Patents

Apple Ordered To Pay $506 Million In Damages For Processor Patent Infringement (hothardware.com) 118

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.
Businesses

Nokia Uses Lawsuit To Make Apple Its Friend (bbc.com) 8

Apple has settled a patent dispute with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to buy more of its network products and services. The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware. Nokia's shares were up by seven percent following the announcement. WSJ puts things into perspective: Nokia's deal with Apple follows a highly unusual playbook: using a lawsuit to win business from your adversary (could be paywalled). When the first iPhone was unveiled a decade ago, Apple became a major competitor to the Finnish group, which was then the world's leading mobile-phone maker. As Nokia's business dwindled, the companies became legal antagonists. Now they are set to become business partners. The settlement announced Tuesday involves Apple paying Nokia a lump sum plus royalties for each device it sells using Nokia's technology. This is broadly the same kind of agreement the two sides reached in 2011 following a two-year lawsuit. The previous deal expired last year, which is why both sides launched fresh suits in December. In the aftermath of the lawsuit last year, Apple had pulled all Withings products from its stores. As part of the settlement, Apple said it will reverse that move.
Patents

The Supreme Court Is Cracking Down on Patent Trolls (fortune.com) 112

The Supreme Court on Monday limited the ability of patent holders to bring infringement lawsuits in courts that have plaintiff friendly reputations, a notable decision that could provide a boost to companies that defend against patent claims. The high court, in an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled unanimously that a lower court has been following an incorrect legal standard for almost 30 years that made it possible for patent holders to sue companies in almost any U.S. jurisdiction. From a report: The justices sided 8-0 (PDF) with beverage flavoring company TC Heartland in its legal battle with food and beverage company Kraft Heinz, ruling that patent infringement suits can be filed only in courts located in the jurisdiction where the targeted company is incorporated. Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate in the decision. The decision overturned a ruling last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a Washington-based patent court, that said patent suits are fair game anywhere a defendant company's products are sold.
Patents

Apple Receives Patents For Bezel-Free Display, Touch ID Button Embedded In Screen (9to5mac.com) 176

Apple has just been granted patents for two of the biggest features expected from the iPhone 8: an edge-to-edge display, and a Touch ID button embedded into the screen. 9to5Mac reports: The edge-to-edge display patent has the rather mundane heading "Reducing the border area of a device." It describes how a mostly-flat display can have a curved border area allowing it to wrap around the sides of the device: [...] "This relates to methods and systems for reducing the border areas of an electronic device so as to maximize the display/interactive touch areas of the device. In particular, a flexible substrate can be used to fabricate the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel (referred to collectively herein as a 'circuit panel') of a mobile electronic device so that the edges of the display panel and/or the touch sensor panel can be bent. Bending the edges can reduce the width (or length) of the panel, which in turn can allow the overall device to be narrower without reducing the display/touch-active area of the device." The embedded Touch ID patent is one of many submitted by Apple, describing different approaches it could take. This one re-uses language from a separate patent granted back in February, describing the benefits of allowing a user to authenticate without having to remove their finger from the screen: "Where a fingerprint sensor is integrated into an electronic device or host device, for example, as noted above, it may be desirable to more quickly perform authentication, particularly while performing another task or an application on the electronic device. In other words, in some instances it may be undesirable to have a user perform an authentication in a separate authentication step, for example switching between tasks to perform the authentication." Apple has been granted a total of 56 patents today. For more information, visit Patently Apple.
Music

MP3 Is Not Dead, It's Finally Free (marco.org) 415

The commentary around IIS Fraunhofer and Technicolor terminating their MP3 licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software has been amusing. While some are interpreting this development as the demise of the MP3 format, others are cheering about MP3s finally being free. Developer and commentator Marco Arment tries to prevail sense: MP3 is no less alive now than it was last month or will be next year -- the last known MP3 patents have simply expired. So while there's a debate to be had -- in a moment -- about whether MP3 should still be used today, Fraunhofer's announcement has nothing to do with that, and is simply the ending of its patent-licensing program (because the patents have all expired) and a suggestion that we move to a newer, still-patented format. MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free. There has never been another audio format as widely supported as MP3, it's good enough for almost anything, and now, over twenty years since it took the world by storm, it's finally free.
Patents

Cloudflare Declares War On a Patent Troll With a $50,000 Bounty (fortune.com) 54

Internet security company Cloudflare has declared war on a company called Blackbird that consists of a group of lawyers who file patent lawsuits against tech and retail firms. In a blog post titled "Standing Up to a Dangerous New Breed of Patent Troll," Cloudflare called Blackbird's business model destruction and unethical, and announced a $50,000 bounty to anyone who would help invalidate Blackbird's patents. Fortune reports: "There's no social value here. There's no support for a maligned inventor. There's no competing business or product. There's no validation of an incentive structure that supports innovation. This is a shakedown where a patent troll, Blackbird Tech, creates as much nuisance as it can so its attorney-principals can try to grab some cash. Cloudflare does not intend to play along," said the blog post. While patent trolling has been around for years -- and is a particular bug bear of the tech industry -- Cloudflare says Blackbird's model of trolling involves a new and unethical twist. Specifically, the company says Blackbird's lawyer-executives are violating their professional obligations by buying the claims of potential clients and engaging in questionable fee-splitting arrangements. Here is how Cloudflare, which says it is filing complaints with the state bars of Massachusetts and Illinois, explains it: "Blackbird's 'new model' seems to be only that its operations set out to distort the traditional Attorney-Client relationship. Blackbird's website makes a direct pitch of its legal services to recruit clients with potential claims and then, instead of taking them on as a client, purchases their claims and provides additional consideration that likely gives the client an ongoing interest in the resulting litigation. In doing so, Blackbird is flouting its ethical obligations meant to protect clients and distorting the judicial process by obfuscating and limiting potential counterclaims against the real party in interest."
Microsoft

Microsoft Patents Flagging Technology For 'Repeat Offenders' Of Pirated Content (torrentfreak.com) 53

An anonymous reader quotes TorrentFreak's report on Microsoft's newest patent: Titled: "Disabling prohibited content and identifying repeat offenders in service provider storage systems," the patent describes a system where copyright infringers, and those who publish other objectionable content, are flagged so that frequent offenders can be singled out... "The incident history can be processed to identify repeat offenders and modify access privileges of those users," the patent reads. [PDF] The "repeat infringer" is a hot topic at the moment, after ISP Cox Communications was ordered to pay $25 million for its failure to disconnect repeat offenders...

As far a we know, this is the first patent that specifically deals with the repeat infringer situation in these hosting situations, but it's not uncommon for cloud hosting services to prevent users from sharing infringing content. We previously uncovered that Google Drive uses hash matching to prevent people from sharing "flagged" files in public, and Dropbox does the same.

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