Quick, someone go grab a patent for starting up a computer, because believe it or not, the intellectual property for shutting down is now taken, and it belongs to Microsoft.
"A user interface and scheme is provided for facilitating shutting down and operating system," the patent abstract reads. "Aspects include the operating system receiving a command to initiate shut down, and automatically terminating graphical user interface (GUI) applications that delay shut down which do not have top level windows. Also, aspects provide a user, through a graphical user interface, the ability to automatically terminate all running applications in response to determining that a running GUI application has a top level windows."
The above patent was awarded to Microsoft on August 31, 2010, but apparently it wasn't an easy decision. Microsoft first filed for the patent back in August 2005.
Google has come out swinging in the wake of Oracle's lawsuit against the search giant for their use of Java in Android. Google calls the lawsuit "baseless" and makes it clear that they will be seeing Oracle in court. The suit is indeed aimed at the Dalvik virtual machine that Android uses to compile and run Java code on the phone. Google said in their statement that technology like Dalvik, "goes beyond any one corporation."
Google is framing this issue as a fight for open standards. Judging by the ton of their response, no one is looking to settle this quietly. More than likely, this will drag on for years. It is interesting that Google's open source operating system is being targeted in multiple legal actions. Still, if there's a company with the resources to devote to defending such a thing, it's Google.
With so many tablets purportedly on the horizon, many of which will tap into Google's Android platform, it's going to be increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd without some kind of novel twist. Samsung may have found one, as evidenced by a recent patent filing that places a touch panel on both the front and rear of a tablet. Here's the short and sweet of the lengthy patent app:
"A terminal device having a dual touchscreen capable of controlling a content is disclosed. The terminal device displays at least one content to a display unit. A processor coupled to the terminal is configured to checking content mapped to an area at which a touch event is detected and released from the dual touchscreen including a first touch sensor and a second touch sensor and to control the content according to the touch event."
It's an interesting idea, though it also raises a number of questions. Can you pick up the device and use either side, or is there a true front and back? And what are the optimal uses for a dual-sided tablet? Is this something Joe User even wants?
If you've got the answers, we'd love to hear them. Hit the jump and sound off!
The US International Trade Commission has issued a notice of final determination in the patent infringement action brought by Rambus against Nvidia and other respondents, the technology licensing company, often accused of being a patent troll, announced in a press release. The ITC found Nvidia and some of its customers (co-respondents in the case) guilty of infringing three Rambus patents, affirming an earlier decision by an ITC administrative law judge, albeit with some modification.
The ITC has notified Rambus of its intent to issue a Limited Exclusion Order prohibiting the importation of infringing products into the United States; the list includes Nvidia’s GeForce, Quadro, nForce, Tesla and Tegra product families. The sale of infringing products previously imported by the respondents will also be banned.
However, the respondents can continue to import and sell the affected products during a 60-day Presidential review period by posting a bond equaling “2.65% of the entered value of the subject imports.” According to a Bloomberg report, Nvidia will be taking advantage of a licensing arrangement Rambus reached with the European Commission “to continue our business under the terms of that license and prevent the enforcement of any exclusion order.” Last year, Rambus settled an antitrust case in Europe by agreeing to cap memory chip royalties at 40 cents per unit.
"We are extremely pleased with the ITC's decision to issue a Limited Exclusion Order, signaling the strength of our innovation efforts beyond the Farmwald-Horowitz patents of our founders. The value of our patented inventions has been recognized by our current licensees, and we will continue our efforts to license others,” said Thomas Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus.
According to a lawsuit filed this week in a Delaware federal district court, a company called XPRT Ventures thinks eBay's PayPal transaction system infringes on their e-commerce technology.
"The inventors listed on XPRT's patents shared their patent applications and ideas on how to implement such concepts taught therein, with eBay in confidence," XPRT's legal team explains. "eBay incorporated such inventive concepts and ideas into its auction payment process during current California gubernatorial candidate meg Whitman's tenure as eBay's CEO. eBay's unauthorized incorporation was a misuse of inventors' confidential and proprietary material."
As XPRT charges, eBay's implementation of PayPal infringes on no less than six patents, all of which XPRT says were filed back in 2003. eBay isn't the only one XPRT is going after, however, as BillMeLater, Shopping.com, and StubHub were also named in the lawsuit.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has tied up with Google to make bulk trademark and patent data accessible online. The latter has agreed to host roughly 10 terabytes of data free of cost for two years, by when the USPTO hopes to enter into a proper arrangement “with a contractor to retrieve and distribute USPTO patent and trademark bulk public data.” In fact, this is the first time that USPTO's public data in bulk form is being provided free of cost.
“The USPTO is committed to providing increased transparency as called for by the President’s Open Government Initiative. An important element of that transparency is making valuable public patent and trademark information more widely available in a bulk form so companies and researchers can download it for analysis and research,” said Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos.
The data that can be accessed online at the moment includes patent grants and published applications, trademark applications, and patent and trademark assignments etc.
For Hardcore PC users tablet fatigue is slowly setting in. It seems like almost every week we hear another rumor or two about upcoming devices, and its only going to get worse. A recent patent application shows that Sony is the latest company preparing to pile on the bandwagon, but this time you might be interested to hear they are taking a page from the scrapped Microsoft Courier, namely its dual displays.
Described in the application as an "electronic book with enhanced features" the screens would take on different characteristics depending on its orientation. If held like a paperback book the device would simply function like a normal e-reader, but flipping it over into portrait mode would reveal and onscreen keyboard. It is unknown at this point if the device concept is for an e-reader or a multifunction tablet, but only time will tell.
Of course patent applications don't always become products so it could be quite some time (if ever) that this ends up seeing the light of day. What do you think of this form factor for an e-reader / tablet?
Apple is known in the tech industry for being a bit of a patent bully, but it turns out what goes around really does come around. This week a number of infringement cases were filed in a Texas federal court which allege that iTunes, Safari, and even OSX infringe on a number of patents held by a company named Sharing Sound. The most interesting of the suits filed was against the iTunes store, which as far as we can tell, insinuates that Apple should not be allowed to sell music through the iTunes interface. The patent being contested would prevent Apple from using any type of online store environment which allows them to provide song previews, a shopping cart, or even an application to play any purchased content. The absence of these features would make iTunes decidedly less useful than it already is, so I imagine Apple is taking this one rather seriously.
Most people wouldn't recognize Sharing Sound on its own, but codefendants include Rhapsody, Napster, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, and Microsoft. Apple is the big player named in the suit, but similar actions were filed against Amazon, Netflix, Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and even GameStop. It is somewhat unclear why Sharing Sound would wait so long to test out the validity of its patent holding, but were pretty sure a lawyer was carefully consulted at each step. A verdict in their favor could radically alter the online music distribution landscape, but is also the key reason why it is likely to die off. The better question here is not if Sharing Sound will be able to lock out the big players in the online music industry, but rather why the patent office would grant such a broad and ridiculous patent at all.
Question: What do Acer, Apple, Atheros, Belkin, Broadcom, D-Link, Dell, Gateway, HP, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Mavell, Motorola, Sony, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, UTStarcom all have in common? Answer: They're all being sued by Canadian company Wi-Lan for allegedly infringing on a Bluetooth patent, one that covers a "method for frequency sharing and frequency punchout in frequency hopping communications network." The patent deals almost entirely with Bluetooth equipped PCs and mobile handsets.
"If the company has a valid claim, then a small licensing settlement is appropriate," said Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies.
Wi-Lan, whose portfolio includes over 800 patents that have either been issued or are pending, is seeking unspecified damages and a permanent injunction. This isn't the first time Wi-Lan has gone to court over patent disputes, as the company has a long history of doing so.
Microsoft is starting to remind us of Rocky Balboa, except that the battles are taking place in court and we've stopped expecting a last minute comeback. The latest punch to Redmond's gut comes from the U.S. Court of appeals for the Federal Circuit, which rejected Microsoft's request for a rehearing in the patent dispute with Canadian software developer i4i.
"This has been a long and arduous process, but this decision is a powerful reinforcement of the message that smaller enterprises and inventors who own intellectual property can and will be protected," said i4i chairman Owen Louden.
I4i first sued Microsoft back in 2007 alleging that an XML editor built into Word runs afoul of its patent. The Canadian company ultimately won the case along with a $290 million award, while Microsoft continues to lose appeal after appeal.
So is Microsoft finally ready to throw in the towel? Not hardly.