If you follow patent litigation news, the name "Lodsys" has the same kind of weight as, say, Kim Jong Un or Robert Ford: when you see it, you just know something crazy is going on. But it looks like the legendary patent troll has fallen on hard times, as its website domain has been allowed to expire. The domain is currently being held by Register.com, which has not re-listed it for sale.
In a triumphant post to its blog today, Rackspace announced that Rotatable Technologies is now "an ex-patent troll." This new designation for Rotatable Technologies comes after the US Patent and Trademark Office declared its patent (6,326,978) unpatentable. Last year, Rotatable Technologies decided to go after Rackspace over the patent, demanding $75,000. Rackspace chose to fight not just the case but the patent itself.
What is patent 6,326,978? It was a patent covering "a display method for selectively rotating windows on a computer display including a window for a computer display having a frame and a display portion.
It's not a complete truce, but Samsung and Apple are backing down slightly from their ongoing patent war. The companies have issued a joint statement announcing the agreement to end all patent litigation between the two outside the US. Cases in the US will continue, though.
Apple first sued Samsung in 2011 for copying the look and feel of iOS in its TouchWiz Android skin. Samsung fired back, and the battle has raged on across the globe ever since.
Asus has lately become the king of anime-style transforming electronics, with their Transformer tablet line and Padfone devices. It looks like Google is paying attention, at least when it comes to conceptual hardware. US patent 8,649,821, granted to Google in February of this year, describes a laptop with a built-in and detachable cell phone, with the two working in tandem for various functions. While Android and Chromebooks aren't specifically mentioned in the patent documentation, it's easy to assume they were on the engineers' minds, since it was filed in September of 2012.
Apple and Google have been fighting it out over patents ever since Android devices went on sale. Until today, that involved more than 20 ongoing lawsuits (in the US and Germany) between the two technology behemoths. In a joint statement earlier today, Apple and Google have announced all that is over. They will be ending the patent cases and will instead work to reform patent law.
This certainly sounds great, but it's probably not as significant as you're imagining.
You can't run a tech company these days without infringing on someone's patents, and if you feel that you're infringee material, the Eastern District of Texas is the place to set up shop. SimpleAir, a Texas-based "inventor-owned technology licensing company," took Google to court over push messaging systems used in Android. Last month a jury found that Google infringed on all five of the asserted claims, leaving the company liable to pay up to $125 million for damages.
It wasn't that long ago when Google announced that it had entered a cross-licensing deal with Samsung, and just two days ago, it entered one with Cisco as well. Not to be left out, Samsung announced today that it, too, had signed a deal with Cisco. As a part of this deal, both companies will have access to the other's patent portfolios for the next ten years.
Like the deals that came before, this agreement aims to reduce the risk of unnecessary patent lawsuits in the future.
Google made news recently when it announced a cross-licensing deal with Samsung, but it's already moving on to another. The search giant has entered into a second such deal with network management firm Cisco. This might be the start of a pattern.
Through its official global blog, Samsung today announced a new patent licensing deal reached with Google, whereby both companies will have access to each other's existing patents and those filed over the next ten years, covering "a broad range of technologies and business areas."
The cross-licensing agreement is described by Google's Deputy General Counsel for Patents, Allen Lo, as one that will help the two giants "reduce the potential for litigation, and focus instead on innovation." Indeed that has been a popular refrain as both Google and Samsung have historically faced (and continue to face) patent challenges from various other companies on various grounds.
HP sold off most of webOS to LG last year, but it was still sitting on a lot of the patents it got when buying the company back in 2010. Qualcomm has announced today that it was happy to take those patents off HP's hands, along with some other choice bits of IP.
In addition to the Palm patents, Qualcomm is getting IP covering HP's now defunct IPAQ devices and Bitfone mobile software (from an acquisition back in 2006).