January 29, 2012

Mass Aggregators

"The patent world is quietly undergoing a change of seismic proportions. In a few short years, a handful of entities have amassed vast treasuries of patents on an unprecedented scale... Mass aggregators do not engage in the manufacturing of products, nor do they conduct much research." As capitalism acts as a virluent weed of greed, the patent world has become infested with investment in invention, with the sole purpose of extortion. A new paper by Tom Ewing & Robin Feldman: "The Giants Among Us," details the shadowy domains of patent aggregators.

Continue reading "Mass Aggregators"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:57 PM | Patents In Business

January 19, 2012

A Kodak Moment

By failing to keep up with the times, Eastman Kodak drove itself into the ground, declaring bankruptcy. By stark contrast, competitor FujiFilm has done quite well for itself, including making wonderful digital cameras. Kodak's death rattle turned into a whine: "Kodak Chief Financial Officer Antoinette McCorvey said Apple, RIM and HTC Corp. took advantage of Kodak's weakened financial condition to drag out litigation over alleged violations of the company's intellectual property." Take a picture of this - a decent patent portfolio is no salvation from clueless management, with which the world is brimming, in every sector of commerce and government. The exceptions prove the rule. Kodak was no exception. Those same companies that held Kodak off patent licensing at arm's length will be the ones ponying up to buy Kodak's patent portfolio on the cheap in a bankruptcy auction, to use to bludgeon competitors like a money pinata, just as Kodak tried to.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:16 PM | Patents In Business

January 1, 2012

Hostage

The Wall Street Journal reports that mobile phone patent cases before the ITC "hold the economy hostage," because the ITC's sole power is "to ban imports of foreign products that infringe on U.S. patents." The ITC was granted this power in the notorious (for its economical insensibility) 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, the passage of which rightly sent the stock market into a nose dive. More generally, in this age of rapid technological advancement, patents, regardless of technology, impose an unjustified tax on consumers and smaller companies, demolishing competition and snuffing start-up prospects. The ITC has a built-in bias against foreign-based corporations. The corrupt courts, including (especially) the CAFC & Supreme Court, find ways to let the largest corporations prevail (in all cases except where the corruption would be most egregiously apparent, in which case the toll to the infringing corporation is lowered). This costly crooked game needs to be abolished.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:19 PM | Patents In Business

November 14, 2011

Collision

The Wall Street Journal scores some points with "When Patent, Antitrust Worlds Collide." "Antitrust law frowns on monopolies. Patent law grants them to inventors." The courts have built in Janus-like bias, so as to be able to rule as they like, almost always in favor of plutocracy. "Intellectual-property rights do not confer a privilege to violate the antitrust laws," one court wrote in a 1999 opinion. "But it is also correct that the antitrust laws do not negate the patentee's right to exclude others from patent property." Getting to the bottom line - "The patent system is very seriously screwed up," says Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, an industry lobbying group. "It's being misused and gamed by a variety of players in a variety of ways." The focus of the article is on the handheld mobile device market. The upshot is that patents do nothing to foster innovation, but much to limit competition, and cost consumers, as well as innovative companies, while entrenching the powers that be.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:21 AM | Patents In Business

November 8, 2011

Whiney But Right

Cowed by antitrust proceedings from the 1990s, Microsoft was long afraid to assert its patent portfolio. But as the corporate bulb grows dim, lacking innovative products, stodgy Microsoft has awoken to patent extortion. This past summer, Barnes & Noble Inc. lobbied the Justice Department to open an antitrust probe of Microsoft over patent assertions, which are perfectly legal. While Google's Android OS has been running amok, B&N accused Microsoft of trying to kill off handheld devices, such as B&N's Nook e-reader, with a barrage of "frivolous" patent suits. "Microsoft's exorbitant licenses for its patents entrench the dominant players in the relevant markets because those players can afford to take a license, while small players cannot," B&N wrote to the Justice Department's antitrust chief. Numerous corporate giants in the computing & mobile device industry, including Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, and Google, are in patent brawls over the mobile market. While Microsoft's patent moves are nothing more than business-as-usual, B&N is on-point about patents hindering innovation, and being the last refuge for declining and dying corporate has-beens, whatever their size.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:33 PM | Patents In Business

October 10, 2011

Striving But Jiving

The book "Great Patents" by David Orange is far from great, and it was not written by Orange, who only penned the introduction, and otherwise claims editorship. The subtitle to this slender volume is "advanced strategies for innovative growth companies," but there's nothing in the book that is advanced, or particularly strategic, other than the implicit message of "get a lawyer," as the book breezes through topics that are either mind-numbing or an academic point of view that has only passing semblance to reality. The book wanders between blurb dross and boring detail, in disconnected chapters on diverse subject matter. The highest compliment that may be paid to this hodgepodge is that the Times Roman font used is at a point size that makes the text easy to read. At $75 in paperback, $90 hardcover, this book is nothing less than a shameless attempt at theft.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:26 PM | Patents In Business

August 19, 2011

The Scoop

The Wall Street Journal has an investment tip: "for bargain stocks, check the patent office... Big patent portfolios are increasingly being used as financial weapons... Patent-stuffed companies might be richer than they look." The problem, according to WSJ and an Ocean Tomo poobah: "valuing just one patent can take weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars." That's because Ocean Tomo is not very adept at the sport of kings.

Continue reading "The Scoop"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:01 PM | Patents In Business

August 15, 2011

Arming

As a relative newcomer, Google has been light in its quiver of patent arrows. Its bid to buy the 6,000-strong Nortel patent horde was crushed by a consortium. Google has decided to arm itself by acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, the rump leftover of a once-promising technology company. The phone business itself means much less to Google than the 17,000 patents that would pad its own thin portfolio, as counterpunch protection for its own Android mobile operating system, being assailed for patent infringement by competitors.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:16 PM | Patents In Business

July 1, 2011

The Sport of Kings

An unlabeled consortium including Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Research in Motion, Ericsson, and EMC bought the treasure trove of Nortel patents at auction yesterday for $4.5 billion. Google opened with a $900 million bid. Nortel filed for bankruptcy in 2009. It had a patent portfolio of about 6,000 patents and applications. All the other Nortel assets combined sold for $3 billion. Google squeezed ironic sour grapes from the auction: "This outcome is disappointing for anyone who believes that open innovation benefits users and promotes creativity and competition." However true the observation, no corporation, Google or otherwise, practices "open innovation." Not to mention that beliefs have no appraisal value.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:34 AM | Patents In Business

June 5, 2011

Scrutiny

In an exercise of antitrust navel-gazing, the Justice Department is probing the sale of bankrupt Nortel's 6,000+ patent trove. Google made an eye-watering $900 million opening bid. Apple might want to bite, and Blackberry might phone a bid in. The ostensible concern is that the successful bidder may sue unsuccessful bidders, and every company that crawls into the commercial space of wireless anything, for patent infringement. Say it ain't so.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:38 PM | Patents In Business

May 3, 2011

Changing the Channel

Cornered for patent infringement, Echostar dropped dime. Big-time dime: $500 million. TiVo settled its suit against EchoStar/Dish Network for a $300 million gratuity now, with another $200 million payable on an installment plan. EchoStar sighed that it was "pleased to put this litigation behind us." TiVo CEO Tom Rogers was ingracious and narcissistic: "The compensation from this settlement, including the resulting reduction in legal expenditures, puts TiVo in an enviable financial and strategic position." But what do you expect from someone in the boob-tube business.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:33 PM | Patents In Business

April 4, 2011

Unprecedented Opportunity

While Nortel Networks ran its business into the ground, it amassed, and litigated, a formidable, if cracked, patent portfolio - around 6,000 U.S. patents and apps, covering networking, wireless, and Internet technologies. (Patent Hawk invalidated several patents Nortel asserted in years past, hence the "cracked" comment.) But corporations are always about numbers, not quality, so Google has put up a big number to buy the Nortel patent portfolio: $900 million. The portfolio is being auctioned off as part of Nortel's bankruptcy proceedings. Other companies will bid, but Google's opening is eye watering. Google, or some billion-dollar bidder, will use Nortel's portfolio for leverage in patent suits from competitors, and licensing muscle.

Continue reading "Unprecedented Opportunity"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:46 PM | Patents In Business

March 21, 2011

Sweeping

Google: "Sweeping software patent claims... threaten innovation." Sounds trollish. Very trollish. But Google was speaking of Microsoft, in reference to its suit against Barnes & Noble over its Nook e-book, which uses the Google Android OS. Corporate chimps will pant-hoot at the damndest things.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:57 PM | Patents In Business

March 7, 2011

Drugged

The drug industry has long counted on American public trends to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars each year. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are the diseases of junk food and meat eaters who lack the discipline to lead a healthy existence. Americans splash out richly on state-of-the-art medications to treat their life-endangering lifestyles. The patented blockbuster drugs that treat the symptoms of ignorance are going off-patent, and it's tipping a tizzy, according to the New York Times.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:36 AM | Patents In Business

February 3, 2011

Head In

The patent system hypothetically performs a public notice function, publishing inventions. For drugs, the FDA consolidates patent information into the Orange Book. Meanwhile, computer technology companies spend billions of dollars a year in their own R&D, completely ignoring what's already been done. As a matter of corporate policy, Microsoft and Intel are exemplary - never bothering to look at existing innovation before committing hundreds of millions in research to reinvent. The patent system doesn't work for corporations because corporations don't work the patent system.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:40 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (11)

January 11, 2011

Outhouse

David Leonhart at the New York Times can't tell a copycat from a thieving rat, calling software piracy "intellectual property theft." "For the United States, the No. 1 problem with China's economy is probably intellectual property theft. Technology companies, for example, continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for programs they have never bought, at least not legally." The U.S. fourth estate has become an outhouse. Not to mention so-called "technology companies" that are nothing more than whiny witnesses to shoplifting. Are the companies afraid that alienating the powers-that-be in the middle kingdom would bring a badass backlash? There's the story that Mr. Leonhart missed.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:29 PM | Patents In Business

December 11, 2010

Quiet Broken

For a decade, Intellectual Ventures has been amassing a fortune in patents, both by purchase and by invention. IV has been quietly licensing. The silence was broken Wednesday, when nine security-software companies who refused quiet negotiations were slapped out loud with a lawsuit.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:32 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (21)

November 1, 2010

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Patent Hawk's bread-and-butter business is invalidating patents. The smart-phone patent slugfest among Microsoft, Motorola, Apple, Nokia, Google, HTC, Kodak, RIM and others puts the party hat on Patent Hawk. It also puts the dunce cap on the short-sighted heads of those companies who think that patent wars are good for business. Somebody is bound to get hurt. While patent litigators win fat fees, companies have risked much more than market share - the prospect of billion dollar payouts, and patent war without end, especially for the desperate, is quite real. The airplane patent wars at the beginning of the 20th century, with the Wright brothers in the thick of it, were grounded only by the first world war.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:28 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

September 5, 2010

Troll?

Paul Allen made his bundle off Microsoft as a co-founder. He then spent decades frittering money on creating tech companies that yielded little but patents. That is no small success. As any entrepreneur (or venture capitalist) can tell you, commercialization of new technology is a gauntlet which few survive to tell the tale of payoff. Now Mr. Allen has decided to assert a few of those patents his investments earned. The Economist characterized the assertion: "It targets everyone who is anyone in Silicon Valley, including Google, Apple, eBay, Yahoo! and Facebook. (But not Microsoft.)" So far, no news. What is news is the poison attitude in the mainstream press, most notably The Economist and The Wall Street Journal, mouthpieces of corporate capitalism, but not free enterprise.

Continue reading "Troll?"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:53 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

May 10, 2010

Prosecutor Grift

We see it all the time. Inventors who paid tens of thousands of dollars to respectable law firms who took their money and either got them worthless patents, or strung them out with useless applications that even the patent office wouldn't grant. They come to Platinum Patents with a prosecution mess, or tantalized by infringement of their invalid patent, knock on Patent Hawk's door looking for a hookup to contingency. Too late for us to prevent grief and loss. Prosecutors who don't work the beat on the enforcement side of the street know but a fraction of what they need to know. That's most prosecutors. They jostle with the crowd who don't even bother performing adequate prior art searches, and draft claims that defy comprehension. Dime-store prosecutors on the grift are a dime a dozen. It still saddens me to witness every time.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:16 PM | Prosecution | Comments (12)

May 5, 2010

Stapled

Don't mess with Staples. "Staples has won three suits in recent months that, taken as a whole, demonstrate its resolve to aggressively defend against patent infringement claims it believes are without merit. The suits involved three popular products sold under the Staples brand name. In each case, rather than settle the litigation, Staples instead challenged claims that these products infringed patents and won."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:32 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

April 6, 2010

Open Wallet

Florian Mueller reports that IBM "breaks the taboo and betrays its promise" to the open-source software community. Allegedly, IBM threatened to sue TurboHercules, an open-source  mainframe emulator company, for patent infringement. Naive to a fault, TurboHercules founder Roger Bowler opined: "I can state with confidence that our emulator is in no way an enemy of IBM's." Apparently, Roger fails to reckon with the market reality that IBM values its sales in this sector. IBM reportedly makes around $25 billion annually on mainframe software sales.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:22 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

January 14, 2010

Bull Run

For the 17th year running, IBM has gotten the most U.S. patents. "Their patent department is a profit center," observed Bruce Lehman, former PTO director, and now head agent provocateur at the International Intellectual Property Institute. IBM made something in the neighborhood of $1.1 billion from patent licensing in 2009. But patent maven Ocean Tomo holds that Microsoft's patent portfolio is three-fold more valuable than IBM's. "The ultimate value is not some rating," toots Manny Schecter, IBM's chief patent counsel. "It's the leverage we are able to get from the patent [licensing] negotiations." Right there is the rub about Microsoft and patents: they don't know how to monetize patents, nor even valuate them.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:15 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 23, 2009

#1

Quantity over quality is expressed in the quintessential American hanker of wanting to know who's number 1, which is the surmised measure of who is best. If there ever was a justifiable bifurcation between quantity and quality, it lies with patents. Year after year, IBM gets the most U.S. patents. What does that really mean?

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:52 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (17)

November 14, 2009

All Red Hat and No Cattle

The open source software crowd have had their knickers in a twist for some time about patented processes via software, being fervently against them, and having more generally quaint notions about intellectual property, including copyright. Patrick Anderson provides an incisive analysis of this week's tempest in a teapot in his blog entry: "Free" Sells, But Who's Buying?

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:22 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (5)

November 12, 2009

Rotten at the Core

The nature of human organizations is for their collective morality to sink to the lowest common denominator. Which is low, to the level of greed unbridled. After all, corruption is human nature. Intel is trying to get the antitrust monkey off its back by paying off rival AMD $1.25 billion. This is the same Intel that has furiously and ferociously lobbied for patent deform legislation that will get inventors' patent monkey off its back, by diluting patent protection in this country.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:35 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 10, 2009

Sharpened

Samsung has been stung by Sharp at the ITC over flat-panel LCD display patents. One of the Sharp patents in the case went to LCD brightness and refresh rate, and another to minimizing flickering. Samsung has brushed aside speculation about the ruling's impact, stating that it won't affect the company's ability meet market demand. The Financial Times opined: "unable to compete on price, rivals are trying to compete on patents."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:43 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

July 11, 2009

Almost Enough

This weblog started to promote my patent services practice. Anyone who has read my blogging for any period knows that many of my entries are hell and gone from that. The left turn was conscious and, given my character, inevitable. Digging into the patent scene was no different than my reaction to the practices of people exercising presumed power in any form, given the endless capacity for exploitation and rationalization of it. Even so, for someone so outspoken, the blog has been for me as much an exercise in biting my tongue.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:13 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (7)

July 9, 2009

Uppity

Capitalism is premised upon exploitation. Without that, no profit, and shareholders would be shit holders. In that spirit, slavery has been the law of the land for centuries. Not to mention the tax code. Even today, thanks to a little coercion called an employment contract, the inventions of workers belong to their paymasters. IPAdvocate.org is downright uppity about that, seeking equitable distribution of patent profits gleaned by universities for the employed researchers from whence creative inventions sprang.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:07 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

July 2, 2009

Cut to Commercial

In years past, big-screen TV buyers gravitated to plasma displays, as LCDs were prohibitively expense for 50+ inch screens. But as LCD screen technology has advanced, plasma sales have receded. In 2008, four million plasma screens were sold in North America, while 30 million LCD TVs found homes. That gap is widening. And so the price of plasma displays is dropping. With market realities in mind, Japan's Hitachi and Korea's LG Electronics have settled their plasma patent dispute with a cross-license.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:24 AM | Patents In Business

July 1, 2009

Fully Fueled

The hyperactive Obama administration wants efficient cars, hoping to implement fleet fuel economy imperatives that politically ran out of gas forty years ago. The hope for fuel-efficiency lies with hybrids, which cruise on electric power and hit the gas when a driver hits the accelerator. One company has the real impetus: Toyota, which has around 2,100 patents for hybrid vehicles. Number two, Honda, has about half as many hybrid patents in its portfolio. Nissan, relatively hybrid patentless, is puttering with electric cars.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:43 PM | Patents In Business

June 21, 2009

Innovation Limited

In post-war Japan, W. Edwards Deming taught the natives quality control methods, with which the Japanese dazzled the industrialized world. Deming said, "expect what you inspect." That's why companies don't innovate: the same patterns of communication and problem-solving in the same narrow niches leading down the same old roads, seldom blazing new trails. And the not-invented-here syndrome often runs strong. But not always.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:47 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

June 16, 2009

Off the Block

Two-bit patent auctioneer Ocean Tomo has been snapped up by British ICAP, the world's largest interdealer broker, for $5 million cash and a hypothetical $5 million in shares. More precisely: "Application will be made for the listing of 692,226 ordinary shares of 10 pence each which have been conditionally allotted as satisfaction for the stock consideration." Nine Ocean Tomo employees went along for the ride. After a flashy start, Ocean Tomo had a hard go of it, the recession sobering those who in flusher times might have splashed out for beachfront abstract property.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:40 PM | Patents In Business

June 11, 2009

Top Dogs

The most valuable patents are naturally the ones covering the most profitable technologies. It would be a facile conclusion that the most valuable patents might also be the most litigated. Take patented drugs as an example. Because only drug companies provoke litigation over drug patents, the number of litigations for such are low. Yet blockbuster patented drugs are worth hundreds of billions in sales, above and beyond what generics later prove to be. So, while the stakes over drug patents are quite high, the number of litigations for any single drug patent is quite low. But take a look at the roster of litigations filed over time, and see that a plurality involve drugs or biotechnology. So, with drugs, lots of litigations, owing to the value of patents generally, but no particular patent family is multiplicatively litigated.

Continue reading "Top Dogs"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:19 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (9)

June 9, 2009

Woe

"During the past decade, innovation has stumbled. And that may help explain America's economic woes." So opines faux economist at Business Weak, Michael Mandel. Lacking a "government-constructed "innovation index" that would allow us to conclude unambiguously that we've been experiencing an innovation shortfall," Mandel points to the epitome of irrational exuberance, the stock market. "If an innovation boom were truly happening, it would likely push up stock prices for companies in such leading-edge sectors as pharmaceuticals and information technology." Facile to a fault, Mandel confuses innovation with the house of cards built upon an unsustainable premise: that business cycles have been banished, and growth is forever.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:23 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

May 29, 2009

Scam Artists

Class act Alysha Schertz (pictured) at the BizTimes Milwaukee brings the locals up to snuff on the patented skanky in "Patent trolls try to rip off high tech firms." "Scam artist patent trolls can create major headaches for some companies."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:13 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (5)

May 27, 2009

Friends Again

SanDisk and Samsung have renewed their patent cross license for another seven years. Plus, Samsung will provide SanDisk with a guaranteed slice of its flash memory output. Punters applauded SanDisk in particular, with shares flashing 15%.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:36 AM | Patents In Business

May 23, 2009

Bracing

A patent license agreement is only as tight as its drafting. CoreBrace owns 7,188,452, claiming a brace used in making earthquake-resistant steel-framed buildings. Star Seismic took a non-exclusive license to '452 from the inventor, granting Star the right to "make, use, and sell" licensed products. No mention was made of a right to have a licensed product made by a third party. Star having a third party manufacture its licensed products sparked a dispute.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:25 PM | Patents In Business

May 21, 2009

Chipper

Overturning an administrative law judge's mistake, the ITC found Tessera patents infringed by six rivals: ATI Technologies, Freescale Semiconductor, Motorola, Qualcomm and Spansion (STMicroelectronics NV). Tessera prompted the action in 2007. The ITC issued a limited exclusion order, prohibiting the importation of semiconductor chips that infringe several Tessera patents, and further issued cease-and-desist orders to Motorola, Qualcomm, Freescale and Spansion. Motorola mused that it may exercise an option agreement with Tessera to take a patent license. Tessera shares soared 17.7% as punters exercised a little irrational exuberance.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:04 PM | Patents In Business

May 17, 2009

Outlier

The cabal misnamed as the Coalition for Patent Fairness advocates making patent enforcement more tortuous and expensive than it already is, as well as circumscribing patent holders' basic rights, such as transfer of ownership. IT shakers Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Micron and Cisco belong, and all share the distinction of being top ten patent gatherers in 2008. IBM, the top patent scooper, is the only one among IT corporate brethren who is not a member of the Coalition, and the only one which has raked in serious lucre for years through patent licensing. Microsoft, to its credit, has recently acquired the knack of cross-licensing.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:52 AM | The Patent System | Comments (1)

May 12, 2009

Entitled?

Genetic manipulation is an expensive research endeavor because it is fraught with unpredictability. That makes it patentable. One ultimate goal of genetic research is treating diseases. Especially when an invention offers the prospect of a cure, the affected diseased, most desirous of the fruits, want the benefits without paying for the toils of the innovation behind it. Case in point: a lawsuit, spearheaded by a woman with breast cancer, supported by the ACLU, against genetic research pioneer Myriad Genetics, which has patents on genes related to breast and ovarian cancers, and against the USPTO, for allowing such patents in the first place.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:25 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

May 11, 2009

Quality

IBM's David Kappos, touted as a possible USPTO Director, testified in March before the Senate Judiciary Committee: "We believe the quality of patents issued in the U.S. has diminished, and that the substantial improvements needed to address this quality crisis are not possible without Congressional action." IBM appears to be doing its part in reducing patent quality. Its 2009/0119,148 application for "enhancing productivity" claims "1. A method including: defining, by a user, a time template including a plurality of predefined time intervals for scheduling meetings; and applying the time template across a collaborative system." In a nutshell: shorter hours to facilitate shorter meetings.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:58 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

May 10, 2009

Bully

The rabid FTC aside and amok, the U.S. Justice Department has had little stomach to enforce antitrust violations. The Americans let Microsoft off the antitrust hook with a smirk, while the Europeans fined them $1.16 billion. Now Intel, its corporate culture an apparent breeding ground for bully bullshitters, as evidenced by recent top brass opinions regarding "patent fairness," face their own European antitrust swat. The European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union, will announce Wednesday its fine for Intel's antitrust shenanigans. One thing these little men don't do well is learn social graces.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:27 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

May 7, 2009

Monster

In a debate on patent reform at the Commonwealth Club of California yesterday, Intel's Chief Patent Counsel David Simon told the audience that jury verdicts can't be overturned unless the decision was "monstrous." It takes one to know one.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:58 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (14)

Kindled

Amazon's new Kindle DX, with bigger screen, comes patented: D591,741. With exceptions, design patents for electronic devices are relatively weak tea compared to the utility variety, and the Kindle is notably stodgy, so it's mostly a vanity patent. Amazon appears not to have any ebook utility patents. What they do have is the best ebook reader on the market, in a market where momentum counts.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:41 PM | Patents In Business

May 4, 2009

Feeling Taxed

The same companies that crusade to evade paying any "patent tax" to inventors are now crusading to evade corporate income tax. On Monday, President Obama outlined proposals for cracking down on overseas tax havens, and eliminating tax breaks for U.S. corporations that do business overseas. Computer tech companies soiled their diapers in protest. "This is a $60 billion hit on American employers that their foreign competitors won't feel," wailed the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, representing such esteemed companies as HP, Cisco, and Oracle. Duh.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:14 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (9)

May 3, 2009

All Hat, No Cattle

200 years ago this week, Ms. Mary Dixon Kies became the first American woman granted a patent. Ms. Kies invented a way to weave silk with straw. She aspired to apply her invention in the booming hat industry. But her patent never made her any money.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:50 PM | Patents In Business

Shameless

Former Intel honcho Andy Grove, now 72, but still sucking corporate teat, had a very public senior moment over patents: "Patents themselves have become products. They're instruments of investment traded on a separate market, often by speculators motivated by the highest financial return on their investment." "You should not grant a monopoly to people who don't produce."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:20 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (13)

April 30, 2009

On the Make

Apple is trend setting again: following the model of Qualcomm, and more recently, AMD, into design house and patent provocateur, leaving the nasty risk of manufacturing to cost-conscious Asians. Apple has been hiring semiconductor engineers for many moons, building a cadre for designing next-generation chips. No fabrication intended. The only hard-shell cover for innovation is patent protection.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:59 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (5)

April 27, 2009

Seeking Reversal

"A patent by its very nature is anticompetitive." So the CAFC remarked last October in allowing reverse payment by Bayer to generic drug makers, so that Bayer could keep its patented monopoly over antibacterial Cipro® for a bit longer. Stanford law professor Mark Lemley has penned a petition to the Supreme Court, to lay the burden of overturning reverse payments before the august body, this nation's numero uno woolly bully. Lemley thinks the CAFC ruling "contains fundamental errors of economic reasoning and would shield many anti-competitive agreements from the reach of antitrust law, causing great harm to competition."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:36 PM | Patents In Business

Squall Calmed

Skipping church to tithe in another way, on Sunday, Qualcomm agreed to pay Broadcom $891 million to settle their patent dispute. $200 million passes hands next quarter. Its kitty bulging, the Wall Street Journal thinks Broadcom "primed to start executing on its wireless strategy."

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:37 PM | Patents In Business

April 23, 2009

Sagging

For the first time, the USPTO "issued more patents to foreigners than to Americans," reports Business Week. "[T]he slippage comes amid recent reports that show the U.S. losing its edge when it comes to innovation." South Korea, China, and Japan are becoming more productive inventors. "All told, American inventors received 92,000 patents in 2008, down 1.8% from the year before and a rise of just 1.4% over the past decade. Meantime, patients issued to foreigners rose 4.5%, to 93,244, in 2008 and 28.6% since 1998."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:01 PM | International | Comments (7)

April 22, 2009

Buy

According to a recent poll of  small and mid-sized computer technology companies, 64% were interested in buying patents this year, up from a trough of 32% last year. Of those responding with interest in acquisition, 39% reported as planning to buy, with 25% considering the possibility. The first hurdle is quality assessment and valuation.

Continue reading "Buy"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:06 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (8)

Advanced

Qualcomm announced that it is in "advanced" talks to settle its long-running patent war with Broadcom. Both sides have taken hits and scored wins, but Broadcom has chalked up a better score to date. Qualcomm postponed it Q2 earnings announcement until next Monday. Sounds like it needs some good news to cover some bad news.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:33 PM | Patents In Business

April 16, 2009

WaMu

Washington Mutual (WaMu) is a poster child of the mortgage-lending irrational exuberance that led to the current economic depression. A run on the bank last September led to its wrenching government-mandated rescue by JP Morgan Chase. WaMu was the biggest bank failure in U.S. history, and was sold in a hastily arranged wamu-bam-thank-you-man auction. WaMu is now suing the FDIC, for selling it off for only $1.9 billion, claiming it had no such right. Meanwhile, JP Morgan has filed its own suit, seeking title to disputed WaMu assets, including its tiny portfolio of eight patents granted and pending, as well as over 300 domestic and international trademarks, and 1,300 Web domain names. The Delaware district court judge handling WaMu's bankruptcy case has given WaMu permission to hire a consulting firm to valuate the bank's IP assets.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:11 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

April 12, 2009

The Garden of Invention

The Garden of Invention by Jane S. Smith is a captivating biography of Luther Burbank, esteemed botanist. But more than a biography, as it chronicles the science and business of plants during Burbank's lifetime. Admittedly, the book's appeal relies upon one's interest in the topic. For me, the most fascinating chapter was the last, that plants were not patentable in Burbank's time. That last chapter, "The Garden as Intellectual Property," narrates the bramble that led to the patenting of plants, beginning with the Plant Patent Act of 1930. Well informed, expertly written and illustrated, for one looking to flower with knowledge about horticulture, The Garden of Invention is a lovely bloom.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:20 PM | Patents In Business

April 11, 2009

Burning the Ships

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft VP for IP policy and strategy, writes a first-person account of Microsoft coming to Jesus about patents in the self-serving book Burning the Ships. It's a corporate mea culpa sleight of hand, a pseudo-folksy self-absorbed Business Week as People magazine for business people book. Americans love to read fiction posing as fact about naughty boys coming clean and making good. What Phelps effects is classic propaganda, by admitting past mistakes and claiming redemption, though neither accurately so, and never explaining the meaning of the transformation when Microsoft retains its same old patterns of behavior. In other words, what Phelps never does is cut the crap.

Continue reading "Burning the Ships"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:36 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

April 7, 2009

From R&D to Patentee

While big IT whines to Congress about patents being unfair to them, in the teeth of a deep recession they are not remiss to keep fueling the fire of genius. From the Wall Street Journal:

Wary of emerging from the recession with obsolete products, big U.S. companies spent nearly as much on research and development in the dismal last quarter of 2008 as they did a year earlier, even as their revenue fell 7.7%, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:18 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

March 31, 2009

Stifling

Start-up Platform Solutions "developed software that turned standard servers into systems that mimicked I.B.M.'s expensive mainframes." Feeling its profits threatened, IBM sued Platform for patent infringement. Squeezed, and investors spooked, Platform was so weakened that IBM snapped up Platform for $150 million, and then killed its product. That's how the big boys play. Read the full story in the New York Times.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:06 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (7)

March 30, 2009

Hammered

Ocean Tomo patent auctioneer Charlie Ross on its recent event in San Francisco, where only six patent lots sold of 80 offered, with just eight others getting any bids: "I haven't talked to myself so much in years."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:38 PM | Patents In Business

Quickly Drummed

A month ago, Microsoft sued TomTom over GPS navigation patents, and file management, eight patents in all. Linux-based TomTom countersued with four of its own. Already they've settled, with TomTom paying an undisclosed sum to Microsoft for a five-year cross-license.

Continue reading "Quickly Drummed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:09 PM | Patents In Business

March 29, 2009

The Invisible Edge

"Innovation without protection is philanthropy." - Mark Blaxill and Ralph Eckardt in The Invisible Edge. What a great book. Calling it "well written" is an understatement. Story after story that make the point, as well as entertaining to boot. Anyone with an interest in the business of patents, or the importance of patents, must possess this book. Crucial reading.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:43 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (65)

March 23, 2009

Fitless

The antitrust raver FTC has decided not to challenge a reverse-payment agreement between UCB, owner of 4,943,639, and generic drug makers Mylan, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, and Cobalt Pharmaceuticals. '639 claims an anti-epileptic drug that UCB markets as Keppra.

Continue reading "Fitless"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:21 PM | Patents In Business

March 16, 2009

Danger!

Intel warned AMD today that attempting to transfer their patent cross-licensing agreement to AMD's manufacturing spin-off, GlobalFoundries, was a violation. Intel considers GlobalFoundries a separate company. AMD owns a 34.2% share of GlobalFoundries, with 50% voting rights. This dispute, heading now for mediation, follows unsuccessful negotiation between the two, and should be viewed against the backdrop that AMD sparked multiple antitrust investigations of Intel, which are still ongoing.

Continue reading "Danger!"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:20 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

Distortion

"Patents are not ordinary assets; they are options to litigate. While patent lawyers and other intermediaries benefit directly from the scope and scale of IT patents, that volume represents potential liability for companies that market useful products. Most patents belong to others, and the sheer volume obscures the patent landscape, limits the ability to evaluate patents and inevitably leads to inadvertent infringement." - lobbyist Ed Black of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, in the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:19 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (8)

February 23, 2009

Rambus Relieved

The anti-patent FTC lost its bid to kick Rambus around some more with its antitrust boots. The Supreme Court demurred from taking the case. Without comment.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:09 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

February 20, 2009

Cartoon Comprehension

Management consulting firms are inherently oxymoronic, because any manager that needs consulting from an outside firm is a moron. As in, you run a business, but don't know how to run your business, so you hire consultants?

What does this have to do with patents? Well, I agreed to participate in a survey about the patent business, being conducted by a... you guessed it.

Continue reading "Cartoon Comprehension"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:25 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

February 9, 2009

Pimped Out

Article One Partners announced today its first "winning" patent study for prior art deemed worthy of invalidating patent 6,784,873, to the benefit of accused infringer Garmin. The prize: $50,000 split two between two "advisors". The art: a 1991 WIPO Publication, and a 1998 out-of-print Windows CE textbook. In addition to obvious beneficiary Garmin, Article One considers this "critical information related to IP disputes involving brands with the global resources of Apple and Samsung". Which raises the question, how much profit did this $50,000 "reward" buy them?

Posted by Mr. Platinum at 11:50 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

February 4, 2009

Pumped for Action

The Nanny State of America, 21st century style, buys dross loans as a bailout for greedy but now bankrupt bankers, ostensibly to stimulate the economy, rather than cutting taxes, which really stimulates the economy. Now it wants to force companies to make drugs, when they'd rather be paid off not to. Which suspiciously sounds like farm subsidies, paying farmers not to plant crops, that the government has indulged in for decades.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:38 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

February 2, 2009

Foliation

Former patent office Commissioner Jon W. Dudas has found a home with Foley & Lardner. In apparently unrelated matters, former clients of Foley have filed suit against the firm. The complaint is that the firm failed to adequate represent their interests in a patent litigation, and overcharged them for the privilege. This new suit follows on another pending conflict-of-interest assertion, by Vaxiion Therapeutics, that charges Foley prosecuted its patents while also assisting its competitor, EnGeneIC.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:11 PM | Patents In Business

January 24, 2009

Fuddy Daddy

Advanced Micro Devices, playing David to Intel's Goliath, is struggling to stay afloat. AMD is preparing to spin off its manufacturing operations into a separate company, tentatively called the Foundry Company. AMD will then focus purely on designing processor chips. This past week, Intel sent a letter to AMD, requesting a meeting to air out whether AMD's plan would violate patent cross-licensing agreements between the two. One agreement was signed in 1976, the other in 2001.

Continue reading "Fuddy Daddy"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:14 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

January 21, 2009

Up and Coming

There is a continuing shift in U.S. patent grants towards Asian companies. While IBM stayed on top in 2008, at 4186 grants, #2 was Samsung (Korea, 3515), and #3 Canon (Japan, 2114). Of the top twenty patentees in 2008, 13 were foreign-based companies, all but one Asian. Behind the numbers lie motivations.

Continue reading "Up and Coming"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:20 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

January 17, 2009

Patent Strategies

Year after year, IBM plows ahead filing, and getting, more U.S. patents than anyone: 4,186 gotten last year, the 16th consecutive year leading the patent pack. Samsung came up to number two in 2008, with 3,515. HP has taken a different tack the last few years, and fallen behind in the numbers.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:58 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

January 15, 2009

Bled

Canadian Nortel Networks, bled dry by bad management, has thrown in the towel. One analyst characterized Nortel as having the trifecta for becoming corporate toast:  "lack of innovation, a lack of understanding their customers and a lack of marketing." Nortel, a heavy patent hitter, has a patent portfolio worth snatching up. This will be just the first of big patent fire-sales as the world slips into the Second Not-So-Great Depression.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:43 PM | Patents In Business

January 5, 2009

Patent Power

IEEE has declared Microsoft numero uno in 2007, by a wide margin, for "adjusted pipeline power" software patenting. So-called pipeline power is a measure of patent count, technology range, and influence (patent citation by others).

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:30 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

Cutting Farts

Whining has become the American way. U.S. car makers, uncompetitive for over 30 years, fly to Washington in private jets to beg for spare change - just enough to fill their golden parachutes before bankruptcy. High-tech computer companies spend hundreds of millions to whine at Congress because of highfalutin inventors wanting to enforce the patent laws. Now a digital TV lobby has sprouted, CUTFATT, to whine about loafing consumers paying a patent tax.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:35 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

January 3, 2009

Shiver

"Abstract software code is an idea without physical embodiment." So opined the Supreme Court in Microsoft v. AT&T, 2007. The high courts in recent years have done what they could to denigrate software as unpatentable, most recently in a stunningly incoherent ruling at the CAFC In re Bilski. This is the result of both scientific and economic ignorance by the courts, and political brainwash by computer software corporations in this country, including, incredibly, Microsoft and Apple. As emergent Asian nations race to overtake the U.S. in every technological arena, the heavy patent action here is cutting off our leading-edge nose to spite our face.

Continue reading "Shiver"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:58 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (7)

December 26, 2008

Mundane

Indubitably unbiased, InformationWeek's Microsoft blogger, Dave Methvin, laments small fry with software patents. "It seems like every few months, some obscure company is awarded a patent for some relatively mundane idea, then turns around and sues the companies that have been using it... It's a shame that companies can exploit the patent system to prevent advances in software."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:01 PM | Litigation | Comments (3)

December 18, 2008

Chucked

In June, Nintendo sued Nyko for its award-winning Nunchuk video game controller, Nintendo calling Nyko's version a copycat of its patented design. Wednesday they settled, in an agreement undisclosed, other than Nyko can sell a redesigned version.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:07 AM | Patents In Business

December 17, 2008

Nearly Done Deal

Reflecting Alcatel-Lucent circling the wagons, they settled with Microsoft on six patent litigations dating back to 2002, before Lucent was acquired by Alcatel. One still-outstanding tab is a $ half-billion trial verdict overhang against Microsoft on touch-screen technology. Expect that to be wrestled to the ground soon in another settlement coquettishly termed "mutually beneficial."

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:53 AM | Patents In Business

December 14, 2008

Falling

Nortel and Alcatel are exemplary telecom and network companies falling fast in the wake of the world recession. Nortel is even facing demise. Once fierce in their patent bite, they are now looking mostly just long in the tooth.

Continue reading "Falling"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:22 AM | Patents In Business

November 24, 2008

Brass in Pocket

RPX is a patent troll basher that is putting it's money where it's mouth is. RPX, a self-titled "defensive patent aggregator," is buying patents to keep them from being asserted against its pals. RPX's initial pals are IBM and Cisco.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:50 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 18, 2008

Gamy

In their initial press release, Article One Partners declared "the current U.S. Patent System is outdated, archaic, and stifling to innovation." Their solution? Game the system.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:24 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (6)

November 5, 2008

Embarrassing

Blogger Rick Frenkel, former Cisco IP honcho, ran a hot little number called Patent Troll Tracker. Anonymously. The bling was pissing on inventors using shell companies in asserting their patents, at least one of whom got pissed, namely Eric M. Albritton, attorney for those being peed upon, in what Rick richly called the "Banana Republic of East Texas." When Frenkel, like some hapless gay Marine, was outed, thin-skinned Albritton sued Cisco for "shame, embarrassment, humiliation, mental pain and anguish," along with a "seriously injured business reputation." Cisco blew back with a comeback that Albritton should have seen coming.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:52 PM | Patents In Business

October 15, 2008

Cycling

Patents trend a bit counter-cyclical to the business cycle. While patent holders file suits good times or bad, companies focus on alternative revenue streams as product sales slow. Companies feeling economic pinch scrounge for profitable prospects, and out pop patent suits.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:53 AM | Patents In Business

October 8, 2008

Fueled

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) competes in a CPU duopoly against Intel, holding a 20% market share short-straw to Intel's 80%. The struggle has been fierce, and now moves into a new phase. Yesterday, AMD announced a strategy, financially fueled by Abu Dhabi, that has Intel fuming over patents.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:20 PM | Patents In Business

October 7, 2008

Phoning in Junk

Pitiable pukes who poot about patent trolls are merely mouthing mega-corporate mush. Notwithstanding that patents are a tradable commodity, with any owner having the same right of enforcement as the original inventor, consider the flip side - corporations strong-arming their brethren with nothing but trash talk.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:07 AM | Patents In Business

October 6, 2008

Deep Dish

Patent infringers often seem patent illiterate, unable to read the writing on the wall - led by stubborn CEOs, unwilling to take a license, fighting until the last dog bone is buried.

It's a litigation crapshoot, old hands say. A gross overstatement, because the sport of kings is rigged.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:51 PM | Patents In Business

October 3, 2008

Flash of Genius

The movie Flash of Genius, about intermittent windshield wiper inventor Bob Kearns, is sketchy, edgy, and uncomfortable. Bob becomes obsessed with righteousness over his invention, e.g. 4,339,698, stolen by Ford Motor Corporation, and quickly adopted by other auto makers. Bob comes unglued. Bob refuses to settle only for money, wanting admission by Ford that they took his invention.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:09 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

September 30, 2008

Not Biting

"Every day we're amazed at how victories in court don't necessarily lead to settlements. We really need the courts to help force these parties into settlement talks. We're not having as much momentum in signing new business as we've liked."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:07 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

September 28, 2008

Life Support

Transmeta, a creative Silicon Valley chip designer, had a promising future when it started in 1995. It developed CPUs with low power consumption, perfect for laptops. Intel infringed its patents, thus undercutting Transmeta's marketing edge.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:47 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

September 21, 2008

Microsoft's Patent Tax

Microsoft appears to have mastered the art of the patent squeeze. A recent convert from being something other than a patent piñata, since 2003, the inception of its patent licensing program, Microsoft has wrestled 500 cross-licensing agreements from a wide variety of technology companies. Invariably the grateful recipient pads the Big Softee's kitty with a pittance for the privilege of peace of mind, that Microsoft won't hammer it with a patent infringement suit. Practically all of the licensed, with rare exception, are Microsoft customers. This past week, Pioneer was the 15th Japanese company to pony up.

Continue reading "Microsoft's Patent Tax"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:23 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

September 17, 2008

The Black Bird

The Wall Street Journal shines a spotlight on a tranquil troll, Intellectual Ventures (IV), lurking under the bridge of litigation, at least for now:

Nathan Myhrvold [of Intellectual Ventures] has quietly amassed a trove of 20,000-plus patents and patent applications related to everything from lasers to computer chips. He now ranks among the world's largest patent-holders -- and is using that clout to press tech giants to sign some of the costliest patent-licensing deals ever negotiated.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:53 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

September 15, 2008

ROI

Beyond simple counting, number fumbling is a human constant. Wall Street floats on an ocean of dumb money. And bean counters, the pros that run the banks... Well, let's just observe that the deepest and longest lasting recessions/depressions in this country have been lit by what is quaintly referred to as a "bank panic." We're in the middle of one right now. So, in that spirit of "lost in figures," Maureen Farrell at Forbes spotlights "Universities That Turn Research Into Revenue."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:31 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

September 10, 2008

Refusal To License

The Justice Department just issued a report: "Competition and Monopoly: Single-Firm Conduct Under Section 2 of the Sherman Act." One issue discussed was whether refusal to license patents was ipso facto monopolistic action. In a broader context -

The general right of a firm freely to determine with whom it will and will not deal was first established by the Supreme Court nearly nine decades ago. In its 1919 Colgate decision, the Supreme Court observed that "[i]n the absence of any purpose to create or maintain a monopoly, the [Sherman Act] does not restrict the long recognized right of [a] trader or manufacturer engaged in an entirely private business, freely to exercise his own independent discretion as to parties with whom he will deal." The Court reaffirmed that principle eighty-five years later in Verizon Communications Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko, LLP, where, citing Colgate, the Court affirmed dismissal of an action alleging that non-compliance with state and federal regulations mandating the sale of services to rivals violated section 2. In Trinko, the Court noted that, "as a general matter," the antitrust laws impose no duty upon a firm to deal with rivals.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:04 AM | Patents In Business

September 9, 2008

Educational Savvy

From a public-interest standpoint, the blessing of blogging has been to demonstrate how the mainstream press is filled with hacks on assignment. While bloggers live and breathe their subject matter, "professional" media do topical cameos, resulting in nicely wrapped provocative stories, at a slanted angle, but with a garnish from "the other side" for the illusion of a "fair and balanced" perspective. This week we have Janet Rae-Dupree for the New York Times, wistful in "When Academia Puts Profit Ahead of Wonder:" "In academia's continuing pursuit of profit, the wonder of simple serendipitous discovery has been left on the curb."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:06 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (15)

Growing Green

Eco-Patent Commons, a portfolio of environmentally-friendly patents pledged to the public domain, originally announced in January, grew greener yesterday, with the addition of patents from Xerox, DuPont and Bosch, more than doubling the number of enviro-pats now freely available.

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Posted by Mr. Platinum at 4:47 AM | Patents In Business

September 2, 2008

Fire Eater

Patents become a public nuisance when worth a pretty penny. Hal Wegner thinks the price tag of infringement should have flamed the NTP patent reexaminations. "With a $600 million plus settlement in one litigation coupled with ongoing litigations against other alleged infringers, BlackBerryGate represents a billion dollar... patent tax on the public. Yet, the reexamination drags on... and on... and on." Having granted patents, found valid through the fire of litigation, the PTO ought to burn the midnight oil to staunch further enforcement. "A fiasco," Wegner laments.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:58 PM | The Patent Office | Comments (4)

August 28, 2008

Cheese

Microsoft and Nikon have consummated a photo finish to a patent cross-licensing agreement, though the picture is fuzzy. Details went undisclosed, other than indicating that Microsoft is being compensated by Nikon for its gorilla hug. Since Microsoft started banging its patent drum at the end of 2003, it has wrestled over 500 licensing agreements.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:37 AM | Patents In Business

August 27, 2008

Pulp Business

In 2002, Immersion sued Microsoft & Sony for patent infringement. In 2003, Microsoft settled, with Microsoft paying Immersion $26 million. In a secret codicil, Immersion was to pay a kickback to Microsoft from the proceeds of successfully suing Sony for the same infringement. Sony settled with Immersion in March 2007. Immersion sat pat. So, in June 2007, Microsoft sued Immersion for reneging on the kickback.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:12 PM | Patents In Business

August 17, 2008

Religion

An anonymous reader at Slashdot, the e-gathering place for philosophic technology sophisticates, worries:

I am a developer for a medium-sized private technology company getting ready for an IPO. My manager woke up one morning and decided to patent some stuff I did recently. The problem is, I'm strongly opposed to software patents, believing that they are stifling innovation and dragging the technology industry down (see all the frivolous lawsuits reported here on Slashdot!). Now, my concern is: what kind of consequences could I bring on myself for refusing to support the patent process?

Continue reading "Religion"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:30 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

August 6, 2008

Bag Lady, Technologist

In 2006, IBM instituted a "worldwide policy, built on IBM's long-standing practices of high quality patents," disavowing "business methods without technical merit." 7,407,089, granted to IBM, issued yesterday, claims storing customer preference for paper or plastic bags. So, when you go to the supermarket and make your bagging selection, feel assured, whichever way you choose, it has "technical merit."

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:39 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (7)

July 31, 2008

Not Mousing Around

Microsoft asserting patents is as rare as hens teeth. But Wednesday Microsoft filed a complaint at the ITC against Primax Electronics of Taiwan, over seven mouse patents. One portfolio, dubbed "U2," is for connecting a mouse to either a USB or PS/2 port. 6,460,094 is exemplary. Microsoft claims that over 20 companies have licensed this portfolio. Belkin had to be slapped over U2, but settled. Another asserted patent, 7,199,785, is for Microsoft's mouse four-way tilt wheel.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:58 PM | Patents In Business

July 25, 2008

Not Untoward

Rambus got patents covering computer memory standards, set by JEDEC, an industry group. Defendant chip makers Hynix, Samsung, Nanya and Micron went after Rambus for bad juju, in the Northern District of California. Defendants lost.

Following a seven-and-a-half week consolidated trial on the jury issues set forth in the parties' Joint Pretrial Statement filed January 14, 2008, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Rambus and against the Manufacturers... Specifically, the jury found that Rambus did not commit monopolization or attempted monopolization because it did not engage in anticompetitive conduct... The jury also found that Rambus did not commit fraud because it made no false misrepresentations and uttered no half-truths... Finally, the jury found that Rambus did not commit fraud because JEDEC members did not share a clearly defined expectation that members would disclose relevant information they had about patent applications or the intent to file patent applications on technology being considered for adoption as a JEDEC standard.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:19 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

July 24, 2008

Inventorship Eruption

In 2004, Magma Design Automation, an automated chip design company, sent a threatening letter to rival Synopsys about patent infringement. Synopsys responded with a declaratory judgment motion that two Magma patents were conceived while its inventor, now Magma chief scientist Lukas van Ginneken, was employed at Synopsys, hence the patents were rightfully Synopsys property. In 2005, Van Ginneken signed a declaration that Magma management knew. Magma stock nosedived 40% in a single day. In the aftermath, the companies settled, costing Magma $12.5 million. But that didn't end the story.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:32 PM | Patents In Business

July 23, 2008

Sweetness & Light

Courtroom View Network has stopped licking its chops. The very day its $400 per day pay-per-view webcast of the Qualcomm-Nokia courtroom prizefight was to commence, they settle. Worldwide, no complaints now between these two. A 15-year agreement. Essentially, a comprehensive cross-license. Nokia pitches a few patents Qualcomm's way, including ones crucial to cell phone standards, so Qualcomm can muscle others. Nokia pays up-front and on-going royalties, the figures not disclosed. Both parties were gushingly pleased. Patents have a way of bringing companies together.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:12 PM | Patents In Business

July 21, 2008

Pay Per View

The Qualcomm - Nokia patent battle is like a heavyweight prize fight. So much so, the trial, which begins Wednesday, is being televised on pay-per-view for $400 a day by Courtroom View Network via webcast.

Qualcomm sells cell phone chips, manufactured under license, but half its profits are from patent licensing fees. Nokia, provider of 40% of the world's cell phones, took a license from Qualcomm in 1992, a pact revised in 2001 that expired in 2007. Nokia, feeling aggrieved at having forked over $1 billion, and wanting to stanch the bleeding by paying a lower royalty, decided to let itself be dragged to court rather than pay up.

Continue reading "Pay Per View"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:51 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

July 20, 2008

Inventor Scam

After an 11-year court battle, the FTC has squeezed, in settlement, a $10 million penalty from Davison for running a con on patent holders. The FTC claimed the company "enticed consumers with false claims about their selectivity in choosing products to promote, their track record in turning inventions into profitable products, and their relationships with manufacturers. They also deceptively claimed that their income came from sharing royalties with inventors, rather than from the fees consumers paid."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:47 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (15)

July 13, 2008

Watchdog

The FTC, this nation's competition watchdog, is anti-patent. Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch considers patents inherently anti-competitive. But mergers to create an illegal market-dominant company, well, that's a different topic, a matter of discretion. So the FTC okayed a merger between Flow and Omax, both Washington state companies, despite acknowledging that they "are each other's closest competitor in the highly concentrated U.S. market for water-jet-cutting systems."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:05 AM | Patents In Business

July 11, 2008

Chipper

Rambling Rambus is putting Nvidia on the litigation griddle for infringing 17 patents. Nvidia specializes in graphics processing chips. Rambus specializes in raking it in for patented semiconductor technologies. Founded in 1990 by two geeks, Rambus has been an nonstop patent litigator paradise, suing for licenses rather than the pesky process of making anything. But patient. Rambus jawed with Nvidia over six years before heading to the courthouse. The two will continue to talk while the lawyers rack up billable hours.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:34 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (7)

Home Grown

Vonage, the erstwhile VoIP patent piñata, now has one of its own: 7,386,111 "Method and apparatus for placing a long distance call based on a virtual phone number." Also this week, Vonage and Comcast announced a collaborative agreement to work on network congestion management related to VoIP.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:52 AM | Patents In Business

July 8, 2008

Disappointed

InterDigital is trying to hammer Samsung into licensing submission for five of its cell phone patents though the ITC. An ITC staff recommendation, just issued, recommended against granting injunctive relief. On that news, InterDigital shares shed 22.6% of their value, dropping $5.72 to $19.54. Investors are a squeamish bunch.

Continue reading "Disappointed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:38 PM | ITC

July 5, 2008

Gulp

Up-and-comer Platform Solutions, a computer mainframe startup backed by venture capital, including contributions from Intel and Microsoft, is folding its pup tent. Platform is owner of freshly minted 7,386,670: "Processing of self-modifying code in multi-address-space and multi-processor systems." After whining to European Union antitrust regulators about IBM's heavy handedness in the mainframe market, IBM decided upon a response: swallow the bug.

Continue reading "Gulp"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:37 PM | Patents In Business

June 29, 2008

In Patents We Trust

The Allied Security Trust is an alliance of computer-based technology companies, aimed at buying patents to avoid having them asserted against them. The entrance fee is $250,000, plus $5 million in escrow. Verizon, Google, Cisco, and HP are reputed founding members. The natural recruiting ground comprises members of the Coalition for Patent Fairness, the lobbying group for raising the cost of patent enforcement beyond the grasp of grasping inventors.

Continue reading "In Patents We Trust"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:32 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (10)

June 26, 2008

Supplied

i2 Technologies wrestled $83.3 million in a settlement from SAP for supply-chain software patents. The case was in forced mediation in the Eastern District of Texas.

In the late 1990s, i2 had been a successful pioneer in the area as a software vendor, but had its lunch eaten by larger enterprise resource-planning and workflow software companies like SAP after the dot.com crash at the turn of the millennium. Inexorable economics of scale crush small companies.

Continue reading "Supplied"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:15 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

June 21, 2008

Spread Spectrum

Ottawa-based Wi-LAN, holding spread spectrum patents 5,282,222 and RE37,802, thinks it has a lock on wireless standards 802.11 and CDMA2000. Wi-LAN has over 25 companies under the gun, including Apple, Sony, HP, and Intel. Earlier this week Wi-LAN stuck it to a fellow Canadian company, everybody's favorite wireless patent piñata, Research in Motion (RIM), as well as Motorola and UTStarcom.

Continue reading "Spread Spectrum"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:52 PM | Patents In Business

June 18, 2008

Afloat

A further bit of evidence that Wall Street floats on an ocean of dumb money flowed in earlier this week. Tessera has an enforcement campaign for semiconductor packaging patent 6,433,419. The patent, currently under reexamination, is invalid. Patent Hawk provided the ammunition. Tessera announced that the reexam, which they expect to go to appeal, will take so long that the patent will expire before that shooting match is over. Tessara shares jumped 8.4% on that bit of tripe.

Continue reading "Afloat"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:35 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

June 17, 2008

Oops

Allied Signal, owner of 6,287,955, failed to pay its maintenance fee, abandoning the patent. Changing its mind after the fact, the lament was that the lapse was unintentional.

In short, when this patent was not deemed to be profitable, a plurality of employees of the Assignee determined that this patent should be allowed to expire, and an intentional decision was made that the maintenance fee should not be submitted to the Office. However, now that it has been learned that there is commercial interest in this patent, the Assignee seeks to characterize the intentional decision to allow this patent to expire as "unintentional."

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:34 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (6)

June 16, 2008

Investing in IP

David S. Ruder, author of Strategies for Investing in Intellectual Property, with deep IP investment experience, ought to know his stuff. But he has written a peculiar book. His case-based approach is familiar to MBA wanna-be's, and often enjoyable, but it obscures some big points in the details. It's not clear that Ruder even knows the definition of intellectual property, and the one thing the book largely covers in the breach are strategies for investing in IP.

Continue reading "Investing in IP"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:10 AM | Patents In Business

June 12, 2008

Through Its Hat

Linux purveyor Red Hat found its open source a bit too loose, so it settled two patent infringement suits with DataTern. One of the suits was brought by FireStar, which later assigned 6,101,502 to DataTern. DataTern steered '502 and 5,937,402 into the black from Red Hat. Delusional, Red Hat expressed belief that its settlement will serve as precedent to discourage similar suits. More likely, Red Hat has painted itself as an easy mark.

Continue reading "Through Its Hat"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:19 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

June 10, 2008

Wireless Pool

Intel, Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Sprint Nextel, Samsung, and Clearwire are forming a patent pool to collectively license WiMAX wireless technology patents. The alliance plans to collect patents essential to WiMAX and license the pool to consumer electronics manufacturers. The aim is to advance the widespread adoption of WiMAX, which has competition from another standard. The patent pool approach for promoting standards has a successful track record, including MPEG video compression.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:15 PM | Patents In Business

June 8, 2008

Cleaning Up

Filthy earth monkeys have soiled the planet. Belatedly, checking their virtual diapers, remorse comes in the form of adopting so-called "clean" technologies. A whole new area of patent infringement blossoms.

Continue reading "Cleaning Up"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:40 PM | Patents In Business

June 4, 2008

Out to Sea

Wall Street floats on an ocean of dumb money. Patent purveyor Ocean Tomo has patent-oriented stock indices, supposedly taking the heavy lifting out of picking patent-heavy stocks. Speculators, who may be hedge fund or large bank proprietary traders, or market research fabricators, collar patent lawyers for quick steps up on a steep learning curve.

Continue reading "Out to Sea"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:50 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

June 1, 2008

Patent Retriever

Patent Retriever is a free pdf patent download site that piggybacks on Google. Because Google Patents takes too many mouse clicks, gosh darn. Patent Retriever is good for US, EU, and WIPO.

Continue reading "Patent Retriever"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:19 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (10)

Under Pressure

Paris-based Alcatel SA bought the technology rump of Ma Bell in late 2006 - Lucent Technologies. The firm has been hyperactive in asserting patents from the combined portfolio. With good reason. Market capitalization has halved since the merger. CEO Patricia Russo and Chair Serge Tchuruk are besieged by shareholders for lack of performance.

Continue reading "Under Pressure"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:51 AM | Patents In Business

May 31, 2008

Defensive

Earlier this week, a thick-waisted but thin-skinned Nathan Myhrvold, Intellectual Ventures CEO, ventured into incoherence, jockeying defensively when questioned by grizzled technology reviewer for the Wall Street Journal, Walt Mossberg: "Don't call me a patent troll," and "I'm not abusing the patent system."

Continue reading "Defensive"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:35 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (8)

May 26, 2008

Spudnik

J.R. Simplot, French fry innovator, blew his porchlight Sunday, aged 99. Supplier of dehydrated potatoes to the U.S. military during World War II, post-war, Simplot pioneered frozen French fries. In 1967, a handshake deal with McDonald's founder Ray Kroc helped put Simplot on the path to becoming a billionaire. Simplot's company got 43 U.S. patents, including D268,539, for peculiar potato shapes.

Continue reading "Spudnik"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:57 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

May 23, 2008

Politically Correct

Each patent is an invention. Do you think the number of patents says something? Would knowing the top-patenting companies be a meaningful statistic? Of course not. Patents are nasty. If you strive to be a member in good standing of the Coalition of Patent Fairness (CPF), keep your business clean. Have a bloody steak, hold the veggies. Enjoy fat cigars, smooth bourbon, and classy hookers. "Patent, sir?" "No thank you Jeeves, I'm clinging to my guns and religion."

Continue reading "Politically Correct"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:03 PM | Patents In Business

May 20, 2008

Punching the Clock

Taiwanese memory maker Nanya Technology started a losing patent war against Fujitsu. Licensing talks over DDR SDRAM chip patents fell apart in 2005. Nanya then sued Fujitsu in this country's tropical patent hot spot - Guam, for antitrust, asserting three patents, and a declaratory judgment (DJ) motion over 15 Fujitsu patents. Fujitsu shot back in Northern California with five patents, and a DJ for three Nanya patents.

Continue reading "Punching the Clock"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:55 PM | Patents In Business

May 17, 2008

Big Cheese

St. Clair Intellectual Property Consultants thought it had a tiger by the tail - a tidy patent portfolio for digital camera photo storage. St. Clair started a shotgun enforcement campaign, including against Kodak. Kodak claimed it had acquired rights to the patents through agreement with the inventors' former employers, Mirage Systems. That froze St. Clair's Hail Mary on the digital photo industry.

Continue reading "Big Cheese"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:18 PM | Patents In Business

May 12, 2008

Multiples

Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker idyllically fuses discovery with invention in his thematic presentation of a strawman: "In The Air: Who says big ideas are rare?" The ostensible topic is that discoveries and inventions are often made contemporaneously by multiple people. However droll and obvious the observation may be, Gladwell spins his yarn in posh New Yorker fashion.

Continue reading "Multiples"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:45 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

May 11, 2008

Going Solo

Last month, seven major telecommunications patent holders: Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson, agreed to limit patent licensing fees, so as to engender continuing evolution of 3G mobile technologies, and limit litigation. Others were invited to participate. Two notable holdouts: Nortel and Qualcomm.

Continue reading "Going Solo"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:22 PM | Patents In Business

May 10, 2008

IP Is Not A Commodity

Earlier this week, Peter J. Wallison argued that conventions in fair value accounting may in part be the cause for the recent bubble markets. Specifically, Wallison pointed to the convention, implemented under FASB 157, that requires assets to be carried at "market" values, even when those assets are not being held for trading purposes.

Continue reading "IP Is Not A Commodity"

Posted by Michael Martin at 8:46 AM | Patents In Business

May 8, 2008

What Adam Smith Taught

Abraham Lincoln's lecture on discoveries and inventions reveals a deep understanding of the patent system. It is amazing how his lecture, which is now well over 150 years old, can seem so fresh today.  He and Charlie Munger have inspired me to undertake a historical review of other important lessons of the imminent dead.  Today the lesson is from Scottish enlightenment thinker Adam Smith, famous for his authorship of The Wealth of Nations.

Continue reading "What Adam Smith Taught"

Posted by Michael Martin at 9:09 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

May 4, 2008

Righting Whitening

Procter & Gamble sued Johnson & Johnson for patent infringement over Listerine Whitening ® Quick Dissolving Strips, marketed as superior to P&G's Crest Whitestrips ®, because they dissolve more quickly. You wouldn't want to have patience in whitening your teeth, because you need a smoke, or cup of coffee, or some other neurotransmitting tooth-staining jones you can't shuck off, you vain but weak-willed Pavlovian simian.

Continue reading "Righting Whitening"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:14 PM | Litigation | Comments (1)

May 2, 2008

Stranded R&D

In 1980, Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act. Overnight with its passage, universities and government-funded R&D labs gained a comparative advantage in funding R&D. Universities and government labs have a cost advantage in that many had already spent tens of billions of dollars setting up research labs for non-commercial purposes, including teaching and curious exploration. Many scientists and engineers found the prestige of academia, and the increase in professional freedom it promises, a compelling offer. The result has been a gradual shutting down of corporate R&D labs, and an expansion of industry collaboration with scientists and engineers now employed by universities and government labs.

Continue reading "Stranded R&D"

Posted by Michael Martin at 10:27 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (8)

April 30, 2008

Every Patent Affects Two Different Markets

There are two different markets relevant to every valuable patent. First, there is the market for the R&D work that results in the patent. Prices in this market are set by the opportunity costs for the time of scientists and engineers who are capable of theorizing about and experimenting with the technology. Second, there is the market for the claimed products or services that the R&D work opened up. The second market is the one that everyone naturally thinks about. In fact, our whole nation has had a blind spot for the first market for a long time because corporate R&D divisions were serving that market very well until the Bayh-Dole Act was passed in 1980. But most universities have not been able to consistently match pre-product funding with the flow of R&D produced by their faculty. One former R&D employee from Apple and Microsoft blames Silicon Valley, saying "Silicon Valley forgot how to do R&D."

Continue reading "Every Patent Affects Two Different Markets"

Posted by Michael Martin at 3:37 PM | Patents In Business

April 26, 2008

International IP Dictionary

Research and Markets announced an international intellectual property law dictionary for €266. Covers patents, copyright, and trademarks, both U.S. and international terms. For patents, has a "Short History of Patent Law in the United States," and "Charts on Sources of United States Domestic Patent Law." Measly web site with little information about the dictionary itself, but, by comparison, extensive biographies of the authors. In other words, pathetic marketing, unless you think promulgating cult of personality for relative unknowns for a dictionary qualifies as good marketing.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:23 PM | Patents In Business

April 20, 2008

A New Kind of Patent Boutique?

The state of the legal profession is in flux. The exogenous forces of globalization and technology are straining and breaking the traditional business frameworks for the provision of legal services. How might the future look?

Continue reading "A New Kind of Patent Boutique?"

Posted by Michael Martin at 2:51 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (15)

April 18, 2008

Tilt

Peter Detkin of Intellectual Ventures, at an IP Symposium in San Jose this week: "Small inventors, defined as those entities that have less than 500 employees, are responsible for 60% of US patents, while the remaining 40% are granted to large companies. On the other hand, large companies collect over 90% of revenues derived from patents, while small companies are left with the 'crumbs'."

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:32 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

April 17, 2008

Bank Holdup

Wells Fargo inked a software license agreement with WMR in December 2003. In 2004, a patent license agreement (PLA) followed. In early February 2006, WMR sold four patents to DataTreasury: 5,265,007; 5,583,759; 5,717,868; and 5,930,778, patents encompassing what would become federally-mandated digital check processing under the law known as Check 21. DataTreasury then embarked on a massive patent enforcement campaign against a slew of banks, including Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo thought that DataTreasury was bound by the PLA it had with WMR.

Continue reading "Bank Holdup"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:37 AM | Litigation

April 13, 2008

Platinum Patents

Patent Hawk is delighted to announce Platinum Patents, the prosecution branch of Patent Hawk. The same folk who have been wreaking havoc on patents for years for litigation defense, facilitating monetizing patents for patent holders, and providing patent intelligence to gain an unfair competitive edge, now offer prosecution services for inventors. The same excellence our existing clientele experience is now honed to providing superior patent protection.

Continue reading "Platinum Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:05 PM | Prosecution

April 10, 2008

Checking Out

At the behest of the big banker boys, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. sponsored an amendment to the Putrid Patent Act, exempting banks from paying damages for infringing patents covering the mandated "Check 21" check imaging law. Sessions has now dropped support for the provision over constitutional legality concerns. Some things money can't buy, though the banking lobby certainly tried to buy this.

Continue reading "Checking Out"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:54 AM | The Patent System | Comments (9)

April 8, 2008

Sold

Patent auctioneer Ocean Tomo had a roomful of happy campers at its April 2nd auction. One portfolio, for processing digital bit streams, sold for $6.6 million. Four lots sold for over $1 million. 53 of 85 lots offered sold, a 62% success rate. A total of $19.6 million raked in. About 450 people attended the San Francisco event. Ocean Tomo takes a 25% cut: 15% from sellers, 10% from buyers.

Continue reading "Sold"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:52 PM | Patents In Business

March 28, 2008

Rogue Blogger

BeavisWeek has a well written story by Michael Orey, Busting a Rogue Blogger, about a dross patent blogger who pulled the wool for a while. "Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler even cited the blog as a good independent source of information while in Washington lobbying for changes to patent law that would rein in trolls, unaware he was plugging the work of a Cisco employee." It's like the Bush administration churning propaganda to the press about the situation in Iraq before the war, then quoting their published reports from duped papers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, as corroborating news. Children playing grown-up games.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:31 PM | Patents In Business

Bum Trip

In an apparent non-sequitur, Avistar Communications is blaming Microsoft for its woes in having to slash its workforce by 25%. Avistar had hoped to license its patent portfolio to Microsoft. Ever the jester, Microsoft's response was to hoist a USPTO reexamination petard on all 29 of Avistar's patents. Supposedly, the PTO will only take up a reexam request given persuasive invalidity evidence. Avistar mewed it "remains hopeful of reaching a favorable resolution with Microsoft on licensing Avistar's intellectual property in the near future." For anyone with an inkling as to what Microsoft thinks of paying a "patent tax," that's positively psychedelic.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:52 AM | Patents In Business

March 26, 2008

Rambus Rambles

Memory chip patent holder Rambus saw its stock soar 39% on news that a San Jose jury dismissed charges from competitors Hynix, Micron, and Nanya, that Rambus rigged the playing field by getting patents on the SDRAM memory standard. This is a turnaround from a 2001 jury verdict validating a fraud charge from Infineon, and a 2006 FTC ruling of deception, now on appeal.

Continue reading "Rambus Rambles"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:58 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (5)

March 25, 2008

Protecting IP in China

The USPTO is offering a two-day seminar on protecting intellectual property in China. The program is free and will take place April 2-3 in Houston, TX. So, throw your Chi-pod in your Louis Vuitton knock-off and skip down to the Lone Star State.

Continue reading "Protecting IP in China"

Posted by Mr. Platinum at 11:22 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

Clown Time Is Over

The wrinkle with Frenkel got the heave-ho, snuffing anonymous blogging disco at Cisco. "A few Cisco employees used poor judgment... We believe we have learned a valuable lesson from this regrettable situation." Zorro don't live here no more.

Continue reading "Clown Time Is Over"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:11 AM | Patents In Business

March 19, 2008

Hedgerow

Hedge fund Riley Investment Management has gotten uppity about Transmeta giving a $10 million bonus to John O'Hara Horsley, Transmeta general counsel. Calling the bonus "outrageous, illegal and unconscionable," Riley filed a lawsuit accusing Horsely, Transmeta executives, and board members, of gross mismanagement, breach of fiduciary duty, waste of corporate assets, and abuse of control. When asked, Riley demurred on saying how it really felt.

Continue reading "Hedgerow"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | Patents In Business

March 18, 2008

Dish Wishing

Dish Network, formerly EchoStar, remains in denial, now begging the CAFC for a reversal of its upholding a $73.9 million jury damages award for infringing TiVo patents. Dish points to an expert witness they claim was self-contradictory, thus leaving infringement in doubt. What's most in doubt is whether Dish will get anything beyond a deaf ear to its plea.

Continue reading "Dish Wishing"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:03 PM | Damages

Nortel Phones It In

Toronto-based Nortel Networks, known to hammer competitors with patent litigation suits, spent $560,000 lobbying for patent legislation in 2007; a Canadian company paying for the U.S. to foul its patent regime; guess they figure patents are a zero-sum game to them.

Continue reading "Nortel Phones It In"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:21 AM | Patents In Business

March 11, 2008

Did Bayh-Dole end Corporate R&D?

Thirty-years ago, many large corporations had entire in-house divisions devoted to R&D. Think of IBM's Watson and ARC Labs, AT&T Bell Labs, and Xerox PARC. Since that time, these R&D labs have greatly diminished in size or disappeared altogether. At the same time, the pace of innovation in the United States has not been slowed. Assuming that R&D is necessary for innovation, it's very important for us to ask what happened. Where did the R&D go? The Bayh-Dole Act is a prime suspect.

Continue reading "Did Bayh-Dole end Corporate R&D?"

Posted by Michael Martin at 8:55 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

March 10, 2008

They Call This Reportage?

Mareen Farrell gives a garbled account of the patent scene in Forbes: "They Call This Intellectual Property?" Farrell surmises the source of pendency: "Blame part of the pile-up on pesky filers of overly obvious patents." With no sense of perspective, Farrell mentions KSR, but then rails about silly patents issued before the PTO made patent grants as scarce as hen's teeth. News for prosecutors: "To get a patent approved, inventors must establish, among other things, that their invention or idea is not clearly manifest." Crystal ball in hand, Farrell on patent reform: "The Senate is expected to vote... in the coming months." No year for the "coming months" was given.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:39 PM | Patents In Business

March 9, 2008

Pooked

Physicists are realizing that dark energy holds the universe together. It's old feed for wranglers at the corporate software corral that dark energy keeps the cattle in the pen. So, Novell Vice President Miguel de Icaza last week whining that Novell striking a patent licensing deal with Microsoft was like bedding the dark-side beast sounded less than intriguing; in fact, it sounded just like whining. In yet another case of childhood reversion, de Icaza wished he stayed to play in the sandbox of open source.

Continue reading "Pooked"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:15 PM | Patents In Business

March 6, 2008

Cock-up

Tessera stock shot up 16% after it sank in to the motley fools commonly called "investors" that the non-final rejection in Tessera's patent exam was not equivalent to falling off a cliff. As Scot Griffin, general counsel for Tessera, reminded: "Claims of a patent can not be invalidated in reexamination until the process is fully complete, including all appeals."

Continue reading "Cock-up"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:19 PM | Patents In Business

March 3, 2008

Visto Victorious

A week before trial, Microsoft has settled with Visto assertion of three Visto data sync patents; terms undisclosed, of course. In 2006, Visto won $7.7 million in damages against Seven Networks for the same patents. Meanwhile, Canadian chowderhead Research in Motion (RIM), aiming to pay as much as possible, goes to trial in July against four Visto patents.

Continue reading "Visto Victorious"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:55 AM | Patents In Business

February 29, 2008

Money Changes Everything

MercExchange's patent assertion against eBay's "Buy It Now" feature resulted in a Supreme Court ruling that, using a four-factor test, essentially denied injunctive relief unless the patent holder was a direct competitor to an infringer. Thursday, eBay announced that it bought three patents from Merchange for an undisclosed amount, including 5,845,265, the centerpiece of the matter.

Continue reading "Money Changes Everything"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:08 PM | Patents In Business

February 24, 2008

No Surprise

Rick Frenkel's setup for blogging always seemed a bit queer - anonymously blogging voyeuristically, by supposedly peeking behind the curtain of non-practicing patent holders quietly enforcing their patents, as if anyone should care about that ipso facto. That the blog name was Patent Troll Tracker was a dead giveaway to the author being a serious case of IP arrested development. That he did so anonymously was the silly irony: wanting to unmask others while staying masked himself.

Continue reading "No Surprise"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:51 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (19)

February 23, 2008

Blackboarded

Blackboard suing competitor Desire2Learn for infringing 6,988,138 spurred academic outrage, but a hillbilly east Texas jury paid the pointy-heads no heed, awarding $3 million in damages.

Continue reading "Blackboarded"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:04 PM | Damages | Comments (1)

February 18, 2008

Frank Piasecki

Igor Sikorsky flew the first helicopter in 1941. In 1943, Frank Piasecki flew the second helicopter, the PV-2, built from junk auto parts in a Philadelphia garage. The PV-1 never made it past the drawing board.

The first PV-2 flight was rambunctious: Piasecki had only 14 hours flight experience in a small Piper Cub airplane. The PV-2 was tethered to a clothes line. The first flight was only supposed to be a couple of feet off the ground. The helicopter went up, the clothes line snapped, and Frank was winging it.

Continue reading "Frank Piasecki"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:34 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

Patents as Intangible Asset Partitions


Everybody knows that corporations shield shareholders from liability for debts of the corporations. But corporations perform another function, which may be even more important for startups: corporations shield the corporate assets contributed by one shareholder from being raided by the creditors of other shareholders. To see how much this matters, imagine how difficult it would be to form a pool of capital for funding a startup if funding had to be renegotiated everytime one of the startup's investors died or declared bankruptcy. Were corporations not to perform this vital function for shareholders, the costs of negotiating with every potential future creditor of other shareholders would quickly outstrip the benefit of pooling capital in the first place.

In a pathbreaking article, Prof. Paul Heald explains how patents perform a similar transactions-cost-reducing function for intangible asset owners.

Continue reading "Patents as Intangible Asset Partitions"

Posted by Michael Martin at 9:42 AM | Patents In Business

February 14, 2008

Shifting Liability

Money is a lubricant and a salve. Banks apply the salve to others to ease their own pain: potent wads in political lobbying and campaign contributions. With the housing market in deep kimchee, the banking industry is pushing proposals to shift the risk of mangled mortgages to the Federal Housing Administration; considered far-fetched a few months ago, now more a matter of when than whether. Then there's this pesky patent holder, DataTreasury, that practically patented "Check 21," the federal law for digitally archiving checks.

Continue reading "Shifting Liability"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:24 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

February 6, 2008

Why Litigate?

Patent litigation is tremendously expensive. And noisy. The ruckus has stirred quite a crowd: fat geezers with political heft to match are jostling to shuffle the seating arrangements in the patent spat ballroom. The stakes for infringers can stray to six to nine figures or more. Microsoft keeps a small army of patent litigators marching on the defense of 30 to 40 contemporaneous assertions. Though not as bad a barrage as Microsoft, quite a few large firms face regular patent battles. Why not take a more civilized path?

Continue reading "Why Litigate?"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:55 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

February 4, 2008

Cold War

Linux godfather Linus Torvalds took potshots at patents in general and software patents in particular in a Linux Foundation podcast. Torvolds damns with faint praise Microsoft's restraint in patent assertion. From the remarks, one may conclude that casting from a pod makes one grumpy.

Continue reading "Cold War"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:12 PM | Patents In Business

January 25, 2008

Fools Gold

In a drive to have abstraction triumph over reality, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) thinks it can develop an international standard for patent valuation. It's an academic economist's wet dream.

Continue reading "Fools Gold"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:56 PM | Patents In Business

Cash Cow Killed

N-Data bought 5,617,418 and 5,687,174, claiming autonegotiation Ethernet switches. The original owner, National Semiconductor, had agreed to license the patent for a song if the technology was adopted as a standard, which it was; now a widely adopted IEEE standard called NWay. Ignoring the supposed license cap, N-Data allegedly began an extortion campaign. The FTC caught wind of it, and decided to break wind on it: charging violation of 15 U.S.C. § 45, unfair competition.

Continue reading "Cash Cow Killed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:26 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

January 20, 2008

Trolling

Academics from NERA, a self-proclaimed economic consulting hothouse, who spurt that they "understand how markets work," demonstrate to the contrary in a report on the mythical patent troll, scintillating to a degree that guarantees no loss of sleep.

Continue reading "Trolling"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:53 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

Amberwave

Amberwave is an R&D firm focused on advanced materials development for high technology applications. Patents are its lifeblood; which is why Amberwave is fighting to retain semblance of sanity in the patent arena. In our continuing series on "Heroes of the Patent Wars," an Amberwave snapshot.

Continue reading "Amberwave"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:37 PM | Patents In Business

Funhouse Mirror

You already know that the best sources of patent news and views are in the blogosphere. Patents are quintessentially an inside game: proper perspective incumbent to practitioners, sensationalism set aside in everyday understanding of patents for what they really are: intellectual property; nothing more, nothing less. To outsiders, patents are something else: feared; or coveted, capable of alchemistic transmutation to gold. It is precisely because the patent game is the "sport of kings": an inventor's lottery, and fierce fuel for the economic engine, that patents draw the media like roaches to candy. The droppings those roaches leave offer no surprise.

Continue reading "Funhouse Mirror"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:21 AM | Patents In Business

January 17, 2008

Free Green

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and IBM have joined forces to form Eco-Patent Commons , a pledged portfolio of environmentally friendly public domain patents, designed to promote innovation and clean up our contaminated planet, one patent at a time.

Continue reading "Free Green"

Posted by Mr. Platinum at 11:45 AM | Patents In Business

January 12, 2008

Pay Wave

PrivaSys is printing money with 7,195,154, claiming secure contactless credit card transaction processes. Going a few rounds with MasterCard ended in settlement in August 2006. In March 2007, First Data opened its wallet. Now, Visa, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo splash out.

Continue reading "Pay Wave"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:19 AM | Patents In Business

January 11, 2008

Free to Cripple

Stinger Systems, proclaiming itself on its web site as "leaders in electro-stun technology" (don't ask how a single company can be plural "leaders"; they would have to hurt you), was delighted to announce that reexamination concussion and shrapnel eliminated 5,936,183, titled "Non-lethal area denial device", owned by competitor Taser.

Continue reading "Free to Cripple"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:47 AM | Patents In Business

January 10, 2008

Sony Spot

Sony Electronics is looking for a legal director in its San Diego corporate headquarters, "to serve as technology/transactional legal counsel for Sony’s television, wireless and information technologies engineering groups..."

Continue reading "Sony Spot"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:13 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

January 4, 2008

Pressing the Flash

SanDisk owns a portfolio of over 800 patents worldwide related to flash memory. Persistent persuasion is required. Pressed by assertions in Western Wisconsin court and the ITC, PNY Technologies has just settled with a cross-licensing agreement.

Continue reading "Pressing the Flash"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:23 AM | Patents In Business

December 31, 2007

So Nice of You to Call

After shelling out to settle patent suits from Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, Vonage gracefully settles for a cross-license with Nortel; a pleasant way to end the year.

Continue reading "So Nice of You to Call"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:08 PM | Patents In Business

December 19, 2007

Ritual Fulfillment

Patent enforcer TPL Group and Patriot Scientific, holding microprocessor patents, witnessed the ritual of bended knee and open wallet by Matsushita/Panasonic, Toshiba, JVC, and NEC. Trial was docketed for next month in the Eastern District of Texas.

Continue reading "Ritual Fulfillment"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:12 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

December 11, 2007

Overplay

Qualcomm was the product of the vision and determination of founder Irwin Jacobs. Jacobs furthered a technology derived from torpedo guidance systems used during World War II into a global wireless standard. Jacobs also forged a business model with patents at the core: manufacturing via outsourcing, Qualcomm became, in essence, a patent licensing company. Facing a relentless squeeze, resentment built among licensees and competitors, igniting courtroom warfare, with the Big Q lighting the match.

Continue reading "Overplay"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:05 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

December 8, 2007

Big Iron

IBM used to be known as a supreme hardball player, even fending off a Justice Department antitrust suit. In present time, its increasing reliance on services has been an impetus to soften its public image. Its public patent stance is similar, recently espousing eschewing business method patents, which are subject to especial derision by the software companies that IBM has for its client base, as they are generally a threat. IBM terms such patents "soft," while continuing pursuit of that ilk deemed most significant. The anti-patent puttyheads may be fooled by IBM's feints, but make no mistake: IBM is still a hardball player. This week it filed against Taiwan-based ASUS, makers of excellent computer equipment, particularly motherboards, at the ITC, whose only remedy to offer is injunctive relief.

Continue reading "Big Iron"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:12 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

December 6, 2007

Withdrawal

The Wall Street Journal:

Over the next few years, the pharmaceutical business will hit a wall. Some of the top-selling drugs in industry history will become history as patent protections expire, allowing generics to rush in at much-lower prices. Generic competition is expected to wipe $67 billion from top companies' annual U.S. sales between 2007 and 2012 as more than three dozen drugs lose patent protection. That is roughly half of the companies' combined 2007 U.S. sales.

Continue reading "Withdrawal"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:26 AM | Patents In Business

December 5, 2007

Patent Plasma Sensibility Spasm

In but a single example of an endless stream, Samsung and Matsushita, the world's largest plasma screen manufacturers, suffered a litigation meltdown: settling their dispute over their respective plasma screen patents. Fortunately for the companies respective lawyers, the two companies continue to bash each other over semiconductor and memory patents.

Continue reading "Patent Plasma Sensibility Spasm"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:59 AM | Patents In Business

December 2, 2007

Not Rusty

Edward "Rusty" Rose III stuffed his piggy bank, starting in the 1970s, shorting stocks. In 1989, Rusty and a rascal named George "Dubya" Bush, along with other investors, bought a controlling stake in the Texas Rangers baseball team. Oh yeah, Rusty's bankrolled King George along the way. Rusty kept shorting, acquiring a whiff of taint by shorting Terayon Communication Systems, then publicly bad-mouthing the company so as to make his prophesy bet self-fulfilling. Randy Rusty then decided to try his hand at the "sport of kings."

Continue reading "Not Rusty"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:51 PM | Patents In Business

November 23, 2007

Qualcomm Skirmishes Update

The ITC dropped Nokia's complaint against Qualcomm, pending arbitration; warfare between the two continues in court. In a long-running Broadcom battle, Broadcom just settled for $19.6 million, after a winning a $39.3 million jury award for willful infringement, overturned by the trial judge because the CAFC set the willfulness standard near the ceiling in Seagate this past August. Broadcom and Qualcomm continue to duke it out, with Broadcom so far generally getting the better punches in. Qualcomm is a patent pusher as well as a sometime patent pinata.

Continue reading "Qualcomm Skirmishes Update"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:04 PM | Patents In Business

Pop

Burst.com has three employees. Last year it lost a half million dollars. It could afford to, because in 2005, Microsoft paid Burst.com $60 million for license to its streaming media patents. Apple fought, not entirely unsuccessfully, but just settled for $10 million. Burst.com is now beavering for who to badger next.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:43 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (9)

November 14, 2007

Another Friend

Microsoft has inked a broad patent cross-licensing agreement with Kyocera Mita, Japanese maker of printers, copiers, and Linux-based embedded devices. Since December 2003, when Microsoft finally figured out that licensing patents was a good idea, it has entered into more than 200 patent cross-licenses, and been sued for patent infringement at least twice that, doling out billions of dollars in damages and settlements.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:12 PM | Patents In Business

November 12, 2007

ActiveX Again

Having paid the piper a half-billion dollars, Microsoft next month issues an update to Internet Explorer that is vintage: instantly active ActiveX controls. Having settled with Eolas Technologies for patent infringement, Microsoft can ditch its "click to activate" workaround. The Eolas patent, 5,838,906, claimed instantly active web page content. Microsoft extravagently fought eight years over the single-click feature before caving in.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:40 PM | Patents In Business

Venturing?

The Wall Street Journal today posted a mixed message and a Milquetoast blog entry on Intellectual Ventures, itself an ambitious and ambivalent player in the patent game. What Intellectual Ventures most clearly lacks is the ability to project that it possesses a sound business model.

Continue reading "Venturing?"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:01 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

November 8, 2007

Bon Vonage

Vonage, long beset by patent litigation, appears to be clawing its way out of a deep hole: it settled with AT&T, the last company to hammer Vonage with its patents, for $39 million. Vonage had previously put behind it, at considerable expense, suits from Verizon ($120 million) and Sprint Nextel ($80 million).

Continue reading "Bon Vonage"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:50 AM | Patents In Business

November 6, 2007

Grape Rape

Varieties of table grapes may be patented. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is a cultivator of new varieties, releasing them on a trial basis to growers, to evaluate growing potential and commercial viability. The USDA also patents grapes.

The California Table Grape Commission (CTGC), established by the state legislature in 1967, is funded by a 13¢ per box assessment levied on shippers of table grapes in the state. In the late 1990s, CTGC started licensing table grape patents from the USDA, and enforcing licenses on state grape growers. From there the story peels.

Continue reading "Grape Rape"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:48 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 5, 2007

Cash Constellation

Orion IP is filling its little galaxy with patent lawsuits and subsequent licensing lucre, sallying forth to grab gobs from up to 100 companies, and that's just for starters in its enforcement campaign. The two little numbers hooking the crowd: 5,367,627, claiming a computer-assisted sales method for associating parts to products; while 5,615,342 claims generating a product sales pitch based on a questionnaire.

Continue reading "Cash Constellation"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:50 AM | Patents In Business

October 27, 2007

Pick Me Up

SanDisk, a flash memory maker, saw its shares plummet since publishing its Q3 results on October 17. What better way to say "I'm a player!" than a rollicking patent enforcement campaign. So Wednesday, SanDisk unfurled assertions against 25 companies, with two beefy actions in the new hot rocket docket of Western Wisconsin, and a large order of fries at the old stalwart ITC.

Continue reading "Pick Me Up"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:20 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

October 25, 2007

On the Verizon

Verizon and Vonage settled Verizon's patent assertion. Vonage had been found infringing two Verizon patents, a ruling upheld last month by the CAFC, with a third remanded for specific damage reassessment. Vonage has requested an en banc rehearing. The price tag is $80 or $120 million, depending on the outcome of CAFC decision; the lower figure if Vonage prevails.

Continue reading "On the Verizon"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:17 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

October 24, 2007

Fair Value

One of the red-meat brethren of corporations clamoring for statutory patent evisceration, Intel, inked a $250 million dollar agreement with Transmeta, settling patent infringement charges leveled in 2006.

Continue reading "Fair Value"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:24 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

October 16, 2007

In the Red Hat

Showing the way for Microsoft to stop shooting off its mouth about Linux getting a patent free ride and slap down a lawsuit, as if Microsoft needs the money or their market position is being imperiled; Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell are facing the sharp end of the patent stick; the stick having on its sharp but gooey end moldy Xerox patents now owned by an Acacia subsidiary: 5,072,412, 5,533,183 and 5,394,521. These patents claimed shared user interface workspaces, but are now claiming to be able to rake money off the table.

Continue reading "In the Red Hat"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:51 PM | Patents In Business

October 8, 2007

Vonage & Sprint Settle

Vonage settled its patent flap with Sprint Nextel, agreeing to fork out $80 million for past damages and ongoing license.

Continue reading "Vonage & Sprint Settle"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:22 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

October 7, 2007

Fore

Patent infotainment at the 19th hole: John Paul Newport in his Golf Journal at the Wall Street Journal putts an interesting tale of golf ball patents.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:09 AM | Patents In Business

October 6, 2007

Bad Religion

Ever-congenial IBM has withdrawn USPA 2007/0162321, claiming outsourcing of services, after a Slashdot nerd raised a ruckus.

Continue reading "Bad Religion"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:10 AM | Patents In Business

October 2, 2007

Patent Buddy

Patent Buddy looks like a Hello Kitty version of George Orwell's 1984 for patent people. It'll at least serve as a ready spyglass for patent law firm personnel poaching.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:42 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

August 17, 2007

Entrepreneurship

The Seattle PI newspaper ran an article by Susan Schreter on what it takes for software companies to obtain venture capital funding, with no mention of patents. A reader asked about the omission. The turnaround: "Angel investors and venture funds are unapologetic in their quest to back entrepreneurs who have a "sustainable and unfair advantage" in the marketplace." With USPTO examination rigor post-KSR, it's even harder to get a software patent, which makes one even more valuable, as a granted patent is much less likely to be found obvious than before, and thus more likely to be enforceable.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:12 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

August 13, 2007

Disgraced

In the wake of public humiliation for sordid corporate behavior during patent litigation in a court decision early last week, and yet another last Friday, Qualcomm general counsel Lou Lupin resigned today. The aggressiveness that characterized Qualcomm on the legal front, which Lupin signified, may now be tempered.

Continue reading "Disgraced"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:17 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

August 12, 2007

Beavering Vonage

In reporting its second-quarter earnings Thursday, Vonage let slip that it was well on its way to non-infringing workarounds to the Verizon patents it was found infringing. Subscriber growth has sputtered.

Continue reading "Beavering Vonage"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:12 PM | Patents In Business

August 1, 2007

Fully Charged

Good patents carry a charge. 3M sued Sony and others just this past March for infringing its lithium-ion battery cartridge patents. 3M shot both barrels: district court and ITC; asking for damages, an injunction, and attorneys' fees. Sony just settled.

Continue reading "Fully Charged"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:15 PM | Patents In Business

July 19, 2007

Chipper

Broadcom has Qualcomm under pressure over an ITC ban on importing Qualcomm wireless device chips. Qualcomm customers, including Verizon Wireless, had vigorously lobbied to avert the import ban. Now we learn of an unexpected settlement between Verizon and Broadcom, with Verizon paying the $6 per unit royalty that Qualcomm turned down. The deal appears a coup for Broadcom, but it may provide an opening for Qualcomm.

Continue reading "Chipper"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:05 PM | Patents In Business

July 17, 2007

Cut Out

Self-taught, life-long diamond maven Joseph Mardkha got the idea to cut diamonds like colored gemstones. "While diamonds are typically cut to maximize their brilliance and sparkle, gemstones such as rubies and emeralds are cut to emphasize their depth and clarity." Mardkha had his brother-in-law, Yoram Finkelstein, cut diamonds based on the concepts he had. Mardkha went on to get patents (7,146,827 & D467,833) and make a small fortune. Finkelstein wanted his cut.

Continue reading "Cut Out"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:51 PM | Patents In Business

July 1, 2007

Hanging Tough

An ITC injunction looms before Qualcomm, yet it won't nod to a Broadcom offer of $6 per cell phone licensing fee for an all-inclusive license to Broadcom patents, or, reportedly, to a royalty-free "exhaustive" cross-license.

Continue reading "Hanging Tough"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:36 AM | Patents In Business

June 23, 2007

Qualcomm Denied

On Friday, the ITC denied Qualcomm's request to stay its ban on importing Qualcomm cell phone chips. Qualcomm's only hopes are an unlikely emergency stay from the appeals court (CAFC) while waiting a presidential veto of the ban.

Continue reading "Qualcomm Denied"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:24 AM | Patents In Business

June 22, 2007

Money Talks - On the Cell Phone

The June 7 ITC ban on Qualcomm chips, stemming from rival Broadcom's patent infringement assertion, has drawn fire from CTIA, a wireless industry trade group. CTIA wrote a letter to President Bush Wednesday, requesting a veto of the ITC action, citing the economic damage such a ban would have.

Continue reading "Money Talks - On the Cell Phone"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:22 AM | Patents In Business

June 11, 2007

A Bug's Life

Dr. Craig Venter, a pioneer in the effort to sequence the human genome, worked for years on the daunting task of artificially constructing microbes from selected genetic material. Venter has now filed for patent protection in the U.S. and with WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Naturally, groups opposed to genetic engineering are mortified.

Continue reading "A Bug's Life"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:43 PM | Patents In Business

June 7, 2007

Patents at Work

Microsoft and South Korea-based LG Electronics signed a broad cross-licensing agreement. The agreement allows LG to use Microsoft patented technology in its Linux-based embedded devices. The deal was announced late Wednesday.

Continue reading "Patents at Work"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:38 PM | Patents In Business

June 4, 2007

Sweet Dreams

After becoming pals with Novell last year, to encourage others to buddy up, Microsoft bigwigs recently boasted that 235 of its patents were infringed by open-source products. Now Linux software distributor Xandros has inked a five-year pact with Big Softie, providing "patent covenants" to Xandros customers, so they don't have to worry about being sat on by Mr. 235. This is Microsoft's way of making friends.

Continue reading "Sweet Dreams"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:26 PM | Patents In Business

May 14, 2007

The Dynamics of Obviousness

The Supreme Court ruling in KSR v. Teleflex unleashed wide-ranging dynamics: diminishing the value of patent portfolios, helping and hurting start-up companies, and promoting generic drugs.

Continue reading "The Dynamics of Obviousness"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:30 PM | The Patent System

Microsoft's Dull Patent Bludgeon

Roger Parloff, Fortune senior editor, has written a fascinating article in CNN Money.com about the patent roadkill of Redmond fumbling about, trying to squeeze blood from the rock of Linux.

Continue reading "Microsoft's Dull Patent Bludgeon"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:39 AM | Patents In Business

May 10, 2007

Litigation Intelligence

Patent litigation can make or break a company. VOIP vendor Vonage ate Verizon's lunch until Verizon pounded back with a patent lawsuit, putting Vonage's very existence on the line. On the other side of the coin, Burst.com snagged $62 million in a settlement from Microsoft in 2005 for its patented streaming media technology, and just garnered a favorable Markman ruling against Apple, setting the stage for a payoff. The arcane ins and outs of courtroom patent battles require a knowledgeable insider of the game to read the tea leaves early and accurately. Hedge fund managers, always looking for an edge to lead what will become the pack, are now hiring patent litigators as scouts, reporting back skirmish results that could tip the balance, and move stock prices.

Continue reading "Litigation Intelligence"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:32 PM | Patents In Business

May 8, 2007

Amazon & IBM Waltz

IBM and Amazon.com inked a comprehensive settlement and cross-licensing of their respective patents, ending years of dispute. Amazon pays for the privilege.

Continue reading "Amazon & IBM Waltz"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:45 AM | Patents In Business

April 24, 2007

Vonage Off Hook

A few hours after hearing oral arguments, the appeals court (CAFC) granted Vonage reprieve from an injunction for infringing Verizon patents.

Continue reading "Vonage Off Hook"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:34 PM | Patents In Business

April 19, 2007

Microsoft & Samsung Romance Dance

Microsoft & Samsung Electronics waltzed themselves to a broad cross-licensing agreement. Details of the dance steps were not disclosed, but involves televisions, computers, digital video recorders and other digital media recorders. Predictably, both sides were cooing over the wooing.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:23 PM | Patents In Business

April 18, 2007

You Get What You Pay For

The Software Freedom Law Center asserts that every Microsoft Windows® user pays $21 in patent tax, based on rough calculations of patent infringement damages, settlements, and legal fees Microsoft paid, whereas Linux users pay $0. So, Windows users, you're paying for the best software Microsoft could make, regardless of who invented the technology, whereas Linux users don't have to pay anything, because Linux doesn't have any patented innovation in it, at least hypothetically; to wit, Linux users pay $0 until Linux is sued for infringing patents, which it most certainly does. In other words, Linux users are patent tax evaders. Software freedom indeed.

Continue reading "You Get What You Pay For"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:47 PM | Patents In Business

April 12, 2007

Vonage Roils

In the wake of getting whumped by Verizon for patent infringement, Vonage CEO Michael Snyder has walked the plank on the sinking ship. Vonage founder Jeffrey Citron puts back on his old captain's cap. Vonage plans to pare itself down to fighting weight in the aftermath.

Continue reading "Vonage Roils"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:32 PM | Patents In Business

April 11, 2007

Sweetness & Light

Sucralose, essentially chlorinated cane sugar, has one-eighth the calories of sugar by weight, but is 600 times sweeter. Splenda is the trade name for this wildly popular sugar substitute. Maker and patent holder Tate & Lyle, having successfully sued for patent infringement before, are caning three Chinese manufacturers before the ITC, along with 18 importers.

Continue reading "Sweetness & Light"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:48 PM | Patents In Business

April 9, 2007

DVD Standard

DVD technology is, needless to say, standardized, and aspects of the technology patented. Toshiba and eight other companies created the DVD6C Licensing group as a ready means for DVD player or recorder companies to obtain the necessary licenses. So far, over 220 companies have signed on. Toshiba has rounded up 17 companies, mostly Hong Kong and China based, that allegedly use the official DVD logo, but do not have paid-up licenses; the venues: Northern California district court & the ITC.

Continue reading "DVD Standard"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:06 PM | Patents In Business

April 6, 2007

Hung Up

District court Judge Claude Hilton slapped a odd order on Vonage today, stopping it from signing up new customers. Vonage had been found to have infringed three Verizon patents. Verizon gave the judge the idea. Besides the headache, this gives Vonage one more thing to appeal.

Continue reading "Hung Up"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:55 AM | Litigation

Nokia Dials It In

Nokia and Qualcomm are tussling over patents. On Thursday, Nokia squeaked that it would pay Qualcomm $20 million for a quarterly license for Qualcomm patents related to CDMA wireless technology. In reply, Qualcomm snorted: "They have no right to do that."

Continue reading "Nokia Dials It In"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:27 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

April 4, 2007

Blowback Dynamics

The appeals court SanDisk ruling regarding declaratory judgment has a least one commenter consternated. David Fox of Fulbright & Jaworski whines in IP Law 360: "SanDisk is likely to have a very strong adverse impact on small technology companies and universities that may not have the means to defend their patents in declaratory judgment actions. The decision will likely result in the inability of of such patentees to license patents, especially to large companies. This could have a profoundly negative effect on the development of technology in the United States." If there's a kernel of truth in Fox's Chicken Little declaration, it's good news disguised as bad news.

Continue reading "Blowback Dynamics"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:09 AM | Patents In Business

March 29, 2007

Aced

Acer Computer has been doing fine: sales are up, and Acer is now ranked fourth in computer product sales in the U.S. So what does competitor Hewlett-Packard do? Saddle up the palomino; ride on down to the Eastern District of Tejas (HP-207-cv-00103-TJW); draw the pistolero out of its holster, and make Acer dance.

Continue reading "Aced"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:09 PM | Patents In Business

March 23, 2007

Vonage Whacked

Verizon pressed for an injunction against Vonage, after a jury found three patents infringed of five asserted. East Virginia district court Judge Claude Hilton indicating he would consider signing a permanent injunction on the affected technologies was like a toilet flush on Vonage stock, which dropped 26% today, to $3.

Continue reading "Vonage Whacked"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:17 PM | Patents In Business

March 22, 2007

Microsoft & Fuji Xerox

Microsoft announced yesterday evening that it had eloped with Fuji Xerox, inking a broad patent cross-licensing agreement. From it, Fuji Xerox obtains peace of mind for its software, some of which includes a Linux base. Microsoft gets to stick Fuji Xerox technology into Office as it pleases. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Continue reading "Microsoft & Fuji Xerox"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:18 AM | Patents In Business

March 14, 2007

Green Alert

Aiming to get security screening equipment free, the U.S. Airport Police State, officially known as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has aimlessly wandered into a patent infringement suit, among other charges, between two competitors, over ads on "divestiture bins" and "composure tables."

Continue reading "Green Alert"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:35 PM | Litigation

March 8, 2007

Hang Up

Losing business because of lousy service, Goliath Verizon nailed David Vonage for infringing three patents. The immediate damage to Vonage: $58 million, 70% less than the $197m sought, and an ongoing 5.5% royalty if Vonage doesn't figure a workaround. The infringement was found not willful. Verizon is seeking a permanent injunction. This is but the first patent attack which Vonage must weather, or wither.

Continue reading "Hang Up"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:10 PM | Damages

March 6, 2007

LegalForce IP

LegalForce IP launches, in beta, its patent classifieds: patents for sale, and networking for hungry patent practitioners (none yet onsite). Using "patent engineers" in India, LegalForce IP also aims to provide a variety of cut-rate patent services, including prosecution, prior art search, valuation, auctioning, clearing opinions, licensing & litigation support.

Continue reading "LegalForce IP"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:35 PM | Patents In Business

March 5, 2007

Strained Silicon

Amberwave asserted 5,158,907 against Intel in July 2005 in the Eastern District of Texas, later adding 7,074,655. Intel rebutted, and various lawsuits arose in a running battle. Intel continually cried wolf with non-infringement, while Amberwave was a wolf snarling willful infringement. Now the posturing is history. Amberwave scored a settlement from hard-nosed Intel, who laid down like a lamb, getting a 10-year license to Amberwave's patent portfolio in return for undisclosed big green.

Continue reading "Strained Silicon"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:34 PM | Litigation

March 4, 2007

Game Over

In a stunning concession, Sony agreed to pay Immersion $150 million to settle a five-year litigation battle. Sony puts behind it a string of courtroom defeats.

Continue reading "Game Over"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:34 PM | Litigation

March 1, 2007

Patent Enforcement Trends

PricewaterhouseCoopers released its 2007 survey of patent enforcement. It found less business method action, more alternative dispute resolutions, and, owing to rising costs, the first decline in litigation filings in 16 years.

Continue reading "Patent Enforcement Trends"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:23 PM | Litigation | Comments (1)

February 13, 2007

Patents for Business

M. Henry Heines, partner at Townsend & Townsend, has written an informative backgrounder about the business of patents, from nuts-and-bolts introduction to patent management to strategic issues. The book: Patents for Business: The Manager's Guide to Scope, Strategy, and Due Diligence, lays out the essentials that managers need to know about developing and managing a patent portfolio.

Continue reading "Patents for Business"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:59 AM | Patents In Business

February 4, 2007

Patenting Points

In the February 5 BusinessWeek article "To Patent or Not to Patent?," Vivek Wadhwa sketches some patenting points. Did you know that "intellectual property law is notoriously confusing"?

Continue reading "Patenting Points"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:34 PM | Patents In Business

January 17, 2007

Drugged

FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz has his knickers in a twist, testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee about what he called anticompetitive patent settlements in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

Continue reading "Drugged"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:36 PM | Patents In Business

January 16, 2007

Disjointed Venture

Canon began SED TV technology research in 1986. In 1999, Canon took a patent license from Nano-Proprietary for its SED TV technologies. Canon then entered a joint venture with Toshiba in 2004 to develop this new type of flat-panel display. In doing so, it seems to have run afoul of its licensing agreement. Nano-Proprietary sued.

Continue reading "Disjointed Venture"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:32 AM | Patents In Business

January 1, 2007

2006

Measured by complaints filed, patent litigation rose 2% year-to-year in 2006, continuing a long-term trend (following a dip in 2005), with litigation up 11% in the past five years.

Continue reading "2006"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:53 PM | Patents In Business

December 11, 2006

Anonymous Dog Eats Homework

The Medicines Company filed papers today with the SEC blaming its outside legal counsel for being one day tardy in filing for a patent extension for its blockbuster anti-blood clotting drug Angiomax. Medicines hoped the Republican Congress would help them out, but they skipped town. Still, Medicines refuses to shoot the dog.

Continue reading "Anonymous Dog Eats Homework"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:16 PM | Patents In Business

December 7, 2006

Getting Carded

Patent-holding company Card Activation Technologies is continuing its aggressive enforcement campaign of 6,032,589. After putting the hard word on McDonalds and Walgreens in October, the latest to receive notice from the courthouse is Sears, who also operates Kmart.

Continue reading "Getting Carded"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:45 PM | Patents In Business

December 4, 2006

Patent Fillip

Ottawa-based Wi-LAN got a "way-to-go!" on the Toronto Stock Exchange after scoring a patent coup from Nokia; Wi-LAN's share price jumping 64% on the news, to $4.40 Canadian. Nokia paid $15.2 million for fully paid-up licensing to Wi-LAN's patent portfolio, while passing off its own portfolio of asymmetric digital subscriber lines (ADSL) patents to Wi-LAN.

Continue reading "Patent Fillip"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:12 PM | Patents In Business

November 3, 2006

The Media Trap

Paul McDougall of Information Week gets the Bad Patent Article of the Week award. Congratulations Paul! Paul titled his little ditty, "How To Avoid The Patent Trap," but of course the article isn't about that; it's a hodgepodge of Paul's confusion, carping, misinformation, and miscellaneous tidbits, with, admittedly, a couple worthy paragraphs. Let's get bitchy...

Continue reading "The Media Trap"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:30 PM | The Patent System

Windows Kisses Linux

Microsoft played a radically different card in its dealing with Linux Thursday. Novell struck a deal with Microsoft to pay ongoing royalties to 2012 to avoid the risk of having the SUSE Linux ox gored by Microsoft's patent portfolio, particularly a mutual covenant not to harangue each others customers and developers with patent assertions; no mention of not suing each other.

Continue reading "Windows Kisses Linux"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:04 AM | Patents In Business

November 1, 2006

Forget Cashes Out

Forgent Networks, who forged filthy lucre from 4,698,672, which covered the JPEG image compression standard, put out a terse press release today, announcing having settled all outstanding assertions. Enforcement being an increasingly bumpy ride, claim construction not going its way, and with a reexam dragon breathing down its neck, Forget declares victory and goes home.

Continue reading "Forget Cashes Out"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:45 PM | Patents In Business

October 30, 2006

Patent Standard

Historically, some standards committees have been naive, blind to adopting a standard incorporating patented technology, with the result that adoptees of the standard had to fork out patent license fees to a company having kept its mouth shut until the standard was set and widely adopted. This happened with standards for images (.gif & .jpeg), DRAM, and wireless communications. Now, at least one standards setter has set a standard in being patent savvy.

Continue reading "Patent Standard"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:09 PM | Patents In Business

October 24, 2006

Patent Stock Index

The Ocean Tomo 300 Patent Index launches Wednesday on the American Stock Exchange. It is the first major stock index based solely on corporate IP in the past 35 years. This is yet another chip on Ocean Tomo's growing pile of patent monetization mechanisms.

Continue reading "Patent Stock Index"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:56 PM | Patents In Business

October 1, 2006

Polished Look for Dumb Algorithms

For all the carping about junk patents, there's one patent that's never controversial: patent leather. The Seattle Times reminds that, "One of the shining stars of the fall fashion season is patent leather." This story courtesy of Google News, whose fancy algorithms aren't smart enough to distinguish news stories about patents from those on patent leather.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:19 PM | Patents In Business

Acacia Gets Personal

Acacia Technologies issued a press release late last week of its acquisition of a web personalization patent: technology for learning user preferences and automatically personalizing a user's online experience. Once considered an invasion of privacy, web personalization has taken off in recent years.

Continue reading "Acacia Gets Personal"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:48 PM | Patents In Business

September 29, 2006

Offshore Patents

Financial firms advise fiduciary fun, playing house for companies to transfer patent ownership to offshore shells as a tax dodge. According to the Wall Street Journal, Merck saved itself $1.5 billion doing that. And other companies have had their fling with "tax arbitrage." The IRS, never known as the life of the party, is not amused.

Continue reading "Offshore Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:27 AM | Patents In Business

September 28, 2006

Malocclusion Mended

It's unusual that a plaintiff in a patent infringement suit settles by paying the defendant. But that's the teeth of the agreement for Align Technology settling against OrthoClear for infringing Align's patents for non-metal dental braces, as well as a mouthful of other business malpractices which Align accused OrthoClear of.

Continue reading "Malocclusion Mended"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:00 PM | Litigation

September 27, 2006

Licensing Muscle

Royal Philips Electronics, with patents that roped in licensing agreements for CD-R manufacture from optical storage makers CMC Magnetics, Ritek, Prodisc Technology, and Lead Data, has been pushing a new per-unit licensing scheme, called Veeza. The optical disc makers have resisted, fearing a hike in fees. So Phillips pulled the rug out from under them.

Continue reading "Licensing Muscle"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:13 PM | Patents In Business

September 26, 2006

IBM Patent Exposure

The New York Times reports that IBM, America's patent gorilla, is going naked about its patent filings. Does showing that its patent applications are well hung really do anything? Maybe.

Continue reading "IBM Patent Exposure"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:07 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

September 25, 2006

Page Count FTC

Last week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a report towards punishing Rambus for its memory patents, which were "unlawfully acquired monopoly power by deceiving JEDEC;" JEDEC being the committee that embedded Rambus' patented technology into memory standards, thus granting Rambus its windfall. The most astonishing facet is the ignorance of the FTC regarding patent valuation.

Continue reading "Page Count FTC"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:02 PM | Patents In Business

September 24, 2006

IEEE 802.20

Given the landscape, you might think that standards committees "accidentally" adopting patented technology is, well, somewhat standard. The image compression JPEG standard has been a cash cow for Forgent Networks, owner of the patent smothering JPEG. While the DRAM market itself is a cesspool of corporate corruption, DRAM standards have been a boon to patent-holder Rambus. Now IEEE belatedly tries to put its wireless communication protocol standard IEEE 802.20 back on the rails after potential surreptitious patent-peddling concerns.

Continue reading "IEEE 802.20"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:46 PM | Patents In Business

September 14, 2006

Heated Pads

Keith Whittle & Theo Cummings were Cincinnati chums. Theo, a patent attorney, helped Keith, gratis, get his patent for body protective pads, with optional heating, used for sports & construction work. As a result, Keith got 6,588,019. But the patent Keith got wasn't all that he expected, and he got sore about it.

Continue reading "Heated Pads"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:28 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (4)

September 13, 2006

Microsoft's Patent Web

Microsoft has a set of web services specifications that it wants widely adopted as a standard. To smooth that path, Microsoft has promised not to assert any of its patents against developers who adopt the specification. Of course there's a catch.

Continue reading "Microsoft's Patent Web"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:57 PM | Patents In Business

Patent Happy

Dennis Crouch & Peter Zura in the past few days have been kicking around the question: why so much patenting when so few patents are worth anything? Sophisticated studies cited by these esteemed bloggers raise paradoxes and postulate justifications, when, in fact, corporate patenting is both systemic and systematic, as in, automatic like a dog.

Continue reading "Patent Happy"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:08 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

September 10, 2006

Drugged

The Alza v. Mylan Labs decision last week, where the patent for anti-incontinence Ditropan® was knocked off for obviousness, using the same patent overcame during prosecution, no less, may be a harbinger for other drug patents skating on thin ice. The Economist this week raises an eyebrow on drug patents under attack.

Continue reading "Drugged"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:01 PM | Patents In Business

September 6, 2006

Anti-Patent Crusader

Young Dan Ravicher, the force behind the Public Patent Foundation, is interviewed in MIT's Technology Review. In the interview, Dan reveals his utopian ignorance of economics.

Continue reading "Anti-Patent Crusader"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:21 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

August 27, 2006

Blackboard Rattles

The Washington Post reports today "an angry backlash from the academic computing community" for Blackboard asserting its freshly minted 6,988,138 against Desire2Learn. The worry is, of course, the broad claims of '138. Not reported is whether the academic computing community has enrolled for anger management help.

Continue reading "Blackboard Rattles"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:12 PM | Litigation | Comments (1)

August 24, 2006

Apple Gets Creative

Apple Computer rather graciously ended its dispute with Creative Technology, apparently perceiving merit in Creative's iPod-related patents; gracious to the tune of $100 million.

Continue reading "Apple Gets Creative"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:18 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

August 23, 2006

Memory Mudfight Stayed

The ongoing DRAM brouhaha between Hynix and patent-holder Rambus is chilling out, pending a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decision in its antitrust investigation against Rambus.

Continue reading "Memory Mudfight Stayed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:19 PM | Litigation

August 22, 2006

Timeline Grinds Microsoft

In 1999, Microsoft took a limited license with Timeline for its patented database technology. The scope of that agreement has been contentious, the term "agreement" used loosely, as Timeline & Microsoft have wrangled in court over it ever since. Now Timeline has terminated the license, accusing Microsoft of breaching its terms by inducing infringement, and is suing Microsoft for damages.

Continue reading "Timeline Grinds Microsoft"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | Patents In Business

August 11, 2006

Wall Street Patents

The New York Times has an interesting article in today's business section about the ongoing frenzy of business method patents among financial service firms such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

Continue reading "Wall Street Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:00 AM | Patents In Business

August 8, 2006

Big Media Blowout

In one of the smaller ironies limping around, Big Media went bust, and the creditor clean-up crew is trying to scrape some revenue out of selling 6,385,592 and a continuation application; a bit shabby offering in lack of proper maintenance, but potential exists to rock e-commerce companies that offer personalized advertising.

Continue reading "Big Media Blowout"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:47 AM | Patents In Business

August 2, 2006

Sneaky Rambus

Rambus has been enforcing its memory patents against semiconductor companies, racking up royalties. The wondrous trick was that the claimed technology was rolled into the standard for computer memories. Today the U.S. Federal Trade Commission ruled that Rambus knew just what it was doing, and thus unlawfully gaining monopolistic rent, as economists put it, for four memory chip technologies.

Continue reading "Sneaky Rambus"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:47 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

July 31, 2006

Non-Profit Patent Profit

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 allowed universities and other non-profit institutions to retain ownership of patents from federally-funded research. It turned universities, hospitals, and research institutions into invention hothouses, and patent monetizers.

Continue reading "Non-Profit Patent Profit"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:31 AM | Patents In Business

July 26, 2006

Anti-Nano Pendency

There is a surging wave of research in nanotechnology - a catch-all for tiny structures with broad applicability in other technologies. In other words, nanotech is a catalytic technology, possibly seminal in this country maintaining its competitive edge internationally. In that regard, one big problem is the USPTO.

Continue reading "Anti-Nano Pendency"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:10 AM | Patents In Business

July 23, 2006

Boston Freedom

What a difference a settlement makes. Freedom Wireless has a patented system for tracking pre-paid wireless phone usage (5,722,067), for which Boston Communications et al were sued for infringement. Futilely, to the sound of tiny, inaudible violins, Boston had cried prior art invalidity, and spat "patent troll" at Freedom. A jury tagged Boston Communications $128 million for infringement, including Boston-indemnified co-defendants. Boston appealed, but Friday wisely gave up that ghost.

Continue reading "Boston Freedom"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:29 PM | Patents In Business

July 22, 2006

Inventive Towns

In a rare homage to patent protection, the Wall Street Journal in its weekend edition spotlights towns where individual inventors seemingly cluster and bloom: "The Most Inventive Towns in America."

Continue reading "Inventive Towns"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:04 PM | Patents In Business

July 18, 2006

Stem Cell Brouhaha

Research using stem cells hold the promise of ultimately treating numerous diseases. But, in this country, federal funding for that research has been thwarted by religious fanatics with highly placed political connections. And now, even as the Senate passed a bill increasing federal funding for stem-cell research, to which a presidential veto is threatened, yet another roadblock to stem-cell research apparently looms.

Continue reading "Stem Cell Brouhaha"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:32 PM | Patents In Business

July 14, 2006

Aussie Wi-Fi Strong-arm

Australia's national science agency, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), fumbled all over in trying to license 5,487,069, which claims IEEE standards 802.11a & 802.11g, Wi-Fi, for wireless LAN (local area networks). When its U.S. corporate targets Dell, Intel, HP, Microsoft and Netgear sought declaratory judgment, CSIRO tried to evade court action by declaring itself immune from suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). [CAFC 06-1032]

Continue reading "Aussie Wi-Fi Strong-arm"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:21 PM | Litigation

July 12, 2006

Counterfeit Concern

News reports [e.g. 1, 2] that computer gamers have their panties in a twist over 6,816,972, one of Sony's copy protection patents aimed at protecting intellectual property rights.

Continue reading "Counterfeit Concern"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:07 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (2)

July 10, 2006

Acacia's CEO Interviewed

CNET News displays its bias in "Have patent, will sue," an interview with Paul Ryan, CEO of Acacia Technologies.

Continue reading "Acacia's CEO Interviewed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:06 PM | Patents In Business

July 9, 2006

Another Acacia Sweep

As of Friday, ace patent holding company Acacia settled with all six defendants against which it had asserted 4,937,743, which claims resource scheduling software, specifically oriented towards health care providers.

Continue reading "Another Acacia Sweep"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:17 PM | Patents In Business

June 29, 2006

Intellectual Ventures

BusinessWeek has an in-depth profile of Intellectual Ventures in its most recent issue.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:51 PM | Patents In Business

June 21, 2006

Infringing Ink

HP has more than 4,000 patents related to printing supplies, many of those relating to printer ink delivery. Like razors & razor blades, selling ink is more profitable than selling the printers that use them. Hence, HP maintains worldwide monitoring for patent infringement, particularly those related to refilling ink cartridges by other companies that offer generic ink. HP let it be known that Walgreens and Office Max are being jawboned.

Continue reading "Infringing Ink"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:56 PM | Patents In Business

June 17, 2006

VoIP Wars

VoIP is a cataclysmic technology for landline telephony. Vonage is the early market leader, but, after recently bruising itself with the second-worst IPO in U.S. history, may be cut down by patent infringement, as freshly rabid Verizon joins Sprint Nextel in assertion, while other VoIP patent battles rage and loom.

Continue reading "VoIP Wars"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:34 AM | Patents In Business

June 13, 2006

High Voltage

Stun-gun maker Taser sued competitor Bestex Monday for infringing 5,078,117, which claims a compressed gas "projectile housing". Bestex shot back with a counterclaim that Taser's supposedly non-lethal weapons were something more.

Continue reading "High Voltage"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:05 AM | Patents In Business

June 9, 2006

Buzz

Creative Technology, world leader in sound cards, has stumbled into a patent hornets nest. In response to suing Apple Computer over Creative's so-called Zen patent: 6,928,433, Apple is stinging Creative with multiple patent infringement suits.

Continue reading "Buzz"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:27 AM | Patents In Business

June 5, 2006

Res Judicata

Back in 1995, Dow Chemical sued Pactive for infringing 5,424,016 & 5,585,058, which went to accelerating release of a blowing agent from a plastic foam. Pactiv put up something of a fight with invalidity and unenforceability counterclaims, but backed down and settled, with Pactiv signing a licensing agreement and paying royalties. In 2002, Pactiv spontaneously ceased payment.

Continue reading "Res Judicata"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:02 PM | Patents In Business

May 24, 2006

Patent Skimming

Mitchell Medina, an evangelical minister with a taste for offshore patent holding companies, is funding his Kenya ministry with patent extortion. Medina has 17 U.S. patents, including one for retrieving dog poop (5,403,050). How apropos.

Continue reading "Patent Skimming"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:53 PM | Patents In Business

May 21, 2006

Foul Play?

Symantec filed a complaint in Seattle court Friday against Microsoft for infringing 6,826,661, and for stealing trade secrets. Symatec's attorneys observed, "Over the course of nearly a decade, Microsoft has deliberately and surreptitiously misappropriated Symantec's valuable data storage technologies." This is no slight miscommunication, even as the principals ho-hum the affair in the press.

Continue reading "Foul Play?"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:40 PM | Patents In Business

May 14, 2006

Patent Payoff

Bruce Bigelow of the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper wrote a well-researched article May 14 about profit-optimizing business strategies revolving around patents, and the concept of an IP community.

Continue reading "Patent Payoff"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:41 PM | Patents In Business

Patent Pejorative

A patent propaganda coalition is forming, euphemistically named: The Coalition for Patent Fairness. CPU-reliant (common misnomer: high-tech) companies want to incite self-interested change of patent laws, lobbying Congress to gut patent enforcement. Expect to hear even more about the patent pejorative in the woodpile: patent trolls.

Continue reading "Patent Pejorative"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:00 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

May 10, 2006

Patent Auction Plus

CNET News reports that the April Ocean Tomo auction results improved in after-auction selling. While only 26 of the 78 patent portfolios went off the block during the auction, accruing $3 million, five lots in after-auction sales nabbed another $5.4 million. According to Ocean Tomo, that's a transaction rate of nearly 40%; not a bad batting average.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:05 PM | Patents In Business

April 27, 2006

Big 2G Deal

Finnish cell phone maker Nokia has settled a long-smoldering dispute with InterDigital Communications over InterDigital's 2G TDMA patent portfolio, and it only cost Nokia $253 million to put out the fire.

Continue reading "Big 2G Deal"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:56 PM | Patents In Business

April 26, 2006

Bankruptcy Auction

Xybernaut, a maker of wearable computing devices, went bankrupt last July. To help put itself back on its feet, Xybernaut is auctioning its "Waypoint" patent portfolio, which includes 6,480,713 & 6,681,107. The Waypoint patents enable location-based services to wireless-enabled mobile devices, such as plopping ads onto a PDA for nearby restaurants and shops; potentially useful and annoying.

Continue reading "Bankruptcy Auction"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:03 PM | Patents In Business

April 19, 2006

Purgatory or Hell

Continuing its gossipy coverage of patents, and even reporting from the future (April 24), BusinessWeek poses that crucial legal question: is burst.com an "Underdog or Patent Troll?"

Continue reading "Purgatory or Hell"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:45 PM | Patents In Business

April 9, 2006

Mary Kay, Sour Puss

Mary Kay, cosmetics pink lady, has been ordered to to pay TriStrata Technology $40 million for patent infringement related to skin cream used to treat wrinkles. This is an interest add-on from a March 2005 $26 million judgment over patented alpha hydroxy acid technology.

Continue reading "Mary Kay, Sour Puss"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:15 PM | Patents In Business

April 7, 2006

Patent Auction Ripple

Ocean Tomo's first patent auction didn't create the bidding tsunami many sellers hoped for. Then again, it was an odd bird: a live event for diverse technologies. The scene did attract widespread attention, and drew several hundred attendees. For publicity value alone it can be considered a success. As to the patent sales, not so good.

Continue reading "Patent Auction Ripple"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:03 AM | Patents In Business

April 5, 2006

More Settling In

Two more patent spats settled for big-name defendants Google and IBM.

Continue reading "More Settling In"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:55 AM | Patents In Business

April 4, 2006

Settling In

A patent litigation news koan: where's the newsworthy flash of a patent settlement? It happens so often, it's hardly news. Here are a few recent greased wheels....

Continue reading "Settling In"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:08 AM | Patents In Business

April 3, 2006

Patent Pain

Frank Hayes of ComputerWorld likes it when companies pay for patent licenses. "We like it when vendors wave a big check at a problem and make it go away. Sure, we'll foot the bill if it means the result is a clean, simple, effortless (for us) solution." What irks Frank is when they pay, and get nothing for it, except passing the pain on to consumers.

Continue reading "Patent Pain"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:09 PM | Patents In Business

March 26, 2006

Crushing Small Innovators

Roy Mark provides a knowing take on the perspective of Silicon Valley corporations towards patent licensers in his March 24, 2006 commentary for internetnews.com.

Continue reading "Crushing Small Innovators"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:37 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (5)

March 21, 2006

Patent Reader

A free, and most welcome, patent search and retrieval site is up: Patent Reader. Its .pdf patent number retrieval is wonderful, as you can get multiple .pdfs in a single throw. But, for power, Patent Reader's text search won't lose Delphion any customers.

Continue reading "Patent Reader"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:36 AM | Patents In Business

March 2, 2006

Gateway Cowed

Gateway, the company that thinks dairy cows make an effective high-tech marketing logo, got milked $47 million by HP, in a settlement that promises to let a lot of lawyers get a good night's sleep.

Continue reading "Gateway Cowed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:09 AM | Patents In Business

March 1, 2006

Settlement Drive

In a last-minute fit of rationality, just before trial was to begin, computer disk drive maker Quantum agreed to pay Sun Microsystems $25 million to settle patent infringement of two StorageTek patents; Sun bought StorageTek last summer for $4.1 billion.

Continue reading "Settlement Drive"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:56 PM | Patents In Business

February 27, 2006

Cash Cow

Posilac is a cow growth hormone sold by Monsanto, one of those nasty things naturalists who are smart enough not to drink milk complain about being in milk. But I digress. 6,692,941 covers that bovine somatotropin. Too bad for Monsanto, having the product, but not the patent.

Continue reading "Cash Cow"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:31 PM | Patents In Business

February 22, 2006

Spilled Ink

Seiko Epson has a well-established corporate policy of proactive patent licensing. That proactivity is again evidenced by suing 24 companies before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), and in Portland, Oregon district court for design and utility patent infringement over printer ink cartridges. Up to 30 patents are involved in these actions.

Continue reading "Spilled Ink"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:00 PM | Patents In Business

February 17, 2006

Coin Toss

In 2001, Mag-Nif sued Royal Sovereign for 5,902,178 & 6,165,063, claiming devices which sorts coins by denomination into different tubes through chutes. They settled. But Mag-Nif became unsettled with Royal Soverign's new "FS-3D" coin sorter. Ultimately, the CAFC had to sort it out (05-1346).

Continue reading "Coin Toss"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:56 PM | Patents In Business

February 10, 2006

MPEG Piggy

AT&T claims a patent lock on MPEG-4, the current standard for squishing high-quality video into grainy images, and is putting the squeeze on MPEG purveyors while Ma Bell spins in her grave.

Continue reading "MPEG Piggy"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:41 PM | Patents In Business

Disconnected RIM

Crackberries thumb away emails on their Blackberries while awaiting proceedings beginning February 24 in Virginia district court before a fed-up Judge Spencer towards an injunction against RIM for infringing NTP patents; an injunction which would shut down RIM's Blackberry wireless email service in the U.S. for all but government workers, unless RIM pulls a workaround rabbit out of its hat, which RIM says it has.

Continue reading "Disconnected RIM"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | Patents In Business

February 6, 2006

International Patent Filings Update

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) issued press release 436 from Geneva on February 3. Yep, it's the one we've all been waiting for. No weapons of mass destruction, but worthwhile reading if you're inclined to know the annual summary status of international patent filings.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:22 PM | Patents In Business

January 30, 2006

Microsoft Office Update

Last July, Guatemalan native Carlos Armando Amado nailed Microsoft $8.9 million for infringing 5,537,590, inter-application linking technology which Microsoft had incorporated into its ubiquitous Office suite. At the time of the ruling, Microsoft crooned that "we do not believe today's verdict will have any impact on our customers." Today, Microsoft is singing a different tune.

Continue reading "Microsoft Office Update"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:45 PM | Patents In Business

Fortinet Bows To Trend Micro

Under the gun, software antivirus maker Fortinet settled with rival Trend Micro in what had been a raging patent dispute, both in court and before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

Continue reading "Fortinet Bows To Trend Micro"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:57 AM | Patents In Business

January 22, 2006

Bioprospecting Ire

Bioprospecting is the technological art of refining biological entities, mostly plant-derived, into patents, and spinning those into a fattened bank account. And it's pissing off the natives, who for thousands of years knew of these plants, even cultivated hybrids using classic techniques explained to Westerners by Gregor Mendel (the white geezer at right), but knew not how to score wads o' moola out of them.

Continue reading "Bioprospecting Ire"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:35 PM | Patents In Business

January 19, 2006

Bumper Crop

Biotechnology giants Dow Chemical and Monsanto have inked a wide-ranging patent cross-licensing agreement, and withdrawing from their meddling with each other's patents. The corporate Hatfield-McCoy feud is finally settled; thar's peace on the farm at last.

Continue reading "Bumper Crop"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:01 AM | Patents In Business

January 18, 2006

Genesis of a Hack Job

Received an email from Andrew Brandt, writer for PC World. "I'm working on a news story about how the flood of technology patents is affecting computer users. We're looking to focus on examples of "bad" patents that adversely affect innovation, raise costs for consumers, or make basic tasks more difficult or complicated for the average computer user." Oh boy.

Continue reading "Genesis of a Hack Job"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:50 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

January 17, 2006

Xerox's Strategy

Xerox, a name once so powerful that the company had to fight losing their trademark because it had become synonymous with the photocopies their machines produced, became blindsided by market changes, its business crashed, but is now like a phoenix rising, thanks to patents.

Continue reading "Xerox's Strategy"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:41 PM | Patents In Business

January 11, 2006

FATback

Microsoft's FAT patents are back, invincible. 5,579,517 & 5,758,352, the FAT twins, have survived reexamination, sparked by patent curmudgeon PubPat. Linux supporters quiver, with good reason - Linux infringes the FAT boys.

Continue reading "FATback"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 2:55 PM | Patents In Business

HP Comes Around on Patents

This week, the list of top US receivers of patents was released. The list contained the usual suspects, including HP. It was not too long ago, HP made news saying that it was hell bent on gaining the top spot on this list. As a result they went on a patent writing bender. This was at the same time when they were streamlining their R&D staff and asking them to focus on near term opportunities.

Continue reading "HP Comes Around on Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:57 AM | Patents In Business

January 10, 2006

Top Drawer

Asian companies continue to show patenting strength in the U.S., according to figures just released by the USPTO. While IBM is still top dog, five of the top ten patenting companies are Japanese, with a Korean sitting in the middle.

Continue reading "Top Drawer"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 7:09 AM | Patents In Business

January 7, 2006

Patent Statistics Update

Granted patents & lawsuits are down while application filings rise. Small business and individual inventors, "the little guy", dominate high technology patenting, but have a tough road to hoe in profiting from their inventions.

Continue reading "Patent Statistics Update"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:30 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

January 2, 2006

Rates Gone Ape

Immodest New-York based Rates Technology Inc. (RTI) is suing Google for five billion dollars for its VOIP Google Talk, as well as going after other companies, for infringing telephone billing patents 5,425,085 & 5,519,769. RTI is going to give patent trolls a bad name.

Continue reading "Rates Gone Ape"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:25 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

December 29, 2005

Nokia Tab Confirmed

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York confirmed a June ruling by the International Court of Arbitration, ordering Nokia to pay $252 million in patent royalty fees to InterDigital for the years 2002 through 2006.

Continue reading "Nokia Tab Confirmed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:03 AM | Patents In Business

December 17, 2005

Mr. Walkman

The NY Times today profiled Andreas Pavel, who invented the Walkman, claimed in 4,412,106 and 5,201,003. His story of patent enforcement is sad, and may be all too common. Oddly, even ironically, as Andreas obviously values the publicity given him for patenting, he says, "I don't want to be reduced to the label of being the inventor of the Walkman."

Continue reading "Mr. Walkman"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:41 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (8)

December 14, 2005

Visto Licenses NTP Patents

Wireless email provider Visto signed a licensing agreement with NTP, joining the licensee ranks of Research in Motion (RIM) rivals Good Technology and Nokia, as RIM's Blackberry withers on the vine of infringement.

Continue reading "Visto Licenses NTP Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:09 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

Managing a Portfolio

Companies valuate their patent portfolio as an intangible asset, but that asset is worthless until it becomes tangible.

Continue reading "Managing a Portfolio"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:40 AM | Patents In Business

December 13, 2005

King of the Patent Trolls

Acacia Research is a juggernaut of a patent licensing company, gaining momentum as the leader in patent monetization for the worthy few. Acacia just announced acquisition of another portfolio, for monitoring and diagnosing computer information. The technology is already employed by numerous companies, and has already been licensed to some large corporations, so the enforcement pump is primed.

Continue reading "King of the Patent Trolls"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:07 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

December 12, 2005

Whitespace

Just finished an assignment from a patent-aware company, looking for whitespace in the patent landscape of financial services, to get a sense of where new patents may be generated. How refreshing from the head-in-the-sand, see-no-evil approach of some companies towards patents.

Continue reading "Whitespace"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:01 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

December 11, 2005

Creative Feeling Infringed

Where better to throw the dice than Reno?! Yesterday in Reno, Creative Technology chief executive Sim Wong Hoo, in thinly veiled terms, said that Apple Computer's iPod infringed on Creative's so-called Zen patent (6,928,433) and that the company would be aggressively pursuing a patent infringement case.

Continue reading "Creative Feeling Infringed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:47 AM | Patents In Business

November 29, 2005

Pfizer Trumps PUBPAT

Pfizer patent 5,969,156, related to its blockbuster cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, survives a re-examination prompted by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT). PUBPAT claimed victory in narrowing the patent's scope.

Continue reading "Pfizer Trumps PUBPAT"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:32 PM | Patents In Business

November 27, 2005

The Power of the Dark Side

Last week, organizations allied with Linux ballyhooed their bequeathed acquisitions of patents. Purists against patents railed at the futility and wrong-headedness of this approach. This commentator was assailed as insane for suggesting that Linux programmers raise their sights to patenting their inventions.

Continue reading "The Power of the Dark Side"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:54 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 25, 2005

The Perfect Crumb

Ms. Ruth M. Siems, 74, first-named inventor on U.S. patent 3,870,803, one of the creators of Stove Top stuffing, introduced in 1972, died Nov. 13 of a heart attack at her home in Newburgh, Indiana.

Continue reading "The Perfect Crumb"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:10 PM | Patents In Business

November 19, 2005

Patent Penguin Exposed

Some of those who care about open source are decrying the charade of touting patent protection for Linux via measly cast-off patent pledges from corporations like IBM. As Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign that successfully opposed a European patent bill earlier this year, ineloquently put it, "those announcements by the OIN and the OSDL grossly overstate the effectiveness of those partially ill-conceived approaches. By misleading people they don't put us any closer to a real solution, but even further away from one."

Continue reading "Patent Penguin Exposed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:59 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (3)

November 16, 2005

Brain Compression

Something's amiss. Daniel Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) today took a re-examination shotgun and pointed it Forgent Networks JPEG patent cash cow: 4,698,672, claiming invalidity in light of other, similar patents generated by Compression Labs, specifically 5,451,012, and inequitable conduct for not citing those other patents. Two possibilities: Danny's off base, or attorneys representing more than 80 companies & law firms didn't do their homework.

Continue reading "Brain Compression"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:46 AM | Patents In Business | Comments (12)

November 15, 2005

Open Source Fig Leaf

In a gesture to generate warm and fuzzy feelings that Linux has a pretense of intellectual property protection, the "global consortium" Open Source Development Labs has opened its Patent Commons. The Patent Commons is a set of searchable databases listing the "more than 500 patents pledged to date".

Continue reading "Open Source Fig Leaf"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:03 AM | Patents In Business

November 14, 2005

The Patented Internet

Causing quite a stir, e-commerce pioneer Amazon has recently scooped three patents, two for consumer reviews (6,963,848; 6,963,850), and one for categorizing query results (6,963,867). That's just a tiny tip of the reality iceberg that the Internet is heavily patented.

Continue reading "The Patented Internet"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:19 AM | Patents In Business

November 11, 2005

Patent Law Seminars

Law Seminars International is sponsoring two upcoming CLE workshops on patent law. The presenters are veteran prosecutors, litigators and corporate counsel.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:15 AM | Patents In Business

Linux Patent Momentum

Tarmac is being laid for a new Linux patent runway: IBM, Sony and Philips have joined forces with Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell to create Open Invention Network (OIN), a company for sharing Linux patents, royalty-free. This could be a harbinger of a huge shift in the software business, as the press is playing it up, or it could just be this year's software buzz.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:03 AM | Patents In Business

November 6, 2005

Patent Notification Smart Response

Receiving a patent notification letter offers options: 1] no response; 2] delayed response, including requesting time for investigation; 3] initiate negotiations; 4] avert further infringement by discontinuing sale of infringing products; 5] initiate a declaratory judgment suit. As to the most appropriate response, consider the source. But always validate.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:26 AM | Patents In Business

November 3, 2005

Coffee Beer

Nestec, a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestlé, has filed patents (WIPO application) in every major market worldwide for "coffee beer". Nestec's non-alcoholic coffee beer smells like strong coffee, has a caffeine kick like a mule, and foams like beer when poured.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:47 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

November 1, 2005

R&D leading to IP Strategy at Corning

As reported by MIT Technology Review, over the last four years Corning focused a significant percentage of its R&D on a new way of cleaning up Diesel exhaust. While dirty, this is does not appear to be a sexy business. Regardless, it does provide an interesting example of a firm willing to dump the status quo, give up a lucrative market, invest heavily, and establish a proprietary position through IP in a growing market.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:54 AM | Patents In Business

October 31, 2005

Birdbrained Flu Scare

Alec van Gelder went off in the Boston Globe today: Patent nonsense on avian flu.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:53 PM | Patents In Business

October 30, 2005

Google Patent News

Google has a customizable news page at their Beta news site. You can add a custom section using a keyword. Add the word 'patent' as a news section keyword, and you get a good channel of patent news, better than the Moreover RSS feed for patent news.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:26 PM | Patents In Business

October 29, 2005

RIM Bleeding

Research in Motion (RIM) has lost traction: increasing competition, declining stock price, bad publicity, with two of the first three aspects owing to patent infringement that comes with an increasing hefty price tag.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:53 PM | Patents In Business

October 24, 2005

IBM's Patent Leverage

"IBM is pledging royalty-free access to its patent portfolio for the development and implementation of selected open healthcare and education software standards built around web services, electronic forms and open document formats." There's stifling fine print to that, but the public relations song and business model backing it are solid.

Continue reading "IBM's Patent Leverage"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:53 PM | Patents In Business

October 23, 2005

Economist Survey of Patents

The Economist, for my money the best news magazine in the world, has a survey this week of Patents & Technology. For anyone interested in an informed perspective on the subject, calling it "essential reading" would be understatement.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:43 AM | Patents In Business

October 19, 2005

Roche Bows Under Pressure

Roche has bowed to international pressure to allow others to manufacture its patented, avian flu effective drug, Tamiflu.

Continue reading "Roche Bows Under Pressure"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:03 AM | Patents In Business

October 18, 2005

No Freedom For Wireless

A federal judge in Boston granted an injunction Monday against Boston Communications Group Inc. (BCGI) for infringing patents owned by Freedom Wireless. In the ambiguous understatement of the year department, E.Y. Snowden, chief executive of BCGI, proclaimed ''Our fight is far from over."

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:02 PM | Patents In Business

October 15, 2005

Gene Patents

U.S. and European patent laws preclude patenting genes in humans. But proprietary techniques for isolating genes or developing gene-based therapies have been patented for decades. A new study from MIT, published in Science on Friday, found at least 18.5% percent of the known human genes had patents attached to them, and that figure is probably an underestimate.

Continue reading "Gene Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:53 PM | Patents In Business

October 14, 2005

Pandemic Patent

Mike Levitt, U.S. Health Secretary: "The world is a biological dangerous place right now. An enemy avian virus known as H5N1 is establishing a presence in nations all over the world." The best known antiviral medicine for H5N1 is Tamiflu, and it's patented.

Continue reading "Pandemic Patent"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:49 PM | Patents In Business

October 3, 2005

Patent Liquidity

Turning nominally illiquid assets into liquid assets is only accomplished through market makers. This is fundamentally how the stock market works. And it's how the patent market is increasingly working.

Continue reading "Patent Liquidity"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 8:23 PM | Patents In Business

October 2, 2005

Published Patent Tripe

James Kanter, supposed journalist, cut one about patents in the Sunday International Herald Tribune. Let's give Jimmy's novella the smell test.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:41 PM | Patents In Business | Comments (1)

September 30, 2005

AMD Folds To Acacia

AMD took licenses from Acacia Technologies subsidiaries, one for computer cache memory throughput for peripherals, and one for multi-dimensional bar codes.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:16 PM | Patents In Business

September 25, 2005

Learning Curve

Stacey Higginbotham wrote an interesting article on software companies' patent strategies as they have evolved through time.

Continue reading "Learning Curve"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:38 PM | Patents In Business

September 15, 2005

Prepaid Grief

The Wall Street Journal has a picturesque story of the patent business in action, under the understatedly quaint heading: "Aggressive Patent Litigants Pose Growing Threat to Big Business". In making that headline statement, one can only surmise that the Wall Street Journal hasn't been paying attention to the patent game for the past 200 years or so.

Continue reading "Prepaid Grief"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 4:09 PM | Patents In Business

September 11, 2005

Silicon Valley Patents

According to Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, ten percent of all U.S. patents awarded in 2003 went to individuals or companies in Silicon Valley, up from four percent in 1993. Other valleys take note.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 5:52 PM | Patents In Business

September 6, 2005

The Anti-Patent

George Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, today blew chunks, spewing that the upcoming version of the General Public License (GPL), which covers free software distribution, may include a clause targeting companies that assert a patent against a free software product.

Continue reading "The Anti-Patent"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:35 PM | Patents In Business

September 2, 2005

Patents As Residuals

What difference can patents make to a company in a fast-moving technology business? As a final Hail Mary, all the difference in the world.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:04 AM | Patents In Business

August 31, 2005

Much Ado About iPod

The press has been having a field day with patents granted to Microsoft and Creative Technology that may apply to Apple Computer's runaway success, the iPod portable music player. Creative Technology has even been putting out its own tosh about how iPod copied Creative's patented user interface.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:00 AM | Patents In Business

August 25, 2005

Patents Offshore

The Treasury Department and IRS are proposing tighter rules to prevent U.S. companies from undervaluing patents in offshore transfers as a means to minimize U.S. tax liability.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:49 PM | Patents In Business

August 16, 2005

Non-disclosure agreements

Non-disclosure agreements, typically used early in a potential business relationship to preserve valuable IP, are an excellent tool to explicitly define which party maintains any blossoming patent applications and patented inventions.

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Posted by Peter Haas at 8:56 AM | Patents In Business

August 11, 2005

Patent Plumbing

A friend emailed a patent-related web page, Plumbing the Patent Files, from the CourtTV show, Smoking Gun. If you're in the mood for silly patent entertainment, this will kill a few minutes.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:40 AM | Patents In Business

August 9, 2005

Ross Perot, Patent Troll

Billionaire and two-time presidential contender Ross Perot has thrown his hat in the ring as a patent troll.

Continue reading "Ross Perot, Patent Troll"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:36 AM | Patents In Business

August 2, 2005

Squealing

AnimalConcerns.org is squealing about a Monsanto patent application (WO 2005/015989) which claims "methods for producing improved swine genetics." AnimalConcerns oinked: "Monsanto Corporation is out to own the world's food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their monopoly plans. We've discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring."

Continue reading "Squealing"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 6:31 PM | Patents In Business

July 20, 2005

Staking a Claim

CNET News published a quite interesting article today: Staking a claim in the patent gold mine. The comedy segment is provided by commenters to the article.

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:49 AM | Patents In Business

July 7, 2005

Printing Money

DataTreasury has a license to print money, in the form of two patents: 5,910,988 and 6,032,137. "Check 21" is a federal law, effective October 2004, which requires that paper checks become replaceable by digital versions. Essentially, DataTreasury patented the law.

Continue reading "Printing Money"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 9:31 AM | Patents In Business

June 7, 2005

Not Gaga for the search engine that begins with G (G*)

Late last year G* announced a huge project to scan every book in the world. Well that is not what they said exactly, but pretty close. Although the initial press release stated that they will begin with out of copyright books, in an interview with Search Engine Watch, G* also stated that "In-copyright" books that are in these collections will have basic bibliographic information available.

Continue reading "Not Gaga for the search engine that begins with G (G*)"

Posted by David McFeeters-Krone at 2:13 PM | Patents In Business

May 23, 2005

IP Foresight Is Missing

Maybe it is just me, but I have grown a little weary of firms complaining about competitive pressures as a reason that their margins are receding. While indeed market pressure are likely the cause of current woes, I think that the real reason for their slow downward spiral is a lack of IP foresight. Their margins are being eroded because they have not competitive advantage. Often firms think they can use their talent to stay one step ahead of the competition. This may very well be the case in some industries; however at some point you will start dealing with incremental improvements. If you have not spent the diligence to protect your early advancements, your firm will be in a features and price war when you were initially the market leader.

Continue reading "IP Foresight Is Missing"

Posted by David McFeeters-Krone at 11:51 AM | Patents In Business

May 11, 2005

Jump Start Your R&D Through Licensing

IP is commonly regarded as the key currency of the new economy. Lester Thorow has stated, “Intellectual Property lies at the center of the modern company's economic success or failure.” In addition, Gartner research has noted that value of intangibles is increasing to nearly 90% of the entire value of global 2000 firms. The reason is simple - these assets provide the firm with its sustainable competitive advantage. IP includes trademarks, copyright, and less tangible forms, but patents remain a key component. First and foremost they provide a firm with a legal, protectable monopoly in the material covered by patent.

Continue reading "Jump Start Your R&D Through Licensing"

Posted by David McFeeters-Krone at 2:03 AM | Patents In Business

BeavisWeek

When their fabled MTV show wound down, Beavis and Butthead had to find a new gig. While Butthead tanked into suds, Beavis, ever the ambitious one, started a magazine: BeavisWeek. Circulation behaved like, well, Butthead: it tanked. So Beavis hired a marketing goon, who advised a brand name change - "title it like it's serious, and you can put whatever crap you like inside. They read the crap, thinking it's respectable because of the title." And so BusinessWeek was born.

Continue reading "BeavisWeek"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:04 AM | Patents In Business

May 9, 2005

Bad Blood Not Shed

PharmaStem Therapeutics has an active patent enforcement campaign ongoing, and that's likely to piss somebody off. It did. But it didn't draw blood.

Continue reading "Bad Blood Not Shed"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:07 PM | Patents In Business

May 2, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 6 - The Importance of Patents

Before the 1500's, an average human's prospect for prosperity was stagnant. Beginning around 1820, the pulse of economic development quickened, with the Industrial Revolution in England coming into full stride. What changed?

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 6 - The Importance of Patents"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:00 PM | The Patent System

April 29, 2005

Paying for Patents on 3G Phones

The British market research firm Informa announced on Thursday that patent royalties on 3G mobile devices could significantly impact the wireless industry and, in particular, hurt smaller device vendors (those without patents).

Continue reading "Paying for Patents on 3G Phones"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:27 AM | Patents In Business

April 25, 2005

The Compressed Picture

Dialing back to 1986, here's claim 1 of 4,698,672 - a little ditty about run-length encoding data compression that's spelled big money.

Continue reading "The Compressed Picture"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:06 AM | Patents In Business

April 24, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 5 - Theories

There are several different interrelated theories about patents. Some consider a patent as a natural right, to be able to own and profit from one's invention. In securing a property right, a patent solves the inventor's dilemma, providing a commercial platform for promoting technological innovation, even though some see patents as an obstacle to innovation. Certainly a patent is a business tool, as it offers potential for profit through licensing, and the prospect of a defensive shield against patent assertion by others (countersuit).

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 5 - Theories"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | The Patent System

April 17, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 4 - Incentives

There are at least four incentives that justify a system of granting patents. These incentives are: (1) an incentive to invent; (2) an incentive to disclose; (3) an incentive to commercialize, and (4) an incentive to workaround. The core argument in justifying a patent system is that these incentives would be lessened or lacking without patents.

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 4 - Incentives"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:11 AM | The Patent System

April 15, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 3 - The Inventor's Dilemma

Given that substitution inherently limits the monopoly power of patents (as explained in part 2 of this series), here we consider how patents provide economic benefit to a patent owner and society. Consider the counterfactual case of invention in a society that does not offer a patent grant. An inventor without access to patent protection faces the inventor's dilemma.

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 3 - The Inventor's Dilemma"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 11:47 AM | The Patent System | Comments (1)

April 8, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 2 - Substitution

A monopoly can only be sustained if there is no substitute for a good. For example, for a consumer wanting to rid its household of mice, in a competitive market, mouse traps are cheaper than keeping a cat. But a monopolistic mouse trap maker could charge only up to the point where it was cheaper to have a cat, or whatever else works as a substitute for a mouse trap. So, a monopolist's exclusionary power only extends as far as the limited availability of substitutes for the good over which the monopolist has control. The more substitutes that are available, the more competitive a market becomes. Substitution is a key aspect in considering patents as a monopoly.

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 2 - Substitution"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:03 AM | The Patent System

April 7, 2005

Play It Again, TiVo

TiVo, which makes digital video recorders (DVR), announced that it has acquired six U.S. patents from IBM. TiVo said that the acquired patents cover audience measurement, integrating Internet access with TV, automatic recording scheduling, content screening, searching, and program guide enhancements.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 3:06 AM | Patents In Business

April 6, 2005

Patent Economics: Part 1 - Market Monopoly

This begins a series on the economics of patents. This first installment explains the economics of market monopoly, to be contrasted with patent economics in succeeding installments.

A patent is widely considered a monopoly, and though it smacks of truth, the reality is not so simple. Monopolies are generally ill-favored, as, at least in theory, they raise prices above what would naturally occur in a competitive market. Anti-patent ravers stake their rationale against patents as representing monopoly power that unduly costs society. A further contention, espoused most fervently nowadays by anti-software patent advocates, is that patents have the perverse effect of retarding innovation, rather than actually encouraging it. With some grounding in economics, specifically market monopoly, and an understanding of the economic nature of patents, one sees the "evil patent monopoly" viewpoint as gross overstatement.

Continue reading "Patent Economics: Part 1 - Market Monopoly"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 10:38 AM | The Patent System

Nattering Nanosys

USPN 6,872,645, titled "Methods of positioning and/or orienting nanostructures", just issued. Its owner, Nanosys, is tooting its tiny horn about it. 6,872,645 lays claim to nanowires longitudinally oriented along fluid-washed channels on semiconductor substrates.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:01 AM | Patents In Business

April 5, 2005

Patents Move Markets

While it's not news that patents move company valuations, a couple of recent examples are noteworthy: Mosaid and Crucell N.V.

Continue reading "Patents Move Markets"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:58 PM | Patents In Business

March 30, 2005

Patent protection via diversity of portfolio

A diversified patent portfolio provides defensive strategies against patent infringement accusations and provides offensive strategies allowing a company to exploit a market advantage.

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Posted by Peter Haas at 9:53 AM | Patents In Business

March 28, 2005

Online Profiling and Privacy

Amazon.com has been taking flak in the press (MSNBC, Yahoo) from "privacy advocates" for its online personalization patents. "They are constantly finding new ways to exploit personal information," woofed Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Chris seems a wee pissed about it, but admits to having bigger fish to fry.

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Posted by Patent Hawk at 12:02 AM | Patents In Business

March 26, 2005

The Patent Tax

Intermec Technologies and Symbol Technologies Inc. are embroiled in a patent suit/countersuit cook-out. Corporate caterwauls invariably justify themselves in a marketing spin for sympathy, and attempt to pacify understandably skittish stakeholders. In the background, Elvis Costello sings, "you never see the lies that you believe."

Continue reading "The Patent Tax"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:23 AM | Patents In Business

March 19, 2005

Priming the Pump - Preparing for a Contingency Patent Case

Not many companies will be awoken by a phone call from a patent licensing company, offering a million dollars at a wink for a few patents, as one of my clients was. But some companies could use a wake-up call to monetizing their patents.

Ironically, given that a patent is a monopoly of usage denial, the value of a patent is in its adoption by others. To a patent holder, infringement should be sweet music. The problem is paying the tab for hiring a band to play that tune.

Continue reading "Priming the Pump - Preparing for a Contingency Patent Case"

Posted by Patent Hawk at 1:35 PM | Patents In Business