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Oracle Will Officially Appeal Its 'Fair Use' Loss Against Google ( 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The massive Oracle v. Google litigation has entered a new phase, as Oracle filed papers (PDF) yesterday saying it will appeal its loss on "fair use" grounds to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. For a brief recap of the case: after Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems and acquired the rights to Java, it sued Google in 2010, saying that Google infringed copyrights and patents related to Java. The case went to trial in 2012. Oracle initially lost but had part of its case revived on appeal. The sole issue in the second trial was whether Google infringed the APIs in Java, which the appeals court held are copyrighted. In May, a jury found in Google's favor after a second trial, stating that Google's use of the APIs was protected by "fair use." Oracle's appeal is no surprise, but it will be a long shot. The four-factor "fair use" test is a fairly subjective one, and Oracle lawyers will have to argue that the jury's unanimous finding must be overturned. There are various ways a jury could arrive at the conclusion that Google was protected by fair use. The case will go back to the Federal Circuit, the same appeals court that decided APIs could be copyrighted in the first place. That decision overruled U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the lower court judge, and was extremely controversial in the developer community. However, the same decision that insisted APIs can be copyrighted clearly held the door open to the idea that "fair use" might apply. Unless Oracle pulls off a stunning move on appeal, its massive legal expenditures in this case will be for naught.

Will The iPhone 8 Include Augmented Reality? ( 55

Earlier this month Mashable wrote "it's now even more obvious what [Apple] is working to bring to the masses, and it's probably not, as some rumors have indicated, virtual reality." They cited CEO Tim Cook's recent predictions that augmented reality "is going to become really big" -- he said it again on Thursday -- and BuzzFeed noted that Apple "has quietly put into place the components of what could prove to be an AR ecosystem: The iPhone 7 Plus has...a two-camera system capable of gathering stereoscopic data and generating image depth maps... In Apple Watch, the company has a spatially-aware, wearable device outfitted with an accelerometer and GPS. In its new AirPod wireless earphones, Apple essentially has a pair of diminutive, spatially-aware microcomputers -- each one with an Apple W1 wireless chip (the company's first), two accelerometers, two optical sensors, beam-forming microphones, and an antenna... And sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company has recently been taking meetings with immersive content companies like Jaunt.
Their article also lists AR companies that Apple's bought over the last three years -- plus their patents for a "head-mounted display" and a "peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays." BGR adds that Tim Cook "likes to tease future products," and points out that Cook has even said Apple is working on AR features "behind the curtain". This casts a new light on those rumors of an all-glass case for next year's iPhone 8. Will the whole body of the phone become part of an Augmented Reality display system? (And could AR also explain Apple's aggressive push for wireless headphones?)

Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors -- including drone-based cameras -- which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which "bloom" around them betray much about their private lives. Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: "According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion." The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: "Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic."

Appeals Court Reinstates Apple's $120 Million Slide-To-Unlock Patent Win Over Samsung ( 70

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. won an appeals court ruling that reinstates a patent-infringement verdict it won against Samsung Electronics Co., including for its slide-to-unlock feature for smartphones and tablets. In an 8-3 ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said a three-judge panel was wrong to throw out the $119.6 million verdict in February. Instead, it ordered the trial judge to consider whether the judgment should be increased based on any intentional infringement by Samsung. In this case, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed patents for the slide-to-unlock feature, autocorrect and a way to detect phone numbers so they can be tapped to make phone calls. The bulk of the award, $98.7 million, was for the detection patent that the earlier panel said wasn't infringed. The February decision also said the other two patents were invalid. That was a wrong decision, the court ruled Friday, because it relied on issues that were never raised on appeal or on information that was beyond the trial record. "The jury verdict on each issue is supported by substantial evidence in the record," Circuit Judge Kimberly Moore wrote for the majority.

Prominent Pro-Patent Judge Issues Opinion Declaring All Software Patents Bad ( 294

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: A lawsuit brought by the world's largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, and handled on appeal (as are all patent cases), by the notoriously awful Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) may have actually killed off software patents. The ruling came from a judge that has ruled over patent cases since the 1980s, and it appears he's been born again into the anti-software patent world. Judge Mayer pointed out that the First Amendment says that "some" patents should not be allowed. The whole concurrence is worth reading, starting with the First Amendment argument -- which is kind of fascinating in that it goes well beyond what most people had talked about in the past concerning software patents. Judge Mayer makes the point that basically all software is unpatentable because software is "a form of language," which we don't patent: "All software implemented on a standard computer should be deemed categorically outside the bounds of Section 101. ("Section 101" is 35 U.S. Code; 101 is the part that governs patents.) The central problem with affording patent protection to generically-implemented software is that standard computers have long been ceded to the public domain .... Because generic computers are ubiquitous and indispensable, in effect the 'basic tool []' of modern life, they are not subject to the patent monopoly. In the section 101 calculus, adding software (which is as abstract as language) to a conventional computer (which rightfully resides in the public domain) results in a patent eligibility score of zero .... Software lies in the antechamber of patentable invention. Because generically-implemented software is an 'idea' insufficiently linked to any defining physical structure other than a standard computer, it is a precursor to technology rather than technology itself."

Apple Loses Patent Retrial To VirnetX, Owes $302.4 Million ( 64

Slashdot reader chasm22 quotes Reuters: A federal jury in Texas on Friday night ordered Apple Inc to pay more than $302 million in damages for using VirnetX Holding Corp's patented internet security technology without permission in features including its FaceTime video conferencing application. The verdict came in a new trial in Tyler, Texas that had been ordered by the judge in the case, Robert Schroeder, who last August threw out VirnetX's $625.6 million win over Apple from a previous trial because he said jurors in that case may have been confused...

A jury in 2012 awarded $368.2 million in damages, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., partly overturned that verdict, saying there were problems with how the trial judge instructed jurors on calculating damages. On remand, VirnetX's two suits were combined, and in February, a jury returned with an even bigger verdict, $625.6 million, one of the highest ever in a U.S. patent case... However, Schroeder later voided the result, saying that the repeated references to the earlier case could have confused jurors and were unfair to Apple... Apple will also have to contend with the trial in a second lawsuit VirnetX filed against Apple over newer versions of Apple security features, as well as its iMessage application.

The article points out that "Many patent cases are handled in the Texas court, which has a reputation for awarding favorable verdicts to plaintiffs alleging infringement."

Microsoft Patents A User-Monitoring AI That Improves Search Results ( 68

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes a HotHardware article about Microsoft's new patent filing for an OS "mediation component": This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all textual input within apps to intelligently decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the Mediator and processed. So when the user goes to, for example, the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query.

The search engine (e.g., Bing and Cortana) uses contextual rankers to adjust the ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant [results]. The operating system...tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).

The article argues this feels "creepy and big brother-esque," and while Microsoft talks of defining a "task continuum," suggests the patent's process "would in essence keep track of everything you type and interact with in the OS and stockpile it in real-time to data-dump into Bing."
The Almighty Buck

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool ( 87

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..."

Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture.

They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.

'Corporate Troll' Wins $3 Million Verdict Against Apple For Ring-Silencing Patent ( 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A non-practicing entity called MobileMedia Ideas LLC won a patent lawsuit against Apple today, with a Delaware federal jury finding that Apple should pay $3 million for infringing MobileMedia's patent RE39,231, which relates to ring-silencing features on mobile phones. MobileMedia is an unusual example of the kind of pure patent-licensing entity often derided as a "patent troll." It is majority-owned by MPEG-LA, a patent pool that licenses common digital video technologies like H-264, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. Minority stakes in MobileMedia are owned by Sony and Nokia, which both contributed the patents owned by the company. MobileMedia also has the same CEO as MPEG-LA, Larry Horn. The battle ended up being a long one, as MobileMedia first filed the case in 2010. It went to trial in 2012, and the jury found that Apple infringed three patents. After reviewing post-trial motions, the judge knocked out some, but not all, of the infringed patent claims. Then came an appeal in which a panel of Federal Circuit judges upheld (PDF) some of the lower court's judges and overturned others. A $3 million verdict is hardly going to make an impact on Apple, and it doesn't represent a huge win for MobileMedia, which was reportedly seeking $18 million in royalties from the trial. Still, getting a verdict in its favor does represent some validation of MobileMedia's business model, which was a striking example of technology corporations using the "patent troll" business model as a kind of proxy war. Nokia and Sony were able to use MobileMedia and the licensing talent at MPEG-LA to wage a patent attack on Apple without engaging directly in court. In all, after years of back-and-forth, the ring-silencing patent was the one that MobileMedia had left. While Apple didn't win the case against one of the first "corporate trolls," it was able to severely pare down the scale of the attack and show that it's willing to fight a long legal war of attrition to make its point.

Apple Patents a Paper Bag ( 202

mspohr writes: Continuing its leadership in innovation, Apple has patented a paper bag. We all remember the groundbreaking "rounded corners" innovation, now we have a paper bag! Just try to make your own paper bag and you'll be speaking with Apple lawyers. (Note: In fairness to Apple, this is a "special" paper bag which is stronger due to numerous improvements on your ordinary recycled paper bag -- just don't try to copy it.) The patent application summarizes the bag as follows: "A paper bag is disclosed. The paper bag may include a bag container formed of white solid bleached sulfate paper with at least 60% post-consumer content." Apple's patented paper bags are designed to be sturdy, while remaining "both pearly white and environmentally friendly." Let's just hope they don't remove the handles...
The Courts

'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents ( 115

"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports: "Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it." Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."

EU Court Blocks Brazilian Company From Trademarking Sound Of a Ringing Phone ( 111

The standard ringing from an alarm clock or a telephone is too boring and banal to be registered as a trademark within the EU, a top court has ruled. The judgment was handed down by the EU General Court (EGC), blocking a Brazilian company that had tried to claim ownership of the sound, Ars Technica reports. From its story: In 2014, the Brazilian mass media company Grupo Globo applied to register the globally familiar "ring-ring" sound "for the dissemination of information electronically, orally, or by means of television" -- guarding its use on all electronic devices and in media representations. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) at the time refused to register the jingle on the grounds that it had "no distinctive character," and that it was "a banal and commonplace ringtone which would generally go unnoticed and would not be remembered by the consumer." Globo -- the biggest media company in Latin America -- appealed EUIPO's decision at the EU General Court, which has today ruled that the sound is indeed too boring to register.

HP To Buy Samsung's Printer Business For $1.05 Billion ( 111

HP has agreed to a deal with Samsung to acquire their printer business for $1.05 billion, a deal that will be the largest print acquisition in HP's history. USA Today reports: "The acquisition of Samsung's printer business allows us to deliver print innovation and create entirely new business opportunities with far better efficiency, security, and economics for customers," said HP president and CEO Dion Weisler in a statement. The Samsung deal would give HP access to 6,500 printing patents as well as 1,300 researchers and engineers "with advanced expertise in laser printer technology." While this deal is being negotiated, Samsung's mobile phone business has been navigating a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over issues with batteries catching fire and exploding. One of the most recent accidents reported involved a six-year-old boy in New York, who was using the device when it "suddenly burst into flames."

US Patients Battle EpiPen Prices And Regulations By Shopping Online ( 396

"The incredible increase in the cost of EpiPens, auto-injectors that can stop life-threatening emergencies caused by allergic reactions, has hit home on Capitol Hill," reports CNN. Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar reports that the argument "has now turned into civil war in the US Senate": One senator's daughter relies on Epi-Pen, while another senator's daughter is CEO of Mylan, the single company that is licensed to sell these injectors in the US. On the worldwide market there is no monopoly on these devices... Is it finally time to allow Americans to go online and fill their prescriptions on the world market?
Time reports some patients are ordering cheaper EpiPens from Canada and other countries online, "an act that the FDA says is technically illegal and potentially dangerous." But the FDA also has "a backlog of about 4,000 generic drugs" awaiting FDA approval, reports PRI, noting that in the meantime prices have also increased for drugs treating cancer, hepatitis C, and high cholesterol. In Australia, where the drug costs just $38, one news outlet reports that the U.S. "is the only developed nation on Earth which allows pharmaceutical companies to set their own prices."

Apple Patenting a Way To Collect Fingerprints, Photos of Thieves ( 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's invention covering "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification" details the simple but brilliant -- and legally fuzzy -- idea of using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief. Apple's patent is also governed by device triggers, though different constraints might be applied to unauthorized user data aggregation. For example, in one embodiment a single failed authentication triggers the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a picture of the user. In other cases, the device might be configured to evaluate the factors that ultimately trigger biometric capture based on a set of defaults defined by internal security protocols or the user. Interestingly, the patent application mentions machine learning as a potential solution for deciding when to capture biometric data and how to manage it. Other data can augment the biometric information, for example time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data and more, all collected and logged as background operations. The deemed unauthorized user's data is then either stored locally on the device or sent to a remote server for further evaluation.

US Trade Judge Clears Fitbit of Stealing Jawbone's Trade Secrets ( 13

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone's trade secrets, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, dashing Jawbone's hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit's wearable fitness tracking devices. The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe U.S. intellectual property, because "no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret." The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone's business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details. Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.

China's Xiaomi Gearing Up For US Debut ( 42

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Xiaomi is preparing to enter the U.S. smartphone market "in the near future," employing the same online sales and social media marketing tactics that helped the six-year-old startup become China's largest privately funded startup. Xiaomi can no longer afford to ignore the world's largest smartphone arena by revenue, company vice president Hugo Barra said in an interview. Its international expansion is taking on new-found urgency as growth at home slows and rivals such as Huawei erode its market share. "The U.S. is a market that we definitely have in our sights," Barra said on Bloomberg Television. "We will lead with social media, with the channels that allow us to get in touch with the young generation that are enthusiastic about new technology. We are definitely going there." Barra, who oversees the Chinese company's international expansion, has signaled Xiaomi's U.S. debut before. But the smartphone vendor is now in a better position to launch an incursion onto Apple's turf. In June, the Beijing-based company announced the acquisition of nearly 1,500 technology patents from Microsoft -- a deal that may smooth potential legal tangles over intellectual property as it pushes abroad.

BlackBerry Enters New Phase Of Patent Monetization, Sues Internet Telephony Firm Avaya ( 59

In what can be seen as a turning point for BlackBerry, the Canadian iconic company has filed a patent lawsuit against internet telephony firm Avaya. BlackBerry claims Avaya has infringed eight of its U.S. patents, and that BlackBerry should be paid for its history of innovation going back nearly 20 years. "BlackBerry revolutionized the mobile industry," the company's lawyers said. "BlackBerry... has invented a broad array of new technologies that cover everything from enhanced security and cryptographic techniques, to mobile device user interfaces, to communication servers, and many other areas." From an article on Iam Media: The move comes just over a year since Blackberry announced itself as a major player in the monetisation space with an agreement signed with Cisco, in which the Canadian company not only secured a cross-licensing deal but also "a license fee from Cisco." Another royalty-bearing deal was done with an unnamed company around the same time. Since then, the company has also signed two more deals with Canon and International Game Technology, both of which look to contain a royalties element to them; while in January it emerged that late last year Blackberry had sold a portfolio of patents to investment firm Centerbridge Partners for as much as $50 million. Blackberry CEO John Chen has made clear that he sees the company's patent assets as a key element in his plans. "We have today about 44,000 patents. The good thing about this is that we also have one of the youngest patent portfolios in the entire industry, so monetization of our patents is an important aspect of our turnaround," he told delegates at a summit in Waterloo, Ontario, last September. He was at it again in May during an earnings call with analysts when he stated: "Many people have wanted to buy the patents... But I'm not really in a patent-selling mode, I'm in a patent licensing mode."

Amazon Patents Noise-Canceling Headphones That Could Automatically Turn Off When It Detects Certain Sound Patterns ( 82

An anonymous reader shares a report via The Next Web: Noise-canceling headphones are great for tuning out the din around you when you just want to focus on listening to music or enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, they also mute sounds that you might need to hear -- like someone calling your name. Amazon has a pretty cool idea for solving that problem. It was recently granted a patent for headphones that not only cancel out noise, but also listen to specific sounds or phrases (like 'Hey Ben') and respond by automatically turning off the feature so the user can hear sound from their surroundings. That should make it safer for use in noisy environments where you might actually need to pay attention to the occasional alert, such as a construction site or an industrial facility. In addition, the headphones can also listen for phrases to turn noise canceling back on again, so the user can resume their listening experience hands-free.

Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement ( 24

In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.

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