices thinner, which reduces overall size without compromising display size. One object standing in the way of even thinner laptops is the hinge, and Apple might have found a way to remove that from the design equation.

Yesterday, a new patent application was published that describes “flexible segments” that interlock to form a rigid material. The material used isn’t some kind of top-secret new wonder metal only found deep within Apple’s subterranean volcano lair, but rather a process that can take rigid material — such as plastic or metal — and can cut it in such a way to create the flexible segments. The flexible segmented hinge could bend at various degrees, but that depends on the segments being cut in different patterns.


Bill Gates helping patent trolls

Gates has been prolific in filing patent applications over the past few years, mostly through a partnership with friends at Intellectual Ventures (IV). That’s one of the world’s largest patent holding companies, typically described as a patent troll because of its practice of acquiring patents and using them to file lawsuits (notably against Motorola), despite not using the patents to make technology of its own.

It would be funny if the company sued Gates.

Boston University sues Apple

Boston University wants a ban on the sale of a wide variety of Apple products and the company’s profits from the last few years — all because of a patent filed for in 1995.

Obama goes after patent trolls

The White House announced a set of executive actions and policy recommendations Tuesday aimed at preventing certain patent-holding firms, known as “patent trolls” to their detractors, from abusing the patent system.

The Obama administration’s actions are intended to target firms that have forced technology companies, financial institutions and others into costly litigation to protect their products. These patent-holding firms amass portfolios of patents and focus on pursuing licensing fees rather than using the patents to build new products.


ITC finds Samsung infringes another Apple patent

If it is upheld, the ITC can order any infringing device to be barred from importation into the United States. Apple has alleged that Samsung’s Galaxy, Transform and Nexus devices, among others, were among those made with the infringing technology.

The judge said Samsung did not infringe portions of another patent that detects a microphone when plugged into a headphone jack.

Governments enter the “patent troll” business

Patent competition in the United States is usually a fierce arena for private companies, but now the South Korean and French governments are suiting up.

Both countries have launched patent-acquisition companies, with the goal of helping domestic technology firms and possibly making some money in the process. China and Japan are making moves into the business too.

Great, just what we need.

Bitch about the patent system

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will be sponsoring two roundtable events in February in an effort to form a partnership with the software community to enhance the quality of software-related patents (Software Partnership). One event will be held in Silicon Valley and the other in New York City.

Now you can bitch to the people that may be able to change it.

Apple wins patent case against Motorola

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone didn’t violate patent rights owned by Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Motorola Mobility for a sensor that prevents accidental hang-ups, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge said today.

More on “the Steve Jobs patent”

Matt Macari for The Verge:

The internet was abuzz yesterday with reports that Apple’s infamous “bounce-back” patent, US 7,469,381, was “tentatively invalidated” by the US Patent Office. That’s one of the patents Samsung was found to infringe, and any action by the USPTO will have major consequences. Unfortunately, all those reports were extremely premature —patents can’t be “tentatively invalid,” just like people can’t be “tentatively dead.”

Great explanation of what’s going on and the process involved.

US patent office declares key Apple patent invalid

This week, the USPTO issued a first Office action rejecting all 20 claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 on a “touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics”, which has been referred to by many people, including Apple’s own lawyers, as “the Steve Jobs patent”.

This isn’t a final decision, but it’s certainly an important one for Apple.

No need for patent system overhaul, says Microsoft

Bart Eppenauer, Microsoft’s chief patent counsel:

“There are a lot headlines about the patent system being out of control and major changes being needed,” Eppenauer says. “While certainly there are areas for improvement in the patent system — in terms of what the U.S. Patent [& Trademark] Office can do and what the courts can do and what companies can do — this doesn’t mean you need, at least from our point of view, some sort of radical overhaul of the system or a complete change in the approach to certain technologies.”

Why am I not surprised.

Apple, HTC settle patent dispute

HTC and Apple® have reached a global settlement that includes the dismissal of all current lawsuits and a ten-year license agreement. The license extends to current and future patents held by both parties. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

The innovation scare tactics

Michael Wolff:

But let us not argue the case that all this quite obviously impedes innovation and is part of a new unreal property land grab – not about technology at all, but about intellectual property: an effort to privatize much of what was once understood to be shared and public (indeed, not ownable, like the shape of the iPhone).

There is just so much wrong with Wolff’s story, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s just take this little gem of a paragraph.

How is it that stopping a company from blatantly ripping off your design “obviously impedes innovation”? It doesn’t. As I wrote earlier this week, all it does it stop copying. It encourages innovation because companies will have to think for themselves instead of stealing like Samsung did.

This is not about the shape of the iPhone. Nokia has a rectangle phone too, but Apple didn’t sue them. This is about Samsung stealing everything that Apple did, from hardware design to software and sold it as their own.

Samsung and writers like Wolff are using this innovation argument as a scare tactic. It won’t work.

Juror speaks

“We didn’t want to give carte blanche to a company, by any name, to infringe someone else’s intellectual property,” Hogan told Reuters a day after the verdict was delivered.

Good for them.

Apple responds to Samsung verdict

A jury on Friday found in favor of Apple in its patent infringement case against Samsung. After finding that Samsung willfully infringed a number of patents, the jury awarded Apple $1 billion in damages. […]

Apple, Google, Samsung team up for Kodak patents

Eric Slivka:

The negotiations are reportedly seeing Apple joining forces with its courtroom foes Samsung and HTC, as well as smartphone platform rival Google, in an effort to obtain the patents for a price well below that sought by Kodak.

I don’t understand why Apple wouldn’t just buy them — they have the money. Unless they are worried about having too much control.

Apple, Google bid for Kodak patents

Eastman Kodak, which is planning to auction 1,100 digital patents, received two bids from investor groups including Apple Inc and Google Inc of between $150 million and $250 million, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

This is why Apple needs to stop Samsung and Google from copying them

Fender did not pursue the Strat-clone manufacturers in court; and then after attempting to trademark the iconic Statocaster contours decades later, a court ruled in 2009 that “the body shapes were generic and that consumers do not solely associate these shapes with Fender Musical Instruments Corporation”. The ruling went so far as to say “in the case of the [Stratocaster] body outline, this configuration is so common that it is depicted as a generic electric guitar in a dictionary.”

Protect your property from thieves or lose the rights to it.

∞ Bogus

Florian Mueller:

I’m starting to see a pattern. For any intellectual property issues facing Linux (or at least the most popular Linux derivative, Android), Linus Torvalds has a standard answer at hand: after admitting that he doesn’t know the facts, he claims that “this [whatever it may be] seems completely bogus.” Or, interchangeably, “totally bogus”.

Great article from Florian.

∞ Balls

John Gruber on Dan Lyons’ crap story: Another way to look at this story, then, is that maybe Google really did want those Nortel patents, and when they didn’t get them, they knew they were in a worse position than … Continued