Archive for Patents

BlackBerry Files Lawsuit Against BLU… & Reinforces Its Trolling Cred

Posted in Commentary with tags , on August 23, 2016 by itnerd

Just weeks after launching a patent lawsuit on Avaya, BlackBerry is at it again. This time they’re launching a patent lawsuit [Warning: PDF] against smartphone maker BLU alleging that the firm infringed upon 15 patents. BlackBerry said that it attempted to resolve the matter by offering BLU fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to legally license its patents, but that BLU apparently ignored the offer to negotiate a settlement. Clearly this is BlackBerry using the 40,000 or so patents that they have as a revenue source. In other words, they’re patent trolling. This is further backed up by BlackBerry CEO John Chen told investors in an earnings call back in May that he’s in a “patent licensing mode” and is hoping to monetize his company’s 38,000 patents.

The other thing that this suggests is that other Android smartphone makers could be targets of BlackBerry’s trolling efforts soon. LG, Samsung, I’m looking at you when I say that. Thus you might want to get your lawyers on speed dial.

Patent Troll Does Not Own Podcasting Says Patent Office

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 13, 2015 by itnerd

You might remember this story about a patent troll called Personal Audio who claimed that they owned the concept of podcasting and wanted to extract cash from anyone who had a podcast. Noted podcaster Adam Carolla settled with these people, but maybe he was a bit hasty. A decision from the U.S. Patent Office says that Personal Audio doesn’t own podcasting:

In their decision (PDF), the Patent Office works its way through the very, very specific arguments about wording and meaning. It is not unlike reading a geometric proof, in the way it builds a clear argument of facts and existing rulings. Ultimately, however, the dry legalese ends up with one result: the patent troll does not own podcasting.

“Petitioner [the EFF] has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that claims 31-35 of [the patents] are unpatentable,” the order concludes. “Because this is a final written decision, parties to the proceeding seeking judicial review of the decision must comply with the notice and service requirements.”

That’s great. Except for this:

We have a lot to celebrate here,” EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri said in a statement. “But unfortunately, our work to protect podcasting is not done. Personal Audio continues to seek patents related to podcasting. We will continue to fight for podcasters, and we hope the Patent Office does not give them any more weapons to shake down small podcasters.”

While I am not a lawyer, patent trolls deserve to be given the one finger salute if they knock on your door. So I hope the EFF puts these guys out of business and soon. I also hope that patent reforms come soon to kill patent trolling off once and for all as a business model.

Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll

Posted in Commentary with tags on August 19, 2014 by itnerd

You might recall that I wrote about a patent troll that goes by the name of Personal Audio who were going after prominent podcasters including Adam Carolla to make some money of some rather dubious patents that they hold. Today, the EFF has released news that Carolla he has settled with Personal Audio:

Although the settlement is confidential, we can guess the terms. This is because Personal Audio sent out a press release last month saying it was willing to walk away from its suit with Carolla. So we can assume that Carolla did not pay Personal Audio a penny. We can also assume that, in exchange, Carolla has given up the opportunity to challenge the patent and the chance to get his attorney’s fees. … EFF’s own challenge to Personal Audio’s patent is on a separate track and will continue … with a ruling likely by April 2015. … We hope that Personal Audio’s public statements on this issue mean that it has truly abandoned threatening and suing podcasters. Though a press release might not be legally binding, the company will have a hard time justifying any further litigation (or threats of litigation) against podcasters. Any future targets can point to this statement. Carolla deserves recognition for getting this result.

If this is the case, then this is a very good outcome. I hope that the EFF not only keeps the fight going, but wins against these patent trolls. Or better yet, there’s actual patent reform to stop this sort of thing from happening in the first place.


Patent Troll Threatens Podcasters

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 5, 2014 by itnerd

Something that has been under reported in the media is the threat by a Patent Troll that goes by the name of Personal Audio who are asserting a set of patents that covers what is commonly referred to as podcasting. They’re going after prominent podcasters including Adam Carolla to make some money of these dubious patents. Now, why do I feel that they’re patent trolls? Here’s why:

  1. Their company is set up in Beaumont Texas which is ground zero for Patent Trolls.
  2. They have not actually produced a product of any description which is typical of patent trolls.
  3. The company has sent podcasters letters demanding that they pay Personal Audio to use podcasting technology or else vague things will happen. That is another typical patent troll tactic.

The company justifies their actions this way.

“We invented the technology that enables podcasting back in 1996 as part of an effort to develop a portable and personal audio system that would offer users a customized listening experience using content and data downloaded over the Internet,” said Charles Call, a co-inventor on the ‘504 patent and a member of Personal Audio, LLC. “Today, this patented technology is used by several media companies offering podcasting.”

They have won judgements against Apple and several big companies do have licenses with other big companies. But that does not mean that they invented or have the rights to the patents. Also, companies often sign license agreements because it makes the Troll go away. Plus the cash they have to spend amounts to a rounding error relative to the cost of ongoing litigation. Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation is getting involved in this fight. Here’s why:

As with so many patent troll cases, the troll is asking for money despite having contributed nothing to the industry. By its own admission, Personal Audio tried and failed at its attempt to make an audio player. Having failed at actually making something, it became a shell company that does nothing but sue on its patents. And now it wants a handout from those who worked hard to create popular podcasts.

Thus they’re not only looking for donations, but they’re looking for examples of podcasting that pre-date any of the patents that this company has. By finding these examples, it would invalidate the patents and put an end to this Patent Troll. Keep an eye on this story. It’s a very important one that will have far reaching implications.

Samsung Ordered To Pay Apple More Money In Patent Lawsuit

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 21, 2013 by itnerd

You might recall that a 2012 trial ended with Samsung being found guilty of infringing on a bunch of patents owned by Apple. Well, today was judgement day and according to All Things Digital, Samsung will have to pay and pay big:

A federal jury on Thursday ruled that Samsung owes Apple a further $290 million for infringing on the iPhone maker’s patented technology, according to multiple reports from inside the courtroom.

This is on top of Samsung having to fork out over $600 million previously. So Samsung is looking at just under a billion dollars. Not cheap. Apple also had this to say:

“For Apple, this case has always been about more than patents and money,” Apple said in a statement to AllThingsD. “It has been about innovation and the hard work that goes into inventing products that people love. While it’s impossible to put a price tag on those values, we are grateful to the jury for showing Samsung that copying has a cost.”

Expect an appeal from Samsung. Guaranteed.


Google Dodges Anti-Trust Charges

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on January 7, 2013 by itnerd

Google had been the subject of anti-trust inquiries in the US over patents that it acquired when the company bought Motorola. The good news for the company that claims to “do no evil” is that the FTC has put an end to these inquiries as of last week. Though Google did have to bend on a few fronts including:

  • Giving its competitors access to its FRAND patents
  • Giving “online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on Google’s AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms”
  • Refraining “from misappropriating online content from so-called ‘vertical’ websites that focus on specific categories such as shopping or travel for use in its own vertical offerings.”

Now even with the above, you have to consider this to be a “win” for Google. Though I’m going to guess that dropping $25 million on lobbying helps as well.

Apple And HTC Stop Suing Each Other…. Sign 10 Year Cross Licensing Deal

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on November 11, 2012 by itnerd

The rather bitter patent lawsuit between Apple and HTC which is rumored to have cost Apple $100 million appears to be over. A press release popped up on last night announcing a ten-year patent licensing agreement between the companies and the dismissal of all current lawsuits:

“HTC is pleased to have resolved its dispute with Apple, so HTC can focus on innovation instead of litigation,” said Peter Chou, CEO of HTC.

“We are glad to have reached a settlement with HTC,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. “We will continue to stay laser focused on product innovation.”

Lovely. Now Apple can focus on Samsung, Motorola, and everyone else they’re suing. Or this could be the start of putting an end to this lawsuit nonsense. Which is it? Time will tell.


Hey IT Nerd! What Do You Think Of The Apple/Samsung Patent Lawsuit?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on August 27, 2012 by itnerd

I have to admit that the decision by a US court that Samsung infringed on Apple’s patents and the Korean tech giant has to pay up to the tune of $1 Billion was a bit stunning. Honestly, I was expecting the court to say that both sides had infringed on each others patents. Though Apple did have the jury in this case rule against some of Apple’s claims involving the two dozen Samsung devices at issue. So from that perspective it could have been worse for Samsung. Now Samsung is going to appeal (shock), and this could go on for years (as these sorts of things usually do), but one thing did cross my mind. Apple, is Samsung’s biggest customer as they get displays among other things from Samsung. How will that work long term? Will they remain frenemies? Another thing to consider. Apple and Samsung are suing each other all over the world. Now that this shoe has dropped, what’s going to happen to those lawsuits? Another thought. Will this start to push people towards iOS products and away from Android products? Finally, will other companies that make phones based on the Google Android OS feel the wrath of Apple in court? My thinking is yes as the late Steve Jobs said that he’d resort to “thermonuclear war” to destroy Android.

The bottom line is this. This war is far from over. In fact, it’s about to escalate and other parties are going to be drawn in. Count on it.

Samsung And Apple Don’t Make Progress In Patent Talks…. So Much For Peace In Our Time

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on May 23, 2012 by itnerd

You might remember that Apple and Samsung were getting together this week to see if they could put an end to their patent war. Well, from the file marked #fail comes news that the talks between Apple and Samsung have ended and they haven’t gone so well:

The two technology giants could find no clear agreement through the talks, according to a Samsung official. Apple Korea declined to comment on the matter.

The patent battle is now headed for trial on June 27, despite both firm’s stated wish to avoid legal proceedings.

According to foreign media outlets, both technology giants held firm on their assertions: Samsung continued to demand Apple pay royalties for using its wireless transmission technology and Apple insisted that Samsung copied its design in various products.

I think it’s a safe bet to say that this will be decided in court and there will be no peace in our time. Cue the lawyers (or iLawyers in the case of Apple).

Samsung And Apple Talk Peace

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on May 21, 2012 by itnerd

Apple and Samsung have been involved in a variety of patent related lawsuits all over the planet. However, Reuters is reporting that the two smarphone superpowers might be looking to do their best impression of Regan/Gorbachev to settle their differences. Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to meet with Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung to talk about the possibility of entering into some cross licensing deals to put an end to their endless series of lawsuits. After all, lawsuits are expensive. Peace is cheap.

We’ll see if they can work out peace in our time.