Judge Richard Posner: There Are Too Many Patents In America

Tired of all these various conflicts involving patents here in the U.S.? Well, you’re not alone. After dismissing a frivolous suit from Apple against Motorola and expressing his unhappiness on the matter shortly after, Judge Richard Posner recently wrote an opinion expressing his complete and utter disdain of the U.S Patent system. Posner argues:

“With some exceptions, US patent law does not discriminate among types of inventions or particular industries. This is, or should be, the most controversial feature of that law. The reason is that the need for patent protection in order to provide incentives for innovation varies greatly across industries.”

Posner believes there are indeed industries out there that serve as examples of actually needing patent protection— he names the pharmaceutical industry as the “poster child” for patent protection. The sole reason the pharmaceutical industry would need protection? Posner specifically argues “the invention of a new drug tends to be extremely costly–in the vicinity of hundreds of millions of dollars”. Conversely, there are “few industries that resemble pharmaceuticals” and “the cost of invention is low”, generally speaking. In fact, Posner adds “the product will be superseded soon anyway, so there’s no point to a patent monopoly that will last 20 years” and “most industries could get along fine without patent protection”. Looking at the bigger picture, Posner feels a patent:

“blocks competition within the patent’s scope and so if a firm has enough patents it may be able to monopolize its market” .

Posner doesn’t offer a specific solution, but he does outline a few preventative measures to fight defensive patents and patent trolls (we’re looking at companies like you Lodsys!). He cites examples like reducing patent terms for certain industries and completely eliminating jury trials by expanding the authority and procedures of the Patent and Trademark Office to make it the trier of patent cases. Nevertheless, Posner believes the problems and solutions of patents “merit greater attention than they are receiving”.

source: The Atlantic
via: The Verge

Samsung wins U.K. ruling over Apple; tablets not as simplistic

Samsung won a ruling in a U.K. courtroom today in one of its many cases against Apple. Judge Colin Birss ruled in London that consumers are not likely to mix up Galaxy tablets with the iPad. In the ruling, Birss indicates the Samsung products “do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity” of the Apple products. According to Birss, the Samsung tablets were thinner and possessed “unusual details” on the back. Apparently these qualities make the Apple products more “cool” according to the judge.
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Apple sued in China for patent infringement involving Siri [Video]

We don’t normally report what’s going on in the world of Apple, but since they have been a thorn in everyone’s side with patent lawsuits, we though you might find this interesting. Apple has been sued in China, but not by Samsung, Motorola, HTC, or another Android manufacturer. Zhizhen Network Technology is the culprit and they say that Apple’s Siri voice assistant infringes on their Xiaoi voice assistant.

The patent in question is ZL200410053749.9 and it relates to a “type of instant messaging chat bot system,” which happens to be called Xiaoi Bot. The Xiaoi patent was applied for by Zhizhen back in 2004 and was granted in 2006. What really has Zhizhen ticked off the most is the way Apple marketed Siri on their Chinese website. They said, “It (siri) can understand what you say and what you’re asking for, and it can find the answer that you are looking for on the web”. It’s no longer on the website.

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Apple v. Motorola judge speaks out about software patents

In a recent ruling, Judge Richard Posner with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (Chicago) effectively ended the case of Apple v. Motorola before it ever got to a courtroom by dismissing the claims in the case. In his ruling, Posner indicated specific claims for damages could not be shown by either party which left him no choice but to dismiss the case.

Posner is a judge who is not scared to speak out on a variety of issues. Just last week he wrote a critique of Supreme Court Judge Scalia’s dissent in the Arizona immigration lawsuit. Posner is a prolific writer as evidenced by a row of books in his office that he has authored, including one on the topics of economics and intellectual property laws.

Posner indicates in a recent interview about the Apple v. Motorola case that he questions whether we really need software patents. He mentions the benefit that software companies receive by being first to market with a new “gadget”, a benefit he thinks will exist whether patents are granted or not. He also has some concern with the fact that smartphones and similar devices are composed of thousands of components, yet a patent on any one of those components effectively confers legal protection (or liability) on the entire device, even the components not covered by the patent.

To read more about Judge Posner and the topic of patents, head on over to the source article. It provides a unique glimpse into one judge’s perspective on the continuing software patent wars.

source: Reuters

U.K. Judge: HTC Doesn’t Infringe Apple Patents


Sure Apple has recently seen its fair share of legal victories, but it’s just been dealt a major blow— courtesy of the U.K. courts. Judge Christopher Floyd recently ruled that HTC is not in violation of four Apple patents used for its touchscreen technology, which includes Apple’s slide to unlock feature. In addition, not only does HTC not infringe on Apple’s patents, but three of the four patents identified are actually invalid. The court only ruled that while Apple’s photo-management patent is valid, HTC didn’t infringe upon it.

While this is a significant victory for HTC, this is perhaps far from over. After all before his death, Steve Jobs did pledge Apple will “destroy Android” because ummmm you know… it was a stolen product and all.

source: Bloomberg

Samsung Denied Request to Lift Galaxy Nexus Ban; Software Update From Google Could be a Workaround

Despite Samsung’s best efforts, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will, at least for now, remain banned from any future sales. The Galaxy Nexus is already unavailable in the Google Play Store and is listed as “Coming Soon.” Judge Lucy Koh denied the Korean company’s motion to have the preliminary injunction overturned, which Apple was granted last week. All Apple needs to do now is post the $96 million bond and the injunction will be all set. Google and Samsung will now most likely go the same route that HTC did when Apple went after their One X and Evo4G LTE. A software update for the Galaxy Nexus will likely be made as a “work-around” to the patent that Apple claims Google and Samsung are infringing upon with the Galaxy Nexus.

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Apple denied emergency ban on HTC phone imports

Remember when the HTC EVO 4G LTE launch was delayed because it was held up at customs thanks to Apple? It wasn’t just the EVO 4G LTE with issues as Apple claims other phones, including the One X, infringed on a patent order issued in December. After a short delay, the phones were accepted in the U.S., but as expected Apple is fighting back. Apparently they made an emergency request to have HTC phones denied at the U.S. border. Thankfully the U.S. International Trade Commission denied that request.

The patent in question was related to a pop up that appears when clicking on certain links. For example, if you click on an email address, a pop up would appear letting you choose if you want to send it via Gmail, the stock Email application, or some other email application you might have installed on your device. Back in December it was found that HTC violated this infringement and was issued an order to fix it. The interesting thing is they did fix it as you can see in our previous post. Apple is still not pleased and continues to try to block sales of HTC products here in the U.S.

I seriously don’t get it. Why does Apple continue to stoop to these levels? Eventually the mainstream press has to start looking at Apple in a more negative light.

source: businessweek



Apple Files Counterclaim Against HTC, Claims Abuse Of 4G/LTE Patents

Apple has launched yet another offensive against its Android counterparts, this time filing a counterclaim in the Eastern District of Virginia court. This counterclaim lawsuit was filed in response against HTC, which recently filed a complaint in the ITC against Apple. According to FOSS patents, Apple claims HTC has abused two specific patents important to the 4G/LTE wireless standard and using them in a legal attack against Apple. By using abusing the two patents, Apple argues HTC breached its FRAND licensing obligations.

We’re sure you all are wonder what this means for both Apple and HTC, right? Well… no one knows just yet. But you can bet this will be a serious situation to keep an eye on because of the fact “there will probably be more cases in the future in which companies try to use 4G/LTE-essential patents as strategic weapons or for hold-up” and the government may not take too kindly for that. All eyes will be on this case in the meantime and any further developments that will arise.

source: FOSS Patents
via: Engadet

Samsung gets slapped with another patent infringement case and this time it’s not Apple

Samsung has been involved with numerous patent cases over the last year or so and of course the majority of them involve our favorite Cupertino company, Apple. We just got word of another case involving gesture recognition, but its not Apple. The company is called Flatworld Interactives, LLC and they specialize in commercialization of touchscreen technology.

Flatworld was founded by Dr. Salvko Milekic, a Professor of Cognitive Science & Digital Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Well he developed gesture recognition touch screens for children, which of course made it easier for them to interact with a computer. Flatworld alleges that Samsung’s Android smartphones, tablets, and their Galaxy Players infringe on U.S. Patent No. RE 43,318, which is titled, User Interface for Removing an Object From a Display.

Interestingly enough Apple is also a victim of Flatworld. A few months ago Flatworld hit them with this same infringement for all Apple touch devices including the iPhone, iPad, and Macs using a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad. Hit the break because things get even more interesting.

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Apple’s Request To Block Samsung Galaxy S III Launch Denied By Judge

Fresh off its success of postponing the impending arrival of the HTC One Series, Apple moved its crosshairs squarely at Samsung’s Galaxy S III smartphone— except this time the Cupertino giant is unsuccessful of delaying Sammy’s imminent launch. Their request for a court order blocking and delaying the June 21st launch of the Galaxy S III was denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California. Koh’s reason for denying Apple’s latest request? Koh’s calendar is already overloaded and she literally has no time to hear Apple’s request.

While Apple can always appeal the latest ruling, this latest decision has a major impact on Apple and its competitors. For Apple, this decision shows it won’t always have a favorable ruiling in order to have an edge in the marketplace for its devices. For its competitors— namely the Samsung Galaxy S III, it paves a clear path for Apple’s biggest fear: “Samsung’s Galaxy S III phone is set to launch in the U.S… and Apple fears blockbuster sales”.

Apple has not yet announced what its next move will be, but you can bet it will come sooner than you think. Considering the mass pandemonium and hype surrounding the Galaxy S III, it will likely not want to wait very long.

source: Reuters