IP Updates: This Week

China: Range of patents go on the auction block

Ninety high-tech patents developed by the Chinese Academy of Science’s Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) will be auctioned in Beijing on Dec 16, just a part of more than 320 patents held by the technology powerhouse that will be sold.

The rest will be auctioned in the first half of next year, according to Li Zhonghua, assistant president of China Technology Exchange (CTEX), one of the auction’s four organizers.

The patents up for auction include those in information technology, wireless communication, integrated circuits, data security, networking of everyday appliances and high-performance computing.
The legal status of the patents is another major concern of bidders, Li Xiaojun, head of the institute’s intellectual property office said, so one of the co-organizers is Unitalen, a leading law firm specialized in intellectual property.

Organizers have already held presentations in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen to describe the technological specifications, potential applications and legal status of patents up for bid.

While the audience in Shanghai showed intense interest in technologies for networking everyday items – also known as the “Internet of Things” – Shenzhen companies were keen on telecommunications patents, according to Li.
Li Xiaojun, said the ICT’s goals are to “let companies know that we have the patents and to showcase our R&D capability”.

“Trade in bulk in this way is probably not as profitable as individual negotiations,” she said. “But we want to get more patents industrialized at one time.”

Of the 90 patents now on sale, 24 will be auctioned without a reserve minimum price. Those technologies range from the Internet and wireless communications to data storage and processing, Li said.
“It is our way to return to society,” she noted. “That may help small businesses that have interest in the patents yet could not otherwise afford them.”

“If needed, we will assist bid winners with patent industrialization after the auction,” she said, adding that charges for technological support are not included in bid prices.

Over the past 20 years, a dramatic surge in patent applications and increasingly improved legal system for intellectual property show China has grown into an intellectual property powerhouse, experts say.

The number of patents filed in China last year rose 17.9 percent to nearly 980,000 applications.

Yet inefficient commercialization dampens the nation’s international competitiveness. Statistics show that less than one-third of the 30,000 annual technological research results result in patents applications, according to China Securities Journal.

Of those, just 5 percent have been industrialized, far less than 60 to 80 percent in developed countries.

The State Council issued a national intellectual property strategy in June 2008 to encourage patent commercialization and industrialization.

Patent auctions are widely used in the United States to transfer technologies, insiders say, though it is a new approach in China.


Apple patents: iPhone radio, fiber optic MagSafe, 3D without glasses

Apple has patented a radio system in the iPhone , allowing you to listen to standard FM and AM broadcasts on the Smartphone. The patent itself also includes an idea for a satellite radio connection, as well as a card to plug into Macs that would do the same thing. And there’s a radio map idea as well, that would chart and let you browse nearby radio stations.  Hopefully we’ll see it in the next iPhone revision.

Apple has been granted a patent by the USPTO for a new MagSafe adaptor which integrates power and fiber optic data transfer in one connector and cable. It’s possible that the ‘optical’ label could refer to Intel’s Light Peak technology (isn’t mention in the patent) which will carry video and data signals using the same protocol and have  a maximum data transfer rate of 10Gb/s.

Apple’s also picked up patents for a 3D rendering system that would allow you to
see live 3D in a room without glasses. This flexible 3D effect is achieved by tracking a user’s position, and then sends separate images to their right and left eyes through multiple projectors. This patent was actually filed in 2006, so it’s likely a hare brained idea Apple had at the time, rather than anything that will eventually see the light of day. At least Apple’s keeping up the creativity for us, right?

EPO agrees translation deal with Google

The European Patent Office (EPO) and Google signed a Memorandum of Understanding to expand and improve upon translations of European patents.

Specifically, the EPO will use Google’s machine translation tool to translate European patents into the languages of the 38 EPO member countries.  In return, Google will receive access to the EPO’s database of patents.

Currently, EPO applications must be filed in one of the three official languages: English, German or French.  Following grant, the applicant must then get the patent claims or the entire specification (depending on the country) translated into the official language of each individual EPO member country in which it wishes to receive protection.

However, for those countries where protection is not sought, no translation is required.  As a result, many granted European patents rarely get translated into more than a handful of languages.

This agreement between the EPO and Google will certainly benefit the public by increasing its accessibility to EPO patents.  Upon implementation, anyone will be able to search the 1.5 million patent documents in the EPO in any of the official languages of the 38 member states, not just the languages of the countries it was validated in.

Although this agreement represents a big step for machine translations of patent documents.

Intellectual Ventures files lawsuits against tech companies

Intellectual Ventures (IV), a US firm with one of the biggest portfolios of technology patents, has filed its first series of lawsuits over patent infringement.

The first suit was filed against software companies Check Point Software Technologies, McAfee, Symantec and Trend Micro. The suit accuses them of infringing on four IV patents related to antivirus and internet security technology.

Another suit is related to DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and Flash memory and is aimed at Elpida Memory and Hynix Semiconductor – accused of infringing between five and seven of IV patents.

The final suit is aimed at chip-makers Altera, Lattice Semiconductor and Microsemi, which are accused of infringing between three and five patents. The lawsuits were filed in a federal court in Delaware.

IV was founded by former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myrhvold in 2000 and has amassed over 30,000 patents. The firm says it has generated licence fees of nearly $2 billion in that time.

Patent Lawsuits Over Interactive Sex Toys –Teledildonic*

A company called New Frontier Technologies, which licensed a patent (6,368,268 — “method and device for interactive virtual control of sexual aids using digital computer networks,” — and you shouldn’t miss the flow charts on pages 5 and 6 of the patent) from another company, Hassex, is suing Internet Services for violating that patent with its “Real Touch” masturbation tool. Of course, it will be interesting to see if Internet Services fires back with the Immersion patents that it licensed (5,889,672 and 6,275,213) .

“teledildonics” -virtual sex space

India is annoyed that unlicensed Bollywood videos are appearing on Chinese versions of YouTube

Youku and Tudou, two online video services in China that offer free viewing of foreign films including those in Hindi.They have often been accused of violating copyright and copying the Youtube model.

For instance, recent Hindi movies like Guzaarish, Action Reply and Gomaal 3 were available at these sites on Saturday evening. Even in China, Youku is facing charges of intellectual property rights infringement by software portal Chaoxing at a Beijing court.

Youku, the highest grosser among online video sites in China, expects to raise $154 million before listing in the US next week. Tudou plans to follow suit soon after with its own initial public offer. This will be followed by another IPO move by a new US based video site, Hulu, which is backed by media heavyweights General Electric Co’s NBC Universal, Walt Disney Co and News Corp.

Online video sites, which let users do to upload their own videos, streaming clips, movies and television shows, have become hugely popular among China’s 420 million Internet users. Though they have managed to attract a lot of advertisement, these sites have not been able to establish themselves as profitable companies.

Unlike the pay TV companies in the US, the Chinese video sharing sites do not charge subscription. They depend almost entirely on advertisement revenue.


Recent Posts