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Posts Tagged ‘patent lawsuits’

Samsung Retaliates Against Ericsson With Patent Complaint

December 27th, 2012 12:02 admin View Comments

Patents

An anonymous reader writes “The wireless patent wars don’t pause at Christmas time, keeping numerous IP lawyers (and a certain litigation watcher) busy even at this time of year. No one seriously expected Samsung to turn the other cheek when Ericsson sued it and requested a U.S. import ban against a host of Galaxy devices. The Korean electronics giant, which is increasingly competing with Ericsson in the telecoms infrastructure market, just filed an ITC complaint of its own. The title of the complaint is Certain Wireless Communication Equipment and Articles Therein. That description would apply to dozens, no: hundreds, of patent lawsuits in the world. The complaint has not been published yet, but it would be out of character for Samsung not to assert some of its patents on wireless industry standards (and maybe some others, too).” (Also at the BBC.)

Source: Samsung Retaliates Against Ericsson With Patent Complaint

The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents

December 19th, 2012 12:41 admin View Comments

Electronic Frontier Foundation

l2718 writes “The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today a large donation by Mark Cuban and Markus ‘Notch’ Persson to the EFF Patent Project. Notably, part of Cuban’s donation is for the creation of the ‘Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents’ (the first holder is current staff attorney Julie Samuels). Time will tell if the new title will help her advocacy work. Cuban said, ‘The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful,” said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. “Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That’s bad for consumers and bad for business. It’s time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help.’ Notch added, ‘New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. ‘”

Source: The Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents

Samsung Expected To Sue Apple Over iPhone 5 LTE Networking

September 11th, 2012 09:26 admin View Comments

Networking

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: “The courtroom battle between Apple and Samsung seems to be far from over, and come tomorrow Apple is in for a major headache as soon as it makes the iPhone 5 official. That’s because Samsung is poised to sue the company over patents it owns relating to LTE connectivity the new smartphone is expected to use. All Samsung needs to confirm is that the iPhone 5 is shipping with 4G LTE and it can then apparently set its lawyers into action. As is typical with these patent lawsuits, Samsung will most likely seek an import ban meaning the iPhone 5 may not be able to leave its manufacturing plants and make it to the US to fulfill pre-orders. If such a thing ruling was made, Apple would most likely do a deal that meant it no longer pursued Samsung product bans, and might even forget about that billion dollar payout.” Samsung’s not the only one hoping to gain some leverage: itwbennett writes “Apple’s iPhone 5 and iPad 3 may violate a pair of patents bought by HTC back in April 2011 that cover methods used in 4g devices for faster downloads. International Trade Commission judge Thomas Pender said it would take ‘clear and convincing’ evidence to renounce the U.S. patents.”

Source: Samsung Expected To Sue Apple Over iPhone 5 LTE Networking

Patent Troll Now Armed With Thousands of Nortel Patents

May 27th, 2012 05:55 admin View Comments

Patents

dgharmon writes in with a story about the final outcome of thousands of Nortel patents that were bought last July. “You may recall last summer that Apple, Microsoft, EMC, RIM, Ericsson and Sony all teamed up to buy Nortel’s patents for $4.5 billion. They beat out a team of Google and Intel who bid a bit less. While there was some antitrust scrutiny over the deal, it was dropped and the purchase went through. Apparently, the new owners picked off a bunch of patents to transfer to themselves… and then all (minus EMC, who, one hopes, was horrified by the plans) decided to support a massive new patent troll armed with the remaining 4,000 patents. The company is called Rockstar Consortium, and it’s run by the folks who used to run Nortel’s patent licensing program anyway — but now employs people whose job it is to just find other companies to threaten:” In a semi-related note, there is a new petition to the Whitehouse to make a law that patent lawsuits that find for the defendant automatically fine the plaintiff three times the damages they were seeking.”

Source: Patent Troll Now Armed With Thousands of Nortel Patents

The Mobile Patent Wars: Are we Ready for This to go Thermonuclear?

February 15th, 2012 02:30 admin View Comments

shutterstock_nuclear_explosion.jpg

Everybody is armed, forces are deployed and the battleground is chosen. Let’s get this thermonuclear war started.

2011 was the year that the major mobile platform providers loaded up with ammunition in the upcoming world war between Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Google. Apple acquired patents from Novell while the “Rock Star” group of RIM, Microsoft and Apple won the majority of Nortel’s patents. Google went big and bought everything that Motorola owned. We know all of this already. But, that was just the staging area. The real test will be in 2012. On Monday, the United States Department of Justice approved all of those acquisitions in one fell swoop.

Steve Jobs promised to go “thermonuclear” on Android over patent violations. That seems to be a dying wish that Apple is willing to pursue. Now that the big guns are out, what will be the consequence to the mobile ecosystem? Will the arms race force a détente, powerful patent portfolios canceling each other out? Or is this the beginning of disruptive lawsuits that ultimately becomes harmful to consumers looking for choice?

Where the Guns are Pointed

We are going to try to make this as simple as possible. If you want the real grit on patent lawsuits, check out our coverage here or check on various patent issues.

For the first few rounds of patent battles, Microsoft and Apple fought a proxy war with Android and Google by bringing patent lawsuits against Android OEMs like Samsung, HTC and Motorola. The only company coming directly after Google over mobile patents was Oracle, based on its acquisition of Sun Microsystems and Android’s use of Java.

Apple’s cold war with Android focused on getting Android devices off the shelves in key markets. Both Samsung and HTC felt the brunt of Apple’s lawsuits. Motorola has caught Apple’s recent ire, with a new “anti-suit” filed this week in San Diego that accuses Motorola of using “FRAND” patents in lawsuits. FRAND stands for “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory.” A patent is determined to be a FRAND if it becomes an industry standard. Motorola, as one of the founding fathers of mobility, owns a boatload of “essential” patents, many of which surround various implementations of “3G.”

The blow-by-blow of patent battles is an onerous study. Trying to explain Apple’s “anti-suit” against Motorola in regards to Qualcomm based-band patents is like trying to have a conversation about quantum mechanics underwater. In this discussion, the blow-by-blow is not the point. What it boils down to is the idea of essential patents. Motorola owns many of the industry standard patents and says that it will cap its licensing fee of these patents at 2.25% of every device sold. In a market that has billions of dollars at stake, 2.25% is a pretty significant number.

The troubling thing about Motorola’s suits that have use the essential patents is that it could set a difficult precedent for the industry. The notion of FRAND is that companies do not bring essential patents to court because it is not fair or reasonable to impose fees on the entire industry on industry standard technology.

The thing about all the recent patent acquisitions is that every one of the major players in the ecosystem now own significant numbers of essential patents. Nortel and Novell patent repositories held significant numbers of essential patents, one of the reasons that the bidding was out of control.

This chart from Reuters was published in Aug. 2011 but still gives a pretty good idea of who is suing whom in the patent wars.

Reuters_Patent_Chart.jpg

The question now becomes: what will be done with these patents?

The Cost to the Consumer

The primary concerns the U.S. Department of Justice expressed when approving the three acquisitions surrounded these standard essential patents (SEPs). For a breakdown of the issue, read the DOJ’s full statement issued on Monday regarding the approval process.

There are a few key takeaways:

  • The division’s concerns about the potential anticompetitive use of SEPs was lessened by the clear commitments by Apple and Microsoft to license SEPs on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, as well as their commitments not to seek injunctions in disputes involving SEPs. Google’s commitments were more ambiguous and do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies.

  • Apple’s and Google’s substantial share of mobile platforms makes it more likely that as the owners of additional SEPs they could hold up rivals, thus harming competition and innovation. For example, Apple would likely benefit significantly through increased sales of its devices if it could exclude Android-based phones from the market or raise the costs of such phones through IP-licenses or patent litigation. Google could similarly benefit by raising the costs of, or excluding, Apple devices because of the revenues it derives from Android-based devices

The DOJ noted that Microsoft and RIM’s low market share makes it unlikely either company could bring lawsuits based on essential patents because it would ultimately prove unprofitable.

Where does this whole mess lead us? The DOJ’s concerns are that patent litigation will lead to competitors extorting higher rates from each other, hence making it less profitable to be in the mobile business and more expensive for the consumer. While Motorola or other Android OEMs would love to block the sale of Apple products in certain countries, the real goal is to extract money from the iPhone maker. Apple has plenty of money and one of the reasons it is sitting on its pile of cash is to fight these lawsuits and provide a buffer to its profitability. Apple has the ability to have Android devices taken off store shelves and has done it with HTC and Samsung in the past.

So, what does thermonuclear patent war look like? Higher prices for consumers, the squeezing of the ecosystem in such a way that weaker companies die off, stifling of innovation because of regulatory or legal concerns and the slowdown of product releases that have the potential to shape the fundamental nature of how people live there lives.

Without Android, Apple would love to issue every man, woman and child in the world an iPhone, subsidized through the carriers. It can continue its iterative and boring product release schedule. Android would love to push the iPhone and its profit gobbling monstrosity out of the industry but then people would be deprived of the one splendid device that has come to define a generation.

Patent agreements, especially surrounding standard essential patents, are a cost of doing business in our modern industry. But, when business start taking innovative products off shelves and forcing competitors into bankruptcy, a line has been crossed. The industry now stands on the edge of a knife. With everybody armed to the teeth will they find a way to co-exist or will they fire their warheads to the detriment of all?

Source: The Mobile Patent Wars: Are we Ready for This to go Thermonuclear?

German Appeals Court Confirms Galaxy Tab 10.1 Ban

January 31st, 2012 01:45 admin View Comments

Patents

New submitter Killer Panda sends word that a German Appeals Court has upheld the injunction prohibiting sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany. Apple convinced lower courts to issue and uphold the injunction last year by making the case that Samsung’s devices “slavishly” copied the iPhone and iPad. “Samsung, which is Apple’s supplier as well as a competitor, has been trying to have the German decision overturned while also seeking other means to fight Apple. It redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for the German market only and named it Galaxy Tab 10.1N to get around the sales ban. Apple challenged the reworked version but a German court last month rejected Apple’s claims in a preliminary judgment.” The European Union announced some more bad news for Samsung: they’ll be investigating the company to see whether its use of patent lawsuits is illegally hindering other companies’ use of standardized 3G technology. “Under EU patent rules, a company that hold patents for standardized products are required to license them out indiscriminately at a fair price.”

Source: German Appeals Court Confirms Galaxy Tab 10.1 Ban

Kodak Sues HTC and Apple

January 11th, 2012 01:57 admin View Comments

Patents

alphadogg writes “Here we go again with mobile industry patent lawsuits: ‘Struggling Eastman Kodak is alleging that Apple’s and HTC’s smartphones and tablets infringe on its digital imaging technology, and has filed a complaint and lawsuits with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The complaint to the ITC claims that some of Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and iPods, and HTC’s smartphones and tablets, infringe Kodak patents related to technology for transmitting images. Kodak also alleges that HTC’s smartphones infringe on a patent related to a method for previewing images, which is already the subject of pending actions against Apple.’”

Source: Kodak Sues HTC and Apple

2012 Predictions, Cloud Edition: Joe Brockmeier

December 22nd, 2011 12:00 admin View Comments

predictions.jpgOne of the nice things about following cloud technologies and virtualization? It’s never boring, especially given how new cloud technologies are. That means that there’s plenty of room for change, and ample speculation about where the industry is going. While we usually spend time reporting on what’s just happened and the impact it will have in the near future, the end of the year gives us an opportunity to pull out the crystal ball and think about what’s coming in the year ahead. In short, my forecast for 2012 calls for consolidation, continued domination of Amazon Web Services and scattered patent suits.

Patent Nastiness

One of the biggest disappointments for me in the 12-plus years that I’ve been writing about technology is the increasing amount of time and attention that one has to devote to patent lawsuits. Unfortunately, that trend doesn’t seem to be reversing itself.

A quick, cursory search for “cloud” in just the title of patent claims shows more than 181 hits. (Though, to be fair, some of them are unrelated to cloud services – like this one.)

The “good” news is that the major players may have little to gain from suing each other, since they all have major patent portfolios. The bad news is that patent trolls have nothing to lose from suing Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, Rackspace or any of the other companies doing business in the cloud. I expect to start seeing some shakedowns around cloud-related patents in 2012.

Storage Shortage

It’s no secret that there’s a growing shortage in hard drives, which is driving prices up and causing major problems for suppliers.

What hasn’t been discussed much is the effect on providers like Amazon, Rackspace, Google and others that consume a lot of hardware. Expect them to take a slight hit, and look for prices for cloud storage to hold steady if not increase.

It’s the APIs, Stupid

While OpenStack has gotten quite a bit of attention since its debut in 2010, it’s actually not in widespread use. And if the project doesn’t change its position on APIs, it may stay that way. As OpenStack matures, a big part of the real competition between OpenStack and Amazon Web Services will be in getting developer support for the APIs. Going forward, OpenStack is planning to deprecate the API support for EC2 “because it does not help OpenStack long term to maintain Amazon EC2 APIs over its own.”

This is an unfortunate and probably foolish move on the part of the OpenStack project. It doesn’t serve the industry well, and attempting to force developers to choose may have the unintended effect of slowing OpenStack adoption.

OpenStack supporters have drawn parallels between OpenStack and Linux, and there are several. Like Linux, OpenStack has gotten widespread industry support and could become the commodity operating system for the cloud. (So to speak.) However, unlike Linux, the OpenStack project is trying to “win” by not playing well with others.

One of the reasons that Linux has succeeded so wildly is that it was a drop-in replacement for other operating systems, or very nearly so. It was UNIX-like enough that it won over UNIX admins and developers, because it had the additional advantage of being open. The OpenStack project is throwing away a potential advantage by refusing to be AWS compatible, and I suspect that’s going to bite them in the posterior in 2012.

Mark Shuttleworth had a post worth reading in September, comparing cloud APIs to HTTP. Says Shuttleworth, “cloud infrastructure is looking for its HTTP. I think that standard already exists in de facto form today at AWS, with EC2, S3 and some of the credential mechanisms being essentially the core primitives of cloud infrastructure management.” There’s room for innovation in implementation (just as there has been with Apache, IIS and Nginx to name a few) innovation at the protocol/API layer? Not so much. “I’m of the view that any projects which try to do so will fail and are not worth spending your or my time on. They are going to be about as successful as projects that try to reinvent HTTP to make it better/faster/cleaner/whatever.”

“All the proprietary and ad-hoc things that preceded HTTP have died, and good riddance,” says Shuttleworth. “Similarly, cloud infrastructure will converge around a standard API which will be imperfect but real. Innovation is all about how that API is implemented, not which API it is.”

I doubt that not adopting AWS APIs will be fatal for OpenStack, but it’s going to be painful in terms of adoption. The Eucalyptus folks get that AWS is the standard and that they can co-exist with AWS because Amazon doesn’t seem at all likely to get into the business of on-premise software, so I’d look for that company to have a pretty good 2012.

Acquisition Targets

It’s not hard to predict that some companies in the cloud space will be picked up in 2012, but it’s a little harder to guess which ones. Here’s my list of companies that I think are likely to be picked up in 2012.

  • Nginx
  • Cloudera
  • Hortonworks
  • Joyent

Note that this isn’t all-inclusive, so when we look back at the end of 2012 and all of these companies remain independent, I’ll take my lumps. But I’m not saying I’ve predicted all the companies that might be acquired, because my crystal ball just isn’t that finely tuned. If it was, I’d be too busy winning the lottery every week to make any technology predictions.

So that’s my list for 2012: What’s yours? What do you think is going to happen in 2012 in the world of tech? I’m particularly interested in thoughts around cloud and virtualization, but if you’ve got some predictions on other tech, let’s hear those too.

Source: 2012 Predictions, Cloud Edition: Joe Brockmeier

2012 Predictions, Cloud Edition: Joe Brockmeier

December 22nd, 2011 12:00 admin View Comments

predictions.jpgOne of the nice things about following cloud technologies and virtualization? It’s never boring, especially given how new cloud technologies are. That means that there’s plenty of room for change, and ample speculation about where the industry is going. While we usually spend time reporting on what’s just happened and the impact it will have in the near future, the end of the year gives us an opportunity to pull out the crystal ball and think about what’s coming in the year ahead. In short, my forecast for 2012 calls for consolidation, continued domination of Amazon Web Services and scattered patent suits.

Patent Nastiness

One of the biggest disappointments for me in the 12-plus years that I’ve been writing about technology is the increasing amount of time and attention that one has to devote to patent lawsuits. Unfortunately, that trend doesn’t seem to be reversing itself.

A quick, cursory search for “cloud” in just the title of patent claims shows more than 181 hits. (Though, to be fair, some of them are unrelated to cloud services – like this one.)

The “good” news is that the major players may have little to gain from suing each other, since they all have major patent portfolios. The bad news is that patent trolls have nothing to lose from suing Amazon, Microsoft, VMware, Rackspace or any of the other companies doing business in the cloud. I expect to start seeing some shakedowns around cloud-related patents in 2012.

Storage Shortage

It’s no secret that there’s a growing shortage in hard drives, which is driving prices up and causing major problems for suppliers.

What hasn’t been discussed much is the effect on providers like Amazon, Rackspace, Google and others that consume a lot of hardware. Expect them to take a slight hit, and look for prices for cloud storage to hold steady if not increase.

It’s the APIs, Stupid

While OpenStack has gotten quite a bit of attention since its debut in 2010, it’s actually not in widespread use. And if the project doesn’t change its position on APIs, it may stay that way. As OpenStack matures, a big part of the real competition between OpenStack and Amazon Web Services will be in getting developer support for the APIs. Going forward, OpenStack is planning to deprecate the API support for EC2 “because it does not help OpenStack long term to maintain Amazon EC2 APIs over its own.”

This is an unfortunate and probably foolish move on the part of the OpenStack project. It doesn’t serve the industry well, and attempting to force developers to choose may have the unintended effect of slowing OpenStack adoption.

OpenStack supporters have drawn parallels between OpenStack and Linux, and there are several. Like Linux, OpenStack has gotten widespread industry support and could become the commodity operating system for the cloud. (So to speak.) However, unlike Linux, the OpenStack project is trying to “win” by not playing well with others.

One of the reasons that Linux has succeeded so wildly is that it was a drop-in replacement for other operating systems, or very nearly so. It was UNIX-like enough that it won over UNIX admins and developers, because it had the additional advantage of being open. The OpenStack project is throwing away a potential advantage by refusing to be AWS compatible, and I suspect that’s going to bite them in the posterior in 2012.

Mark Shuttleworth had a post worth reading in September, comparing cloud APIs to HTTP. Says Shuttleworth, “cloud infrastructure is looking for its HTTP. I think that standard already exists in de facto form today at AWS, with EC2, S3 and some of the credential mechanisms being essentially the core primitives of cloud infrastructure management.” There’s room for innovation in implementation (just as there has been with Apache, IIS and Nginx to name a few) innovation at the protocol/API layer? Not so much. “I’m of the view that any projects which try to do so will fail and are not worth spending your or my time on. They are going to be about as successful as projects that try to reinvent HTTP to make it better/faster/cleaner/whatever.”

“All the proprietary and ad-hoc things that preceded HTTP have died, and good riddance,” says Shuttleworth. “Similarly, cloud infrastructure will converge around a standard API which will be imperfect but real. Innovation is all about how that API is implemented, not which API it is.”

I doubt that not adopting AWS APIs will be fatal for OpenStack, but it’s going to be painful in terms of adoption. The Eucalyptus folks get that AWS is the standard and that they can co-exist with AWS because Amazon doesn’t seem at all likely to get into the business of on-premise software, so I’d look for that company to have a pretty good 2012.

Acquisition Targets

It’s not hard to predict that some companies in the cloud space will be picked up in 2012, but it’s a little harder to guess which ones. Here’s my list of companies that I think are likely to be picked up in 2012.

  • Nginx
  • Cloudera
  • Hortonworks
  • Joyent

Note that this isn’t all-inclusive, so when we look back at the end of 2012 and all of these companies remain independent, I’ll take my lumps. But I’m not saying I’ve predicted all the companies that might be acquired, because my crystal ball just isn’t that finely tuned. If it was, I’d be too busy winning the lottery every week to make any technology predictions.

So that’s my list for 2012: What’s yours? What do you think is going to happen in 2012 in the world of tech? I’m particularly interested in thoughts around cloud and virtualization, but if you’ve got some predictions on other tech, let’s hear those too.

Source: 2012 Predictions, Cloud Edition: Joe Brockmeier

Two Rambus Patents Invalidated By USPTO

September 13th, 2011 09:20 admin View Comments

Patents

First time accepted submitter rnswebx writes “Two patents that chip designer Rambus used to win patent lawsuits against Nvidia, HP, and others have been declared invalid by the USPTO.” The Inquirer has a similar story up, with appropriately snarky sub-head.

Source: Two Rambus Patents Invalidated By USPTO

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