Google Inc. (GOOG:US) dropped two patents related to industrywide technical specifications from an infringement complaint against Microsoft Corp. at the U.S. International Trade Commission, where Google is seeking to block U.S. imports of Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system.
In a motion filed Jan. 8 at the Washington-based trade agency, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit said it planned to continue its ITC case against Microsoft regarding a third patent that doesn’t affect industry standards essential to letting products from different manufacturers work together. Google also said it would continue to seek damages relating to all the patents in federal-court lawsuits.
Google’s move comes after it agreed, as part of a settlement last week with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, to limits on its ability to seek orders blocking sales or imports of competitors’ products based on so-called standard-essential patents.
Microsoft is “pleased that Google has finally withdrawn these claims,” David Howard, deputy general counsel for the software maker, said in an e-mail.
Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman for Mountain View, California- based Google, declined to comment.
The FTC settlement requires Google to offer competitors “fair and reasonable” terms for licensing the use of patents included in industrywide standards for smartphones, tablet computers and other electronic devices. It also requires Google to offer to resolve disputes through binding arbitration before seeking to ban sales or imports by alleging infringement of standard-essential patents.
The FTC agreement resolved claims that Motorola Mobility, which Google bought for $12.4 billion last year, abused patents essential to industry standards to extract higher royalties.
The two standard-essential patents that Google dropped from its ITC case involve technology for video decoding. The patent that remains in dispute at the agency is for a way to establish communication between Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft’s Xbox and accessories.
Sony Seeks U.S. Patent on Method to Bar Second-Hand Game Use
Sony Corp. (6758), maker of the PlayStation games console, is seeking a patent on a technology that would block the use of second-hand games on its device.
Application 20130007892, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Jan. 3, covers a method of restricting the use of electronic content stored in a recording medium.
This would be accomplished by embedding radio-frequency identification tags in the medium that would have to match the use-permission processing system in the console, according to the application. It wouldn’t be necessary for the device to be connected to the Internet for the use-permission system to operate.
Tokyo-based Sony said it intends to sell the game disk and the use-permission tag as an inseparable set.
Sony applied for the patent in September, according to the application.
Lack of Patent Notice Tipped POWs to Monopoly-Game Escape Maps
Monopoly games sent to allied prisoners detained in Nazi concentration camps during World War II often contained escape maps and secret messages, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.
Waddingtons, the U.K. publisher of the Monopoly game, worked with a secret department of the U.K. government to develop game boards with hidden content, and they were distinguished from those without special content by the omission of the “patent applied for” notice, according to the Guardian.
Waddingtons, which was acquired by U.S.-based toymaker Hasbro Inc. (HAS:US) in 1994, laminated silk escape maps within the Monopoly boards, the newspaper reported.
The games were sent to the camps by fake charities, from fake addresses or bombed-out buildings, the Guardian reported.
Patent Sought for Use of Bruker Device to Find Drug Resistance
A precision scientific instruments made by Massachusetts- based Bruker Corp. (BRKR:US) is a key element in a new technology to be used to identify antibiotic-resistant diseases, the company said in a statement.
Researchers at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam have applied for a patent on the use of a specialized mass spectrometry instrument to detect the patterns of chemical degradation of an antibiotic in a particular patient that would indicate that a particular antibiotic is ineffective, according to the statement.
Bruker signed an exclusive license with Erasmus University for the use of this technology, which will enable rapid testing for drug resistance in a clinical setting, the company said.
The company said the World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, has reported that the resistance of some pathogens has now reached 50 percent in some countries, and about 400,000 such infections are occurring in Europe each year, leading to 25,000 deaths.
Theo Luider, head of the Laboratories of Neuro-Oncology, Department of Neurology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, said in the Bruker statement that the patent application covers “methods and means for characterizing antibiotic resistance in microorganisms.”
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Car-Freshner Gets $100,000 Judgment in Trademark Dispute
Car-Freshner Corp., the company that makes tree-shaped deodorizers for cars, has won $100,000 in a trademark- infringement case against a Nevada company.
According to a Jan. 4 ruling, Air Fresheners Inc. of Las Vegas is ordered to quit making any reference to “Little Tree”-related trademarks, and has to quilt selling any infringing products.
In addition to the $100,000 judgment, the court ordered Air Fresheners to pay Watertown, New York-based Car-Freshner $10,000 for each future infringement plus $1 for each infringing product produced or distributed after Jan. 4.
In the past decade, Car-Freshner has filed more than 30 trademark-infringement suits against a wide range of defendants, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The company sued Air Fresheners in federal court in Syracuse, New York, in December 2009, claiming its trademarks were infringed by the sale of tree-shaped deodorizers and that the defendants were using hidden text in Internet ads to drive potential Car-Freshner customers to their site.
The case is Car-Freshner Co. v. Air Fresheners Inc., 7:10- cv-01491, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York (Syracuse).
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Microsoft Loses China Appeal on Font Copyright, Zhongyi Says
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) lost an appeal of a three-year-old Beijing court ruling that it exceeded the scope of a licensing agreement for Chinese fonts, according to rights holder Zhongyi Electronic Ltd.
The Beijing Higher People’s Court upheld a November 2009 judgment that Microsoft infringed Zhongyi’s rights for Chinese character fonts, the Chinese company said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “We respect the court’s decision but continue to believe our fonts licensing agreement with Zhongyi should have granted us perpetual rights to the fonts at issue,” Microsoft said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, used the Chinese fonts “without authorization” in Windows 98, 2000, 2003, and XP Chinese editions as well as worldwide sales of multilanguage versions of Windows products, Zhongyi said.
“This ruling will not impact Microsoft customers in China as it pertains to older versions of Microsoft products that are no longer available for purchase,” the Redmond, Washington- based company said in the statement.
Calls to Zhongyi’s headquarters in Beijing weren’t immediately answered after business hours.
Literary Works by Woolf, Joyce, Babel Lose Copyright
A blog in the U.K. that covers European copyright law has released a list of writers whose works went into the public domain Jan. 1. The law provides a term of life plus seventy years.
Among those on The 1709 Blog’s list for 2013 are feminist novelist Virginia Woolf, Russian writer Isaak Babel, Canadian singer/songwriter Mary Rose-Anna Bolduc, “Waltzing Matilda” author Banjo Paterson, and Irish novelist James Joyce.
BSA Establishes Reward Program for Software Piracy Informants
The Business Software Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group of software producers, has set up a program rewarding those who report software piracy.
According to the terms and conditions of the BSA program, it applies only to piracy taking place in the U.S. or Canada and is exclusive to business end users who use unlicensed software.
BSA said it will reward those who provide information not previously known to the organization, and that anyone who reports must not be someone who has installed the software.
The amount of the reward is related to the amount of settlement BSA receives from the organization accused of piracy.
If the settlement paid is above $15 million, the potential reward payment can be as much as $1 million, according to the guidelines. The smallest settlement amount that can earn a reward is $15,000.
The organization said that if it or one of its member companies files a lawsuit related to the facts reported by the informant, no reward is payable. BSA said that at its discretion, it could reimburse informants for their time and “reasonable expenses” for submitting the report, responding to the association’s follow-up questions and attending or testifying at the trial.
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