We've known for some time that Apple would like to cram a projector into its next iPhone, but are they on track to really do so? It looks that way, at least according to a handful of patents Apple has applied for.
The latest projector-related patent seems to describe a few different types of projection systems, including one in which a projector could be shared simultaneously by several devices over a wireless network.
"According to Apple's patent, the projector could be integrated into a dedicated remote controller associated with the projection system or it could be offered as an auxiliary client device such as an iPhone, iPod touch, or laptop," PatentlyApple.com writes.
What exactly Apple is up to remains a mystery, if not an intriguing one. In one of the pictures Apple provides, you see what looks like an iPhone attached to Nintendo's Wii console and beaming the gaming action on the wall. This is just one of many examples, all of which you can see here.
More bad news for Microsoft, who again was found guilty of willfully infringing on i4i's patents, this time by the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals.
Microsoft is quickly running out of avenues. This latest verdict is the second time an appeals court affirmed i4i's patent win, which requires Redmond to fork over more than $240 million in damages, as well as remove a feature in versions of Microsoft Word 2007 that lets people create custom XML documents.
"A reasonable jury could have concluded that Microsoft 'willfully' infringed the 449 patents based on the evidence present at the trial," the judges wrote. "Similarly, there is no evidence Microsoft ever made a good faith effort to avoid infringement, internal emails show Microsoft intended to render i4i's product 'obsolete' and assure 'there won't be a need for [i4i's] product.'"
So is it time to throw in the towel? Not quite. According to InfoWorld.com, the panel will now circulate the document to the rest of the judges on the appeals court, who will then decide whether honor Microsoft's request for an en banc review. If the request is approved, all 12 appeals court judges will reconsider the case.
"From our perspective, there are only so many more avenues for appeals for them," said Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i.
Transcend can now focus all of its attention on putting out products rather than worrying about defending itself in court. That's because the memory maker said it has received notification from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin that rival SanDisk has withdrawn its patent infringement lawsuit.
The suit dates back to October 2007 when SanDisk went on a suing spree, accusing 25 companies of patent infringement through three separate lawsuits. These were all companies that either made, sold, or imported USB flash drives and other memory related products.
SanDisk had sought both damages and a permanent exclusion order from the International Trade Commission (ITC) banning importation of the products in the U.S.
It's unclear whether SanDisk dropped its patent suit against all 25 companies or just Transcend.
Most would probably agree that the patent system in the U.S. is busted and could use an overhaul. What's surprising, however, is that IBM would push for change, yet that's actually what Big Blue is doing.
IBM, which for the 17th consecutive year earned the most U.S. patents of any company with 4,914 and holds more than 30,000 altogether, said it is endorsing the compromise on U.S. patent reform legislation announced by Senate leaders.
"The leadership of Senators Leahy, Sessions and others has forged a compromise bill that works for all members of the intellectual property community and represents real progress on patent reform," said Robert Weber, senior vice president, Legal and Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel, IBM. "Modernizing the patent system, as outlined in this bill, will protect inventors and promote innovation."
According to IBM, the first significant update to the nation's patent laws in more than 50 years would bolster American competitiveness in the global economy and help stimulate innovation. We agree, we just didn't expect to hear it from IBM.
In a statement that sounds all too familiar, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” Reminiscent of its current battle with Nokia, Apple will fight this one out concurrently in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
What it means, exactly, isn’t clear. But what it could mean is trouble for social networking. Facebook has been granted a patent on the Newsfeed--the method it uses for “displaying a news feed in a social network environment.” A method which looks amazingly similar to something that all other social networking sites do.
The questions raised are: What does the patent describe? And what does the patent cover? From the patent’s abstract we learn this: “The method includes generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network environment and attaching an informational link associated with at least one of the activities, to at least one of the news items, as well as limiting access to the news items to a predetermined set of viewers and assigning an order to the news items.” Graphically, (from Figure 5 of the patent application), this looks like this:
Overall, it seems general enough to cover a lot of social networking activity, which could be a problem. A generous interpretation of the patent would give Facebook tremendous control over social networking.
While it is possible, according to Nick O’Neill at All Facebook, that the patent could be as significant as the original six degrees patent, he’s guessing it probably won’t be. While the patent seems to describe what takes place on Twitter, for example, O’Neill explains that it “appears that this patent surrounds implicit actions. This means status updates, which is what Twitter is based on, are not part of this patent. Instead, this is about stories about the actions of a user’s friends.” Maybe too fine a distinction of us to appreciate, perhaps, but O’Neill says the distinction is significant and could mean a lessening the patent’s potential impact.
One thing Google and Yahoo have in common is that they're both big into the search game. And what else? They're both also being sued by Xerox.
In a lawsuit filed late last week, Xerox says both Google and Yahoo operate products and services that infringe on two of its patents, No. 6,778,979 and No. 6,236,994. These patents, granted in 2004 and 2001, respectively, have to do with how documents are organized.
Xerox said it has tried to work out a licensing deal with the two search giants, but neither Google or Yahoo would have any part of it. As it currently stands, the trio will do battle in court, where Xerox will seek an injunction against both search parties as part of the case.
Kaspersky on Monday announced it has been successful in patenting a hardware-based antivirus system designed primarily for fighting rootkits.
Patent No. 7,657,941 was registered earlier this month and describes a technology developed by Oleg Zaitsev, senior technology expert at Kaspersky Lab. The patent describes a device that is installed between a hard drive or SSD and the computing unit (CPU or RAM) and connected to a system bus. It can also be integrated into the disk controller. The hardware solution decides whether or not to allow or block writing data to disk.
"Antivirus solutions and malware are both types of software with similar rights," says Oleg Zaitsev, Technology Expert at Kaspersky Lab. "This is where a hardware-based antivirus solution has a distinct advantage over conventional AV solutions because it monitors all attempts to access a memory device while remaining inaccessible to malware. This is critical for fighting such sophisticated threats as rootkits and bootkits."
Kaspersky claims this solution is particularly effective since it's implemented on the hardware level and isn't dependent on the OS's configuration. It also "integrates seamlessly with other security solutions," Zaitsev added, and could find use in server software and specialized computers like ATMs.
If at first you don't succeed, sue, sue again. The reason? You might score a $900 million settlement, just as sue-happy Rambus did after years of litigation over memory patents. And this could be just the beginning, but more on that in a moment.
Under terms of the agreement, Samsung will pay Rambus $200 million upfront, followed by quarterly payments in the neighborhood of $25 million over five years. Samsung also agreed to purchase $200 million worth of Rambus stock, bringing the final tally to $900 million.
The settlement puts to rest a long-standing dispute over DRAM technology licenses, and going forward, the two companies have agreed to collaborate on a new generation of memory technologies, including graphics and mobile memory, and potentially server and high-speed NAND flash chips, CNet reports.
While this represents a major payday for Rambus, there could be more to come. The company is still going after Micron, Hynix, and Nanya.
Do your online and phone contacts constantly fail to grasp the sarcasm in your emails, IMs and texts? Are you worried that such misunderstood attempts at sarcasm may strain your relationships with others? The SarcMarc will help you remain at your sarcastic best without the fear of coming across as impertinent or disdainful to your (fatheaded) acquaintances.
The $1.99 SarcMark is a new punctuation for giving adequate notice of the sarcasm that precedes it. It currently supports Windows, Mac and select Blackberry devices. Michigan-based Sarcasm Inc. is a very sarcastic company and its maiden product, the SarcMarc, is enough testament. The company now wants a patent for its “brilliant” contribution to digital discourse.
The asking price may seem trivial but it is important to remember that all you get is an unrecognized punctuation mark; a purchase that may make you the butt of all jokes among your friends for days.
Note: Quotes were used in the last line of the second para to emphasize the underlying sarcasm not because of their superiority over the SarcMarc but due the unavailability of the latter at this point. Also, please condone the woefully poor attempt at sarcasm.
PS: Eagerly waiting to read a review of the SarcMarc.