Apple Pays $25m to Patent Troll

Apple has paid a “patent troll” $24.9 million to settle a lawsuit alleging infringement over its Siri personal assistant. The payment will be split between the Marathon Patent Group – a business whose stock in trade is exploiting patent licences to file lawsuits against infringing companies – and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), from where a professor and student claim they invented the voice recognition and response system that Apple has implemented in Siri.

US Patent No. 7,177,798 describes a “method for processing natural language input,” using a database containing “case information, keywords, information models, and database values.” The lawsuit [PDF] alleged that Siri “processes natural language” in exactly the manner outlined in the patent.

Drs. Cheng Hsu and Veera Boonjing – the former a Professor of Decision Sciences and Engineering at RPI, and latter being a doctoral student at the time the patent was filed in 2000 – assigned their patent to the university, as is the common practice for inventions developed within academic facilities. Professional patent troll Marathon Patent Group – was made aware of the filing via its subsidiary Dynamic Advances and used it to file a lawsuit on behalf of RPI, taking half of any award in return.

“Apple encourages consumers to use Siri as claimed in the ’798 Patent and, in fact, has entire webpages devoted to teaching consumers the benefits of using Siri to process natural language inputs, how to use Siri to process natural language inputs, and encouraging them to buy Apple products so they can use Siri to process natural language inputs,” according to the filed lawsuit.

The plaintiffs were successful, settling the case with Apple for $24.9 million, though reports suggest that RPI was eager to hold out for more money.

“Dynamic Advances believes RPI has unreasonably withheld its consent to the reasonable royalty rate set forth in the settlement agreement between Dynamic Advances and Apple, and that issue may have to be resolved in arbitration,” the company stated.

For Dynamic Advances, though, Apple is but its first victim – the company “believes that other voice recognition products infringe the ‘798 patent.” Is a suit against Microsoft’s Cortana set to follow?

Samsung Have Patented An Augmented Reality Contact Lens

Previous attempts at portable AR devices have met with lukewarm responses, with many of them, including Google Glass, falling short of what was expected of them upon conception. Now Samsung may be working on the best ubiquitous AR technology yet that may finally be able to be a hit with consumers.

According to a patent discovered by the blog Sammobile, the Korean firm appears to be working on a brand new technology, “smart” contact lenses, which would able to display overlaid images right on the eye and take pictures with a simple gesture like a blink. Of course, the technology to compute all of these factors isn’t yet compact enough that they could be comfortably fitted to a contact lens, requiring a smartphone connected wirelessly to do the heavy lifting.

The patent has been a long time behind the scenes, with the original filming having taken place in September 2014, with it only recently being published. The majority of the patent is in Korean, however, the filing does include a number of diagrams that show off some early concepts of how the lens may work.

Of course, a patent gives no assurance that the product will ever be realized and is often used to ensure that other companies do not take the idea. It isn’t even shown in the paper whether the patent was accepted. Whether we will see this product from Samsung any time soon is a total unknown, but it is exciting to think that they believe this technology is possible and what could become a product capable of shaping our future.

Apple Have Filed a Patent For a Keyboard-less Macbook

Have you ever used multiple screens? you know when you’ve just set up that second screen for the first time and you’re trying to figure out how everything works now. Well, why not have that one a laptop but with a little twist, the second screen, is right where your keyboard used to be? Apple may be trying to do just that with one of their latest patents looking at a keyboard-less Macbook.

The patent was only made public on Thursday but was filed all the way back in September 2015 and seems to show what contains an area described as a “force sensitive input structure for an electronic device”, essentially a large touch screen area where your keyboard used to be.

Apple uses the term “zero-travel” to describe the keyless surface that doesn’t have to move when you press it. The surface, however, does include designs for haptic feedback, just like when you type away on your phone and vibrates back at you.

As a bonus, the system would allow you to configure what you need, need a giant touch pad, you’ve got it. Keyboard and number pad? It’s all yours. While this design is no way unique, with the Acer ICONIA 6120 featuring a touch screen where your keyboard is normally giving you all you need to create and upgrade your inputs as your needs arise.

While it may not become a product for a few years, we are seeing more and more devices that look to do away with dedicated input areas and make use of touch or motion controls. Do you think it’s a good movement away from the keyboard or will there always be a place for keyboards on your laptop?

Microsoft Patents A Smart Ring

Microsoft is known for working on cutting edge technology, with the technology used in the Kinect becoming a dream piece that was quickly built and mirrored in other gadgets and systems. The next piece of technology they want you using? How about something to go with your smart phone, a smart ring.

Back in November and December, Microsoft patented the designs for a smart ring, a device that would look and feel like a ring but would give you control of your devices as if it was a mouse. The smart ring would detect your fingers movements, acting almost as if you were using a touchscreen in thin air, and thought the use of a small laser, could even detect the position and movement of the finger. Felt like clicking a table and opening your family photos? Look no further!

With both the fingers movement and pose being tracked the input device could be used for anything from a smartphone to a desktop PC, with the complete control of your system (and sorry for saying this) at your fingertips.

The device is patented as working with several other components, from tablets, TV’s, Kinect’s and even smart glasses and smart watches. You’ve got the display in your glasses so why not touch it in thin air?

Are you excited by this concept? I am, imagine being able to control your computer at work like Iron Man with a flick of the wrist, this would also avoid the large motion and input detecting systems that many AR (augmented reality) headsets are having to mount to give you the full Iron Man experience.

EFF Seek Fees For Patent Case Over Online Photo Contests

We’ve all seen the competitions you can enter online, ranging from entering a competition on a forum to having to create and upload a piece of work. A common type of online contest is where you upload pictures, but be warned, some people may own patents to the entire concept of online contests.

Ruth Taylor is a Pennsylvania-based photographer who often runs photo contests on her website, BytePhoto. Along comes Garfum.com, a video website owned by New Jersey’s Michael Garofalo, who claimed that the competitions run on the site infringe on US Patent No. 8,209,618. The patent refers to the ability to create user accounts, upload content, organise the content and have users vote on the content, all rather vague terms given the digital age.

Initially requesting $50,000 in the lawsuit, Garofalo’s lawyers reduced this to $5,000 and then $2,500 later on. In an attempt to defend herself Taylor got in touch with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that deals with electronic rights, who took up the case pro-bono. Filing a motion to dismiss the case the EFF claimed that it should be thrown out of court under the Alice Corp precedent, a precedent that claims just because something is done via software the patent needs to cover something more than an abstract idea.

Garfum dropped the case before it went to court, however, the EFF didn’t end it there, filing a motion to seek attorneys’ fees for the case. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer stated, “the idea that you could patent an abstract idea, find innocent enthusiasts online and demand settlement money—and then slink away once challenged and before the court issues a ruling—goes against any sense of fair play”.

The total cost to cover the fees would come close to $30,000, with even more added because of the latest motion. Something that could soon become a reality sooner than expected with US Chief District Judge Jerome Simandle stating in an opinion that due to their “unreasonable” behaviour during the case, Garfum should end up paying the fees.

Uniloc Patent that Cost Microsoft Millions Finally Gets Invalidated

A major patent employed by the patent trolling company, Uniloc, has finally been dismissed. The US Patent No. 5,490,216, which outlines ownership of the concept of “product activation” for software had all of its claims rendered invalid in a ruling by the Patent Trademark and Appeals Board (PTAB). While the sums that Microsoft and other companies have paid to Uniloc for this patent over the years are unknown, Uniloc has sued about 75 companies with the ‘216 patent, according to the KC Business Journal, with one-third settling out of court.

The patent was wiped out as part of an “inter partes review,” or IPR, where defendants are able to challenge patent claims without taking the issue to a federal court. The companies that filed the IPR case against Uniloc’s patent was the collective of Sega of America, Ubisoft, Cambium Learning Group, and Perfect World Entertainment. The PTAB found that every claim that makes up Uniloc’s patent was anticipated or rendered obvious by earlier patents.

Ever since their original court win against Microsoft for an undisclosed sum, Uniloc has focused on collecting an ever-increasing number of patents and ruthlessly enforcing them on as many parties as possible in a technique known as ‘patent trolling’. While the ‘216 patent alone has generated dozens of lawsuits and the associated sums of money for them being upheld, other parties sued by Uniloc over the years for other patents include Mojang, creators of Minecraft, and Electronic Arts back in 2012.

Uniloc’s ‘216 patent officially expired in 2013, however, it has still been in use in court cases throughout 2014, due to patent holders being permitted to sue for up to six years of back damages even after the patent ends. Whether Uniloc will contest the decision is yet to be announced, but many companies that rely on serial key activation for the software may breathe a sigh of relief at this ruling.

Segway Patent Looks To Ban Hoverboards

Segways are the next best thing when it comes to showing off your technology in public. The end result though was the creation of “hoverboards” or swagboards as some call them. A device that operates in a similar fashion just without the handlebars that you find in Segways. A Segway patent could see away with the competition though as it looks to ban Hoverboards and other such devices.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has accepted a patent complaint that Segway filed in 2014 that is now going to be enforced by a general exclusion order. A general exclusion order is considered the most powerful remedy the ITC can issue, even involving people not directly involved in the complaint.

US Patent No 8,830,048 describes a device with wheels, a drive, and sensors to detect the pitch of the user support among other things. The second claim then carries this on by mentioning the use of a handlebar extending the features previously mentioned.

While the second claim covers the segway, the first claim would effectively cover devices such as the hoverboard which have been received and purchased by the public in far greater quantities than the original Segway.

President Obama has 60 days to accept the exclusion (something that is rarely blocked) and if it is accepted the exclusion order will then need enforcing, blocking imports and sales of anything that would infringe on Segway’s patent.

Want to Watch a Movie in Your Self-Driving Car? Ford Wants You To!

We all know that Ford is one of many companies that are looking at self-driving cars. They’ve even tested their cars in the snow, a weather most of us don’t like driving in at the best of times. What do you do when you don’t have to drive? That half hour trip to and from work every day, or the four-hour drive to see family. Ford has an answer and that’s to keep you entertained with a movie in your self-driving car.

Ford has recently filed for, and obtained, a patent that relates to “autonomous vehicle entertainment system”.  What this actually means if you will be able to put your feet up as a screen comes down over the front of the car, letting you enjoy as the projector between your seats brings you the latest in entertainment.

That’s right, you will be able to enjoy a cinema experience while being driven around by your car. In flight movies built into your car doesn’t sound all that bad does it?

Personally, I like the idea of having something to do in your car, but would you feel safe staring at a screen while you are driven down the motorway at high speed with no one watching out for the broken car or driver that crashes into your favourite automated car.

Samsung Win Latest Round in Patent War With Apple

Samsung and Apple have been embroiled in a costly patent war for the past few years, with the root cause being the supposed infringement of a number of Apple’s patents by the Korean electronics firm. It has already been two years since a San Jose federal judge ordered that Apple be paid the sum of $119.6 million over three supposed infringements, a decision which Samsung chose to appeal. Yesterday a US appeals court overturned this ruling, claiming that the technology created by Apple that was at the centre of the lawsuit was so obvious that Samsung could not be punished for incorporating it into its own devices. A second win came in the form of the court also choosing to uphold a $158,000 ruling against the Cupertino tech giant for infringing one of Samsung’s patents relating to camera features.

One of the patent claims overturned in yesterday’s ruling includes Apple’s patent for the “slide to unlock” feature used on it’s iPhone. It was noted that while the technology could be considered integral to the iPhone’s success, it was not great enough to overcome Samsung’s defense that the information regarding it was readily available to the rest of the industry. The court stated that “A reasonable jury could therefore not find a nexus between the patented feature and the commercial success of the iPhone.” The new hearing also covered the patent regarding “software to detect ‘structures’, such as a phone number, in text and to turn those structures into links,” for which Apple had previously been awarded $98.7 million for the infringement of. It was ruled that the features were not similar enough to infringe the patent as “Apple failed to prove… that the accused Samsung products use an ‘analyzer server’ as we previously construed that term.”

This is the first big win for Samsung since the bloody patent war with Apple began, but, after numerous campaigns against Samsung over these patents, it is unlikely that it will end here. Samsung was forced to pay Apple $548 million in December last year and if anything, that recent victory will only continue to add fuel to this battle.

Self-Destructing Bullet Patented by US Army

One of the largest contributors to technologies growth is the armed forces, with people looking at everything from mounting rail-guns to ships to being able to inject a sponge into people to stop gunshot wounds from bleeding. The latest patent that the U.S. Army has filed for though is designed to prevent harm, in the form of a self-destructing bullet.

.50 calibre bullets are designed to be used in large guns, with everything from a sniper rifle to a mounted machine gun firing them off with their range and size often making them the round of choice for long distance engagements. This puts you at the risk of firing bullets that may not stop where you want them to. This may no longer be the case though thanks to a patent filed by the U.S. Army.

Researchers Brian Kim, Mark Minisi and Stephen McFarlane didn’t feel rounds had to keep going. Two years after filing for their patent it was approved, allowing for a new design of bullet that would have a “timed” lifespan. Designed to ignite the second the round is fired, the countdown would begin, ending with the bullet ending its travel once the reaction reaches its final stage.

McFarlane stated that “the biggest advantage is reduced risk of collateral damage”. While the design is based and tested on the .50 calibre rounds, the patent extends to the method used in creating the new form of rounds, meaning that it could be used in everything from small handguns to large calibre weapons.

1882 Patent Gives a Whole New Meaning to the Word Overkill

We mostly associate a patent and technology with modern times,. Our computers, and our inventions are the primary things to gain a patent, but it is something that dates way further back than you first expect and the patent offices have had plenty of work to do for quite a long time. These days we mostly hear about the wars fought between the market giants such as Apple and Samsung and lately even between NVIDIA and Samsung in the courtrooms all over the world and the weapons that they’re wielding are patents.

Luckily all of these patents are harmless in themselves but the 1882 patent application for a mousetrap could be a dangerous one. We all know of the default snap traps used like we saw in cartoons to catch the rodents, but this one by James A. Williams of Fredonia, Texas is a little different as it uses a revolver as part of the trap.

The southern part of the US has always had a special reputation when it comes to firearms and that goes especially for Texas, which also might be the reason for the added bonus in this invention. It can also be used to keep larger rodents, AKA burglars, out of your home due to the added bonus where “this invention may also be used in connection with a door or window, so as to kill any person or thing opening the door or window to which it is attached.”

While this is kind of funny, I’m personally looking forward to some more technology related patents and inventions that will revolutionize our world once more. What huge new invention are you hoping to see next? My faint hopes still lie on holographic displays and maybe even rooms or will we start to see an end to patents as a whole as we’ve seen from electric car manufacturer Tesla and it’s CEO Elon Musk?

Judge Rules NVIDIA Violated Three Samsung Patents – Sales Ban Threatened

NVIDIA must be regretting filing the lawsuit accusing of Samsung of building GPUs without permission – surreptitiously claiming that NVIDIA invented the GPU – that it subsequently lost back in October. Samsung filed a countersuit against NVIDIA, alleging that the latter was infringing on a number of its patents. Judge David Shaw of the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has now ruled that NVIDIA is indeed in violation of three of Samsung’s patents.

While the decision is not yet final, the judge considers NVIDIA to be in violation of Samsung’s US6147385US6173349, and US7804734 patents, for an SRAM module, a shared strobe buffer, and data strobe buffer, respectively.

Samsung argued during the case that its patents allowed chip manufacturers to put “what used to fill an entire circuit board with dozens of discrete components all onto a single chip the size of your thumbnail.”

If the ruling enforced, it could result in a sales ban of any infringing  NVIDIA chip. However, patent US6173349 expires during 2016, so any ban against technology that violates that patent would only be in effect for a matter of months.

Following the decision, NVIDIA’s stock dropped by 27 cents to $32.66 during after-hours trading.

“We are disappointed,” said  NVIDIA spokesperson Hector Marinez, in a statement to Bloomberg. “We look forward to seeking review by the full ITC which will decide this case several months from now.”

Samsung has yet to comment on the matter.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Patent Troll to Pay Legal Fees

Patents are legal pieces of documentation to say that you are the creator or mind behind an idea or design, they are kinda like copyright although they can be a wider range of things such as the concept behind a piece of technology, rather than the exact components and designs needed to implement it. More often than not we find that there are groups or companies seeking to use these documents to gain money where none is due, these groups of individuals are called “Patent Trolls”. In a first, a District Judge in the US has asked a group to pay the legal fees of various companies it sued.

The concept is simple, claim you have the rights to a patent for a design or idea and then request that they pay you for anything they might have used that design for, this is especially common with things like software.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap has stated that due to the exceptional circumstance of the case eDekka LLC should be made to pay the legal fees from the various companies it sued. eDekka used a patent to sue more than 200 companies in 160 separate cases, the basis from which was their use of a database which eDekka claims their patent would reduce the time needed to retrieve information, however, when they were pressed more they began to explain the technology as a teaching tool that would help improve people’s ability to program databases and the systems that use them.

With it being considered an easy win by many patent trolls tend to hope for an early payment or a long drawn of battle resulting in the opposition not being able to continue the case. Hopefully this will deter people from trying to claim others works in exchange for an early payday.

Image courtesy of Book Masters.

The New Nintendo NX Controller Looks Seriously Weird!

The upcoming Nintendo NX is shaping up to be a strange beast, at least if a patent for the devices controller are anything to go by. If industry rumours are anything to go by, we know it’s going to be powerful, although with two, going on three years, between the NX and the current crop of games consoles, Nintendo have an advantage of more GPU powerful hardware per dollar to work with. Although, let’s be honest, it doesn’t take a flipping rocket scientist to guess that it’ll be powered by some kind of AMD/GPU/APU hybrid, AMD has that market sealed up pretty tight.

The new patent filings don’t fill me with confidence that Nintendo is learning from this past mistakes. The patent covers a controller which has a display on it, with two holes, most likely to allow for analogue sticks to pass through it. This is a much more refined object compared to the gargantuan Wii U tablet controller, and given that this looks like a relatively normal controller shape, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. What worries me is that Nintendo are likely still pushing into the gimmick end of the spectrum. The price of this controller could be high, limiting it to one per console, like we had with the Wii U tablet controller.

The tech sounds awesome, but the real world applications could cause a lot of headaches that you just won’t have with a simple plug and play controller. If Nintendo wants to capture the hardcore gaming crowd from their rivals, or multi-platform titles, it’s something they’ll need to address. Of course, I’m speculating on a rumour, so take it all with a pinch or three of salt.

If this is the real controller, it’s a huge improvement over the days of waving your arms, so that’s a good start.

AMD Officially Responds to Fury X Cease-and-Desist

It has been a couple of months now since Asetek won over Cooler Master’s appeal in the long-time going legal battle in regards to patent infringement in the all-in-one liquid coolers. Shortly after this victory for Asetek we foresaw some issues for AMD’s liquid cooled Fury X graphics card that uses a Cooler Master system and we were right. A couple of days ago we brought you the news that Asetek had made a Cease & Desist orders to AMD in regards to the Radeon Fury X graphics card.

AMD is naturally not taking this lying down and have officially responded to the issue. They, AMD, argue that the jury in the Asetek versus Cooler Master case didn’t mention the specific cooling solution used in the Radeon R9 Fury X models as infringing on the Asetek held patents.

“We are aware that Asetek has sued Cooler Master. While we defer to Cooler Master regarding the details of the litigation, we understand that the jury in that case did not find that the Cooler Master heat sink currently used with the Radeon Fury X infringed any of Asetek’s patents.”

AMD and Asetek have without a doubt entered some sort of discussion in this matter and it is also clear that AMD will battle this outcome in order to keep their flagship GPU on the market. While it all looks a bit grim right now, it isn’t as bad as it could be. First of all, AMD shouldn’t be hit by with any financial burdens even if they should be found using a patent infringing cooling system. If it’s the case, it should be Cooler Master’s problem again. It could however still be removed from the market as it is, but the way the legal system is built, that could take a long time. And with such a long time to work it out, AMD has plenty of time to find another cooling solution and make a revision of their cards before any legal proceedings can be entered.

It will still be interesting to see how this plays out, whether an agreement will be reached or AMD will revise the Radeon R9 Fury X’s cooling solution.

Mini-Games Now Allowed to be Included in Game Loading Screens

Loading screens, the bane of every gamer out there, plaguing games since the move away from flash storage. Many gamers try to escape or limit the time spent on loading by fitting their computers or consoles with fast solid state drives with which to load from. But what if loading screens were fun? Good news for those of you on a budget or unwilling to modify your console is here: games will now be permitted to include extra mini games on loading screens.

Back in 1995, Namco patented the use of auxiliary mini games on loading screens while the main game was loading. This was due to releasing the original Ridge Racer for the PS1 with the arcade classic Galaxian as a mini game to entertain players while the game itself loaded. And while this was a good idea, Namco wasn’t keen on sharing, cursing gamers playing other games to dull loading screens for 20 years. But no more. The original patent was filed on the 27th of November 1995, which has now expired.

I’m sure some people will note that some games do indeed include mini-games during their loading sequences, the most popular example being EA’s FIFA series. EA managed to avoid the limitations of the patent by making their loading mini-games cut down sections of the main game, instead of separate ‘auxiliary’ mini-games.

Gamers are keen to celebrate the newfound loading screen freedom too, with a group organizing a “Loading Screen Jam“, with the aim to “create games/interactive material based on infringing the now-defunct patent in any way possible!” Hopefully game developers will follow suit and provide interesting loading screens for gamers, maybe using classic versions of their own games in order to make the seemingly lengthening loading process of modern games more tolerable. It is definitely a power that should be used responsibly, however, as the wrong mini-games in the wrong places could easily disrupt the flow of gameplay and adventure or even break the atmosphere of a story-driven or emotional game.

I’m certainly excited to see what developers and the gaming community can come up with, free from the limitations of the patent. Let us know in the comments what you’d like to see on the loading screen of your favourite games!

Apple Guilty Of Using University of Wisconsin’s Patents Without Permission

We all use technology every day, and within those thousands of pieces of technology we find thousands more built up with designs and ideas from hundreds and thousands of areas. To protect companies interests in these designs and ideas they use patents, and the normal process is that if you wish to use a patents idea or the technology it protects then you request the owners permission. Sadly it would seem that some big companies use technology without supporting the little ones and in this case, Apple has been found guilty of just such a misuse.

The University of Wisconsin holds a patent that covers some technology designed to improve chip efficiency and given that almost every piece of technology these days use chips it’s obviously something that could support the university for long time into the future. In this case, though it would seem that the courts have voted in favour of the University of Wisconsin and has found Apple liable for using the technology without their permission, specifically in iPhones and iPads. The case is set to reappear in court, with the judge stating that it could cost Apple around $862.5 million, which isn’t the worst news for them given that just last month they had another case brought against them regarding the same technology but in the iPhone 6’s and the iPad’s A9 and A9x chips.

This isn’t the first time that these issues have been brought up, in 2008 Intel had the same charges brought against them, but this was immediately settled out of court. Although I doubt Apple is too worried about the money in the long-term.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

ITC Court Rules in Favour of Samsung in Nvidia Patent Dispute

Nvidia and Samsung have been locked in a bit of a patent war for a while now, with Nvidia filing a class action lawsuit claiming that they effectively invented the modern 3D GPU and that Samsung is using it without their permission. Of course, Samsung wasn’t going to back down from such a fight, as they’ve got a huge business of their own to protect and they filed a counter suit against Nvidia.

Recent developments are certainly looking good for Samsung, as the ITC has declared that Samsung has no infringed upon the Nvidia patents for modern GPUs. Nvidia lost 2 out of 3 patent infringement claims, but to rub salt into the wound, the third claim was thrown out on ground of invalidity, giving Samsung a clean win.

Of course, the battle is far from over and Nvidia won’t be packing up their bags and going home just yet. The case is still under review by the full commission and is subject to revision. The final decision will not arrive until February and an Nvidia spokesperson says that they’re still confident in their case against Samsung.

This is patent trolling on the highest level, and if Nvidia did prove to have created the first modern graphics card, the GeForce 256 (see above) and subsequently hold the patents to them thereafter, it could have huge repercussions on Samsung and also Qualcomm, but again, that remains to be seen.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information.

Asetek Scores Another Legal Victory Over Cooler Master

It has been a long court battle between PC component manufacturers Asetek and CMI, also known as Cooler Master, and despite a few victories in favour of Asetek, it seems the case is yet to reach an end! We first brought you the news that Asetek were taking Cooler Master to court over multiple patent infringements three years ago. Skip ahead to December last year, Cooler Master was found guilty in the Asetek patent suit, awarding them damages based on 14.5% royalty rate. However, CMI demanded a new judgment as a matter of law and a new trial.

Unfortunately for CMI, the court has denied their demands, but rather than simply throwing out the case, the judge awarded Asetek enhanced damages of 25.375% royalty rate on CMI’s revenues for sales of the infringing products, dating this back to the start of 2015, whilst also blocking CMI and its parent, Cooler Master, from selling certain infringing products in the US.

The only thing in favour of CMI at the moment is that they’re able to appeal the matter, but perhaps they won’t be as motivated to do so given the recent turn of events.

Hopefully, the matter will be resolved in the near future, allowing fans to get hold of the products they desire without too many headaches.

German Court Rules Apple Didn’t Invent “Slide to Unlock”

A German court has dismissed Apple’s patent claim regarding the “slide to unlock” mechanism and supported a ruling by the lower Federal Patent Court. Apple’s patent was rejected on the basis that it was too similar to an existing product by Swedish company, Neonode. More specifically, Neonode invented the basic principle of slide to unlock two years before the iPhone’s launch. However, their implementation only involved basic text and Apple decided to add a visual slider. As a result, Apple tried to argue that this was enough of a difference to warrant a patent in Apple’s favour. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and the highest court in Germany found the differences to be negligible.

This ruling means, Apple didn’t invent the intuitive slide to unlock feature which made the iPhone such a recognizable device. Neonode continued to sell many handsets up to 2008 with their original design before declaring bankruptcy. Interestingly, their original patent is still valid, so they could have a legal basis to sue Apple on copyright grounds.

Apple’s patent crusade against Samsung and dispute with Kodak has done little to earn the respect of companies it was trying to destroy. This latest revelation will give a strong boost to Samsung in their patent war with Apple.

Do you respect Apple as a company?

Thank you ITProPortal for providing us with this information.

Nintendo Files Patent For Console With No Optical Drive

News has emerged that Nintendo could be planning to make its next console, codenamed the NX – billed by the company as a “dedicated game platform with a brand-new concept” – sans disc drive. Thanks to a post on NeoGaf, we know that Nintendo has filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a game console that has no optical drive. Instead, the device has an internal hard drive for storing downloaded games, plus an SD card slot, which will be good news for prospective crackers and homebrewers.

“The example system is not provided with an optical disc drive for reading out a program and/or data from an optical disc,” the patent reads. “An example system includes an internal hard disc drive storing a program and/or data, a communication unit transmitting/receiving a program and/or data via a network, and a processor executing a program stored in the hard disc drive to perform game processing.”

The console will also include a separate display unit, presumably similar to the Wii U Gamepad. Are we getting our first glimpse of the Nintendo NX? Nintendo has previously stated that it is intentionally keeping quiet about the NX’s new features for fear that its competitors might rip off its ideas.

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Forbes.

Microsoft Could Send Notifications Through Electric Impulses in Clothes

Microsoft has publicly revealed an intriguing patent originally filled in 2014, entitled, Wearable Computer Having A Skin-Stimulating Interface. In a rather space-age fashion, the patent allows Microsoft to relay notifications through small sensory shocks. In theory, this could be also be used to stimulate a person’s senses after a prolonged period of inactivity. Therefore, it’s possible the technology is rooted in the fitness market. According to the patent:

“The electrical stimuli may inform the user of an event, a condition, etc. Examples of an event include but are not limited to receipt of a message (e.g. an email, an instant message (IM), a short message service (SMS) message, or a transcribed voicemail), receipt of an alarm (e.g. an alarm clock alarm or a warning), receipt of a phone call, occurrence of a time of day, etc.”

“The electrical stimuli may inform the user of a condition of clothing that is worn by the user. The electrical stimuli may inform the user that a physical positioning of the user is to be changed.”

It seems there is the possibility for tactile notifications using sensors embedded into specialized clothing. Although, I’m quite dubious how long it would take for such a catastrophic change to become widely accepted. Nevertheless, in 20-30 years time, it’s unthinkable how advanced technology will become and the degree to which our lives will change forever.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information.

‘Concord 2’ Hypersonic Airbus Being Developed!

Airbus are known for their giant airplanes, and it’s not hard to know why, as they’re used all over the world to transport people and materials. Their new design hopes to improve on that by allowing them to travel at speeds of up to four and a half times the speed of sound!

To summarise this, travelling to New York from London currently takes seven to eight hours, with the new airbus design the flight would take a single hour. Flights from Paris to San Fransico and Tokyo to Los Angeles would take a mere three hours, saving people and companies time which they often don’t have lying around (or sitting) in the air.

The airplane will be a little different from your normal flight. designed to take off vertically thanks to some engines mounted underneath the jet is designed to climb vertically until it’s almost at the speed of sound. After this, it relies on rocket motors to carry it up to 100,000 feet before finally allowing the ramjets to push it to a final speed of Mach 4.5.

The design is similar to a lot of high-speed military jets, and even has some resemblance to the concord, a jet which was not allowed to operate over land due to the worry that it would cause a sonic boom. The new crafts design is built to limit not only the noise it creates but also the sonic booms, thereby hoping to allow it to travel in more populated areas without the restrictions set on the concord.

With only twenty seats on each jet, the chances are the tickets will be highly priced and the onboard entertainment short. Who wants a meal with their flight anyway?

Thank you Tech Sport for the information and the image. 

Google Files Patents for Artificial Intelligence

Google has filed six patents for artificial intelligence and neural networks, it has been revealed. It’s the first time that the tech giant has attempted to protect its AI research, some of which could be spurious, while as a whole could be seriously detrimental to any future AI research and development by smaller companies.

The first patent is for what is known as dropout, a method for neural network learning, invented by Alexander Krizhevsky, Ilya Sutskever, and Nitish Srivastva of Toronto University, but used as a standard technique by most AI researchers. According to the patent, dropout is:

“A system for training a neural network. A switch is linked to feature detectors in at least some of the layers of the neural network. For each training case, the switch randomly selectively disables each of the feature detectors in accordance with a preconfigured probability. The weights from each training case are then normalized for applying the neural network to test data.”

The another patent from a development from the same team, however, is based on a spurious claim that they developed the idea for a parallel convolutional network. Hinton and his team have been influential in creating an improved GPU-based implementation of parallel convolutional network, but in no sense did they invent such a network.

Other AI-related patents filed by Google include Q learning with a neural network (invented by Watkins, not Google), classifying data objects (defined so broadly that it could impact all other AI research), and word embeddings. As reddit user AnonMLResearcher said of the latter:

“I am afraid that Google has just started an arms race, which could do significant damage to academic research in machine learning. Now it’s likely that other companies using machine learning will rush to patent every research idea that was developed in part by their employees. We have all been in a prisoner’s dilemma situation, and Google just defected. Now researchers will guard their ideas much more combatively, given that it’s now fair game to patent these ideas, and big money is at stake.”

Google’s artificial intelligence patents appear designed to protect its financial interests, but their specious claims will give them undue credit and hamstring smaller company’s research in the field. And, let’s face it; any company looks small under Google.

Thank you I Programmer for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Digital Trends.

Nvidia Sues Samsung over Additional Four Patent Infringements

You’ve probably heard by now that Nvidia and Samsung don’t see eye to eye when it comes to patents. This little dispute has escalated to Nvidia suing Samsung and then Samsung countersuing Nvidia in the process, leading to a whirlwind of alleged patent infringements. Now, Nvidia apparently revealed some details about the ongoing dispute on its blog.

For those who are not aware with the case, Nvidia sued Samsung back in September last year for infringing their IP by using one of the company’s GPU patents without sharing some of its profits. Samsung then went on to sue Nvidia and one of their smaller customers, Velocity Micro, for allegedly infringing six out of eight patents the South Korean manufacturer owns (Velocity reportedly infringed all of them).

Nvidias’ case is scheduled to have a hearing in late June and they are now assured by some good news in their pretrial decision, having the judge siding with the GPU maker. With this, Nvidia aims to block some Galaxy phones and tablets from landing on the US market. In addition to the latter, Nvidia comes with two more updates on the case.

It seems that Nvidia went on to counter sue Samsung with an additional four patent infringements aside from the seven cited in its first case the company filed. Also, the court gave a January 11th 2016 date for the trial to begin, where it will focus on the six patents filed against Nvidia, the additional two filed against Velocity, as well as the new four patents filed against Samsung.

This all seems a bit confusing (and childish to some extent), but it seems that yet again the two companies are playing ping-pong over IP infringements. Will it ever end? Also, the two companies struck a deal in which Samsung agreed to make chips for Nvidia not too long ago. However, looking at the two companies from a consumer perspective, you might agree that their behaviour seems a bit like the video below.

Trollface Meme Creator Actually Makes Money off His Creation

Trollface meme creator, Carlos Ramirez, now 24 years old, explained how he arrived to create one of the Internet’s legends and how he makes money off his creation (though not a lot).

Ramirez stated that he created the Trollface meme while (attempting) to study for a college paper, having posted it on 4chan. The first ever Trollface was created in MS Paint and posted in the video game board section of the site.

“I didn’t really have any intention to share it,” Ramirez stated.”I just posted it on their video game board and I went to sleep. I woke up the next morning and saw it re-posted in a number of other threads.”

From there onward, it went on having the success it currently displays all over the Internet. In 2010, his mother encouraged him to take claim of his creation and filed a patent with the US Copyright Office, displayed in the image below.

Since then, Ramirez stated he made over $100,000 in licensing fees, settlements, and other payouts associated with Trollface. The latest is the game Meme Run, which is an endless runner filled with various Internet jokes. The developer, Ninja Pig Studios, released the game on PC and Mac for free, but Nintendo saw fit to charge for it on its console, having a price tag of $4.99 on eShop.

This was a thing Ramirez couldn’t ignore, having big name companies charge money for his patented creation without giving him a cut. He has been in contact with the developer, who states he cannot reveal the sales figure for the title due to a non-disclosure agreement signed with Nintendo.

Meme Run was eventually taken down from eShop and the company refused to comment on whether or not it was aware of the patented artwork, but given that Nintento is not your ordinary indie game company, its legal department should have undoubtedly had the knowledge of the patent being out there.

Ramirez says the Trollface nowadays is reeling in only a few thousand dollar every now and then, but he continues to enforce his ownership on the copyright.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information

Nvidia Wins Round One in Lawsuit Against Samsung and Qualcomm

It’s still early days in the lawsuit launched by Nvidia against rival chipmakers Samsung and Qualcomm for infringing on seven of its patents, but the company can now claim its first victory after the International Trade Commission has returned a pretrial claim construction ruling, also known as a Markman ruling.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of the ruling, in which claim constructions favorable to NVIDIA will be applied to six out of seven disputed claims when the judge considers the question of Samsung’s and Qualcomm’s infringement. This further strengthens the patents we have asserted, and we look forward to a full hearing in late June,” a spokesman for Nvidia said.

This is the first time that Nvidia has started a patent suit in its time and they seem fairly confident in their case. Nvidia claims that the GPUs found in Samsung mobile phones infringe on seven of its patents, no matter whether the GPUs in question are based on ARM’s Mali, Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR, or Qualcomm’s Adreno technology.

Samsung has of course launched a counter suit against Nvidia in Virginia. “We continue to believe Samsung’s claims have no merit, and that Samsung’s effort to sue a small company selling NVIDIA-based products in Virginia is entirely unwarranted,” Nvidia said.

Thanks to Fudzilla for providing us with this information