August 2012

August 28, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Apple was granted a patent on Tuesday for a system of activating certain preset functions on a wireless device depending upon information like the device’s location, which could be used in future iPhones, iPads and other devices to automatically change device settings based on where a user may be.

U.S. Patent Number 8,254,902, titled “Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device,” describes a method for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain event or other trigger. In one variant, the event could be act of the wireless device associating with a certain access point, like a GPS, cellular or Wi-Fi network.

Under this method, various aspects of device functionality, or “policies,” might be enabled or restricted. This “policy enforcement” capability could be used to to disable noise or light emanating from wireless devices, such as at a movie theater, for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices, such as in academic settings, and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area, according to the patent description.

Despite the existence of a wide variety of different preexisting approaches to wireless device control, no one approach satisfies the need of providing an apparatus and methods of automatically disabling, replacing, or modifying the functionality of a wireless device upon the occurrence of a certain condition, such as entering a particular location, the patent description says.

Ideally, such apparatus and methods would in one aspect allow certain designated zones or areas to enforce policies regarding wireless device operation, and be protected from having unwanted ringing or alarms, display functions or other events associated with the wireless device.

This would also ideally prevent or frustrate the use of wireless devices for inappropriate purposes, the patent description says.

“Wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues,” the patent description says. “For example, cell phones with loud ringers frequently disrupt meetings, the presentation of movies, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, academic lectures, and test-taking environments.”

“Excessive lighting emanating from wireless devices can also create disruption in dark environments,” the description says. “While it is well known that excessive or bright lighting in a movie theater can spoil the mood of certain movies, excessive lighting can also become a more serious issue in other contexts.”

Inventors Michael Bell of Cupertino, California and Vitali Lovich of Toronto, Canada filed their patent application in June 2008.

August 24, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Eastman Kodak Co. plans to sell off its personal imaging and document imaging businesses, which include consumer film and scanners, as part of its efforts to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy while iconic photo company’s attempts to auction off its digital imaging patent portfolio remain ongoing, the company said Thursday.

Kodak is seeking to shift its primary focus to commercial, packaging and functional printing solutions and enterprise services, the company said.

The sale of the imaging businesses will work in concert with continued cost-reduction initiatives, curtailment of Kodak’s legacy liabilities, and the monetization of the company’s digital imaging patent portfolio to hasten the company’s exit from bankruptcy, Kodak said.

“The initiation of a process to sell the personalized imaging and document imaging businesses is an important step in our company’s reorganization to focus our business on the commercial markets and enable Kodak to accelerate its momentum toward emergence,” Kodak Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Antonio M. Perez said. “In addition, we continue our initiatives to reduce our cost structure and streamline our operating models in an effort to return the company to profitability.”

“We are reshaping Kodak,” he said. “We continue to rebalance our company toward commercial, packaging and functional printing – in which we have the broadest portfolio solutions – and enterprise services. These businesses have substantial long-term growth prospects worldwide and are core to the future of Kodak.”

Kodak’s efforts to auction off the digital imaging patents have yet to produce a sale. The auction is most notable for bringing together unlikely allies like Google Inc., Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc. and HTC Corp., as the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

“In accordance with its prior announcement, the company is continuing discussions with parties with respect to the potential sale of its digital imaging patent portfolio,” Kodak said Thursday. “The company reiterates that it has made no decision to sell the portfolio and Kodak may, in consultation with creditors, retain the portfolio as an alternative source of recovery for creditors.”

Posted in: Patent License
August 20, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – Google Inc. subsidiary Motorola Mobility LLC fired off two new salvos in its patent war with Apple Inc. over the weekend in the U.S. International Trade Commission and Delaware federal court, claiming Apple’s wide range of computers and mobile devices are based on patented Motorola technology and must be stopped from entering the U.S.

The complaint filed Friday in the ITC accuses Apple of infringing seven Motorola patents for mobile phone features such as the iPhone’s Siri voice assistant feature, location reminders, video players and email notifications.

“We would like to settle these patent matters, but Apple’s unwillingness to work out a license leaves us little choice but to defend ourselves and our engineers’ innovations,” a Motorola representative said Monday.

Apple representatives were not available for comment.

The products at issue include the iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the new iPad, as well as the Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.

The specific patents Motorola cites in the complaint include U.S. Patent Numbers 5,883,580, 5,922,047, 6,425,002, 6,983,370, 6,493,673, 7,007,064 and 7,383,983.

The ’580 patent generally relates to messaging devices, the ’047 patent relates to communication and control systems for multimedia, the ’002 patent and ’673 patent relate to communication devices, and the ’370 patent relates to communications systems for messaging clients. The ’064 patent relates to wireless communications systems providing content to wireless communication devices, while the ’983 patent relates to managing content between devices.

Motorola is asking the ITC for a permanent exclusion order prohibiting the entry of the allegedly infringing products into the United States, as well as an order to bar Apple from importing or selling the products. Motorola requested that the ITC set a target date of no more than 15 months for the requested Section 337 investigation.

Google, which acquired Motorola in May, and Apple have been duking it out on multiple fronts over their patent portfolios for years. The latest actions, though, come on the heels of surprising reports that the two have joined forces in a consortium to purchase Eastman Kodak’s patent holdings at bankruptcy auction, as the Wall Street Journal detailed last week. The consortium is willing to pay over $500 million for Kodak’s patents, the Journal reported.

August 10, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego -After five years of contentious litigation and three separate jury verdicts, Carl Zeiss Vision International’s patent infringement lawsuit against Signet Armorlite finally ended in an award of triple damages. Filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California in San Diego, the case involved a patent (6,089,713) owned by Carl Zeiss which covers “spectacle lens with spherical front side and multifocal back side and process for production”. Most notably, the Judge tripled the damages after he determined that Signet had been infringing on Zeiss’ patent for six years and that the infringement continued even after Signet knew that the infringement was willful.

The battle between Carl Zeiss and Signet Armorlite started in 2007 when Zeiss claimed that its San Diego, California based competitor was copying its patent without authorization. In its court documents, Zeiss claimed that the Signet products, including the Kodak Unique line of products, copied its patented technology. Signet fired back, seeking a declaratory judgment that it did not infringe upon the Zeiss patent, as well as a declaration that the patent was invalid and unenforceable. Additionally, Signet went a few steps further by claiming that its German rival was causing “unfair competition, interference with contractual relationships, interference with prospective advantage and antitrust violations.”

The verdict, handed down by Judge Dana M. Sabraw, awarded triple damages to Zeiss and granted a permanent injunction for removal of all infringing Signet products from retail shelves. Judge Sabraw affirmed the verdict that Signet had willfully infringed upon a spherical optical lens patent held by Zeiss, after it was discovered that numerous employees had warned the company that infringement issues existed. The court determined that a reasonable person in the same position “would have considered there to be a high likelihood of infringement of a valid patent”. Damages were increased from $684,964 to $2.05 million, and attorney’s fees were granted, after Judge Sabraw noted that public interest in patent protection was paramount to competition between products offered in the marketplace.