Microsoft is about to hit it big with one of China's top smartphone manufacturers: Xiaomi. It has announced today a multi-faceted deal with the company including sales of patents, cross-licensing arrangements, and software pre-installation, expanding its OEM partnerships and its services' worldwide reach while also providing Xiaomi with the support it needed to enter more markets.
Microsoft will be selling 1500 patents to Xiaomi — it's not clear whether these came from the Nokia acquisition, its many other acquisitions, or ones that it originally filed for. Regardless, according to Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, this should beef up Xiaomi's arsenal of patents and should, theoretically, make it easier for the company to enter Western markets with lesser friction from other patent holders. Read More
Electronics and cars are a tricky combination. While the advantages of systems like in-dash navigation and text-to-speech SMS reading are obvious, every extra gadget that travels with you while you're driving has the potential to be a dangerous distraction. Google may be looking to solve that problem, at least as it applies to wearable devices like Android Wear watches. A recent patent published by the USPTO indicates that Google has developed (or at least conceptualized) a system for detecting whether a wearable user is actively driving the vehicle or merely a passenger.
US patent number 9,037,125 was filed on April 7th of last year, credited to Mohammed Waleed Kadous and assigned to Google. Read More
If you grew up in Lebanon like I did, you'd consider potholes an unavoidable fact of hitting the road. Any road. You start planning your driving and lanes based on the placement of potholes, until you get surprised by a new one that just sprung up out of nowhere in the last 24 hours. Sometimes you have to take the wrong side of the street to escape one, other times the pothole is so huge you can't find any way to drive around it. And your car suffers the consequences day in and day out.
Google knows this and is apparently working on a pothole patrol and detection system that crowd-sources data from our collective cars as we drive down the streets. Read More
While it's not the "rounded rectangle" iPad patent of fame, the iPhone 3G design patent is easily the second most-famous Apple design patent of record. It's called D618677, and it was a key issue in Samsung v. Apple "round one" - and by "key issue," I mean "reason for most of the remaining half billion dollars in damages." According to the USPTO, that iPhone design patent is now invalid on multiple counts of obviousness in light of prior art (in a technical, not literal, sense - two very different things).
Samsung was deemed to infringe this patent by a jury, and while it may well have were the patent valid, the USPTO is saying the point is moot - the patent itself is not eligible for protection. Read More
If corporate patent litigation was a soap opera, it would be at once the most interesting and most snooze-inducing show on television. The latest twist comes from a three-year-old suit by Fujifilm against Motorola Mobility, which was still a Google company instead of a Lenovo one when the suit first started. Fuji alleged that Moto violated three camera patents and one wireless patent in its phones without licensing. A San Francisco court invalidated Fuji's claims on all but one of them, so Moto will have to pay for the privilege of one camera patent.
That corporate faux pas will cost Motorola (and by extension, Lenovo) $10.2 million USD, according to a report by Reuters. Read More
The world of technology patents is in bad shape. When John Oliver decides that he needs to spend 15 minutes explaining exactly how bad patent trolling has become, you know something rots in the USPTO. Google is trying to stem the tide of patent trolling and litigation via the simple expedient of throwing a ton of cash at the problem. They want to buy your patents.
Well, maybe not your patent in particular - odds are pretty good that they're only interested in technology and software patents, and even then, only so that some fly-by-night LLC with a dozen lawyers and no physical address won't sue them in the future. Read More
The nice thing about a United States design patent, as opposed to a more common utility patent, is that it doesn't actually have to work. Hell, it doesn't even have to make sense - it just has to be a mostly-new idea that's concrete enough to put into a technical doodle. So it is with Design Patent D726,140, awarded to LG by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week. If you could turn one of those slap-bracelets from the 90s into a phone-watch hybrid, it would look a lot like this.
"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mobile phone showing our new design in which the display part has been bent and wound around the band"
The design patent covers a fairly standard (if impossibly thin) slate smartphone that curves backwards on the top and bottom. Read More
Back in December, we published a story about a patent (6665797) belonging to Ho Keung Tse. The patent supposedly covered a DRM method by which users could download paid digital content to multiple devices without going through another payment process.
During a previous suit against a handful of tech companies, most of Tse's patent was invalidated. After amending the patent's language, Tse went after Google, Samsung, HTC, and Blockbuster, but a summary judgment stopped his case in its tracks.
Tse was planning to appeal his case to the US Supreme Court, but in the meantime he went after independent developers. In a notice distributed to developers, Tse said Google's Play Store (and by extension any dev with apps on the store), was violating his patent. Read More
This story is about American hardware and software company Apple and Swedish telecom infrastructure company Ericsson. Neither of these companies makes Android hardware (though Ericsson dabbled in it with its ex-partner Sony), but the outcome might affect all manufacturers that release phones in the United States. That said, it's about patents and lawsuits, so get ready for a snore-fest over the next few paragraphs. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Still with us? Alright. Ericsson is the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world, though their sales are mostly business-to-business, so most consumers don't see a lot of their wares. Read More
The United States Patent and Trademark office publishes publicly-available copies of all accepted patents, a great boon to nerds, lawyers, and technology reporters everywhere. The latest batch of design patents includes hundreds of obtuse examples, everything from glasses frames to mops, and among them is this little gem awarded to Samsung, US Design Patent D720,747. It's an interesting look at a style of tablet and cover from Samsung before in exactly this configuration.
While the filing is mostly concerned with a nondescript tablet and cover combo (or perhaps a tablet with a fully-integrated cover), there's a hole in the upper right-hand side and one in the upper center, ostensibly for allowing access to some portion of the tablet's functionality when the cover is closed. Read More