Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - Apple and Samsung ordered talks fail - Trial date set (

Fluffeh writes: "Apple and Samsung just can't come to an agreement, even when the two CEO's are court ordered to hash it out over a two day period. US Judge Judy Koh had ordered the sit down prior to court proceedings between the two giants, but the talks resulted in nothing more than each side confirming it's position. Although Apple CEO Tim Cook said "I've always hated litigation and I continue to hate it" he also said "if we could get to some kind of arrangement where we'd be assured [they are inventing their own products] and get a fair settlement on the stuff that's occurred." Perhaps Tim is worried that Samsung is still the primary component supplier for mobile products, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch or perhaps Apple has bitten off more than it really wants to chew with the litigation between the two getting to truly epic and global proportions."

Submission + - Supreme Court Orders Do-Over on Key Software Patents (

Fluffeh writes: "It seems that the US Supreme Court has an itch it just can't scratch. A patent granted to the Ultramercial company covers the concept of allowing users to watch a pre-roll advertisement as an alternative to paying for premium content and the company is demanding fees from the likes of Hulu and YouTube. Another company called WildTangent is however is challenging Ultramercial's "invention" as merely an abstract idea not eligible for patent protection. Add to this a recent ruling by the Supreme Court restricting patents — albeit on medical diagnostic techniques and you get into a bit of a pickle. The Supreme Court is now sending the Ultramercial case back to the lower courts for another round, which doesn't mean that the court disagrees with the original ruling, but rather that it thinks it is a patent case that is relevant to the situation and they want to re-examine it under this new light."

Submission + - Apple Vs Samsung - 1 Year Review: 50 Filings and 10 Countries (

Fluffeh writes: "Around a year after the initial Apple Vs Samsung (Apple claimed that Samsung copied the "Look and Feel" of the iPad and iPhone) case, it seems that neither side is calling Uncle, and both giants seem to have more than enough lawyers to fill plenty of courtrooms. The current tally is over 50 filings across 10 countries since this started according to patent expert Florian Mueller. Although Apple and Samsung are due in court for settlement talks in front of a Judge later this month, neither side is backing down much. This review also shows just how complicated, and how ferocious these disputes can get when two behemoths are butting heads."

Submission + - Congress Asks Patent Office To Consider Secret Patents ( 2

Fluffeh writes: "The USPTO is considering a rather interesting request straight from lobbyists via congress. That certain "Economically Significant" patents should be kept secret during the process (PDF Warning) of being evaluated and granted. While this does occur at the moment on a very select few patents "due to national security" for things like nuclear energy and the like — this would allow it to go much, much further. "By statute, patent applications are published no earlier than 18 months after the filing date, but it takes an average of about three years for a patent application to be processed. This period of time between publication and patent award provides worldwide access to the information included in those applications. In some circumstances, this information allows competitors to design around U.S. technologies and seize markets before the U.S. inventor is able to raise financing and secure a market.""

Submission + - UnwiredPlanet/Openwave keen to announce it is becoming a Patent Troll (

Fluffeh writes: "Openwave, a pioneer of smartphone internet and once a major player, has just announced a "major milestone" after selling off its legitimate businesses but keeping its patent chest handy. Under its original 1996 name of Unwired Planet, the company plans to use the patents that it has in chasing down money from other more successful businesses.

"As we complete the sale of our product businesses, we will continue to focus on a multi-pronged strategy to realize the value of our unique patent portfolio," — CEO Mike Mulica."


Submission + - Twitter: "We promise to not be a Patent Troll!" (

Fluffeh writes: "Twitter today unveiled a bold new commitment that will be made in writing to its employees—the company will not use any patents derived from employee inventions in offensive lawsuits without the inventor's permission. Twitter has written up a draft of what it calls the "Innovator's Patent Agreement," or IPA, which encourages its developers to invent without the fear that their inventions will be used for nefarious purposes. "The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes," Messinger wrote. "We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.""

Submission + - Social Networking has Myriad of 30,000 Patents (

Fluffeh writes: "M-Cam has spent some time analyzing the patent misunderstanding between Yahoo and Facebook, and found some interesting information. While investigating just 10 patents that Facebook is asserting in its counterclaims against Yahoo, and discovered that there are over 30,000 related patents that cover similar aspects — many of which have been around for a while. A very large number of these patents are "functional forgeries" in that they cover stuff that's in other patents. Really what this goes back to is the fact that the patent system relies on patent examiners to magically know what's new and non-obvious. But, if it's impossible for those who actually work in the space to know about the 30,000 related patents, how do you think a patent examiner does it?"
America Online

Submission + - Microsoft buys AOL Patents - including NetScape (

Fluffeh writes: "A few weeks ago AOL announced that it was looking to sell off a major portion of its patent holdings and Microsoft just came to the party and announced a US$1 Billion dollar deal that will snag it 800 of these patents, including the NetScape patents that AOL had used against Microsoft when the two were fighting for control of the early internet.

“This is a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years and analyzing in detail for several months,” said Brad Smith, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft. “AOL ran a competitive auction and by participating, Microsoft was able to achieve our two primary goals: obtaining a durable license to the full AOL portfolio and ownership of certain patents that complement our existing portfolio.”"


Submission + - The Supreme Court to rule on Monsato Seed Patents ( 1

Fluffeh writes: "Can a farmer commit patent infringement just by planting soybeans he bought on the open market? This week, the Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on the question. The Court is pondering an appeals court decision saying that such planting can, in fact, infringe patents. Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled, as it had on several previous occasions, that patent exhaustion did not cover second-generation seeds. The Supreme Court has now asked the Solicitor General, the official in charge of representing the Obama administration before the Court, to weigh in on the case."

Submission + - Round Two: Facebook Vs Yahoo (

Fluffeh writes: "When Facebook barely had more patents than Zuckerberg had fingers, Yahoo decided to throw a lawsuit timed nicely to coincide with the Facebook IPO. However, with some cash in pockets, Facebook bought a portfolio of patents — and is now throwing a hefty lawsuit back in the direction of Yahoo.

"Facebook admits that messaging and privacy are offered as options on certain websites. Facebook denies that “[w]ithout Yahoo!’s achievements, websites such as Facebook would not enjoy repeat visitors or substantial advertising revenue.” Facebook further denies that the functions identified in this paragraph of the Complaint involved any innovation by Yahoo!."

Techdirt has a listing of the patents in the counter-suit as well as further reading."


Submission + - RightHaven jumps the gun on April Fools Day (

Fluffeh writes: "RightHaven seems to have a new agenda — comedy. The CEO, who now works for another company is throwing the "It wasn't me, it was the one armed man!" excuse in a filing to the court, also throws RightHaven's own lawyers under the bus "Therefore, Gibson hereby respectfully requests this Court to order Mangano to appear before the Court and effect compliance with the Minute Order. Gibson further requests this Court order Mangano to reinvigorate Mangano’s representation of Righthaven until such time as this Court would find appropriate the withdrawal by Mangano."

All this is potentially good news though (apart from being hilarious) as it can come back to not only bite Steve Gibson later down the track, but patent trolling firms in general by way of precedents: "At minimum, that’s going to raise legal costs and uncertainty for LLC owners everywhere, particular in the IP arena because every patent monetization company is going to be compared to Righthaven, and even the owner of a patent who loses on a good faith argument of infringement or validity may end up having personal assets at least threatened as a result.""


Submission + - Righthaven Completely Stops Showing Up In Court (

Fluffeh writes: "Things go from funny to sad, following its recent whipping by a judge, it now appears that it's just completely given up. CEO Steve Gibson is working at another job (while being investigated by the Nevada Bar) and main lawyer Shawn Mangano apparently has completely stopped responding to all attempts to contact him, even by the court. All this has resulted in the key appeals in its cases to be dismissed "for lack of prosecution." Last Thursday it also had a key case closed, with prejudice, driving another (yes another) nail in its already buried coffin."

Submission + - Judge Orders Oracle and Google to talk - again (

Fluffeh writes: "High-level executives at Google and Oracle were ordered to hold one last round of settlement talks no later then April 9th, with the trial over Google's alleged use of Java technology in Android set to begin April 16, although the last-ditch effort to avoid a trial seems unlikely to succeed. Oracle initially accused Google of violating seven patents, but has since dropped most of them. This is due to the US Patent and Trademark Office ruling the patents described technology that was not patentable. Two patents assigned to the Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems remain: #6,061,520 which covers "an improvement over conventional systems for initializing static arrays by reducing the amount of code executed by the virtual machine to statically initialize an array," and #RE38,104 which covers a type of compiler and interpreter."

Submission + - Facebook likes, then buys 750 IBM Patents (

Fluffeh writes: "Facebook Inc. acquired 750 patents from IBM, adding intellectual property that may help it counter allegations of patent infringement, a person with knowledge of the transaction said. Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking service, is bolstering its legal defenses amid a standoff with rivals that have more intellectual property. Yahoo! Inc. sued Facebook earlier this month, accusing it of infringing patents covering functions critical to websites. Facebook had 22 patent suits against it last year, according to"

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