Nokia has refused to licence 64 of their own granted patents and 22 pending patents to allow Google to make their proprietary WebM codec a FRAND standard.
Google has been trying to circumvent the H.264 codec and its licensing by creating its own codec system, VP8, which it purchased from On2 Technologies.
Google initially insisted their codec did not infringe on anyone else’s patents, their usual tactic when it comes to usurping the intellectual property of others and giving it away for free (see Android), but agreed eventually to a licence agreement with the MPEG LA, who owns H.264.
Now Nokia has insisted this is not enough, and that Google’s codecs also infringe their patents, and they will not be licensing.
In a statement given to FOSS Patents, a Nokia spokesman describes the company’s latest actions as an "unusual step," but claims that it is necessary to prevent Google from "forc[ing] the adoption of its proprietary technology, which offers no advantages over existing, widely deployed standards such as H.264.”
If Google did get its way Google would likely quickly convert all the video on YouTube to its own standard, and its successors, and force Windows and Windows Phone to implement an ever changing target (Google is already planning VP9) leaving everyone else a step behind, something which would benefit only Google, who of course control Android and the Chrome browser.
We have already seen this in action with Gmail and Caldav, and represents a rather nefarious strategy for the company who’s motto is an imperative to themselves not to be Evil.
Via The Verge.com
The strength of Nokia’s patent profile has already allowed it to extract regular royalty payments from Apple and RIM, and Nokia is currently preparing to do the same to HTC and potentially all Android OEMs selling handsets in USA.
The patent in question is for tethering a phone to a computer to share the data network of the phone, and stretch back to 1995, when the only data our phones could access was SMS.
The patent claims:
“Method for making a data transmission connection from a computer to any one of a plurality of mobile communication networks for transmission of analog and/or digital signals, wherein the computer is connected with one of the mobile communication networks via a telecommunication terminal which is in local data transmission connection with the computer; and wherein the data transmission connection utilises at least a first operation mode for connection with a first of said telecommunication networks and a second operation mode for connection with a second of said telecommunication networks, the method comprising steps of:
testing said communication networks to determine which of said plurality of mobile communication networks are available for a connection to be made via the telecommunication terminal;
selecting one of the available mobile communication networks;
at the telecommunication terminal, setting an operation mode corresponding to the selected one of the mobile communication networks; and
setting the data transmission connection for transmission via the selected operation mode.”
HTC and Google has been arguing at the ITC to narrow the scope of the claims so as to reduce their risk of infringement, but according to Fosspatents has been largely unsuccessful, meaning it is very likely when Nokia vs HTC does go to trial at the ITC in 2 months HTC will be found to be infringing Nokia’s patents. Given that tethering is very widely supported by Android handsets it seems likely after HTC falls other OEMs such as Samsung will be next.
Just two days ago Nokia won a patent infringement case against HTC in Germany for phone power management, part of 22 impending lawsuits Nokia has filed against HTC in Germany.
Nokia could now enforce a sales ban by posting a $6.5 million bond and also possess the right to claim damages. Unfortunately the infringing handsets are now pretty old and no longer in the market.
In both cases Google has attempted to intervene on HTC’s behalf but has largely failed.
Read more at Fosspatents here. Thanks Tom for the tip.
Microsoft today won a U.K. ruling invalidating Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.â€™s patent protection for technology synchronizing message statuses across multiple devices.
Microsoft itself files the case against Motorola Mobility in London a year ago in a pre-emptive bid to invalidate the patent before it could be sued for infringement.
The 2002 patent centred on synchronizing messages to multiple devices, and would have impacted Microsoftâ€™s Live Messenger instant-messaging system and Exchange ActiveSync protocol.
Judge Richard Arnold said in a decision in London today the technology was obvious to experts in the field at the time and should not have been issued.
â€œThe patent is invalid and should be revoked,â€ Arnold said during a 30-second hearing after a week-long trial. â€œSome claims in the patent â€œadd nothing inventive in my view,â€ he said.
Microsoft is currently embroiled in a court case addressing similar patents in Germany, and Apple recently lost a case against Motorola using the same invalidated patent.
â€œWeâ€™re pleased the court granted our request to invalidate Motorolaâ€™s patent and welcome yet another step toward clarifying the cases between our companies,â€ David Howard, Microsoftâ€™s deputy general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement.
Nokia has emerged victorious once again from a patent case with another company.
Like Apple RIM has agreed to make a one-time payment to Nokia and then pay regular royalties.
â€œWe are very pleased to have resolved our patent licensing issues with RIM and reached this new agreement, while maintaining Nokiaâ€™s ability to protect our unique product differentiation,â€ said Paul Melin, chief intellectual property officer at Nokia. â€œThis agreement demonstrates Nokiaâ€™s industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities in the mobile communications market.â€
The amounts involved has been revealed yet, but Nokia managed to secure a patent settlement of $608 million and ongoing royalties from Apple last year, which may give an indication of the windfall Nokia can expect.
Jurors in Wilmington, Delaware today found Apple was in violation of 3 patents held by MobileMedia, a consortium created by Nokia, Sony and the MPEG-LA to enforce their collective patents.
The firm sued Apple in 2010 claiming that it infringed 14 patents in total. Only 3 patents eventually went to court, and Apple was found to be infringing all three. Patents included the camera’s phone and "call handling and call rejection."
MobileMedia Chief Executive Officer Larry Horn said after the decision: "We’re very pleased. We think it’s justified."
MobileMedia is managing 300 patents and currently has on-going cases against RIM (regarding 12 patents) and HTC (regarding 11 patents).
No settlement was announced yet, but the victory will likely result in license payments which will eventually percolate to the three respective companies.
Apple has already been forced to settle with Nokia regarding 3G patents in 2011, paying $608 million to Nokia and also on-going license fees.
RIM suffered a blow today after losing a patent battle that was in arbitration in Sweden.
The venue ruled â€RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia,â€
In a statement Nokia said:
Nokia and RIM agreed a cross-license for standards essential cellular patents in 2003, which was amended in 2008. In 2011, RIM sought arbitration, arguing that the license extended beyond cellular essentials. In November, the arbitration tribunal ruled against RIM. It found that RIM was in breach of contract and is not entitled to manufacture or sell WLAN products without first agreeing royalties with Nokia. In order to enforce the Tribunalâ€™s ruling, we have now filed actions in the US, UK and Canada with the aim of ending RIMâ€™s breach of contract.
The ruling covers all BlackBerry devices and will only add to RIMâ€™s troubles as it struggles to launch its new Blackberry 10 OS.
The ink is hardly dry on HTC’s settlement with Apple and now the company has to defend itself against a fresh assault, and from an unexpected corner.
Nokia has filed suiteÂ againstÂ HTC in 5 different venues, accusing the company of violating 32 different patents.
The cases have in fact been filed all the way back in May, but will in most cases come to trail before the end of the year.
Some of the patents are rather basic technology ones, such as those related to the antenna or signal management, and others are user interface issues.
3 of the 5 venues are in Germany, who are rather notorious for siding with the patent holder.
FosspatentsÂ suggests that if Nokia could get Apple to pay up, then HTC should be a complete push-over. Â HTC has already shown its willingness to settle with IP holders, paying first Microsoft and then Apple for the use of Android.
While it is not great to see infighting like this between Windows Phone licensees, Nokia’s financial situation likely means they are forced to explore any possible source of revenue, and unfortunately for HTC they represent a weak target. Hopefully Microsoft will intervene and make sure the battle will not compromise HTC’s Windows Phone products, who likely do infringe on some fundamental technology patents.
Read much more detail atÂ Fosspatents here.
Based on multiple sources, Bloomberg is reporting that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is recommending to commissioners that Google be sued for trying to block competitorsâ€™ access to key smartphone-technology patents in violation of antitrust law.
Google had been trying to use their FRAND patents, gained by purchasing Motorola, to try and block imports by Microsoft and Apple into USA.
According to their sources the majority of the agencyâ€™s five commissioners are inclined to sue. A final decision on the staff recommendation, made last month, isnâ€™t likely until after the Nov. 6 presidential election, they said.
The FTC opened a formal probe into the matter in June, when it began seeking information from companies including Microsoft and Apple about whether Google offered licensing for technology under patents that help operate 3G wireless, Wi-Fi and video streaming on fair and reasonable terms, a person familiar with the matter said at the time.
â€œThere is a tough emerging attitude by antitrust regulators whoâ€™ve recognized that the failure to honor standard essential patent commitments needs to be treated much more severely than in the past,â€ said Bert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute in Washington, which advocates strong enforcement of antitrust law.
â€œThe agencies want to move this issue to the forefront by speaking out and tackling these high profile cases.â€
A Google executive has admitted their purchase of Motorola was mainly about the patents the company held. With Google finding less and less success enforcing these patents the value of their $12.5 billion splurge is becoming less and less clear.
In a separate investigation the FCC is also examining whether Googleâ€™s business practices in search, advertising and mobile hurt competition, making for a company with a rather large target on their back.
Read more at Business Week here.
Forget double-sided tiles. Microsoft thinks Windows 8 users should be able to twist and turn their tiles in up to 3 dimensions, and even have cylindrical tiles.
In their patent the sides of the boxes could show more information about notifications, such as the subject line of a newly received email or a full text messages. The several sides of the boxes would allow more information to be shows.
The rotating tiles can also be used to reveal menus e.g for a music controls.
The patents were filed in Q2 2012 and granted in Q3 2012, so may show up in some future version of Windows Phone.
See more screen shots after the break.
For the first time ever Microsoft has dropped the proxy battle and has attacked Google directly.
Today in the Munich Regional Court Microsoft announced that it would amend its complaint against Motorola, Googleâ€™s owner, to add Google Inc., the operator of the server infrastructure that powers the Google Maps Android app, as an additional defendant.
The current case targetâ€™s Google Maps, and mainly deals with delivering maps from an online repository, in this case Googleâ€™s Maps server, and then Geotagging.
Previous German patent rulings in Apple’s and Microsoft’s favour have already required Motorola to pull all of its Android-based devices from the German market. The company has a bad track record in Germany, and Fosspatents note that if Motorola had not been purchased by Google they would have purchased a license a long time ago, like Samsung, HTC and a range of other Android OEMs.
If Google loses this case it could affect many more companies than just Motorola. Microsoft has told the court they are willing to settle if Motorola takes out a license. It seems the ball is now in Googleâ€™s court.
Read much more at Fosspatents here.
AllthingsD reports that Microsoft has won a major victory against Google in Germany.
The German court determined that Googleâ€™s Motorola infringed on a very broad Microsoft patent which addressed the fundamentals of Android.
The patent at issue covers â€œa method and system for receiving user input data into a computer system having a graphical windowing environmentâ€ and is expected to be pretty difficult to work around.
Microsoft has been granted the right to ban the sale of Motorolaâ€™s tablets and smartphones as long as Microsoft pays a bond of $61.4 million, which is of course a pittance for the company.
From Microsoftâ€™s statement Microsoft fully intends to do this, with Deputy General Counsel Dave Howard saying in a statement:
â€œWeâ€™re pleased this decision builds on previous rulings in Germany that have already found Motorola is broadly infringing Microsoftâ€™s intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola products in Germany and hope Motorola will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoftâ€™s patented inventions.â€
Microsoft has won 2 earlier victories against the company, and together with the Samsung/Apple ruling there is an air of the patent war turning decisively against Google.
Of course unlike with Apple all Google will have to do to make the problem go away is pay an Android license fee to Microsoft, which would of course be the ultimate irony.
Google is yet to comment on the ruling.
Microsoft has patented a new method of silencing phones ringing in inopportune times which is causing some guffaws.
Apparently Microsoft aims to address the annoying problem not with the common flip to silent, which only really works when the phone is on a desk, but by the use of a sharp tap, which Microsoft unfortunately calls whacking.
Whacking your phone will send a signal to your phoneâ€™s accelerometer to silent it, and has the advantage of working through clothing, and using the same gesture people use already when trying to find their phone.
Do our readers think this is a good example of Microsoft thinking differently, or are they being a bit, well, whacky? Let us know below.
Thanks Andy for the tip.
After Appleâ€™s sweeping victory against Samsung last week, the battle front is moving into the a new court case, which is expected to address the fundamentals of Android more directly, and includes the Samsung Google Nexus.
Apple is charging Samsung with infringement of 8 utility patents:
Apple is now asking for an injunction against 21 Samsung devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S 3 and the new Galaxy Note.
Apple has already had some success against HTC using the some of the same patents, which due to the large number of patents involved and the fundamental nature of some could leave Samsung with a steep challenge of creating work-arounds.
Samsung executives have told Korea Times that while they would defend themselves vigorously against the charges and work to keep their products on sale in USA, they would also diversify into other products running Windows, suggesting Samsungâ€™s Windows Phones, like the Samsung Ativ , may benefit disproportionately from Appleâ€™s attack on Samsung.
Much faster than expected, the jury has reached a decision in the trial that has mostly been about Apple vs Samsung, with Samsung putting up a pretty unconvincing defence.
The jury has found that Samsung infringed Appleâ€™s patents for much of their smartphones and also Galaxy Tab.
The list includes the Continuum, Droid Charge, Exhibit 4G, Galaxy Ace, Prevail, S 4G, S II, Galaxy Tab, The Gem, Indulge, Infuse 4G, Mesmerize, Nexus S 4G, Replenish and Vibrant.
The patents appear mostly to be design patents so far, such as bounce back, rubber band and double tap zoom.
The jury also found that in most cases Samsung wilfully infringed Appleâ€™s patents. In return the jury has awarded Apple $1.049343540 billion dollars in damages, which should sting Samsung slightly. This number could be as much as tripled due to wilful infringement. In addition the jury found Apple did not infringe on any of Samsungâ€™s utility patents, meaning Apple owned Samsung no damages at all.
The jury found Samsung violated antitrust law by monopolizing markets related to the UMTS standard, which effectively removes much of the weaponry held by companies such as Motorola with FRAND patents.
Apple will now file injunctions against infringing devices by the 29th August, with a hearing to be held on the 20th September to decide the issue.
Besides the monetary damages however the other implications are however more interesting.
The verdict has to potential of pushing the industry to more differentiated designs and operating systems like Windows Phone, which can only be good for our favourite OS.
Apple famously held up the Nokia Lumia 800 as a device which did not infringe on either their design or OS patents.
Additionally it has also been revealed that Microsoft has a cross-licensing agreement with Apple, which makes it the only operating system which is safe from being pursued by Apple, with any other mobile operating system, from pure Android to Meego to Firefox OS potentially at risk.
Via The Verge.com
Nokia has many â€œout thereâ€ patents, including for things such as bendable phones. Their latest patent application is for phones with a surface which, when touched, can induce the feeling of the phone moving forward, left, right or back in your hand, all without moving itself.
The magic is achieved by using a number of movable haptic elements (the squares in the figure) which are able to move independently and in a pattern of needed, creating waves of motion which simulate actual motion.
Nokia notes in the filling this would be useful for:
Navigation and route guidance applications use visual and audible user interface. Various user interface operations related to list and menu manipulation use mainly visual feedback, except that sometimes tactile confirmations to user actions are given post factum. An example embodiment could use the directional haptic sensation in navigation and route guidance applications in addition to, or as an alternative to, the visual and audible user interface. It is difficult or unacceptable for a user of mobile equipment to view a display or to listen to sound alerts or audio guidance when walking or driving. Features of the example embodiment described above could be used to provide guidance without the user having to use audio or visual guidance from the apparatus.
Another application not mentioned in the patent is gaming of course, and while this system is not practicable for every phone, one can definitely see a dedicated N-Gage-type gaming device having this on the back.
It seems, if Nokia is right, that one of the reasons Google was able to sell their high spec Quadcore Nexus 7 tablet for only $200 is that they are, as usual, not paying for the patents their products use.
A Nokia spokesperson told The INQUIRER, "Nokia has more than 40 licensees, mainly for its standards essential patent portfolio, including most of the mobile device manufacturers. Neither Google nor Asus is licensed under our patent portfolio.â€
The patents in question are believed to be for the IEEE 802.11 WiFi standard, but unlike Apple, who are out to destroy Android and are in the process of taking out an injunction against the Galaxy Nexus, Nokia only wants Google to pay a fair price.
"Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license," Nokia is quoted as saying.
Unlike usual, in this case Google will be selling their Android product directly from their Play store, making it one of the few occasions Google may in fact be directly liable for the infringement. Hopefully either Google will start paying for the patents they infringe, giving Nokia, who already receive several million from Apple for the same reason, a boost, or Nokia and Google will finally have they day in court and settle the Android patent issue once and for all.
Via the Inquirer.com
Thanks Milad for the tip.