Barence writes "The vice president of the European Commission's Competition unit has warned Nokia not to become a 'patent troll'. Nokia is in the process of selling its devices business to Microsoft, giving rise to fears that the remaining part of Nokia will make more aggressive use of its patents portfolio. Vice president Joaquin Almunia said that the commission had dismissed the possibility that 'Nokia would be tempted to behave like a patent troll' when it cleared the way for Microsoft to acquire Nokia's devices division – but warned that 'if Nokia were to take illegal advantage of its patents in the future, we will open an antitrust case.' 'I sincerely hope we will not have to,' said Almunia."
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theodp writes "Among the patents granted to Facebook this week by the USPTO is one for Inferring Household Income for Users of a Social Networking System. 'For example,' Facebook explains, 'an assumption might be made about a user that reads CNN.com and nytimes.com every day that the user is in a higher income bracket than another user that only reads TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com on the theory that a user who reads newspapers might be assumed to make more money than a user who only reads celebrity gossip blogs.' Advertisements such as those for travel packages, cars, and home mortgages, Facebook adds, 'are targeted to users based on income bracket,' which might also be inferred by 'gathering and analyzing different types of information about a user's geographic location.' Hey, what could go wrong?"
walterbyrd sends this news from Techworld: "A Microsoft storage patent that was used to get a sales ban on products from Google-owned Motorola Mobility in Germany has been invalidated by the German Federal Patent Court. Microsoft's FAT (File Allocation Table) patent, which concerns a 'common name space for long and short filenames' was invalidated on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Federal Patent Court said in an email Friday. She could not give the exact reasons for the court's decision before the written judicial decision is released, which will take a few weeks."
New submitter chrylis writes "SCOTUSblog is reporting that the U.S. Supreme Court has accepted an appeal in Alice v. CLS Bank, a case in which the Federal Circuit ruled haphazardly that the particular patents in question were invalid but did not address the issue of software patents generally. 'The case will provide a new test of the Patent Act’s most basic provision — Section 101, which broadly outlines what kinds of inventions are patentable. One of the long-standing exceptions to the types of inventions mentioned in that section is that an abstract idea can never be patented. That issue arises frequently these days, especially with rapidly developing technology in computer software. The EFF wrote a summary of the issues in the case when it was before the Federal Circuit this spring. The case files are also available."
snydeq writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Innovation Act, dealing trolls a severe blow despite opposition from universities looking to protect patents, InfoWorld's Simon Phipps reports. The act cleared the House of Representatives with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91 despite opposition from the organizations most likely to feed new patents to the trolls. 'So bravo to the Innovation Act. It's far from perfect, as the EFF documents and as I commented before the holiday. But it's a step in the right direction, and the tidal surge of support it's seeing suggests legislators' appetite for proper patent reform is finally growing strong enough for them to contemplate substantial change.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "In 2012, Oracle took Google to court over Java. In the balance hung the legalities of writing code to mimic the functionality of copyrighted software. The trial was set to determine how all future software would be written (and by whom). Oracle's entire case boiled down to an inadvertent 9 lines of code; an argument over a simple and basic comparison of a range of numbers. The presiding judge (who had some background in writing software) didn't buy it stating he had 'written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before.' A victory for more than just Google. This week, however, Microsoft, EMC, Oracle and Netapp have filed for appeal and seek to reverse the ruling. It's not looking good as the new bevy of judges Indicating they may side with Oracle on the issue."
curtwoodward writes "Nearly four years after the concept was introduced, MIT spinout Superpedestrian has started selling its $700 'Copenhagen wheel' kits that promise to turn any old bike into an electric-powered, smartphone-connected dynamo, simply by swapping out the back wheel. But they're not alone: a competing startup called FlyKly has already raised $700,000 worth of pre-orders for a similar device. Superpedestrian, which holds exclusive license to the MIT patents covering the Copenhagen wheel, clearly thinks there's some foul play going on. 'Their founder actually dropped by our lab at MIT a year and a half ago, saying he wants to collaborate, and spent quite some time with the Copenhagen wheel team. We'll leave it at that,' Superpedestrian founder Assaf Biderman said."
Jah-Wren Ryel sends this quote from Ars: "Newegg, an online retailer that has made a name for itself fighting the non-practicing patent holders sometimes called 'patent trolls,' sits on the losing end of a lawsuit tonight. An eight-person jury came back shortly after 7:00pm and found that the company infringed all four asserted claims of a patent owned by TQP Development, a company owned by patent enforcement expert Erich Spangenberg. The jury also found that the patent was valid, apparently rejecting arguments by famed cryptographer Whitfield Diffie. Diffie took the stand on Friday to argue on behalf of Newegg and against the patent. In total, the jury ordered Newegg to pay $2.3 million, a bit less than half of the $5.1 million TQP's damage expert suggested. ... TQP's single patent is tied to a failed modem business run by Michael Jones, formerly president of Telequip. TQP has acquired more than $45 million in patent licensing fees by getting settlements from a total of 139 companies since TQP argues that its patent covers SSL or TLS combined with the RC4 cipher, a common Internet security system used by retailers like Newegg."
itwbennett writes "After 3 days of deliberations, a jury has ordered Samsung to pay $290 million to Apple for infringement of several of its patents in multiple Samsung smartphones and tablets. The verdict is the second victory for Apple in its multiyear patent fight against Samsung in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Last year a jury in the same San Jose courtroom ruled Samsung should pay just over $1 billion for infringement of five Apple patents in multiple Samsung phones and tablets. But afterward, Judge Lucy Koh ordered a new trial to reconsider $450 million of the damages after finding the previous jury had applied an 'impermissible legal theory' to its calculations. Thursday's verdict is the result of that new trial."
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington post reports on the progress of a piece of legislation many hoped would address the glut of meaningless software patents used as weapons by patent trolls. Unfortunately, the provision that would have helped the USPTO nix these patents has been nixed itself. The article credits IBM, Microsoft, and other companies with huge patent portfolios for the change, citing an 'aggressive lobbying campaign' that apparently succeeded. Quoting: 'A September letter signed by IBM, Microsoft and several dozen other firms made the case against expanding the program. The proposal, they wrote, "could harm U.S. innovators by unnecessarily undermining the rights of patent holders. Subjecting data processing patents to the CBM program would create uncertainty and risk that discourage investment in any number of fields where we should be trying to spur continued innovation." ... Last week, IBM escalated its campaign against expanding the CBM program. An IBM spokesman told Politico, "While we support what Mr. Goodlatte's trying to do on trolls, if the CBM is included, we'd be forced to oppose the bill." Insiders say the campaign against the CBM provisions of the Goodlatte bill has succeeded. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a markup of the legislation Wednesday, and Goodlatte will introduce a "manager's amendment" to remove the CBM language from his own bill. IBM hailed that change in a Monday letter to Goodlatte.'"
theodp writes "Google takes Scroogling to new heights with its just-patented Automated Generation of Suggestions for Personalized Reactions in a Social Network, which not only data mines "e-mail systems, SMS/MMS systems, micro blogging systems, social networks or other systems" to get the buzz on your social circle, but also uses the data it collects to make like ELIZA and formulate appropriate responses for you to send as if they were your own (e.g., 'Happy Birthday, Mom!). Wouldn't Turing be so proud! From the patent: 'In a third example, a friend, David, sends Alice public or private message of a particular but regularly encountered message type (e.g., "how are you doing?" a common way to greet someone in the United States). The suggestion generation module suggest a good set of reactions to David, for example, based on the professional profile of David from the social network indicating that David has changed employers. The suggestion generation module generates a reply message such as "Hey David, I am fine, You were in ABC corp. for 3 years and you recently moved to XYZ corp., how do you feel about the difference, enjoying your new workplace?" The content of this suggestion are based on 1) prior conversations between Alice and David, 2) previous messages sent by Alice to other friends and 3) messages (sent by other connections in Alice's friend circle to David) which are either publicly or privately accessible to Alice, or some combination of these. Thus, the suggestion generation module generates messages that are personalized based upon both the sender and recipient using information that is accessible (public or private) to the sender.' Looks like Facebook may not be the only one strip-mining human society!"
mrspoonsi writes "Nokia shareholders met today at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to vote on whether or not to accept the terms of the company's proposed sale of its devices and services business to Microsoft. The deal, which was first announced in September, is worth €5.44bn EUR ($7.35bn USD / £4.57bn GBP), and also includes provisions for Microsoft to license patents from the Finnish company. 78% of those eligible to vote had already voted before the EGM. Of those early votes, a staggering 99% had voted in favour of the sale to Microsoft."
langelgjm writes "As /. reported, last Thursday Wikileaks released a draft text of the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Since then, many commentators have raised alarm about its contents. But what happens when you mix the leaked text together with Perl regular expressions and R's network analysis packages? You get some neat visualizations showing just how isolated the United States is in pushing for extreme copyright and patent laws."
theodp writes "In June, Google unveiled Project Loon to acclaim from the press for its "moonshot" project that aims to use high-altitude balloons to cheaply provide internet connectivity to rural, remote, and underserved areas of the developing world. So it's interesting to see that a just-published Google patent application for Balloon Clumping to Provide Bandwidth Requested in Advance, which pre-dated the Loon launch by a year, paints a not entirely altruistic picture of balloon-powered Internet access technology. Google describes the invention — which had been kept secret with a non-publication request — as just the ticket for those well-to-do enough to pay a tiered-pricing premium to get faster internet access while attending concerts, conferences, air shows, music festivals, and sporting events where a facility's overtaxed Wi-Fi simply won't do. Hope this revelation doesn't make Bill Gates think any less of the project!"
nk497 writes "A Motorola Mobility patent application proposes using an 'electronic skin tattoo' as a smartphone microphone and wireless transceiver. The temporary tattoo would also include a 'power supply configured to receive energizing signals from a personal area network,' according to the filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office. It would be applied to 'a throat region of a body' — otherwise known as the neck. Motorola thinks the technology would be ideal for noisy environments, such as large stadiums and busy streets, or in emergency situations."
mrspoonsi sends this report from Business Insider: "Microsoft is generating $2 billion per year in revenue from Android patent royalties, says Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund in a new note on the company. He estimates that the Android revenue has a 95% margin, so it's pretty much all profit. This money, says Sherlund, helps Microsoft hide the fact that its mobile and Xbox groups are burning serious cash."
theodp writes "A pending Google patent for Identifying Prospective Employee Candidates via Employee Connections lays out plans for data mining employees' social graphs to find top job candidates. According to the patent application, the system would consider factors including the performance of the employees at the company whose circles you are in — under the assumption that the friends of top performers are more likely to be top performers themselves. It's the invention of three Googlers, including an HR VP who was quoted recently in an article that questioned the wisdom of certain Google hiring practices said to encourage 'echo chamber' hiring."
New submitter GODISNOWHERE writes "Nortel went bankrupt in 2009. In 2011, it held an auction for its massive patent portfolio. The winners of the auction were Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM, and others, who bought the patents for $4.5 billion as a consortium named Rockstar Bidco. At the time, many people speculated those patents would be used against Google, who bid separately but lost. It turns out they were right. Rockstar has filed eight lawsuits in federal court targeting Google and Android device manufacturers. 'The complaint (PDF) against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent "family." They're all titled "associative search engine," and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe "an advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network. The oldest patent in the case is US Patent No. 6,098,065, with a filing date of 1997, one year before Google was founded. The newest patent in the suit was filed in 2007 and granted in 2011. The complaint tries to use the fact that Google bid for the patents as an extra point against the search giant.'"
SD-Arcadia writes "Mozilla Blog: 'Cisco has announced today that they are going to release a gratis, high quality, open source H.264 implementation — along with gratis binary modules compiled from that source and hosted by Cisco for download. This move enables any open source project to incorporate Cisco's H.264 module without paying MEPG LA license fees. Of course, this is not a not a complete solution. In a perfect world, codecs, like other basic Internet technologies such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML, would be fully open and free for anyone to modify, recompile, and redistribute without license agreements or fees. Mozilla is fully committed to working towards that better future. To that end, we are developing Daala, a fully open next generation codec. Daala is still under development, but our goal is to leapfrog H.265 and VP9, building a codec that will be both higher-quality and free of encumbrances.'"
judgecorp writes "Hewlett-Packard wants to cash in a lot of mobile patents, as part of Meg Whitman's restructuring, according to reports. HP acquired the WebOS operating system, as seen on phones and tablets, when it bought Palm, but failed to build a business on it. It's since sold its WebOS business to LG for use in TVs and cars but hung onto the patents which are licensed to LG. Now, Bloomberg reports the patents themselves may be for sale — possibly to whoever fails to buy BlackBerry's tempting bundle of mobile technology."