Just one day after ordering a preliminary injunction blocking the sale of multiple Samsung smartphones, a Dutch judge has said that at least one patent Apple is suing the South Korean company over is probably invalid. The judge ruled on Wednesday that Samsung’s GALAXY S II, GALAXY S and GALAXY Ace smartphones infringe on Apple patents. Regarding one of the patents Apple claims Samsung is infringing, however, FOSS Patents reveals that the judge is not sold on its validity, calling the patent — which covers the “slide-to-unlock” feature on Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch — “obvious.” What’s more, Swedish phone manufacturer Neonode released a Windows CE phone in Europe that featured a slide-to-unlock mechanism before Apple even filed its patent in late December 2005. The only difference between Apple’s implementation and Neonode’s is that Apple added a sliding graphic to the screen that follows the user’s finger while sliding. Neonode’s unlock mechanism did not include such a graphic, though the judge feels its addition is inconsequential in this case. “The Dutch judge concluded that the Neonode N1m already implemented the entirety of Apple’s claimed invention with only one difference remaining: Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent also claims an unlock image that moves along with the finger as the sliding gesture is performed,” Florian Mueller wrote on FOSS Patents. “But that difference didn’t convince the judge that Apple was entitled to a patent. He said that the use of an unlock image was ‘obvious’ (in Dutch he said it was ‘lying on the hand’ in terms of ‘not far to seek’).” More →
Verizon Communications’ chief counsel Randal Milch wants United States President Barack Obama to limit potential damages relating to the ongoing patent wars sweeping technology companies in the U.S. As the number of patent complaints among major handset vendors around the world continues to grow, several companies have turned to the U.S. International Trade Commission in an effort to have the import and sale of alleged infringing products blocked. Milch recently circulated a chart showing all of the devices that may be banned in the U.S. due to patent complaints seeking injunctions, including the iPhone and several Android tablets, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Instead, the lawyer thinks President Obama should issue a blanket statement declaring that he will overturn any ruling that would block the importation or sale of wireless devices in the U.S. Verizon believes vendors found to be infringing on patents should only be forced to pay royalties to the relevant patent owners. More →
After disagreements over new contracts, 45,000 Verizon workers, or roughly 25% of the company’s workforce, went on strike on August 7th. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers refuse to pay a $100 monthly premium on their health benefits and do not agree with other contract terms, but now they may have no benefits at all. Verizon is threatening to pull all health benefits from any employees who are still striking on August 31st. Verizon has already filed a lawsuit against the Communications Workers of America accusing the union of harassment and sabotage, and it has been granted injunctions against picketers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The unions aren’t happy: “We feel the company is exercising any means possible to make our members suffer in hopes of breaking our units,” president of CWA Local 2204 Chuck Simpson told reporters. Formal talks between the workers and Verizon are ongoing, and Verizon said it sent letters out to give strikers enough time to find alternative benefits.
Courts in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware have granted Verizon Communications injunctions against striking union workers who are picketing outside of its corporate offices and retail locations. Specifically, the injunctions are against members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Last week, Verizon filed lawsuits against the Communications Workers of America in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Massachusetts and accused the union workers of sabotage and harassment. 45,000 Verizon Communications employees, about 25% of the company’s workforce, went on strike on August 7th after the company failed to reach an agreement with labor unions over health benefit premiums. Managers are currently filling in for the strikers until a deal is reached, although at this point it appears negotiations could take a while. More →
German news outlet Financial Informer reported on Tuesday that Apple has won a preliminary injunction to stop the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the whole of the European Union except for the Netherlands. The Regional Court of Düsseldorf appears to have sided with Apple’s claims that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on intellectual property related to the design of Apple’s iPad. Apple has a similar ongoing lawsuit in the Netherlands. Should Samsung continue to sell the tablet, the company could face fines of up to $350,000 for each violation. Foss Patents said the ruling in Germany will go into effect immediately, although Samsung could appeal the decision during another hearing. On August 1st, Apple blocked Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia until courts there rule on whether or not the tablet infringes on 10 of Apple’s patents. Samsung agreed not to advertise or sell the device and Apple will pay damages if the South Korean company wins the Australian case.
As a result of a recent patent complaint filed in Australia by Apple, Samsung has agreed not to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Honeycomb tablet in the region. The exact terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but we had a feeling that wouldn’t be the last we would hear on the subject. On Tuesday, Australian Android news site Ausdroid got Samsung’s statement on the matter and as expected, the South Korea-based company says its 10-inch tablet will soon see the light of day down under. “A Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 for the Australian market will be released in the near future,” a Samsung Australia spokesperson said in the statement. The spokesperson continued, “This undertaking does not affect any other Samsung smartphone or tablet available in the Australian market or other countries. Samsung will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communication business.” Samsung Australia’s full comment on the matter follows below. More →
January 11th was zero hour for Microsoft as the injunction against Word and Office 2007 went into effect. The software giant out of Redmond had indicated that it was prepared for the injunction and would have it products fixed and ready to roll on the injunction date. Despite its good intentions, Microsoft failed to deliver this update and has pulled most of its Office 2007 and Word 2007 products from the shelves of its online store. Microsoft informs customers that these affected Office and Word 2007 versions are being updated and will be returning soon. The software giant advises customers to purchase Office Ultimate for $679 or try out the beta version of Office 2010. Not interested in a suite of software that costs more than your monthly car payment? Hurry on over to Amazon, Newegg and other retailers who, for the time being, are still selling the affected products. More →
It is the end of the line for Psystar as U.S. District Judge William Alsup has issued a permanent injunction against the Apple clone maker. The injunction prevents Psystar from pursuing its core hardware business by banning the following:
- Copying, selling, offering to sell, distributing, or creating derivative works of plaintiff’s copyrighted Mac OS X software without authorization from the copyright holder
- Intentionally inducing, aiding, assisting, abetting, or encouraging any other person or entity to infringe plaintiff’s copyrighted Mac OS X software;
- Circumventing any technological measure that effectively controls access to plaintiff’s copyrighted Mac OS X software, including, but not limited to, the technological measure used by Apple to prevent unauthorized copying of Mac OS X on non-Apple computers
- Manufacturing, importing, offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to plaintiff’s copyrighted Mac OS X software, including, but not limited to, the technological measure used by Apple to prevent unauthorized copying of Mac OS X on non-Apple computer
- Manufacturing, importing, offering to the public, providing, or otherwise trafficking in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively protects the rights held by plaintiff under the Copyright Act with respect to its copyrighted Mac OS X software.
Psystar has until December 31th, 2009 to fully comply with the ruling and must begin the process immediately using a method that provides the fastest route to compliance. Psystar may have to shutter the hardware portion of its business but the legal status of Psystar’s $50 Rebel EFI software remains unclear. In his ruling, Alsup does not cite the Rebel EFI software specifically, claiming that Psystar failed to disclose exactly what the application did. In case Psystar has high hopes of continuing to sell its Rebel EFI software, Alsup issued a stern warning, ‘What is certain, however, is that until such a motion is brought, Psystar will be selling Rebel EFI at its peril, and risks finding itself in contempt if its new venture falls within the scope of the injunction.” Will this admonishment permanently close the doors on Psystar or will the rebel company stage one last battle? More →