Richard Waters

Google is constantly on the receiving end of patent lawsuits: its last annual report listed challenges to 13 of its services, including Android, YouTube and Chrome.

But when a claim comes along that’s aimed squarely at AdWords, the money-minting machine on which its entire fortune rests, it has a way of grabbing the attention – particularly when the case is launched by a consortium of tech companies that include Microsoft and Apple. Read more

A South Korean website has unearthed trademark and patent filings by Samsung regarding a possible smartwatch. That’s a reminder that – while Samsung and Apple squabble over old intellectual property – they will soon have a whole new set of designs to fight over.

In the drawings, Samsung’s device looks like a smartphone bent round a wrist. Unlike similar products from Sony, LG and Pebble, it has a flexible screen rather than the familiar usual strap. Read more

Microsoft has closed a patent licensing deal with ZTE, one of the top five manufacturers of Android smartphones.

The deal is Microsoft’s first with a leading Chinese company, marking an important milestone in the software giant’s multi-year campaign to squeeze licensing revenues out of smartphone vendors and manufacturers.

“Experience has taught us that respect for intellectual property rights is a two-way street,” said Horacio Gutierrez, general counsel for Microsoft, “and we have always been prepared to respect the rights of others just as we seek respect for our rights.” Read more

Nevermind superfast broadband – the British government is lining up “superfast patents”. Inventors could be awarded a patent in just ninety days, under a government consultation published on Tuesday. That’s a fraction of the usual two to five years, and only a little longer than the ticketing process for the 2012 London Olympics.

Observers may see anything that makes patents easier as a bad idea, given the smartphone wars. Hence the UK is proposing an extra fee of £3,500-£4,000 for the fast-track service. The hope is that will strip out less credible claims, while allowing serious investors to get their patent – and then some venture capital. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

In a move that has raised eyebrows in legal and technology circles, Samsung has hired a former British appeals-court judge, who reprimanded the electronics giant’s patent opponent Apple last year, to be its expert witness in another intellectual property trial. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

When Apple filed suit against HTC for patent violations in 2010, it was the first time the California-based company had turned its legal arsenal on an Android phone-maker.

Two years, and many more lawsuits later, Apple and HTC’s decision to settle those disputes is likewise the first time that Apple has agreed a settlement with an Android-based rival. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Peace has broken out in one corner of the multilateral patent war between smartphone makers, with Apple and HTC signing a global settlement and licensing agreement. Read more

Apple’s $1bn win over Samsung in California should give inventors cautious optimism, writes James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of Dyson. It was an overwhelming victory in spite of a vacillating process that puts the onus on the patent’s owner to prove it has been copied, rather than the infringer to prove it has not.

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Interesting commentary from around the Web on the tech story that made headlines this week.

Apple’s patent win against Samsung in the US courts last week prompted a wave of reactions from across the tech sphere. While some found that Apple’s victory would slow down technology development, others argued it could be the driving force behind a push to innovate more in the smartphone industry. Read more

Maija Palmer

Apple’s victory over Samsung in the patents dispute shone an interesting light on the murky world of patents. For one thing it demonstrated clearly that there are two different types of patents around mobile devices that operate very differently.

On the one hand you have patents that are to do with how the phone actually operates, how it connects calls and handles data. These are the standards essential patents and they are the things that companies like Samsung, Nokia and Motorola have a lot of, as they have been in the business of making phones for a very long time. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The first day of the high-profile court case in California between Samsung and Apple over smartphone patents began and ended with an irate judge berating the Korean tech giant.

Samsung’s lawyers started proceedings, before the jury entered the courtroom, by – in their own words – begging Judge Koh to allow them to submit evidence which they argued provided “indisputable evidence” that it came up with its black-rectangle touchscreen smartphone designs before 2007’s release of the iPhone.

“In 36 years, I’ve never begged the court. I’m begging the court now,” said John Quinn of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, an LA law firm. “What’s the point in having a trial?” Read more

Tim Bradshaw

It is a hazard of holding a patent trial in the San Francisco Bay Area that many potential jurors have links to Silicon Valley companies. It took the full first day in a San Jose court to select a fair and balanced jury for the patent case between Apple and Samsung, dashing hopes that the court might have heard the two companies’ opening arguments on Monday afternoon. Read more

Maija Palmer

The complexity – one is tempted to say complete muddle – of the European patent system was highlighted on Wednesday when Nokia and HTC won a key victory in their intellectual property battle with IPCom.

IPCom, which is based in Germany,  has waged a battle for several years to get mobile handset companies to pay it royalties for some technology it owns related to how mobile phones connect to 3G networks. Some handset makers have bought licences from IPCom, but Nokia and HTC strongly denied the validity of the patents and refused to pay up. Read more

Richard Waters

Microsoft just wrote the final chapter in a historic rivalry that defined the early years of the Web – and which became Exhibit A in its anti-trust showdown with the US government.

We hear that the legal remains of Netscape – along with its patents – have just been traded to Microsoft by AOL as part of a landmark $1.1bn deal. More than a decade after it was vanquished in the browser wars, Netscape really does seem to be worth more dead than alive. Read more

Richard Waters

Two researchers from Dutch electronics group Philips, a professor at New York University, an independent inventor in San Jose – and a certain Mark Zuckerberg.

These are some of the people whose assembled brainpower Facebook has drawn on to defend itself against Yahoo’s patent infringement case. If successful, it will count as one of the most effective legal defences mounted by a young internet concern that until recently had little in the way of patent reserves to draw on. Read more

Richard Waters

Six months ago, we called it the Great Patent Bubble: when wireless tech company InterDigital (almost all of whose value resides in its patents) put itself up for sale, it capped a threefold rise that saw $2.5bn added to its stock market value.

Monday’s news that the InterDigital sale has been called off suggests that the bubble is deflating. Read more

Joseph Menn

Apple had a bad week in its multi-front patent war, capped by the real possibility of an iPhone and iPad import ban in GermanyRead more

Richard Waters

The fortunes of Openwave, one of the early pioneers of mobile internet access, faded after the first burst of excitement over WAP technology passed nearly a decade ago. Amidst the mobile industry’s patent wars, though, it may still have a sting its tail. Read more

Maija Palmer

gemalto imageThe disruption suffered by companies in the recent spate of technology patent wars became apparent last week when Gemalto, the French smartcard company, revealed a €13.5m shortfall in its patents revenue, following a dispute with makers of Android smartphones.

The Paris-based company launched a suit against Google, Motorola, HTC and Samsung last October, alledging that they had used Gemalto’s smartcard technology in Android devices without a licence. Read more

Richard Waters

The mud-slinging between Microsoft and Google over Wednesday’s outspoken Google blog post about the patent wars has continued almost unabated. And as always in cases like this, both sides come out of it worse off. Read more