After Samsung and Nvidia had their recent legal spat, more light has been shed on the world of GPU patents and licensing. While Intel holds their own wealth of patents, no doubt some concerning GPUs, Nvidia and AMD, being GPU firms, also hold more important patents as well. With Intel’s cross-licensing deal with Nvidia set to expire in Q1 2017, the chip giant is reportedly in negotiations with AMD to strike up a patent deal.
Being one of the big two GPU designers, AMD probably has many important and critical GPU patents. Add in their experience with APUs and iGPUs, there is probably quite a lot there that Intel needs. With the Nvidia deal expiring, Intel probably sees a chance to get a better deal while getting some new patents as well. Approaching AMD also makes sense as being the smaller of the two GPU makers, AMD may be willing to share their patents for less. It’s also a way to inject some cash into AMD and keep it afloat to stave off anti-trust lawsuits.
AMD also has a lot to offer with the upcoming generation. The GPU designer’s GCN architecture is ahead of Nvidia’s when it comes to DX12 and Asynchronous Compute and that could be one area Intel is looking towards. Intel may also be forced into cross-licencing due to the fact with some many patents out there, there have to be some they are violating. The biggest question will be if AMD will consider allowing their more important and revolutionary patents to be licensed.
With the Nvidia deal being worth $66 million a quarter or $264 million a year, AMD has the chance to squeeze out a good amount of cash from Intel. Even though $264 million wouldn’t have been enough to put AMD in the black for 2015, it wouldn’t have hurt to have the extra cash.
Apple is no stranger to legal action and famously became embroiled in a bitter patent dispute with Samsung. Furthermore, Apple aggressively protects its intellectual property at the expense of their public reputation. The company has been sued for anti-trust violations including an eBook price-fixing lawsuit. Furthermore, Apple once faced a number of class action lawsuits and engaged in legal proceedings against Nokia, HTC, Kodak, Motorola Mobility and more!
The latest company to sue Apple, is Immersion which claims Apple’s haptic feedback systems on the iPhone 6/6s Plus and Watch/Watch Sport/Watch Edition infringes two of their patents. The patents in questions are no. 8,619,051, entitled, “Haptic Feedback System with Stored Effects,” and “Method and Apparatus for Providing Tactile Sensations” filed under no. 8,773,356. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus allegedly infringe parent no. 8,659,571 named “Interactivity Model for Shared Feedback on Mobile Devices.” Immersion CEO, Victor Viegas said about the lawsuit:
“While we are pleased to see others in the industry recognize the value of haptics and adopt it in their products, it is important for us to protect our business against infringement of our intellectual property in order to preserve the ecosystem we have built and the investments that we have made in continuing to advance haptic experiences. We will vigorously defend the intellectual property we have developed when it is infringed.”
As you might expect, Immersion is demanding compensation for an undisclosed amount. Not only that, the company filed a complaint with the ITC, “seeking an exclusion order preventing the importation, sale for importation, and sale after importation of infringing Apple devices into the United States by the defendants…”. Clearly, the company feels Apple’s product range was successful due to the haptic technology and wants a cut of the profits. The most likely outcome is an out of court settlement, but only time will tell.
Apple’s co-founder and former CEO, Steve Jobs, has been granted 141 patents since he passed away in October 2011.
The number, which is more than the 9 Bill Gates has been granted and the dozen or so granted to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in their lifetimes, adds to his 313 patents amassed during his career.
In an article by MIT Technology Review, we get to take a look back at Jobs’ patents, including his very first, simply titled ‘Personal Computer’, and one of his most recent, covering the design of Apple’s iconic 5th Avenue retail store in New York.
You might just wonder how a person who is no longer living can be awarded a patent. Well it’s all to do with applications, the review process and the time taken to do all of those things. Many of these patents will have been applied for just before his death, but have taken until now to be granted.
Although, as MIT points out, Apple was still applying for patents with his name right up until October 4th 2011 – the day before he passed away.
It’s amazing how Steve Jobs still keeps popping up in the news and how he continues to remain relevant and influential 3 years after his death.
Anyone who follows smartphones will know that the rise of patent wars, patent trolls and massive battles over intellectual property has already started to get out of hand – you only have to look to the endless lawsuits between Apple and Samsung to see that. However, to paraphrase the latest report in some London slang “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. The latest report, which is a working paper by an Intel in-house counsel and two Wilmer Hale lawyers, suggests that the licensing cost of patents and intellectual property per smartphone is rising rapidly. The term “Royalty Stacking” is used to describe the way in which the cumulative cost of patent licenses is growing so high per device that it is increasingly unprofitable to produce smartphones. The estimates suggest we could observe up to $120 patent licensing costs on a $400 smartphone, which equals the costs of the components! The conclusion is that “those costs may be undermining industry profitability–and, in turn, diminishing incentives to invest and compete”. Of course this is a hypothetical study based on industry document analysis, so this is not what is actually happening right now. However, the potential is there: if all potential royalty demands end up being converted into royalty payments then the price of smartphones could continue to soar and as a result the industry could be brought to its knees by a generation of “patent trolling” and patent wars. Check out a detailed analysis of the working paper below at Foss Patents or check out the actual working paper at the source link.
Twitter has acquired over 900 patents from IBM. The deal, which includes a cross-license agreement, was made last month, but the two companies have now formally announced it. IBM has received more patents in the U.S. than any other company for 21 consecutive years.
“This acquisition of patents from IBM and licensing agreement provides us with greater intellectual property protection and gives us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service.” said Twitter Legal Director, Ben Lee.
Twitter revealed that IBM had issued a letter to the company alleging that it was infringing upon at least three of its patents, but “inviting” Twitter to negotiate a “business resolution”. Those particular patents were for “Efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators,” “Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service,” and “programmatic discovery of common contacts.”
“We are pleased to reach this agreement with Twitter because it illustrates the value of patented IBM inventions and demonstrates our commitment to licensing access to our broad patent portfolio. We look forward to a productive relationship with Twitter in the future.” said General Manager of Intellectual Property for IBM, Ken King.
Neither Twitter nor IBM revealed any detailed information about the deal, including the terms on which both parties agreed on.
The patent by Google owned Motorola was filed in May 2012 and published on the 7th of November 2013. The patent describes an application of an electronic tattoo, that would be tattooed on a users neck and would be able to be used as a mobile microphone, lie detector and digital display. How exactly does would this work? Well the tattoo would capture vibrations or sounds straight from the users throat, this way eliminating any background noise that often occurs with conversations over mobile phones. The system or tattoo would be powered by it’s own power supply and would then be transferred via Bluetooth or near-field communication (also known as NFC).
An example of the Patent for Motorola’s Throat Tattoo
Are we sensing a theme here yet? Not one to be out done Sony released a patent this year for a “Smart Wig” which would be able to everything from alerting the user via head taps to incoming messages, it would have GPS system for leading people around tailored routes via head taps which Sony said “would be excellent for the blind”. It would also be able to monitor blood pressure, body temperature and brain waves via built in sensors, it would also be able to “change power point slides” via a tug of the sideburns making it also a controller. According to analysts this may not be such a crazy idea, with some expecting “Smart Textiles” to be around 10 years away.
Something that sounds a little bit more attainable in the coming years is Google’s pay-per-gaze ad tracker. We by now all know that Google is an expert in the two fields of technology and advertising, which is why this patent seems more viable than the others. The idea is that a head mounted camera tracks what advertising materials the user is viewing throughout the day, then it would measure pupil dilation to determine how effective certain ads are at catching different users attention. This idea sounds like it would be a perfect fit for Google’s upcoming release of Google Glass, however at this stage the company has a rule against advertising on internet powered eyewear. This may change in the close future though.
A patent by Google that could work hand-in-hand with Google Glass, if they relax the rule of advertising on internet powered eyewear
Microsoft were reportedly looking at merging technology with lingerie in a hope that it will help you lose weight. You read that correctly, the bra would measure things like heart rate, breathing, skin activity and movement to assess when the user would be going through moments of stress and in turn would be more likely to turn to “comfort food”. The bra would then transmit via Bluetooth data to the users smartphone alerting them and providing them with exercising to help them overcome the urge to eat “comfort food”. According to Microsoft for the Smart Bra to be viable, they would need to look at a better battery as apparently battery life has been an issue.
Microsoft’s patent for a “Smart Bra”
So it looks like this year a lot of companies were looking into integrating technology into everyday life. It will be interesting to see if any of these patents actually make it to production, however the future of integrating our lives and immersing ourselves in technology could soon be here and not a thing of the future and dreams.