Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quote of the Day: information vs data

Seek truth from facts.

- Deng Xiaoping

tags: information, data, quote, tool

(BN) Apple, Batman, Pokemon, DuPont: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL), the maker of the iPhone and iPod, received a patent on an invention that could be used for wrist-shaped wearable electronic devices.

Patent 8,808,483, issued Aug. 19, covers a method of making a curved touch panel. The panel is created by depositing a touch sensor pattern on a flexible substrate and curving it to conform to the shape of a covering surface.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, said the curve will leave room underneath for other components of a computing system that communicate with the touch panel.

The company applied for the patent in November 2010, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Vringo Says It Will Seek Full Court Review of Patent Decision

Vringo Inc. (VRNG) said in a statement yesterday that it will ask the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to take a second look at the court's Aug. 15 ruling in a patent case against AOL Inc., Google Inc. (GOOG) and others.

In November 2012, a Vringo unit won its infringement verdict and was awarded $30.5 million. That trial court then awarded another $17.3 million in damages and, in January 2014, set an ongoing royalty rate for continued infringement of two patents.

The defendants appealed, and the appellate court determined Aug. 15 that elements of the patents at issue were invalid.

Vringo, a patent licensing firm, said it has until Sept. 15 to file its request for an en banc review and, if the court grants the New York-based company its requested 30-day extension, can file the petition until Oct. 15.

In dispute are patents 6,314,420, and 6,775,664. The patents cover filtering technology to determine placement of advertisements on search results.

The appeal is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 13-1307, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The lower-court case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 2:11-cv-00512, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).


Warner Brothers Defeats Software Company's 'Clean Slate' Appeal

A victory by Time Warner Inc. (TWX)'s Warner Brothers Entertainment unit in a trademark suit involving an Indiana-based software company was affirmed by a federal appeals court.

Fortres Grand Corp. of Plymouth, Indiana, filed the suit in September 2012, claiming that the use of a fictional piece of software in Warner Brothers' Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" caused the company harm and lost sales.

Both Fortres Grand and the film used the name "Clean Slate" for the software. In the film, the fictional product could be used to erase a person's past, while the Indiana company's product scours a computer's hard drive, according to court papers.

Fortres Grand said sales of its product declined after the film's release and blamed the drop on negative associations consumers made with the fictional product. A federal judge disagreed, and in May 2013 dismissed the case. Fortres Grand appealed.

The appeals court agreed with the lower court, saying the two products -- the film and the software -- are dissimilar and Fortres Grand failed to argue facts that would "make it plausible" the public would mistakenly think both came from the same source.

The case is Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Brothers Entertainment Inc., 12-cv-00535, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana (South Bend). The appeal is Fortres Grand Corp. v. Warner Brothers Entertainment, 13-2337, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.


Pokemon Tells Company to Halt Sale of 3-D Printed Planter

Shapeways Inc. got a cease-and-desist notice from Pokemon Co. International demanding that it quit selling a 3-D printed planter which Pokemon said infringed its copyright on the Bulbasaur character, Anime News Network reported.

Although the planter wasn't labeled a Pokemon character, the Shapeways website listing did refer to Pokemon, Anime News said.

South African Documentary Makers Misunderstand Fair-Use Rights

Because of documentary filmmakers' lack of understanding of South African copyright laws, they are making and distributing fewer documentary films, Screen Africa reported.

The Documentary Filmmakers Association and the South African Screen Federation met with the University of Cape Town's IP unit and American University's Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property Aug. 18 to resolve the problem, according to Screen Africa, a trade publication.

Researchers told meeting attendees that the country's filmmakers weren't aware of user rights with respect to quoting copyrighted material, according to the publication.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Former DuPont Engineer Seeks Leniency in Trade Secret Case

An ex-DuPont Co. (DD) engineer who was convicted of economic espionage, trade secret theft and witness tampering should get a three-year prison sentence, federal prosecutors said.

The engineer, Robert Maegerle, was convicted in March. The government made its sentencing recommendation in a sentencing memo Aug. 19. The day before, Maegerle, who turns 79 next month, said in a filing that in view of his age, medical condition and ties to the community, he should be given home confinement.

His offense was related to the misappropriation of DuPont trade secrets for making white pigment used in paint and plastics. The secrets were transmitted to a Chinese chemical company.

The government said in its sentencing memo that despite the "many good things" Maegerle did as a DuPont employee, and the small amount of money -- $370,000 -- he received for the purloined data, a prison sentence was appropriate and "promotes respect for the law."

"A 36-month sentence for a 79-year-old man with no criminal history who made $370,000 sends a strong message that the United Stated takes corporate espionage seriously," the prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Maegerle, 11-cr-00573, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Facebook's market power

The Facebook patent I briefly discussed yesterday points to a business and technology revolution, similar to the one that made Chicago a major commercial center in the United States in the 19th century. Back then, the proliferation of railroads helped move grain and cattle from small, scattered farms to large grain elevators and slaughterhouses. As the result, Chicago merchants benefited enormously from the new economies of scale. Similarly, Facebook enjoys enormous economies of scale by aggregating and processing huge amounts of scattered pieces of user preferences data. 

Furthermore, Chicago merchants developed a new standardization system that
...partitioned a natural material — a steer or a bushel of wheat into a multitude of standardized commodities, each with a different price, each with a different market (Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West, by William Cronon).
The new partitioning system allowed the merchants to sell their commodities to those consumers who were interested in a particular grain variety or beef cut and willing to pay the right price for the right commodity.

Similarly, Facebook has the ability to partition their user social graphs (and even individual users like you and I) into a multitude of parts that can be sold to advertisers and content providers for the right price at the right time and in the right place. The only difference is that instead of the Beef Chart of the 19th century they have the User Interest Chart of the 21st century.

tags: innovation, technology, control, packaged payload, distribution, scale, facebook, social, advertisement

Lunch Talk: The Magic of Story

Storytelling is an essential leadership skill. It will enable you to be more influential and persuasive and less technical and boring. It will set you apart and make you and your ideas memorable.
Doug Stevenson is a former actor who has brought lessons from the theater and great storytelling to the corporate world. He has translated these techniques into what he calls The Story Theater Method for Strategic Storytelling in Business. While he has no intention of making you into a great actor, he does want to make you a “star”.
In this interactive session, Doug will model effective business storytelling and show you how to apply his storytelling technology to your role in Google. He’ll even coach a few people on their stories to illustrate how you can be a better storyteller. If you want to be more engaging, interesting and convincing, Doug Stevenson will show you how.
tags: lunchtalk, google 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to help a group of teenagers to achieve a creative peak

Russian writer and teacher Dmitry Bykov shares his method of helping teenagers maximize their creative potential:

(Russian version) Есть два способа добиться от детей абсолютного творческого максимума: во-первых, умеренная невротизация (все зависит от вас, доверяем только вам, больше никто не справится и т.д.). Во-вторых — сопутствующее ей, идущее в ногу с ней повышение самооценки: вы лучшие, вы сможете, вас собрали не просто так.

(a shortened English version)

To get a peak creative performance from a group of teenagers, tell them:

- everything depends on you (the children); nobody else can do it.
- you are the best; it's no accident that we included you in this elite group.

Bykov's recommendation aims at producing among the group members a moderate level of neuroticism and raise their self esteem at the same time. We know from a recent study that elevated neuroticism helps increase creativity, by stimulating divergent thinking. Most likely, adding high self-esteem to the psychological mix  extends idea generation into the realm of "impossible", further increasing the divergence and extra effort.

Should work for adults too.

tags: psychology, creativity, brainstorming, divergent

Facebook patents user tracking for advertisers and content providers

Today, August 19, 2014, USPTO awarded Facebook patent 8,812,591 titled Social networking system data exchange (Inventors: Kent Schoen and Gokul Rajaram)

The patent covers a technology that tracks users across multiple service providers by matching service provider ID and social network ID. The match results in an aggregated user profile that determines user eligibility for content and ad targeting. The system uses a tracking pixel instead of the web cookie, which makes it suitable for mobile applications.

The technology breaks the wall between different publishers with regard to what they know about the user. As the patent says:
...a publisher may know very limited information about a user visiting the publisher's web page or the publisher's application. Thus, a publisher is unable to effectively target content item and advertisements to the user based on the user's interests and characteristics. The exchange server aggregates a user's information from several sources, including a social networking system, publishers, retailers, content item providers, etc.
The exchange server matches advertisements to users based on whether users' characteristics as provided by the aggregated social graph match the advertisements' targeting criteria. Additionally, the exchange server selects one or more advertisements to display to the user based on expected revenue to be generated from displaying the advertisement to the user.

tags: patent, invention, innovation, facebook, social, networking, graph, content

(BN) BlackBerry, Rightscorp, Vuitton: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg, by Victoria Slind-Flor - Aug 19, 2014)

BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) the maker of the BlackBerry mobile devices, has established a separate unit to hold technology assets including its 44,000-patent portfolio, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company said in a regulatory filing.

The unit, to be known as BlackBerry Technology solutions, will also hold its embedded software, Internet application platform, cryptography applications and radio frequency antenna tuning, the company said yesterday.

Sandeep Chennakeshu, a named inventor on 73 patents, will lead the new unit, the company said. He has previously served as president of Ericsson Mobile Platforms and chief technology officer of Sony Ericsson, it said.

Twenty-First Century Fox Sued Over Homer Simpson Holograph

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA)’s television production unit was sued for infringement by the holder of patents related to 3-D holographs.

According to the complaint filed in federal court in San Diego, the alleged infringement occurred July 26 at the Comic-Con International convention. Hologram U.S.A. Inc. of Beverly Hills, California, holder of the exclusive license to the two disputed patents, objected to a Homer Simpson appearance at the convention that was achieved through a holographic projection.

The use of its technology was unlicensed and unauthorized, Hologram claimed in its Aug. 14 pleadings. A video clip from the Comic-Con presentation has already received more than 850,000 viewings on YouTube, according to the complaint.

Hologram U.S.A. asked the court to bar further infringement of the patents and to award it money damages, litigation costs and attorney fees.

In dispute are patents 5,865,519, issued in February 1999, and 7,883,212, issued in February 2011.

The case is Hologram U.S.A. Inc. v. Twentieth Century Fox Corp., 3:14-cv-01915, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).


Rightscorp Seeks Internet Disconnection of Rights Infringers

Rightscorp Inc. (RIHT), which polices online copyright infringement, is asking service providers to disconnect infringers from the Internet, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news service reported.

The Santa Monica, California-based company said many of the infringers it’s targeting are receiving multiple notices for repeated infractions, according to TorrentFreak.

Rightscorp enforces copyrights on behalf of Bertelsmann SE & Co.’s BMG catalog and for artists such as Beyonce and Kanye West, TorrentFreak reported.

So far, Rightscorp says it has settled 75,000 copyright infringement cases, bringing the rights holders as much as $10 an incident, according to TorrentFreak.


Vuitton Not Yet Responded to Suit by Luxury-Sneaker Maker

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, which was sued for trademark infringement by a maker of men’s sneakers that sell for as much as $1,200 a pair, has yet to file a response to the June 30 suit.

New York’s LVL XIII Brands Inc. -- pronounced “level 13” -- sued in New York federal court, claiming the metal toe plate it uses on its sneakers is infringed by Vuitton’s use of a toe plate on its “on the road sneaker” line.

LVL XIII, which makes sneakers from exotic leathers, said Vuitton, the Paris-based luxury fashion house, began copying the toe plate after the high-end sneakers were “becoming a significant force in the market.”

“The lawsuit is entirely without merit and the company will vigorously defend itself,” a Vuitton spokeswoman, Molly Morse, said in an e-mail.

The case is LVL XII brands v. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC), 1:14-cv-04869, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Firestone Walker Persuades N.Y. Brewer to Drop ‘Double Barrel’

Firestone Walker Brewing Co., a craft brewer based in Paso Robles, California, persuaded a small brewery in Syracuse, New York’s Eastwood suburb to change its name, the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper reported.

Double Barrel Brewing Co. is changing its name to Eastwood Brewing Co.

Firestone Walker said the old name infringed a trademark it used for its Double Barrel Ale, according to the Post-Standard.

The dispute was resolved amicably, Eastwood’s owner, Pete Kirkgasser, told the newspaper, saying Adam Firestone, co-owner of the California brewery, is “a good guy, very polite, very businesslike.”

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

North Carolina Sets Public Hearing on Hydraulic Fracturing

North Carolina’s Energy and Mining Commission’s hearings on proposed rules covering hydraulic fracturing begin tomorrow in Raleigh, North Carolina, the News & Observer reported.

The hearings will give the public an opportunity to comment on environmental issues related to fracking, including trade-secret provisions that protect exploration companies from revealing the chemical makeup of the fluids used in the process, the newspaper reported.

The commission is accepting written public comments through Sept. 20, to be sent to the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, the News & Observer reported.

Hydraulic fracturing is a gas-exploration process through which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into wells to open rock structures to enable release and collection of trapped gas.

Invention of the Day: The Helicopter

Igor Sikorsky (1889 - 1972) invented the world's first vertical lift apparatus - the helicopter. Inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci, Sikorsky started thinking about creating a flying machine when he was a boy of 12.

According to the US National Inventors Hall of Fame:
From 1925 to 1940 he created a series of increasingly successful aircraft which won numerous world records for speed, range, and payload. The famed Sikorsky flying "Clippers" helped transoceanic commercial passenger services. Sikorsky continued to study the helicopter; he filed for a crucial patent in 1931. In late 1938, United Aircraft (now United Technologies) approved his experimental helicopter, and in 1939, the VS-300 made its first flight.

The patent above covers a major improvement in helicopter design: a mechanism for controlling the pitch of the rotor. The invention made the helicopter a highly maneuverable flying machine.

Here's a Hitchcock documentary about Igor Sikorsky, the inventor who made Leonardo Da Vinci's dream an everyday reality.

tags: invention, innovation, lunchtalk

Monday, August 18, 2014

(BN) Too Many Cancer Screening Wasted on Those Facing Death

(Bloomberg ) Older patients who aren't expected to live more than another decade are still being screened too often for cancers, causing more harm than good, a study found.

More than half of men 65 and older who had a very high risk of dying in nine years were screened for prostate cancer, a slow-moving disease, according to research today in JAMA Internal Medicine. Almost 38 percent of older women with a similar life expectancy were screened for breast cancer and 31 percent were screened for cervical cancer despite some having undergone a hysterectomy, which means they often had no cervix.

The findings raise concerns that older, sicker patients are being screened for diseases that won't cause them harm over the rest of their lives, raising health-care costs and the potential for unnecessary complications, said Ronald Chen, a senior study author. Doctors and patients should discuss when to use the tests based on life expectancy, which includes age, how functional a person is and health status, he said.

"Cancer screening is a pretty controversial topic these days," Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiology Oncology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a telephone interview. "Everyone would agree that patients who have limited life expectancy do not benefit from screening."

While screenings have saved lives, they can also detect tumors that can lead to invasive biopsies and toxic treatments in people who may never have any symptoms, he said.

Potential Savings

"There's a potential to actually save the health-care system a large amount of money if we stop doing screenings on patients who might not benefit," Chen said.

Chen said it may be hard for some patients in these circumstances to accept an end to screenings. More studies are needed on how to best measure life expectancy and how to limit testing for patients who may not have long to live, he said.

Millions of cancer screening tests are performed each year. More than 38 million mammograms for breast cancer are done in the U.S. each year, while about 30 million pap tests for cervical cancer were ordered by doctors' offices in 2010, according to the U.S Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

When screenings should end, depends on which medical advisory group is providing the recommendations.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent medical advisory group to the government, recommends against a prostate screening test for all men, while the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Cancer Society suggest stopping once someone is expected to die within 10 years. For breast cancer screening, the Preventive Services Task Force recommends no mammograms starting at 75, while the American College of Radiology suggests stopping when someone is expected to live only another five to seven years.

Study Data

The researchers in the study looked at rates of screening for cancers of the prostate, breast, cervix and colon in patients ages 65 and older from 2000 to 2010. They used data from the National Health Interview Survey that included 27,404 people. The people were divided into four categories based on their risk of dying in nine years from low -- less than a 25 percent chance -- to very high, classified as a 75 percent or more chance.

Of those who had a very high risk of dying, 41 percent had a colorectal screening in the past five years. For women who had a hysterectomy and were at a very high risk of dying, 34 percent were screened for cervical cancer within the past three years. About half of women who had a hysterectomy and a low or intermediate risk of dying, underwent cervical cancer screenings as well, the researchers found.

The study is the first to look at the screening patterns for all four cancers by life expectancy, the authors said.

Debra Monticciolo, chairwoman of the American College of Radiology's Quality and Safety Commission, said in a telephone interview that doctors need to consider how the treatment for the cancer they are screening for will affect the patient.

"If someone is too sick to be treated for the condition you are screening them for then it may not be beneficial to put them through the screening," she said. "Doctors have to look at the whole picture for that individual patient to make a decision."

Second Report

A second study released today by the journal found that Medicare patients who got colonoscopies more regularly than recommended -– every five years instead of 10 years -- had a slight reduction in colon cancer-related deaths with increased complications. The findings show that policy makers and doctors should discourage more frequent screening, said the authors from Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

Cancer screening is "losing its luster," said Cary Gross, a professor of medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

"Now we wonder whether screening tests are helping or hurting our patients," he wrote. "We wonder what harm we may have caused through broad marketing campaigns that strongly promoted screening. It truly will be a new era when providers will be evaluated, in part, by their ability to refrain from ordering cancer screening tests for some of their patients."

(BN) Biggest Solar Project Falls as Australia Reviews Policy

(Bloomberg ) 

Plans to build the world's largest solar power plant of its kind have been scrapped in Australia after the developers raised concerns about the government's commitment to clean energy.

Solar Systems Pty Ltd. said it suspended plans for a 100-megawatt plant in the Australian state of Victoria. The plant, which would have used concentrating photovoltaic technology to intensify the power of the sun, would have been three times larger than any currently commissioned projects, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Australia has assigned Dick Warburton, a former Reserve Bank of Australia board member who has expressed doubts about human contributions to global warming, to head a review of the nation's clean-energy goals. The current target is to get 20 percent of electricity from renewables by 2020, up from about 15 percent in 2013.

The project in Mildura was scrapped because of the review into the target along with lower wholesale power prices according to a statement from Solar Systems, a unit of New South Wales-based Silex, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Funding for A$75 million ($70 million) of conditional support from the renewable energy agency was terminated, the statement said.

Economic Hurdle

"After careful consideration of project economics, we have decided to reassess plans for the Mildura 100MW Solar Power Station," Silex Chief Executive Officer Michael Goldsworthy said in the statement.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott asked Warburton to considering doing away with Australia's clean-energy targets, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing unidentified people. Abbott also has scrapped Australia's levy on carbon dioxide and sought to dismantle institutions set up to help the country limit the pollutants blamed for global warming.

Clive Palmer

Any changes to the renewable energy target would need to pass Australia's Senate, where the balance of power is held by a party led by mining magnate Clive Palmer.

Other clean energy developers have expressed concerns about Abbott's program. Miles George, a managing director at renewable energy project developer Infigen Energy, said the moves would amount to "economic vandalism, pandering to the climate skeptic minority," and that the prime minister is misreading the views of voters on the environment.

Conditional funding of A$35 million for the Mildura project from the Victorian government under the Energy Technology Innovation Strategy Fund also was terminated, Silex and ARENA said in today's announcement.

"ARENA enjoys a good working relationship with Solar Systems and remains open to considering any new or revised project opportunities that are ready for testing and demonstration," ARENA Chief Executive Officer Ivor Frischknecht said in the statement.

Concentrated Solar

The Mildura project was designed to use concentrating photovoltaic technology. Known as CPV, it involves lenses and mirrors that concentrate sunlight on solar panels, multiplying the power they can generate.

The largest CPV plant to be fully commissioned is a 30-megawatt facility in Colorado operated by Cogentrix Energy LLC, Bloomberg New Energy Finance data show.

A 44-megawatt plant has been partially commissioned in South Africa and a 50-megawatt project in China obtained financing and began construction in 2012, according to London-based BNEF.

A 1.5-megawatt demonstration project in Mildura began feeding electricity to the grid in June 2013. Solar Systems is exploring alternatives to develop the Mildura site on a smaller scale, according to the statement.

Earlier this year, the Silex unit completed a CPV project near Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, the first outside of its home country of Australia.

The 1-megawatt solar facility at the Nofa Equestrian Resort comprises 28 large dishes supplying electricity to an internal grid, replacing diesel generation, Solar Systems said in an e-mailed statement at the time.

(BN) Talking-Car Plans Advance as U.S. Says Lives to Be Saved

(Bloomberg ) The U.S. Transportation Department moved forward on writing rules that may mandate automakers' use of talking-car technology, saying more than a thousand lives a year might be saved on the nation's roadways.

Two of the most promising crash-avoidance technologies warning drivers of oncoming vehicles may prevent 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives annually, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in rulemaking notice today on so-called vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

"By warning drivers of imminent danger, V2V technology has the potential to dramatically improve highway safety," said David Friedman, the agency's acting administrator. "V2V technology is ready to move toward implementation."

Technology companies including Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) are among those vying to build the architecture for the connected car of the future. Google Inc. (GOOG) and Tesla Motors Inc. are among companies looking at employing automated systems that may be precursors to self-driving cars.

The technology lets cars automatically exchange safety data such as speed and position 10 times per second, and sends warnings to drivers if an imminent collision is sensed, the Transportation Department has said.

A research paper backing U.S. rules looked at two technologies. Left-turn assist warns drivers not to turn if an oncoming vehicle is approaching. Intersection-movement assist alerts motorists to stop short if there's a high probability of a collision.

Airwaves Needed

Automakers and technology companies have skirmished over whether the radio spectrum that's been reserved for research into automotive communications should be shared for other uses, such as Wi-Fi. Carmakers such as General Motors Co. (GM) have said more research needs to be done to show that sharing the airwaves won't interfere with safety.

Google, Microsoft Corp. and Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) announced an advocacy group earlier this year, WiFiForward, to push for more access to airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission has been weighing such a move.

Automakers say they've spent tens of millions of dollars developing technology, using the airwaves, and the results represent a safety advance on the magnitude of air bags and seat belts. The systems may be installed in new cars, at a cost of about $100 a vehicle, or sold for installation after a car is purchased.

"The country is well on its way to deploying this life-saving technology," John Bozzella, president and chief executive officer of Global Automakers, a Washington-based trade group, said in a statement today. "More than ever, we need to preserve the space on the spectrum that these safety systems rely on to operate. There is no better use of this spectrum than to save lives."

(BN) Google, Angelina Jolie, MediaTek: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg. by Victoria Slind-Flor. Aug 18, 2014)

Google Inc. (GOOG) won its bid to overturn a $30.5 million patent-infringement verdict won by Vringo Inc., a reversal that sent the patent licensing firm’s shares down as much as 79 percent.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington held Aug. 15 that the Vringo patents in the case were invalid. Vringo, which reported $1.1 million in revenue last year, claimed that its filtering technology for determining advertisement placement in search results was being used in Google’s AdWords and AdSense for Search products. It won a November 2012 trial against Google and some of its customers over infringement of the patents, which had belonged to defunct search-engine company Lycos.

Google argued that the patents combined well-known filtering methods without coming up with a new invention.

“We agree and hold that no reasonable jury could conclude otherwise,” the court said in a 2-1 decision.

The case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 13-1307, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington). The earlier case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 11cv512, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk).


Jolie Calls Non-Infringement Appeal Unfounded and ‘Emotional’

Actor Angelina Jolie has responded to an appeal of a lower court ruling that her war film “In the Land of Blood and Honey” didn’t infringe the copyright of a Croatian journalist.

In a lawsuit he filed in June 2012, James J. Braddock had claimed Jolie’s film contains “similarities so substantial” to his Croatian-language book “The Soul Shattering” that his copyrights were infringed. The court disagreed and in March 2013 dismissed the infringement claims.

Braddock then filed an appeal claiming the court found no infringement because it wasn’t using a correct translation of his work from the Croatian language. Jolie filed her response Aug. 13, saying that Braddock’s “emotional” appeal contained “virtually no analysis” of the lower court’s infringement standard.

The lower court case is Braddock. v. Jolie, 2:12-cv-05883-DMG-VBK, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles). The appeal is James Braddock v. Angeline Jolie, 12-55703, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Chinese National Indicted in Boeing Trade-Secret Theft Case

A Chinese national already charged with hacking into Boeing Co. (BA)’s computer system to steal information on military jets was indicted on additional trade-secret theft and illegal-export counts as part of a U.S. investigation into industrial espionage by China.

Su Bin, 49, owner of a Chinese aviation technology company with an office in Canada, conspired with two unidentified individuals in China staring in 2008 and continuing until as recently as May to hack into computers, download defense-related trade secrets and export data on military jets, according to an Aug. 14 indictment in Santa Ana, California.

Su is in custody in British Columbia, Canada, where he is being held under a provisional arrest warrant submitted by the U.S., prosecutors said in an Aug. 15 statement.

Su’s alleged co-conspirators claimed to have stolen 65 gigabytes of data from Boeing related to the C-17 military cargo plane, according to a criminal complaint filed in June. They also allegedly sought data related to other aircraft, including Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT)’s F-22 and F-35 fighter jets.

Su owns an aviation technology company called Lode-Tech and is in contact with Chinese military and commercial aerospace entities, according to the complaint. The two unidentified Chinese individuals are “affiliated with multiple organizations and entities” in China, according to U.S. prosecutors.

The case is U.S. v. Su Bin, 8:14-cr-00131, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Sana Ana).

Ex-MediaTek Worker Questioned, Released in Trade Secret Probe

Taiwan prosecutors questioned and then released on bail a former employee of MediaTek Inc., (2454) a semiconductor company based in Hsinchu, Taiwan, the WantChina Times news website reported.

Mediatek had filed a report with Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau claiming 10 of its ex-employees took the company’s trade secrets with them when they left the company for new jobs, according to WantChina Times.

Eight other ex-employees have also been questioned in connection with the alleged theft, WantChina Times reported.

Cognizant Awarded Attorney Fees in McAfee Trademark Suit

Internet entrepreneur John McAfee was ordered to pay $130,341 attorney fees in a trademark infringement case brought by Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., a business and software consulting firm.

Cognizant sued in March, claiming McAfee was offering an application for mobile devices and tablets named Cognizant.

McAfee is the founder of McAfee Associates, creator of anti-virus software. That company was acquired by Intel Corp. (INTC) in 2010 and has since been rebranded.

According to the fee-award order, Teaneck, New Jersey-based Cognizant made repeated efforts to serve McAfee with the complaint and he failed to appear in court. In June, the court issued a default judgment against him.

Cognizant sought attorney fees and costs of $158,678. U.S. District Judge William Orrick cut that award to $124,906 and $5,435 in costs. He said Cognizant’s counsel did good work and achieved desired results, and the premium rates they charged were “justified by their education, experience and the quality of work performed.”

He made cuts because some of the requests failed to describe the work performed and because some of the work done by partners could have been handled by a junior attorney or non-attorney.

The case is Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (CTSH) v. McAfee, 14-cv-01146, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Worry is the mother of invention

A recent psychological study from Singapore Management University has found that being worried can help one's creativity:
By systematically manipulating the experience of emotional states, those who actually experienced worrisome emotions produced creative designs that were rated as being more creative by their peers (Study 2) and were more cognitively flexible in generating unusual uses of a common object under high cognitive load (Study 3).

Note that the study uses divergent thinking as the proxy for creativity. Taking this into account, we can say that being worried makes one to consider a greater range of options. This may also explain why in times of uncertainty and trouble people generate many conspiracy theories. It's not clear what emotional state helps separate good ideas from the bad ones.

tags: creativity, psychology, thinking, cognition, research

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Invention of the Day: SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language)

SGML is the second great invention (that I know of) by an American lawyer; the first one being the Cotton Gin, by  Eli Whitney.

The Cotton Gin (1793) revolutionized the cotton industry in the US and, arguably, triggered the Industrial Revolution in England. Similarly, the SGML, co–invented by Charles F. Goldfarb, revolutionized the way we work with electronic documents. For example, the World Wide Web would be impossible without HTML, a simplified extension of SGML. Another extension of SGMIL is XML, a critically important document format used extensively in modern web and mobile applications.

In 1969, together with Ed Mosher and Ray Lorie, Goldfarb invented the SGML to make electronic documents compatible between different computing systems. Before SGML, a document would have instructions on how to handle it — procedural markup — embedded into the text. Since different IBM computer systems had different command sets, moving documents with procedural markup created a problem, because the same document would not "work" on a different computer. To solve the problem, the inventors came up with a language that could describe the contents of the document independently from the application or computer system that stored or processed it. Here's how Goldfarb wrote about the breakthrough in a 1971 paper:
The principle of separating document description from application function makes it possible to describe the attributes common to all documents of the same type.
20 years later, this feature of SGML turned out to be highly useful for the World Wide Web, a system designed for a seamless exchange of documents from networked computer systems around the world. HTML, a simplified version of SGML, allowed web enthusiasts to put together simple web pages that could be rendered in browsers on all kinds of machines. With the web, the invention turned into a great innovation.

tags: invention, innovation, separation, internet, web, packaged, payload,  

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Privacy is Dead, the Russian edition

The Russian Government has decreed that access to public Wi-Fi can be given only to those who submitted their passport data —name, address, DOB, etc. — to the service provider. The service provider is responsible for storing the personal information, including device identification and communications data, and forwarding it to the Russian Secret Service (FSB). 

Just imagine your local Starbucks or McDonalds tracking and recording their customers' personal info. That would be of great help to identity thieves. As if they need any.

tags: privacy, security

Left Brain, Right Brain - no difference!

In 2013, a group of scientist from the University of Utah decided to test the popular hypothesis that the left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for different cognitive functions than the right hemisphere. "Left-brain" people were supposed to be more logical, while "right-brain" ones more spontaneous.

The scientists ran a number of experiments by analysing their subjects' — 1011 individuals between the ages of 7 and 29 — on various tasks, while observing their brain activity using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). No significant difference was found.

Source: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

The study is "old news", so why do I write about it now? Mainly, because I just found the study, but also because I deal with human creativity issues on an everyday basis. To me, there are two important points to that relate to the study:

First, a person's creativity is not confined to a specific portion of the brain. Therefore, conclusions like "I'm a left-brain person and I can't be creative" are wrong. Creativity is about having created something new and useful to other people, rather than pigeonholing yourself into a "creative vs non-creative" categories. In many ways, creativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Second, the study highlights the difference between science and entrepreneurship. Science moves slowly, by creating insights, postulating hypothesis, then testing and re-testing them. Initial scientific results can be invalidated much later, which only adds to the value of science. The brain study from the University of Utah is good science.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship requires us to move fast, act on incomplete or even wrong information,  take huge risks, and make outrageous claims in order to gain advantage in the marketplace. For example, Christopher Columbus was not a good scientist because his calculations assumed that the Earth was 3 times smaller than it turned out in reality. Scientists of his time already knew that and were highly skeptical of his idea!

Nevertheless, he was a great entrepreneur because he not only convinced the king of Spain to give hime ships for discovering a new way to Asia, but did succeed in discovering a new continent, although by mistake. Eventually, scientists proved him wrong, but it didn't diminish the value of his accomplishment.

One of the most striking aspects of Silicon Valley's success is its reliance on an entrepreneur's desire to discover a new business "continent", rather than do perfect science. Most remarkable examples would be the Moore's Law, Computer Games, the Web, Social Networking, and the iPhone.

tags: creativity, innovation, science, entrepreneurship,

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Lunch Talk: Focus and Attention

Combining cutting-edge research with practical findings, Focus delves into the science of attention in all its varieties, presenting a long overdue discussion of this little-noticed and under-rated mental asset. In an era of unstoppable distractions, Goleman persuasively argues that now more than ever we must learn to sharpen focus if we are to survive in a complex world.

Goleman boils down attention research into a threesome: inner, other, and outer focus. Drawing on rich case studies from fields as diverse as competitive sports, education, the arts, and business, he shows why high-achievers need all three kinds of focus, and explains how those who rely on Smart Practices—mindfulness meditation, focused preparation and recovery, positive emotions and connections, and mental "prosthetics" that help them improve habits, add new skills, and sustain greatness—excel while others do not.

tags: psychology, lunchtalk

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Invention of the Day: Kindergarten, learning by playing.

In 1837 Friedrich Fröbel, a German educator, founded care, playing and activity institute for small children in Bad Blankenburg. Three years later he came up with a short name for his creation - Kindergarten. Fröbel's idea was based on an insight that young children learn best while playing, rather than working on specific tasks assigned by the teacher in a formal school environment. Remarkably, Fröbel himself was an orphan and never had children of his own. His entire life was devoted to educating other people's children.

Although today the concept of "learning by playing" seems obvious, in the 19th century it seemed revolutionary and even subversive. In 1851, the Prussian government banned all Kindergatens as “atheistic and demagogic” for its alleged “destructive tendencies in the areas of religion and politics”.

Most societies in the developed world have adopted the Kindergarten model as a key part of formal elementary school education. In the US, kindergarten education is compulsory from age 5 or 6. Kids must learn by playing!

From an innovator perspective, the Kindergarten education "technology" succeeded because it 1) leveraged young children's natural ability to learn by playing; 2) helped parents, especially working women who didn't have neither time nor educational background, to prepare their children for school. As education became a critical element of a person's social success, the market for Kindergarten expanded worldwide.

tags: invention, innovation, education, gaming, dominant design

Monday, August 04, 2014

Invention of the Day: Electrocardiography (EKG)

Today we take medical sensors for granted. Most recently Digital Health, a combination of sensing and wireless networking technologies, has become one of the fastest growing areas for innovation. For example, electronic hand bands from FitBit can track your sleep patterns, continuously collect your physical activity levels, calculate calories burned during exercises, and transmit the data to your smartphone, which relays the information further to the cloud. Ultimately, Digital Health should help us improve our lifestyles, prevent cardiovascular diseases, and reduce healthcare costs.

CardioMEMS wireless heart sensor compared to a dime. (Photo credit: IntelFreePress).
A large portion of the modern sensing technology is based on detecting weak electric signals from the heart and other organs. Medical researchers became aware of the hearts electric activity during the second half of the 19th century. Nevertheless, it was hard for them to come up with a practical application for their knowledge.
As late as 1911, Augustus Waller, who was the pioneer of electrocardiography, said, “I do not imagine that electrocardiography is likely to find any very extensive use in the hospital. It can at most be of rare and occasional use to afford a record of some rare anomaly of cardiac action.”
While Waller struggled with his imagination, a Dutch physiologist Willem Einthoven developed the first practical EKG device that was based on his newly invented string galvanometer.

In 1906, unknown to Waller, Einthoven demonstrated clinical usefulness of the electrocardiograph (EKG). In 1924 he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his invention.

Over the last 100 years EKG has become one of the most common techniques for heart monitoring and diagnostics. Since then, many generations of inventors improved upon the original idea, with micro-electronics, networking, and cloud computing being the latest additions to Einthhoven's breakthrough. Most likely, innovation in this area will continue well into the 21st century.

tags: invention, innovation, detection, healthcare, medicine, control

(BN) OurPet’s, Victoria’s Secret, Apple: Intellectual Privacy

(Bloomberg ) OurPet's Co., an Ohio-based producer of pet products and accessories, said in a statement that it has settled an infringement dispute with a competitor over a patent for a simulated toy mouse with a prerecorded sound chip.

The suit over the pet toy was filed April 30 in federal court in Cleveland. Our Pet's said Boss Pet Products of Ohio's Cuyahoga County was importing and selling a toy mouse that infringed patent 6,371,053.

Terms of the settlement weren't disclosed in OurPet's statement or in the court filing dismissing the case. OurPet's has filed four infringement suits related to this patent since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The case is Our Pet's Co. v. Boss Pet Products Inc., 14-cv-00936, U.S. District court, Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland).


Victoria's Secret Barred From Using 'Pink' Trademark in U.K.

Thomas Pink Ltd., LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA (MC)'s London-based luxury clothing retailer, prevailed in a U.K. trademark dispute with L Brands Inc. (LB)'s Victoria's Secret, the Guardian reported.

The high court said the lingerie chain's use of "pink" in connection with "sexy, mass-market appeal" underwear could harm the reputation of the Thomas Pink brand, which was named for an 18th-century British tailor, according to the Guardian.


LVMH's Benefit Cosmetics Sued by Artist Over Wallpaper Patterns

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA's Benefit Cosmetics unit was sued for copyright infringement by an artist who designs wallpaper patterns.

In a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, Sydney Albertini of East Hampton, New York, accused Benefit of infringing her original wallpaper design. Albertini said Benefit bought 120 rolls of her "Southern Flowers" wallpaper and had the pattern copied by a manufacturer. Benefit also incorporated the pattern into its marketing materials without permission, according to Albertini.

Albertini is seeking "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in damages and an award of "potentially millions of dollars in profits" that she said Benefit has reaped as a result of the alleged infringement.

The case is Albertini v. Benefit Cosmetics LLC, 14-cv-05798, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Yahoo Challenges German Copyright Law on Constitutional Grounds

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), the Sunnyvale, California-based Internet media company, challenged a law in Germany that expanded copyright protection for news content used on the Internet, the Associated Press reported.

The year-old law permits only the use of single words or small text passages without the payment of royalties, AP said.

Yahoo said in a filing to Germany's Federal Constitutional Court that the law places unconstitutional limits on freedom of information, according to the AP.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Russia Says It Seeks Apple, SAP Source Code to Prevent Spying

Russia suggested that Apple Inc. (AAPL) and SAP SE give the government access to source code for their most widely used products so it may determine that the code isn't used for spying on state institutions, the Telegraph reported.

Russia's communications ministry said in a statement that it was making the request to ensure the privacy rights of consumers and corporate users and to protect state security interests, according to the Telegraph.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Invention of the Day: Wind-powered Sawmill

In the 17th century, the Dutch dominated sea trade and naval warfare. That time in European history is often referred to as the Dutch Golden Age. One Dutch inventor was particularly instrumental in giving his small independent nation a decisive advantage over Spain, the naval super-power of the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 1594-97, Cornelis Corneliszoon van Uitgeest (c. 1550 - c. 1600), a Dutch windmill owner, invented and perfected the first wind-powered sawmill. That is, before Cornelis two workers had to saw a log manually, using a specially designed pit. It was a long and ardious process.



Source: Power from Wind: A History of Windmill Technology
By Richard Leslie Hills.

The new device allowed its operator to produce wooden planks 30 times faster than before.

Why this tech advance turned out to be strategically important for the Dutch nation?

Because wooden planks was the key material for building ships. In combination with ubiquitous windmills, the new technology enabled Dutch shipbuilders dramatically increase production of low-cost naval vessels, both military and commercial. As the result, the Dutch could not only swarm Spanish ships in sea battles, but also transport great amounts of commercial goods from newly discovered places in Africa and Asia, which gave them strong market advantages. The invention of the wind-powered sawmill brought about a 10X change in productivity that rippled through the entire world.

Eventually, the British overtook the Dutch, partly due to James Watt's improvements of the steam engine, which was much more powerful and reliable than the windmills.

tags: invention, innovation, 10X, source, tool, packaged payload, 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Invention of the Day - Instant Messaging

It's hard to imagine today's life without instant messaging. The service has become one of the Dominant Designs in the Internet era. As we write in Scalable Innovation (Chapter 13):

Dominant Design is an implementation of a new functionality that the market adopts as the prototype for future implementations. Simply put, the dominant design is what everybody thinks all products or services in the new category should imitate.

US Patent 6,449,344

Today's IT giants — Google, Facebook, IBM,  Microsoft, Yahoo, Alibaba, and others provide instant messaging services as a "must have" feature. Recently, Facebook paid $19B for Whatsup, a company that built its mobile service using the instant messaging ideas. 

The original technology was developed in 1996 by an Israeli company Mirabilis and released during the same year as ICQ chat software. The service was extremely successful, even despite being characterized as the world's "ugliest website.

In 1998, AOL bought Mirabilis for $287M - a pitiful sum by today's Internet M&A standards. Eventually, AOL rebranded the service as the AOL Messenger. 

Instant Messaging had other important implications for the world of technology. First, ICQ influenced the development of other peer-to-peer (P2P) services, such as Napster, Gnutella, Skype, and others, which revolutionized content distribution and communications in the beginning of the 21st century.

Second, the business success of Mirabilis put Israel on the global map of Internet innovation and served as a catalyst for the creation of a thriving tech entrepreneurship culture in the country. 

Third, Instant Messaging helped initiate the Internet services era that exploded with the introduction of the iPhone and other smartphones.

Arguably, the invention of Instant Messaging is as important to the world as Graham Bell's invention of the phone in 1876. 

tags: invention, innovation, facebook, google, microsoft, dominant, design, 10x

Friday, July 11, 2014

(BN) Telecom, Apple, AB InBev, Getty: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Squeezed out of the mobile-phone market by trendier offerings, Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), Ericsson AB (ERICB) and other one-time leaders are selling chunks of their patent portfolios, often to the litigious licensing firms the industry has derided.

The companies are being driven by their need for greater profit, and are finding that with changing business models, tough economics and investor pressure, there is little reason to hold on to patents for computer memory, wireless infrastructure and other technology that can still fetch good prices.

Ericsson, Panasonic Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. sold almost 5,000 patents in the first quarter combined, according to Innography Inc., an Austin, Texas-based maker of software to analyze patent portfolios. Nokia on July 7 said it had sold a group of phone patents to licensing company Wi-Lan Inc.

Picking up the pieces are licensing firms whose sole mission is to buy castoff patents and then demand royalties from other companies in a strategy to make a profit.


Apple May Fight Copycat Stores With Trademarks, EU Court Says

Apple Inc. (AAPL) may be able to seek a German trademark that would stop retailers mimicking the layout of its flagship stores, the European Union's top court said.

Apple can try to register an image of its store layout if it can show that it can distinguish its goods from others, the EU Court of Justice said. Apple is challenging a refusal by the German patent office to accept the picture as a trademark. A national court will decide the final details of the appeal.

The Cupertino, California-based maker of iPads and iPhones registered a U.S. three-dimensional trademark for the design of its stores in January, according to the Los Angeles Times.

AB InBev Buys Brewer in Budweiser Rival's Czech Home

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI), the world's largest beer maker and the brewer of Budweiser, bought a brewery in the hometown of Budejovicky Budvar, a rival it has battled over trademark rights for more than a century.

InBev bought Pivovar Samson a.s. and is considering expanding the brewer's Budweiser brand, the company said in a statement without disclosing the details of the deal. Through the takeover, InBev acquires beer production in the Czech Republic city of Ceske Budejovice, known as Budweis in German, which is the source of the name claimed by both it and Budvar.

Each brewer has won or lost the right in rulings in different countries to use brands linked to the city's name.


Getty Images Demands Fee From Blogger for Unlicensed Photo Use

A resident of a Portland, Oregon, suburb says Getty Images Inc. is demanding that she pay a $926 fee for using a photo of dogs on her blog, ABC television's Portland affiliate KATU reported on its website.

The blogger said that although she removed the image immediately, she didn't pay the initial demand of $480, and Getty escalated it to $926, according to KATU.

Seattle-based Getty sent KATU a statement saying that the blogger's site advertises a real estate broker and needed a license to use the image, and that the demand was increased because the matter had to be referred to outside counsel.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Yahoo Hacks Highlight Cyber Onslaught Japan Rushing to Thwart

Shortly after the alert sounded at 9:10 p.m., Yahoo Japan Corp. (4689)'s risk team knew it had a problem. More than 20 million usernames and passwords belonging to its customers were being dumped into a file, primed to be stolen.

The April 2013 breach of Yahoo Japan was an attempt to grab the user identities of the nation's most visited website.

Now, after a series of hacks on targets from the nation's space agency and its largest defense contractor to Bitcoin exchange operator Mt. Gox, Japan's government is set to pass a law in fall to beef up cybersecurity in the world's third-largest economy. Less than 25 percent of Japanese companies have a business continuity plan in case of a cyber-attack, according to the National Information Security Center, a government agency.

The proposed new law would name NISC as the central cybersecurity coordinator reporting directly to Japan's Cabinet, said Takuya Hirai, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party who drafted the bill. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

(BN) Tesla, Jones Day, Fuel Cell, PR: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car marker led by Elon Musk, was sued in China for trademark infringement in the latest example of the difficulties foreign companies face doing business in the country.

Zhan Baosheng, who registered the rights to the name before the U.S. carmaker entered China, is requesting that Tesla shut its showrooms, service centers and supercharging facilities there; stop all sales and marketing activities in the country; and pay him 23.9 million yuan ($3.9 million). The lawsuit was filed July 3 in Beijing and seen by Bloomberg News.

Zhan is the one attempting to steal the U.S. carmaker's property, a Tesla spokesman, Simon Sproule, said in an e-mailed response to questions. The company, which has lodged complaints against Zhan with Chinese authorities and won, hasn't been served with or seen the suit, he said.

Chinese regulators last year sided with the U.S. carmaker's claim that Zhan's trademarks were invalid, a decision he is appealing.

For Tesla, maker of the Model S sedan, the experience puts it with Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) among multinational companies that have clashed over their branding rights in the world's second-largest economy.

Jones Day Threatens Infringement Action Against Detroit Website

Law firm Jones Day LLP threatened the operator of a website critical of Detroit's emergency manager with a trademark-infringement lawsuit.

The website,, is named for the former Jones Day partner who serves as emergency financial manager for Michigan's biggest city, which filed for bankruptcy last year.

The site uses the Jones Day marks and says that "Detroit's economic coup d'etat has been brought to you" by the firm, according to a June 10 letter Jones Day sent to the site's registered owner. The firm demanded that its marks be removed.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based digital-rights group, responded on behalf of the website, saying that the registrant won't comply with the request.

The law firm's threats "are not supported by law and plainly seek to interfere with protected speech," EFF said in a letter to Jones Day.

EFF's letter closed with an expression of "hope" that Jones Day "will have the good sense not to trouble a court of law with this matter."

John Wayne Enterprises in Showdown With Duke University

John Wayne Enterprises LLC, a family business set up to protect rights associated with the late movie actor, asked a federal court to declare that its trademarks don't infringe those of Duke University.

In a complaint brought July 3 in federal court in Los Angeles, John Wayne Enterprises said it filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2013 to register "Duke John Wayne" and "Duke" as trademarks for alcoholic beverages.

Wayne, who died in 1979, was variously known to family and fans as Duke Wayne, Duke, Duke Morrison and The Duke, according to court papers.

According to filings with the patent office, the Durham, North Carolina-based university opposes the marks, claiming the public would be confused and falsely assume a connection to the school.

John Wayne Enterprises filed a response to Duke's opposition June 12, saying there is no likelihood of confusion.

The case is John Wayne Enterprises LLC v. Duke University, 14-cv-01020, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).


Mantra Venture Group Gets U.S. Patent on Lighter Fuel Cell

Mantra Venture Group Ltd. (MVTG)'s Mantra Energy Alternatives got a U.S. patent on a fuel cell technology that uses liquid fuels instead of gaseous hydrogen.

Patent 8,709,680 covers an invention that the British Columbia-based company said will yield lighter-weight lower-cost fuel cells that are less complex to produce.


Singapore Changes Law to Give Web Content Owners More Power

Singapore amended its copyright law to give copyright owners the ability to block websites where their content is used without permission, China's Xinhua news service reported.

The owners, who must apply to the court for a blocking order, don't have to establish liability by the network service provider to have the order issued, according to Xinhua.

Content owners in the past had to send a takedown notice to the service provider, seeking either removal of the infringing content or a block on access to the offending site, Xinhua reported.

Australia PR Firms Sign Agreement to Avoid Infringement Claims

Public relations companies in Australia signed an agreement with the country's Copyright Agency that will give them a safe harbor from copyright infringement actions, AdNews reported.

Under the three-year agreement, agencies get discounted access to copyrighted material and avoid fines if they eventually take a license to the content they use, AdNews said.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

(BN) Bitcoin Startup Xapo Sets $40 Million Fundraising Record

(Bloomberg ) 

Xapo, a provider of secure online storage for bitcoins, said it doubled the amount of money it has raised from investors to $40 million, the most gathered by a startup focused on the virtual currency.

Greylock Partners and Index Ventures led the $20 million funding round, with additional investments by Emergence Capital Partners, PayPal Inc. co-founder Max Levchin, venture capitalist Yuri Milner, and Yahoo! Inc. co-founder Jerry Yang. The investors join earlier backers Benchmark, Fortress Investment Group LLC and Ribbit Capital. Greylock's Reid Hoffman and Index's Mike Volpi will join Xapo as board observers.

Bitcoin startups are amassing funds after the virtual currency captured the attention of investors, technologists and governments last year, fueling a rally that drove it to a record of about $1,200 from $12. In May, bitcoin-payment service BitPay Inc. raised $30 million. Last week, venture capitalist Tim Draper said he bought almost 30,000 bitcoins, worth more than $18 million at current market prices.

"Now you see almost all VCs in Silicon Valley invested in bitcoin," Wences Casares, Xapo's founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview. "It's hard to find a top-tier firm that's not in bitcoin, and it's a big shift and a very positive change for bitcoin."

Xapo plans to use the funding to double its workforce of about 30 people within months and develop products, he said. The company already offers secure bitcoin storage and wallet services, and by the end of this month plans to introduce a debit card for use at retail stores.

"We want to be the leading bitcoin bank," Casares said. "If you have dollars, you keep them with Bank of America, and if you have bitcoins, you keep them with Xapo."

(BN) Banks Dreading Computer Hacks Call for Cyber War Council

Banks Dreading Computer Hacks Call for Cyber War Council

Wall Street's biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council to stave off terrorist attacks that could trigger financial panic by temporarily wiping out account balances, according to an internal document.

The proposal by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as Sifma, calls for a committee of executives and deputy-level representatives from at least eight U.S. agencies including the Treasury Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, all led by a senior White House official.

The trade association also reveals in the document that Sifma has retained former NSA director Keith Alexander to "facilitate" the joint effort with the government. Alexander, in turn, has brought in Michael Chertoff, the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, and his firm, Chertoff Group.

The document sketches an unusually frank and pessimistic view by the industry of its readiness for attacks wielded by nation-states or terrorist groups that aim to "destroy data and machines." It says the concerns are "compounded by the dependence of financial institutions on the electric grid," which is also vulnerable to physical and cyber attack.

'Widespread Runs'

"The systemic consequences could well be devastating for the economy as the resulting loss of confidence in the security of individual and corporate savings and assets could trigger widespread runs on financial institutions that likely would extend well beyond the directly impacted banks, securities firms and asset managers," Sifma wrote in the document, dated June 27.

Liz Pierce, a spokeswoman for Sifma, declined to comment on the document, adding that the group "is doing everything possible to help the industry prepare for and defend against cyberattacks." Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment.

Alexander had been pitching Sifma and other bank trade associations to purchase his services through his new consulting firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., for as much as $1 million per month, according to two people briefed on the talks.

He has made much the same argument to Sifma as the association is now making to the government about the emergence of new kinds of software assaults. For several months beginning in fall 2012, major U.S. bank websites were hit by what is known as distributed denial-of-service attacks, in which hackers flood systems with information to shut them down.

'Effectively Defend'

The next wave of attacks "in the near-medium term" is likely to be more destructive and could result in "account balances and books and records being converted to zeros," while recovering the lost information "would be difficult and slow," according to the Sifma document.

"We are concerned that the industry may not have the capabilities that we would like to effectively defend against this newer form of potential attack, the capability that we would like to stop such an attack once commenced from spreading to other financial institutions, or the capability we would like of effectively recovering if an initial attack is followed by waves of follow-on attacks," the document says.

Computer intrusions also have been a concern of regional and small banks. Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said today that an account-draining cyberattack is "a question of when." He predicted the government would have to grapple with difficult questions including whether the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. would cover any losses.

'Train Wreck'

"When it does happen, the hue and cry will go up," Fine wrote in an e-mail. "Who will be liable? What will the FDIC do? It is like watching a train wreck in the making and there is nothing you can do to stop it."

The Sifma document, while noting that the coordination between industry and government on cyber threats has improved in recent years, said a joint council would produce a more focused response.

The government-industry group would develop plans for "much quicker, near real-time" dissemination of information from agencies to the private sector and ways to "actively defend the industry" if preparations for a cyber attack are discovered in advance. Sifma is also seeking "pre-discussed and mutually understood protocols" for the industry to request government help during and after an attack.

Pre-emptive Strike

Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, said today he was concerned that industry members in such a joint group could improperly get involved in pre-emptive strikes against a person or state planning an assault on the U.S.

"This could in effect make the banks part of what would begin to look like a war council," Grayson said in an e-mail. "Congress needs to keep an eye on what something like this could mean."

In its proposal, Sifma also called for greater protection for the U.S. electricity grid, which it says is "vulnerable to physical destruction of transformers and other equipment in a small number of undefended substations."

"The core problem is that if transformers and critical equipment were destroyed at these sites, it could take months to build the replacement equipment," Sifma wrote.

The Senate Intelligence Committee plans today to take up a bipartisan bill -- sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Saxby Chambliss, a Georgia Republican - - aimed at improving private-sector cyber-defenses. The bill includes rules that would insulate banks from liability arising from sharing information for cybersecurity, addressing a point financial institutions have raised in the past.

Monday, July 07, 2014

(BN) Seed Theft, Microsoft, World Cup: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) A seventh Chinese national was indicted in a trade-secrets case involving the theft of genetically modified corn seed.

Mo Yun is accused of conspiring to steal trade secrets from 2007 to 2013, U.S. prosecutors in Des Moines, Iowa, said in a July 2 statement. She is married to Shao Genhuou, chairman of Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co. (002385), and is the sister of Mo Hailong, an employee of the Chinese company who was indicted with five others in December.

They are accused of stealing the seeds belonging to Monsanto Co. (MON), DuPont Co.'s Pioneer Hi-Bred unit, and AG Reliant Genetics LLC's LG Seeds unit from production fields in Iowa and Illinois in order to ship them to Kings Nower Seed, a unit of the Chinese company.

Mo Hailong was arrested after he was found digging in an Iowa cornfield, prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. v. Yun, 14-mj-00160, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa (Des Moines).


Collegium Gets Patent on Abuse-Prevention Drug Formulation

Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc., a Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company, received a patent on a drug formulation aimed at preventing abuse of some drugs, such as opioids.

Opioid abuse is a growing problem and efforts to design abuse-resistant or abuse-deterrent formulations have been largely unsuccessful, the company said in the patent.

Patent 8,758,813, issued June 24, covers a formulation that prevents the immediate release of a substantial portion of the drug, even if the tablet is crushed or chopped, with the resulting material placed in water, snorted or swallowed.

This is accomplished by bonding the drug to fatty acids that constitute as much as 15 times the molecular weight of the active ingredient or by dispersing the drug within microparticles composed of a material that is either slowly soluble or insoluble in water.

Collegium applied for the patent in April 2013 with help from San Francisco's Cooley LLP.

Microsoft, Canon Agree to Cross-License Patent Portfolios

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Canon Inc. (7751) agreed to cross-license patent portfolios, according to a joint company statement.

Products and services covered by the patents include digital imaging and mobile consumer products, the companies said. They didn't disclose financial terms of the agreement or specify which patents are included.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said that since its licensing program began in 2003, the software company has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.


BP Fails in Attempt to Register Green Color as Aussie Trademark

BP Plc (BP/), the British oil company, cannot register a particular color of green as a trademark in Australia, the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported.

IP Australia said the oil company failed to provide convincing evidence that the average gas purchaser would inevitably link the company to a color of green known as Pantone 348C, according to the Guardian.

The company had attempted to register the color as an Australian trademark since 1991, the newspaper reported.

Elan-Polo, Adidas Settle Dispute Over Shoe-Design Trademark

Elan-Polo Inc., a Missouri-based shoe and clothing designer, settled a trademark lawsuit against Germany's Adidas AG (ADS) for undisclosed terms, according to a July 1 court filing.

The designer sued in federal court in St. Louis in November seeking a declaration that a shoe design it created for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) didn't infringe Adidas's three-stripe trademark for shoes.

Elan-Polo said although it had contractually indemnified Wal-Mart for infringement claims against the shoe design, Adidas demanded that the retailer stop selling the shoe and pay damages. Adidas also filed infringement claims against Elan-Polo.

The case is Elan-Polo v. Adidas America Inc., 13-cv-02322, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).


World Cup Copyright Enforcement Most Successful Through Facebook

Orange SA (ORA)'s Viaccess-Orca unit, a content-protection company, has sent out 2,000 takedown notices to platforms hosting or linking to World Cup games streamed without authorization, the TorrentFreak anti-copyright news website reported.

David Leporini, executive vice president of marketing for Viaccess-Orca, told TorrentFreak that his company managed to get about 35 percent of the streaming links disabled before a particular World Cup game ends.

The company said it was most successful taking down unauthorized links to streaming game content that had been posted on Facebook Inc., with a 51 percent rate of link removal, according to TorrentFreak.

FIFA, professional soccer's governing body, previously contacted some website operators requesting that infringing content be removed as soon as possible, according to TorrentFreak.

(BN) VW Adds Fighter-Pilot Display to Passat to Challenge BMW

(Bloomberg ) Volkswagen AG (VOW) will upgrade the Passat, its best-selling sedan, with safety technology inspired by fighter jets to lure buyers away from upscale nameplates.

When it goes on sale in the fourth quarter, the mainstream model will be VW's first car available with a head-up display. The system -- similar to features pioneered on planes like the F-16 -- projects data such as speed and navigation instructions onto a retractable screen over the steering wheel to keep the driver's focus on the road. Other high-tech safety options include functions that can bring the car autonomously to a halt if the driver falls asleep.

"Competitors struggle to keep pace with VW," said Juergen Pieper, an analyst with Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt. The Passat, which was presented yesterday in Potsdam, Germany and is one of Volkswagen's top four profit earners, "looks set to maintain VW's dominance in the segment."

Volkswagen is seeking to reclaim its lead in the European sedan market after sales of the Passat fell behind Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)'s 3-Series last year. That means luring buyers with technology normally reserved for luxury models. VW can afford the features because the car shares key components with models including the Golf and Audi A3 compacts, which in turn lowers costs.

Defending its traditional stronghold is critical to the Wolfsburg, Germany-based manufacturer as it targets tripling profitability at its namesake brand.

Powerful Push

The Passat "introduces technologies and features in the mid-market that are otherwise only available in higher segments," Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn said at the unveiling. "The new Passat is going to the Volkswagen brand a powerful push."

Sales of the Passat in Europe, its main market, are forecast to surge 65 percent to 228,000 vehicles next year, beating out the 3-Series and Daimler AG (DAI)'s Mercedes C-Class for the segment lead, according to IHS. Deliveries of the Ford (F) Mondeo, the closest mass-market competitor, are due to be less than half the Passat's level.

Higher sales and lower development and production costs from VW's parts-sharing strategy could help double the Passat's profit margin to as much as 8 percent of sales, according to Metzler's Pieper.

Volkswagen, which will also offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Passat with an all-electric range of 50 kilometers (31 miles), made "massive" investments in development as well as in the production sites for the car, Winterkorn said. "I am convinced that it will pay off."

Barista Cart

The German carmaker, which doesn't provide financial details on individual models, could use the boost. The operating margin for the VW brand dropped to 1.8 percent in the first quarter from 2.4 percent a year ago. The company's target for its biggest nameplate is a 6 percent margin.

VW complements the new technology with a sleeker look for the new Passat, which is smaller than the U.S. version. The car starts at about 25,875 euros ($35,200), at least 3,400 euros cheaper than rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

"It's a fiercely competitive market that works via pricing, including dumping prices," said Frank Ostermann, managing director at auto dealer Rosier Group in Menden, Germany. "The new model looks more racy and significantly more attractive, but it'll remain a sales person's car primarily."

Rosier, which sells VW, Mercedes and Peugeot (UG) vehicles at more than 10 outlets in northern Germany, plans to lure in the segment's thrifty shoppers by offering finger food and a barista cart with cappuccino when the sedan hits showrooms.

Shrinking Segment

Every little bit helps in segment that's shrinking. Sales of mid-sized cars in Europe have fallen by more than half over the past 10 years because of "the rise of niche models such as SUVs and the pressures on customers to downsize in light of the economic downturn," said Ian Fletcher, a London-based analyst with IHS Automotive.

VW, which plans to triple its lineup of SUVs, currently offers just the 24,725-euro compact Tiguan and the upscale 50,850-euro Touareg. Until the new SUVs arrive, VW needs the eighth generation of the Passat to woo buyers from BMW.

"The battleground for the VW brand is to effectively draw a line where premium stops and mass market begins," said Mike Tyndall, an analyst at Barclays Capital in London. With the new features for the customer and lower manufacturing costs, the Passat should bring "a meaningful improvement" to VW's profit.

(BN) Who Owns the Tesla Trademark in China?

(Bloomberg ) Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric carmarker led by Elon Musk, was sued in China for trademark infringement in the latest example of the difficulties foreign companies face doing business in the country.

Zhan Baosheng, who registered the rights to the name before the U.S. carmaker entered China, is requesting that Tesla shut its showrooms, service centers and supercharging facilities there; stop all sales and marketing activities in the country; and pay him 23.9 million yuan ($3.9 million) in compensation, according to a lawsuit filed July 3 in Beijing and seen by Bloomberg News.

Zhan is the one attempting to steal the U.S. carmaker's property, Tesla spokesman Simon Sproule said in an e-mailed response to questions. The company, which has lodged complaints against Zhan to Chinese authorities and won, hasn't been served with or seen the lawsuit, he said.

The lawsuit would need to overcome a ruling last year in which the Chinese regulator sided with the U.S. carmaker's claims that Zhan's trademarks were invalid, though he's appealing the regulator's decision. For Tesla, maker of the Model S sedan, the experience puts it with Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Burberry Group Plc (BRBY) among multinational companies that have clashed over their branding rights in the world's second-largest economy.

"We'll be watching how China deals with this very closely," said Paul Haswell, a Hong Kong-based technology law partner at Pinsent Masons. "So-called trademark trolls watch Western brand development and seek to register brands in China that are relatively well known in the rest of the world before they have any brand recognition in China, then use those trademarks as the brands expand into the East."

Court Filing

Zhan, 36, paid a filing fee of 161,500 yuan for the lawsuit, according to a court receipt seen by Bloomberg News. An official at the Beijing Third Intermediate Court, who asked not to be identified because of court policy, confirmed a lawsuit had been filed against Tesla by Zhan.

Zhan had applied to trademark the name in English in September 2006 -- three years after Tesla was founded in the U.S. -- for auto-related uses and it was granted by the trademark office in June 2009 for a period of 10 years, according to the website of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, or SAIC, which oversees trademarks.

He subsequently applied to register more Tesla-related trademarks, including the logo and Chinese transliteration of the name.

Trademark Review

SAIC's Trademark Review and Adjudication Board then revoked his Tesla trademarks in July 2013 in response to the U.S. carmaker's request. Zhan, who also has the Internet domain redirect to his Twitter account, said he's appealed and the case is under review. Trademark rulings become official when appeals end, according to Chinese law.

"We have brought multiple actions against Zhan on account of his theft of our trademarks, and various Chinese authorities that have ruled on the matter have agreed with Tesla," Sproule said. Zhan's lawsuit "will not stop us in any way from operating in China," he said.

Besides Tesla, Zhan has also registered trademarks for Loremo, Cobasys and Cuill in China, according to the SAIC's website. Zhan said he filed for the first trademark because it was an abbreviation for "Local/Remote/Mobile," while the other two were registered for friends.

He said he's not aware of German automaker Loremo, Robert Bosch GmbH's Cobasys or the now-defunct search engine Cuil. Hamdi Taspinar, an investor relations representative for Loremo, said he wasn't aware of any trademark registration of the brand name in China, while spokesman Udo Ruegheimer said Bosch no longer has interest in the Cobasys brand name.

'Say Sorry'

Zhan also said he's never had any disputes over trademarks with any company other than Tesla.

"Tesla is violating my rights every day by selling their vehicles in China," Zhan said in an interview on the day he filed the lawsuit. "I want them to say sorry."

Tesla had contacted Zhan in 2012 about buying over the trademark, according to an e-mail provided by Zhan that's written in Chinese by a Tesla employee on behalf of Diarmuid O'Connell, who is in charge of business development at the automaker.

They met in November that year in Hong Kong, where Tesla offered $50,000 to buy the trademark, Zhan said. The offer was raised sixfold, to 2 million yuan, in May 2013 by then Tesla China General Manager Kingston Chang, who has since left the company, according to Zhan. Zhan said he rejected both offers.

'Cynical Attempt'

"We believe that Zhan has not acted reasonably in returning our trademarks to us, which is why we opened the various proceedings before the Chinese administrative bodies," Tesla's Sproule said in response to queries about the meetings with Zhan. "There can be no legitimate dispute that we used these trademarks first as we were the ones that created them. Zhan's is a cynical attempt to steal a property that we spent time and effort creating, and put into use long before Zhan's crass attempts to steal them from us."

Tesla isn't the first company to face hurdles with its brand in China.

Apple paid $60 million in 2012 to settle a two-year-old dispute over the iPad trademark in the country with Proview International Holdings Ltd. (334), which had applied to Chinese customs to block local shipments of the U.S. company's tablets.

Burberry, the U.K. luxury-goods maker, said in November 2013 it was appealing a decision by Chinese regulators to restrict the company's trademark on its hallmark checkered pattern for leather goods.

China Expansion

For Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, the lawsuit comes as it gears up to expand in the world's largest auto market. It delivered the first Model S cars in Shanghai and Beijing in April, and is working to send the cars to customers in Shenzhen and Hangzhou. Chief Executive Officer Musk has said he expects to produce cars in China within four years.

Zhan, who says he graduated from Nanjing Tech University and is from southwestern Jiangxi province, said he registered the Tesla trademark after inventor Nikola Tesla -- the U.S. carmaker is also named after the same inventor. He said his wealth exceeds $1 million and currently runs skincare company Cengceng Inc.