Last week I talked about the intellectual property stories I encountered last week. I intend the recap to be a regular feature, so I now present another weeks worth of news, some of which I mentioned in Twitter posts. It’s pretty late at night, so let’s begin.
In the UK Apple sued Samsung and claimed that Samsung’s tablets were infringing Apple’s patents related to the iPad. UK Judge Birss released his opinion recently explaining why Samsung had not violated any of Apple’s patents. Birss noted that Apple’s tablet design is an “understated, smooth and simple product;” in other word’s, Apple design is cool. Samsung’s designs lack the same overall impressions that Apple’s design does. Since Samsung’s design is not as cool as Apple’s design, Birss held that there is no infringement. This case marks another defeat for Apple overseas. Last week, a UK judge ruled that HTC smartphones did not infringe Apple’s patents, including the slide-to-unlock feature that was found to be invalid.
UK citizen Richard O’Dwyer is facing extradition to the United States for running TVShack.net and allegedly committing copyright infringement. Wikipedia Co-founder Jimmy Wales started a petition to protest the extradition, claiming that O’Dwyer had done his best to remove any links on TVShack leading to infringing content and that the United States should not be pursuing an extradition case when the UK is not charging O’Dwyer with any crime. Wales’ petition has generated tens of thousands of signatures in the US and UK. O’Dwyer’s case has drawn attention to the extradition process, which only requires the US to prove reasonable suspicion of the crime considered illegal in both countries as opposed to presenting prima facie evidence of a crime.
The Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone was not the subject of an injunction like the Galaxy Nexus because Judge Koh thought there were too many issues to consider already. Recently Galaxy S III users have discovered that universal search, the main reason for the injunction against the Galaxy Nexus, has been removed in a patch. Android Central reported that Sprint customers experienced the issue and are offering a workaround for customers wanting the universal search feature back.
This story is older than a week, but I wanted to mention it because I found the interview relevant to the intellectual property battles in this area. Reuters interviewed 7th Circuit Appellate Judge Richard Posner after he dismissed Apple’s lawsuit against Motorola regarding patent infringement. Posner notes that in the beginning he took the district court case because he was interested in patents. He had a court-issued BlackBerry at the time, but he switched to an iPhone. In the end, Posner denied Apple’s request for an injunction against Motorola devices because he did not think it was in the consumers’ best interest and because he rejected the idea of banning an entire phone based on patents covering certain product features. Furthermore, Posner denied Motorola’s request for an injunction against the iPhone because Motorola promised to license its patents on terms to allow adoption of technology as industry standards.
Posner does not blame either side from bringing suit. Apple and Motorola were merely exercising their rights under the current patent system even if the lawsuits came with high costs. Judge Posner also sat down for an interview with National Public Radio in which he talked about his conservative views in light of recent Supreme Court decisions.
On Wednesday Judge Lucy Koh issued a recusal from Fraley v. Facebook before a settlement could be reached. In this class action, Facebook users claimed Facebook violated California privacy laws when Facebook publicized users’ “Likes” of advertisers without allowing users to opt out or paying users for their feedback. Though, Judge Koh has been handling the case since it started last year, Koh did not disclose any reason for the recusal. Amy Miller of the Recorder reports that Koh is connected to various organizations set to receive money as part of the settlement agreement. Judge Koh continues to oversee C.M.D. v. Facebook, a case involving minors.
Intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller wrote on Friday about how Samsung filed in its briefs evidence of letters Apple sent to retailers about the injunctions recently granted. In the letter Apple warns companies not to sell or promote the Galaxy Tab tablet or the Galaxy Nexus smartphone as they are covered under the preliminary injunctions like Samsung is. Samsung disputes that Apple’s aggressive tactics are correctly interpreting the injunction orders, and at least one company is analyzing the injunction and deciding what to do with existing inventory of the Samsung products in question.
Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced that they would be setting up a satellite patent office in San Jose, California. As mandated by the America Invents Act passed last year, the USPTO is opening up a satellite office in Detroit this year and will open new offices in San Jose, Denver, and Dallas. Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank came to downtown San Jose on Wednesday to talk about the new office and answer questions from local Silicon Valley leaders. Everyone is hoping that the new offices will improve the quality of patents granted and help spur more innovation in the local economy, especially in the high tech fields.