It's the end of the road for software firm Soverain Software LLC in a patent infringement case filed against Newegg. Rather than fork over funds to a company perceived as being a patent troll attempting to extort cash by enforcing weak and obvious patents. Newegg let the U.S. legal system run its course as the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which refused to listen to Soverain Software's claims.
Don't feed the trolls; the axiom may work well for avoiding Godwin's Law in forum postings, but it isn't working so well in courtrooms around the globe. In fact, a new study from the Boston University School of Law says patent trolls -- companies that deal solely in IP litigation rather than actual services and products -- are fatter and hungrier than ever before, costing the economy a whopping $29 billion in 2011. To put things in perspective, trolling "only" cost the economy roughly $6.7 billion in 2005.
While we’re talking patent trolling, let’s talk about the global Apple-Samsung battle. Apple has been suing Samsung in courts around the world, claiming that the design of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 rips Apple’s patented design of the iPad, which consists of, um, a rectangle with a screen on one face. How they got a patent for that is beyond us, but that template has prompted judges in Australia and other countries to block sales of the Galaxy Tab until the case is decided. Samsung’s getting pretty fed up with it all, and it today, it threatened to withdraw from Australia altogether if the injunction wasn’t lifted soon.
Think Apple’s patent war against Samsung is ballsy and ridiculous? You’re right – it is. But there’s an even worse patent troll sculking around, and it’s much more sinister; while Apple and Microsoft are busy targeting other megacorporations, the Deleware-based Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC, is busy suing any mom-and-pop restaurant or hotel franchisee that offers Wi-Fi to its customers.
If Google is one of the most prominent Linux stalwarts around, Android is undoubtedly the public face of its love affair with the open source operating system. But its Linux affection runs deeper than that as the Internet behemoth uses the OS on everything from back-end servers to employee machines. Now, that deep-rooted love is beginning to cost Google, for a jury has fined it $5 million for infringing on a patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,893,120) held by Texas-bases patent troll Bedrock Computer Technologies.
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.
Microsoft, which is more often on the receiving side of patent infringement claims, now finds itself on the other side of the legal fence and is taking Primax Electronics to task.
Microsoft is upset over several patents on two different technologies used in computer mice. The first is U2, which allows a mouse to connect to both USB and PS/2 ports and then auto detects the port that is being used. The other, TiltWheel, adds additional cursor movement abilities via mouse tipping (not related to cow tipping).
CNet quotes Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez as saying that they filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission against Primax Electronics only after "repeated attempts to engage in meaningful license terms over the past two years."
Microsoft is known to have an open policy with licensing its intellectual property. They license for years at a time and have more than 20 companies that are part of its hardware technology licensing program.
Microsoft does not sound like it is landing in the realm of Patent Troll here; they actually make the products and have other companies licensing the patents. What do you think? Is Microsoft being a Patent Troll or is it just guarding its intellectual property? Sound off below!
Rambus, the technology company turned responsible for RDRAM has filed suit against Nvidia claiming that they violated 17 of its memory patents. Rambus’ lawsuit alleges that at least six of Nvidia's product lines infringe the Rambus patents including chip sets, graphics processors and applications processors. They ask for an injunction that would prevent Nvidia from selling the products as well as damages.
Tom Lavelle, senior vice president and general counsel at Rambus was quoted as saying, "For more than six years, we have diligently attempted to negotiate a licensing agreement with Nvidia, but our good faith efforts have been to no avail," he adds, "We are left with no other recourse than litigation to protect and seek fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions,".
Can you smell the bull? I better get my rubber boots it’s getting thick. His own statement shows this to be an attempt to force Nvidia to cough up something to make Rambus go away and they haven't been interested. Nvidia has yet to comment on the suit.