Posts tagged 'Patents'

The FT Alphaville podcast, with Dylan Grice

Welcome to FT Alphaville’s extraordinarily infrequent podcast… (click through for the podcast link).

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Ireland hits its ‘patent cliff’

Chart from Michael Saunders at Citi (click to enlarge):

What that shows is a pretty dramatic fall in Read more

The case against idea monopolisation

Patents and copyrights, a.k.a the process of monopolising ideas.

A gripping new paper from Michele Boldrin and David Levine at the St. Louis Fed argues there are strong economic grounds to abolish patents, because “there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless the latter is identified with the number of patents awarded– which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity.” Read more

Facebook, Microsoft, AOL and patents, oh my

We’re still trying to get our heads round this at pixel time (Yahoo killer?) but here’s the release:

In the initial AOL auction, Microsoft secured the ability to own or assign approximately 925 U.S. patents and patent applications plus a license to AOL’s remaining patent portfolio, which contains approximately 300 additional patents that were not for sale. Read more

Kodak files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Eastman Kodak announced early Thursday that it and its US subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reports Marketwatch. The firm said the move “is intended to bolster liquidity in the US and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the company to focus on its most valuable business lines.” The press release is on Businesswire. Units of the 131-year-old company outside the US are not affected by the action and would continue to meet their obligations to suppliers, the FT reports. The filing in the US gives the company protection from its creditors while it seeks to reorganise its finances and operations. Kodak has shed 47,000 jobs and closed 13 manufacturing plants and 130 processing labs since 2003. Bankruptcy would allow the company to act more quickly to shut unprofitable operations while cutting back on its pension obligations, according to bankruptcy lawyers.

Kodak files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Eastman Kodak announced early Thursday that it and its US subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, reports Marketwatch. The firm said the move “is intended to bolster liquidity in the US and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the company to focus on its most valuable business lines.” The press release is on Businesswire.

Kodak in ‘advanced’ talks with Citi on bankruptcy

Kodak is in advanced discussions with Citigroup to provide bankruptcy financing, Bloomberg says, citing three people familiar with the matter. Kodak may seek protection from creditors within weeks and then hold an auction to sell its patent portfolio, said the people. Two of the sources said Kodak may seek about $1bn in debtor-in-possession financing, though terms may change, and one said advisers to Kodak are lining up a bidder that will be the frontrunner or so-called stalking horse bidder for the patent portfolio should the company file.

HTC calls ruling a ‘victory’ over Apple

HTC has claimed victory over Apple in a closely watched intellectual property case for the smartphone industry, despite a US court ruling that imposes a ban on the import of some of HTC’s handsets into the US. The Taiwanese company said the final ruling by the US International Trade Commission “declared an actual victory for HTC” because it found that HTC had only infringed on one patent out of 10 complaints made by Apple, and rejected two of the four claims on the patent that had been upheld in an earlier decision. The court also gave HTC until April 19 next year to comply with the ruling, reports the FT. The Apple patent that was infringed about related to data-detection technology and HTC will completely remove it from their handsets, Reuters reports.


Australian court blocks Samsung tablet

Apple has won an important legal battle in a Sydney court to block rival Samsung Electronics from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia ahead of the crucial Christmas shopping season, the FT reports. In a blow to Samsung, Justice Annabelle Bennett in the Federal Court on Thursday granted a temporary injunction sought by Apple, maker of the iPad, to delay the launch of its rival’s product in Australia. Apple claims that Samsung’s tablet, one of the iPad’s biggest rivals, infringes its technology and design patents. Apple also is seeking a sales ban on Samsung’s mobile devices in the US, which is one of Samsung’s biggest markets. A court hearing is slated for later on Thursday in California. Samsung and Apple are locked in about 20 legal disputes over patents in nine countries including the US, South Korea, Japan and the UK. Last month, a German court upheld a complaint by Apple that its South Korean rival copied the design of its iPad, and banned the sale of Samsung’s newest Galaxy Tab tablet computer in Europe’s largest market.

HTC makes new bid to block iPhone and iPad in US

HTC, the Taiwan-based company that is Asia’s second-biggest maker of smartphones, filed another salvo in the escalating patent wars around the devices.  Its patent-related complaint at the US International Trade Commission seeks to block imports of Apple products, Bloomberg reports. The complaint filed on Monday  in Washington claims Apple is infringing three patents related to wireless technology and seeks to block iPhone, iPad and Mac computer imports. It follows a case lodged last year at the ITC that made similar claims, a ruling on which is expected in September. HTC also sued Apple this week in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, over the three patents. Last month, a different trade judge found that HTC infringed two Apple patents. If that decision is upheld, it could lead to an import ban on certain HTC phones. Apple filed a separate complaint this month targeting HTC’s phones and new Flyer tablet computers.

The Samsung skirmish in the patent war

Speaking of a patent war in the smartphone industry…

Compared to the massive Google-Motorola deal, Samsung’s ongoing battle with Apple is more like a skirmish, but it probably shows just how disruptive Google’s strategy could be, if they can pull it off. Read more

The Google-Motorola patents gamble

Google’s $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility, its biggest ever, will give it access to more than 17,000 patents and 7,500 pending patents for defending its Android software, the FT reports. By bidding $40 per share for Motorola at a 63 per cent premium, Google might be buying three times as many patents as were sold in the recent Nortel auction, but it’s also paying three times as much, says Daring Fireball. Google’s bid may have been forced because of Microsoft interest in the Motorola patents, Gigaom adds. The company’s plunge into the hardware market could also leave Research in Motion a takeover target as players look to consolidate, the WSJ says.

Google snaps up Motorola Mobility

Google has outlined its largest and boldest acquisition yet with the agreement to pay $12.5bn in cash for Motorola Mobility, the US smartphone company, in a deal that escalates the search company’s rivalry with Apple and gives it control over more wireless patents, the FT reports. The acquisition potentially puts Google into competition with other smartphone makers which, like Motorola Mobility, use Google’s free Android operating system. It will also give Google a new and valuable channel into the living room through Motorola Mobility’s profitable set-top box business which makes receivers for cable TV operators.  The deal is expected to face regulatory scrutiny, and Google agreed to pay a $2.5bn break-up fee if it abandons the transaction, one person familiar with the transaction said. Some analysts believe Research in Motion will benefit, the WSJ says, because it will create confusion for the other Android licensees, which include Samsung and LG.

Icahn sparks Motorola surge with patent proposal

Motorola Mobility’s shares gained more than 12 per cent after Carl Icahn, Motorola’s largest shareholder, urged the US smartphone maker’s management to explore options for its extensive patent portfolio, reports the FT. Mr Icahn’s move comes shortly after the $4.5bn sale of a portfolio of more than 6,000 wireless patents held by Nortel Networks, the bankrupt Canadian telecom equipment group, to a consortium of technology companies including Apple, Microsoft and Research in Motion. That deal, worth more than five times the $900m Google had offered in a stalking horse bid, has drawn attention to the value of patents in the fast changing and increasingly litigious mobile phone industry and suggests that some companies with large patent portfolios could be substantially undervalued.

Chinese patent problems

Here’s a chart posted a couple of weeks ago by economist Mark Perry, based on data from different regions’ patent offices and collected by the World Intellectual Property Organization:

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Apple files fresh complaint against HTC

Apple has filed a new complaint against Taiwanese smartphone rival HTC with a US trade panel over unspecified portable electronic devices and software, Reuters reports. Apple already filed a separate action last year against HTC before the US International Trade Commission, where HTC then leveled its own patent infringement claims against Apple. The latest complaint by Apple was filed on July 8, according to a brief description on the ITC’s web site on Monday. A copy of the complaint was not available. Apple has launched patent lawsuits over its iPhones and iPads against different handset manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung.


Nokia, Apple settle patent litigation

Nokia and Apple agreed to settle all patent litigation between the companies in a deal that awards a one-off payment and royalties to the Finnish handset maker, Bloomberg reports. The details of the contract, under which Apple will pay Nokia an undisclosed sum and royalties for the term of the agreement, are confidential, Nokia said. The WSJ adds that Nokia’s most recent complaint to the US Trade Commission said the company had 46 patents in suit against Apple and in addition to two ITC complaints, Nokia had filed cases on the same patents in the US, UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

Microsoft loses patent appeal

The Supreme Court has upheld a $290m verdict against Microsoft, finding it had infringed a Canadian company’s patent, says Reuters. The case was a lightning rod for the issue of whether rich companies were being held hostage by opportunistic “patent trolls”, according to the FT. Microsoft had argued that the level of proof usually required to overturn a patent in the US was too high, but judges affirmed that ‘clear and convincing’ standards of evidence should continue to hold sway. The patent fight is not yet over as Microsoft has challenges pending at the patent office.

Microsoft to pay $290m after losing patent appeal

Microsoft has lost a high-profile appeal to the US Supreme Court that will force it to pay $290m in damages and could tilt the balance in other patent cases against deep-pocketed defendants, the FT reports. The country’s top court upheld lower court decisions that Microsoft’s widely used Word software had contravened a patent held by I4i, a small Canadian software company. The case had become a lightning rod for the debate over whether big companies were being held hostage by so-called ‘patent trolls’, accused of using a lax patent system to extract large payments. Microsoft said it would continue to advocate for changes to laws regarding patents.

The holy grail of ETFs

We’ve never really touched upon the issue of active ETFs at FT Alphaville, because quite honestly the subject makes our heads hurt.

But we’ve decided we’ve possibly dodged the issue for long enough. Read more

Google possible target of antitrust probe

Google’s dominance of the internet-search industry is being considered for a broad antitrust investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission, Bloomberg reports, citing two people familiar with the matter. The FTC is awaiting a decision by the Justice Department on whether it will challenge Google’s planned acquisition of ITA Software as a threat to competition in the travel-information search business, said the people. Separately, the FT says Google has sought to bolster its weak position in the smartphone industry’s patent wars, bidding $900m for a stack of patents put up for sale by Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian communications equipment maker. A criminal investigation has also been launched in the US into suspected privacy lapses in the applications that run on Apple and Google smartphones, the FT adds.

Google bids $900m for Nortel patents

Google has sought to boost its relatively weak position in the smartphone industry’s patent wars, bidding $900m for patents put up for sale by Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian communications equipment maker, reports the FT. The bid, announced on Monday, comes as the internet search company, along with handset makers and others that use its Android mobile operating system, face growing lawsuits over the software. Google explains more on its official company blog.