Have you ever heard of a PAE? No? Well it stands for Patent Assertion Entity, Still not sure what they do? You might recognize them if we call them patent trolls. PAEs are companies that own the rights to patents through contracts with inventors or that buy them from others with the sole intent to file law suits against anyone that might be infringing on any patent they currently own. It is a big business and one that costs the market millions of dollars each year.
In a somewhat surprising decision the US Supreme Court has rules that patents that cover an “abstract idea” are not valid. This was the final outcome of a battle between two financial institutions, Alice Corp and CLS Bank. The story is one that has played out very often, Alice Corp. holds the patent for the concept of an electronic escrow system. CLS wants to use the same type of system, but as the patent held by Alice Corp is so vague and abstract they cannot do so without running the risk of infringing.
Yesterday the big news was that Lenovo “bought” Motorola Mobility from Google for around $2.91 Billion dollars. This price tag is a far cry from the $12.5 Billion that Google originally paid for the handset maker. Something seems missing in the differences until you find out that Lenovo did not get the same thing that Google bought. All Lenovo is selling is the manufacturing capability and the brand name. The majority of Motorola’s assets are going to stay with Google.
Chinese Huawei made a deal with the patent consortium Rockstar to avoid a lawsuit for unauthorized use of patents. This is the first of eight device manufacturers with Android which has decided he does not want to be involved in a lawsuit.
There is a phrase in the patent world that used to mean something, but now seems to have lost its meaning: prior art. The term according to Miriam Webster means: “the processes, devices, and modes of achieving the end of an alleged invention that were known or knowable by reasonable diligence before and at its date —used chiefly in patent law”. To put it simply prior art is any technology, device, papers, theory, etc. that was publicly known at the time of “invention” and before the patent filing which could have influenced (or actually did) the inventors.
In the long running battle between Samsung an Apple there is new twist. It seems that an appeals court would like a lower court to reconsider the Apple request for a permanent injunction on Samsung products based on three utility patents. Now, while having a court reconsider something is not unusual it is interesting to note that the patents in question constitute a very small portion of the products in question. It also comes not long after the US Administration blocked a similar ban won by Samsung against Apple for patent infringement, but upheld one requested by Apple against Samsung.
Samsung announced in June this year that they are working on a device that has the features of a laptop and tablet in a single device. It is the Ativ Q device, which was supposed to bring an unprecedented resolution when it comes to tablets, 3200x1800 pixels on a 13.3-inch screen.
Apple was granted a patent that describes a device with a touch screen that has a screen sticking keys and other accessories, which, among other things, mimics the function joystick. The technology was published under the title "Clickable and tactile buttons for a touch surface" and should enable easy button setup and various other additions to the touch screen.
At almost every Apple event there was a big reveal at the end. This was typically preceded by Steve Jobs making saying “just one more thing”. Well Apple had an interesting day yesterday and in keeping with their pattern there is “just one more thing”. On top of the mountain of evidence that Apple coordinated the eBook price fixing deal with five publishers and the news that Apple iOS devices are susceptible to malware via their charging systems we are also hearing that Samsung has won a product ban against some Apple products from the International Trade Commission.
It looks like the US wants to export something new to the world, now we are not talking about a technology. We are talking about our draconian copyright laws. You remember those nasty laws that the entertainment industry and software companies keep extending and expanding. For years our government has tried to be the police for these groups with laws like SOPA, PIPA Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection act and more. Well they are trying to force other countries to adopt these same rules and using trade agreements to do it. They have already been stopped once with ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) when they tried to remove the rights of individual countries to establish their own laws and are at it again with the Trans Pacific Partnership.