Apple and Samsung calls a truce

Image Source: http://goo.gl/pZ1N5P
Image Source: http://goo.gl/pZ1N5P

To the patent war outside the US, that is.

This news still comes as a big welcome however, as the world has been a witness to the never-ending infringement cases that they have been throwing at each other for years.

The two technology giants have announced in a joint statement that they are withdrawing all ongoing legal proceedings on their outstanding patent litigations outside US. Currently, both companies are locked in patent wars in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Australia. On the other hand, all high-profile infringement cases in the US for both Apple and Samsung are still proceeding.

It can be recalled that Apple first filed a lawsuit against Samsung in 2011 for copying the features of the iPhone into their Galaxy smartphones. The South Korean giant then fired back and sued Apple for using pieces of its wireless-transmission technology without permission.

Is this a sign that there will finally be peace between these two giants? With higher demands and a tighter marketplace for smartphones, we highly think this war is far from over.

Google offers a silent hand with updated patent search

Google, the internet search giant, who is also the brains behind the popular Android operating system, has updated the database of their patent search services. Not only will it cover US patents, but it will also now cover a larger database including European patents. This will surely become an integral tool for those looking to defend themselves from a possible patent issue, or to assert their rights by checking if they can patent something they thought of.

Typically, a patent is granted to an inventor if the invention is new and unique. The problem is no matter how ‘rigorous’ these patent offices are in checking for prior art, or for earlier inventions that will invalidate the claim, some still get through. This improvement from Google into patent searches will definitely prove to be a boon in improving the efficiency of the patent office and the prevention of duplicate claims.

Google has also added a prior art finder, which will allow the user to find anything that might negate a patent claim due to prior art.

The interesting thing regarding this patent search capability, as well as the prior art finder, is it looks to offer a silent hand in defense of the many manufacturing partners that Google deals with in regards to the ongoing patent brawl that revolves around Apple and Android products. With this new Google update, it will be easier for lawyers to find evidence in disproving a claim, by finding prior art references through the internet.

Google is quite aware of the ongoing litigation spree problem that arose due to low quality patents and patents with prior art being granted to certain parties. How can they not notice it when their Android manufacturers are haunted by such patent attacks lately? Some Android functionality has already been forcefully removed just to give way to patent claims. While it is true that some of these claims are valid, at some point, many of these attacks can be deflected by finding the right prior art that can disprove its validity.

Hopefully, Android manufacturers will be able to use this in preventing future litigation, if not to protect them from current ones. Google may not want to directly confront these patent troll out there, but at the very least, they are providing the tools that they need so that others can find their ways through a patent attack.

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Samsung removes local search internationally

The legal battles draw blood as Apple succeeds in forcing Google and its partners to remove a feature. It is quite funny and ironic that the company who is practically synonymous to search is forced to remove a search feature in their device.

In a recent Apple lawsuit in the US against the Samsung Galaxy devices, including the Galaxy Nexus and the Samsung Galaxy SIII, it has been ruled that Samsung and Google have been in breach of a patent allowing the device to perform a local search within the device and its installed applications.

Local search is a feature that can search for apps, contacts and other details within the device when using the built-in search bar in Google devices. Apparently, Apple owns that particular invention, despite the fact that computers, digital assistants as well as previous phones have had such a feature within the device. It is rather common to allow a basic computing device to be able to search within itself and not only through the internet.

Still, the Patent office seems to believe that Apple deserved this patent, and thus it was awarded. The Judge also sees that it was an infringing technology, and has warranted a ban on the Galaxy Nexus, as well as other devices from Samsung that uses this feature.

To work around this ban, and continue selling the device in US shores, Google saw it fit to simply remove the local search function through an update. It could be temporary, until they find another way to implement the search, or it could be permanently lost for all future Android devices.

Carriers of the Samsung Galaxy SIII understood that an update to remove the feature was necessary, they resorted to silent “stability” or ‘security” updates and removed the local search function from locked Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus and the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It is understandable that this feature was removed in US shores, because that is where the ban was ruled, but it would seem that Samsung has made an international preventive move. Samsung has been the #1 target of Apple’s litigation war against Android devices. That is why they are sure that Apple will strike again in other countries and target once more the local search function.

Samsung has issued an update that has silently removed the local search function from all Samsung Galaxy SIII devices. The update was introduced as a “stability” update. True enough; members of the XDA forums have claimed that the update indeed improved the stability of the device. People are saying that device was faster, more responsive and more stable than the previous version. It has also cured the Samsung Galaxy SIII of a problematic issue experienced by some members – the crackling sound when playing music.

Both in the US, as well as the rest of the world, fans of the Galaxy Nexus, as well as the Samsung Galaxy SIII, have faced this issue differently. There are users who simply felt the local search function was an annoyance that they were glad to be rid of.  Meanwhile, owners of these devices who used the local search pretty often have made outcries in the net at how annoyed they are that the feature is gone.

If you are one of the latter, hope is not lost. The developers in XDA have figured out how to return the function back to the devices despite the update. At times like this, people can truly appreciate the open source nature of Android, as features can be removed and restored easily. In the end, the forced removal of the local search function bolstered the Android device owner’s power of choice. They can let it be or they can install it back. What will be your choice today?

Image sources: androidandme.com, technobuffalo.com, evolvingtimes.com

Apple succeeds in EU-wide ban for Galaxy Tab 7.7

Samsung is hit with another ban that encompasses the whole of the EU. Apple has been vigilant at making sure no Samsung products get sold that look even remotely like an iPhone or an iPad.

Despite Samsung’s “victory” in the UK, forcing Apple to make advertisements stating that Samsung has not copied the iPad, it would seem that they are bound to lose more. The Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court in Germany has passed a preliminary ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, after Apple has proven its cause.

The cause of the ban is once again related to Apple’s look and feel patents, accusing Samsung of making products that blatantly copies the look and feel of the iPad with the Galaxy Tab series. There is no comment yet as to how it will affect the UK, in which the same Galaxy Tab 7.7 has passed to be non-infringing to Apple’s patents due to not being “cool enough”.

The EU-wide ban will stay in effect during the full blown patent trial that will ensue after the preliminary injunction. Samsung is understandably disappointed with the ruling, saying that they will fight this to the end, and prove their innocence in the matter. Fortunately for Samsung, the larger Galaxy Tab 10.1N has been ruled to have significant enough changes in its design, and no longer breaches Apple’s patents.

Many fans contest why the smaller tablet has even been banned when Apple doesn’t even make a 7-inch tablet. It should be noted that regardless of size, if the design is the same, it will still be in breach of Apple’s intellectual property. What they should contest, is that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 doesn’t even remotely look like an iPad. From back to front, the only thing you can consider resembling the design is the black border.

The front camera placement, the existence of the speaker for phone functionality, back markings, button placements, shape and dimensions all differ from the iPad. Many wonders if the glasses of these Judges need to be checked, and if they don’t have one, they should really get some.

While the Galaxy Tab 7.7 has indeed been banned temporarily, there is no word yet if its smaller counterpart, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, will suffer the same fate. The two slates have identical designs, so it might indeed be next in line to get a ban from the German court.

When it comes to these patent battles, we learn that you can’t win them all, despite it being the same exact battle for the same exact reasons. The personality and bias of every Judge will determine who wins.

Image sources: gsmarena.com, redmondpie.com

Samsung gets a bittersweet victory in British court against Apple

With all the legal wars and flailing around that Samsung and Apple do around the world, you seldom hear good news, at least not for Samsung.  Samsung products get banned or held off even by some judges as Apple posts a very ‘powerful’ claim against them. There really is just too much of Apple’s patent trolling in the market, and Samsung continues to be their number 1 target.

While Apple may be trolling around in the patent world, Samsung remains no saint. It is true that there are some design similarities with the iPhone and some of the Galaxy products, more notably the Galaxy Ace, which can pass as little sibling to the iPhone 4. Still, it would be wrong to say that it was a complete rip-off, as there are still key differences up close.

Talking about imitation, one of the most popular claims that Apple made against Samsung, is the imitation of the look and feel of the Apple devices. While this is a very understandable claim looking at the Galaxy Ace and the subsequent Galaxy young, it is a very foolish thought to even assume such when looking at a Galaxy Tab in comparison to the Apple iPad.

Apple has claimed in many parts of the globe that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab is a direct copy of the iPad. They say that any common man might mistakenly purchase a Galaxy Tab, even though what they were actually looking for was an iPad simply because the Galaxy Tab looks just like it.

Many denizens of the internet scoff at this claim. It would seem that Apple undermines the intelligence of every common man out there. I wonder when and where they were able to get some news that someone wanted to buy an iPad but mistakenly bought a Galaxy Tab, simply by looking at it. It is famous to be one of the most ridiculous claims ever. The dimensions of the slates differ quite a bit, with the Galaxy Tab having a larger diagonal measurement. The length or width don’t even match with each other.

In one court battle in the UK, the Honorable British Judge Briss has commented that the Samsung Galaxy Tab is simply not “cool” enough to even consider as a device that “slavishly copies” the iPad. There is simply no comparison against the minimalist design of the iPad vs. the slimmer Galaxy Tab that bears some “unusual details” on the back.

Both sides had a bittersweet taste after the battle. With the Apple product being branded as “cooler”, Apple designers might feel a little elated at the design superiority that they were praised about. Still, they lost the claim, and prove yet again how silly it is to even call a Galaxy Tab as a slavish copy of the iPad. For Samsung, well, they won, and wouldn’t have to stop selling their devices in the UK. Still, it must feel just a little bit insulting to be branded as the “uncool” product.

Apple has been given 21 days to make an appeal to the findings, although I would have a hard time not laughing if an Apple rep insists that Galaxy Tabs are “just as cool” as the iPad just so they can insist that it is a copy. Labeling a Galaxy Tab to be “just as cool as an iPad” may become too hard to swallow for Apple loyalists, so it is possible that they will just avoid the topic all together in the ongoing consumer debates going on in many forums.

Regardless of the very subjective label that was placed on their product, Samsung is proud to have won the case. A spokeswoman mentioned that:

This has been a resounding comment by many consumers in their dismay of constant Apple lawsuits. With claims going from specific to very broad, there is a clear indication that Apple is throwing rocks randomly at everyone, hoping to make a hit. While admittedly, there are things that they are right about, there are plenty of claims that are rather bullish. Unless there is a reform done in the Patent system, it will remain to be abused by companies like Apple. Do you think that the ruling was right on the mark? Or have they made an error due to subjectivity?

Image sources: phandroid.com, dailymobile.net, digitaltrends.com, deuts.net, nexus404.com, dottech.org

Apple sees a future with iGlasses (and also loves patents!)

Apple has been known recently as a patent troll. They have been flaunting their patents all over the world. Some patents are considered by many as completely absurd. Take ‘Slide to unlock’ as an example. They say that they are the first to invent such a method of unlocking anything. They also filed patents for a rectangular device with a black bezel and a rectangular screen at its center. Pretty much the whole look of the iPad, and any tablet they see that competes with it. Apple has a reputation for calling dibs on being first, while not really being the first to introduce it. They are merely the one to popularize it.

For Apple, stuff like this…

That is the past and the present. Legal wars abound nearly every corner of the Globe. They seek to use every patent on their arsenal to stop any others from developing even the most remote looking smartphone and tablet. Some have been constantly proven as absurd and unjustified in court, yet they keep putting it in new cases just for the heck of it. It feels like Apple is wildly flailing hoping to hit some device right in the gut.

… and this, can be attacked

That is not to say that Apple does not have some valid patents as well. They have indeed won on certain occasions. Still, we wonder what lawsuit they will file next. Just a little while ago, Apple was granted a new patent. It’s pretty obvious now what the future cases will be about.

Apple has received a patent for a wearable computing device. They call it the HMD or Head Mounted Display. People have dubbed it as the iGlasses. It’s rather catchy I must admit. This patent highlights a wearable computing device that would project information on a wearable display. It the patent highlights and includes a broad application of such devices, such as the display of videos, apps and other information. It works by exploiting a person’s peripheral vision to avoid having headaches or visual disturbance. Apple describes it as:

I know what is going on in every reader’s minds right now. Google Glasses. The Google Glasses have not even been long out in the open and yet Apple already has a patent to troll out the competition, without even showing a shadow of its own device yet. The patent was made in 2006, way before the technology was even viable. The application of the patent in such a time should have not been accepted, especially if there is no working product to back the concept. Yet, we all know how flawed the patent system is, and it looks like it will work again in Apple’s favor.

Some would remember that Google has also received a patent grant regarding their Google Glasses, but there were some fundamental differences. The patent filed by Google reflects a very specific description that obviously pertains to the Google Glasses and its underlying technology. Whereas Apple’s version is very broad and can certainly block and troll any other devices created in the future with wearable displays.

Yes, even yours, Vegeta

Anyone can predict that the courts of the future would indeed be involved once more in this technological leap: A battle between Google Glasses and iGlasses, and any other future device that it may hit. All we know is that the iGlass may be coming. If only the recent times are not muddled with lawsuits left and right, this would have been an exciting time for wide-eyed and awed consumers who are looking into the possibilities of the future.

Hey, I’m not saying Apple does not innovate, sometimes they do, and it is monumental. But there are just too many occasions where they are just trolls throwing out patents with very wide descriptions aiming to hit as much as they can in their path.

Well, regardless of the lawsuit battle that may eventually befall us, I am pretty excited about these wearable displays. Being nearsighted might be the new cool of the future, or just another geek thing.

Are you willing to tout a wearable display in the future?

Image sources: PCmag.com, freeyourandroid.com, plus.google.com, moviesyoushouldlove.com, quora.com

Apple Requests Samsung ban. This starts everything. Again.

Apple is at it again with another ban request for another Samsung device. With over 30 cases against Samsung on its belt, Apple seeks to request a sales ban of the new Galaxy S III phone in the U.S. This is in addition to all the other Galaxy phones that they are currently fighting over, due to patent infringements.

Samsung has assured the masses that they will “vigorously” fight against this ban request filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California. They claim that there simply is no merit to the claims that they have infringed 2 of Apple patents. This time, it’s not just about how confident they are, they simply have to fight it because of the large potential loss they will encounter if the device does get banned. Think about a lot of disappointed customers who pre-ordered the device.

Apple has filed this sales ban of the Galaxy S III as an extension to the ongoing battle featuring the Galaxy Nexus, which they claimed to have hit at least 4 patents. For the Galaxy S III, they claim that it touches on the patent for a unified search interface and the patent for identifying patterns in data.

No one plans to back down, as the initial attempt to settle quickly broke down. Apple has the money, and they are willing to dig deep in that vault to ban the Galaxy S III and 17 other devices before it, from being sold in American soil. Many would cry that this is simply anti-competitive, as Apple has reportedly insisted that they will not allow royalties for the said patents and insists that these patent breaking functions be removed completely from the said devices, or risk a full sales ban. What they fail to admit, is that they are scared because Android devices are taking over their market share at an alarming rate.

While the battle goes on, Samsung is confident that they will be able to prove that there is no infringement and that the device is a unique Smartphone. They claim that the sales will go on as planned by June 21 this year. If this pushes through, they may just overshadow the release of the iPhone which is rumored to be released by July this year.

It would be funny to note that despite the fact that Apple and Samsung have been at each other’s throats in 3 continents all over the world, regarding this legal battle, they are still trading business as usual, with Apple being one of the Samsung’s biggest customers for chips and display screens, as well as several other mobile components. Talk about shaking your hand while stabbing you on the back.

Ever since Android got popular, Apple has been hitting nearly every handset manufacturer, big or small, with their large portfolio of patents. There is special focus on the battle for the Galaxy Nexus, simply because it is Android’s flagship phone.  They want to fight against the Galaxy S III, which they claim is another devise that slavishly copies the look and feel of their iPhone. The device is poised to take over the Smartphone market with a large demand for the device, as proven by a substantial amount of pre-orders, made for the device.

Samsung will not back down, and Apple will keep pressing charges left and right to assert itself. Innovation is at a halt due to fear of litigation. The legal wars are far from over.

Which side do you think will win? How much longer do you think the era of Smartphone litigation will go on?

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iPad legal battle reaches the US

Proview Electronics Co. Ltd and Proview Technology Co. is upping the ante with their fight against Apple Inc. The company is filing a lawsuit in California for the alleged deception when Apple bought the ‘iPad” trademark.

Proview is accusing Apple of creating a “special purpose” entity in buying the iPad name from the company.

According to a report from Yahoo! news the company alleges that the lawyers for IPAD repeatedly said that they would not be competing with them. The report also states that Apple failed to say why they needed the trademark.

The battle between the two companies over the “iPad” name dates back to a disagreement over what really constitutes the deal for the transfer of the trademark.

In China, Proview has won a case over iPad thus pulling the device in some stores in the country.

China is an important market for Apple. They have sold over 15 million iPads worldwide in the last quarter and is trying to make a leverage in the world’s No. 2 economy to continue their growth.

Majority of Apple’s iPhones and iPads are also assembled in China with their partnership with Foxconn.

According to industry executives, employing special purpose entities to acquire trademarks is one of the most frequent tactics being employed in China.

Image source: blog.experts-exchange.com

Google-Motorola to get the green light from UK, US regulators

It seems like Google will be getting the nod from European and U.S. regulators this week for the Google-Motorola merger. The acquisition was announced August last year and cost Google $12.5 billion. Despite the impending approval, it highly likely that they would continue to face scrutiny due to licensing problems with smartphone patents.

Mobile phone developers are battling it out in courts all over the world over who owns what over patent technologies. It has reached the point wherein phones from certain companies have been barred from selling in some countries due to infringement issues.

According to American Antitrust Institute President Bert Foer, “It’s kind of a Cold War being played out here. We’re watching a form of warfare play out in which the system makes no sense but leads the players to mutually arm themselves with these missiles that they can utilize in order to achieve mutually assured destruction.”

Motorola currently has patents over online video and Wi-Fi.

According to Robert Barr, executive director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, “Google needs those patents because it is fighting a war. They have to get approval.”

Microsoft and Apple have agreed that no use of injunctions without exception for standards essential patents they own. “Standard essential” means that they view it as a core to the interoperability of a technology and are licensed under fair and reasonable terms.

Apple to develop adaptors that recover passwords

We often take power adapters for granted. We see them as something that we have to plug in the socket in order for electricity to flow to our devices. After that, we see them as nothing more than a piece that we can discard.

But this modest piece may soon turn into something more than we see it. This seemingly unimportant contraption can now turn into a tool that can help you with anti-theft measures.

Apple has just filed for a patent that requires for people to plug in their adapters to help them remember their passwords.

In patent number 2012/0005747, Apple will develop an adapter whose transformer unit has a memory module built inside it. Only the correct device will have the ability to recover data.

New Scientist says that Apple was quoted as saying, “if the password is not easily and conveniently recoverable, the consumer is likely to choose either not to use a password at all or to use a trivial password. Both choices increase the threat of data loss.”

The memory module that is in the transformer unit stores the encrypted password.

With this, it will make it harder for identity thieves to steal some of your stored data or from someone from recovering your password.