The launch of the Google Nexus One had its share of mishaps, with poor customer service, unexpected fees, and spotty 3G. As the weeks passed the superphone was selling, but not very fast. We recently heard that the Nexus One sold only 135,000 phones in the time it took the iPhone to reach 1 million. Many used this to declare the Nexus a flop. HTC CEO Peter Chou disagrees with that.
Chou points to the new ground broken by the Nexus One. It was sold by Google in a new way, bypassing the carriers. It was also the first to run Android 2.1. Chou believes the phone’s launch gives his company more clout, which is good considering the legal situation they find themselves in. When speaking about the numbers, Chou explained, "[Google's] goal with the Nexus One was to really show how good Android can be."
HTC believes that the recognition they got from the Nexus One can serve them well, even as they also move ahead with Windows Phone 7. Have you ever owned an HTC phone? How did you like it?
You might not go down to the local electronics store and buy an IBM computer anymore, but Big Blue is far from gone. For the 17th consecutive year, IBM has earned the most US patents of any company with 4,914. The next closest was Samsung with 2,906. Together with this year’s acquisitions, IBM’s mountain of patents numbers more than 30,000.
The sheer volume of IBM patents may have even created an entirely new business. IBM will begin selling a patent management software suite to companies keen on being the next IBM. The software will help businesses survey their patent holdings and target opportunities for new patents.
IBM will even be offering training sessions on how to build and leverage patent portfolios. “We are making our IP (intellectual property) know-how and patent management software available because clients have increasingly approached IBM for insight into how to effectively establish and manage their own patent and IP portfolios,” said IBM’s Manager of IP, Kevin Reardon. Maybe these products are just the gift for the entrepreneur in your life. Who couldn’t use a little advice from Big Blue?
Consider Kodak both a lover and a fighter, because the company loves to receive royalty payments, and is willing to fight for them in court. Such was the case last month when Kodak made arrangements with LG, who has already cut its first royalty check.
Now it's Samsung's turn, who Kodak accused of infringing on two of its patents. But rather than duke it out in court, the two companies have agreed to cross-license each other's patent portfolios, while Samsung, like LG, will pay royalties to Kodak.
"We are pleased to have reached a mutually beneficial arrangement that advances the interests of Kodak and Samsung and which validates the strength of Kodak's intellectual property portfolio," said Kodak's chief intellectual property officer, Laura G. Quatela.
Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Nokia has thrown another punch in its patent infringement fight with Apple, filing a new complaint against the maker of the iPhone with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). In this complaint Nokia alleges Apple’s iPhones, iPods, and computers infringe on seven Nokia patents. The filing with the USITC, an independent federal agency, expands Nokia’s claims against Apple to include unfair trade practices.
Last October Nokia filed its first complaint against Apple, in a federal court in Delaware, alleging the iPhone infringed on ten of Nokia’s patents. Apple countered Nokia’s filing with one of its own, claiming Nokia was violating 13 of Apple’s iPhone patents.
In a statement, Nokia said, “While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the [US]ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation.”
Nokia’s efforts to protect it’s $57.5 billion research and development investments, and 11,000 patents, comes at a time when Apple has surpassed Nokia in quarterly mobile phone profits, garnering $1.6 billion last quarter compared to $1.1 billion for Nokia.
Microsoft has been granted a patent for a new type of DRM that works over p2p-style networks. By using public/private encryption keys, it could be used to reinvigorate p2p as a legitimate source of content. The patent explains, "Partial licenses are combinable to form a formal license that may be utilized to output the content."
With centralized content repositories, like iTunes, increasingly moving away from DRM, is there a place for this technology? Consumers are savvier than they were when the patent was requested in 2003. The idea of DRM on purchased content is definitely waning. However, the day may come when a legal version of p2p exists utilizing this technology. If that happens, Microsoft could be in a very good position. Could this even have implications for the Zune service? Could there be a bandwidth saving version that uses p2p?
Rambus investors have found themselves riding a financial roller coaster filled with ups and downs contingent upon how the technology company fares in court. If you happen to be one of those investors, you better refill your Dramamine prescription. That's because a U.S. federal judge this week postponed indefinitely patent infringement cases filed by Rambus against several rival memory chip makers. News of the legal setback sent Rambus' shares hurtling downwards 22 percent in after-hours trading.
The defendants argued for the delay following Judge Sue L. Robinson's ruling on January 9 that the patent suit against Micron Technologies is "unenforceable" and that "spoliation" of evidence occurred.
"We are pleased that Judge Whyte recognized that the Delaware Court's unenforceability ruling impacts the patents asserted by Rambus in the California matter, and that he stayed Rambus' patent case against Micron," Micron general counsel Rod Lewis said in a statement. "We believe that Judge Robinson's thorough decision will be upheld on appeal."
Not surprisingly, Rambus holds a decidedly different opinion of the ruling. "While we are disappointed with the stay of the coordinated cases, it our expectation that the conflicting opinions of the district courts regarding document spoliation will go up together on appeal," Tom Lavelle, Rambus general counsel, said in a statement.
The runaway train wreck of memory lawsuits started by Rambus may finally be coming to an end. In a U.S. District Court, Judge Sue L. Robinson has ruled that Rambus’s patent suit against Micron Technologies is “unenforceable”. In her ruling she specifically cites “spoliation”, which is defined as the “destruction or alteration of evidence”. Essentially Rambus has been accused of failing to preserve documents that could be admitted as evidence. This news comes as an incredible relief to Micron Technologies, the single largest U.S. manufacturer of memory chips. Though this ruling is specific to the Micron case, if it holds up in the inevitable appeal, several other companies facing Rambus lawsuits such as Nvidia, Samsung, Hitachi, and Hynix may also be spared.
Judge Robinson also voiced her disapproval for Rambus’s aggressive tactics by using lawsuits against competitors. In her ruling she quotes a specific email from September 29th 1999 whereby the author declares the “need to sue a dram company to set an example”. The email also specifically states that they should attempt to publicize the patents and lawsuits to “put all dram/controller companies that use sdram/ddr….on notice.”
Rambus has publically denounced the ruling and according to senior vice president Tom Lavelle, “"We respectfully, but strongly, disagree with this opinion, and at the appropriate juncture plan to appeal." "This opinion is highly inconsistent with the findings of the Court in the Northern District of California which looked at the same conduct and found there was nothing improper with our document retention practices. We are confident in the strength of our position and will continue to vigorously pursue fair compensation for the use of our patented inventions."
Earlier this year, a jury ruled that Rambus, a designer and licensor of memory chips, did not obtain patents for memory technology through fraud or anti-competitive means. The ruling essentially gave Rambus the right to continue its practice of suing anyone and everyone involved in memory production that isn't already paying the company royalties.
Among those companies are Samsung, the world's largest memory-chip maker, Hynix, the second largest memory chip producer, Micron, and Nanya. And each of them will have to defend against claims of wrongdoing as Rambus has won a pretrial ruling alleging chipmakers infringed on one claim of a patent in a case scheduled to go to trial on January 19, 2009.
According to Jeff Schreiner, an analyst at San Diego-based Capstone Investments, the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte means that Whyte "already found one claim for Rambus that they won't have to argue." In the past, Whyte has denied Rambus' requests for similar pretrial rulings over 10 other elements of its patents. Those previous claims, which cover alleged infringement on both DDR2 and DDR3 technology, will also be argued during the January trial.
AMD earlier this week announced plans to split into separate design and manufacturing companies. As part of the split, AMD will retain 44.4 percent ownership in the spinoff of its manufacturing plant - temporarily called The Foundry - with the Abu Dhabi government-formed Advanced Technology Investment Company owning the rest.
Just hours after the announcement was made, Intel said it was investigating whether or not the new company violates a chip licensing agreement it has with AMD. Under terms of the original agreement, AMD has been allowed to use Intel's x86 chip instruction set in exchange for paying Intel a royalty. According to AMD, nothing has changed that would invalidate the cross-licensing.
"We are completely confident the structure of this transaction takes into account our cross-license agreements," Phil Hughes, and AMD spokesman, wrote in an email. "Rest assured - we plan to continue respecting Intel's intellectual property rights, just as we expect them to respect ours."
Not all financial experts agree with AMD's assessment. Hans Mosesmann, a financial analyst with Raymond James, believes AMD probably is violating the cross-license agreement, but doesn't necessarily believe Intel would turn it into a legal matter. Instead, Mosesmann writes that Intel may choose to use it as leverage to "entice AMD to drop the anti-trust suits against Intel in return for this altruistic gesture."
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!