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Patents Articles

Facebook Effort To Trademark “Face” Moves Forward
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A certain social network is now one step closer to owning a trademark on the term "face."  Yesterday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office sent Facebook a Notice of Allowance, indicating that it doesn’t take issue with the idea.

One significant point: this doesn’t mean that Facebook’s preparing to sue anyone who uses words like facelift, facemask, and face-off.  Or "face" by itself, for that matter.

Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android Phones
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Two weeks ago, the CFO of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft hinted something dramatic would happen.  Now it has: Microsoft announced this afternoon that it’s suing Motorola over nine (alleged) Android patent infringements.

Yahoo Patents May Cover Google Instant
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No one’s launched a product or sent in the lawyers just yet, but it looks like Yahoo is on Google’s tail in terms of instant search and might trip up its rival with a legal objection.  Shashi Seth, Senior Vice President of Yahoo Search Products, has indicated that Google Instant infringes on perhaps five patents Yahoo holds.

Microsoft Exec Says Android Infringes Patents

Android isn’t free and Google is going to face a lot of legal problems, if one Microsoft exec is to be believed.  Tivanka Ellawala, CFO of the Mobile Communications Business at Microsoft, indicated yesterday that some patents have been violated.

At the Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, Ellawala stated according to Kurt Mackie, "[Android] does infringe on a bunch of patents and there are costs associated with that."

Facebook Gets Click-Based Search Relevance Patent
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Facebook has been granted a patent called "Ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation". Here’s the abstract:

Microsoft Co-Founder Sues Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo, Apple, Etc.
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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has a company called Interval Licensing, and it is suing the following  eleven companies: AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube.

The claim, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington, alleges that these companies have infringed upon patents held by Interval. The patents in question include:

Google’s Reponse to the Oracle Suit
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As you may have read, Google is being sued by Oracle, who claims Google is infringing on several patents it holds, related to Java. These patents came to Oracle through its recent acquisition of Sun Microsystems.

"In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property," said Oracle spokesperson Karen Tillman. "This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement."

Apple Letting App Store Users Test Drive Apps

Apple has added a new section to its App Store aimed at letting users try out apps before paying for them. The section is appropriate called "Try Before You Buy".

Facebook Acquires Friendster Patents
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Almost every time a company is dragged into court, the process becomes a drain on its resources and isn’t great for PR (no matter how ridiculous the claims).  It’s perhaps understandable, then, that Facebook has acquired all of Friendster’s social networking patents and patent applications for a reported $40 million.

Microsoft and Salesforce Settle Patent Dispute

Microsoft announced that it has settled the patent infringement cases it brought against Salesforce.com, and that the two companies have reached a patent agreement in which Salesforce will receive broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for tis products and services. This will also apply to Salesforce’s back-end server infrastructure.

In addition, Microsoft gets coverage under Salesforce’s patent portfolio for Microsoft’s products and services.

Google, Apple, Yahoo, AOL, Dell, HP, RIM, McAfee, Symantec, Siemens Sued Over Spam Filtering
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A few days ago, a Texas-based company called InNova Patent Licensing filed an infringement lawsuit against 36 well-known companies. The company claims to hold the patent on spam filtering, and appears to be resting on the notion that any company using spam filtering owes them.

Among the companies being sued are Google, Apple, AOL, Dell, HP, RIM, Yahoo, McAfee, Symantec, and Siemens. The list doesn’t stop at tech companies though. It also contains names like Frito Lay, Cinemark, J.C. Penney, Rent-A-Center, and Dr. Pepper.

Google Eyes Mouse Movement as Possible Search Relevancy Signal
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Google was granted an interesting patent today. The title is "System and method for modulating search relevancy using pointer activity monitoring". Here is how the abstract for the patent describes it:

USPTO Lets Google Host 10 TB of Patent Info
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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has entered an agreement with Google, which will see Google hosting unmodified patent and trademark public data.

The USPTO says it doesn’t have the technical capability to provide the information in a bulk machine readable format, and that the arrangement is to serve as a bridge as the USPTO develops an acquisition strategy for this.

Google Looking to Split Print Pages into Individual Web Articles?

Back in 2008, Google filed a patent, which was recently published for public viewing. The patent is called "Segmenting Printed Media Pages Into Articles," and appears to imply that the company wants to take individual articles from print publications and turn them into individual articles on the web. The abstract says:

Facebook Gets Patent On News Feeds
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A number of social networks may be in a significant amount of trouble.  Facebook has managed to patent the idea of "dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network."

This is no rumor or joke; the paperwork is all in order.  Facebook filed for what the United States Patent and Trademark Office has designated patent number 7,669,123 in August of 2006, and Mark Zuckerberg’s name appears eight times on the official document.

Yahoo Loses Patent Infringement Case, $12.4 Million
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IMVironments – the little background themes for Yahoo Messenger – have gotten Yahoo in a lot of trouble.  The company’s lost a patent infringement case that concerns them, and as a result, is supposed to pay a subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation $12.4 million.

Could Billboard Ads in Google Maps Street View Become a Possibility?

Google has been granted a quite interesting patent for "Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising". The company filed the patent back in the summer of 2008. The abstract reads:

Google Gets Patent For YouTube Gaming
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Using YouTube may become a much less passive experience in the near future.  Google’s received applied for a patent on a "Web-based system for [the] generation of interactive games based on digital videos," and several facts point to the search giant moving ahead with the idea.

Google Caught In Another Patent Dispute
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It looks like at least a few of Google’s lawyers who specialize in patent law are about to get some work to do.  Google – along with Adobe – has been sued by a company named Textscape because the search giant allegedly violated a patent Textscape was granted in 1998. 

Facebook Caught In Another Patent Infringement Suit

It looks like some of Facebook’s lawyers will soon be making a trip to Delaware.  A small company called WhoGlue, which is based in Baltimore, has sued the large social network over a patent WhoGlue was granted in July of 2007.

Google Homepage Patent Gratuitous?
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In early 2004, Google’s lawyers didn’t have nearly enough to do.  A patent on the design of Google’s homepage (AKA its "[g]raphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal") that they applied for at that time was granted Tuesday.

Let us know what you think in the comments section.