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schwit1 writes: Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two other scientists) for his work inventing blue LEDs. But long ago he abandoned Japan for the U.S. because his country's culture and patent law did not favor him as an inventor. Nakamura has now blasted Japan for considering further legislation that would do more harm to inventors.
"In the early 2000s, Nakamura had a falling out with his employer and, it seemed, all of Japan. Relying on a clause in Japan's patent law, article 35, that assigns patents to individual inventors, he took the unprecedented step of suing his former employer for a share of the profits his invention was generating. He eventually agreed to a court-mediated $8 million settlement, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and became an American citizen. During this period he bitterly complained about Japan's treatment of inventors, the country's educational system and its legal procedures. 'The problem is now the Japanese government wants to eliminate patent law article 35 and give all patent rights to the company. If the Japanese government changes the patent law it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors].'"
There is a similar problem with copyright law in the U.S., where changes to the law in the 1970s and 1990s have made it almost impossible for copyrights to ever expire. The changes favor the corporations rather than the individuals who might actually create the work.
191 comments | about two weeks ago
HughPickens.com writes The death of the mainframe has been predicted many times over the years but it has prevailed because it has been overhauled time and again. Now Steve Lohr reports that IBM has just released the z13, a new mainframe engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets. "This is a mainframe for the mobile digital economy," says Tom Rosamilia. "It's a computer for the bow wave of mobile transactions coming our way." IBM claims the z13 mainframe is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day and has a host of technical improvements over its predecessor, including three times the memory, faster processing and greater data-handling capability. IBM spent $1 billion to develop the z13, and that research generated 500 new patents, including some for encryption intended to improve the security of mobile computing. Much of the new technology is designed for real-time analysis in business. For example, the mainframe system can allow automated fraud prevention while a purchase is being made on a smartphone. Another example would be providing shoppers with personalized offers while they are in a store, by tracking their locations and tapping data on their preferences, mainly from their previous buying patterns at that retailer.
IBM brings out a new mainframe about every three years, and the success of this one is critical to the company's business. Mainframes alone account for only about 3 percent of IBM's sales. But when mainframe-related software, services and storage are included, the business as a whole contributes 25 percent of IBM's revenue and 35 percent of its operating profit. Ronald J. Peri, chief executive of Radixx International was an early advocate in the 1980s of moving off mainframes and onto networks of personal computers. Today Peri is shifting the back-end computing engine in the Radixx data center from a cluster of industry-standard servers to a new IBM mainframe and estimates the total cost of ownership including hardware, software and labor will be 50 percent less with a mainframe. "We kind of rediscovered the mainframe," says Peri.
164 comments | about two weeks ago
mpicpp points out a report that Apple has been awarded a broad patent for gesture control of a computer interface (8,933,876). The company inherited the patent after their acquisition of motion-sensor company PrimeSense in 2013. (PrimeSense's technology is used in Microsoft's Kinect gesture control system.) Here's the patent's abstract: A method, including receiving, by a computer executing a non-tactile three dimensional (3D) user interface, a set of multiple 3D coordinates representing a gesture by a hand positioned within a field of view of a sensing device coupled to the computer, the gesture including a first motion in a first direction along a selected axis in space, followed by a second motion in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, along the selected axis. Upon detecting completion of the gesture, the non-tactile 3D user interface is transitioned from a first state to a second state.
105 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes that Toyota will share almost 6,000 hydrogen fuel cell patents. "Hoping to speed development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota said Monday that it would offer thousands of patents on related technologies to rival automakers, for free. The announcement, made at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, echoes a similar move by electric car maker Tesla in 2014, when Chief Executive Elon Musk made Tesla patents available to all, hoping to spur innovation in the electric vehicle world (and, perhaps, to draw publicity.) Toyota has similar goals for the fuel-cell car market. 'At Toyota, we believe that when good ideas are shared, great things can happen,' Bob Carter, senior vice president at Toyota, said before the announcement. 'The first generation hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, launched between 2015 and 2020, will be critical, requiring a concerted effort and unconventional collaboration.'"
124 comments | about three weeks ago
In 2011, a consortium formed from Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry, and others spent $4.5 billion acquiring Nortel's patent portfolio, which contained a great deal of ammunition that could be used against Android. That threat has now been reduced. Today, 4,000 of the patents were purchased by a corporation called RPX, which has licensing agreements from Google, Cisco, and dozens more companies. [RPX is] a company that collects a bunch of patents with the goal of using those patents for member companies for defensive purposes. Even though RPX has generally been "good," the business model basically lives because of patent trolling. Its very existence is because of all the patent trolling and abuse out there. In this case, though, it's making sure that basically anyone can license these patents under FRAND (fair and reasonable, non-discriminatory) rates. The price being paid is approximately $900 million. While that article points out that this is considerably less than the $4.5 billion Microsoft and Apple paid originally, again, this is only 4,000 of the 6,000 patents, and you have to assume the 2,000 the other companies kept were the really valuable patents. In short, this is basically Google and Cisco (with some help from a few others) licensing these patents to stop the majority of the lawsuits -- while also making sure that others can pay in as well should they feel threatened. Of course, Microsoft, Apple and the others still have control over the really good patents they kept for themselves, rather than give to Rockstar. And the whole thing does nothing for innovation other than shift around some money.
63 comments | about a month ago
mpicpp sends news that Uber is renewing its push for a patent on "surge pricing," the practice of increasing rider fees when many people are trying to find transportation. The system measures supply (Uber drivers) and demand (passengers hailing rides with smartphones), and prices fares accordingly. It’s one of at least 13 U.S. patent applications filed by Uber or its founders to give it an edge over potential rivals ahead of a potential initial public offering. So far, Uber hasn’t had any luck. Ten applications were initially rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “obviousness” or for covering something not eligible for protection.
190 comments | about a month ago
mpicpp writes Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars. The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit. "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world," said Kirk Dailey, Google's head of patent transactions.
20 comments | about a month and a half ago
HughPickens.com writes Andrew Pollack reports at the NYT that a federal judge has blocked an attempt by the drug company Actavis to halt sales of an older form of its Alzheimer's disease drug Namenda in favor of a newer version with a longer patent life after New York's attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing the drug company of forcing patients to switch to the newer version of the widely used medicine to hinder competition from generic manufacturers. "Today's decision prevents Actavis from pursuing its scheme to block competition and maintain its high drug prices," says Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. "Our lawsuit against Actavis sends a clear message: Drug companies cannot illegally prioritize profits over patients."
The case involves a practice called product hopping where brand name manufacturers make a slight alteration to their prescription drug (PDF) and engage in marketing efforts to shift consumers from the old version to the new to insulate the drug company from generic competition for several years. For its part Actavis argued that an injunction would be "unprecedented and extraordinary" and would cause the company "great financial harm, including unnecessary manufacturing and marketing costs." Namenda has been a big seller. In the last fiscal year, the drug generated $1.5 billion in sales. The drug costs about $300 a month.
266 comments | about a month and a half ago
hypnosec writes The Delhi High Court has banned Xiaomi and India online retailer Flipkart from selling any handsets that Ericsson claim are violating patents. The court has also asked Xiaomi and its agents to refrain from making, assembling, importing or selling any devices which infringe the patents in question. Xiaomi says: "We haven’t received an official note from the Delhi High Court. However, our legal team is currently evaluating the situation based on the information we have. India is a very important market for Xiaomi and we will respond promptly as needed and in full compliance with India laws. Moreover, we are open to working with Ericsson to resolve this matter amicably."
40 comments | about 1 month ago
alphadogg writes Cisco has filed two lawsuits against data center switch competitor Arista Networks for allegedly violating its intellectual property. One suit is for patent infringement, which charges Arista with violating 14 Cisco patents for 12 features in the Arista EOS operating system. The second suit is for extensive copying of Cisco's user manuals and command line structures, right down to the grammatical errors within them. "This is not an accident but a strategy," says a source familiar with the matter. "It was a deliberate, brazen and blatant intellectual property violation in order to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Arista's shortcutting to get to market and win share."
96 comments | about 2 months ago
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Samsung has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking them to block the import of Nvidia's graphics chips . This is part of Samsung's retaliation for a similar claim filed by Nvidia against Samsung and Qualcomm back in September. Both companies are wielding patents pertaining to the improved operation of graphics chips in cell phones and other mobile devices.
93 comments | about 2 months ago
jenwike writes The Open Source Seed Initiative is a passionate group that wants to ensure their seeds are never patented, but making sure seeds are free for use and distribution by anyone isn't as easy as you might think. Part of the equation are plant characteristics, like an extended head on lettuce — is that an invention? Or, would you argue that it is the product of the collective sharing of material that improves the whole crop over time? In this report, one farmer says, "If you're not exchanging germplasm, you're cutting your own throat."
100 comments | about 2 months ago
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today announced plans to open source .NET, the company's software framework that primarily runs on Windows, and release it on GitHub. Furthermore, Microsoft also unveiled plans to take .NET cross-platform by targeting both Mac OS X and Linux. In the next release, Microsoft plans to open source the entire .NET server stack, from ASP.NET 5 down to the Common Language Runtime and Base Class Libraries. The company will let developers build .NET cloud applications on multiple platforms; it is promising future support of the .NET Core server runtime and framework for Mac and Linux. Microsoft is also making Visual Studio free for small teams.
525 comments | about 3 months ago
phantomfive writes Silicon Valley is making a mark in Washington as Google has recently replaced Goldman as the largest lobbyist, but until recently, most of the money from Silicon Valley went to democratic candidates. In 2014, that has changed, and Republicans are getting most of the money. Why the change? Gordon Crovitz suggests it's because Harry Reid blocked patent reform. Reid gets a large chunk of donations from trial lawyers, who oppose the reform.
485 comments | about 3 months ago
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Torrentfreak: Disney has just obtained a patent for a search engine that ranks sites based on various "authenticity" factors. One of the goals of the technology is to filter pirated material from search results while boosting the profile of copyright and trademark holders' websites. A new patent awarded to Disney Enterprises this week describes a search engine through which pirated content is hard to find. Titled "Online content ranking system based on authenticity metric values for web elements," one of the patent's main goals is to prevent pirated movies and other illicit content from ranking well in the search results. According to Disney their patent makes it possible to "enable the filtering of undesirable search results, such as results referencing piracy websites." Disney believes that current search engines are using the wrong approach as they rely on a website's "popularity." This allows site owners to game the system in order to rank higher. "For example, a manipulated page for unauthorized sales of drugs, movies, etc. might be able to obtain a high popularity rating, but what the typical user will want to see is a more authentic page," they explain. Probably not a good place to look for a grey-market copy of Song of the South.
164 comments | about 3 months ago
rjmarvin (3001897) writes The Worldwide Web Consortium today has elevated the HTML5 specification to 'recommendation' status , giving it the group's highest level of endorsement, which is akin to becoming a standard. The W3C also introduced Application Foundations with the announcement of the HTML5 recommendation to aid developers in writing Web applications, and said the organization is working with patents holders of the H.264 codec to agree on a baseline royalty-free interoperability level commitment.
125 comments | about 3 months ago
An anonymous reader writes Michael Geist reports that according to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, the Canadian government quietly proposed a series of reforms to combat patent trolls including new prohibitions on demand letters, powers to the courts to stop patent forum shopping, and giving competition authorities the ability to deal with patent troll anti-competitive activity. The problem? Business lobby groups warned against the "unintended consequences" of patent reforms.
57 comments | about 3 months ago
Apple has long sold Bose headphones and speakers in its retail stores, including in the time since it acquired Bose-competitor Beats Audio, and despite the lawsuit filed by Bose against Apple alleging patent violations on the part of Beats. That's come to an end this week, though: Apple's dropped Bose merchandise both in its retail locations and online, despite recent news that the two companies have settled the patent suit.
328 comments | about 3 months ago
blottsie writes WikiLeaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. The new version of the texts, dated May 2014, show that little improvement has been made to sections critics say would hurt free speech online. Further, some of the TPP's stipulations could have dire consequences for healthcare in developing nations. The Daily Dot reports: "Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits. Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern U. School of Law [said] that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications."
132 comments | about 3 months ago
ZahrGnosis writes I'm in the midst of a rather lengthy job interview; something I haven't done for some time as I've worked as a contract employee with a much lower barrier to entry for years. Recently, I've started patenting some inventions that are applicable to my industry. One hope is that the patents look good to the prospective employer on a resume, but I don't want them to take the existing IP for granted as part of the deal. I'm worried I have the wrong attitude, however. My question is, how should I treat licensing of the patent as a topic with respect to the topic of my employment? Should I build the use of my patented ideas into my salary? Should I explicitly refuse to implement my patented IP for the company without a separate licensing fee? If I emphasize the patent during the interviews without the intent to give them the IP for free, is that an ethical lapse — a personal false advertising? At the same time, when I work for a company I feel they should get the benefit of my full expertise... am I holding back something I shouldn't by not granting a de-facto license while I work for them? I perceive a fine balance between being confrontational and helpful, while not wanting to jeopardize the job prospect nor restrict my ability to capitalize on my invention. Thoughts?
224 comments | about 3 months ago