Look for Brian Tong's new movement on Facebook: pain-ray-free produce. But the rest of us actually think it's kind of cool that the government pain-ray has been re-tasked to warm freezing plants. Also, the Supreme Court has finally ruled in the Bilski patent case, giving us a relatively non-destructive moderate decision. ACTA is ramping up again, and we make a date to go see "The Social Network."Subscribe: iTunes (MP3) | iTunes (320x180) | iTunes (640x360) | RSS (MP3) | RSS (320x180) | RSS (640x360)… Read more
Editors' note: This is a guest column. See Larry Downes' bio below.
Those who hoped the Supreme Court today would finally end the scourge of so-called business method patents will have to wait a little longer.
In the closely watched case of Bilski v. Kappos, the justices on Monday agreed with a lower court and the Patent Office that a claimed system to hedge energy prices using weather projections was merely an "abstract idea" ineligible for patent protection. (See PDF of ruling.)
But the court could not agree on a general prohibition for business method patents urged by … Read more
Anyone hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court would limit the ability to patent software will be disappointed by Monday's ruling.
The court ruled against patent applicants Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw (PDF), who in 1997 had tried to patent a process for hedging investments, a process of countering one investment risk with another.
But the majority of justices stopped far short of a broader ruling that would have curbed so-called business method patents -- and perhaps software patents as well.
"The patent application here can be rejected under our precedents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas. The … Read more
Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says Microsoft is a patent troll. Looks like it takes one to know one. On Thursday, the company answered Microsoft's charges of patent infringement with patent-infringement charges of its own.
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, Salesforce accuses Microsoft of willfully violating five of its patents and using them in everything from Windows 7 to the Windows Live authentication system. And the company is really going for the neck here: Not only is it seeking triple monetary damages, it has hired David Boies, the former U.S. Justice Department … Read more
After accusing HTC of infringing on 20 of its iPhone patents in March, Apple has expanded its suit.
This week Apple tacked on two more patents that it claims the Taiwanese handset manufacturer is in violation of using, according to a legal filing in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
The newly added patents both concern the same type of technology, which Apple lists as a "system for real-time adaptation to changes in display configuration."
In the original suit, Apple alleged that HTC is infringing on patents related to the iPhone's graphical user interface and the iPhone'… Read more
In something of a postscript to the main legal action, VirnetX announced Tuesday that the two patents involved in its dispute with Microsoft have been confirmed by the U.S. Patent Office as valid.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) confirmed VirnetX's U.S. Patent No. 6,502,135 and U.S. Patent No. 7,188,180 as patentable and valid on June 16, according to VirnetX. The two patents were the subject of lawsuits filed by VirnetX against Microsoft, alleging patent infringement over the use of VPN (virtual private network) technology in Windows.
A recent Apple patent application could signal the company is looking to include an HD Radio feature in future iOS devices. An HD radio tuner would let devices scan radio broadcasts as well as do content-based searches for stations playing particular songs, genres, artists, and so on.
According to AppleInsider, Apple's patent would bring the trademarked wireless radio format, HD Radio, owned by iBiquity to future generations of iPhones, iPads, and iPods. The application details the potential user experience, stating, "enhanced metadata and searching can provide the listener the ability to refine station choices without having to listen … Read more
The U.S. International Trade Commission on Friday said it plans to investigate HTC's claim that Apple's iPhone infringes on its handset technology.
The trade panel will look into whether HTC's claim will justify its request that the ITC ban the import and sale of iPhones, iPads, and iPods.
HTC complained to the panel in May that Apple infringed on five of its patents related to its handset hardware and software.
Motorola and Research In Motion have settled their patent dispute over wireless technologies, the companies said Friday.
Under the settlement, both companies will set up a cross-licensing agreement in which they will receive patent rights related to certain key technologies and industry standards, including 2G, 3G, 4G, 802.11, and wireless e-mail. The two will also transfer certain patents directly to each other.
Additionally, RIM has promised to provide an upfront payment and ongoing royalties to Motorola. Further details were not disclosed, but the companies confirmed that the agreement puts an end to all litigation between them.
The dispute became … Read more
Although Apple has yet to release a solar-powered gadget, its engineers clearly see the potential for solar power in multitouch devices, such as the iPhone and iPad.
Creating a single "stack" that combines the sensors for a multitouch screen and solar cell frees up more surface area, according to the patent description. The patent, which was filed in September 2008, also calls for the use of "light … Read more