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Sued For Using HTTPS: Companies In Crypto Patent Fight ( 85

yoink! writes: According to an article in The Register, corporations big and small are coming under legal fire from CryptoPeak. The Company holds U.S. Patent 6,202,150, which describes "auto-escrowable and auto-certifiable cryptosystems" and has claimed that the Elliptic Curve Cryptography methods/implementations used as part of the HTTPS protocol violates their intellectual property. Naturally, reasonable people disagree.

EFF Asks Appeals Court To "Shut Down the Eastern District of Texas" ( 67

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge have asked a federal appeals court to make big changes to the rules governing venue in patent cases. The two public interest groups are seeking to file an amicus brief (PDF) which attacks the Eastern District of Texas as being one of the "most notorious situations of forum shopping in recent history." This district has made quite a few appearances on Slashdot; this is one of my favorites.

Does Government Science Funding Drive Innovation? ( 248

An anonymous reader writes: In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, British businessman and science journalist Matt Ridley argues that basic science research does not lead to technological innovation, and therefore isn't deserving of taxpayer funding. Ridley says, "Increasingly, technology is developing the kind of autonomy that hitherto characterized biological entities. The Stanford economist Brian Arthur argues that technology is self-organizing and can, in effect, reproduce and adapt to its environment. ... The implications of this new way of seeing technology—as an autonomous, evolving entity that continues to progress whoever is in charge—are startling. People are pawns in a process. We ride rather than drive the innovation wave. Technology will find its inventors, rather than vice versa.

Patents and copyright laws grant too much credit and reward to individuals and imply that technology evolves by jerks. Recall that the original rationale for granting patents was not to reward inventors with monopoly profits but to encourage them to share their inventions. ... It follows that there is less need for government to fund science: Industry will do this itself. Having made innovations, it will then pay for research into the principles behind them. Having invented the steam engine, it will pay for thermodynamics."


Drug Firm Offers $1 Version of $750 Daraprim Pill ( 168

An anonymous reader writes: We recently read about a U.S. company that bought the rights to a drug called Daraprim and then boosted the price over 5,000%. There was widespread outrage over this blatant price gouging, most of it focused on hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli. Now, a San Diego-based drug company called Imprimis has stepped in to fill the void. They announced that they'll be supplying capsules containing the same active ingredients in Daraprim for $1 per dose. Their CEO, Mark Baum, said they'll also start making alternative versions of other generic medicines that have skyrocketed in price lately. "Imprimis, which primarily makes compounded drugs to treat cataracts and urological conditions, will work with health insurers and prescription benefit managers in each state to make its new capsules and other compounded generic medicines widely available, Baum said."

Full Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Intellectual Property Chapter Analyzed ( 109

Dangerous_Minds writes: Freezenet seems to be the first website to publish a full run-down of the final draft of the Intellectual Property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The leak was published on Wikileaks earlier. The analysis seems to confirm what the EFF has said, saying that the chapter "confirms our worst fears about the agreement, and dashes the few hopes that we held out that its most onerous provisions wouldn't survive to the end of the negotiations." The analysis focuses mainly on copyright enforcement on the Internet and the impact the chapter would have on personal devices, VPN services, and ISPs. One noteworthy find by Freezenet is the inclusion of a "TPP Commission" which would decide when different countries are supposed to meet outside of the 10-year cycle, discussing "market circumstances" of "the development of new pharmaceutical products." What other roles the TPP Commission takes on is unclear given that it is not mentioned anywhere else in the chapter.

The Polymath: Lowell Wood Is America's New Top Inventor ( 76

pacopico writes: It's taken more than 80 years, but someone has finally overtaken Thomas Edison as America's top inventor. The dude is named Lowell Wood; he was once behind the infamous 'Star Wars' space laser project, and he was a protege of Edward Teller. On July 7th, he received his 1,085th patent, breaking Edison's record. The article says he has 3,000 more inventions awaiting review at the patent office. Wood seems to be using his powers more for good these days and has become the right hand inventor for Bill Gates and his philanthropic endeavors. He's making efficient nuclear reactors, universal vaccines and anti-concussion football helmets. Quite the life.

"Wood attributes his ability to hop from subject to subject, making associations that sometimes lead to inventions, to reading—a lot. He subscribes to three dozen academic journals. 'I have a terrible deficiency of willpower once I open an electronic table of contents for Physical Review Letters or the New England Journal of Medicine,' he says. 'It's just terribly difficult to pull myself away from them. There will be these three articles that I absolutely have to read before I can turn loose of this thing. If I don't read them, I'm doomed. I'll never come back to them because there will be the next day's journals and the ones after that.'"


Source Code On Trial In DNA Matching Case ( 117

An anonymous reader writes: While computer analysis by other programs was inconclusive in matching DNA evidence to a suspect, one program, TrueAllele, gave a match. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an expert witness for the defense wants access to the 170,000 lines of source code to determine whether the match is scientifically valid. Not surprisingly, the software creator is resisting. From the article: "TrueAllele, created by Dr. Perlin and in its current version since 2009, is the only computer software system of its kind that interprets DNA evidence using a statistical model. It can single out individuals in a complex DNA mixture by determining how much more probable a match is versus mere coincidence. Complex mixtures can involve multiple people, as well as degraded or small DNA samples. ... Although the technology is patented, the source code itself is not disclosed by any patent and cannot be derived from any publicly disclosed source. The source code has never been revealed, he said, and it would cause irreparable harm to the company if it were. In his declaration, Dr. Perlin said that reading the source code is unnecessary to validate the program, and that a review could be done in his office or online."
The Courts

East Texas Judge Throws Out 168 Patent Cases 153

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica is reporting that an East Texas judge has thrown out 168 patent cases in one fell swoop. The judge's order puts the most litigious patent troll of 2014, eDekka LLC, out of business. The ruling comes from a surprising source: U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, the East Texas judge who has been criticized for making life extra-difficult for patent defendants. Gilstrap, who hears more patent cases than any other U.S. judge, will eliminate about 10 percent of his entire patent docket by wiping out the eDekka cases.

Google and Microsoft Agree To Stand Down In Patent Wars 43

_0x783czar writes: Today Google and Microsoft have announced an end to litigious hostilities between themselves; signaling another step on the road to peace as the "global smartphone wars" wind down. This moves settles 18 lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany, including those involving Motorola Mobility's patents, which Google retained after selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo. Both companies hope this move will help settle the smartphone wars and refocus their efforts on consumers. Reuters reports: "Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."

Another Pharma Company Recaptures a Generic Medication 372

Applehu Akbar writes: Daraprim, currently used as a niche AIDS medication, was developed and patented by Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKlein) decades ago. Though Glaxo's patent has long since expired, a startup called Turing Pharmaceuticals has been the latest pharma company to 'recapture' a generic by using legal trickery to gain exclusive rights to sell it in the US. Though Turing has just marketing rights, not a patent, on Daraprim, it takes advantage of pharma-pushed laws that forbid Americans from shopping around on the world market for prescriptions. Not long ago, Google was fined half a billion dollars by the FDA for allowing perfectly legal Canadian pharmacies to advertise on its site. So now that Turing has a lock on Daraprim, it has raised the price from $13.50 a pill to $750. In 2009 another small pharma company inveigled an exclusive on the longstanding generic gout medication colchicine from the FDA, effectively rebranding the unmodified generic so they could raise its price by a similar percentage.

Appeals Court Bans Features From Older Samsung Phones 69

walterbyrd writes with news that Apple has finally emerged victorious in a long-standing patent case against Samsung — though it's more of a moral victory than a practical one. Samsung is no longer allowed to sell some of its older phones unless the company disables features that infringe upon Apple patents. "The market impact will likely be limited, since the lawsuit was filed in 2012 and covers products that came out that year, like the Galaxy S3. Furthermore, software updates to Samsung software mean that the patents may not be infringed anymore. For instance, Samsung's Android phones no longer use a 'slide to unlock' feature on the bottom of the phone. In dissent, U.S. Circuit Judge Sharon Prost paints a sharply different picture (PDF) from the majority. 'This is not a close case,' she writes, noting that Apple's patents cover a spelling correction feature it doesn't use, and two others cover 'minor features' out of 'many thousands.'"

Why Patent Law Shouldn't Block the Sale of Used Tech Products 215

An anonymous reader writes: Lexmark is best known for its printers, but even more important to its business is toner. Toner cartridges are Lexmark's lifeblood, and they've been battling hard in court to protect their cashflow. The NY Times has published an editorial arguing that one of their recent strategies is bogus: making patent infringement claims on companies who refill used cartridges. Think about that, for a moment: Lexmark says that by taking one of their old, empty cartridges, refilling it with toner, and then selling it somehow infringes upon their patents to said cartridges. "This case raises important questions about the reach of American patent law and how much control a manufacturer can exert after its products have been lawfully sold. Taken to their logical conclusion, Lexmark's arguments would mean that producers could use patent law to dictate how things like computers, printers and other patented goods are used, changed or resold and place restrictions on international trade. That makes no sense, especially in a world where technology products and components are brought and sold numerous times, which is why the court should rule in favor of Impression." The Times paints it as the latest attack on ownership in the age of DRM.

Mozilla, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Others Form 'Alliance For Open Media' 99

BrianFagioli tips news that Mozilla, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Intel, Amazon, and Netflix are teaming up to create the Alliance for Open Media, "an open-source project that will develop next-generation media formats, codecs and technologies in the public interest." Several of these companies have been working on this problem alone: Mozilla started Daala, Google has VP9 and VP10, and Cisco just recently announced Thor. Amazon and Netflix, of course, are major suppliers of online video streaming, so they have a vested interested in royalty-free codecs. They're inviting others to join them — the more technology and patents they get on their side, the less likely they'll run into the issues that Microsoft's VC-1 and Google's VP8 struggled with. "The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself."

A Courtroom Victory For Microsoft In Cellphone-Related Patent Suit 14

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has been cleared of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission. The case dates back to 2007 when InterDigital Inc claimed Microsoft infringed its patents, and there were calls for a ban on the import of handsets. InterDigital Inc has been battling in court for eight years, initially trying to claim royalties on phones made by Nokia, now transferred to Microsoft. As well as blocking the call for an import ban, the ITC stated that Microsoft did not infringe patents relating to the way mobiles make calls. In short Microsoft is in the clear and InterDigital's rights have not been violated.

The History of the Patent Troll 40

An anonymous reader writes: Patent trolling is not a new problem, although recently it seems that the issue has captured the attention of a broader audience. Four years ago, NPR produced an episode of This American Life called "When Patents Attack!" And, four months ago, John Oliver devoted the bulk of his time on Last Week Tonight to raising awareness about patent trolls. "Most of these companies don't produce anything—they just shake down anyone who does, so calling them trolls is a little misleading—at least trolls actually do something, they control bridge access for goats and ask fun riddles," he explained. " Patent trolls just threaten to sue the living s*** out of people, and believe me, those lawsuits add up." In an article on, Red Hat patent litigation defender David Perry takes a look back at the history of patent trolling, as well as some possible solutions to the problem.

Cisco Developing Royalty Free Video Codec: Thor 145

An anonymous reader writes: Video codec licensing has never been great, and it's gotten even more complicated and expensive in recent years. While H.264 had a single license pool and an upper bound on yearly licensing costs, successor H.265 has two pools (so far) and no limit. Cisco has decided that this precludes the use of H.265 in open source or other free-as-in-beer software, so they've struck out on their own to create a new, royalty-free codec called Thor. They've already open-sourced the code and invited contributions.

Cisco says, "The effort is being staffed by some of the world's most foremost codec experts, including the legendary Gisle Bjøntegaard and Arild Fuldseth, both of whom have been heavy contributors to prior video codecs. We also hired patent lawyers and consultants familiar with this technology area. We created a new codec development process which would allow us to work through the long list of patents in this space, and continually evolve our codec to work around or avoid those patents."

IBM Locking Up Lots of Cloud Computing Patents 70

dkatana writes: In an article for InformationWeek Charles Babcock notes that IBM has been hoarding patents on every aspect of cloud computing. They've secured about 1,200 in the past 18 months, including ~400 so far this year. "For those who conceive of the cloud as an environment based on public standards with many shared elements, the grant of these patents isn't entirely reassuring." Babcock says, and he adds: "Whatever the intent, these patents illustrate how the cloud, even though it's conceived of as a shared environment following public standards, may be subject to some of the same intellectual property disputes and patent trolling as earlier, more directly proprietary environments."

Samsung Wants To Bring Back the Flip Phone With Bendable Screens 59

redletterdave writes: A new patent filed last April but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month suggests Samsung might be working on a smartphone that can bend in half like a flip phone. The biggest problem, according to the patent, is all the strain that accumulates by continually folding the display, or keeping the display folded for a long period of time, which can result in deformations and imperfections, Samsung notes. But Samsung's patent also describes how the phone could keep track of how long it's been in the folded and unfolded states, so as to alert the user of any strain that needs to be relieved. This could help extend the lifetime of the phone and its display.
GNU is Not Unix

Interviews: Ask Richard Stallman a Question 359

RMS founded the GNU Project, the Free Software Foundation, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.