Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

Microsoft Patents A User-Monitoring AI That Improves Search Results (hothardware.com) 47

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes a HotHardware article about Microsoft's new patent filing for an OS "mediation component": This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all textual input within apps to intelligently decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the Mediator and processed. So when the user goes to, for example, the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query.

The search engine (e.g., Bing and Cortana) uses contextual rankers to adjust the ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant [results]. The operating system...tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).

The article argues this feels "creepy and big brother-esque," and while Microsoft talks of defining a "task continuum," suggests the patent's process "would in essence keep track of everything you type and interact with in the OS and stockpile it in real-time to data-dump into Bing."
The Almighty Buck

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool (techweekeurope.co.uk) 80

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..."

Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture.

They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.
Patents

'Corporate Troll' Wins $3 Million Verdict Against Apple For Ring-Silencing Patent (arstechnica.com) 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A non-practicing entity called MobileMedia Ideas LLC won a patent lawsuit against Apple today, with a Delaware federal jury finding that Apple should pay $3 million for infringing MobileMedia's patent RE39,231, which relates to ring-silencing features on mobile phones. MobileMedia is an unusual example of the kind of pure patent-licensing entity often derided as a "patent troll." It is majority-owned by MPEG-LA, a patent pool that licenses common digital video technologies like H-264, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4. Minority stakes in MobileMedia are owned by Sony and Nokia, which both contributed the patents owned by the company. MobileMedia also has the same CEO as MPEG-LA, Larry Horn. The battle ended up being a long one, as MobileMedia first filed the case in 2010. It went to trial in 2012, and the jury found that Apple infringed three patents. After reviewing post-trial motions, the judge knocked out some, but not all, of the infringed patent claims. Then came an appeal in which a panel of Federal Circuit judges upheld (PDF) some of the lower court's judges and overturned others. A $3 million verdict is hardly going to make an impact on Apple, and it doesn't represent a huge win for MobileMedia, which was reportedly seeking $18 million in royalties from the trial. Still, getting a verdict in its favor does represent some validation of MobileMedia's business model, which was a striking example of technology corporations using the "patent troll" business model as a kind of proxy war. Nokia and Sony were able to use MobileMedia and the licensing talent at MPEG-LA to wage a patent attack on Apple without engaging directly in court. In all, after years of back-and-forth, the ring-silencing patent was the one that MobileMedia had left. While Apple didn't win the case against one of the first "corporate trolls," it was able to severely pare down the scale of the attack and show that it's willing to fight a long legal war of attrition to make its point.
Patents

Apple Patents a Paper Bag (theguardian.com) 201

mspohr writes: Continuing its leadership in innovation, Apple has patented a paper bag. We all remember the groundbreaking "rounded corners" innovation, now we have a paper bag! Just try to make your own paper bag and you'll be speaking with Apple lawyers. (Note: In fairness to Apple, this is a "special" paper bag which is stronger due to numerous improvements on your ordinary recycled paper bag -- just don't try to copy it.) The patent application summarizes the bag as follows: "A paper bag is disclosed. The paper bag may include a bag container formed of white solid bleached sulfate paper with at least 60% post-consumer content." Apple's patented paper bags are designed to be sturdy, while remaining "both pearly white and environmentally friendly." Let's just hope they don't remove the handles...
The Courts

'Unpatent' Begins Crowdfunding Challenges To Bad Patents (unpatent.co) 109

"Unpatent is a crowdfunding platform that eliminates bad patents," reads their web site. "We do that by crowdsourcing the prior art -- that is all the evidence that makes clear that a patent was not novel -- and filing reexamination requests to the patent office." An anonymous Slashdot reader reports: "Everyone in the world can back the crowdfunding campaign against the patent," explains their site, which includes a special section with "Featured stupid patents". The first $16,000 raised covers the lawyers and fees at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and "The rest is distributed to those who find valid prior art...any evidence that a patent is not novel. We review all the prior art pieces and reward those that may invalidate a claim... Then, we file an ex partes reexamination to the USPTO."

Their team includes Lee Cheng, the legal officer at Newegg, "worldwide renowned as the patent trolls' nightmare," as well as Lus Cuende, who created his own Linux distro when he was 15 and is now CTO of Stampery, a company using the Bitcoin blockchain to notarize data.

They're currently targeting the infamous US8738435 covering "personalized content relating to offered products and services," which in February the EFF featured as their "stupid patent of the month." Its page on Unpatent.co argues that "Taking something so obvious such as personalizing content and offers...and writing the word online everywhere shouldn't grant you a monopoly over it." Unpatent's slogan? "We invalidate patents that shouldn't exist."
EU

EU Court Blocks Brazilian Company From Trademarking Sound Of a Ringing Phone (arstechnica.co.uk) 111

The standard ringing from an alarm clock or a telephone is too boring and banal to be registered as a trademark within the EU, a top court has ruled. The judgment was handed down by the EU General Court (EGC), blocking a Brazilian company that had tried to claim ownership of the sound, Ars Technica reports. From its story: In 2014, the Brazilian mass media company Grupo Globo applied to register the globally familiar "ring-ring" sound "for the dissemination of information electronically, orally, or by means of television" -- guarding its use on all electronic devices and in media representations. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) at the time refused to register the jingle on the grounds that it had "no distinctive character," and that it was "a banal and commonplace ringtone which would generally go unnoticed and would not be remembered by the consumer." Globo -- the biggest media company in Latin America -- appealed EUIPO's decision at the EU General Court, which has today ruled that the sound is indeed too boring to register.
HP

HP To Buy Samsung's Printer Business For $1.05 Billion (usatoday.com) 111

HP has agreed to a deal with Samsung to acquire their printer business for $1.05 billion, a deal that will be the largest print acquisition in HP's history. USA Today reports: "The acquisition of Samsung's printer business allows us to deliver print innovation and create entirely new business opportunities with far better efficiency, security, and economics for customers," said HP president and CEO Dion Weisler in a statement. The Samsung deal would give HP access to 6,500 printing patents as well as 1,300 researchers and engineers "with advanced expertise in laser printer technology." While this deal is being negotiated, Samsung's mobile phone business has been navigating a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over issues with batteries catching fire and exploding. One of the most recent accidents reported involved a six-year-old boy in New York, who was using the device when it "suddenly burst into flames."
Democrats

US Patients Battle EpiPen Prices And Regulations By Shopping Online (cnn.com) 396

"The incredible increase in the cost of EpiPens, auto-injectors that can stop life-threatening emergencies caused by allergic reactions, has hit home on Capitol Hill," reports CNN. Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar reports that the argument "has now turned into civil war in the US Senate": One senator's daughter relies on Epi-Pen, while another senator's daughter is CEO of Mylan, the single company that is licensed to sell these injectors in the US. On the worldwide market there is no monopoly on these devices... Is it finally time to allow Americans to go online and fill their prescriptions on the world market?
Time reports some patients are ordering cheaper EpiPens from Canada and other countries online, "an act that the FDA says is technically illegal and potentially dangerous." But the FDA also has "a backlog of about 4,000 generic drugs" awaiting FDA approval, reports PRI, noting that in the meantime prices have also increased for drugs treating cancer, hepatitis C, and high cholesterol. In Australia, where the drug costs just $38, one news outlet reports that the U.S. "is the only developed nation on Earth which allows pharmaceutical companies to set their own prices."
Patents

Apple Patenting a Way To Collect Fingerprints, Photos of Thieves (appleinsider.com) 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's invention covering "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification" details the simple but brilliant -- and legally fuzzy -- idea of using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief. Apple's patent is also governed by device triggers, though different constraints might be applied to unauthorized user data aggregation. For example, in one embodiment a single failed authentication triggers the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a picture of the user. In other cases, the device might be configured to evaluate the factors that ultimately trigger biometric capture based on a set of defaults defined by internal security protocols or the user. Interestingly, the patent application mentions machine learning as a potential solution for deciding when to capture biometric data and how to manage it. Other data can augment the biometric information, for example time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data and more, all collected and logged as background operations. The deemed unauthorized user's data is then either stored locally on the device or sent to a remote server for further evaluation.
Patents

US Trade Judge Clears Fitbit of Stealing Jawbone's Trade Secrets (reuters.com) 13

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Fitbit did not steal rival Jawbone's trade secrets, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled on Tuesday, dashing Jawbone's hopes of securing an import ban against Fitbit's wearable fitness tracking devices. The judge, Dee Lord, said that there had been no violation of the Tariff Act, which gives the commission the power to block products that infringe U.S. intellectual property, because "no party has been shown to have misappropriated any trade secret." The ruling means Jawbone comes away with nothing from a complaint it filed with the trade agency in July 2015, accusing Fitbit of infringing six patents and poaching employees who took with them confidential data about Jawbone's business, such as plans, supply chains and technical details. Jawbone first sued Fitbit last year over trade secret violations in California state court, where the case is still pending. The companies, both based in San Francisco, are also litigating over patents in federal court.
China

China's Xiaomi Gearing Up For US Debut (bloomberg.com) 42

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Xiaomi is preparing to enter the U.S. smartphone market "in the near future," employing the same online sales and social media marketing tactics that helped the six-year-old startup become China's largest privately funded startup. Xiaomi can no longer afford to ignore the world's largest smartphone arena by revenue, company vice president Hugo Barra said in an interview. Its international expansion is taking on new-found urgency as growth at home slows and rivals such as Huawei erode its market share. "The U.S. is a market that we definitely have in our sights," Barra said on Bloomberg Television. "We will lead with social media, with the channels that allow us to get in touch with the young generation that are enthusiastic about new technology. We are definitely going there." Barra, who oversees the Chinese company's international expansion, has signaled Xiaomi's U.S. debut before. But the smartphone vendor is now in a better position to launch an incursion onto Apple's turf. In June, the Beijing-based company announced the acquisition of nearly 1,500 technology patents from Microsoft -- a deal that may smooth potential legal tangles over intellectual property as it pushes abroad.
Blackberry

BlackBerry Enters New Phase Of Patent Monetization, Sues Internet Telephony Firm Avaya (arstechnica.com) 59

In what can be seen as a turning point for BlackBerry, the Canadian iconic company has filed a patent lawsuit against internet telephony firm Avaya. BlackBerry claims Avaya has infringed eight of its U.S. patents, and that BlackBerry should be paid for its history of innovation going back nearly 20 years. "BlackBerry revolutionized the mobile industry," the company's lawyers said. "BlackBerry... has invented a broad array of new technologies that cover everything from enhanced security and cryptographic techniques, to mobile device user interfaces, to communication servers, and many other areas." From an article on Iam Media: The move comes just over a year since Blackberry announced itself as a major player in the monetisation space with an agreement signed with Cisco, in which the Canadian company not only secured a cross-licensing deal but also "a license fee from Cisco." Another royalty-bearing deal was done with an unnamed company around the same time. Since then, the company has also signed two more deals with Canon and International Game Technology, both of which look to contain a royalties element to them; while in January it emerged that late last year Blackberry had sold a portfolio of patents to investment firm Centerbridge Partners for as much as $50 million. Blackberry CEO John Chen has made clear that he sees the company's patent assets as a key element in his plans. "We have today about 44,000 patents. The good thing about this is that we also have one of the youngest patent portfolios in the entire industry, so monetization of our patents is an important aspect of our turnaround," he told delegates at a summit in Waterloo, Ontario, last September. He was at it again in May during an earnings call with analysts when he stated: "Many people have wanted to buy the patents... But I'm not really in a patent-selling mode, I'm in a patent licensing mode."
Patents

Amazon Patents Noise-Canceling Headphones That Could Automatically Turn Off When It Detects Certain Sound Patterns (thenextweb.com) 82

An anonymous reader shares a report via The Next Web: Noise-canceling headphones are great for tuning out the din around you when you just want to focus on listening to music or enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, they also mute sounds that you might need to hear -- like someone calling your name. Amazon has a pretty cool idea for solving that problem. It was recently granted a patent for headphones that not only cancel out noise, but also listen to specific sounds or phrases (like 'Hey Ben') and respond by automatically turning off the feature so the user can hear sound from their surroundings. That should make it safer for use in noisy environments where you might actually need to pay attention to the occasional alert, such as a construction site or an industrial facility. In addition, the headphones can also listen for phrases to turn noise canceling back on again, so the user can resume their listening experience hands-free.
China

Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement (reuters.com) 24

In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.
Yahoo!

Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo (bloomberg.com) 70

Verizon Communications is nearing a deal to buy Yahoo, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While nothing is official yet, the publication claims that Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo's core Internet business. The report adds that Yahoo's patents are not part of the discussion, and it's unclear whether the two companies are considering Yahoo's real estate. "The companies may be ready to announce the deal in the coming days, the people said," the report adds. Interestingly, CNBC, citing its own sources, is independently reporting the same thing.
Cloud

Amazon Isn't Saying If Echo Has Been Wiretapped (zdnet.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ZDNet: Since announcing how many government data requests and wiretap orders it receives, Amazon has so far issued two transparency reports. The two reports outline how many subpoenas, search warrants, and court orders the company received to cloud service, Amazon Web Services. The cloud makes up a large portion of all the data Amazon gathers, but the company does also collect vast amounts of data from its retail businesses, mobile services, book purchases, and requests made to Echo. The company's third report is due to be released in a few weeks but an Amazon spokesperson wouldn't comment on whether or not the company will expand its transparency report to include information regarding whether or not the Amazon Echo has been wiretapped. There are reportedly more than three million Amazon Echo speakers out in the wild. Gizmodo filed a freedom of information (FOIA) request with the FBI earlier this year to see if the agency had wiretapped an Echo as part of a criminal investigation. The FBI didn't confirm or deny wiretapping the Echo. Amazon was recently awarded a patent for drone docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples.
Patents

Amazon Patents Way To Turn Lampposts, Church Steeples Into Drone Perches (consumerist.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Amazon has received a patent that shows what drones may be doing when they're not flying throughout the sky delivering packages: sitting on lampposts and church steeples. "Amazon was recently awarded a patent for docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples," reports The Consumerist. "Once the drone is done making a delivery, it would be able to land on the station, recharge and refuel, as well as pick up additional packages." A "central control system" would then be able to control each docking station and connect the docked drone(s) with a local or regional packaged handling center or central facility. Based on weather or package data, the drones may be commanded accordingly. The patent says the system will not only provide directions based to the drone, but will have the ability to redirect the unmanned aerial vehicle based on the most favorable conditions, such as a route with less wind. The patent describes a system in which the drone delivers a package to the platform that then moves the item via a "vacuum tube, dumbwaiter, elevator, or conveyor to the ground level." From there, the package could be transferred to an Amazon Locker or a local delivery person. The docking stations could also act as cell towers that "provide local free or fee-based Wi-Fi services. This can enable cities to provide free Wi-Fi in public parks, buildings, and other public areas without bearing the burden of installing some, or all, of the necessary infrastructure."
Android

Google Decided To Nix Its Oculus Rift Competitor (recode.net) 50

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Recode: Google recently nixed an internal project to create a high-end standalone virtual-reality headset that would compete directly against the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, according to sources familiar with the plans. Google instead decided to shift more of its resources behind mobile VR and provide tools for other companies to build apps, games and services on Android-powered smartphones, rather than expensive hardware. In May, the company announced "Google Daydream," a platform that will help hardware and software developers create VR hardware, games, and experiences for its new Android Nougat operating system. Google did say they would be releasing their own VR headset, but it's mostly geared towards developers. A different VR project was started inside the Google X research lab, which is now a separate Alphabet company, with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. That project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android. Now, it appears that the OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. The report suggests that Google is not as interested in competing directly with hardware from Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others. Apple has been recently granted another AR/VR patent, suggesting the company might be building a VR headset of its own.
Businesses

NBC Universal Patents a Way To Detect BitTorrent Pirates In Real-Time (ndtv.com) 104

An anonymous reader writes: NBC Universal has been granted a patent, titled "Early detection of high volume peer-to-peer networks in real-time," to try and restrict piracy of its copyrighted content. "Early detection of high volume swarms in a peer-to-peer network, including a data feed of peer-to-peer swarm activity, and an analytics engine processing the data feed and identifying the high volume swarms that have parameters that exceed a threshold. The system can include a pre-processing section for conditioning the swarm data for the analytics section. There can also be a verification section that confirms that the peer download file matches the target file," notes the patent document issued by USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). "The early detection provides for enhanced anti-piracy efforts, improved allocation of network resources, and better business decision-making," it adds. NBC Universal says that the "P2P infrastructure has many advantages" but it has also led to abuses. Piracy is estimated to cost content owners billions of dollars annually. "These costs are typically passed along to the consuming public in terms of increased costs for legitimate purchased works and higher charges for increased deterrents to the piracy," NBC Universal added. The patent NBC Universal received was applied for back in 2009, but only granted last week.

Slashdot Top Deals