Another Problematic Provision in the America Invents Act Targets Business Method Patents
July 11, 2011 – Though it didn’t get as much press as the “first to invent” change, Section 18 of the Senate version of the America Invents Act (S. 23) – a provision making it easier for the banking industry to invalidate business method patents – fueled speculation that Wall Street had bought a favor from Congress.
The provision was introduced by Charles Schumer (D-NY) as a result of the legislative headaches his big bank constituents were suffering from a company called DataTreasury Corporation.
Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL), who tried to strike the provision, said it would allow “the financial services industry to challenge patents that have already been found valid both at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office and in Federal Court.”
Critics of the provision worry that it is too broad, as it covers patents related to “a financial product or service” as well as “corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service.” It may end up affecting not only DataTreasury, but other companies in the banking industry and possibly some high tech businesses as well.
F. Scott Kieff, a professor at George Washington University Law School, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and a consultant for DataTreasury, wrote in a Hoover Institution journal about his concern that the law might have broader implications than many realize.
“When word gets out that intellectual property rights are not being taken seriously in the U.S., especially for any class of patents that can be a convenient political target of powerful, well-heeled interest groups like banks," Kieff said, "our voracious international competitors will pounce.”
"First to File" Switch Causes Concerns for Independent Inventors
July 11, 2011 – As the America Invents Act has now passed in both the Senate and House and is approaching enactment, many independent inventors and smaller businesses are worried about one of its provisions: the change from a "first to invent" to a "first to file" patent system.
Becoming a first to file patent regime means that the patent for a given invention will go to the first inventor to file a patent application - regardless of whether another inventor can prove that they developed the invention first.
"The first person to invent it should be the one to profit from it — that is kind of an American feeling, and it kind of feels like it favors the little guy," said George White, a patent agent who is also the president of the nonprofit Inventors Forum in Orange County, CA.
First to file creates a few problems for the small business or independent inventor, according to many patent experts who are critical of the change. First, it favors larger businesses who are better equipped to win the race to the Patent Office. (Small inventors don't always have the resources to file applications right away, and benefit from the one-year grace period available to them under the current first to invent system.)
Second, it makes it less safe for an inventor to show their invention to a potential investor or customer - and makes the use of nondisclosure agreements critically important.
"The problem you've got is, if you don't get someone to sign [a nondisclosure agreement], if they go use [your invention], you're dead," said attorney Yar Chaikovsky, who is with the McDermott Will & Emery law firm in Menlo Park, CA.
Nortel Patent Sale Probed by Antitrust Officials
July 8, 2011 - Following the sale of Nortel Networks' patent portfolio to a six-company coalition of Google's rivals, federal antitrust enforcers are investigating whether the coalition's purchase of the patents constitutes unfair competition against Google.
The coalition, which called itself Rockstar Bidco, paid $4.5 billion for the patents from the now-defunct Nortel Networks. It is as yet unclear exactly what the coalition intends to do with the patents, but many experts surmise that Nortel's IP will be used to block or challenge Google's Android mobile phone software - which is currently the most popular mobile operating system in the world, beating out even Apple's iPhone and Research in Motion's BlackBerry.
RIM, Apple and Microsoft were among the companies in the patent-purchasing coalition.
Reexamination Costs Inventor 4 Years of Patent Life and Millions in Legal Fees and Foregone Royalties
June 16, 2011 - Larry Lockwood received patents in 1994 and 2001 on e-commerce systems for searching, retrieving and displaying goods and services. Then he set up a successful licensing campaign from his La Jolla, CA home, signing patent licensing deals with companies large and small. It seemed that he was truly getting his money's worth from his patents.
Then, in 2003, the law firm of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton initiated a reexamination request on behalf of alleged infringers of Lockwood's patents. Lockwood's pending patent infringement litigation was put on hold, and Lockwood spent the next four years - and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees - trying to survive the reexam process.
Ultimately, his patents were upheld - but Lockwood had lost four valuable years of patent life along with lost licensing opportunities and legal fees. Since patents are a wasting asset, a big chunk of their value disappears during reexamination - even if the patents are found valid.
Lockwood says the patent reexamination process is “made to order to do what’s happened to me."
“My case has blessed all the schemers who are thinking about the best way to stop an infringement trial,” he adds.
Former Senator Birch Bayh (D-IN), who co-authored the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act that the court used in deciding that Lockwood had no right to sue the law firm that initiated the reexam request, is now a practicing attorney who advised Lockwood on patent litigation. He wrote a blog post on TheHill.com about the case.
"The implications of this case are breathtaking and have gone largely unnoticed," Bayh writes. "The court rulings bear on the soundness of the patent system and suggest immunity for anyone who wants to abuse federal administrative processes against competitors – essentially gutting states rights in such matters."
Judge Rules Righthaven Lacks Standing to Bring Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
June 16, 2011 - Righthaven LLC, a company that has been described by its critics as a "copyright troll" for filing over 300 copyright infringement lawsuits over newspaper articles posted on websites, was dealt a blow by a judge who ruled that the company lacked standing (meaning the right) to bring suit.
Righthaven signed an agreement in January 2010 with Stephens Media, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that purportedly gave Righthaven the right to file copyright infringement lawsuits on behalf of Stephens Media and keep a portion of the damages recovered. Righthaven then embarked on an aggressive copyright enforcement campaign, targeting individuals and organizations who reproduced copyrighted articles in print or on their websites. (See our blog posts "Warning!" and "No Response, No Comment" for more background on Righthaven's activities.)
However, Judge Roger Hunt - a federal judge - ruled that Righthaven's agreement with Stephens Media does not confer the right for it to bring copyright lawsuits. Judge Hunt wrote that he believes Righthaven "has made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the court."
Righthaven has two weeks to explain - in writing - why Judge Hunt should not sanction it "for this flagrant misrepresentation to the Court."
Meanwhile, many of the over 100 bloggers and website owners who previously settled with Righthaven are mulling their options for getting their money back.
Judge Rules Rambus Doesn't Have to Mention Shredding in Upcoming Patent Infringement Trial
June 15, 2011 - A California judge ruled that jurors will not be informed by the court that Rambus' opponents have already proven that Rambus shredded documents as patent infringement litigation loomed. Instead, Micron and Hynix will have to present evidence that the shredding of hundreds of boxes of documents was a deliberate part of the company's legal strategy.
Just last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled that Rambus was wrong to shred the documents.
"It is undisputed that Rambus destroyed between 9,000 and 18,000 pounds of documents in 300 boxes," wrote the appeals court in its majority opinion in the Micron case. The documents were relevant to two patent infringement cases Rambus filed.
Micron and Hynix point to the CAFC ruling as evidence that Rambus acted in bad faith and had a duty to preserve documents in anticipation of litigation.
Microsoft Loses Patent Suit to i4i in Appeal Before Supreme Court
June 10, 2011 - Microsoft received a major blow on June 9 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected its appeal in its patent infringement lawsuit with i4i, a Canadian company that first sued the software giant in 2007. The Court upheld the rulings of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit - along with the $290 million judgment against Microsoft.
"This is not only a victory for i4i," commented Alexander Poltorak, Chairman and CEO of General Patent Corporation. "This is a victory for all inventors and patent holders whose property right has been affirmed by the Supreme Court."
Dr. Poltorak's comment references the fact that Microsoft - along with Google, Apple and other big tech companies - sought to make it easier to invalidate what they consider "questionable" patents. However, not only did the U.S. Patent Office affirm the i4i patent as valid in July 2010, but Microsoft lost battles every step of the way in its fight against i4i.
"Microsoft used every trick in the book - appeal to the Federal Circuit, reexamination in the Patent Office, appeal to the Supreme Court - and lost them all," Dr. Poltorak observed. "At the end of the day, the inventors prevailed."
For more background information on this important case, see "Three Significant Patent Cases in the News in 2010" (Wealth of Ideas newsletter, December 2010).
Supreme Court Rejects Stanford's Claim to Ownership of Disputed AIDS-Test Patents
June 6, 2011 - The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Stanford University's attempt to revive its lawsuit against Roche Holding.
The litigation centered on who owned patents developed by a Stanford researcher - Mark Holodniy - who had signed agreements with both Stanford and a company called Cetus that was later acquired by Roche. Stanford had sought to invalidate Holodniy's patent agreement with Cetus/Roche.
The background of this complicated case was detailed in our Wealth of Ideas newsletter as one of our "Precedent-Setting Patent Cases to Follow in 2011."
In its 7-2 ruling, the Court held that Stanford's claims of patent ownership were too broad under the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, a federal law that governs how patent rights are distributed - among the government, investors and universities - when intellectual property is a result of federally-funded research.
The Court's decision means that Stanford and Roche must share the rights to the patents in suit.
Lodsys Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against iOS Developers Despite Apple's Intervention
June 2, 2011 - Patent holder Lodsys, LLC filed suit against seven developers who create apps for Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices.
Apple holds licenses under the two patents Lodsys alleges are infringed. In a letter to Lodsys on May 23, Apple's general counsel Bruce Sewell claimed that the licenses also extend coverage to developers and requested that Lodsys “immediately withdraw all notice letters” to third party developers. Lodsys, however, disagreed that Apple's licensed rights can be used by its app makers and filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, Texas on May 31.
The seven companies named in the suit are Combay Inc., maker of Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem; Shovelmate, developer of 69 Positions; Illusion Labs, which makes Labyrinth for both the iPhone and Google's Android OS; Quickoffice Inc., maker of Quickoffice Connect; Richard Shinderman, who made Hearts and Daggers; Wulven Game Studios, maker of Shadow Era; and Iconfactory, which makes Twitterific.
Like Apple, Google was also not named in the complaint.
Supreme Court Finds "Willful Blindness" and Induced Infringement in Global-Tech/SEB Patent Case
June 1, 2011 - Regular readers of our Wealth of Ideas newsletter may recall that in our January 2011 feature article, we predicted that Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB would be one of the big cases to watch this year. On May 31, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its verdict: 8-1 in favor of SEB, with Justice Kennedy dissenting because he disagreed with the application of willful blindness in this case.
French company SEB produced a cool-touch deep fryer, which it sold in the U.S. Sunbeam contracted with Global-Tech's subsidiary, Pentalpha, to produce a similar but less expensive deep fryer. In Hong Kong, Pentalpha bought an SEB deep fryer that wasn't marked with any U.S. patent numbers and reverse engineered it to produce an inexpensive cool-touch deep fryer.
Meanwhile, Pentalpha's CEO, John Sham, hired a patent attorney to conduct a patent search - but didn't tell the attorney that his company had bought and reverse-engineered SEB's product. The attorney found no applicable patents, so Pentalpha sold its deep fryers to Sunbeam, who in turn sold the fryers in the U.S.
Both a federal jury and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals in patent lawsuits, had already found for SEB on the grounds that Pentalpha "deliberately disregarded a known risk that SEB had a protected patent." This is known as "willful blindness" because even though Pentalpha was not aware of any specific patents held by SEB, it must have been aware that there was a possibility that SEB had patented its deep fryer. Pentalpha and Global-Tech appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that they were unaware of SEB's patent until the 1998 lawsuit against Sunbeam.
Justice Kennedy disagreed with the use of the concept of "willful blindness" - adapted from criminal law - and wrote, "Willful blindness is not knowledge; and judges should not broaden a legislative proscription by analogy."
A PDF of the Supreme Court's ruling can be downloaded here: Global-Tech Appliances v. SEB.
Eolas Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with JPMorgan Chase
May 20, 2011 - Eolas Technologies Inc. has settled with JPMorgan Chase & Co., which was a defendant in Eolas Technologies Inc. v. Adobe Systems Inc., et al. The lawsuit is still pending against several other defendants in a wide array of industries, including Amazon, Apple, Citigroup, Frito-Lay, Adobe, J.C. Penney, PepsiCo, YouTube and others.
In the lawsuit, Eolas claims infringement of two patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906 ('906 Patent) and U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985 ('985 Patent), related to interactive applications embedded in Internet browsers. The '985 patent is a continuation of the '906 patent.
May 16, 2011 - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled that Rambus Inc. was wrong to shred documents related to its lawsuits against Micron Technology and Hynix Semiconductor, and sent the cases back to the lower courts that originally heard them.
The ruling was based on evidence (from another of Rambus' patent lawsuits) that Rambus held "shred days" - complete with "pizza, beer, champagne, etc." - as part of its preparation for patent infringement litigation.
"It is undisputed that Rambus destroyed between 9,000 and 18,000 pounds of documents in 300 boxes," wrote the appeals court in its majority opinion in the Micron case.
GPC's Alexander Poltorak commented on the case in the Wall Street Journal ("Appeals Court Vacates Rambus's Patent Win Vs Hynix," Wall Street Journal, May 14, 2011 - subscription required to view full article).
"The federal circuit took a more expansive view of the duty of companies to preserve documents that may be relevant in future litigation," said Dr. Poltorak, who added, "It's a lesson for any IP-centric business. Patents are nothing but a license to sue."
Apple Loses Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Eastman Kodak
May 13, 2011 - A judge at the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Eastman Kodak does not infringe two of Apple Inc.'s patents on certain aspects of image-processing in digital cameras and mobile devices.
Apple filed this lawsuit as a countersuit after Eastman Kodak sued them and Research in Motion (RIM) for infringement of its image-preview patent. The ITC overruled that complaint in January 2011.
Apple and Eastman Kodak are still involved in two other lawsuits in a federal district court in Rochester, N.Y.
Rosetta Stone Settles 77 Copyright and Trademark Infringement Lawsuits Over Pirated Software
May 6, 2011 - Rosetta Stone Inc., which develops language-learning software, said in a statement that it has settled 77 cases against counterfeiters.
The defendants were in 73 cities and 27 states, and were found to infringe Rosetta's copyrights and trademarks through copying, downloading, sharing or selling pirated versions of Rosetta Stone software.
"Consumers need to be aware of the dangers of software piracy, including the risks of identity theft, malware, spyware and defective software," said Michael Wu, Rosetta Stone's general counsel and corporate secretary. "Remember, if a price looks too good to be true, it probably is."
Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.
Dish Network, TiVo Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuit for $500 Million
May 4, 2011 - When we last reported on this lawsuit on October 17, 2010, the U.S. Patent Office had affirmed TiVo's patent on its "Time Warp" technology (a DVR system that allows the user to record one program while watching another).
The lawsuit has now been settled, and Dish Network Corp. will pay TiVo $500 million - an initial payment of $300 million and six additional payments of about $33 million between now and 2017.
TiVo has also sued AT&T and Verizon for patent infringement.
Colored Bubbles Focus of Patent Infringement Lawsuit for Crayola
May 2, 2011 - Crayola, aka Binney and Smith, and a small competitor called C2C Technologies are involved in litigation over whether Crayola's new washable colored bubbles infringe C2C's patent.
C2C, a small Minnesota-based company, was awarded a patent on March 22 for colored bubbles. That very day, Crayola filed a reexamination petition with the Patent Office, arguing that the invention is neither novel (new) nor nonobvious (unique), and therefore, should not have been patented.
"Uniformly colored bubbles are in the public domain, and have been there for many years," said Crayola in its petition.
Marc Matsoff, whose Jamm Companies is a minority partner with C2C and distributes C2C's colored bubble product, Zubbles, said the plaintiffs hope to cooperate with Crayola and perhaps allow Crayola to adopt one of their patent-pending technologies: bubbles with vanishing colors.
"Ideally, we'd be able to pool our resources rather than pay a bunch of lawyers," said Matsoff.
Barnes & Noble Calls Microsoft-Nokia Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Android "Illegal"
April 28, 2011 - Microsoft filed a lawsuit last month with the International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that the Nook e-reader produced by Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec - or more specifically, the Google Android operating system the Nook uses - infringes Microsoft's patents.
Now Barnes & Noble has filed a rebuttal to the lawsuit, claiming that "Microsoft did not invent, research, develop, or make available to the public mobile devices employing the Android Operating System and other open source operating systems, but nevertheless seeks to dominate something it did not invent."
Barnes & Noble further claims that Microsoft and Nokia agreed on "a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents" that the bookseller calls "per se illegal under the antitrust laws, threatens competition for mobile device operating systems and is further evidence of Microsoft's efforts to dominate and control Android and other open source operating systems."
The antitrust allegations arise from Microsoft’s recent agreement with Nokia to replace Nokia’s Symbian operating system with Microsoft’s own mobile device operating system.
In response to Barnes & Noble's rebuttal, Microsoft released a statement saying that "our lawsuits against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec [the Nook's manufacturers] are founded upon their actions, and the issue is their infringement of our intellectual property rights. In seeking to protect our intellectual property, we are doing what any other company in our situation would do."
Patent Infringement Lawsuit Google Lost Could Spell Trouble for Android
April 23, 2011 - A federal jury in Texas found that Google infringes a Linux-related patent and awarded $5 million to Bedrock Computer Technologies, which holds a patent on a portion of the Linux kernel.
The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent No. 5,893,120 on "methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data". Besides Google, Bedrock also sued Softlayer Technologies, CitiWare Technology Solutions, Yahoo!, MySpace, Amazon.com, PayPal, Match.com, AOL and the CME Group - but Google was the first to go to trial.
Though the $5 million award is relatively small for a patent infringement damages award, and an amount that Google will have no difficulty paying, the outcome of this lawsuit will likely have ramifications for other Linux users and distributors - as well as any existing Android applications that infringe the Bedrock patent's claims.
Red Hat, one of the largest Linux distributors, is suing Bedrock in an attempt to invalidate its patent. Meanwhile, a group founded in 2005 to protect the Linux community from such lawsuits - the Open Invention Network - has built a portfolio of over 2,000 patents and patent licenses, and its members include such big names as Facebook, HP, Fujitsu, Rackspace and many more.
Priceline Founder Jay Walker Files 15 Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against 100+ Defendants
April 14, 2011 - Walker Digital, LLC - whose Chairman, Jay Walker, founded priceline.com in the 1990s - announced in a press release that it has filed 15 lawsuits against more than 100 defendants, including big names such as Google, Groupon, Sony, Apple, Walmart, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon and Facebook.
The lawsuits cover widely-varied aspects of technology. One concerns mapping technology and was filed against Apple, Google, TomTom, Samsung, Microsoft and others.
In another suit targeting "daily deal" sites where the buyer purchases products or services from the deal-a-day site and takes possession of them directly from the retailer, Walker sued Groupon, Livingsocial and its parent company Amazon, and smaller sites such as BuyWithMe and others.
“A number of great companies can trace their genesis to technology that was first developed at Walker Digital in the mid-to-late 1990s," commented Walker. "We are proud of our inventions and the number of innovative businesses and activities founded on these inventions. These businesses have not only changed the way people around the world live, work, travel and interact socially and commercially, but also have given rise to numerous American jobs.”
Mirror Worlds' $625.5 Million Verdict Against Apple Overturned
April 11, 2011 - One of the major patent infringement lawsuit verdicts of 2010 was tossed out by U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis, who had postponed his final ruling on the case since last October.
Based on a jury finding of willful infringement by Apple Inc. of three Mirror Worlds LLC patents - covering interface designs such as the 3D graphical user interface Apple uses in its iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac OS X - Mirror Worlds was awarded $208.5 million for each of the three patents. The verdict was one of the largest ever in a patent lawsuit.
Judge Davis said in his ruling, "Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury, but failed to lay a solid foundation sufficient to support important elements it was required to establish under the law."
Google Hit with Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over "Instant Search" Feature
April 6, 2011 - A Netherlands-based company called MasterObjects Inc. sued Google for infringement of a patent related to predictive search results.
MasterObjects claims that Google's "instant search," which displays possible search results even before the user has finished typing a request into the search box, infringes its U.S. Patent No. 7,752,326, a “system and method for utilizing asynchronous client server communications objects.”
The plaintiff is seeking damages, injunctive relief and attorney fees.
Kodak Gets Second Chance in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Apple, RIM
March 27, 2011 - In January 2010, Kodak filed a patent infringement complaint before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against Apple and Research in Motion (RIM). The chief judge for the ITC ruled that neither Apple nor RIM infringed a Kodak patent on image previewing features used in mobile devices. But now it looks like Kodak will have a second chance: the ITC's full six-member panel will review the ruling.
Kodak is requesting that the ITC ban the importing of Apple and RIM mobile phones into the US, as well as their other wireless devices with digital cameras. And Kodak has reason for optimism: In December 2009, the ITC ruled in favor of Kodak in its case against Samsung and LG to the tune of $550 million and $414 million, respectively.
Based on that total award, Kodak's chairman and CEO, Antonio Perez, said in an interview with Bloomberg News that he expects a combined payment of more than $1 billion from Apple and RIM.
CAFC Rules Telecom Companies Should Have Patent Infringement Lawsuit Closer to Home
March 25, 2011 - TheCourt of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has ruled that a patent lawsuit pitting AT&T, Verizon and Qwest Communications will take place in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, in Dallas, rather than the Eastern District court in Marshall.
A lawsuit dealing with the same patent had been settled five years before in the Eastern District, giving that court some familiarity with it, but the witnesses in the present case mostly live closer to Dallas.
The CAFC's three-judge panel decided that the convenience to the witnesses outweighs the patent's history with the Eastern District.
"We deem the Eastern District's previous claim construction in a case that settled more than five years before the filing of this lawsuit to be too tenuous a reason to support denial of transfer," wrote Judge Richard Linn for the CAFC.
Feds Side with i4i Against Microsoft in Patent Infringement Lawsuit in Supreme Court
March 23, 2011 - i4i v. Microsoft is a case that we detailed in our Wealth of Ideas newsletter as one of the biggest patent cases in 2010, and a major case to watch in 2011. Now the U.S. government has filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the patent infringement case, which has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The government's brief argues that a win for Microsoft, in this case, would lower the standard for finding a patent invalid from "by clear and convincing evidence" to "by a preponderence of the evidence."
“By allowing a lay jury to second-guess the PTO’s judgment even in close cases,” states the brief - which was signed by officials from the USPTO, the Solicitor General's Office and the Attorney General's Office - “the preponderance standard would diminish the expected value of patents and would reduce future inventors’ incentives to innovate and to disclose their inventions to the public.”
i4i announced that 22 amicus briefs have been filed on its behalf by companies including Proctor & Gamble, GE and BP. And Microsoft has some big allies filing amicus briefs on its behalf, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Apple, Dell and HP.
Oral arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for April 18.
Google and Amazon Face Patent Infringement Lawsuits Over Search Methods
March 14, 2011 - A software company called MasterObjects sued Amazon and Google last week, claiming infringement of its patent on predictive search technology.
MasterObjects alleges that Amazon's "search suggestions" - in which other possible search terms are suggested when a user begins typing in the search field - infringes the patent, and sued Google on March 11 in a complaint citing the same patent. Similar predictive technology is also used by Bing, Yahoo and many other companies.
Both the Amazon and Google cases were filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Barnes & Noble Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit over Nook e-Reader
March 9, 2011 - After over a year of litigation, Barnes & Noble Inc. and Spring Design, Inc. haved settled their patent infringement lawsuit.
Spring Design is the maker of the Alex e-reader, and sued Barnes & Noble in November 2009 for patent infringement. Under the terms of the settlement, Spring Design granted Barnes & Noble a non-exclusive, paid-up and royalty-free license on the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications. Financial terms of the settlement are confidential.
Eugene V. DeFelice, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Barnes & Noble, commented on the settlement.
“We are pleased to put this matter behind us," said DeFelice. "NOOK Color™ and NOOK™, together with Spring Design’s patents and patent applications, have become two of our most innovative and highly-sought after devices. Barnes & Noble is pleased to add Spring Design’s patents and patent applications as a complementary addition to our rapidly growing digital portfolio."
Microsoft Challenges Apple's "App Store" Trademark
March 3, 2011 - In 2008, a week after launching the iPhone App Store, Apple applied for a trademark on the phrase "App Store" - and Microsoft is challenging the trademark registration, claiming that the mark is too generic. Microsoft's filing compares "App Store" to applications the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rejected for being generic, such as "The Computer Store" and "Log Cabin Homes".
But Apple points out that many other companies offering apps for mobile devices have been able to use names other than the term "App Store" - such as BlackBerry's "App World". Microsoft itself uses the term "Marketplace".
Apple, for its part, points out that Microsoft is no stranger to fighting "genericness challenges".
"Microsoft should be well aware that the focus in evaluating genericness is on the mark as a whole and requires a fact-intensive assessment of the primary significance of the term to a substantial majority of the relevant public," Apple says in its filing, which asks the USPTO to dismiss the challenge.
RightHaven LLC Faces PR Debacles in Copyright Infringement Lawsuits
March 1, 2011 - Last fall, our Wealth of Ideas blog introduced readers to RightHaven LLC, a company which buys rights to "puff pieces" in local newspapers and then files copyright infringement lawsuits against anyone who posts that content on their website - and often, the defendant is the very person, business or group featured in the article.
Now, RightHaven's activities have gotten then some decidedly bad publicity. In the past several months, they've sued (among others) a writer for reposting his own article about Las Vegas ticket prices on his blog; a 20-year-old who reposted a photo of a "TSA enhanced pat-down" on his alternative news website; and an "unemployed Boston cat blogger" over an article she posted on her nonprofit blog about birds that died in a wildlife sanctuary fire.
The bad PR and the number of defendants who choose to stand, fight and protest loudly, rather than settle - most of the time because they don't have the money to settle - may create a problem for RightHaven.
"I have repeatedly questioned Righthaven's profitability," said Eric Goldman, associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law in California and director of the High Tech Law Institute there, in this article. "Righthaven's model assumes lots of low-cost settlements. Instead, Righthaven has been running into buzzsaws of opposition on a surprising number of lawsuits - perhaps far more than it initially modeled. All of that opposition jacks up Righthaven's costs...For every quick settlement Righthaven gets, it's also getting embroiled in time-consuming and costly battles."
Coca-Cola's Famous Trade Secret Still a Secret
February 16, 2011 - Coca-Cola's spokeswoman and its archive director have both refuted the claim made by public radio show "This American Life" that its cola formula - one of the most famous and valuable trade secrets, and one that has lasted 125 years - had been found. But the actual formula for Coca-Cola resides in a bank vault in Atlanta.
Coke's archive director, Philip Mooney, spoke with the radio show and expressed doubt that the recipe - which was found in a 1979 copy of the Atlanta Constitution - was in fact the "Real Thing." The photo accompanying the article showed an old notebook with a list of ingredients such as caramel, sugar, vanilla, lime juice, oil of neroli and other spices and flavorings.
"Could it be a precursor? Yeah, absolutely," Mooney commented. "Is this the one that went to market? I don't think so."
Texas Jury Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $482 Million in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
January 31, 2011 - Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Cordis Corp. have been ordered to pay $482 million to Bruce Saffran, a doctor from New Jersey, for infringing his patent on a cardiac stent.
Saffran sued J&J and Cordis in 2007, claiming that Cordis' Cypher stents infringed his 1997 patent on heart stents that also release medication. The jury found that not only did J&J/Cordis infringe the patent, but that they did so willingly - a fact that allowed the court to triple the damages.
The inventor in this case is not unaccustomed to large damages awards. In 2008, another federal jury in Texas awarded Saffran a $431.9 million patent infringement judgment against Boston Scientific Corp., and the amount was later raised to $501 million by U.S. District Judge T. John Ward.
"The company believes this is contrary to both the law and the facts set forward in the case," Cordis spokeswoman Sandra Pound said in a statement. "We will ask the judge to overturn this verdict and if unsuccessful, we plan to appeal the verdict.”
Wi-LAN, Intel Reach Settlement in Patent Lawsuit
January 17, 2011 - Wi-LAN, a patent holding company based in Ottawa, Canada, announced on January 14 that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel to end the litigation that the two companies had pending in U.S. District Courts in Texas and California.
Under the agreement, Intel will receive a multi-year license of Wi-LAN's patents in exchange for royalty payments, the amount of which were not disclosed.
Wi-LAN still has litigation pending against other major companies, including Dell, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard and Apple. GPC's Chairman and CEO, Alexander Poltorak, commented on what this settlement will mean for Wi-LAN's future litigation in a number of media outlets, including Portfolio.com (via Reuters) and the National Post (Canada).
CAFC Rules that iLOR Doesn't Owe Google Legal Fees in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
January 13, 2011 - iLOR LLC, a Kentucky-based Internet company, may have lost its patent infringement case against Google Inc. - but at least it doesn't have to pay $660,000 worth of Google's legal fees.
iLOR sued Google, claiming that Google Notebook - an organizer for Web clippings - infringed one claim of its patent on a method for "adding a user selectable function to a hyperlink." A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky had dismissed iLOR's case against Google in 2007, ultimately granting summary judgment and $660,351.93 in attorney fees, expert fees and other expenses to Google in its final order in December 2009.
iLOR appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), and on January 11, the court issued its ruling. Circuit Judge Timothy Dyk wrote that in the absence of misconduct by the plaintiff, courts can still impose sanctions if litigation is brought in bad faith or is baseless. Dyk held that iLOR's proposed definition of one of the claims in the patent at issue "was simply...wrong about claim construction" and "not objectively baseless" - just too broad.
The CAFC reversed the district court's award of legal fees to Google and remanded the case back to that court.
Surprising PwC Study Finds NPEs Awarded Largest Damages
January 11, 2011 - For all the fuss about non-practicing entities (NPEs), and all the proposed patent reforms aimed at controlling them, they are still winning the largest damages awards on average in patent infringement cases.
That was the finding of the PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP's 2010 Patent Litigation Study, which also revealed that:
- The median damages awarded to patent holders in 2009 was about $9 million.
- A non-practicing entity, Johnson & Johnson's Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc., won the biggest-ever patent damages award in its lawsuit against Abbott Labs: more than $1.8 billion. (That award is being appealed in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or CAFC).
- NPEs - also known as "patent holding companies" or, less civilly, "patent trolls" - have lower overall win rates than practicing entities (31 percent as opposed to 41 percent). But when NPEs do win, their damages are an average of three times larger than those of their patent-practicing counterparts.
PwC's study also found that there was a decrease in patent litigation cases filed in 2009, putting an end to a three-year growth spurt in patent lawsuit filings. But the number of U.S. patent applications continued to grow in 2009, despite the economy and the Patent Office's well-known backlog of applications.
Gradient Enterprises Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Skype
December 28, 2010 - A non-practicing entity (NPE) called Gradient Enterprises, Inc. filed a patent lawsuit against VoIP giant Skype Technologies S.A. on December 21, claiming infringement of its patent on a method of network monitoring.
Gradient's patent, U.S. Patent no. 7,669,207, covers a “METHOD FOR DETECTING, REPORTING AND RESPONDING TO NETWORK NODE-LEVEL EVENTS AND A SYSTEM THEREOF”. Gradient alleges that Skype's "super-node" system - a system of computers on the public Internet that broker communication between Skype users who are behind firewalls - infringes the patent.
Akamai Loses Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Limelight Networks
December 20, 2010 - After four years of litigation with Limelight Networks Inc., Akamai Technologies Inc. lost the patent infringement case at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).
In 2006, Akamai filed suit against Limelight, alleging infringement of a patent related to content delivery online. A jury decided in favor of Akamai in 2008 and awarded $45.5 million, but the verdict was overturned on appeal. The CAFC affirmed that decision.
Akamai and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where the technology was developed) also filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Cotendo Inc. last month.
Microsoft Co-founder Paul Allen's Patent Infringement Lawsuit Dismissed
December 15, 2010 - In August of this year, a company called Interval Licensing LLC (founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen) sued 11 Internet giants - AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube - alleging infringement of four patents. That lawsuit was dismissed on December 10.
Judge Marsh Pechman, filing a ruling for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, wrote that Interval's complaint "lacks adequate factual detail."
Google's request for dismissal put that criticism more sharply, saying that "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."
The judge's ruling, however, allows Interval to file an amended complaint by December 28.
The four allegedly infringed patents relate to Internet browser technology and the way information is displayed.
Kodak Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Shutterfly
December 15, 2010 - Eastman Kodak Co. filed a patent infringement suit against Shutterfly Inc., an online photo sharing service, and has been sued in return.
Kodak alleges that Shutterfly infringes its patent(s), but did not specify which patents were infringed in its complaint, only that it is seeking an injunction plus damages, legal fees and other costs.
Shutterfly's countersuit accuses Kodak of patent infringement and also seeks an injunction, damages and costs, and also did not specify which patents are infringed.
Verdict Reversed in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Between Western Union and MoneyGram
December 8, 2010 - Last year, Western Union Co. won a $16.4 million verdict against MoneyGram in a patent lawsuit over a method of transferring money via telephone. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) reversed that ruling and found the Western Union patents invalid based on obviousness.
The patents allow a customer to call a financial institution and store details of a money, then complete the transaction at a retail location without using forms. However, the CAFC found that similar business method inventions were in existence as long ago as 1997 and belonged to a company that Western Union later bought.
In their decision, a three-judge panel of the CAFC wrote, “We fail to see how it would have been difficult for a person of ordinary skill in the art to integrate an electronic transaction device that was available from Western Union itself into a well-known money transfer system that was also owned by Western Union at the time of the invention.”
The case before the CAFC is Western Union Co. v. MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc., 2010-1080 and 2010-1210, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington), and the earlier case is Western Union Co. v. MoneyGram International Inc., 07cv372, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).
Apple Growers Battle University in Lawsuit over Plant Patent
December 7, 2010 - We often report on Apple patent lawsuits, but this time we're actually talking about the fruit, not the maker of the iPad, iPod and iPhone.
Minnesota apple growers filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota, which owns a plant patent on the SweeTango variety of apples. The dispute arose from the University's grant of exclusive rights to Pepin Heights Orchard to grow the SweeTango apples. That move, according to Minnesota apple growers, created what amounts to a monopoly because wholesale apple buyers are less likely to buy from orchards that don't grow the SweeTango - an apple that is expected to outsell the popular Honeycrisp apples.
The University maintains that the agreement with Pepin Heights Orchard is important to protect the quality of the fruit by controlling the growing condition of the trees, but apple growers are angry that the exclusive deal was made without their knowledge. The University's current patent on the SweeTango apple will last 20 years.
A court will decide within the next three months whether to dismiss the case or let it continue.
Supreme Court to Hear Appeal in Patent Infringement Lawsuit between Microsoft, i4i
December 1, 2010 - Last year, i4i won its lawsuit against Microsoft, complete with an award of over $200 million (which has since increased with interest) and an injunction against the company's Word software that forced Microsoft to make changes to the program in order to remove the infringing code. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Microsoft's appeal.
The patented technology in question is a method for editing documents using the XML markup language. Most of the infringing activity was in the form of larger companies adding special data to Word files. Microsoft argued, in its defense, that i4i had included the patented technology in a software product sold more than a year before it filed its patent application - which would have exceeded the one-year "grace period" inventors have to file a patent application once they have offered the invention for sale, and would thus render the invention unpatentable. Nevertheless, the jury agreed with i4i.
The court will consider Microsoft's appeal in the first half of 2011, and the case is Microsoft v. I4i Limited Partnership, 10-290.
Pragmatus AV Sues YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Photobucket for Patent Infringement
November 19, 2010 - Pragmatus AV, a Virginia company, has sued four Internet giants - YouTube, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Photobucket - for infringement of three of its digital video patents.
All of the defendant companies have systems and services that allow users to upload, link to, and comment on videos - activities that Pragmatus says infringe three of its patents related to the storage, accessing and playing of media files.
The patent infringement lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Patent Infringement Lawsuit Filed Against All Major Hollywood Studios
November 18, 2010 - A company called Patent Harbor LLC sued several Hollywood studios for infringement of a patent related to the way DVDs and Blu-Ray discs use a menu to organize and skip to chapters and scenes.
Several major films are targeted by the complaint, including Twentieth Century Fox's Predator, Disney's Chronicles of Narnia, Time Warner's The Wire, Lightstorm's Avatar, and Summit's The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
The patent is called "Method for Assembling Content Addressable Video," and Patent Harbor states in its complaint that it is seeking compensatory damages and post-judgment royalties.
Akamai Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Startup Company
November 11, 2010 - Akamai Technologies Inc. sued Cotendo Inc., a startup company and competitor of Akamai's. Akamai alleges that Cotendo's services infringe three patents related to web content delivery methods. Both companies offer services that make websites load faster.
Akamai filed the lawsuit along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. One of Akamai's patents is licensed from MIT.
After Apple Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit, Power Cable Maker Sanho Agrees to Stop Selling MacBook Cables
November 3, 2010 - Sanho Corp., a company that sells HyperMac external batteries for Apple's MacBook, iPad, iPod and iPhone, has agreed to stop selling aftermarket Apple MagSafe power cables along with its batteries. Sanho's decision came after Apple filed a patent infringement suit against the company in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in September. Apple alleged infringement of two key patents related to the MagSafe connector, which uses magnets to connect the power cable to the computer.
Sanho denied that it had infringed the patents because it used actual Apple products - namely, recycled MagSafe connectors. As of November 2, however, Sanho had stopped selling the MagSafe cables with its external batteries.
Apple Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Motorola
November 2, 2010 - Last month, Motorola sued Apple for infringement of 20 patents. Now Apples is on the counterattack, suing Motorola and Motorola Mobility for infringing a total of six patents covering aspects of Multi-Touch in smartphones.
According to the court documents, the following mobile devices that are manufactured, marketed or sold by Motorola "infringe one or more claims of one or more of the Asserted Patents": Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq, Cliq XT, BackFlip, Devour A555, Devour i1, and Charm.
October 17, 2010 - On October 6, the U.S. Patent Office (USPTO) affirmed TiVo's embattled patent on its "Time Warp" technology - a DVR system that allows the user to record one program while watching another.
The Patent Office action was the latest development in a patent infringement lawsuit that began in 2004 and resulted in an award of $200 million to TiVo in 2009. That decision was appealed by Dish/Echostar, leading to an appeals court ruling in May 2010 that called for reexamining the patent to determine its validity and whether the trial court judge should have granted Dish Network a full trial. (The patent had already survived a previous reexamination, being upheld by the USPTO as valid in November 2007.)
Now that the patent has been affirmed, the case will proceed on November 9, when an appeals court will hear arguments on the case to determine whether Dish is still infringing the patent.
Motorola Unit Files Suit against Apple over Android Patents
October 13, 2010 - Motorola Mobility, a unit of Motorola Inc., recently filed suit against Apple Inc. More specifically, Motorola filed for declaratory judgment, claiming that Motorola does not infringe 12 Apple patents related to mobile phone technology and that the patents are invalid.
Motorola filed the suit on October 8 because it had a "reasonable apprehension" that Apple would sue Motorola for patent infringement, especially because Apple has "a history of asserting the patents-in-suit."
According to papers filed in federal court in Delaware (Motorola Mobility Inc. v. Apple Inc., U.S. District Court, District of Delaware [Wilmington]), Motorola is seeking a jury trial and rulings of patent invalidity and non-infringement, plus legal fees and costs.
October 7, 2010 - U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis postponed his final ruling in the patent infringement lawsuit between Apple and Mirror Worlds.
A jury in Tyler, Texas awarded $625 million in damages to Mirror Worlds. The damages amount is based on willful infringement of three Mirror Worlds patents that cover interface designs such as the 3D graphical user interface Apple uses in its iPhone, iPod, iPad and Mac OS X.
The jury penalized Apple $208.5 million for each of the infringed patents - a move that Apple considers "triple-dipping." Apple requested a one-day trial to decide that issue or the right to submit additional briefs to the judge. Apple now has until the end of November to submit additional post-trial arguments.
For expert commentary on this case from GPC's Alexander Poltorak, see "Why Apple's Patent Infringement Payout Is Still in Play" (Fast Company, October 5, 2010).
Mattel Accused of Stealing Trade Secrets in Latest Legal Salvo with MGA
September 27, 2010 - In August, MGA Entertainment - the maker of the popular Bratz dolls - accused its rival Mattel of spying on competitors and stealing trade secrets for at least the past 15 years.
Earlier in the battle, Mattel alleged that MGA was stealing its trade secrets by hiring ex-Mattel employees, who then divulged their former employer's trade secrets to their new employer.
In July 2010, the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals overturned a December 2008 order that stated that Mattel should own the rights to most of MGA's Bratz doll line. Mattel now has to retry its claims to MGA's profits on the dolls.
BackWeb Technologies Sues IBM, HP for Patent Infringement
September 24, 2010 - International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and the Hewlett-Packard Company (HP) were sued in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California, for allegedly infringing U.S. patents belonging to BackWeb Technologies Ltd. The seven patents-in-suit cover methods for transmitting information between a remote network and a local computer and distributed client-based data caching systems.
According to a BackWeb press release, "BackWeb was a pioneer in Internet 'push' communications technology, and since 1995 it has developed technology and products related to efficient Internet-based communication and notification which were sold to hundreds of customers and used by tens of millions of users."
Major Wireless Carriers Sued for Patent Infringement
September 15, 2010 - A Texas-based company called Guardian Location Systems LLC sued AT&T, Sprint Nextel and AT&T for patent infringement, claiming that they infringed its patent on cell phone location tracking.
Guardian claims that their patent is infringed by AT&T's FamilyMap plan, Sprint Nextel's Sprint Family Locator and Verizon's Family Locator plan. The services offered by the three major wireless providers infringe its patent, Guardian asserts, because they use a location monitoring system to track the phones and a web server to store location data.
NetApp, Oracle Settle Patent Lawsuits Against Each Other
September 13, 2010 - Oracle Corp. and data management company NetApp have settled their three-year-old mutual patent litigation without prejudice. Each company had claimed that the other was infringing its patents.
In their statement about the settlement, NetApp president and CEO Tom Georgens said, "Moving forward, we will continue to collaborate with Oracle to deliver solutions that help our mutual customers gain greater flexibility and efficiency in their IT infrastructures.”
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen's Company Sues Several Big Tech Companies for Patent Infringement
August 27, 2010 - Interval Licensing LLC, a patent holding company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, announced in a press release that it filed suit against AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube.
The four patents-in-suit are related to wireless email delivery: "Browser for use in navigating a body of information, with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data" (patent no. 6,263,507); "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device" (no. 6,034,652); "Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device" (no. 6,788,314); and "Alerting users to items of current interest" (6,757,682).
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington, and ZDNet posted a copy of the patent infringement complaint.
Madonna's Clothing Company, "Material Girl," Sued for Trademark Infringement
August 23, 2010 - A Los Angeles-based company called LA Triumph sued Madonna's Macy's-based clothing line for trademark infringement, despite the fact that their trademark on the "Material Girl" name was "abandoned or canceled" and the pop diva's use of the phrase dates back over two decades, to her 1985 hit song.
Nevertheless, LA Triumph is suing for all the profits Madonna's clothing line has made since its launch a few weeks ago, and claims that it risks being "subsumed by Madonna's profile" and "obvious worldwide notoriety."
IDT Corp. Settles Patent Infringement, Antitrust Disputes with eBay and Skype
August 6, 2010 - IDT, eBay and Skype have been in a patent dispute since 2006, and on July 13 of this year, IDT filed a civil antitrust suit against eBay and Skype in federal district court in Arkansas. This week the companies announced that they have settled all of their differences.
The 2006 patent infringement case, filed by IDT affiliate Net2Phone, alleged infringement of a patent covering creating a communications link between two devices using Internet Protocol.
The antitrust suit alleged unfair methods of competition on the part of eBay and Skype, specifically "conspiracy to monopolize, monopolization and attempted monopolization."
The companies did not disclose the terms of the settlement deal.
Apple, Sprint, Verizon and Samsung Hit with False Marking Patent Lawsuit
July 26, 2010 - Continuing our coverage of qui tam lawsuits over false marking, we report that an organization called Americans for Fair Patent Use (AFPU) filed a false marking lawsuit this month against Apple, Verizon Wireless, Samsung Telecommunications America and Sprint Nextel Corp.
The complaint was brought under the False Marking Statute.
The plaintiff asserts that Apple used expired patent numbers in the documentation for the iPhone, iPod Touch, fifth- and sixth-generation iPod classics and the third-, fourth- and fifth-generation iPod nano, and that the false marking was done "with the intent to deceive the public about the patent coverage for their products."
Apple, Google, HP and Many Others Sued for Patent Infringement Over Spam Detector Software
July 21, 2010 - InNova Patent Licensing, a patent holding company and the owner of U.S. Patent No. 6,018,761, hit a bevy of big-name companies with a patent infringement lawsuit.
InNova alleges that major companies Apple, Google, Bank of America, IBM, HP, Yahoo!, RIM and more infringe its patent on a system to differentiate between legitimate email and spam email messages.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, Texas.
NTP Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Microsoft, Apple, Google and More
July 11, 2010 - NTP filed a lawsuit against many of the leading smartphone manufacturers, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Motorola, HTC and LG Electronics.
NTP is suing over infringement of eight of its patents related to wireless email delivery.
NTP recently settled with Research in Motion for $612.5 million, and has lawsuits pending against major wireless telecom companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel.
Salesforce.com Files a Lawsuit of Its Own Against Microsoft
June 28, 2010 - Just a few weeks after calling Microsoft a "patent troll," Salesforce.com has responded in kind by filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft over five of its patents, claiming in the complaint that the “risk of infringement was either known or so obvious that it should have been known by Microsoft.”
The patents in suit are used in Microsoft's .NET and SharePoint products.
Microsoft threw the first punch in May, accusing Salesforce of infringing nine patents, including a “Method and system for stacking toolbars in a computer display” and a “System and method for controlling access to data entities in a computer network.” That case is Microsoft Corp. v. Salesforce.com Inc., 10cv825, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Seattle).
Frontier Communications Sues Google for Patent Infringement
June 24, 2010 - Google Inc. just announced that its Google Voice VoIP service will be made available to the public, and they have already been hit with a patent infringement lawsuit.
Frontier Communications Corp. contends that Google is infringing its newly-issued patent on enhanced telephone services, and that Google's VoIP service will cause Frontier "irreparable damage."
A Google spokesperson told BusinessWeek that the claims “are entirely without merit, and we’ll defend against them vigorously.”
Federal Circuit Court Rules for Solo Cup in "False Marking" Lawsuit
June 23, 2010 - We've blogged about false marking lawsuits at length, especially Pequignot v. Solo Cup Co. That false marking case could have cost Solo Cup Co. $5.4 trillion dollars, but ended up being dismissed.
Patent lawyer Matthew Pequignot originally filed a "qui tam" lawsuit against Solo in 2007, alleging that Solo's act of marking its disposable cups with expired patent numbers was a deliberate attempt to deceive the public. But the three-judge panel believed Solo's explanation that it was prohibitively expensive to replace the mold cavities on its thermoforming stamping machines every time a patent expired, so the company's policy was to replace expired patent numbers whenever a cavity needed replacing - generally every 15-20 years.
A district court dismissed the lawsuit, but Pequignot appealed, taking the case to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the court that hears appeals on patent infringement lawsuits).
The appellate court agreed that the cups were falsely marked, but such false marking is only unlawful if done "for the purpose of deceiving the public."
"Rather than continuing to manufacture mold cavities with the expired patent markings," Judge Alan Lourie wrote, "Solo took the good faith step of replacing worn out molds with unmarked molds. Solo's leaving the expired patent numbers on its products after the patents had expired, even knowingly, does not show a 'purpose of deceiving the public.'"
Motorola and RIM Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuits
June 11, 2010 - Motorola, Inc. and Research in Motion Limited (RIM) announced in a press release that they have settled all of their patent disputes worldwide. The settlement involves a mutually beneficial, long-term cross-licensing agreement between the two companies, covering technologies such as 2G, 3G, 4G, 802.11 and wireless email. Motorola and RIM will transfer certain patents to each other, and RIM will pay an upfront payment and ongoing royalties to Motorola.
Appeals Court to Rehear Rambus' Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Micron, Hynix
June 10, 2010 - Rambus Inc. has an October 7 court date with Micron and Hynix, the company said on June 9. The patent infringement cases to be reheard involve whether Rambus destroyed documents related to its claims that Micron and Hynix infringed Rambus' patents - an act that would void future collection of damages.
This bad news for Rambus follows a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to delay deciding a separate Rambus case against several technology companies until late July.
The cases to be re-argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit are Hynix Semiconductor v Rambus, 09-1299 and Micron Technology v Rambus 09-1263.
Gibson Settles Patent Infringement Litigation Against Makers and Retailers of "Rock Band" Game
June 8, 2010 - Gibson Guitar Corp. has settled with Viacom Inc., Electronic Arts Inc. and retailers such as Amazon.com Inc., Target Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over the "Rock Band" video game.
Guitar-maker Gibson claimed that the music video game infringed its patent on a method of using a musical instrument to perform in a simulated concert.
According to a filing in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville, Tennessee, the companies in the suit "reached a full settlement" and plan to seek dismissal of the case by June 14.
Gibson also settled patent infringement litigation last year with Activision Blizzard Inc. over its "Guitar Hero" game.
AT&T Mobile and T-Mobile Sued for Patent Infringement by Swiss Company
June 7, 2010 - A Swiss company called Starhome GmbH filed a patent infringement lawsuit against AT&T and T-Mobile in U.S. District Court in Delaware on May 25, alleging that the companies infringe Starhome's patents related to easy access to voice mail when the mobile phone service subscriber is abroad.
Besides AT&T Mobility LLC of Atlanta and T-Mobile USA of Bellevue, Washington, which is the U.S. subsidiary of Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, a third company - Roamware Inc. of San Jose, California - was named in the lawsuit.
Starhome's patents cover a method of accessing voicemail and other mobile services with the same short PIN codes the user traveling abroad uses in their home country, without the need to enter long international calling codes.
Defendant in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Calls Microsoft a "Patent Troll"
June 2, 2010 - After Microsoft sued Salesforce.com for patent infringement, Salesforce's CEO Marc Benioff referred to the software giant using the familiar derogatory term "patent troll".
In a speech at a company conference in Singapore, Benioff said, “Patent trolls are part of the industry today, that's just the way it is. We've dealt with them before and we'll deal with this situation in the same exact way.”
Microsoft served the Software as a Service (SaaS) provider with the lawsuit in May claiming infringement of nine of the software giant's patents, which include a method of showing embedded menu tabs on web pages and the technology used to display tool bars on a computer system.
More Qui Tam False Marking Lawsuits Filed Against Delta Faucet and Other Companies
May 24, 2010 - A company called San Francisco Technology Inc. filed a false marking lawsuit against Delta Faucet and 13 other, unrelated companies for using expired patent numbers on their products.
The type of lawsuit San Francisco Technology filed is called a qui tam lawsuit, which means a lawsuit that any citizen can bring on behalf of the government.
The topic of false marking lawsuits and the opportunists who file them has been covered in our own Wealth of Ideas Blog - see "Closing the Window of Opportunity," "The New Trolls" and "A Vanishing Opportunity?".
Since December, when a federal appeals court expanded the amount a defendant would have to pay for false marking from $500 per incident to $500 per marked item (and that can mean $500 per each individual coffee cup lid), more than 200 false marking suits have been filed in federal courts against over 100 companies.
In the case of Delta Faucet, the expired patent numbers appeared in advertising that was published a decade after the patents expired. Daniel Fingerman, one of the attorneys representing San Francisco Technology in its suit against Delta Faucet et al, said, "The defendants might want to be seen as sloppy or that these patent marks are an oversight, but we think these were a conscious decision."
Patent Office Finds i4i Patent Valid in Landmark Microsoft Case
May 12, 2010 - On April 28, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office informed Canadian software company i4i of its intent to issue an ex parte reexamination certificate on the patent the company successfully sued Microsoft for infringing - and all the patent's claims were confirmed. With the patent's validity upheld, Microsoft is running out of options and will likely petition the Supreme Court to take the case.
The results of the reexamination are the latest blow to Microsoft in a case that almost stopped sales of its popular Word software. On April 1, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears appeals in patent cases, denied Microsoft's petition for an en banc (full court) rehearing of earlier rulings that upheld a lower court's $290 million judgment against Microsoft.
Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs, said in an email to Law.com that while the company is disappointed in the results of the reexamination, "there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court."
Apple Sued for Infringing Patent on "Wireless Handset Communication System"
May 6, 2010 - NetAirus Technologies filed a lawsuit in the Central District of California Western Division, alleging that Apple's iPhone infringes its patent on a "Wireless Handset Communication System."
Rather than claiming that a particular component of the iPhone infringes the patent, NetAirus' patent infringement lawsuit concerns the entire iPhone concept. NetAirus claims that the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS all infringe on this (rather broad) patent.
If NetAirus prevails in the Apple lawsuit, it could have ramifications for many other smartphone manufacturers. NetAirus is seeking cash for (unspecified) damages and an injunction to stop Apple from making and selling iPhones.
LG Loses Patent Infringement Lawsuit to AU Optronics
May 4, 2010 - LG Electronics not only lost the patent infringement lawsuit it filed against AU Optronices, but was even found to be infringing AU's patents itself.
A division of LG, LG Display, filed a lawsuit in December 2006 alleging that AU infringed four of its patents related to LCD displays. AU denied the claims and filed its own lawsuit against LG, alleging that LG infringed four of AU's patents related to LCD optimization.
A U.S. District Court judge in Delaware first found LG guilty of infringement of all four AU patents in February; on April 29, the same court found that AU was not guilty of patent infringement on all of LG's charges.
HTC Takes License Under Microsoft Patents for Android Smartphones
April 28, 2010 - Microsoft recently made a patent licensing pact with HTC, the smartphone maker who produces the popular "Android" phone. It's a move that may have major implications for Apple's patent infringement lawsuit against HTC, currently pending in U.S. district court in Delaware and before the International Trade Commission (ITC).
HTC and Microsoft already had a working business relationship, and that expands with this agreement.
“HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.
What remains to be seen is how the deal with Microsoft will affect the Apple litigation - and if the Microsoft patents trump the ones Apple claims are infringed by Android.
IP Advocate Founder Settles Suit with University of Georgia Research Foundation
April 27, 2010 - Dr. Renee Kaswan, the founder of IP Advocate and an opponent of the patent reform legislation currently before Congress, announced in a press release that she has settled her seven-year lawsuit with the University of Georgia Research Foundation (UGARF). Dr. Kaswan is a former University of Georgia Veterinary Ophthalmology professor and founder of Georgia Veterinary Specialists.
The lawsuit, which settled for $20.2 million, was over UGARF's negotiation of a secret contract with Allergan to produce an opthalmic formula that the company marketed as Restasis. After structuring a lucrative licensing deal for UGARF with Allergan, Dr. Kaswan was excluded from renegotiations over the licensing of her patents.
"I am glad to be out of court so I can focus my attention on the advocacy and policy work we've started at IP Advocate," said Dr. Kaswan in the press release, adding, "There is much to be done, and we have some exciting things on the horizon to improve the process of translating academic inventions into public use."
Dr. Kaswan released a second press release on April 21 titled "Frivolous Lawsuits Slow Innovation, as University Researchers with Big Ideas Make Lucrative Targets, Says IP Advocate Founder." In this second release, she explains why her experience with UGARF and Allergan prompted her to become an advocate for academic researchers and student and faculty inventors.
DDB Technologies Files Lawsuit Against Yahoo for Patent Infringement
April 26, 2010 - Earlier this month, we reported that DDB filed suit against ESPN, Inc. DDB has now also filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the same court against Yahoo! Inc.
The DDB "Data Driven" portfolio, which consists of four patents and a pending continuation application, covers technologies that enable services such as live simulation of sporting events; play-by-play text, graphics and animation; and generating information about game status.
DDB Technologies Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against ESPN Over Interactive Media
April 12, 2010 - A company called DDB Technologies LLC (DDB) sued ESPN for infringement of four patents related to interactive technology.
DDB's Data Driven portfolio consists of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,526,479; 5,671,347; 6,204,862; 7,373,587 and a pending continuation application. The technologies the patents cover include services such as live simulation of sporting events; play-by-play text, graphics and animation; and generating game status information.
DDB previously licensed its portfolio to SportsLine.com and MLB Advanced Media, LP.
DDB filed its lawsuit against ESPN in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin Division).
BASF Sues Rivals for Patent Infringement
April 9, 2010 - BASF SE, the world's largest chemical manufacturer, filed suit in U.S. District Court in North Carolina against two competitors over patent infringement of the company's fipronil insecticide, which is marketed as Termidor.
The defendants are the U.S. subsidiary of Israel-based Makhteshim Agan and a privately-held company called Cheminova. The lawsuit accuses both companies of preparing to sell generic versions of the Termidor insecticide.
BASF said that Bayer CropScience, which retained some patent rights to fipronil after BASF bought the business in 2003, joined BASF in the lawsuits.
VirnetX Files Second Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Microsoft
March 22, 2010 - After winning $105.75 million in damages from Microsoft, VirnetX announced in the same week that it had filed a second patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft.
This time, VirnetX claims that Microsoft has violated the same two patents, 6,502,135 and 7,188,180, both of which cover specific ways of better securing IP-based communications through VPNs and other technologies. This time the infringement concerns Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
Microsoft Loses in Patent Infringement Lawsuit with VirnetX
March 16, 2010 - A Texas jury has ruled against Microsoft and awarded VirnetX $105.75 million for infringement of two VirnetX patents on virtual private network technology.
VirnetX filed the patent infringement suit in 2007. Microsoft plans to appeal the verdict and ask that it be overturned.
Microsoft and Nintendo Win Appeal in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Concerning Joysticks
March 16, 2010 - Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. have won a ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) stating that their video game systems do not infringe a Texas company's patent, which is related to the way newer joysticks connect to older computers.
The lawsuit, filed by Fenner Investments Ltd. of Richardson, Texas, claimed that Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's GameCube and Wii controllers infringed Fenner's patent. The patent, which was originally issued in 2001 to Lucent Technologies Inc., covered a way to ensure that a 5-volt joystick could work with older computer chips operating at lower power levels.
The case in the CAFC is Fenner Investments Ltd. v. Microsoft Corp., 2009-1496, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).
Whirlpool Corp. Wins Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against LG Electronics
March 14, 2010 - A jury in federal court in Delaware delivered a favorable verdict and a $1.78 million damages award for Whirlpool Corporation in its 2-year-old patent infringement lawsuit against LG Electronics.
The jury found that certain LG-manufactured side-by-side door refrigerators infringe on Whirlpool Corporation's patent, U.S. Patent 6,082,130, which is directed to a refrigerator in-the-door ice system.
In addition, the jury found that Whirlpool did not infringe an LG patent related to refrigerator water dispenser technology.
Google, Facebook Facing Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Social Networking on Mobile Phones
March 11, 2010 - A company called Wireless Ink has filed a patent lawsuit against Google and Facebook, claiming that the technology the defendants use to allow users to join social networks via their mobile phones infringes the company's patent, which was issued in October 2009.
Bloomberg News reports that Wireless Ink is seeking cash for damages and an injunction on the allegedly infringing technology.
TiVo Wins Victory in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Dish Network, EchoStar
March 5, 2010 - TiVo has won its patent infringement case against Dish Network and EchoStar, after a federal appeals court affirmed a previous finding of contempt against Dish and Echostar. That ruling stemmed from the defendants' violation of a court-ordered permanent injunction on making and selling their digital video recorder (DVR) products.
TiVo is expected to receive about $300 million in damages and contempt sanctions, and the company plans to seek additional damages and contempt sanctions for infringement occurring after July 1, 2009.
Dish and EchoStar plan to seek an en banc review by the full Federal Circuit, as well as a new design-around on the infringing technology.
Amazon Takes License from Microsoft for Using Linux
February 23, 2010 - Microsoft, which has long maintained that Linux violates various patents belonging to the software giant, announced that it has entered into a licensing deal with Amazon.
According to CNET News, "The deal covers both Amazon's Kindle product as well as the company's use of Linux-based servers. Microsoft has maintained that many implementations of Linux infringe on its patents and has signed numerous licensing deals that cover Linux with both companies that sell Linux-based software and those that use the operating system in their hardware."
The deal amounts to a license for Amazon to use Linux - not a Microsoft product - and is a clear sign of Amazon "playing it safe" in case the Microsoft vs. FOSS (free and open source software) battle ever makes it to court. The amount of money involved in the deal was not publicly disclosed.
Apple, Microsoft Sued for Patent Infringement by Emblaze
February 15, 2010 - Emblaze, a company that owns a patent on a method of "generating media packets," has sued Apple and Microsoft for patent infringement.
The plaintiff claims that the patent is infringed by Apple's HTTP Live Streaming Application, used in the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X; and Microsoft's IIS Smooth Streaming, which is used in Silverlight.
CNet News reports that Microsoft has until March 15 to reply.
GE Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Mitsubishi Over Wind-Turbine Patents
February 12, 2010 - General Electric Co., which has 148 issued U.S. patents related to wind energy, has sued Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. for patent infringement of two of those patents.
One of the patents-in-suit relates to the base frame that supports the rotor's weight, and the other concerns a way of keeping the turbine connected to the electricity grid even when the voltage drops.
The suit was filed in the United States Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
UK Ruling for RIM Against Motorola Has Implications for Patent Infringement Complaint Pending at ITC
February 8, 2010 - A UK judge has rejected patent infringement claims Motorola made against Research in Motion (RIM). Not only did Justice Richard Arnold of London's High Court rule that the patent was not infringed, he also ruled that it was invalid.
The patent in question relates to an email gateway system, and the complaint that Motorola filed against RIM in the US International Trade Commission (ITC) is still outstanding.
Although the ITC case involves more than one patent, the UK ruling may have a negative effect on the outcome at the ITC, where Motorola has requested a ban on imports of Blackberry products into the US.
Acacia Prevails Over Yahoo in Patent Infringement Lawsuit; Awarded $12.4M
February 3, 2010 - Acacia Research Corp.'s subsidiary, Creative Internet Advertising Group, received a $12.4 million judgment stemming from a May 2009 trial verdict in the company's patent lawsuit against Yahoo Inc.
A jury in the Eastern District of Texas found that Yahoo's messenger infringes one of Acacia's patents.
Apple Faces Competition for the "iPad" Trademark from Fujitsu
January 31, 2010 - Taking a brief break from patent infringement news, we turn to a trademark matter. Now that Apple's tablet PC has finally been introduced to the public, a host of other products named "iPad" - including tablet computers from ST Microelectronics and Fujitsu, motors and engines produced by Siemens and even a padded bra from a Canadian lingerie company.
The biggest challenge to Apple's trademark comes from Fujitsu, however, which produced a handheld computing device in 2002 with the iPad name. But to complicate matters, according to this PC World article, the United States Patent and Trademark Office declared in early 2009 that Fujitsu had abandoned the iPad trademark. In June, however, Fujitsu decided that it wanted the trademark back.
This article from the New York Times details the legal fight between Fujitsu and Apple. It will be interesting to see which side prevails - and if any more "iPads" come out of the woodwork.
ITC Judge Rules that Nvidia Infringed Three Rambus Patents
January 27, 2010 - It's been a good month for Rambus. Following the company's settlement with Samsung, A U.S. International Trade Commission judge has now ruled in Rambus' favor against Nvidia.
Cnet News reported on January 22 that the ITC judge found that Nvidia infringed three Rambus patents, but cleared Nvidia of infringement of two other patents, which were examined and found to be invalid. The patents in suit relate to memory controllers.
David Shannon, Nvidia's executive vice president and general counsel, expressed confidence that the remaining Rambus patents would be found invalid in re-examination proceedings in the Patent and Trademark Office.
"We will now take the patents before the full commission for a final decision on whether any of these patents are valid, enforceable, and infringed," said Shannon.
Samsung Electronics Settles Patent Infringement Litigation with Rambus; Will Pay $200 Million
January 21, 2010 - Samsung Electronics Co. and Rambus, Inc. have settled all patent litigation between the two companies.
The patents under which Samsung will be taking a license cover all of Samsung's semiconductor products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Samsung will pay $200 million to Rambus, plus buy $200 million of Rambus' shares and make $25 million quarterly royalty payments to the memory-chip designer for the next five years under a patent license.
But that's not all: the two companies will also collaborate on a new generation of memory technologies, beginning with graphics and mobile memory chips and possibly moving on to server and high-speed NAND flash-memory chips used in MP3 players and digital cameras.
Alcatel Patent Trust Sues Disney, Fox and NBC in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
January 21, 2010 - Multimedia Patent Trust, of which Alcatel-Lucent SA is a 99 percent beneficiary, has sued Walt Disney Co., Fox and NBC Universal Inc. for infringing its patents on video compression technology in DVD and Blu-Ray discs sold by the media companies.
The suit was filed in federal court in San Diego, Calif.
Apple Files Trade Complaint with ITC Against Nokia
January 18, 2010 - Previously in the smartphone war between Nokia and Apple, Nokia had filed a complaint in December with the International Trade Commission (ITC) which sought to ban the importation of Apple's iPhone, iPod and MacBook products.
Now Apple has followed suit by filing its own complaint with the ITC, seeking to block imports of Nokia's mobile phones.
Though the ITC has not yet agreed to investigate Nokia's complaint, filed December 29, Bloomberg News reports that the ITC "typically grants such requests."
Motorola and VTech Settle Patent Infringement Litigation
January 18, 2010 - Motorola Inc. and VTech Communications, Inc. announced that they have settled a patent lawsuit that Motorola filed against VTech in the Eastern District of Texas.
The six patents in suit related to cordless telephone technology. VTech is primarily known as a supplier of corded and cordless phones and electronic learning toys.
The terms of the settlement are confidential.
Kodak and Samsung Settle Patent Infringement Litigation
January 12, 2010 - Eastman Kodak Co. announced yesterday that they have signed a patent licensing agreement with Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea.
The settlement ends 14 months of patent infringement lawsuits that the companies had filed against each other, as well as patent infringement proceedings before the International Trade Commission.
Kodak's 2008 lawsuit against Samsung alleged that camera phones imported by Samsung violated some of Kodak's many patents. With over 1,000 patents on digital imaging technology, almost all of today's digital cameras use some aspect of Kodak's patented technology.
Samsung filed a patent infringement complaint of its own with the ITC in February 2009, claiming that Kodak's digital cameras infringed some of its patents. However, a trade commission judge ruled Dec. 17 that Samsung had infringed two Kodak patents. That jumpstarted negotiations between the two companies, and they reached a cross-licensing agreement in December.
Microsoft in Patent Infringement Lawsuit over Bing Maps
January 7, 2010 - Skyline Software Systems Inc., a Virginia company, has sued Microsoft for patent infringement, claiming that Microsoft's Bing mapping program is infringing its patented technology.
Skyline's patent, which issued in June 2009, relates to a way of sending 3D images over the Internet.
Microsoft's Bing is designed to compete with the very popular Google Maps, as Microsoft attempts to become more competitive in the search engine field. And Google itself has had a brush with Skyline over a different patent, though a federal judge in Boston ruled that there was no infringement.
Skyline makes terrain-visualization software that shows land masses in 3D on computers and handheld devices. Mostly used by government agencies, the software was used in the Sichuan province of China after the May 2008 earthquake to help with the relief effort.
Nokia Files Latest Complaint against Apple in Patent Infringement Lawsuit War
January 5, 2010 - In October, Nokia filed a patent infringement lawsuit in federal court in Delaware, charging that Apple's iPhone infringes 10 Nokia patents. In December, Nokia filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC), requesting a ban on certain Apple devices.
Now Nokia has asked a federal court to ban the importation of almost all Apple hardware into the United States: iPhone, iPod and Mac products.
Nokia claims that Apple is infringing seven of its patents related to user interface, camera, antenna and power management technologies.
Apple has not taken the litigation lying down. On December 12, Apple filed a lawsuit of its own against Nokia, alleging infringement of 13 of its patents.
Acacia Research Corp. Division Loses Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Verizon Wireless and Other Carriers
December 24, 2009 - Last week, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found that Verizon Wireless and other wireless carriers did not infringe the patent of DNT LLC, a unit of Acacia Research Corp.
The patent was filed in 1990 and relates to automatic dialing - specifically, an improved auto-dialer for touchtone phones. In this lawsuit, the patented technology was allegedly infringed by the way wireless modem cards access the carriers' networks.
The jury also found that the patent was invalid for three reasons: it lacked an adequate written description of the claimed invention, it was not enabling, and it would have been obvious as of the date of the patent application's filing.
Florida Company Found Guilty in Trademark Registration Scam
December 23, 2009 - A judge in Tallahassee, Florida ruled on December 18 that a company called the Federated Institute for Patent and Trademark Registry and its president, Bernd Taubert, violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by sending out direct mail pieces that looked like invoices for trademark registration.
The 1,000 or so victims of the scam had all filed legitimate patent or trademark applications, and believed the mailings were in connection with those filings. But when they sent a check to Federated, it was mostly diverted to Swiss bank accounts - with no goods or services in return.
Federated and Taubert pocketed around $2.6 million from the scam, whose victims included big names like Crocs and Sony Entertainment. The estate of Astrid Lundgren, the author of the "Pippi Longstocking" books, was another victim - to the tune of $25,000.
Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is seeking full restitution for all victims, plus penalties and an order for the assets in the Swiss bank accounts to be returned to the U.S.
CAFC Bans Sales of Word Following Microsoft Appeal
December 22, 2009 - The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which hears appeals in patent cases, has upheld the ruling of a lower court that placed a ban on sales of Microsoft's Word program and set the injunction to begin on January 11.
In August, a Texas jury found that Microsoft Word contains code that infringes a patent belonging to Canadian firm i4i Inc. In addition to an injunction against sales of Word, Microsoft was also ordered to pay i4i past damages in the amount of $290 million.
The ban does not affect copies of Word and Office sold before the January 11 deadline, and copies of the software sold after that date will not include the patented code.
Starbucks vs. "Charbucks" in Trademark Infringement Lawsuit
December 15, 2009 - Starbucks Corp. has sued the Black Bear Micro Roastery in Tuftonbury, New Hampshire, for diluting its trademark. At issue is the family-owned company's "Charbucks" coffee blend. The name of the blend is an obvious play on "Starbucks" that also highlights the dark-roasted characteristic of the coffee.
Starbucks' spokeswoman May Kulthol, quoted in a Bloomberg News story on the lawsuit, said, "Black Bear did not choose the term 'Charbucks' by accident, but with Starbucks in mind...We always prefer to resolve trademark disputes informally and amicably whenever possible."
Black Bear's attorney, Christopher Cole, says Starbucks has not proved that there has been any "blurring" of the Starbucks mark, and that the Charbucks and Mister Charbucks blends have been available in New England and online for many years.
Apple Files Countersuit against Nokia Alleging Patent Infringement
December 15, 2009 - In October, Nokia filed suit against Apple, alleging that the iPhone makes use of Nokia's GSM/UTMS patents - ten patents that relate to 2G and 3G wireless connections, as well as WiFi used in mobile phones.
Now Apple has filed a countersuit. In the complaint, Nokia is sharply accused of infringing thirteen patents and "playing copycat": "Nokia has demonstrated its willingness to copy Apple's iPhone ideas as well as Apple's basic computing technologies, all while demanding Apple pay for access to Nokia's purported standards essential patent."
Furthermore, Apple claims that the ten Nokia patents in the original suit are not actually essential to GSM/UTMS, that those patents aren't infringed, and what's more, they're invalid and/or unenforceable anyway.
Interestingly, Nokia's patent infringement lawsuit is mostly concerned with the licensing terms the company feels Apple owes, and not so much about actual patent infringement or gaining a permanent injunction against Apple.
Apple Ordered to Pay $21.7 Million in Patent Infringement Lawsuit Judgment
December 9, 2009 - Last week it was reported that the judgment has been finalized in the lawsuit between Apple and OPTi Inc. In April of this year, a jury found in OPTi's favor and Apple was ordered to pay $19 million.
Now that the judgment has been finalized, Apple has been ordered to pay an additional $2.7 million in pre-judgment interest.
The patent-at-suit was U.S. Patent No. 6,405,291, entitled "Predictive Snooping of Cache Memory for Master-Initiated Accesses".
Ford Ordered to Pay Inventor $55 Million in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
November 29, 2009 - Jacob Krippelz, of Aurora, Illinois, invented and patented a sideview mirror light in the early 1990s and attempted to license it to Ford and Mercedes, which both turned him down. In 1997, Krippelz discovered that Ford had used his invention anyway - without paying a dime in royalties.
Over 11 years later, a jury and judge in federal court have ruled in Krippelz's favor, awarding the inventor $44 million in initial damages and another $11 million in interest since Ford's first act of infringement.
Krippelz, along with his sons Joseph and Jacob Jr., operate Jake's Inc., a machining and heavy equipment component manufacturing company in Aurora, Illinois that also has a plant in Mexico.
The language in U.S. District Judge James Zagel's 33-page ruling seemed to anticipate and deflect criticism of the small inventor as a "patent troll" - an inventor who patents an invention without intending to practice it, but instead licenses it to others.
"The sending of the patent made good sense for Krippelz," wrote Judge Zagel. "He was not in a position to put his invention into commerce; he did not make automobiles or their parts. His market was automakers, and their suppliers. It is quite reasonable that he would send his patent, once issued, to an automaker, and that is what he did."
(For commentary on the Jacob Krippelz, Sr. v. Ford Motor Company lawsuit, see our blog post on the case.)
Accenture Files Patent Suit Against Guidewire Software
November 27, 2009 - Accenture has filed suit against its competitor Guidewire Software, alleging that Guidewire's Insurance Suite and ClaimCenter software products infringe one of its patents.
Accenture claims that the Guidewire products have "no substantial non-infringing use," but at least one Guidewire executive said that the patent not only is not infringed by his company, but should have never been issued in the first place.
“Accenture is resorting to litigation to compete,” Brian Desmond, vice president of marketing for Guidewire, told Reuters. “They have been left behind by the marketplace.”
Guidewire has asked the Patent Office to "review the matter."
Apple Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Over Knockoff AC Adaptors
November 25, 2009 - Apple, no stranger to patent lawsuits, is on the plaintiff side of the case this time. Apple has sued a company called Media Solutions Holdings for infringing the company's patent on power adaptors for Apple laptops, such as the MacBook.
The Media Solutions adaptors are alleged to infringe an Apple patent called "Power Adaptor."
Intel Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with AMD for $1.25 Billion
November 15, 2009 - Following years of antitrust and patent disputes, Intel Corp. has agreed to pay Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) $1.25 billion.
Under the deal, AMD will withdraw its antitrust complaints against Intel in Europe, the U.S., Japan and South Korea. But the European Union has already issued a ruling that ordered Intel to pay a $1.45 billion fine for "anticompetitive behavior." And in the U.S., there is speculation that the Federal Trade Commission may be close to filing their own case against Intel.
Meanwhile, though Intel still controls about 80% of the microprocessor market, its competitor AMD will get a welcome boost from the settlement money - and from the "oversight provisions that will make it difficult for Intel to violate," according to AMD exec Thomas McCoy.
Motorola Settles with Aruba in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
November 9, 2009 - Motorola prevailed in its patent dispute against WLAN vendor Aruba Networks, who agreed to a one-time payment of $19.8 million to Motorola and its subsidiaries, Symbol Technologies and Wireless Valley Communications.
Motorola and its subsidiaries filed suit against Aruba in August 2007 over technology related to wireless computer networks. Aruba filed a countersuit a year later, and on Friday, November 6, the parties announced that they had settled all outstanding disputes out of court and reached a cross-licensing agreement.
Google Hit with New Patent Infringement Lawsuit Filed by Israeli Company
November 2, 2009 - Red Bend, a company based in Israel, has filed suit against Google in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Red Bend alleges that Google's Chrome browser, specifically the Courgette method Google uses for shrinking updates to reduce bandwidth requirements, infringes its patents on a compression algorithm.
As Chrome and the Courgette update system are both open source, the lawsuit also accuses Google of publishing and distributing the source code for the technology.
Red Bend has offices in Waltham, Massachusetts, and develops software management products for mobile telephony.
Nokia Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Apple
October 26, 2009 - On October 22, mobile phone giant Nokia filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the iPhone infringes 10 of Nokia's patents.
The patents cover technologies related to wireless data, security, speech coding and encryption.
Apple has shipped over 34 million iPhones to date, so the company could end up paying Nokia anywhere from $200 million to $1 billion in a settlement, according to some analysts in the IT / smartphone business.
Apple, Dell, HP and Others Sued for Infringing 3Com's '90s Ethernet Patents
October 21, 2009 - A Texas-based company called U.S. Ethernet Innovations has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against several computer manufacturers, alleging infringement of a patent entitled "Network Interface with Host Independent Buffer Management." The patent is No. 5,299,313 and was issued in 1994 to 3Com.
The link between 3Com and the complainant wasn't immediately clear, but it appears that the company had purchased the patents from 3Com.
U.S. Ethernet Innovations alleges that the Apple MacBook Pro infringes the '313 patent, as do Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, Sony and Toshiba.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas in early October.
Eolas Technologies Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against 23 Companies
October 11, 2009 - It was announced last week that Eolas Technologies, a technology research firm, had filed suit against several major companies, including Adobe Systems, Apple, Google, eBay, Amazon.com and more.
The patent survived a lawsuit against Microsoft that lasted for years and ended in a settlement for an undisclosed amount.
Prolific Patent Holder Ronald A. Katz Settles with UPS
October 7, 2009 - United Parcel Service, Inc. and Ronald A. Katz Technology Licensing, L.P. announced that they have settled the lawsuit Katz's company filed in 2007 over Katz Technology's patents related to interactive voice applications.
Katz has a portfolio of over 50 patents with thousands of patent claims, all related to various aspects of telephonic interactive voice applications. His company has filed more than 100 lawsuits against major companies, and many have settled - including American Express, Bank of America, IBM, Merck, Microsoft, Wachovia and now UPS.
UPS has agreed to pay an undisclosed sum for a nonexclusive license for Katz Technology's patents related to interactive voice applications used in UPS' Travel and Transportation services. Other terms of the license were not disclosed.
Sprint Nextel Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with Small Local Phone Company
October 5, 2009 - Telecom giant Sprint Nextel Corp. has settled a patent infringement lawsuit it filed against Big River Telephone Co., a small phone company based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Sprint sued Big River and three other companies in January 2008 over the infringement of Sprint's patents for sending telephone calls over the Internet.
Financial terms of the settlement between Sprint and Big River are confidential, but Sprint said Big River agreed to pay for a non-exclusive license to use the patents-in-suit.
District Judge Overturns Uniloc's $388M Award in Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Microsoft
September 30, 2009 - Judge William Smith of the US District Court for the District of Rhode Island has issued a judgment overturning an April 2009 jury verdict that hit Microsoft with one of the largest patent awards on record: $388 million. The decision comes as Microsoft awaits the outcome of its litigation with i4i, which could potentially cost Microsoft $290 million and ban the sales of some Word products.
In a patent lawsuit that has been going for six years, California-based Uniloc USA and its parent company (based in Singapore) first sued Microsoft in September 2003. At issue was whether Microsoft's use of a software activation key to prevent users from installing licensed software on multiple computers infringed Uniloc's patent, No. 5,490,216, "System for Software Registration."
In April 2009, a jury found that Microsoft willfully infringed Uniloc's patent. Microsoft was ordered to pay $388 million in damages to Uniloc, but this new ruling has overturned that verdict.
Uniloc CEO Brad Davis said in a statement that the company plans to appeal Judge Smith's decision.
Western Union Wins $16.5 Million in Patent Infringement Lawsuit with MoneyGram
September 29, 2009 - A jury in the Western District of Texas has awarded the Western Union Company $16.53 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against MoneyGram Payment Systems Inc.
Western Union sued MoneyGram in May 2007, claiming that MoneyGram's "FormFree" system infringed Western Union's patented "Money Transfer by Phone" service.
MoneyGram had argued that no reasonable jury could find infringement, and even cited testimony from a Western Union technical expert that the systems were sufficiently different.
"We firmly believe that the case is without merit," said MoneyGram spokeswoman Lynda Michielutti, "and we believe we have a solid basis for appeal."
Facebook Sued for Infringement of Social Networking Patent
September 23, 2009 - Social networking giant Facebook has been sued in federal court in Delaware for infringement of a patent owned by software manufacturer WhoGlue. WhoGlue sells web-based relationship management software used by groups such as alumni organizations.
The two-year-old patent-in-suit covers an "information management system, method and computer program code and means for facilitating communications between user members of an online network." The infringement is thought to be related to the privacy controls Facebook has put in place over the last couple of years to allow users more control over who sees which posts.
In Appeals Court, Microsoft Scores Delay of Injunction on Word Sales
September 7, 2009 - In a hearing on Friday, September 4, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) approved Microsoft's request to put the injunction against sales of its Word software on hold.
At issue in the suit is i4i's patented technology related to the use of XML (extensible markup language) as a way of encoding data for use in exchanging information between different programs.
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas had ordered the injunction as part of its judgment against Microsoft in the patent infringement lawsuit filed against the software giant by Canadian company i4i. I4i LP v. Microsoft Corp., 07cv113, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas (Tyler).
The CAFC noted that, in allowing the injunction to be delayed, it was acting “without prejudicing the ultimate determination of this case.”
DISH Network, EchoStar Ordered to Pay Another $200M to TiVo in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
September 7, 2009 - On September 4, it was announced that the US District Court, Eastern District of Texas ordered DISH and EchoStar to pay an additional $200M to TiVo as a result of what TiVo called "contempt sanction for continued violation of a Court-ordered permanent injunction."
In June 2009, the same court found EchoStar in contempt of court and ordered EchoStar to pay $103M plus interest, in addition to an existing $104M award, to TiVo. The suit began when TiVo sued EchoStar and DISH in 2004 for patent infringement related to digital video recording.
SAP Ordered to Pay Versata $138.6M in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
September 1, 2009 - Enterprise software provider SAP has been ordered by a federal court to pay $138.6 million to Versata Software, a Texas-based company.
SAP's Business Suite products and other services was found to have infringed 5 Versata patents related to methods for configuring systems, pricing products in multi-level product and organizational groups, and multi-source transaction processing.
Amazon Prevails in Patent Infringement Lawsuit with Cordance over Three "One-Click Shopping" Patents
August 23, 2009 - A patent infringement suit that Cordance Corp. filed against Amazon.com Inc. in 2006 ended on August 18, 2009 when a jury in Wilmington, Delaware decided that Amazon didn't infringe two of the patents and that the third patent is invalid.
The suit filed by Cordance, a software company based in Sammamish, Washington, contended that Amazon was misusing Cordance's patented technology for one-click shopping and customer feedback procedures.
Amazon attorney Lynn H. Pasahow told jurors during the trial that one of the patents wasn’t infringed because Amazon uses one-click ordering, while Cordance's patent covers an e-shopping system involving two clicks.
Cordance's general counsel, Brian E. Lewis, said in an email to Bloomberg News that the company is "carefully considering an appeal."
The case is Cordance Corp. v. Amazon.com Inc., 06CV491, US District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). The patents-at-suit were 6,757,710; 6,088,717; and 5,862,325.
Microsoft Granted Expedited Hearing in i4i Patent Infringement Lawsuit
August 23, 2009 - After filing a motion on August 18 to stay the injunction on its sales of Word - the result of a patent infringement lawsuit with i4i - Microsoft received a court date for its appeal. A three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) will hear Microsoft's appeal beginning on September 23.
Microsoft has until August 25 to file a briefing with its main arguments, said Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz. i4i will then be allowed to respond, and Microsoft will have the chance to file its own response to i4i before oral arguments begin.
The injunction, if allowed to stand, would take effect on October 10.
Besides the injunction on selling Word in its current form, the ruling by Judge Leonard Davis of the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas also awarded the plaintiff, i4i Inc. or Toronto, more than $290 million in damages.
Microsoft Files Emergency Motion to Stop Ban on Word Sales
August 19, 2009 - Several days after a federal judge in Texas handed down a ruling that would ban the sale of Microsoft Word within 60 days, Microsoft filed an emergency motion on August 14 in an attempt to stop the ban.
The actual document was filed under seal and has not been made public.
Judge Leonard Davis had found Microsoft liable for infringement of Canadian company i4i's patent related to "manipulation of the architecture and content of a document, particularly for data representation and transformations." Microsoft was ordered to pay $290 million.
Texas Judge Files Injunction Barring Microsoft from Selling Word
August 12, 2009 - Judge Leonard Davis of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ordered a permanent injunction yesterday that, if it stands, will prohibit Microsoft from selling Word within the next 60 days. Microsoft has also been ordered to pay more than $290 million to the patent owner, Canadian firm i4i.
Judge Davis issued the injunction following a jury trial earlier this year that found that Microsoft had infringed i4i's patent, which relates to the use of XML documents. XML is an intrinsic part of the Microsoft Word software program, and allows formatting of text and makes files readable in different programs.
Interviewed in E-Commerce Times, GPC's Chairman and CEO Alex Poltorak spoke of the injunction against Microsoft as a "good day for inventors."
Microsoft said in a statement that it will appeal the injunction.
"We are disappointed by the court's ruling," said Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kutz. "We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict."
TechRadium Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with Blackboard
August 12, 2009 - TechRadium, the Texas-based company that is also suing Twitter for patent infringement of its mass notification technology, has settled its patent lawsuit against educational software company Blackboard.
Financial terms of the agreement were undisclosed, but TechRadium said the two firms agreed to cross-license several patents and patent applications so that each company can continue providing mass notification services to clients.
Pharma Firm BTG Files Patent Infringement Complaint with ITC against Apple, Dell and Others
August 11, 2009 - Pharmaceutical company BTG PLC filed a patent infringement complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in late July, seeking to block US imports of several electronics products that it claims infringe its patents related to increasing the storage on Flash memory chips.
Though BTG is focused solely on pharmaceuticals, the company was founded after World War II as a state-funded corporation which commercialized research from British universities.
Some of the companies named in the complaint were Dell, Apple and Research in Motion (maker of the Blackberry), all of which use Samsung's Nand memory chips.
Twitter Hit with Patent Infringement Lawsuit
August 10, 2009 - Texas company TechRadium, which sells the Immediate Response Information System (IRIS), has sued Twitter in a federal court in Houston for patent infringement.
The three TechRadium patents in suit cover a system which “simultaneously delivers uniform, reliable and verifiable emergency messages to an unlimited number of contacts within seconds, across all means and devices of communication.”
According to TechRadium's website, the military, schools, government agencies and other such entities use IRIS for emergency notification. The patent dispute arose when it came to TechRadium's attention that companies and municipalities were beginning to use Twitter for that purpose, cutting into TechRadium's profits.
TechRadium seeks cash compensation and an injunction. Twitter is the 4th most popular social media website, with 21 million unique visitors in the month of June alone.
Teva and J&J Settle Patent Infringement Lawsuit over Oral Contraceptives
July 27, 2009 - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. announced on Friday that it had settled its patent infringement lawsuit with Johnson & Johnson. Teva, the world's largest manufacturer of generic drugs, will pay J&J a royalty based on the sales of the generic Ortho Tri-Cyclen that it shipped.
Teva also obtained a license to put its generic version of the contraceptive back on the market on December 31, 2015.
J&J's patent on the drug expires in 2019, according to a J&J spokesman.
Research in Motion Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with Visto Corp. for $267.5 Million
July 23, 2009 - Research in Motion (RIM), the maker of the hugely popular BlackBerry smartphone, has entered into a patent infringement settlement agreement with Visto Corp., a mobile email developer, after three years of litigation.
RIM will pay Visto a one-time payment of $267.5 million to settle all outstanding worldwide patent litigation between the two companies, and will receive a perpetual and fully-paid license on all Visto patents for RIM, as well as a transfer of certain Visto intellectual property.
The patent dispute began just after RIM settled with NTP in 2006 for $612 million and narrowly avoided an injunction that would have shut down email delivery to BlackBerry phones.
Tsera, LLC Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Apple, LG, Microsoft and Many More
July 21, 2009 - Tsera, LLC filed its patent infringement lawsuit against Apple and many other defendants, claiming that their products infringe its patent, "Methods and apparatus for controlling a portable electronic device using a touchpad." The "click wheels" on the iPod classic and iPod nano, as well as the controls of the Microsoft Zune, LG Chocolate, and several other devices, are alleged to infringe the patent.
Tsera has requested a jury trial, which would be held in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler, Texas. Other defendants besides Apple and Microsoft include LG Electronics, Philips Electronics North America Corp., iRiver, Inc. and several others. The filing can be viewed here.
Google Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit over Personalized Search
July 17, 2009 - Google is being sued for patent infringement by a company called Personalized User Model (PUM), which has patents issued in 2005 and 2008 which cover search personalization. The 2005 patent, "Automatic, personalized online information and product services," was expanded in the 2008 patent.
The complaint alleges that Google's iGoogle service, its personalized advertising technology, and personalization features found on Google's Web site infringe PUM's patents. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges willful infringement because according to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, the law firm representing the plaintiff, Google knew about the 2005 PUM patent because a personalization patent that it filed in 2003 was rejected.
Tune Hunter Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against Apple, Motorola, Amazon and More
July 16, 2009 - Tune Hunter, a Texas-based company, has filed an amended patent suit against Apple, Motorola, AT&T, and several other major vendors in the US District Court of Texas, accusing the companies of infringing its music identification technology that enables listeners to use mobile phones and other devices to identify songs.
Other defendants include Amazon.com, Samsung, Shazam, Napster, Gracenote, LG Electronics, Pantech Wireless, and Cellco Partnership (doing business as Verizon Wireless). Shazam's products are distributed with the iPhone, and the other companies have relationships with Shazam.
Seagate and Maxtor Take Licenses in Settlement of Patent Infringement Lawsuit
July 15, 2009 - MagSil Corporation announced yesterday that it and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) had settled their patent infringement suit against Seagate Technology and Maxtor Corporation. Several other defendants in the lawsuit, including Hitachi Ltd., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Toshiba America, Inc. and others remain in litigation with MagSil and MIT.
The two patents-in-suit, which are owned by MIT and exclusively licensed to MagSil, are related to Tunneling Magnetoresistive (TMR) technology.
"We are pleased with the settlement and we look forward to a favorable resolution of our claims against the remaining defendants," said Jay Kamdar, President & CEO of MagSil Corporation, in the company's statement. "MagSil has developed breakthrough magnetic memory technology for the next generation of mobile consumer, computing and storage systems. Our intellectual property is important to our business and product commercialization."
Abbott Labs to Pay J&J $1.67 Billion from Patent Infringement Lawsuit
July 2, 2009 - In the most expensive verdict in US history, Johnson & Johnson announced on June 29 that its patent infringement lawsuit against Abbott Labs was successful and that Abbott had been ordered to pay $1.67 billion ($1.17 billion in lost profits and $504 million in royalties) for infringing the patent on J&J's drug Remicade with its own drug Humira.
Both drugs treat rheumatoid arthritis, from which 1.3 million Americans suffer. The verdict was decided by a jury in the Eastern District of Texas.
The lawsuit against Abbott was filed in April 2007 by J&J's Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc. division and New York University, which has granted Centocor an exclusive license to the patent. Abbott is expected to appeal the decision.
Sony Settles Patent Infringement Lawsuit with CalTech over Digital Cameras
June 25, 2009 - The California Institute of Technology has settled its patent infringement lawsuit against Sony Corp. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
CalTech sued 6 companies that manufacture digital cameras, including Canon Inc., Nikon Corp., Panasonic Corp., Olympus Corp. and Samsung Electronics Corp., over alleged infringement of 11 patents related to pixel sensors that improve electronically transmitted images.
Nikon and Panasonic, in separate filings on June 23, claimed that CalTech's patents are invalid and denied the infringement claims.
Vizio Scores Win in Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Funai
June 22, 2009 - Earlier this month, Vizio, Inc. filed suit against rival Funai Electric Company, Inc. for infringement of patents related to high definition flat panel televisions. Funai sells HDTVs in the US under the brands of Emerson, Sylvania and Philips.
The Orange Country Business Journal now reports that Vizio has scored a win in its patent infringement lawsuit against Funai, as the International Trade Commission granted a temporary hold on a federal ban that would have prevented Vizio from importing certain HDTVs into the US based on the fact that they contain chips that were found to infringe on a Funai patent.
In addition, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently re-examined Funai’s patent and concluded that its claims are invalid.
The ban would not have had much effect on Vizio anyway, however. “The products involved with this particular claim are obsolete and no longer in mass production,” the company said in a statement. The win is more significant in light of Vizio's ongoing antitrust litigation and the litigation over Funai's infringement of Vizio's patent.
Funai also filed a patent infringement lawsuit against LG Electronics Inc. on June 5.
j2 Global Communications Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against OneSuite
June 9, 2009 - j2, which provides Internet-based fax and other telecom services, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in California Central District Court against its competitor OneSuite, claiming infringement of j2's patent related to sending and receiving messages using the Internet and/or telephone systems. OneSuite provides prepaid long distance, plus fax and other telecom services.
j2 has filed similar patent infringement lawsuits against Protus, Venali, and other firms.
DuPont Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit Against BASF
June 1, 2009 - DuPont Co. has sued rival chemical manufacturer BASF SE for patent infringement, claiming that the German company's products infringe four patents DuPont holds related to an herbicide tolerant technology.
Last month Monsanto Co. (MON) filed a patent-infringement suit against DuPont and its Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. unit, alleging that DuPont is illegally using Monsanto's Roundup Ready herbicide-tolerant technologies.
Microsoft Ordered to Pay Canadian Company i4i $200M in Patent Infringement Lawsuit
May 26, 2009 - A jury has ruled that Microsoft must pay $200 million to Canadian software company i4i as a "reasonable royalty" for infringing i4i's U.S. patent 5,787,449.
The patent-in-suit covers a method for "manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other" and Microsoft used the patented technology in certain versions of Word 2003 and 2007.
According to Bloomberg, the $200M verdict is the fourth largest jury verdict in the United States this year to date and the second-largest jury award in a patent infringement lawsuit.
Toshiba Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Imation, Several Others over Recordable DVD Patents
May 14, 2009 - Japanese company Toshiba Corp. has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin against Imation and several other manufacturers and distributors of recordable DVDs.
Toshiba's suit says the defendants do not have licensing agreements with Toshiba for its patents relating to DVD format specifications, and the company is seeking damages for past infringement.
Besides Toshiba, the other defendants are Moser Baer India Ltd., CMC Magnetics Corp. and Ritek Corp. of Taiwan, and Glyphics Media, Hotan Corp., Khypermedia Corp. and Advanced Media Inc. in the United States.
i2 Technologies Files Patent Infringement Lawsuit against Oracle
May 11, 2009 - i2 recently filed suit against Oracle Corp. alleging patent infringement of 11 or i2's patents related to supply chain management and other enterprise software applications. Last year, i2 won a separate patent infringement lawsuit against Oracle's rival SAP, winning a settlement of $83 million.
Fractus S.A. Takes on 10 Cell Phone Manufacturers in a Patent Infringement Lawsuit over 9 Patents
May 11, 2009 - Cell phone manufacturer Fractus S.A., of Barcelona, Spain, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against 10 cell phone manufacturers. The patents-in-suit are related to internal antennas for cellular phones and other applications, and the defendants are Samsung, LG, RIM, Pantech, Kyocera, Palm, HTC, Sharp, UTStarcom, and Sanyo.
Fractus holds over 30 U.S. patents and over 80 patents worldwide, and has won industry awards for technological innovation.
Abbott Laboratories Sues Johnson & Johnson for Patent Infringement Over New Simponi Drug
May 6, 2009 - Abbott Laboratories has BizJournals.com) - i2 Technologies sued California rival Oracle Corp. over the alleged infringement of 11 patents Thursday.
Filed in the federal Eastern District of Texas, the litigation alleges Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) has infringed on patents related to software aimed at large companies.
One area of focus of the patents relates to so-called “supply chain management,” which helps manufacturers and other firms manage their relationships with their suppliers. Dallas-based i2 (NASDAQ: ITWO) is a large supplier of supply-chain management software, as it Oracle.
In a voicemail Thursday morning, a spokeswoman for Oracle declined to comment.
Google's Android name at center of trademark infringement suit by an Illinois developer
May 3, 2009 - (Source: ComputerWorld) - Illinois developer Erich Specht, filed suit this week for trademark infringement against Google and some 47 other companies in the Open Handset Alliance. At stake are the rights to the Android name which denotes Google's version of Linux that adorns their handsets.
Specht has officially owned the trademark to "android" since he registered it in 2000. Two years later, the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded the trademark to Android Data, Specht's company. The USPTO granted the application noting that no application would be granted the exclusive right to use the term data, therefore making "android" that dominant word and the trademark.
Android Data, Specht's company, was dissolved in 2004 and lost its domain name androiddata.com. A new domain name android-data.com was registered a few weeks ago in anticipation of the lawsuit.
What does Google say? "We believe the complaint has no merit," a Google spokesperson said. "We plan to defend against them vigorously."
Sun Microsystems Prevails in Patent Infringement Suit Brought by Versata
April 27, 2009 - (Source: eWeek.com) - Sun Microsystems received some welcome news April 27 when a jury in Marshall, Texas, turned down a complicated 3-year-old patent infringement and trade secrets lawsuit brought by software development company Versata.
Versata, formerly called Trilogy Software, had sought more than $100 million in damages from Sun for alleged patent infringement, breach of contract, interference with an existing contract, trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition.
Samuel Morse, inventor of Morse Code, honored by Google logo
April 27, 2009 - Google is known for changing its logo for a day in honor of holidays and events, but visitors to the site today found the code "–. --- --- –. .-.. ." instead of the usual logo. Why? To honor the birthday of Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the inventor of the single wire telegraph. Morse was born on April 27, 1791.
Originally an accomplished portrait artist, Morse is better known for his patent on a method of transmitting messages over electrical wires, which quickly became the standard method of swift long-distance communication. Every letter of the alphabet was translated into a combination of dots and dashes in the code to which Morse gave his name.
Morse's patents include several related to the electric telegraph:
* US Patent 1,647, Improvement in the mode of communicating information by signals by the application of electro-magnetism, June 20, 1840
* US Patent 1,647 (Reissue #79), Improvement in the mode of communicating information by signals by the application of electro-magnetism, January 15, 1846
* US Patent 1,647 (Reissue #117), Improvement in electro-magnetic telegraphs, June 13, 1848
* US Patent 1,647 (Reissue #118), Improvement in electro-magnetic telegraphs, June 13, 1848
* US Patent 3,316, Method of introducing wire into metallic pipes, October 5, 1843
* US Patent 4,453, Improvement in Electro-magnetic telegraphs, April 11, 1846
* US Patent 6,420, Improvement in electric telegraphs, May 1, 1849
Though he is famous now, during his lifetime, Morse experienced a lot of the same frustrations trying to enforce his patents that many inventors do today. In 1848, he wrote in a letter to a friend:
"I have been so constantly under the necessity of watching the movements of the most unprincipled set of pirates I have ever known, that all my time has been occupied in defense, in putting evidence into something like legal shape that I am the inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph!! Would you have believed it ten years ago that a question could be raised on that subject?"
And from that snippet of a famous inventor's letter, it's clear that the need for contingency patent enforcement is nothing new.
Qualcomm, Broadcom settle long-running patent infringement dispute
April 26, 2009 – Qualcomm and Broadcom announced jointly that they have settled their patent litigation, with Qualcomm paying Broadcom $891 million over a four-year period. Broadcom and Qualcomm agree not to assert patents against each other for their respective integrated circuit products and certain other products and services and Broadcom agrees not to assert its patents against Qualcomm's customers for Qualcomm's integrated circuit products incorporated into cellular products.
Qualcomm issued the following statement on Sunday, April 19: "Qualcomm and Broadcom today announced that they have entered into a settlement and multi-year patent agreement. The agreement will result in the dismissal with prejudice of all litigation between the companies, including all patent infringement claims in the International Trade Commission and U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, as well as the withdrawal by Broadcom of its complaints to the European Commission and the Korea Fair Trade Commission."
House bill calls for pilot program to educate federal judges about patents and patent infringement
A bill currently under consideration in the House of Representatives would, if passed, provide for the establishment of a pilot program to educate federal judges who do not have a patent-related background, but who hear patent infringement cases, about patent law. The bill was introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
As set forth on the GOP website (www.GOP.gov), the bill, H.R. 628, would “allow district judges to request patent-related cases that deal with one or more issues arising under any law. The senior judge of a district court would then be authorized to assign patent cases and ‘plant variety protection’ cases to those district judges that request such cases and to remove such cases from a judge's case load without experience with these types of cases.”
The bill would also provide funding for those district judges seeking to participate in the pilot program, as well as compensation for law clerks with “expertise in technical matters arising in patent and plant variety protection cases.”
As of April 19, the bill had passed in the House and has gone on to the Senate for a vote.
Apple ordered to pay $19 million to Opti Inc. in patent infringement suit
April 24, 2009 - Opti Inc., a technology company based in Palo Alto, filed a lawsuit against Apple in January 2007, alleging that Apple infringed Opti's patent for “Predictive snooping” – a method to more efficiently transfer data among the CPU, memory, and “other devices.” Apple admitted using similar technology, but claimed that the patent was invalid due to prior art and obviousness.
The case was tried in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Marshall, where a jury found that Apple was guilty of willful infringement. Apple has now been ordered to pay $19 million in damages to Opti.
Boston Scientific Loses Patent Infringement Suit with Johnson & Johnson
April 20, 2009 - A federal judge has ruled that Boston Scientific must pay a 5.1 percent royalty rate on its sales of catheters that infringe the patents of Cordis Corp., a division of Johnson & Johnson. The rate set by US District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco is much higher than the 0.5 percent that Boston Scientific had negotiated for.