RIM recently removed popular messaging app Kik from the BlackBerry app store. The only reason given for the removal was "breaching contractual obligations". But according to a Canadian court filing, RIM has now sued Kik for patent infringement. It is not clear what features of Kik are considered infringing by Waterloo, but we would imagine it relates to the way Kik notifies users when a message has been sent, received, and viewed. Just like Blackberry Messenger (BBM).
Kik is available on several platforms, and has amassed a large userbase in the neighborhood of 2.5 million in a short time. Kik allows users to have an instant messaging experience that is closer to that of BBM than the competition. RIM may feel that BlackBerry Messenger is one of their remaining selling points as Android and iOS eat up the market.
Kik was in the midst of lining up a round of funding when this suit was filed. It's unclear if they were able to lock in any deals before the news broke. Kik founder Ted Livington is reportedly "disappointed" by the suit.
Back in August, Oracle joined the list of companies suing Google over various elements of the open source Android operating system. Now the lawsuit has been updated with a claim that Google "directly copied" Oracle's Java code. It looks like Oracle is contending that Google is not just using code that functions in a way that infringed patents, but rather that they took code directly from Oracle (or Sun at the time).
The updated legal documents contain code snippets that Oracle says show copyright infringement. In all, Oracle is claiming that one third of Google's Java APIs are infringing on Oracle's Java API packages. Google has, in the past, called Oracle's claims "baseless".
Oracle also accused Google of violating some Java patents, and that part of the suit remains unaltered. Google hasn't responded to these new claims as of yet. We'll have to wait and see what they have to say to this.
Apple has been awarded a patent on the so-called "pinch-to-zoom" multitouch gesture today. Apple originally applied for the patent back in late 2006, and many have speculated that other manufacturers were slow to implement the technology for fear of Apple's lawyers. Still, the patent granted is limited in scope.
The patent describes a standard multitouch image manipulation, but part of the approved scheme involves a second gesture. Specifically, contact with the screen is broken, then new contacts are recognized to perform a second gesture within a predefined period of time. How long is that? It could be just about any length of time. This patent doesn't directly apply unless a timer is running to detect a second input.
This isn't going to be the end of multitouch on phones. It is however, more ammunition for Apple to use when they go after companies for infringement. How do you think Apple will make use of this patent?
Have you heard? Suing a company for using Android is the new black; everyone is doing it. Microsoft has announced today that they are suing Motorola for patent infringement in their Android phones. Specifically, the software giant is claiming that Android, as implemented by Motorola, violates patents for, "including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."
Both Apple and Oracle are suing over patent infringement on Android, and Microsoft cited these cases as justification for this action. Motorola is concentrating on Android, and passing on Windows Phone 7, which could be part of the motivation here. Microsoft is always touting the relationship they will have with licensees of WP7. Anyone that uses WinPho7 will be indemnified by Redmond. It's rather like Microsoft is nudging Moto and saying, "See what you get?"
It's unclear if Microsoft is just looking to ruffle some feathers and snag a cross licensing deal, or if this is going to be dragged out in court for years. What's your take?
The lawsuits sure have been flying Google's way as of late. Most recently, location tracking service Skyhook has gotten into the fray. Skyhook is claiming that Google's location mapping business is competing unfairly with that of Skyhook, and that Google is infringing Skyhook's patents.
The first suit relates to the search giant's supposed anti-competitive behavior. According to legal documents, Google used their market position to encourage handset makers to stop using Skyhook services. This caused contracts to be cancelled and cost Skyhook millions. The second suit claims that Google's attempts to map Wi-Fi access points is using Skyhook technology.
Google has not been served any papers as of yet, so they have not issued a statement. But we can imagine they'll probably call it baseless, then start the legal machine and send it after Skyhook.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed lawsuits against no fewer than nine silicon valley companies over alleged patent infringements. Targets of the suit are Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, eBay, Staples, Yahoo, AOL, and YouTube. Allen is claiming infringement of four patents by the companies. All the intellectual property in question was held by a silicon valley startup Allen ran several years ago. The company is now gone.
All the patents are described as integral to the businesses of these companies. One example is a patent held by Allen for offering suggestions on an ecommerce site based on what a customer is viewing. Facebook had a comment ready saying, "We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously."
Conspicuously absent from the suit is Microsoft, which Allen is still an investor in. Amazon is also missing; the only connection there is that Amazon is based in Allen's home town of Seattle. Do you think Allen is pursuing a legitimate course of action, or is he acting like a patent troll?
Oracle has issued a statement today saying that they have filed suit against Google for patent and copyright infringement. The target for the lawsuit is reportedly Google's Android mobile operating system. According to Oracle's Karen Tillman, "[Google] knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property." Oracle acquired Java maker Sun last year.
No details are yet available on just what aspects of Android Oracle believes infringes on their intellectual property. The majority of apps on Android are written in Java, and are compiled on the phone. The suit could be related to how Android interprets that code. Several months ago, Apple took legal action against HTC for their use of Android, but did not go after Google itself. Oracle however, is going up against the Big G toe to toe.
We'll keep an eye on this as it develops. It is possible this will be quickly resolved with a cross-licensing deal. Anyone care to place a wager on what Google's response will be?
There was already a bit of a protest after Apple recently filed a series of patent applications for mobile app concepts. Those that felt Apple's intention to patent software functionality was unacceptable now have a lot more ammunition. One of the illustrations in the application appears to be a direct copy of an existing iPhone app called Where To.
There's really no mistaking the similarity, this is no accident. This particular patent is "for integrating travel services in a single application available to a portable electronic device." The owner of FutureTap, the maker of Where To is not amused saying, " We’re faced with a situation where we’ve to fear that our primary business partner is trying to “steal” our idea and design." Apple says they are not trying to steal the app's functionality, they're just using it as an example.
We're no lawyers, but one of the important elements of a patentable invention is that it is a new idea, or a meaningful modification of an existing one. By straight-up copying this app, doesn't that basically admit that there is "prior art"? What's your take here?
A recently uncovered patent application submitted in January 2009 by Microsoft is threatening to open up the old wounds we sustained when the Courier was canceled. The patent is for an animated page turn effect not unlike that seen in the iPad's iBooks and Kindle apps.
Part of the application reads, "The virtual page turn actively follows the page-turning gesture. The virtual page turn curls a lifted portion of the page to progressively reveal a back side of the page while progressively revealing a front side of a subsequent page." Sounds familiar, right? Neither Microsoft nor Apple can claim to have invented this, and it's unclear if this patent would have been granted.
If the application were granted, Microsoft would seemingly have no place to implement it. Add it to Windows 7 tablets? Maybe. More likely, this will just stand as another reminder of what the Courier could have been.
Microsoft is no stranger to lawsuits, but the most recent case to cross the legal desk in Redmond has me wondering if they even bother to check their mail anymore. A new patent infringement case has been filed in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court which alleges that the Zune's "Buy from FM" service violates IP owned by Dr Edward Yavitz. The good doctor claims that even though he contacted Microsoft several times regarding the infringement, his plea's for a peaceful resolution landed of def ears. "I got no reply whatsoever" Yavitz told InternetNews.com.
Patent trolling is considered somewhat of a nuisance in the tech industry, but you have to feel for the guy when you consider that he filed the patent in question years before there was even an iPod. "They are definitely taking notice of it now" Yavitz said. It's likely that Microsoft's change in heart has something to do with Windows Phone 7 Series, which is more Zune than Windows Mobile. Assuming that Dr Yavitz has a case here, this lawsuit could get mighty expensive if Microsoft's new mobile platform actually takes off.
Microsoft officials declined to comment on the suit, or its merits, but when is that ever not the case?