Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US) were the most frequent targets of U.S. patent-infringement lawsuits last year in an increasingly complex legal climate that Congress and the Supreme Court are being asked to control.
Of the 6,092 patent-infringement suits filed, 10 companies -- all patent-licensing firms -- were responsible for almost 13 percent, according to a report released yesterday by Lex Machina, a Menlo Park, California-based legal analysis company. Three of those companies filed more than 100 lawsuits each.
Companies including Google Inc. -- the fourth-most sued -- are pushing lawmakers to make changes they say would discourage patent owners who rely on the high cost of litigation to extract quick settlements from companies. Congress is considering multiple proposals and the Supreme Court has six cases this term and at least one in the next on patent litigation.
The total number of lawsuits claiming patent infringement rose 12 percent last year from 5,418 in 2012, the report showed. Apple was sued 59 times; Amazon, 50; and AT&T Inc. (T:US), 45. Courts in eastern Texas and Wilmington, Delaware, were the busiest.
Amazon Receives U.S. Patent on Method of Photographing Objects
Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, received a patent on a photographing method that involves the lighting of objects against a white background.
Patent 8,676,045 covers a studio arrangement and a method of capturing static images or video. An elevated platform made from a material that is both transparent and reflective is used under the object to be photographed, and the object is lit from the front. A second light source is placed between the object and a plain white backdrop, according to the patent.
The aim of the invention is the production of uniform images and a reduction of the time spent retouching or re-processing images.
Seattle-based Amazon applied for the patent in November 2011 with assistance from Atlanta’s Thomas Horstemeyer LLP.
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Toho Says Claims Godzilla Look-Alikes Are Dinosaurs Always Fail
Toho Co. (9602), Tokyo-based owner of the Godzilla character, has filed more than 30 copyright and trademark suits to defend its intellectual property rights related to the giant lizard, the Associated Press reported.
Aaron Moss, a Los Angeles lawyer and a member of the Toho team protecting Godzilla, told AP that many of the companies Toho has sued have tried unsuccessfully to assert that their Godzilla look-alike is a dinosaur. The defense never works, Moss said, because dinosaurs don’t flatten cities and breathe fire as Godzilla does, according to AP.
The company has licensed the character for commercial uses including ads for Snickers candy bars, Doritos chips and Nike shoes, AP reported.
Huawei Applies to Register ‘Groufie’ for Photo Software
Huawei Technologies Co., China’s biggest maker of phone-network equipment, applied to register the term “groufie” as a trademark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Shenzhen, China-based company said in its April 21 application that the term, which appears to be a combination of “group” and “selfie,” would be used in software applications for mobile devices used to take photos.
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Oracle Seeks to Revive $1.3 Billion SAP Software Copying Verdict
Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) said the record-setting $1.3 billion verdict it won against SAP AG (SAP) for copying software, which a judge threw out, should be reinstated. Barring that, Oracle said it wants a new trial against its largest competitor.
The 2010 award against the Germany company, the largest ever for copyright infringement, was a short-lived victory for Oracle. While the jury based its verdict on the value of a hypothetical license SAP would have negotiated for the Oracle software, a federal judge rejected the award 10 months later.
The case is Oracle Corp. v. SAP AG, 12-16944, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Hon Hai to Buy Huawei 4G Equipment If Safety Can Be Guaranteed
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (2317)’s application to buy 4G telecom equipment from Huawei Technology Co. will be approved by Taiwan’s government only after the safety of so-called backdoor elements in Huawei’s software can be confirmed, the China Post reported.
Simon Chang, Taiwan’s minister of science and technology, said his country’s National Communications Commission will help national security advisers determine whether the system can operate safely, according to the China Post.
The fear is that software backdoors, which bypass security systems and are sometimes installed in software for troubleshooting, might be used to commit industrial espionage, the newspaper reported.
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