Monday, February 04, 2013

(BN) Brookings, A&E, Google, Valve: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Most of the U.S. patents issued since 1980 are to residents of only 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S., according to a study released Feb. 1 by the Brookings Institution.

Silicon Valley's San Jose has the highest per capita number of patents, with 5,066 issued per million residents between 2007 and 2011, according to the study. Other patent-intensive regions are the San Francisco/Oakland, California, area, with 1,638 patents per million; the Austin, Texas, region with 1,503 patents per million; Poughkeepsie/Middleton, New York, with 1,820 per million; Seattle/Bellevue, Washington, with 1,174 per million; and the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, with 1,164 patents per million.

The study also looked at metropolitan areas with the lowest growth in patents from 1990 to 2010, and the biggest losers were New Orleans and Baton Rouge, both in Louisiana. Baton Rouge had a loss of 5.3 percent, followed by New Orleans, with a 2.5 percent loss, according to the study.

Apple Gets Patent on Shake-to-Charge Tech for Mobile Devices

Apple Inc. (AAPL), maker of the iPad and iPhone, received a patent on a method of recharging mobile devices through the user's movement, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent 8,362,751, issued Jan. 29, covers the use of printed coils that can harness power through electro-magnetic induction.

The magnets move along a circuit board when the user moves the device, creating en electromotive force along the printed coils. Cupertino, California-based Apple said this could be done by shaking the device or from movement generated when the user walks or runs.

Apple applied for this patent in June 2012, with the assistance of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP of Winston- Salem, North Carolina.


A&E Can't Stop Repeat of History in U.K. Dispute With Discovery

A&E Television Networks LLC, which airs the History channel, lost a U.K. court bid to prevent a Discovery Communications Inc. (DISCA) unit from using the word in the name of its rival documentary television station.

Judge Peter Smith said evidence from viewers didn't show they were likely to mistake Discovery History for A&E's History, which used to be known as the History Channel.

"I do not see that any clear picture emerged from these witnesses to show there was any possible confusion," he said in a written decision.

Discovery, which owns TLC and has a joint partnership with Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network, is adding channels and programming in new markets to counter slowing growth in the U.S. Its international business, which accounts for a little more than a third of annual sales, is growing faster than its U.S. business, Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav said in December.

A&E argued at a July trial that it lost viewers and advertising revenue because Discovery had tricked people into watching its channel. Discovery filed a counterclaim to strike out the trademark, saying that New York-based A&E wanted a monopoly on the word history. The counterclaim was also rejected by Judge Smith.

Michael Feeney, a spokesman for A&E in New York, declined to comment. Jeremy Dickerson, Discovery's lawyer, didn't immediately respond to an e-mail requesting comment on the ruling.

Judge Smith, who said during the trial he enjoyed watching historical television stations featuring "documentaries about tanks trundling across the Russian steppe," criticized evidence presented by A&E.

The company's lawyers interviewed viewers without telling them until afterwards the information would be used in a trial.

"It seems blatantly unfair to the witness," Smith said in his judgment. "It is clear that statements were 'finessed' to present them in a more favorable light," without witnesses understanding what was happening, he said.

Discovery, which also broadcasts the Animal Planet and TLC channels, has 1.8 billion subscribers in 209 countries, according to its website. A&E also produces the Hoarders and Storage Wars television shows.

Google Submits Settlement Offer, EU Antitrust Chief Says

Google Inc. (GOOG) submitted an offer to European Union regulators in a bid to settle a probe into whether the world's largest search engine operator discriminates against rivals, the EU's antitrust chief said.

"It has arrived," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Brussels Feb. 1. He said his officials would now study the proposal.

Almunia had asked Google to submit concessions by the end of January to address allegations that the company promotes its own specialist search-services, copies rivals' travel and restaurant reviews, and has agreements with websites and software developers that stifle competition in the advertising industry. He first told Google in May that he wanted to settle the case.

Google sent a "detailed proposal," said Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for Almunia. He said he couldn't anticipate if the offer was sufficient to allay antitrust concerns or whether it would be sent to rivals and customers for comments. If this market test is successful, the EU can make the commitments legally binding. Such a settlement would avoid possible fines against the Mountain View, California-based company.

Google continues "to work co-operatively with the commission," the company's Brussels-based spokesman Al Verney said in an e-mailed statement.

An EU settlement avoids any decision on whether a company broke antitrust rules. Companies can be fined as much as 10 percent of their yearly revenue if they break the terms of a legally binding settlement.

"Any settlement must include explicit acceptance by Google of its dominance and that it has damaged European businesses through its anti-competitive practices," David Wood, legal counsel at ICOMP, a Brussels-based industry coalition that includes Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), owner of the Bing search engine, said in an e-mailed statement. Microsoft is one of the companies that complained to the EU about Google's search practices.

The EU is continuing to investigate Google over Motorola Mobility's use of injunctions, saying the situation in Europe "is not the same" as in the U.S.

Microsoft and Apple Inc. have complained to the EU about the company's use of legal actions to seek sales bans of their products. Regulators are also probing Google's Android operating system for mobile phones and tablets.

In 2010, the EU began investigating claims Google discriminated against other services in its search results and stopped some websites from accepting competitors' ads. While Microsoft and partner Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) have about a quarter of the U.S. Web-search market, Google has almost 95 percent of the traffic in Europe, Microsoft said in a blog post in 2011, citing data from regulators.


Valve Sued in Germany Over Restrictions on Resale of Games

Valve Corp., the Kirkland, Washington-based maker of the Steam computer games, was sued by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations because of technology elements that make it impossible for users to re-sell their games, according to the PC Advisor computer news website.

A spokesman for the federation told PC Advisor that the games are, in most cases, linked to a specific account and are unplayable online without the key to that account.

The federation views this restriction as a limit on the ownership of a game, according to PC Advisor.

The suit was filed in Berlin Jan. 30 after the company didn't comply with demands made by the federation in September, PC Advisor reported.

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