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A Brief History of Google’s Android Operating System

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 @ 9:30 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Google, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Mobile Devices, Patents, Samsung, Smartphones, Software, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

In October 2003, a group of young computing experts came together to establish a software development company that would go on to revolutionize the cellular mobile phone as we knew it. The product they would create would establish incredible dominance in the field of mobile computing. In the third quarter of 2014, global shipments of Android-based mobile devices reached 268 million, greatly outpacing the rate of sales for iPhones, Android’s closest competitor. By the end of 2014, sales of Android devices this year alone could exceed one billion. During the second quarter of 2014, Android controlled an incredible 84.7 percent market share of the global smartphone industry, well ahead of iPhone, Windows Phone and the BlackBerry. Android has even been dominating in the sphere of tablet computers; about 62 percent of the nearly 195 million tablet computers sold during 2013 were Android devices.

In our ongoing coverage of popular consumer electronics leading up to Black Friday, we’re taking some time today to profile a brief history of Google’s Android operating software for mobile devices. Android was not the first entrant into the market and while there are those who might argue that Android hasn’t perfected the mobile platform, especially in the eyes of devout iPhone fans, it is tough to argue its popularity as evidenced by the incredible sales statistics listed above.

Interestingly, the Android operating system was not initially designed to be used on mobile phones. If the original plans of the inventors worked out, we would be talking about smart cameras and not smartphones. Compared to operating systems for other mobile devices, the Android operating system has been updated an incredible number of times, resulting in a web-based service which is remarkably different than the original version of this mobile operating system.



Collateral Estoppel Applies to Reexam Claim

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Gene Quinn | No Comments »
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Posted in: Federal Circuit, Gene Quinn, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents

On November 19, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a decision in e.Digital Corporation v. Futurewei Technologies, Inc. e.Digital appealed from a judgment of non-infringement made by the U.S. Federal District Court for the Southern District of California. The district court based its determination of non-infringement on the fact that e.Digital was collaterally estopped from seeking a construction of a claim limitation in e.Digital’s U.S. Patent Nos. 5,491,774 and 5,839,108 different from another court’s previous construction of the same limitation in the ’774 patent.

The Federal Circuit, with Judge Moore writing and joined by Judges O’Malley and Reyna, held that the district court correctly applied collateral estoppel to the ’774 patent, but improperly applied the doctrine to the unrelated ’108 patent.

To understand the ruling in this case one must first look at the prior case that construed the critical claim. Previously, in a litigation in the United States Federal District Court for the District of Colorado, e.Digital asserted claims 1 and 19 of the ’774 patent. The ’774 patent discloses a device with a microphone and a removable, interchangeable flash memory recording medium that allows for audio recording and playback. Asserted claims 1 and 19 recited “a flash memory module which operates as sole memory of the received processed sound electrical signals.” The district court construed the sole memory limitation to require “that the device use only flash memory, not RAM or any other memory system” to store the “received processed sound electrical signals.” The district court based its construction on the written description of the ’774 patent and its determination that the use of RAM had been disclaimed during prosecution. With this claim construction decided, the parties stipulated to a dismissal of the case with prejudice.



Sony Settles FTC Charges Over Misleading Ads For PlayStation Vita Gaming Console

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 @ 4:04 pm | Written by Federal Trade Commission | No Comments »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, False Advertising, Federal Trade Commission, Government, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Sony, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

Sony Computer Entertainment America (“Sony”) has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceived consumers with false advertising claims about the “game changing” technological features of its PlayStation Vita handheld gaming console during its U.S. launch campaign in late 2011 and early 2012.

As part of its settlement with the FTC, Sony is barred from making similarly misleading advertising claims in the future, and will provide consumers who bought a PS Vita gaming console before June 1, 2012, either a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for select video games, and/or services. Sony will provide notice via email to consumers who are eligible for redress after the settlement is finalized by the Commission.



iPod, iPhone and iPad – A Brief History of Apple iProducts

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Apple, Companies We Follow, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Smartphones, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Early on in his career with Apple, Steve Jobs conceived the idea of a personal computing device that a person could keep with them and use to connect wirelessly to other computer services. Almost 25 years later, Apple and Jobs would upend the world of personal computing by launching the iPhone smartphone, and a few years later a tablet computer counterpart, the iPad. According to the most recent sales figures available from Apple corporate analysis website AAPLinvestors.net, the iPhone has achieved lifetime sales of 590.5 million units; Apple has also sold 237.2 million iPads in just over three years since the release of that product. The iPhone has retained mass appeal despite the presence of the iPad and Apple has even reverted to soft launches for new iPad products, evidence of the incredible hold that the iPhone still maintains over Apple’s core consumer base. In the near future, both the iPhone and iPad may exhibit bendable or rollable displays using plastic OLED screen technologies developed by LG Electronics, one of the suppliers of electronic components for the iPhone and iPad.

We’re inching closer to the holiday season and in today’s coverage of popular gadgets ahead of Black Friday, we’re taking an in-depth look at the development of Apple’s line of mobile computing devices from concept to reality. This story involves one of the most storied characters in the world of technology development and his long struggle to bring about his vision of a personal computing device.

It’s impossible for many people to go through their day without either interacting with their own mobile computing device or seeing someone else use theirs. Although the iPhone is certainly not the only smartphone on the market, its influence on the market cannot be denied. The electronics products developed by Apple and released during the 2000s restored the company to its earlier greatness in personal computing, perhaps even surpassing its heydey in the 1980s. Our readers may be interested to find out that Apple’s first mobile computing device came out many years before the iPod, the company’s first major commercial gadget success of the 2000s. It wouldn’t be until the end of the first decade of the 21st century, however, when Apple would finally launch the product that Jobs first imagined while taking a stroll through the research facilities of Xerox in the late 1970s.



The Sony Playstation, A Story of Video Game Dominance

Posted: Monday, Nov 24, 2014 @ 8:00 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Evolution of Technology, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patents, Sony, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

A very public corporate betrayal in the early 1990s led to an upheaval in the video gaming world that would result in the toppling of an industry giant one short decade later. In the first decade of the 21st century, Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE) would ascend to dominance in video gaming, at least for a few years, on the strength of its PlayStation system. 2014 has been a kind year thus far to Sony; one year after the release of both consoles, Sony’s PlayStation 4 could be outselling Microsoft’s Xbox One by as much as 2-to-1. No stranger to breaking sales records in video gaming circles, Sony has captured the Australian market with the PS4, which has sold more in that country than any other video game console ever. Sony has been extending the PlayStation console format to more than just home video gaming systems and though the PlayStation TV hasn’t been enjoying incredible sales, the streaming television services offered by this small device may make it an important part of the eighth generation of video gaming consoles.

In our continuing coverage of major players in the 2014 Black Friday sales season, we’re taking time today to profile the brief yet intriguing history of the PlayStation. The multiple generations of this video game console which Sony has brought to consumer markets have been very successful for the company and came during a time when video gaming became much more mainstream, capturing a wider portion of the global consumer base than ever before.



Xbox 360, the Kinect and the Future of Microsoft Gaming

Posted: Sunday, Nov 23, 2014 @ 1:36 pm | Written by Gene Quinn & Steve Brachmann | 5 comments
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Gene Quinn, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Microsoft, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation, Video Games & Online Gaming

The Xbox video gaming console developed and sold by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is perhaps one of the world’s most successful and least profitable products created in recent memory. Millions of Xbox consoles have been sold, from the original through Microsoft’s latest release, the Xbox One, although the past year has proven to be somewhat trying for this product. Some industry commentators see the inability of the Xbox to outsell Sony’s PlayStation 4 in March and April of this year, despite a reduced Xbox One price tag and bundling the console purchase with popular game titles, as a sign that Microsoft is quickly ceding ground to Sony in video gaming. The company only recently was able to address issues with Xbox Live, the Xbox’s incredibly popular online content service, that Xbox One users had been experiencing. A new update to the console coming in November will enable users to upload images for custom backgrounds as well as share gameplay clips with others through Twitter.

As we approach the 2014 holiday season and Black Friday, we thought that it would be a good time to take a look at some of the most popular consumer technologies around right now. In 2009, the video game industry generated $9.9 billion in revenue. About two-thirds of all American households play video games and gamers averaged about 8 hours of video gameplay each week, according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Interestingly, debates over violence in video games will likely be influenced by recent findings that an increase in violent video games may actually be responsible for a decrease in real-life violence among youths; these findings have been published by researchers from Villanova University, Rutgers University and Stetson University.



A Rush to Judgment on Patentable Subject Matter

Posted: Friday, Nov 21, 2014 @ 2:16 pm | Written by Ron Laurie | 51 comments
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Posted in: Federal Circuit, Government, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patentability, Patents

Should a District Court decide the question of patent-eligible subject matter under Section 101 as a “threshold issue” at the outset of the case – i.e., without the benefit of expert testimony and/or claims construction?

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Former CAFC Chief Judge Rader at AIPLA on 10/25/14.

On November 14, the Federal Circuit issued its third opinion on the question of whether the claims in Ultramercial v. Hulu & Wild Tangent describe patent–eligible subject matter under 35 USC 101. In the first two decisions, the panel consisting of Chief Judge Rader and Judges Lourie and O’Malley, reversed the District Court’s granting of defendants’ Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss based solely on the pleadings, i.e., prior to any discovery, expert testimony or formal claim construction.

In the latest decision (“Ultramercial-3”), the panel reached the opposite conclusion and affirmed the dismissal. This apparent turnaround was based on two intervening events: (1) the Supreme Court’s Alice decision in June; and (2) the fact that Chief Judge Rader was no longer on the court, and his place on the panel was taken by Judge Mayer. Much has, and will be, written about the first of these factors, so I would like to focus on the second, and in particular, the diametrically opposed views of Judges Rader and Mayer on a very important procedural issue; namely, whether the lack of patent-eligible subject matter should be a basis for dismissing a case at the outset based only on the “intrinsic” evidence, i.e., the patent itself and its prosecution history in the USPTO, without any discovery, expert testimony and/or claim construction. Notwithstanding the importance of the substantive Alice holding re how to distinguish a claim to an abstract idea from one that has a practical application, the procedural question is at the heart of the reversal of the CAFC’s holding in Ultramercial-3. The two judges’ opposing perspectives can most clearly be seen by comparing Judge Rader’s opinion of the court in Ultramercial-2 with Judge Mayer’s concurrence in Ultramercial-3.



USPTO, NIST on Front Lines of Cybersecurity Partnership

Posted: Thursday, Nov 20, 2014 @ 12:16 pm | Written by Steve Brachmann | 5 comments
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Posted in: Cloud Computing, Computers, Guest Contributors, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Security & Identity Theft, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

Throughout 2014, stories of major data breaches and hacking incidents have dominated the mainstream media. Customers of major corporations like Target, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Neiman Marcus have been the targets of malware, phishing schemes and other malicious acts of cyber crime within the past year. As a result, hackers have gained access to private information pertaining to tens of millions of financial accounts. Here at IPWatchdog, we’ve provided some coverage of this growing threat to the technological infrastructures of companies and organizations all over the world.

Instances of cyber crime have been rising and the associated costs have exploded. Cyber crime has increased 10.4 percent this year over totals posted during 2013 according to the Ponemon Institute, an independent data protection research firm. By far, the United States bears the greatest brunt of the cost of cyber crime; American businesses lost a total of $12.69 billion so far this year as a result of computer crime.. Exact financial costs for each organization affected are tough to tally, but a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that the average monetary loss among companies that could report financial statistics was about $415,000 per organization. Two-thirds of the companies surveyed weren’t able to estimate their losses in clear financial terms. Worldwide, cyber crime costs about $445 billion to the global economy every year, a figure that represents about one percent of annual income all over the globe. Again, it’s difficult to determine the exact financial cost of cyber crimes, and other estimates have varied as widely as just over $100 billion to about $1 trillion.

In this current tenor of the global discussion on cybersecurity, multiple U.S. governmental agencies are joining with academic institutions and industry leaders to develop more proactive measures of handling and responding to cybersecurity risks. On Friday, November 14th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office hosted the nation’s first Cybersecurity Partnership meeting at the USPTO’s Silicon Valley office in Menlo Park, CA. A full day of events brought together officials from the PTO, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a variety of other stakeholders in cybersecurity development to talk about ongoing efforts to strengthen the cybersecurity response of American businesses and governmental agencies to the growing threat of computer crime. We were able to catch some of the day’s proceedings through a webcast provided by the PTO.



General Electric Patents: Medical Innovations and Energy Systems

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 @ 11:32 am | Written by Steve Brachmann | 1 Comment »
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Posted in: Companies We Follow, Energy, General Electric, Guest Contributors, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Medical Devices & Methods, Patents, Steve Brachmann, Technology & Innovation

There are few companies currently operating which have more impact on global development in energy and industrial technologies than General Electric of Fairfield, CT. The recent third quarter financial report published by the corporation indicated a better-than-expected 11 percent growth in profits, mainly owing to large increases in orders for industrial equipment like jet engines and rail locomotives from all over the world. GE may be looking to raise capital as a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicates that the company is looking to sell 75 million shares directly to the public for about $2 billion. General Electric is also making a foray into the growing world of 3D printing manufacture with its recent announcement that it would build a 125,000 square foot 3D printing facility for $32 million in Findlay, PA.

General Electric is a regular feature of the Companies We Follow series. What we saw today in the patent applications filed by this company with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showed us that research and development at the company is very focused on industrial and medical sectors. Many of the technologies we discuss in more detail below pertain to railway and other vehicular technologies. A few patent applications discuss improvements to electrical utility systems, including one technique for monitoring plant activity near electrical grid components to identify exactly when to clear vegetation away from power lines.

The strong patent portfolio enjoyed by General Electric enjoyed a number of important additions in recent weeks. Some of the most intriguing that we saw today involve medical innovations, including systems for the synchronization of imaging data collected during a procedure to better guide a medical professional during a procedures. We’re also sharing a patent protecting a useful technology for locating defects in an underground cable to ensure consistent delivery of electrical utilities. Gas turbines and another innovation regarding railway tech is also explored more deeply in today’s column.



Debt vs. Equity – The Financing of Patent Monetization

Posted: Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014 @ 12:42 pm | Written by Gene Quinn | 3 comments
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Posted in: Gene Quinn, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles, Patent Business & Deals, Patent Litigation, Patents

Harvey Sener (left) and Eran Zur (right)

On November 6, 2014, at the IP Dealmakers Forum there was a particularly interesting and entertaining discussion about financing patent owners. The discussion was, in my opinion, one of the most insightful and informative presentations over the two day event. That is typically what happens when you have intelligent, thoughtful individuals with strongly held but divergent viewpoints. Indeed, the discussion highlighted two distinct strategies for making money providing financing to patent owners who are seeking to monetize their patents. The panel discussion was largely dominated by Eran Zur, Head of IP Finance of Fortress Investment Group, and Ashley Keller, Managing Director of Gerchen Keller Capital. Zur and Fortress lend money to patent owners who pledge a portfolio, or subset of a portfolio, as collateral to secure the loan. On the other hand, Keller and GKC finance patent litigation, employing an equity model.

The panel kicked off in a spirited way when the moderator, Harvey Sener, who is a Partner with Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference, asked the panelists whether they would lend to or finance non-practicing entities or others who might be from a class of actors that has been vilified in the public — or in other words “patent trolls.” Zur explained that he and Fortress do not label potential borrowers, instead choosing to keep their eye on the assets and employing good, old fashion best lending practices. . “We focus myopically on the value of the patent — we are agnostic,” Zur explained. “If we think the assets are good enough to provide a loan based on the asset as collateral we will loan the money.”

As a debt provider they focus on the value of the patents and not what the borrower may want to do with the money obtained. On the other end of the spectrum Keller explained that he does care about whether they are financing a patent troll or non-practicing entity because who you are financing needs to be taken into account because financing is all about risk — when you finance a patent troll the litigation risk is much higher for a variety of reasons.