If you haven't heard, Germany has pretty much become the hotspot for smartphone and tablet patent litigation. Most recently, HTC has been hitting headlines in its ongoing battle against IPCom, an intellectual property firm. IPCom claims that HTC's smartphones violate a number of its patents in the realm of 3G GSM technology. HTC says that the last time it made a phone which might have violated those patents was in 2009, and that it has since developed a workaround which does not infringe on IPCom's patents.
After winning multiple preliminary injunctions against Samsung's Galaxy Tab family (including the 10.1, 8.9, and 7.7) in Germany in the recent past, Apple is looking to add one more device to the list: Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1N.
For those who don't know, the Galaxy Tab 10.1N is exactly the same as the original 10.1, except that it has a new form factor, adding a silver bezel and repositioning the tab's speaker grills.
Trevor Eckhart, a developer involved in uncovering a huge security vulnerability that affected several HTC devices, was recently threatened by Carrier IQ (CIQ), a company involved in gathering various forms of user data and sending it to carriers or manufacturers for analysis. For those who haven't been following the story, here's what happened:
Trevor Eckhart found several training manuals on CIQ's website. These were publicly available. Trevor shared them with the community, explaining just how far-reaching CIQ's data collection practices are.
If you don't know who Trevor Eckhart is, you might remember a little piece we published earlier this year about a massive HTC data vulnerability caused by the company's data-logging operations. Trevor was the guy who found that vulnerability and did almost all of the legwork in investigating it. Since then, Trevor has been hard at work looking at more mobile data logging applications used by various manufacturers, including one written by a company called Carrier IQ.
Things are getting a bit more interesting in the ongoing fight between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble. You'll remember that earlier this year, Microsoft began suing B&N for refusing to fork over Android-related fees from the Nook Color. Barnes & Noble has responded, alleging in its motion that Microsoft "is using its licensing practices to improperly broaden the scope of its patents in an attempt to dominate mobile operating systems such as Android that threaten Microsoft's monopoly in personal computer ("PC") operating systems." It may sound odd at first that Microsoft would be at Android's throat over PC operating systems, but indeed, it was recently discovered that Microsoft attempted to compel Google to provide its Android strategy, including information about Android's current abilities as a PC platform.
A court in Mannheim, Germany today held a preliminary hearing in a patent dispute between Motorola Mobility and Apple Sales International (a European Apple distribution subsidiary), and it seems like Apple's on the ropes.
While the hearing didn't discuss the particular merits of Motorola's patent infringement claim against Apple, the presiding judge issued substantial blows to Apple's defense by indicating that he believed the patent-in-suit was ripe for trial. The judge also seemed to agree with Motorola's reading of that patent (also known as "construction claims") in important ways that would allow it a broader scope of applicability at trial.
Now, this all based on one German online retailer (where imports of the Tab 10.1 were banned), but it's very interesting nonetheless. It appears that a new version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 has been launched in Germany, called the Tab 10.1N. The difference? So far, all we see is a re-designed bezel and the fact that it's now shipping with Android 3.2. Take a look at this comparison shot from Mobiflip:
The Tab 10.1N is above, and the old Tab 10.1 is below.
OK, before I even get into this post, let me be clear: this is based on old news. However, it was news that no one seemed to pick up at the time, and when we discovered it, we thought it was quite interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Lodsys, let's start with a history lesson. They're better known as the shell corporation offspring of a company called Intellectual Ventures LLC, a patent clearinghouse owned by a group of, shall we say, enterprising individuals.
Well, it happened - the slide-to-unlock patent Apple has been requesting was granted this morning by the US Patent & Trademark Office, meaning almost any device in America using a sliding unlock mechanism is now infringing on Apple's patent unless otherwise ruled.
While the timing may seem a bit suspicious, Apple originally filed for the patent in 2005. Have a look at this excerpt from the granted patent document:
It seems there's been some renewed interest in the subject of Block C LTE "no locking" provisions after news that the Motorola RAZR will come equipped with a locked bootloader per Verizon's request. About four months ago, I published an article on this very topic. To summarize: Verizon can basically do almost anything it wants with handsets on its network in the name of reasonable network management - subject to a few limitations and caveats.