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Firefox

Firefox 33 Integrates Cisco's OpenH264 186

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the monty-does-it-better dept.
NotInHere (3654617) writes As promised, version 33 of the Firefox browser will fetch the OpenH264 module from Cisco, which enables Firefox to decode and encode H.264 video, for both the <video> tag and WebRTC, which has a codec war on this matter. The module won't be a traditional NPAPI plugin, but a so-called Gecko Media Plugin (GMP), Mozilla's answer to the disliked Pepper API. Firefox had no cross-platform support for H.264 before. Note that only the particular copy of the implementation built and blessed by Cisco is licensed to use the h.264 patents.
Patents

Appeals Court Affirms Old Polaroid Patent Invalid 45

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bite-the-dust dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news of a notoriously abused (basically "method of displaying images on a machine") software patent being declared invalid. From the article: The ruling from last week is one of the first to apply new Supreme Court guidance about when ideas are too "abstract" to be patented. ... The patents in this case describe a type of "device profile" that allows digital images to be accurately displayed on different devices. US Patent No. 6,128,415 was originally filed by Polaroid in 1996. After a series of transfers, in 2012 the patent was sold to Digitech Image Technologies, a branch of Acacia Research Corporation, the largest publicly traded patent assertion company. ... In the opinion, a three-judge panel found that the device profile described in the patent is a "collection of intangible color and spatial information," not a machine or manufactured object. "Data in its ethereal, non-physical form is simply information that does not fall under any of the categories of eligible subject matter under section 101," wrote Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna on behalf of the panel.
Software

Is the Software Renaissance Ending? 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the da-vinci-code dept.
An anonymous reader writes Writer and former software engineer Matt Gemmell adds his voice to the recent rumblings about writing code as a profession. Gemmell worries that the latest "software Renaissance," which was precipitated by the explosion of mobile devices, is drawing to a close. "Small shops are closing. Three-person companies are dropping back to sole proprietorships all over the place. Products are being acquired every week, usually just for their development teams, and then discarded. The implacable, crushing wheels of industry, slow to move because of their size, have at last arrived on the frontier. Our frontier, or at least yours now. I've relinquished my claim." He also pointed out the cumulative and intractable harm being done by software patents, walled-garden app stores, an increasingly crowded market, and race-to-the-bottom pricing. He says that while the available tools make it a fantastic time to develop software, actually being an independent developer may be less sustainable than ever.
Google

Google, Dropbox, and Others Forge Patent "Arms Control Pact" 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
jfruh writes Patent trolling is a serious irritant and financial drain on many big tech companies — but those same companies can't guarantee that their own future management won't sell the patents they own to a 'non-practicing entity', especially in the case of sale or bankruptcy. That's why a number of tech giants, including Google and Dropbox, have formed the 'License or Transfer Network,' in which a patent will automatically be licensed to everyone else in the network in the event that it's sold to a third party.
Patents

A Brief History of Patenting the Wheel: What Goes Around Comes Around 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the round-and-round dept.
v3rgEz writes Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prize, has put together a fascinating history of people patenting the wheel, including one inventor that did it to prove how ridiculous Australia's patent system was and another that put wheels on a wheel so it could wheel while it wheels. From the article: "I discovered today that the Australian patent office has — quietly — revoked the patent it granted, in the year 2001, for the wheel. The patent office had awarded Innovation Patent #2001100012 to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia. Keogh’s application called his invention a “circular transportation facilitation device.” I became acquainted with Mr. Keogh when we awarded him — and the Australian Patent Office — an Ig Nobel Prize, in 2001."
Transportation

Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View 468

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-screen dept.
Zothecula writes Imagine showing up at the airport to catch your flight, looking at your plane, and noticing that instead of windows, the cockpit is now a smooth cone of aluminum. It may seem like the worst case of quality control in history, but Airbus argues that this could be the airliner of the future. In a new US patent application, the EU aircraft consortium outlines a new cockpit design that replaces the traditional cockpit with one that uses 3D view screens instead of conventional windows.
United States

White House May Name Patent Reform Opponent As New Head of Patent Office 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the fox-in-the-henhouse dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Obama Administration is set to appoint Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical industry executive, as the next Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to sources. The move is likely to anger patent reform advocates given Johnson's past efforts to block legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls, and in light of his positions that appear to contradict the White House's professed goal of fixing the patent system. The top job at the Patent Office has been vacant for around 18-months since the departure of previous director David Kappos in early 2013. Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current USPTO management structure as "unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency."
Music

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level 196

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."
Patents

Intuit Beats SSL Patent Troll That Defeated Newegg 59

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-late-than-never dept.
Last fall, Newegg lost a case against patent troll TQP for using SSL with RC4, despite arguments from Diffie of Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Intuit was also targeted by a lawsuit for infringing the same patent, and they were found not to be infringing. mpicpp (3454017) sends this excerpt from Ars: U.S. Circuit Judge William Bryson, sitting "by designation" in the Eastern District of Texas, has found in a summary judgment ruling (PDF) that the patent, owned by TQP Development, is not infringed by the two defendants remaining in the case, Intuit Corp. and Hertz Corp. In a separate ruling (PDF), Bryson rejected Intuit's arguments that the patent was invalid. Not a complete victory (a clearly bogus patent is still not invalidated), but it's a start.
China

China Leads In Graphene Patent Applications 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-many-do-you-got? dept.
hackingbear writes According to British patent consultancy CambridgeIP, China has filed for more than 2,200 graphene patents, the most of any country, followed by the U.S. with more than 1,700 patents, and South Korea with just under 1,200 patents. In terms of institutions, Samsung, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and IBM lead the way of number of patent filing on this futurist materials with seemingly unlimited potentials, followed by Qinghua University of China. As China's moving its economy to be more innovation based and strengthening its IP laws, American companies will perhaps soon be at the receiving ends of patent law suits.
Red Hat Software

Red Hat Assistant General Counsel Analyses Supreme Court's Patent Ruling 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the break-it-down dept.
ectoman (594315) writes The U.S. Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking decision concerning software patents, claiming that abstract ideas are not by themselves patentable. The ruling was a cause for celebration among those opposed to software patent abuse, like Red Hat's Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Rob Tiller. Here, Tiller analyzes and offers some context for the Court's ruling, which "uses the traditional common law methodology of comparing one case to previous similar cases and harmonizing with those most similar."
Software

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the software-is-a-series-of-tubes dept.
An anonymous reader writes We had some good news yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a software patent for failing to turn an idea into an invention. Unfortunately, the justices weren't willing to make any broader statements about the patentability of basic software tools, so the patent fights will continue. Timothy B. Lee at Vox argues that this is because the Supreme Court does not understand software, and says we won't see significant reform until they do.

He says, "If a sequence of conventional mathematical operations isn't patentable, then no software should enjoy patent protection. For example, the 'data compression' patents that Justice Kennedy wants to preserve simply claim formulas for converting information from one digital format to another. If that's not a mathematical algorithm, nothing is. This is the fundamental confusion at the heart of America's software patent jurisprudence: many judges seem to believe that mathematical algorithms shouldn't be patented but that certain kinds of software should be patentable. ... If a patent claims a mathematical formula simple enough for a judge to understand how it works, she is likely to recognize that the patent claims a mathematical formula and invalidate it. But if the formula is too complex for her to understand, then she concludes that it's something more than a mathematical algorithm and uphold it."
The Courts

US Supreme Court Invalidates Patent For Being Software Patent 220

Posted by timothy
from the arts-and-science-vs-arts-and-sausages dept.
ciaran_o_riordan (662132) writes The US Supreme Court has just invalidated a patent for being a software patent! To no fanfare, the Court has spent the past months reviewing a case, Alice v. CLS Bank, which posed the question of "Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions ... are directed to patent-eligible subject matter." Their ruling was just published, and what we can say already is that the court was unanimous in finding this particular software patent invalid, saying: "the method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention," and go on to conclude that because "petitioner's system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, we hold that they too are patent ineligible." The End Software Patents wiki has a page for commenting the key extracts and listing third-party analyses. Analysis will appear there as the day(s) goes on. Careful reading is needed to get an idea of what is clearly invalidated (file formats?), and what areas are left for future rulings. If you can help, well, it's a wiki. Software Freedom Law Center's website will also be worth checking in the near future.
Microsoft

Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-it-and-weep dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes "A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website. The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy."
Transportation

BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology 137

Posted by timothy
from the let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts dept.
PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."
Patents

Tesla Releases Electric Car Patents To the Public 211

Posted by timothy
from the your-good-news-of-the-day dept.
mknewman (557587) writes with a welcome followup to the broad hints that Tesla might release some of its patents for others to use patents that it has amassed. Now, Elon Musk writes on the company's blog: Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
Patents

Why United States Patent Reform Has Stalled 139

Posted by timothy
from the buyer's-market dept.
ectoman (594315) writes Proponents of patent reform in the United States glimpsed a potential victory late last year, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, designed to significantly mitigate patent abuse. Just months ago, however, the Senate pulled consideration of the bill. And since then, patent reform has been at a standstill. In a new analysis for Opensource.com, Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, explains three reasons why. "For this year, at least," he writes, "the prospect of addressing abusive patent litigation through Congressional action is on ice"—despite the unavoidable case for reform.
Patents

Musk Will Open Up Tesla Supercharger Patents To Spur Development 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
Patents

Patent Troll Ordered To Pay For the Costs of Fighting a Bad Patent 191

Posted by timothy
from the once-in-a-while-justice-peeks-through dept.
We mentioned last year that FindTheBest CEO Kevin O'Connor had taken an unusual step, when confronted with a demand by patent troll company Lumen View that the startup pay $50,000 for what struck O'Connor as a frivolous patent: He not only refused, but pledged to spend a million bucks, if necessary, to fight Lumen View in court. Now, as Ars Technica reports, O'Connor has succeeded on a grand scale. Before trouncing Lumen View in court, Ars reports, "FindTheBest had spent about $200,000 on its legal fight—not to mention the productivity lost in hundreds of work hours spent by top executives on the lawsuit, and three all-company meetings. Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled (PDF) that it's Lumen View, not FindTheBest, that should have to pay those expenses. In a first-of-its-kind implementation of new fee-shifting rules mandated by the Supreme Court, US District Judge Denise Cote found that the Lumen View lawsuit was a 'prototypical exceptional case.'"

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