Patents

Toyota Patents Cloaking Device To Make Car Pillars Appear Transparent (thedrive.com) 90

Toyota has patented a cloaking device that aims to make big, chunky car pillars transparent. The "apparatuses and methods for making an object appear transparent" which Toyota just patented uses cleverly placed mirrors to bend light around an object making it visible from the other side. The Drive reports: So you're not really seeing through the pillars, you're seeing around them. This is a much cheaper option than adding more cameras and screens all over the place and much more realistic than Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. The patent was filed with the U.S. patent office by Toyota North America, so if Toyota does go forward with this technology, we can probably expect to see it in cars in the U.S.
Businesses

US To Review Qualcomm's Complaints About Apple iPhone Patents (reuters.com) 35

U.S. trade officials have agreed to investigate Qualcomm's allegations that Apple Inc infringed on patents with its iPhone7 and other devices, the U.S. International Trade Commission said on Tuesday. From a report: The ITC will make its decision "at the earliest practicable time" and will set a target date for completing its investigation within the next 45 days, the commission said in a statement. Qualcomm filed the complaint in early July, asking U.S. trade regulators to ban certain models of the iPhone that contain so-called broadband modem chips, which help phones connect to wireless data networks, that were not made by Qualcomm. Apple began using broadband modem chips made by Intel Corp in the iPhone 7. Qualcomm has not alleged that Intel chips violate its patents but says the way Apple uses them in the iPhone does.
Patents

'Podcasting Patent' Is Totally Dead, Appeals Court Rules (arstechnica.com) 30

A federal appeals court affirmed the April 2015 inter partes review (IPR) ruling -- a process that allows anyone to challenge a patent's validity at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office -- that invalidated the so-called "podcasting patent." "That process was held by a company called Personal Audio, which had threatened numerous podcasts with lawsuits in recent years," reports Ars Technica. From the report: Back in 2013, Personal Audio began sending legal demand letters to numerous podcasters and companies, like Samsung, in an apparent attempt to cajole them into a licensing deal, lest they be slapped with a lawsuit. Some of those efforts were successful: in August 2014, Adam Carolla paid about $500,000. As Personal Audio began to gain more public attention, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, stepped in and said that it would challenge Personal Audio's US Patent No. 8,112,504, which describes a "system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence." In the end, EFF raised over $76,000, more than double its initial target.

[T]he history of Personal Audio dates to the late 1990s, when founder Jim Logan created a company seeking to create a kind of proto-iPod digital music player. But his company flopped. Years later, Logan turned to lawsuits to collect money from those investments. He sued companies over both the "episodic content" patent, as well as a separate patent, which Logan and his lawyers said covered playlists. He and his lawyers wrung verdicts or settlements from Samsung and Apple.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

HP Patents 'Reminder Messages' (eff.org) 68

Daniel Nazer reports via the Electronic Frontier Foundation: On July 25, 2017, the Patent Office issued a patent to HP on reminder messages. Someone needs to remind the Patent Office to look at the real world before issuing patents. United States Patent No. 9,715,680 (the '680 patent) is titled "Reminder messages." While the patent application does suggest some minor tweaks to standard automated reminders, none of these supposed additions deserve patent protection. Although this claim uses some obscure language (like "non-transitory computer-readable storage medium" and "article data"), it describes a quite mundane process. The "article data" is simply additional information associated with an event. For example, "buy a cake" might be included with a birthday reminder. The patent also requires that this extra information be input via a "scanning operation" (e.g. scanning a QR code). The '680 patent comes from an application filed in July 2012. It is supposed to represent a non-obvious advance on technology that existed before that date. Of course, reminder messages were standard many years before the application was filed. And just a few minutes of research reveals that QR codes were already used to encode information for reminder messages. The Patent Office reviewed HP's application for years without ever considering any real-world products. Indeed, the examiner considered only patents and patent applications.
Printer

100x Faster, 10x Cheaper: 3D Metal Printing Is About To Go Mainstream (newatlas.com) 119

Big Hairy Ian shares an article from New Atlas: Desktop Metal -- remember the name. This Massachussetts company is preparing to turn manufacturing on its head, with a 3D metal printing system that's so much faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems that it's going to compete with traditional mass manufacturing processes... Plenty of design studios and even home users run desktop printers, but the only affordable printing materials are cheap ABS plastics. And at the other end of the market, while organizations like NASA and Boeing are getting valuable use out of laser-melted metal printing, it's a very slow and expensive process that doesn't seem to scale well.

But a very exciting company out of Massachusetts, headed by some of the guys who came up with the idea of additive manufacture in the first place, believes it's got the technology and the machinery to boost 3D printing into the big time, for real. Desktop Metal is an engineering-driven startup whose founders include several MIT professors, and Emanuel Sachs, who has patents in 3D printing dating back to the dawn of the field in 1989. The company has raised a ton of money in the last few months, including some US$115 million in a recent Series D round that brings total equity investments up over US$210 million. That money has come from big players, too, including Google Ventures... And if Desktop Metal delivers on its promises -- that it can make reliable metal printing up to 100 times faster, with 10 times cheaper initial costs and 20 times cheaper materials costs than existing laser technologies, using a much wider range of alloys -- these machines might be the tipping point for large scale 3D manufacturing.

Patents

Apple Paid Nokia $2 Billion To Escape Fight Over Old Patents (theverge.com) 35

An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple's latest patent spat with Nokia resulted in a $2 billion up-front payment from the iPhone maker, a colossal sum that seems to indicate Apple was eager to avoid a protracted and ugly dispute that could rival the one it had with Samsung. The new details of the settlement, which was first announced back in May without the disclosure of a financial amount or the new licensing terms, were spotted in Nokia's second quarter earnings release. "We got a substantial upfront cash payment of $2 billion from Apple, strengthening further our cash position. As said earlier, our plans is to provide more details on the intended use of cash in conjunction with our Q3 earnings," reads the official transcript of Nokia's quarterly earnings call with investors yesterday. Neither Nokia nor Apple have disclosed the terms of the new licensing deal, including whether it involves recurring payments or how many years it will be in place.
Patents

Apple Ordered To Pay $506 Million In Damages For Processor Patent Infringement (hothardware.com) 119

MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: Apple has been ordered to feed a recognized patent troll hundreds of millions of dollars for infringing on a patent that has to do with technology built into its A-series mobile processors. Initially Apple was on the hook for $234 million, owed to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) after it won a patent dispute against the Cupertino tech giant. However, a judge this week more than doubled the fine by tacking on an additional $272 million. U.S District Judge William Conley in Madison ruled that Apple owed additional damages plus interest because it continued to infringe on the patent all the way up until it expired in 2016. WARF is reportedly a non-practicing entity that exists only currently by defending its patents in litigation. The lawsuit filed in 2014 involves U.S. Patent No. 5,871,752, which describes the use of a predictor circuit that can help processors run more efficiently. WARF claimed the technology was used in Apple's A7, A8, and A8X processors that power the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and various iterations of the iPad. Apple is not commenting on the matter, though it's being reported that Apple plans to fight and appeal the ruling.
Facebook

Facebook Petitioned To Change License For ReactJS (github.com) 43

mpol writes: The Apache Software Foundation issued a notice last weekend indicating that it has added Facebook's BSD+Patents [ROCKSDB] license to its Category X list of disallowed licenses for Apache Project Management Committee members. This is the license that Facebook uses for most of its open source projects. The RocksDB software project from Facebook already changed its license to a dual Apache 2 and GPL 2. Users are now petitioning on GitHub to have Facebook change the license of React.JS as well.

React.JS is a well-known and often used JavaScript Framework for frontend development. It is licensed as BSD + Patents. If you use React.JS and agreed to its license, and you decide to sue Facebook for patent issues, you are no longer allowed to use React.JS or any Facebook software released under this license.

The Courts

Intel Accuses Qualcomm of Trying To Kill Mobile Chip Competition (cnet.com) 50

Intel has jumped into the fray surrounding the Apple-Qualcomm patent spat by accusing the world's biggest maker of mobile phone chips of trying to use the courts to snuff out competition. From a report: The chip giant made the allegation late Thursday in a public statement (PDF) to US International Trade Commission. The commission had requested the statement as part of its investigation into Qualcomm's accusation that Apple's iPhones of infringe six of Qualcomm's mobile patents. Specifically, Intel said, the case is about quashing competition from Intel, which described itself as "Qualcomm's only remaining competitor" in the market for chips for cellular phones. "Qualcomm did not initiate this investigation to stop the alleged infringement of its patent rights; rather, its complaint is a transparent effort to stave off lawful competition from Qualcomm's only remaining rival," Intel said in its statement. "This twisted use of the Commission's process is just the latest in a long line of anticompetitive strategies that Qualcomm has used to quash incipient and potential competitors and avoid competition on the merits."
Businesses

Amazon Web Services Drops Controversial Patent Clause From Standard User Agreement (geekwire.com) 16

Amazon Web Services has quietly dropped a controversial provision from its user agreement that essentially forced customers to agree that they could never file a patent infringement lawsuit against the public cloud vendor. From a report: The clause in the basic user agreement raised a lot of eyebrows back in 2015 after AWS asserted it as a possible defense in a patent lawsuit filed by Appistry, a former AWS customer that sued the cloud vendor over high-performance computing patents. Until sometime around February 2017, Section 8.5 of the basic agreement for using AWS included this sentence: "During and after the Term, you will not assert, nor will you authorize, assist, or encourage any third party to assert, against us or any of our affiliates, customers, vendors, business partners, or licensors, any patent infringement or other intellectual property infringement claim regarding any Service Offerings you have used.
AI

Former Oculus Exec Predicts Telepathy Within 10 Years (cnet.com) 202

Mary Lou Jepsen is a former MIT professor with 100 patents and a former engineering executive at Facebook, Oculus, Intel, and Google[x] (now called X) -- and "she hopes to make communicating telepathically happen relatively soon." An anonymous reader quotes CNET: Last year Jepsen left her job heading up display technology for the Oculus virtual reality arm of Facebook to develop new imaging technologies to help cure diseases. Shortly thereafter she founded Openwater, which is developing a device that puts the capabilities of a huge MRI machine into a lightweight wearable form. According to the startup's website, "Openwater is creating a device that can enable us to see inside our brains or bodies in great detail. With this comes the promise of new abilities to diagnose and treat disease and well beyond -- communicating with thought alone."

This week Jepsen went further and suggested a timeframe for such capabilities becoming reality. "I don't think this is going to take decades," she told CNBC. "I think we're talking about less than a decade, probably eight years until telepathy"... Jepsen, who has also spent time at Google X, MIT and Intel, says the basic idea is to shrink down the huge MRI machines found in medical hospitals into flexible LCDs that can be embedded in a ski hat and use infrared light to see what's going on in your brain. "Literally a thinking cap," Jepsen explains... The idea is that communicating by thought alone could be much faster and even allow us to become more competitive with the artificial intelligence that is supposedly coming for everyone's jobs very soon.

Jepsen tells CNBC, "If I threw [you] into an M.R.I. machine right now... I can tell you what words you're about to say, what images are in your head. I can tell you what music you're thinking of. That's today, and I'm talking about just shrinking that down."
The Courts

Waymo Drops All But One Patent Claim Against Uber (fortune.com) 21

Google's Waymo has dismissed three of its four patent-infringement claims against Uber. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: This comes after Waymo was encouraged to drop the claims following U.S. District Judge William Alsup's request that both parties narrow their issues for the trial. Additionally, Waymo dropped all but one of the patent claims because Uber abandoned its "Spider" LiDAR design, which had reportedly infringed upon the Waymo patents. The fourth patent claim, however, relates to a LiDAR design called, "Fuji," that the ride-hailing giant continues to use, according to Bloomberg...

In a statement to Fortune, a Waymo spokesperson said, "We found after fighting for discovery a device created by Anthony Levandowski at Uber that infringed Waymo patents. Uber has assured the court in statements made under penalty of perjury that it no longer uses and will not use that device, so we have narrowed the issues for trial by dismissing the patent claims as to that device, with the right to re-file suit if needed." The spokesman added, "We continue to pursue a patent claim against Uber's current generation device and our trade secret claims, which are not at all affected by this stipulated dismissal. We look forward to trial."

Uber called Waymo's move "yet another sign that they have overpromised and can't deliver. Not only have they uncovered zero evidence of any of the 14,000 files in question coming to Uber, they now admit that Uber's LiDAR design is actually very different than theirs.
Businesses

Qualcomm Seeks To Ban Imports And Sales of Apple iPhones in New Lawsuit (cnbc.com) 129

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports, according to a new lawsuit. From a report: Apple has allegedly infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents, including technology that improves iPhone battery life, according to Qualcomm. Now Qualcomm wants Apple to pay damages. "Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement. Qualcomm ultimately wants regulators to investigate which phones use cellular processors from Qualcomm's competitors, and halt sales of iPhones that violate the patents. Qualcomm said it has filed complaints in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and with the United States International Trade Commission. It's not immediately clear how many iPhones that would affect.
Google

Space Data Lawsuit Has Alphabet's Project Loon In Jeopardy (wired.com) 33

mirandakatz writes: When a small company called Space Data sued Alphabet's Project Loon last summer, not much came of it. But last month, Space Data scored a major win: It got the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel most of one of Project Loon's foundational patents, and say that Space Data came up with the idea first. That means it can now file for an injunction, and get Project Loon to stop using its internet-beaming balloons. At Backchannel, Mark Harris has dug into court records to present the full story of how Alphabet, which is currently suing Uber over trade secrets, came to be accused of doing exactly the same thing.
Patents

Amazon Granted a Patent That Prevents In-Store Shoppers From Online Price Checking (theverge.com) 465

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon's long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon's own stores. The patent, titled "Physical Store Online Shopping Control," details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways. The document details in great length how a retailer like Amazon would use this information to its benefit. If, for example, the retailer sees you're trying to access a competitor's website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what's offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to your browser instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright. Amazon's patent also lets the retailer know your physical whereabouts, saying, "the location may be triangulated utilizing information received from a multitude of wireless access points." The retailer can then use this information to try and upsell you on items in your immediate area or direct a sales representative to your location.
Businesses

Intel: Steer Clear Of Our Patents (axios.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: Intel posted a long blog post yesterday touting the success and evolution of its 40-year-old x86 microprocessor -- the one that powered the first IBM personal computer in 1978 and still powers the majority of PCs and laptops. But it wasn't just a stroll down memory lane. Intel ended the post with a reminder that it won't tolerate infringement on its portfolio of patents, including those surrounding x86. The company wrote, "Intel invests enormous resources to advance its dynamic x86 ISA, and therefore Intel must protect these investments with a strong patent portfolio and other intellectual property rights. [...] Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them. Over the past 30 years, Intel has vigilantly enforced its intellectual property rights against infringement by third-party microprocessors. [...] Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel's x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition, and we are confident that Intel's microprocessors, which have been specifically optimized to implement Intel's x86 ISA for almost four decades, will deliver amazing experiences, consistency across applications, and a full breadth of consumer offerings, full manageability and IT integration for the enterprise. However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights. Also read: Intel Fires Warning Shot At Qualcomm and Microsoft Over Windows 10 ARM Emulation.
Emulation (Games)

Intel Fires Warning Shot At Qualcomm and Microsoft Over Windows 10 ARM Emulation (hothardware.com) 197

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Qualcomm and Microsoft are on the verge of ushering in a new class of always-connected mobile devices that run full-blown Windows 10. The two are enabling ARM-based Snapdragon 835 processors to run Windows 10 with full x86 emulation, meaning that devices will be capable of not only running Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps from the Windows Store, but legacy win32 apps as well. There is little question, Intel is likely none too pleased with it and PC OEM heavyweights Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and ASUS have also signed-on to deliver Windows 10 notebooks and 2-in-1 convertibles powered by Qualcomm. Until now, Intel sat by quietly while all of this unfolded, but the company today took the opportunity to get a bit passive-aggressive while announcing the fast-approaching 40th anniversary of the world's first x86 microprocessor. The majority of the press release reads like a trip down memory lane. However, Intel shifts into serious mama bear mode, with significant legal posturing, touting its willingness to protect its "x86 innovations." Intel goes on to say that Transmeta tried and ultimately failed in the marketplace, and has been dead and buried for a decade. The company then pivots, almost daring Microsoft and Qualcomm to challenge it by making Windows on ARM devices commercially available. "Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel's x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition... However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel's intellectual property rights."
Facebook

Facebook Wants To Spy On People Using Their Phone's Camera and Analyze Facial Emotions (thesun.co.uk) 104

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Sun: The social network applied for a patent to capture pictures of a user through their smartphone. The creepy designs, which date back to 2015, were discovered by software company CBI Insight, which has been analyzing Mark Zuckerberg's "emotion technology." Patent documents contain illustrations showing a person holding a smartphone with a camera taking a picture from which "emotion characteristics" like smiling or frowning are detected. If the person appears to like what they're seeing, Facebook could place more of the same type of content in front of them. Patents don't always make it through to the end product, so it's not clear whether Facebook will bring out this new feature. Researchers at CBI Insights warned that the plans could put a lot of people off using the service. Facebook appears to have tested out similar technology to work out which emoji to send to people using a selfie.
Businesses

Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker's Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50 (businessinsider.com) 139

Billionaire Sean Parker's plans to bring movies to your home as soon as they release in theatres has hit new roadblocks. After receiving praises for "Screening Room" from directors and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios, the buzz for the startup has started to wane. From a report: Though Parker and cofounder Prem Akkaraju have promoted the company in the last two years at CinemaCon, it's gotten little traction due to a naivete of the industry, competitors, and studios' and theater chains' decade-long discussion about how to move forward on Premium VOD (PVOD) (alternative source), Business Insider has learned. "Everything you've heard in the press about studios and theaters wanting to explore a PVOD window, nothing about that revolves around Screening Room," a source close to the talks told Business Insider. Screening Room's main pitch to studios and exhibitors has been that it can bring added revenue to all sides of the equation. Out of the proposed $50 rental fee, 20% would go to the movie's distributor, and a participating theater chain would get up to $20 of the fee, plus each customer receives two tickets to see that rented title at their local theater. Screening Room would take 10% of each fee. Sources told Business Insider that all of the bells and whistles Screening Room is selling don't matter until the studios and theaters can agree on a Premium VOD (or PVOD) window. Industry players don't want movies to be available on PVOD simultaneously with theatrical release dates because the first two weeks of a theatrical run are still when studios and exhibitors get a majority of a movie's income. Also read: Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal.
Businesses

Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal (torrentfreak.com) 141

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has been working on his new service called Screening Room, which when becomes reality, could allow people to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters in their living room as soon as they premiere at the box office. This week we get a glimpse at the kind of technologies Parker is using to ensure that the movies don't get distributed easily. From a report: Over the past several weeks, Screening Room Media, Inc. has submitted no less than eight patent applications related to its plans, all with some sort of anti-piracy angle. For example, a patent titled "Presenting Sonic Signals to Prevent Digital Content Misuse" describes a technology where acoustic signals are regularly sent to mobile devices, to confirm that the user is near the set-top box and is authorized to play the content. Similarly, the "Monitoring Nearby Mobile Computing Devices to Prevent Digital Content Misuse" patent, describes a system that detects the number of mobile devices near the client-side device, to make sure that too many people aren't tuning in. The general technology outlined in the patents also includes forensic watermarking and a "P2P polluter." The watermarking technology can be used to detect when pirated content spreads outside of the protected network onto the public Internet. "At this point, the member's movie accessing system will be shut off and quarantined. If the abuse or illicit activity is confirmed, the member and the household will be banned from the content distribution network," the patent reads. [...] Screening Room's system also comes with a wide range of other anti-piracy scans built in. Among other things, it regularly scans the Wi-Fi network to see which devices are connected, and Bluetooth is used to check what other devices are near.

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