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10.22.19

Looking for Explanations About Samsung’s DeX and Other FOSS Initiatives Being Canned

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 12:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If no explanation is provided, then that means that the explanation is being concealed (arousing suspicions)

You don't simply can a project still in beta. Unless it pisses someone off like DeX did.

Summary: DeX was primarily a threat to the desktop/laptop monopoly of Microsoft, so its sudden abandonment — without even an explanation — continues to attract speculations

“I think there is more to this Samsung story than just DeX,” David (GNU developer) wrote in IRC half a day ago. “Earlier this year they terminated their “director of open source technologies”, his staff, and seemed to have pulled out of a lot of projects. They also abandoned their office phone system business. I had also learned from him before that happened that Samsung smart tv’s use a version of Enlightenment, but what they are doing and why I do not know. It does seem part of a larger pattern there though.”

We’ve received a lot more feedback on yesterday's article. Nobody seems to know for sure what happened. We can speculate. We think we may need Samsung whistle-blowers to tell us whether some ‘Korean Elop’ has entered Samsung. Never forget what Elop did to Nokia over in Finland (at the behest of Microsoft), turning it from a top Linux contributor to an anti-Linux patent trolls feeder (while canning all the FOSS projects) and conditioning it into Windows suicide mode. Finland knows such tactics of infiltration and these greatly harm the nation. If Microsoft arranged for some staff changes, then we need proof (which we lack at this stage).

“They also abandoned their office phone system business. I had also learned from him [Samsung's director of open source technologies] before that happened that Samsung smart tv’s use a version of Enlightenment, but what they are doing and why I do not know. It does seem part of a larger pattern there though.”
      –David
David reminded us that Samsung terminated their “director of open source technologies” (we mentioned that at the time). Does anybody know whether Samsung changed some director-level or executive-level people? The suspicion is that someone up at the top pulls strings to hamstring Linux and promote Microsoft instead. Patent lawsuits and threats have already contributed towards that. “The death-cut is only a phone call away,” as Tom put it. He too is in IRC. There are alternative explanations*, however, so we need to get to the bottom of it.

12 years ago we called for a boycott of Samsung after it had signed a patent deal with Microsoft, in effect agreeing to pay Microsoft patent royalties for “Linux”. Yes, excuse our cynicism about “Microsoft loves Linux” (cash). Remember that as recently as this year Microsoft launched yet more lawsuits to that effect, so we know nothing has truly changed.
_____
* There’s this alternative explanation entertained in IRC:

[13:36] oiaohm dyfet: you also have to wonder if the remove of Linux desktop from dex is linked the the fact there will be pinephone and libre 5 phone in the market.
[13:36] oiaohm Removing direct benchmarking.
[13:41] MinceR would be a stupid move if it was
[13:41] MinceR considering that they would make their own products even less desirable to avoid comparison with products that probably have much weaker hardware
[13:45] dyfet An interesting point @oiaohm
[13:46] dyfet And of course there is Duval’s “/e/”…
[13:48] dyfet I think it is part of something larger though, given the other things Samsung had been doing
[13:59] oiaohm MinceR: Not exactly. There are a lot of different limitations around the way Dex contains Linux distributions. The horrible part is there is a real possiblity that a pinephone could run Linux native applications faster than dex can the fun of emulation overheads.
[13:59] oiaohm MinceR: much weaker hardware kicking your ass basically would look really bad.
[14:01] oiaohm Having digital rights management certification I would guess would also get in way.
[14:02] MinceR then maybe they could get rid of it
[14:02] MinceR all it does is lessen the value of their product

10.21.19

Samsung Does Not Say Why It’s Dropping DeX, But the ASUS EEE Story Might Offer Clues

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 1:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”

Microsoft Confidential

Summary: It’s not at all outlandish or unreasonable to suggest that Microsoft used patents or bribes or kickbacks as incentives for Samsung to abandon GNU/Linux as a desktop platform

OVER the weekend (weird timing) we saw many articles [1-15] about a promising project/product being canned without a single reason given.

We do not and cannot pretend to know what happened. We can, however, remind readers what happened when ASUS in Taiwan put GNU/Linux as the default operating system on millions of small and affordable laptops because we wrote a lot about it at the time (one decade ago):

Also pay close(r) attention to Microsoft's reaction to Huawei preinstalling GNU/Linux. Historically, those who believed Microsoft’s claims of “love” were severely harmed at the end. “I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows,” Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée said. “You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.” Ray Noorda, Novell’s founder, said of Gates and Ballmer: “One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave.” ESR said that “when Microsoft brings you flowers, they’re likely to end up decorating your grave one way or another.”

“Let’s see if South Korea’s government will move to GNU/Linux as planned.”Pay careful attention to what https://www.linux.com/news/ (yes, linux dot com slash news) now redirects to. Yes, redirects! It’s all Windows. Mission accomplished? Is the Linux Foundation a Windows company after Microsoft started paying it?

Let’s see if South Korea's government will move to GNU/Linux as planned. Even under Nadella's so-called 'leadership' the company keeps attacking GNU/Linux behind closed doors, using likely illegal tactics and knowing that governments no longer enforce the law against Microsoft. Too busy focusing on "GAFA", owing to Microsoft’s lobbying and black PR campaigns…

Need we remind readers that Microsoft already used patent extortion (and an actual lawsuit) against Samsung to compel Samsung to preinstall Microsoft ‘apps’ on Android phones? That’s leverage. Will Samsung soon announce that it’s selling Windows/Microsoft phones with Android? Not just a ‘Microsoft edition’ of Samsung phones (sold at Microsoft’s site)? We covered all this before.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Samsung discontinues ‘Linux on DeX’ program, removing support w/ Android 10

    Late last year, Samsung and Canonical partnered on an app that allowed select Galaxy phones to run a full Linux desktop on top of Android. Less than a year later, Samsung has announced that they’re discontinuing the Linux on DeX program, coinciding with the update to Android 10.

    One of the sci-fi-style dreams that many of us have had since the onset of smartphones is the idea of plugging your phone into a desktop-size monitor to get a desktop-style experience. Through the years, many have attempted it in earnest, and the latest offering from Samsung brought an interesting approach.

  2. Samsung Calls It Quits on the ‘Linux on DeX’ Project

    Samsung DeX, if you have heard of it, allows the users to turn their Galaxy phones into desktop PCs simply by connecting a monitor and other peripherals. The company made DeX more welcoming and useful for Galaxy flagship users by partnering with Canonical earlier last year. It made it possible for users to run a full Linux desktop instance on its DeX-supported flagship phones.

    This was an amazing feature for developers and users who didn’t really like carrying a laptop with them. They could rely on their Galaxy flagship (including the Galaxy S and Note-series) for a desktop-like experience, running Ubuntu on the move. However, the response to Linux on DeX seems to have been lackluster and Samsung has decided to shutter this project.

  3. Samsung is discontinuing Linux support on Dex

    Samsung goes on to explain that starting with its Android 10 beta ROMS, already rolling out on certain devices, Linux support will be removed from Dex altogether. This does make us wonder if, perhaps, the third-party OS emulation setup Samsung was employing to get Linux to work in the first place somehow breaks certain rules or security policies Google implemented with the latest Android version.

    Regardless of whether or not this is the case, if you are currently using Linux on Dex, you definitely want to start keeping regular backups of your data. Since, given current developments even staying on Android 9 and not updating your phone’s Android OS still might not be a sure-fire way to keep the feature running.

  4. Samsung will kill Linux on Dex with the upcoming Android 10 update

    Around two years ago, Samsung officially announced that they will be bringing full-fledged Linux support for Samsung Dex. The company later started testing Linux on different Galaxy devices. Earlier this year, Samsung added more devices to the program which was in beta at the time.

    Now, out of nowhere, Samsung has decided to kill the Linux on Dex project. As per an email received by 9to5Google, Samsung plans to kill the project with the release of Android 10 Beta. Samsung has sent out emails to all the Beta testers today informing them about the change.

  5. Samsung ends Linux on DeX beta with the Android 10 update

    DeX is a feature on the Samsung Galaxy S, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Tab S series that differentiates Samsung’s flagship smartphones and tablets from the company’s competitors. DeX, which debuted back in 2017 with the Samsung Galaxy S8, lets users access a desktop mode UI, with support for Android apps, when connected to a monitor. Initially, DeX required a special accessory in the form of the DeX Station and later the DeX Pad, but with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Samsung made it work with any HDMI to USB Type-C cable, which means that it no longer required any specialized hardware. This significantly improved its versatility. The one real competitor to Dex is Huawei’s Easy Projection feature, which can also work wirelessly. However, Samsung still had a leg up over its Huawei thanks to the Linux on DeX feature.

    Linux on DeX enabled the user to get a full-fledged desktop GNU/Linux environment up and running on the smartphone in DeX mode. Specifically, Linux on DeX supported a modified version of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for ARM64. Linux on DeX was first shown off all the way back at SDC 2017, and the company finally released a beta for download a year later. The feature was intended for developers and not for regular users, as only ARM64 packages could be used on Linux on DeX. It allowed developers to compile, build, and test Android apps on their smartphone itself. Max used Linux on DeX extensively on the Galaxy Note 9 and noted that it pushed the limits of the hardware at that time.

  6. Samsung won’t support Linux on DeX once Android 10 arrives

    If you’ve been using Linux on DeX (aka Linux on Galaxy) to turn your Samsung phone into a PC, you’ll need to make a change of plans. Samsung is warning users that it’s shutting down the Linux on DeX beta program, and that its Android 10 update won’t support using the open source OS as a desktop environment. The company didn’t explain why it was shutting things down, but it did note that the Android 10 beta is already going without the Linux option.

    The decision leaves users in a tough spot. This not only gave Linux fans a way to run their preferred computing platform from their phone, it was the only option that provided a full-fledged desktop OS (in this case, Ubuntu Linux). If you use Android 10, you’ll have to revert to the considerably more limited DeX-optimized Android interface. While that should work for people who just want a larger canvas for their Android apps, it won’t help if you were using Linux as a productivity tool.

  7. Samsung ends Linux on DeX without ever releasing a stable version

    In an email to the testers, Samsung has announced that it is ending the Linux on DeX beta program. It will no longer provide support for future OS and device releases, including the Android 10 beta. The team behind the app hasn’t offered any reasons for the shutdown of the program but thanked users for the interest and feedback.

    Samsung announced the Linux on DeX app nearly a year ago as an experiment to augment the capabilities of its DeX platform. It enables select Galaxy devices to run full Linux OS in DeX mode when connected to an external monitor (or on the device’s display if it’s a tablet). The app has been in beta for the past year, and the company is now ending the program without releasing a stable version.

  8. Samsung’s Kills Off Its Ace ‘Linux on DeX’ Project

    The nifty bit of tech, which went by the name ‘Linux on Galaxy’ during its formation, enabled owners of certain Samsung devices to run a fully functional version of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as an ‘app’.

    The idea was that users would put their Samsung smartphone or phablet in the DeX dock accessory to connect to external monitor, mouse and keyboard and use their device like a traditional desktop PC.

    And while the tech never left beta, it worked well enough for many.

  9. Samsung ends Linux on DeX project eleven months after its inception

    Samsung has created Linux on DeX to leverage the capabilities and capabilities of its high-end smartphones. Linux on DeX was the pinnacle of this ambition, but will now be discontinued with Android 10.

    Information is being shared by Samsung itself with developers. Will this feature of Samsung smartphones continue to make sense in the future?

  10. Samsung ends Linux on DeX without ever releasing a stable version

    In an email to the testers, Samsung has announced that it is ending the Linux on DeX beta program. It will no longer provide support for future OS and device releases, including the Android 10 beta. The team behind the app hasn’t offered any reasons for the shutdown of the program but thanked users for the interest and feedback.

    Samsung announced the Linux on DeX app nearly a year ago as an experiment to augment the capabilities of its DeX platform. It enables select Galaxy devices to run full Linux OS in DeX mode when connected to an external monitor (or on the device’s display if it’s a tablet). The app has been in beta for the past year, and the company is now ending the program without releasing a stable version.

  11. Samsung Won’t Support Linux on DeX Once Android 10 Arrives

    If you’ve been using Linux on DeX (aka Linux on Galaxy) to turn your Samsung phone into a PC, you’ll need to make a change of plans. Samsung is warning users that it’s shutting down the Linux on DeX beta program, and that its Android 10 update won’t support using the open source OS as a desktop environment. The company didn’t explain why it was shutting things down, but it did note that the Android 10 beta is already going without the Linux option…

  12. Samsung Discontinues DeX Linux Program, Dropping It Altogether In Android 10

    Back in 2017, Samsung introduced DeX as a feature of its then flagship Galaxy S8 and S8+ that allowed users to extend the functionality of their devices to connected displays by placing them on special dock stations.

    Short for “desktop experience”, DeX mostly delivered on that premise, expanding on a vision that others, like Microsoft and its Continuum software, had already introduced the world to.

    Today, DeX still exists, with expanded support for newer devices and even more features (users could use their devices as touch pads, for example).

  13. By confirming the demise of Linux on DeX, did Samsung confirm Android 10 for Tab S4 and Note 9?

    When the Beta was released in November last year, there were 2 devices on the program: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4. It’s possible that they’re targeting newer devices that were added to the program. Specifically the S10 range and S5e tablet which were able to join the Beta at a later time.

    As part of entry to the program you register your device, so Samsung know exactly what device I’m using for the program when they sent that email.

    One thing is pretty clear though – Samsung’s at least talking about Android 10 for the Tab S4 and that’s pretty cool.

  14. Samsung discontinues its Linux on DeX beta

    Samsung DeX was introduced with the Galaxy S8 series as a facility that expands the UI of those phones and its successors into a desktop environment. It may prove worthwhile for many users, particularly as it no longer depends on separate-purchase accessories such as the DeX Pad. Samsung had also offered the opportunity to run Linux through this connection. However, it is now abandoning the beta in question.

    This DeX function existed as a beta and enabled the user to run a certain modification of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for ARM64. It was mainly directed at developers, who may have been able to build Android apps using their premium Galaxy smartphones and a monitor. It is compatible with Android 9.0 (Pie); however, that seems to be as far as it will go.

    Samsung has reportedly suspended the Linux on DeX beta. This is apparently connected to the migration to One UI 2.0, the OEM’s official skin for Android 10. The beta will be incompatible with this ROM; furthermore, the Korean company has allegedly stated that rolling back to One UI 1.0 (based on Pie) will not be possible on Galaxy devices.

  15. Samsung discontinues Linux on DeX with Android 10 rollout

    Samsung has ended its Linux on DeX beta program despite not yet launching a stable version of the Android alternative, bringing the Linux project that would have provided users with another software option to a close.

    In an email sent to testers, the South Korean tech giant said it would no longer provide support for the program for future operating systems and devices.

    This means there will be no further updates to the app or the current version of Ubuntu being used.

    The announcement coincides with the rollouts of Android 10 and the new updated OS from Google, which do not provide Linux on DeX support.

    “We would like to thank users for their support and interest in the Linux on DeX (LoD) beta program,” the company said in a statement to ZDNet.

    “We have decided to close the beta program which will end support for LoD on Android 10. Samsung is committed to offering innovative mobile experience and will continue to explore better mobile productivity.”

09.25.18

Patent Trolls Roundup: Microsoft’s Patent Troll Collapses, Samsung Fuels Patent Troll Sisvel, and Patent Troll VirnetX Wants Apple’s Cash

Posted in America, Apple, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Submerged under the bridge

Submerged

Summary: Microsoft’s largest patent troll continues to experience a mass exodus (in addition to all the layoffs), Sisvel receives armament from Samsung, and VirnetX carries on pretending — to shareholders at least — that it will get a lot of money out of Apple (albeit an appeal will likely prevent that altogether)

SEEING the trend in US patent courts (which unlike the USPTO reject abstract patents en masse), patent trolls are utterly demoralised. Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures keeps imploding based on the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM). Here’s the latest:

Cory Van Arsdale, chief revenue office at Intellectual Ventures and one of the driving forces behind its recent monetisation efforts is leaving the giant NPE. He is set to keep some ties to IV advising the business on a consultancy basis for at least the next year, but his departure effectively hands control of the company’s patent sales and licensing to Mathen Ganesan, executive vice president of the Invention Investment Funds.

Van Arsdale joined IV in 2010 from a consulting business which he co-founded and before that did stints at the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Sun Microsystems. He has taken an active role as the company has ramped up its rate of sales in recent years including the disposals of around 4,000 former Kodak patents and almost 1,000 former American Express grants to Dominion Harbor.

The patent trolls’ lobby has also taken note of Sisvel’s latest activity in “More details emerge of Samsung patent transfer to Sisvel,” but it’s behind a payall and the outline says:

Deal between the two came as Korean tech giant agreed to royalty bearing licence to NPE’s Wi-Fi portfolio

This will certainly be used for extortion and blackmail purposes (which is what Sisvel does). Unlike Apple, Samsung does not engage in patent aggression, at least not directly.

The patent troll VirnetX wants money out of nothing in Eastern Texas, where Apple became its latest high-profile target. It issued the following press release yesterday:

VirnetX™ Holding Corporation (NYSE:VHC), an Internet security software and technology company, announced today that on September 20, 2018, pursuant to a Court’s order, attorneys from VirnetX and Apple have conferred and agree without dispute amounts for Bill of Costs and Prejudgment Interest totaling $93,351,141 to be added to the $502,567,709 jury verdict for VirnetX in the ongoing patent infringement action between VirnetX Inc. (“VirnetX”) and Apple Inc (“Apple”).

“Apple’s versus VirnetX patent infringement case payment balloons to $595.9M,” AppleInsider‘s headline said and there’s also
“VirnetX Holding Corporation: VirnetX Files Notice Regarding Agreed Bill of Costs and Prejudgment Interest of $93.3 Million in Apple Suit” in last night’s headlines.

But this decision will almost certainly be appealed and reach the Federal Circuit, which has a rather different track record than courts in Eastern Texas.

07.08.18

Apple Has Far More to Lose Than to Gain From Patent Maximalism; Apple Needs to Fight for Patent Sanity

Posted in America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 2:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zeroclick, Uniloc, VirnetX, AVRS and many others can cost Apple billions in legal bills and settlements

Apple logo

Summary: It might be time for Apple to rethink its legal strategy; patents are costing the company a great deal of money and have yielded almost nothing for the company’s bottom line (unlike the company’s lawyers, perpetrators of this misguided strategy)

THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS are in full swing and many staff (e.g. EPO and USPTO examiners) likely enjoy a long break right now. In fact, journalists too slowed down; some are away. But it’s never a suitable time for them to stop the Apple hype. Whenever there’s some patent case involving Apple the corporate media suddenly bothers covering patent news (it otherwise doesn’t care because people don’t click on stories unless there’s some famous brand in the headline).

“Whenever there’s some patent case involving Apple the corporate media suddenly bothers covering patent news (it otherwise doesn’t care because people don’t click on stories unless there’s some famous brand in the headline).”This is a short roundup of Apple in patent news. This is far from the first time we point out the exceptional emphasis on Apple; we last mentioned it a few weeks (or 10 days) ago.

Chris Stokel-Walker’s article, “Forget Apple vs Samsung, an even bigger patent war has just begun,” is citing Florian Müller for the most part. Müller is correct and here’s the core thesis:

A tech giant like Samsung, Apple or IBM can register up to 5,000 patents every year – with engineers writing them “at a furious rate”, says Horace Dediu of Asymco, a mobile phone analyst. “IBM does this seriously. They just amass a huge arsenal of patents.” Apple alone has more than 75,000 patents and filed for over 2,200 more since the beginning of 2017. Samsung has filed for more than 10,000 patents in the last 18 months and in total has 1.2 million of them.

“My personal opinion is that this absolutely exorbitant number of patents you find in a phone shows that the hurdle for obtaining a patent is too low,” says Mueller. There should be more substantial investment behind every patent.

Crucially though, patents aren’t just important for protecting people’s inventions: they’re also a money-making tool. “Patents are one of these currencies that is always traded,” explains Dediu – or sold.

They are a tool used against opponents in a highly competitive industry. “If you have a patent, you can stop someone else shipping a product that contains that intellectual property,” says Dediu. “Generally, the rights are entirely held by the patent owner and those rights mean that an infringing product must be withdrawn from the market.”

The malicious use of patents to prevent competition rarely happens, but the sheer scale of the number of patents can stifle innovation. Mueller calls it a “patent thicket”. Companies can develop a new device or a new technology, then find themselves undone. “You inevitably – because there are so many of them – will be found to have infringed a patent,” he says. “That is a real problem for the industry.”

It’s not only Müller who calls it a “patent thicket”; it’s a widely-accepted legal term, albeit with the negative connotation it deserves, just like “patent tax”, “patent troll”, “royalty stacking” and so on. Euphemisms typically contain spurious and misleading words like “fair”, “reasonable” and “nondiscriminatory” (that’s FRAND). Either way, Apple is very aggressive with patents, but nowhere as aggressive as IBM and unlike IBM it also finds itself on the receiving end of a lot of lawsuits, including troll lawsuits (preying on the big ‘wallet’). This is why we habitually encourage Apple to join us in the fight against — not for — software patents. It certainly seems like quite a lot of software patents are being used against Apple, costing it billions of dollars in total.

“It’s not only Müller who calls it a “patent thicket”; it’s a widely-accepted legal term, albeit with the negative connotation it deserves, just like “patent tax”, “patent troll”, “royalty stacking” and so on.”The latest in Uniloc USA, Inc. et al v Apple Inc., as per Docket Navigator, is that “[t]he court granted defendant’s [Apple's] motion to strike plaintiff’s infringement contentions because plaintiff failed to sufficiently identify the accused instrumentalities.”

Uniloc is a major patent troll, just like VirnetX, which also preys on Apple and wants hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a Mac/Apple-oriented site, Joe Rossignol spoke of AVRS, which is not a classic patent troll but mostly software patents without an actual complete product, only litigation and “portfolio” (of patents). To quote Rossignol:

Arizona-based speech recognition technology company AVRS, short for Advanced Voice Recognition Systems, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against Apple this week, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing on one of its patents with its virtual assistant Siri, according to court documents obtained by MacRumors.

Those are software patents and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), if an inter partes review (IPR) was pursued, would likely cause them to perish. A few days ago a new example of this (patents on “Phonetic Symbol System”) was dealt with by the Federal Circuit (CAFC). “In a non-precedential decision,” Patently-O admitted, “the Federal Circuit has rejected George Wang’s pro se appeal — affirming the PTAB judgment that Wang’s claimed phonetic symbol system lacks eligibility under Section 101.”

“It certainly seems like quite a lot of software patents are being used against Apple, costing it billions of dollars in total.”Well, obviously. The patent system has become almost self-satirising and sites of patent maximalists are still cherry-picking slightly older (June) CAFC cases where mere dissent — not eventual judgment — gives hope to these maximalists.

And speaking of maximalists, the case of Zeroclick against Apple was brought up again at the end of last month. Patent Docs‘ patent maximalist Michael Borella belatedly catches up with Zeroclick, LLC v Apple Inc. (we have already mentioned Zeroclick in [1, 2, 3]), noting that “it is not uncommon for software inventions to be claimed as methods” (that’s purely semantics). To quote the details, which deal with § 112 rather than § 101:

Most software inventions are functional in nature. The focus is not on what the invention is so much as what it does. The same physical hardware can be programmed by way of software to carry out an infinite number of different operations. Thus, it is not uncommon for software inventions to be claimed as methods. But when such inventions are claimed from the point of view of hardware carrying out a method, the patentee runs the risk of the claims being interpreted under 35 U.S.C § 112(f) (pre-AIA § 112 paragraph 6) as being in “means-plus-function” form. This, of course, can effectively narrow the scope of the claims to embodiments disclosed in the specification and equivalents thereof. Also, such claims can be found invalid if the specification does not disclose sufficient structure to support the embodiments.

[...]

“First, the mere fact that the disputed limitations incorporate functional language does not automatically convert the words into means for performing such functions.” Notably, many structural components or devices are named after the functions they perform.

“Second, the court’s analysis removed the terms from their context, which otherwise strongly suggests the plain and ordinary meaning of the terms.” Particularly, the terms “program” and “user interface code” were not used in the claim as nonce terms, but instead refer to “conventional graphical user interface programs or code, existing in prior art at the time of the inventions.” And as explained in the specifications, the claimed invention was an improvement to such interfaces and code.

“Third, and relatedly, the district court made no pertinent finding that compels the conclusion that a conventional graphical user interface program or code is used in common parlance as substitute for ‘means.’” The Federal Circuit suggested that use of a broader term, such as “module”, in place of “program” and “user interface code” would have likely have invoked § 112(f).

For these reasons, the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Patents on graphical user interfaces don’t relate to § 101, as we noted earlier this year (on numerous occasions even), but they oughtn’t be granted because copyrights and trademarks already cover appearances. If Apple fought against patent maximalism, many of these nuisance lawsuits would likely stop.

The patent trolls’ lobby, IAM, expectedly worries that Qualcomm might lose key patents. And why? Because Apple does in fact reach out to PTAB, reaffirming the idea that technology companies need and support PTAB. IAM said that “the Apple v Qualcomm battle royale took on a new front in June as the iPhone giant turned to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) to try to invalidate several of its rival’s patents. It is the first time that Qualcomm, widely seen to have one of the more valuable patent portfolios in the mobile and semiconductor sectors, has seen its grants challenged at the PTAB and should Apple start successfully knocking out some of its adversary’s patent claims it would give the tech giant some helpful leverage in a dispute…”

“If Apple fought against patent maximalism, many of these nuisance lawsuits would likely stop.”Similar things have happened in Europe, as we covered here earlier this year. Will patent maximalists soon start demonising Apple too, calling it “anti-patent”? Well, the PTAB-bashing Watchtroll again covers news from 3 weeks ago, adding nothing new except its pro-patent trolls slant (“Apple Brings Patent Battle Against Qualcomm to PTAB With Six IPR Petitions on Four Patents”), having covered another Apple story with this propaganda headline. The said case showed that only lawyers win in patent disputes, but here they go saying that 7 years of fighting is actually “Proving Patent Litigation Doesn’t Hinder Consumer Access” (the term “consumer” is an insulting word for customer and features were actually removed from these phones as a result of the fighting, directly harming customers). Had Steve Jobs never declared a patent war on Android, Apple would likely be in the same position that it’s in right now, albeit with fewer lawyers, not many legal bills, and without negative press coverage (berating it for patent aggression).

06.28.18

Apple Loses Its Patent War Against Android and by Extension Against Linux

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Google, Patents, Samsung at 3:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

Judge Lucy Koh

Summary: The long battle that Steve Jobs embarked on nearly a decade ago (with his infamous term, going “thermonuclear”) reaches its end and Apple is nowhere near to what the now-deceased Jobs actually wanted because Android dominates the market and these lawsuits are profitable to nobody except law firms

BACK in 2010 we wrote a lot about Apple, particularly about its war on Android, which had begun with a ‘soft’ (vulnerable) target, HTC. Our interest in this case and subsequent cases (e.g. against Samsung) has since then dwindled, but we kept abreast of the more major developments.

“From a legal perspective this case isn’t as interesting as other cases, but the sums (so-called ‘damages’) are higher, so patent extremists were quick to boost it.”Apple and Samsung finally settle, but we weren’t sure if we should bother writing about this because it’s covered very widely already. Like everything “Apple”, when it comes to patents literally all the major papers cover it (while ignoring much more important patent news). That’s not exactly fine, but this is the world we live in and if some headline says “Apple”, then people are more likely to click on it (than a headline that says “§ 101″ or something equally vague to most people).

But really, how can we just ignore such news? The patent maximalists’ sites, e.g. Michael Loney’s, have begun covering it. “Apple and Samsung apparently just settled their patent dispute,” Mark Lemley wrote yesterday and soon thereafter came a lot of media coverage. Sites about patents wrote about it, albeit we can expect a lot more from them in days to come. From a legal perspective this case isn’t as interesting as other cases, but the sums (so-called ‘damages’) are higher, so patent extremists were quick to boost it. They wrote about it last night.

“Just remember that Apple started this dispute and was the bully all along.”So did technology news sites, Android sites, Apple sites, Android-centric news sites like this, corporate media and its “tech” branches (like CBS/CNET). They don’t say anything particularly special or insightful. In fact, the said truce is pretty secretive, so there’s not much that can be said with certainty. A blog post from someone who followed these battles closely for 8 years (Florian Müller) says/concludes with this: “Normally, those companies strike license deals, and when they wind up in court, they typically settle reasonably early. Somehow, it took them a lot longer in this case. And now either one of them has a dispute going that looks like it could become the next long-running one: Apple with Qualcomm, and Samsung with Huawei.”

“Only the lawyers gained from these cases (there was a string of them).”Just remember that Apple started this dispute and was the bully all along. Judge Koh made herself a name out of it. The media loves any case that says “Apple” on it. Müller added that “Judge Koh was quick and presumably overjoyous to grant the DISMISSAL sought by Apple and Samsung post-mediation: ORDER OF DISMISSAL. Signed by Judge Lucy H. Koh on 6/27/18.”

Koh has since then done other commendable things in her court.

For those wishing to read more details, try this article from Bloomberg:

The biggest patent battle of the modern technology world has finally come to an end after seven years.

Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. told a judge Wednesday they’d resolved the first filed but last remaining of the legal disputes that once spanned four continents. The string of lawsuits started in 2011 after Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder who died that year, threatened to go “thermonuclear” on rivals that used the Android operating system. The companies didn’t disclose the terms of the accord.

Only the lawyers gained from these cases (there was a string of them). Why did Samsung and Apple bother? Apple started this! It was an awful and now-notorious strategy of Steve Jobs, who even used words like “thermonuclear”. The supposed brilliance of this ‘genius’ was bad judgment and arrogance. The courts proved it.

06.20.18

The Eastern District of Texas is Where Asian Companies/Patents/Trolls Still Go After TC Heartland

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 1:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Katana Silicon Technologies

Summary: Proxies of Longhorn IP and KAIST (Katana Silicon Technologies LLC and KAIST IP US LLC, respectively) roam Texas in pursuit of money of out nothing but patents and aggressive litigation; there’s also a Microsoft connection

THE decision on TC Heartland (SCOTUS) dealt with the venue at which companies operate and what this means for the venue of litigation (where patent lawsuits get filed). Weeks ago there were some new cases related to this, especially when it comes to foreign (non-US) companies from somewhere like South Korea or Taiwan. We wrote about that.

For those who haven’t been keeping track, KAIST has generally become a patent parasite masquerading as “education” or “research” (that’s how it’s known or recognised around Korea or Seoul, like CSIRO in Australia). Jacob Schindler of IAM (the patent trolls’ lobby) now celebrates litigation in the Eastern District of Texas by KAIST’s proxy in another country (KAIST IP US LLC). It’s a shell entity of an entity that produces nothing. This shell has won the case, but we certainly hope that Samsung will appeal this decision to the Federal Circuit, overriding the notorious biases of the Eastern District of Texas (biases which is openly advertises). As IAM makes clear, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was already involved prior to this. From the summary (outside the paywall) it’s made apparent that a nontechnical jury decided on this technical case (we explained many times why such trials may be unsuitable for patents):

Last Friday, a jury in the Eastern District of Texas ordered Samsung Electronics to pay $400 million to the IP licensing arm of South Korea’s top technology university. KAIST IP US LLC, an affiliate of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, saw its patent survive multiple IPRs and a dispute over its proper ownership en route to a courtroom victory over South Korea’s most prominent technology company. While US litigation watchers will be wary of a reversal on appeal, the big award signals that top Asian university IP owners like KAIST cannot be ignored.

We have meanwhile seen/come across yesterday’s article titled “Samsung Threatens U.S. Prosperity By Disregarding Intellectual-Property Rights” (this author apparently doesn’t know that Samsung has the most US patent grants per annum and held the same title at at the EPO in the past).

Anyway, what’s worthy about the above case is that a Korean entity used the US courts to go after another Korean entity, but only because it’s the Eastern District of Texas, which openly brags about being friendly towards plaintiffs, welcoming patent trolls such as Dominion Harbor with many Asian patents (almost expired).

It has meanwhile emerged, also based on the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), that a Japanese company has had its patents passed to patent trolls. Guess where…

“Foxconn transfers former Sharp patents to Texas-based NPE,” said the tweet and the article said:

Longhorn IP, the Texas-based NPE, has launched its fifth portfolio, a collection of semiconductor patents originally owned by Sharp. The licensing company, run by Khaled Fekih-Romdhane and Chris Dubuc, is calling its new vehicle Katana Silicon Technologies LLC – a name hinting at the Japanese source of the patents, which USPTO assignment records reveal is Sharp.

Notice how Longhorn IP uses shells, as is so typical in Texas (Dominion Harbor does this as well). There’s a bit of a connection between those two; at the end of last year IAM said that “Dominion Harbor and Longhorn IP [had] both formed partnerships with Beijing East IP…”

The “Founder and Managing Member” of Longhorn IP/Katana Silicon Technologies LLC used to work for the Microsoft-connected Acacia, according to this page. Dominion Harbor receives the lion’s share of patents from the Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures. Guess where the other founder came from; he was “Licensing Program lead at Intellectual Ventures.”

06.12.18

Apple v Samsung Not Over, Hearing on a New Design Patent Trial Next Month

Posted in Apple, Patents, Samsung at 12:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In Tokyo

Summary: Apple’s legal battles against phones that have Linux inside them simply aren’t ending; meanwhile, there’s more evidence that Apple would be wise to simply push for patent reforms, namely further restrictions on patent scope

APPLE’S legal battles against Android never seem to end. The USPTO granted questionable patents on rather trivial designs, causing a great deal of controversy. Yesterday the patent maximalists rushed to write about “Calculating design patent damages after Apple v Samsung,” but the case is far from over. Or so it seems based on reports like these [1, 2]. The latter says:

It turns out that $539 million is more than Samsung is willing to pay Apple after it was found to have infringed on several patents.

The trial over how much the chaebol was to pay in damages that ended two weeks ago after six years of overlapping litigation may restart in just two weeks. We’re learning through Law360 that Samsung has filed a post-trial motion that reiterated its case for why it should only pay $28 million instead.

The company said that Judge Lucy Koh’s instructions allowed the jury to not identify what the article of manufacture that each of three iPhone-related design patents applied to — for example, did the patent covering a colorful grid of icons apply to just the software component or the whole iPhone when it comes to potential lost sales Apple wants to claim?

[...]

Law360 reports that Apple may respond to the motion by June 21 and a hearing on a new trial will take place July 26.

We quit following these cases (at least closely) a very long time ago because they never seem to end. It has been nearly 8 years since Apple officially began its patent war on Android and nowadays there are newer cases like Zeroclick v Apple — a case which involves GUIs (similar to designs) and has a notorious patent troll watching in the shadows. We wrote about that 9 days ago and it was mentioned again later on (by Watchtroll), then again yesterday. To quote:

Zeroclick, LLC sued Apple Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asserting claims 2 and 52 of U.S. Patent No. 7,818,691 and claim 19 of U.S. Patent No. 8,549,443. The district court found the asserted claims invoked means-plus-function by using terms for which the specifications of the patents did not disclose sufficient structure, which rendered the claims indefinite. In a decision authored by Judge Hughes, the Federal Circuit determined the district court failed to undertake the appropriate inquiry and make related factual findings to support its conclusion that the asserted claims recited means-plus function terms. See Zeroclick, LLC v. Apple Inc., No. 2017-1267, 2018 (Fed. Cir. June 1, 2018) (Before Reyna, Taranto, and Hughes, J.) (Opinion for the court, Hughes, J.)

Apple would be wise to join the fight against software patents, but we doubt that’s going to happen. Meanwhile we’ll continue to watch as the above cases unfold.

06.10.18

Everyone Talks About Apple’s Notorious Design Patents But Not About ‘Abstract’ European Patents Used Against Apple and Linux

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Patents, Samsung at 3:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A ‘Battistelli era’ patent

EP2954737

Summary: What corporate media and the ‘mainstream’ speak of in relation to Apple and what more ‘niche’ bloggers pay attention to, serving to highlight a decline in patent quality at the European Patent Office (EPO)

LAST weekend we wrote about Zeroclick, LLC v Apple, Inc. We took note of the relation to a very malicious patent troll, Erich Spangenberg. Days later Watchtrolll wrote about this case as well, adding virtually no new information.

But Apple remains in headlines (about patents) mostly because of its own battles against Android (and by extension Linux). Professor Michael Risch’s analysis of Apple v Samsung is only days old and it speaks of the massive “damages” of ~$533,000,000. Risch’s views:

I’ve done a few interviews about the latest Apple v. Samsung design patent jury verdict, but journalistic space means I only get a couple sentences in. So, I thought I would lay out a couple points I see as important. We’ll see if they hold up as predictions.

There’s been a lot written about the case, so I won’t rehash the epic story. Here’s the short version. The design patent law affords the winning plaintiff all of the profits on the infringing article of manufacture. The Supreme Court ruled (reversing about 100 years of opposite practice) that the article of manufacture could be less than the entire accused device for sale. Because the original jury instructions did not consider this, the Court remanded for a determination of what the infringing article of manufacture was in this case (the design patents covered the shape of the phone and the default screen). The Federal Circuit remanded, and the District Court decided that, yes, in fact, the original jury instructions were defective and ordered a retrial of damages.

The District Court adopted the Solicitor General’s suggested test to determine what the article of manufacture was, determined that under that test it was a disputed fact question, and sent it to the jury. Apple asked for $1 billion. Samsung asked for $28 million. The jury awarded $533 million, which is more than $100 million more than the damages were before the Supreme Court ruled.

Josh Landau (CCIA) too wrote about these design patents, probably for the dozenth time or so. “Comments from Samsung Jurors Drive Home The Flaws In Design Patents,” Landau argued.

Flawed Logic

The logic of the jury’s verdict also requires a different result than profits on the entire device.

Even if we assume, contrary to both good policy and established case law, that profits on the components that produce the icon grid are available, those components still aren’t the whole phone. The cellular hardware, for example, is not involved in producing a display (after all, Apple’s iPod Touch produced a similar display without any cellular functionality), but is still part of Samsung’s total costs and profits. For that matter, the external casing isn’t required in order to produce the grid of icons.

If the article of manufacture is defined by the hardware required to produce the icon grid, then it’s also defined as something other than the entire phone.

Flawed Results

It all comes back to a single problem. The design patent total profits rule produces tests that are incoherent and impossible to apply when design patents are available for small pieces of complex, multi-component products. The total profits rule of § 289 simply doesn’t make sense in these situations.

We’re very disappointed to see Apple stooping to ‘Microsoft levels’ and 7-8 years ago we called for an Apple boycott (this made it into sites like Slashdot at the time). Has much changed since? Other than Steve Jobs’ death?

Well, sometimes we openly support Apple’s patent battles, e.g. against Qualcomm. As we explained before, if Apple wins this dispute, it will be good for phones that have Linux in them as well.

As it turns out, Qualcomm now uses a software patent granted by the EPO. To quote Florian Müller:

In 10 minutes: #Qualcomm v. #Apple #patent infringement trial in Mannheim, Germany. Patent-in-suit: EP2954737 on a „power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously“.

He later added:

After Judge Dr. Kircher of the Mannheim Regional Court expressed serious doubts about the validity of #Qualcomm‘s EP2954737, QCOM felt forced to stipulate, with #Apple, to a stay of this case pending the EPO‘s decision (in a year or so) on Apple and #Intel‘s opposition. https://twitter.com/fosspatents/status/1003968003413815298 …

On why it’s a software patent:

Yet another software patent: “the functions described may be implemented in hardware, software, firmware, or any combination thereof. If implemented in software, the functions may be stored on or transmitted over as one or more instructions or code on a readable medium”

Well, software patents like these have plagued the EPO, not just the USPTO. We doubt any of that will change under António Campinos; it’s like the EPO goes in the very opposite direction of the US (where the Federal Circuit and Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidate software patents en masse).

Müller later put it together in a blog post [via], having watched this dispute for quite some time. To quote:

Four months back, Qualcomm’s lead counsel in the German Qualcomm v. Apple cases, Quinn Emanuel’s Dr. Marcus Grosch, hoped to obtain a Germany-wide patent injunction against Apple this summer. The related case (one of various patent infringement claims Qualcomm has brought against Apple in Germany) went to trial this afternoon, and it’s unlikely that anything, if ever, will happen in that particular matter before the summer of 2019.

The patent-in-suit, EP2954737 on a “power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously,” is under massive pressure because of Apple and Intel’s opposition to its recent grant. Of the four prior art references cited, Alcatel Lucent’s European patent application EP2442440A1 poses the greatest–though not the only–threat to Qualcomm’s patent.

Why did the EPO foolishly grant such a patent? In the US, in the meantime, software patents are being invalidated and yesterday Müller gave a new example:

Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office had bad news for a particularly broad member of Twitter’s key patent family, U.S. Patent No. 9,088,532 on a “device[-]independent message disribution platform.” As I reported in March, the ’532 patent is being reexamined based on a patent application by independent Indian inventor Yogesh Rathod as well as a couple of other prior art references. The reexamination requested related to claims 1-3, 8, 9, 13-15, 17, 20, and 21, all of which are being reexamined. In a (first) Office communication since opening the reexamination proceedings, the USPTO has held all of the reexamined claims invalid, challenging Twitter to persuade the examiner that its patent claims should be upheld.

Prior art rather than Section 101 (or similar) was cited here, but still… it’s a testament or evidence of the fact that the US improves patent quality, whereas Europe moves in the opposite direction under Battistelli’s crooked leadership.

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