Apple sued over FaceTime technology

Apple is facing a new lawsuit for alleged patent infringement, this time involving FaceTime. The video call system of the Apple is the protagonist of a lawsuit filed by Uniloc, a company known in the courts for being a “patent troll”, that is, owner of several patents that tries to file lawsuits against other companies.

Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Uniloc’s latest attempt at Apple’s cash claims FaceTime’s backend systems rely on technology that infringes on a patent covering intelligent-client features in IP telephony networks. A report from the Apple Insider website states that the patent in question concerns only two devices that communicate over a packet-based network. It was originally requested by 3Com, then in 2010, was passed on to HP and finally in 2011, it was owned by Hewlett Packard Development. Only in 2017 did Uniloc become the owner of the registry.

Uniloc in its suit asserts Apple’s FaceTime relies on the same basic communications structure outlined in the ‘552 patent. Specifically, FaceTime servers communicate with FaceTime-enabled devices over packet-based networks like Wi-Fi or 3G and LTE cellular. The devices then register an address, like an Apple ID or phone number, with said servers for later identification. The suit cites iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini, the fourth-generation iPod Touch and later, and MacBooks “running OS X and later” as utilizing infringing FaceTime technologies.

Uniloc seeks unspecified damages, reimbursement of legal fees and other relief deemed fit by the court. The company is one of the most active patent trolls in the U.S., leveraging reassigned patents or vaguely worded original IP against a number of tech firms including Activision Blizzard, Aspyr, Electronic Arts, McAfee, Microsoft, Rackspace, Sega, Sony, Symantec and more.

Nokia and Samsung extend their patent license agreement

Nokia has just announced the extension of its patent technology agreement with Samsung. The Finnish company has officially licensed many of its mobile technologies to South Korea since 2016 in a contract that would expire at the end of 2018; now, it has been extended, allowing the later to use its patents for “multiple more years”.

The last agrément was signed 5 years ago. The period of the new contract hasn’t been specified as all terms of the agreement remain confidential between the two parties.

According to Nokia’s Chief Legal Officer’s statement, this time around, the license agreement doesn’t just cover phone patents but 5G network-related cellular standards as well.

The novelty, as usually happens with terms in this category, was not accompanied by details, but if you follow the pattern of the union between the two companies, you should ensure that Samsung can continue to use Nokia’s registered technologies until at least 2021. A necessary move for the Asian company, since many of the innovations present in its smartphones, mainly in terms of networks, are the result of licensing with the European company.

In a statement, Nokia cited Samsung as one of the leaders in the mobile market and also an old partner, with the continuity of this union guaranteeing the progress of these two statuses. According to the legal and technology director of the Finnish manufacturer, the extension is good news for both sides, demonstrating the strength of the patent portfolio of one and the desire to continue on top of the other.

In addition, the executive cited as fundamental the agreement, both in the continuity of its research and technology efforts and in the implementation of 5G networks, still in progress, but closer to end users than ever before.

The sale of patents is today one of Nokia’s main sources of revenue. Earlier, if not the largest maker of the mobile market, it turned its sights on the infrastructure sectors as smartphones dominated the segment. Recently, however, it has returned to the mobile world by licensing its brand to third parties and launching handsets with the Android operating system.

Groupon pays $57 million to settle IBM patent case

IBM’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. court in Delaware in 2016, accused Groupon of infringing on its patents for various technologies, including a single sign-on function, that date back to online-access service Prodigy and the earliest days of the internet.

IBM told Groupon in 2011 that it was infringing on its patents. Groupon fought the case in court and lost in late July when a jury sided with IBM, ordering Groupon to pay $83 million in damages. The settlement also included a long-term patent cross-license agreement between the companies.

IBM, which has one of the largest patent portfolios in the world, also sued e-commerce companies Priceline, Kayak and OpenTable. According to its general manager of intellectual property, the deal demonstrates the value of the intellectual property since the company derives from its annual investment of more than $5 billion in research and development.

IBM was seeking up to $167 million in damages, saying it developed widely licensed technology crucial to the development of the internet. There’s also this twist: IBM will consider making available certain Groupon products and exclusives to employees as part of its corporate benefits offer.

Microsoft Open Sources 60,000 Patents to End Linux Patent Wars

Microsoft announced that it’s joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent group launched in 2005 with the vision of serving as a “shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux”. In essence, this makes the company’s library over 60,000 patents open source and available to OIN members, via ZDNet.
OIN provides a license platform for Linux for around 2,400 companies — from individual developers to huge companies like Google and IBM — and all members get access to both OIN-owned patents and cross-licenses between other OIN licensees, royalty-free.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has loosened its hold on patents. The company made a major change two years ago with its Azure IP Advantage Plan, to protect users from patent trolls. And earlier this year, it implemented a new policy saying companies that work with Microsoft on technology solutions could hold on to any patent rights that come out of that partnership.
Microsoft joining is a big step forward for both sides: OIN gets thousands of new patents from Microsoft, and Microsoft is really helping the open-source community that it has shunned in the past. There are exceptions to what Microsoft is making available — specifically, Windows desktop and desktop application code, which makes sense for many reasons — but otherwise, Microsoft is going open source.

Amazon patents new Alexa feature that knows when you’re ill and offers you medicine

Amazon has patented a new version of its virtual assistant Alexa which can automatically detect when you’re ill and offer to sell you medicine. To detect if you’re ill, the patent suggests that Alexa would analyze your speech, and suggest possible remedies.

For example, if the user is coughing and sneezing while speaking to Alexa, she may suggest buying throat sweets or chicken soup.

Adverts for sore throat products could be automatically played to people who sound like they have a sore throat, Amazon’s patent suggests.

The patent foresees in its futuristic version Alexa would listen out for if users are crying and then classify them as experiencing an “emotional abnormality.”

The company also described a way of targeting adverts towards different moods. The patent filing includes a scenario where a singer paid for adverts on Alexa for their new album which would only be played to tired or bored people.

The patent does not prove that the company is working on any of the features described since Amazon files patents that will not be sold by the company.

However, Amazon has been focusing on health care and medicine in recent years. In June the company announced the purchase of Pillpack, a US business which sends prescriptions in the post.

Low-cost European airline EasyJet is suing Netflix

The European airline EasyJet filed a lawsuit against Netflix for the use of the word “easy”. This is because EasyGroup, the controlling company of EasyJet, has the trademark for the word in Europe, and now claims that Netflix is violating its trademark by distributing on the continent the original series “Easy”, an anthology starring among others by Orlando Bloom and Emily Ratajkowski.

According to the founder of EasyGroup, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the streaming platform has used its trademark arrogantly: “They should have consulted their European lawyers before using the name. We own the European brand [for] the word “easy” and a thousand other trademarks with the prefix “easy”, and we can not allow people to use it now as a brand name, “he says.

According to Netflix, the series is an “eclectic, star-studded anthology following diverse Chicagoans fumbling through the modern maze of love, sex, technology and culture.”

EasyJet claims the new Netflix show is using their trademark ‘as a brand name’ and ‘are doing it mostly with our colours and font’
Netflix, for its part, does not seem to be very concerned about the issue. In a statement sent to the Sunday Times, the company said its viewers know “the difference between a program they watch and a plane in which they fly.”

Vogue Magazine takes Black Vogue to court

Vogue Magazine’s Parent Co. is Suing “Black Vogue” Founder for Trademark Infringement. The company Vogue and Condé Nast’s parent company, filed suit against 26-year old designer and activist Nareasha Willis in a New York federal court, alleging that the name of her collection too similar to the name of its 125-year old marquee magazine and as a result, is likely to cause confusion amongst consumers, and damage to its well-known and “highly acclaimed” Vogue trademarks.

Accordint to the complaint, Vogue trademark has been used for the past 125 years on magazines (as well as on a “wide variety of goods and services,” including “advertising and e-commerce services, software applications for content in the field of fashion, hand bags, tote bags, purses, luggage, wallets, body creams, scented candles, jigsaw puzzles, nightclub and restaurant services, clothing and jewelry”), and they argue that the designer Ms. Willis “has very recently begun using the trademark Black Vogue in commerce, for the purposes of selling apparel items.”

They also say that the Black Vogue mark “mirrors the well-known font and stylization of long registered Vogue trademark” and that “in selecting the trademark Black Vogue for her products, intends to create a link between herself and Vogue, creating the appearance that the company is affiliated with Willis’ products, or that the company has licensed or otherwise authorized her use of the Vogue trademark, when that that is not the case.”

Immediately upon learning of the designer’s trademark application in June, Vogue alleges that its legal team sent Willis a letter, “requesting that she cease her use of the infringing Black Vogue mark and abandon her pending trademark application.”