Posts Tagged ‘patents’
Many in the tech world and Washington have railed against the encroaching and limiting effect of patents on innovation, but when the chips are down, IP and patents remain key cornerstones in how tech companies and their founders are making sure they will be able to build their businesses and stick around for the long haul. Tony Fadell, the legendary former hardware supremo at Apple and now CEO and co-founder of new smart home device startup Nest, today revealed that Nest already had 100 patents granted, with 200 more on file with the USPTO and another 200 ready to file.
“At Nest what we did was make sure that we are putting [effort in] a ton of patents,” he said on stage today at the LeWeb conference on Paris. “This is what you have to do to disrupt major revenue streams.”
Nest, which first hit the market last year with a smart, design-friendly thermostat that you can control remotely with an iPhone app, this year added to its range with a smart smoke and carbon monoxide detection and alarm system. But the company has also had its share of patent heat.
It has been embroiled in a thermostat-related patent infringement suit brought by appliance maker Honeywell initially in February 2012, and in November 2013 saw another patent suit get filed from BRK, makers of the First Alert smoke alarms, for infringements related to Nest’s second product.
Nest has also taken steps to buy insurance from elsewhere to shore up its patent position. In September it announced a deal with Intellectual Ventures — one of the most well-known of the patent hoarders — for access to some 40,000 patents via IV’s “IP for Defense” subscription-based product. Nest can draw on these patents as a defendant or in the event of a counterclaim — as it happens to be in the case of Honeywell.
Part of the IV deal also included the acquisition of an unspecified number of patents, “in areas of interest to Nest, including systems and methods for automatic registration of devices.” It is unclear whether Fadell’s patent citation today — totalling some 500 in all if you count granted patents, those waiting approval, and those yet to be filed — include the patents that Nest would have picked up from IV.
You might argue that part of Fadell’s bullishness about patents comes out of necessity because of these suits, but on the other hand you have to remember that he comes from Apple, one of the most aggressive technology companies when it comes to using patents to defend its products, and also filing a lot of them almost as a smokescreen to mask what it may be planning next.
Patents are not the only game in town, of course. In talking about what he saw as important elements of building a business, Fadell also touched on the challenges of hardware startups, and the pitfalls of Kickstarter. You can get a lot of public support (and even financial support) for an idea, but “if you do not plant the seeds early enough” for how you will manufacture and distribute that concept at scale, he said, you will not go anywhere. (Yes, he said this last year at LeWeb, too.)
The other area that Fadell believes we are seeing a shortfall is in how disruptive products are being marketed to consumers.
“You have to communicate what the problem is and what the benefit of the solution is,” as well as giving people an easy way to purchase it, he said. That is part of how you build trust for new, intelligent devices. “If people cannot trust our brand, our things will never sell,” said Fadell. “The ‘Internet of Things’ will never take off if people do not trust the products.”
Apple has been issued a patent by the USPO today (via AppleInsider) that describes a system for using facial recognition and detection on a mobile or desktop computing device. This could work a lot like the Android face unlock option, which has been criticized before for its fallibility, but is also designed to prompt activity and use facial expressions as input for controlling the device.
This could be used to not only protect data on an iPhone in a locked state, but also determine how much information is shared on the lock screen for a user. So if a person is receiving a call and their iPhone recognizes them (determined by a number of factors, including skin tone, vectors, feature distance and size, etc.) then it’ll display caller ID and information from the user’s contacts app. If it’s not someone the phone has listed as a user of the device, it’ll block all that data.
Likewise with emails or messages, it could scrub the content of any actual info until there’s a positive recognition match for a phone’s rightful user. In a desktop computing context, the recognition could be used to analyze a user’s behavior over time as they sit in front of their Mac, determining when to trigger certain actions like screen savers, or enter a movie mode, or switch audio devices to prepare for a Skype call, for instance.
Apple has just acquired PrimeSense, the Israeli firm that helped created the original Microsoft Kinect’s motion sensing capabilities, so it’s tempting to link the two, even though the Apple patent far pre-dates that subsequent deal. Still, Apple has shown that it places a premium on innovation that helps users access their device more securely and more conveniently with the introduction of the iPhone 5s fingerprint sensor, and this could provide a way to allow users more access to things like Siri from the lockscreen, without the privacy compromises that come along with some of the assistant’s more useful convenience features.
Early last year, the “Rockstar” consortium backed by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony and Ericsson closed its purchase of thousands of patents previously owned by Nortel for $ 4.5 billion (around the same time Google, after failing to purchase the patents itself, closed a $ 12 billion deal for …
Apple is Granted 41 Patents Today Covering New Authentication Options …
After the polarizer structures have been cut into panels, the panels may be laminated to liquid crystal display structures, organic light-emitting-diode display structures, or other display structures using sheet-to-sheet lamination tools. A polarizer …
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Samsung releases curved OLED TV
OLED or organic light-emitting diode displays have naturally brilliant and vivid screens. They contain a film of organic compound that emits light when it encounters an electric current. The South Korean manufacturer also revealed new 55-inch and 60 …
Read more on The Australian
A report predicts that demand for flexible OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) will increase four-fold with sales reaching nearly $ 100million next year. The global market revenue for flexible OLEDs is expected to reach $ 94.8million, reports IHS in …
Read more on Chip Design Magazine
Apple Patents iOS Unlocking Methods That Determine Level Of User Access To Device Features And Software
A big request from parents regarding iOS has been that Apple implement user accounts on its mobile devices, in order to make it so that a parent can sign in with greater access to device features and apps than a child, for instance. It’s a system that already has an analogue on the desktop, and that Google has seen fit to implement with multiple user accounts with varying levels of permissions for tablets running Android 4.3 and higher. A new patent granted to Apple today (spotted by AppleInsider) describes a way of changing device access depending on who’s doing the accessing.
Apple’s newly-awarded patent describes a system wherein the method used by a user to unlock a device via gesture-based input would determine what apps are made available, as well as what hardware functions. So, for instance, one gesture (could be the drawing of a specific shape or letter with a finger tip) might allow access only to games content on the phones, while another could offer up access to an entire category of apps provided through corporate deployment, but not to other features.
The system Apple has patented also allows for gestures to unlock the phone directly into specific apps, so that one could launch the email app and keep a user within that bit of software exclusively, for instance. Other incarnations could limit access to certain phone features, including the camera and mic, or to in-app purchases, locking down a device for worry-free sharing with a child.
Aside from finally effectively enabling “guest mode” on a device, this patent in action would allow Apple to build a lockscreen launcher that can be operated not only via gestures, but also by voice and by keyboard, mouse or stylus events (all of which are covered by the patent). The potential applications, for use not only among parents but also in schools, in secure data enterprise environments and more are extensive, so hopefully this is one of the patents that Apple actually puts into practice.
Advertisers spend heaps of cash on branding, bannering, and product-placing. But does anyone really look at those ads? Google could be betting that advertisers will pay to know whether consumers are actually looking at their billboards, magazine spreads, and online ads. The company was just granted a patent for “pay-per-gaze” advertising, which would employ a Google Glass-like eye sensor in order to identify when consumers are looking at advertisements in the real world and online.
From the patent application, which was filed in May 2011:
Pay per gaze advertising need not be limited to on-line advertisements, but rather can be extended to conventional advertisement media including billboards, magazines, newspapers, and other forms of…
In an attempt to live up to its age-old motto to not be evil, Google has just added 79 more patents to its Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. Enacted in March of this year, the pact was designed to encourage open-source software development, and consists of patents the Mountain View company won’t use to sue anyone unless first attacked. While the first set of patents had to deal with large data sets, these additional ones were acquired from IBM and CA Technologies and consist of software used to run data centers, such as middleware and distributed database management. The technologies included in the OPN Pledge has so far been of the back-end variety, but the search giant claims that it’ll add more consumer-facing patents to the pledge in the future. Google might not ever be completely free from the dark side, but gestures like these could go a long way in earning good will — especially in an age of heavy back-to-back lawsuits. For those who want to delve head-first into the legalese, hit up the patent link below.
Filed under: Google
Via: Ars Technica
While Samsung hasn’t been shy about its desire to build a new smartwatch, we’ve had few clues as to what that wristwear could look like. However, Moveplayer has uncovered a trio of Korean design patents that, combined, could represent a design template. Registered between March and May, the patents show a watch with both Android-style controls in the middle and a prominent flexible display. The device looks plausible, but we wouldn’t leap to conclusions — companies frequently patent designs that won’t necessarily ship. There’s also no clear connections to a previously filed Gear trademark associated with wearable technology. If Samsung ever releases a watch in this mold, though, it will at least seem very familiar.
Apple has been granted a patent today (via AppleInsider) for an in-car, touchscreen telematics system that would provide drivers with tactile feedback to help them keep their eyes on the road. It’s a little like taking iOS 7′s new car-specific features to their logical conclusion, by having Apple design every element of a car’s dash info and entertainment console features.
The system would use knobs, sliders, touchscreen controls and other stuff that’s essentially present in current in-car systems, but extends its ability to be completely user programmable and able to extend its reach to systems like windshield wiper control. The patent talks about customizability through apps and information, such as from the Stocks app, being displayed through the console.
The patent filing itself is an older one, but Apple is just now starting to really make its intentions known regarding how it will begin to expand in this new market. iOS In The Car looks to use Wi-Fi and AirPlay to essentially take over existing infrastructure within an automobile from an iPhone. A reconfigured iOS home screen, with the relevant features highlighted, shows up on the in-dash touchscreen, bypassing any kind of internal infotainment system altogether.
All eyes have been on the living room and the wrist in terms of Apple’s next land-grabs when it comes to new products, but the car is perhaps a more logical new territory to explore. Competitors like BlackBerry already have a lot of skin in that game with its QNX operating system, which powers 60 percent of the infotainment telematics systems in the world, according to a recent study.
Apple has been working with car manufacturers to integrate Siri already, and iOS In The Car will extend that relationship even further with its partners. The approach is evolving, in other words, and Apple is nothing if not a company all about the marriage of hardware and software, so we could see it shoulder more of that responsibility as they continue to make strides in this market.
A judge presiding over a legal battle between Microsoft and Google-owned Motorola issued a ruling today that valued elements of Motorola’s patent portfolio far below what the company felt they were worth — by a difference of over $ 3.2 billion a year.
The two companies have been locked in a legal battle over Microsoft’s use of several Motorola patents that are part of the 802.11 Wi-Fi and H.264 video standards. As such, they’re considered standards-essential patents, and must be licensed to other parties at a reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) rate. According to Redmond’s attorneys, Motorola violated that pact by asking far too much to use the patents in question — its initial request was 2.25 percent of the price of each…