Discovery Communications, The Discovery Channel’s parent company, is currently locked in a legal battle with Amazon over the Kindle 2, claiming that it violates some of their very own patents.
The lawsuit, which claims that Amazon violated their patent for an Electronic Book Security and Copyright Protection System, was filed all the way back in 1999 and was issued on November 20, 2007. Discovery is asking Amazon for an unspecified amount of cash.
Evidently Discovery’s founder, John Hendricks, is a pretty well known inventor, and back in the 1990’s was working on the technology to digitize content. His patents for digitizing TV were sold, but the e-reader patents were kept.
Microsoft recently slapped TomTom with a patent infringement suit. The Redmond-based tech behemoth has claimed that TomTom’s devices are in direct violation of eight of its patents.
Some fear Microsoft’s suit against TomTom may be a straw in the wind, as three of the claims are related to the use of the Linux kernel. Microsoft’s lawyer Horacio Gutierrez tried to dispel such misgivings. He told Cnet that the claims pertaining to the implementation of “file management techniques used in the Linux kernel” are only specific to TomTom.
He insisted that Microsoft is not going to mount a massive legal assault against the open-source community. Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director, also feels that it is unfair to jump to conclusions about the scope of this lawsuit. Gutierrez and Zemlin certainly don’t think that Microsoft’s suit against TomTom is an indicant of trouble for the open-source community. What do you think?
Microsoft has reached a major landmark after receiving its 10,000th U.S patent. The software bellwether has cemented its place among top patent recipients in the last five years; it is the fourth highest patent getter in the U.S. The 10,000th patent concerns a technology that allows a Microsoft Surface-like computer to discern real objects and link them with data or media. Microsoft can be expected to move up the ladder in the near future as it has a policy of incentivizing employees for patent filings.
Patent #7,479,949 (better known as Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for determining commands by applying heuristics) has been awarded to Apple at long last. And while this is mighty good for Apple, this brings a lot of potential trouble for other multitouch smartphones in the future.
The Palm Pre is one of the many devices that should be looking over its shoulder. Given that it supports swiping and pinching, much like that of the iPhone, it has plenty to worry about (namely, Apple’s legal department).
And, if the rumor is true about Tim Cook’s thirst for the blood of anyone that’s looking to rip off Apple’s intellectual property, then just about anyone that’s looking to swipe, pinch or squeeze their way to a new phone experience should be careful to tread lightly.
IBM took its patent filing mojo to a whole new level last year, filing more patents in a single year than it has ever done before. But not only is IBM's 4,186 patents inside 12 months a new record for the company, it's also the most ever issued by the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office to one company in a year-long time period.
"IBM's leadership in the strategic use of intellectual property is based on balancing proprietary and open innovation," said Dr. John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president and director of IBM Research. "Our goal is helping stimulate innovation as public investments in large infrastructure projects are being planned to boost global economies. We also anticipate that adding additional transparency to the patent system will help tackle the continuing patent quality crisis, which is impeding inventors, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes."
This marks the 16th year in a row IBM has led the charge in patent filings, with Samsung being its nearest competitor in 2008 with 3,515 patents. Microsoft, who's pay-as-you-go computing concept patent was ultimately denied, checks in at No. 4 with 2.030 patents.
According to papers filed in a U.S District Court in Arizona, the patent pertains to "methods and systems for accessing one or more computer files via a graphical icon, wherein the graphical icon includes an image of a selected portion or portions of one or more computer files." The patent was awarded to the company as recently as March, 2008.
If it is able to make its case successfully, a windfall awaits Cygnus as it has two of the leading operating systems, three of the major web browsers and the insanely popular iPhone in its crosshairs.
We've heard of pay-as-you-go cell phones, but can the same concept be applied to PCs? Microsoft thinks it can, who filed a patent application in June 2007 detailing a new PC business model. U.S. patent application 20080319910, published on Christmas Day, outlines how end-users would be charged based on usage time and performance levels in exchange for a free or heavily subsidized PC, in addition to a "one-time charge."
While not a rent-to-own scenario, Microsoft concedes that this business model could result in end users paying more for their PC in the long-run than buying it outright. But that's okay, the Redmond company says, because the result would be a PC with an extended "useful life."
"A computer with scalable performance level components and selectable software and service options has a user interface that allows individual performance levels to be selected," the patent application reads. "The scalable performance level components may include a processor, memory, graphics controller, etc. Software and services may include word processing, email, browsing, database access, etc. To support a pay-per-use business model, each selectable item may have a cost associated with it, allowing a user to pay for the services actually selected and that presumably correspond to the task or tasks being performed."
Microsoft says its proposed business model would allow a more granular approach to both hardware and software sales, rather than forcing PC vendors to try and maximize profits on a one-time sale. To give an example, the company points out a scenario with three bundles of applications and performance, where the Office bundle would cost end users $1 per hour, a Gaming bundle $1.25 per hour, and a browsing bundle $0.80 per hour. Alternately, a specific bundle could incur a one-time charge instead of usage-based billing.
Is Microsoft on to something, or on something with its metered computing vision? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
If Rambus could find a way to take people to court just for using the word 'memory,' we have little doubt it would. In the meantime, the legal beagles at Rambus have set their sights on Nvidia and has been granted its request by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate the GPU maker, along with any company using Nvidia products beleived to be infringing.
"In its complaint, Rambus has alleged infringement of nine Rambus patents," Rambus wrote in a press release. "The accused products include NVIDIA products that incorporate DDR, DDR2, DDR3, LPDDR, GDDR, GDDR2, and GDDR3 memory controllers, including graphics processors, and media and communications processors."
The dispute over Nvidia's products isn't a new one and dates back to July, when Rambus accused Nvidia of violating 17 patents covering chipsets, graphics processors, and media communication processors. At the time, Rambus claimed it had spent six years trying to sell Nvidia a license to use its technology, and wanted an injunction preventing Nvidia from selling allegedly infringing products.
Lest there be any lingering doubt that everything in the free world can be patented, Microsoft has managed to add 'Page Up / Page Down' to its portfolio. Specifically, US Patent 7,415,666 states:
A method and system in a document viewer for scrolling a substantially exact increment in a document, such as one page, regardless of whether the zoom is such that some, all or one page is currently being viewed. In one implementation, pressing a Page Down or Page Up keyboard key/button allows a user to begin at any starting vertical location within a page, and navigate to that same location on the next or previous page. For example, if a user is viewing a page starting in a viewing area from the middle of that page and ending at the bottom, a Page Down command will cause the next page to be shown in the viewing area starting at the middle of the next page and ending at the bottom of the next page. Similar behavior occurs when there is more than one column of pages being displayed in a row.
We're computer enthusiasts and not legal beagles, but that sure sounds like Microsoft owns the Page Up and Page Down functionality on your keyboard, perhaps paving the way for some interesting royalty demands if the patent goes unchallenged. Think about the number of keyboards, both already sold and those currently being manufactured, and it's easy to see why granting such an obvious patent is troublesome.
Anyone know if the arrow keys have been patented yet?
Last year a company called Anascape brought a lawsuit against Nintendo and Microsoft, claiming the companies violated several of its patents on game controllers. Microsoft’s deep pockets settled the case for an undisclosed amount. Nintendo decided to continue the fight, but lost. A jury awarded Anascape $21 million in damages.. The judge has refused to give Nintendo a new trial and threatens to halt sales of GameCube controllers, Wavebirds, and Wii Classic controllers until Nintendo puts up the money or posts a bond so it can continue fighting.
With Sony losing a similar suit to Immersion and Microsoft caving in, it doesn’t look good for Nintendo to win its case.
ArsTechnica looked deeper into Anascape and its patents. They found that Anascape doesn't have a web site. All of its patents belong to Brad Armstrong of Carson City, Nevada. Searches for Anascape’s offices haven't turned up anything. Anascape's lawyer Doug Cawley claims that the company wants to enter the game controller business, but Nintendo has "clogged the market”.
What else did ArsTechnica find? Make the jump to see.