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Microsoft

Microsoft Patents A User-Monitoring AI That Improves Search Results (hothardware.com) 68

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes a HotHardware article about Microsoft's new patent filing for an OS "mediation component": This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all textual input within apps to intelligently decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the Mediator and processed. So when the user goes to, for example, the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query.

The search engine (e.g., Bing and Cortana) uses contextual rankers to adjust the ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant [results]. The operating system...tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).

The article argues this feels "creepy and big brother-esque," and while Microsoft talks of defining a "task continuum," suggests the patent's process "would in essence keep track of everything you type and interact with in the OS and stockpile it in real-time to data-dump into Bing."
Patents

'Corporate Troll' Wins $3 Million Verdict Against Apple For Ring-Silencing Patent (arstechnica.com) 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A non-practicing entity called MobileMedia Ideas LLC won a patent lawsuit against Apple today, with a Delaware federal jury finding that Apple should pay $3 million for infringing MobileMedia's patent RE39,231, which relates to ring-silencing features on mobile phones. MobileMedia is an unusual example of the kind of pure patent-licensing entity often derided as a "patent troll." It is majority-owned by MPEG-LA, a patent pool that licenses common digital video technologies like H-264, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. Minority stakes in MobileMedia are owned by Sony and Nokia, which both contributed the patents owned by the company. MobileMedia also has the same CEO as MPEG-LA, Larry Horn. The battle ended up being a long one, as MobileMedia first filed the case in 2010. It went to trial in 2012, and the jury found that Apple infringed three patents. After reviewing post-trial motions, the judge knocked out some, but not all, of the infringed patent claims. Then came an appeal in which a panel of Federal Circuit judges upheld (PDF) some of the lower court's judges and overturned others. A $3 million verdict is hardly going to make an impact on Apple, and it doesn't represent a huge win for MobileMedia, which was reportedly seeking $18 million in royalties from the trial. Still, getting a verdict in its favor does represent some validation of MobileMedia's business model, which was a striking example of technology corporations using the "patent troll" business model as a kind of proxy war. Nokia and Sony were able to use MobileMedia and the licensing talent at MPEG-LA to wage a patent attack on Apple without engaging directly in court. In all, after years of back-and-forth, the ring-silencing patent was the one that MobileMedia had left. While Apple didn't win the case against one of the first "corporate trolls," it was able to severely pare down the scale of the attack and show that it's willing to fight a long legal war of attrition to make its point.
Patents

Apple Patents a Paper Bag (theguardian.com) 202

mspohr writes: Continuing its leadership in innovation, Apple has patented a paper bag. We all remember the groundbreaking "rounded corners" innovation, now we have a paper bag! Just try to make your own paper bag and you'll be speaking with Apple lawyers. (Note: In fairness to Apple, this is a "special" paper bag which is stronger due to numerous improvements on your ordinary recycled paper bag -- just don't try to copy it.) The patent application summarizes the bag as follows: "A paper bag is disclosed. The paper bag may include a bag container formed of white solid bleached sulfate paper with at least 60% post-consumer content." Apple's patented paper bags are designed to be sturdy, while remaining "both pearly white and environmentally friendly." Let's just hope they don't remove the handles...
The Courts

'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents (unpatent.co) 115

"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports: "Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on Unpatent.co argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it." Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."
Patents

US Trade Judge Clears Fitbit of Stealing Jawbone's Trade Secrets (reuters.com) 13

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone's trade secrets, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, dashing Jawbone's hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit's wearable fitness tracking devices. The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe U.S. intellectual property, because "no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret." The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone's business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details. Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.
China

Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement (reuters.com) 24

In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.
Displays

Apple Patents Augmented Reality Display, May Be Building A VR Headset (roadtovr.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Road to VR: Apple has just been granted another AR/VR related technology patent, to add to their growing list. In this case it's a transparent, high field of view display which looks to be aimed at the augmented reality sector and, alongside other mounting evidence, could indicate Apple is preparing to enter the immersive technology race sooner rather than later... Anticipation that the company is working on 'something' AR/VR behind the scenes at Cupertino has been stoked by a series of company acquisition and staff hires. Most interestingly however are the trail of patent applications made by Apple.
This week's new patent specifies a "Peripheral Treatment of Head-mounted Displays" to deliver an image to the wearer's eyes through a transparent display medium.
The Courts

Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei Sues T-Mobile For Patent Infringment (geekwire.com) 46

Nat Levy, reporting for GeekWire: Huawei alleges that Bellevue-based T-Mobile would not make a deal to license several 4G patents from the Chinese telecom company, and is still using those technologies, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas, alleges that Huawei offered to give T-Mobile license for several 4G patents under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND). T-Mobile allegedly didn't take the offer and continues to use the patented technologies. According to the lawsuit, the conflict goes back to 2014, when Huawei wanted to begin a licensing discussion, but T-Mobile allegedly would not sign a non-disclosure agreement and negotiations stalled. Earlier this year, Huawei filed several patent infringement complaints, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, which first reported on today's suit. Huawei is not looking for monetary damages, but instead wants a declaratory judgment that would help facilitate a licensing agreement.
Iphone

Florida Man Sues Apple For $10+ Billion, Says He Invented iPhone Before Apple (macrumors.com) 159

An anonymous reader writes from a report via MacRumors: A Florida resident that goes by the name of Thomas S. Ross has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, claiming that the iPhone, iPad, and iPod infringe upon his 1992 invention of a hand-drawn "Electronic Reading Device" (ERD). The court filing claims the plaintiff was "first to file a device so designed and aggregated," nearly 15 years before the first iPhone. MacRumors reports: "Between May 23, 1992 and September 10, 1992, Ross designed three hand-drawn technical drawings of the device, primarily consisting of flat rectangular panels with rounded corners that "embodied a fusion of design and function in a way that never existed prior to 1992." Ross applied for a utility patent to protect his invention in November 1992, but the application was declared abandoned in April 1995 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to pay the required application fees. He also filed to copyright his technical drawings with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2014. While the plaintiff claims that he continues to experience "great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money," he has demanded a jury trial and is seeking restitution no less than $10 billion and a royalty of up to 1.5% on Apple's worldwide sales of infringing devices." MacRumors commenter Sunday Ironfoot suggests this story may be "The mother of all 'Florida Man' stories." Apple has been awarded a patent today that prohibits smartphone users from taking photos and videos at concerts, movies theaters and other events where people tend to ignore such restrictions.
Bitcoin

Australian 'Bitcoin Founder' Quietly Bidding For Patent Empire (reuters.com) 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Craig Wright, the Australian who claimed to be the inventor of bitcoin, is attempting to build a large patent portfolio around the digital currency and technology underpinning it, according to associates of his and documents reviewed by Reuters. Since February, Wright has filed more than 50 patent applications in Britain through Antigua-registered EITC Holdings Ltd, which a source close to the company confirmed was connected to Wright, government records show. Interviews with sources close to EITC Holdings Ltd, which has two of Wright's associates as directors, confirmed it was still working on filing patent applications and Britain's Intellectual Property Office has published another 11 patent applications filed by the company in the past week. The granting of even some of the patents would be significant for banking and other industries that are trying to exploit bitcoin technologies, as well as dozens of start-ups scurrying to build business models based around it. Patents that Wright has applied for range from a mechanism for paying securely for online content to an operating system for running an "internet of things" on blockchain. A patent schedule, one of a number of documents relating to the applications shown to Reuters by a person close to the EITC Holdings, outlines plans to apply for about 400 in total.
China

Apple iPhones Found to Have Violated Chinese Rival's Patent (bloomberg.com) 130

Beijing's intellectual property regulator has ordered Apple to stop sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in the city, after it found that the design of Apple's iconic smartphone is too similar to a Chinese phone. The aforementioned handsets infringe on a Chinese patent for exterior design held by a company called Shenzhen Baili for its 100C smartphone. From a Bloomberg report: While the decision covers only Beijing, future lawsuits against Apple could take the case as a precedent, potentially influencing the outcomes of litigation elsewhere in China. Baili is one of scores of smartphone brands trying to cash in on the country's mobile boom. [...] "If the position by the Beijing IP office is upheld and Apple doesn't appeal further, then in theory they wouldn't be able to sell the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus," IP specialist Ted Chwu said. The iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus were launched in 2014. What took them so long?
Businesses

Google Accused of Stealing Balloon Network Tech Behind Project Loon (thestack.com) 58

An anonymous reader writes: Google's parent company Alphabet has found itself faced with a lawsuit, which claims that the tech giant stole the idea behind its Wi-Fi-emitting balloon network, Project Loon. The Space Data Corporation of Chandler, Arizona, filed the suit and is arguing that it currently holds patents for a balloon-based system which carries broadband antennae to create a wireless network to deliver data services to U.S. armed forces and across remote areas of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. The organization is seeking damages for two counts of patent infringement, as well as two counts of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of written contract. Space Data says in their complaint that they had med with as many as 10 Google representatives, including Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in 2007 and 2008 to discuss potential partnerships. They say Google did not agree with the collaboration, and chose to steal trade secrets and start developing their own balloon network in 2011 instead. "Project Loon improperly and unlawfully utilizes Space Data's confidential information and trade secrets which Space Delta disclosed to Defendant Google pursuant to a 2007 Mutual Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement," the complain states.
Iphone

Feds Ask Supreme Court To Void Apple's $400 Million Award From Samsung (siliconbeat.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News technology blog: "The $400 million awarded to Apple in a patent-infringement case against Samsung is a moving target... On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a "friend of the court" brief to the Supreme Court, asking justices to void the $400 million award and send the case back to a lower court to determine if a new trial is needed... Samsung has argued that it should be liable only for profits attributable to a specific design that violated a patent, not an entire phone, and that the law should be interpreted to impose liability related to "components of the phones, rather than the phones themselves, according to the brief. The department came down on Samsung's side on the component argument, and blasted a federal circuit court ruling that had upheld the jury award.
Ironically, earlier this week Steve Wozniak was praising Samsung for its innovation, both in virtual reality headsets and with a Samsung camera that takes a picture whenever you say "smile".
Patents

Yahoo Preps Auction For 3,000 Patents Worth $1 Billion (arstechnica.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wall Street Journal reports that bids are being accepted for nearly 3,000 Yahoo patents and pending applications. In April, Yahoo moved 2,659 patents into a patent-holding company called Excalibur IP LLC, which was seen as a first step toward a patent sale. "This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the Internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to Web search and advertising," Yahoo said in a statement. Those invited to join the auction include "strategic buyers, private-equity firms, and investment firms focused on intellectual property," according to the Journal. Preliminary bids are due by the middle of this month, and the patents are expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to the Journal. Bloomberg, which also reported on the patent sale, said there was no official reserve price or bidding guidelines. Yesterday, Verizon submitted a $3 billion bid for Yahoo's core internet business. The sale will include 500 U.S. patents and more than 600 pending applications, but will not include the larger collection of patents going in the patent sale.
Android

Crazy Patent Troll Suing Devs For Posting Apps To Google Play (technobuffalo.com) 108

Developer Austin Meyer is fighting back patent trolls after he was sued for putting his flight simulator app called X-Plane on Google Play. TechnoBuffalo reports: A few years ago, he uploaded the app to the Google Play Store and was very unexpectedly hit with a lawsuit from Uniloc in 2012. The firm claims it patented the idea behind the app market. That's right, Uniloc isn't going after Meyer for making a flight simulator; it's going after any company that uses Google Play. It's already targeted a bunch of other popular apps, including Minecraft. So Meyer did a bit of digging and discovered a few pretty shocking details. It turns out the judge in that district may have a direct relationship with the prosecuting lawyer in many of these cases. The judge, Leonard Davis, is apparently known for almost never throwing out patent lawsuits. Meyer claims that his son, Bo Davis, is the lawyer representing many of these patent trolls.

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