December 22, 2010

Patent News - Kodak's patent spat threatens photo web sites

The fallout from a patent dispute between Kodak and web photo site Shutterfly could embroil many online image sites, says patent experts.

BBC News - Kodak's patent spat threatens photo web sites

Kodak claimed it owns patents regarding the display of online images that is being infringed by Shutterfly.

The photo-sharing site disputes these claims and has launched a counter suit.

But the landmark case could have ramifications for other popular online photo sites such as Yahoo's Flickr and Google's Picasa.

The past two years have seen a number of cases launched that claim online photo sites have breached patents.

But this is the first time such a large, established technology company has sought to assert its rights over online images, said Deborah Bould, a specialist in intellectual property at law firm Pinsent Masons.

Genuine innovation
Kodak's decision to start legal proceedings against Shutterfly will have put scores of web-based photo companies such as Flickr and Google, on high alert, she told BBC News.

"The patents Kodak holds are incredibly broad, effectively covering images that are stored centrally and can be ordered online," she said.

That's likely to mean Kodak will go after other online image sites it believes also infringe its patents, she added.

Kodak said it has over 400 similar patents.

"We are committed to protecting these assets from unauthorised use," it said in a statement.

Given the expense of patent cases, many smaller firms may choose to licence Kodak's technology rather than fight claims, said Theo Savvides, head of intellectual property at Osborne Clarke.

But firms such as Google and Yahoo "have deep pockets" that would allow them to challenge Kodak's claims, he added.

Such challenges would likely focus on the validity of Kodak's patents, said Ms Bould.

The case may hinge on Kodak's ability to show that when it filed the patents they covered technology that was genuinely innovative, she added.

Kodak has been hit hard by the shift towards digital photography, but has recently shown a greater willingness to assert its rights for technology it believes impinge on its patents.

Earlier this year Kodak said it would sue Apple and BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion, over technology used in their handsets.

BBC News - Kodak's patent spat threatens photo web sites

Posted by staff at 01:17 PM

December 13, 2010

Patent News -- Judge dismisses Paul Allen's patent suit against Apple, Google, others

Paul Allen suit dismissed as judge found no specifics to the patents, just generalities. e.g. "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest" was one of the patents. Or "browser for use in navigating information represented by audiovisual data".

Judge dismisses Paul Allen's patent suit against Apple, Google, others - Computerworld

Tosses Microsoft co-founder's case because 11 companies 'left to guess' what they did wrong

By Gregg Keizer
December 13, 2010 06:01 AM ETComments (3)Recommended (8)
Computerworld - A federal judge on Friday dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit filed by billionaire MIcrosoft co-founder Paul Allen against Apple, Facebook, Google, YouTube, and seven other companies three months ago.

"Plaintiff has failed to identify the infringing products or devices with any specificity," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in her order to dismiss. "The Court and Defendants are left to guess what devices infringe on the four patents."

Allen's lawsuit claimed that 11 companies -- AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube -- violated four patents developed by Internal Research, a Silicon Valley research lab he funded in 1992.

The lab shut its doors in 2000, but later transferred the patents to Interval Licensing, a patent-holding company also owned by Allen.

The two patents that made up the bulk of the claims were 6,263,507, "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data," and 6,757,682, "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest." Allen's lawsuit alleges that all but Facebook violated the '507 patent, and all 11 companies infringed the '682 patent.

AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo were the only companies said to have allegedly violated all four patents.

In late October, Google and Yahoo asked Pechman to dismiss the charges, arguing that Allen's lawsuit was thin on specifics.

"Interval is not entitled to waste Court and party resources with a scattershot Complaint against multiple Defendants that fails to give any indication as to which products or services Interval contends are infringing and the factual basis for such a claim," Google asserted in its motion.

Apple, Facebook and the other defendants filed similar motions for dismissal.

Pechman agreed.

"Plaintiff only indicates that Defendants have Web sites, hardware, and software that infringe on the patents or that they are encouraging third parties to use products that infringe on the patents," she said in her Friday order. "These allegations are insufficient to put Defendants on 'notice as to what [they] must defend.'"

Allen can file an amended complaint by Dec. 28, but must spell out in detail how the 11 defendants have infringed on Interval's patents.

read rest of article

Posted by staff at 07:28 AM

November 25, 2009

Patent News - New Patent Awarded for Wall-Mountable Computer

September 18, 2009 -- The uniqueness of the computer relates to its wall-mountable design and integrated, fold-out keyboard. Can be mounted to the wall for access, and it can be used on a desktop with integrated, fold-down desktop stand.

Chicago, IL – September 18, 2009

A patent for a wall-mountable computer has recently been granted to Originatic LLC of Chicago, Illinois.

The uniqueness of the computer, sold as the “Smart-Leaf,” relates to its wall-mountable design and integrated, fold-out keyboard. The Smart-Leaf can be mounted to the wall for convenient computer access, and it can be used on a desktop with its integrated, fold-down desktop stand.

Originatic launched its Smart-Leaf computer in March 2009. Since then, the company has sold the Smart-Leaf to customers in three countries.

According to Reno Smith, Originatic’s General Manager, “We see a strong, global demand for the Smart-Leaf, especially as companies look for more ways to increase customer satisfaction and operational efficiencies. Because of its durable design, the Smart-Leaf serves as a kiosk – one that occupies no floor space, is easy to use, and is quite affordable in the kiosk market.”

When asked about the consumer market, Mr. Smith said that the Smart-Leaf will not replace the desktop or laptop. In the larger households, he said, “The Smart-Leaf will serve as a central computer hub, accessible to all family members for easy online access and PC access.”

The base model starts at $1,982. Depending upon the options, the Smart-Leaf features a touch screen, webcam, TV tuner, WIFI, scratch resistance, splash-proofing, keyboard lock, and power lock, all packaged in a compact form with a slim profile.

The new patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,589,958, was issued on September 15, 2009 and is entitled “Mountable Electronic Device Having an Input Device.” It strengthens Originatic’s patent portfolio, which currently includes 7 issued patents, 2 allowed patent applications, and 17 pending patent applications in 12 countries, including the World Intellectual Property Organization.

For more information, visit

About Originatic LLC
Originatic LLC is engaged in the ongoing invention, development, and commercialization of new and patentable technologies to meet the needs and desires of consumers, businesses, and markets around the world. Originatic is a limited liability company, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

Originatic LLC
Reno Smith, 888-215-3253 x4
[email protected]

Posted by staff at 11:05 AM

November 26, 2008

From the world of weird -- new twist on patents

In something you might normally expect to read about in the Onion, IBM has won its bid with the USPTO for a patent on splitting a restaurant bill among patrons. Here-to-for apparently this was not possible....

From the patent: 'Though U.S. Pat. No. 5,933,812 to Meyer, et al. discussed previously provides for an entire table of patrons to pay the total bill using a credit card, including the gratuity, it does not provide an ability for the check to be split among the various patrons, and for those individual patrons to then pay their desired portion of the bill. This deficiency is addressed by the present invention.'"

What is claimed is:

1. In a restaurant, a system comprising: a waiter's terminal for inputting orders of food items ordered by a plurality of patrons at a table; a first program code for computing a total amount owed by the plurality of patrons for the ordered food items; a payment unit physically located at the table; transmission circuitry for transmitting the total amount from the waiter's terminal to the payment unit; a display screen on the payment unit for displaying the total amount to the plurality of patrons; a credit card reader on the payment unit for receiving first credit card information from a first credit card swiped through the credit card reader by a first one of the plurality of patrons; a numeric input pad on the payment unit for receiving a first portion entered by the first one of the plurality of patrons, wherein the first portion represents an amount of money to be paid by the first one of the plurality of patrons by a debit to an account of the first credit card; a second program code for automatically calculating a balance owed on the total amount, wherein the balance owed equals the total amount minus the first portion; a third program code for automatically determining if the balance owed equals zero; a fourth program code for automatically displaying the balance owed on the display screen; the credit card reader receiving second credit card information from a second credit card swiped through the credit card reader by a second one of the plurality of patrons when the balance owed is greater than zero; the numeric input pad receiving a second portion entered by the second one of the plurality of patrons, wherein the second portion represents an amount of money to be paid by the second one of the plurality of patrons by a debit to an account of the second credit card; a fifth program code for automatically calculating a balance owed on the total amount, wherein the balance owed equals the total amount minus the first and second portions; a sixth program code for automatically determining if the balance owed equals zero; and a seventh program code for automatically displaying the balance owed on the display screen.

Full patent

Posted by staff at 07:51 AM

May 30, 2007

Supreme Court Ruling on Patent

The April 30 ruling by the Supreme Court which basically nails patent "trolls" has a nice writeup in Forbes. This ruling has already resulted in some cases being reopened (Vonage e.g.) and it's an innovative breath of fresh air for everybody in technology (except those trying to hold rest of us hostage by some obvious and silly patent),

Supreme Court Buries Patent Trolls
Jessica Holzer, 05.16.06, 6:00 AM ET


The U.S. Supreme Court has tipped the balance in patent disputes ever so slightly toward the users of patented technology and away from inventors, owners of intellectual property and the hated "patent trolls"--companies that make money by suing for infringement of patents they own but don't use.

In a victory for eBay, the justices ruled unanimously that federal courts must weigh several factors before barring a patent infringer from using a contested technology or business method.

The online auction house had petitioned the Supreme Court to review the practice of automatically issuing a permanent injunction whenever a patent was found valid and infringed, arguing that the rigid standard was not grounded in the law.

At stake for eBay was the viability of the popular, fixed-price "Buy It Now" section of its Web site. MercExchange, a tiny, Virginia-based patent-holding company, won millions of dollars in damages when it successfully sued eBay for violating one of its patents related to the fixed-price auction feature.

Now the case will be sent back to the U.S. District Court where eBay originally won the right to continue operating "Buy It Now" while it designs around the patent it infringed.

For years now, the U.S. Court of Appeals' Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., which reviews all appeals of patent suits, has slapped infringers with permanent injunctions as a matter of course, except in the most extreme circumstances.

But the Supreme Court ruled that traditional "principles of equity" must be taken into account before such a drastic sanction is imposed. These principles include whether the patent holder has suffered irreparable damage or whether monetary awards might be enough to compensate for the harm done to the patent holder.

In this case, a U.S. District Court stopped short of forcing eBay to shut down the service entirely, saying that MercExchange wouldn't be harmed if eBay continues to offer the service while it tries to design around the patents. MercExchange hasn't used its patents, the court wrote, and could eventually be compensated with additional monetary damages if the infringing continued. But on appeal, the Federal Circuit stuck to its rule of always handing down injunctions and reversed the decision.

The high court's decision deals a blow to patent trolls, which are notorious for using the threat of permanent injunction to extort hefty fees in licensing negotiations as well as huge settlements from companies they have accused of infringing. Often, those settlements can be far greater than the value of the infringing technology: Recall the $612.5 million that Canada's Research in Motion forked over to patent-holding company NTP to avoid the shutting down of its popular BlackBerry service.

Patent trolls have thrived as American industries have churned out more and more high-tech gizmos containing dozens or even hundreds of patented bits of technology. In accepting the case and ruling as they did, the justices seemed to have had it in mind to hem in their power.

But doesn't the ruling also hurt bona fide inventors, not to mention the many universities that fund their research and own the patents? To be sure, it plainly erodes the power that has been typically bestowed by a patent. Patent law unambiguously grants owners of intellectual property the same rights as regular property holders, including the right to exclude others from using their property. But the law also clearly states that injunctions "may"--not "shall"--be issued "in accordance with the principles of equity."

"All this is saying is that District Courts are free to use their discretion and to be fair. And it takes away a little of the edge from those patent-licensing operations," says Steven Bauer, a partner at Proskauer Rose in Boston who often represents biotech firms in patent disputes.

The justices drew the line on ruling out injunctive relief in all cases where the patent holder does not use the patents it owns to produce anything, as is often the case with universities. That makes the ruling somewhat less than an unmitigated victory for eBay, since the lower court had refrained from imposing an injunction on the basis of MercExchange's not using its patents.

The courts will have to work out on a case-by-case basis when an injunction is appropriate, says Mark Davis, a patent litigator at McDermott, Will & Emery in Washington, D.C. "There's going to be more uncertainty here, and it's going to take a while for the law to develop to figure out when you can expect an injunction," he says. - Magazine Article

Posted by staff at 11:37 AM

May 02, 2007

Interesting Patent Ruling

Interesting development as a result of recent Supreme Court ruling.

Vonage Asks for Retrial of Key Patent Case
By Reuters
May 2, 2007

WASHINGTON—Internet phone company Vonage Holdings Corp. said on Tuesday it is seeking a retrial of a key patent infringement case against the company in light of a landmark patent ruling by the Supreme Court on April 30.

Vonage said it had filed a motion with a federal appeals court asking it to vacate a March 8 patent infringement verdict against the company and send the case back to a lower court for a new trial.

Vonage said the infringement verdict in favor of Verizon Communications Inc. should be reconsidered because of a Supreme Court ruling on Monday in which the high court loosened a key legal standard making it easier to invalidate some patents on the grounds they are obvious inventions.

Vonage said the lower court should be instructed to review the case taking into account the Supreme Court's opinion on April 30, which called for "a more expansive and flexible approach that allows for consideration of common sense when assessing whether an invention is ordinary or obvious, and thus ineligible for patent protection."

"Vonage is confident this ruling should have a positive impact on its case," the company said in a statement.

Verizon is seeking to bar Vonage from any use of its patented technologies after a jury in March found Vonage had infringed three patents.

On April 6 a federal court in Alexandria, Va., barred Vonage from adding new customers while it appeals the patent infringement finding. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the injunction while Vonage appeals the case.

Posted by staff at 11:19 AM

August 11, 2005

Patent News - Mobile Video and iPod

patents.jpgSeveral developments at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have stirred the Apple rumor mill once again. Most recently, Apple updated its iPod trademark to include video functionality, cracking the door a bit more on a possible video-enabled device. Specifically, the company updated the description of its portable player to include "recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, audio, image, and video files." Meanwhile, Steve Jobs continues to downplay the possibility of a video-enabled iPod, and portable video players remain a niche market.

Elsewhere, Apple received a bounceback from the USPTO. The Patent Office issued a non-final rejection on a concept describing the specifics for a user interface that apply to the iPod. In the rejection, the examiner reportedly referenced an earlier patent from John Platt, currently a Microsoft researcher and former employee for touchpad firm Synaptics. Platt discloses an apparatus and a method of assisting user interaction with a multimedia asset player by way of a hierarchically ordered user interface, the USPTO explained. The Apple patent was filed by iTunes engineer Jeffrey Robbins and Steve Jobs on September 26th, 2002. The company now has three months to appeal the decision.

Posted by keefner at 02:19 PM