Wednesday, September 25, 2013

(BN) Facebook Gripe Screens Show Room for Mobile-Ad Improvement: Tech

(Bloomberg ) Facebook Inc. (FB) executives are reminded how much work they have left to do in the $16.7 billion mobile-advertising market every time they glance at two large TV screens in plain view at the company's headquarters.

The monitors, erected recently by advertising Vice President Andrew Bosworth, show a steady stream of complaints lodged by marketing customers about ads shown to users of the largest social network. Some lament that ad tools are difficult to use. Others say messages leave customers confused.

Pressure on Facebook to improve mobile ads isn't letting up, even after the company said in July that it got more than 40 percent of second-quarter ad revenue from mobile -- up from zero at the end of 2011. Investors applauded the gains, propelling the shares 83 percent since the results were released.

"The ads are getting better, the ads are getting more effective," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a recent interview. "Our job is to have a plan, stick to it and believe that over time that plan will come to fruition and people will understand it." Sandberg is in New York this week for the Advertising Week industry conference.

Finally gaining traction more than a year after rolling out its first ads for smartphones and tablets, Facebook is stepping up the pace as it works to prove that its progress so far is no fluke. With rivals such as Twitter Inc. -- which has filed to go public -- already far along in mobile ads, and Google Inc. (GOOG) boasting a wide lead over both rivals, Facebook has to fight harder to win share in a market that EMarketer Inc. predicts will almost double this year.

Streamlined Buying

To keep up the gains, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook is taking steps to streamline ad buying, adding ways to track results and courting a wider swath of business advertisers. The company will soon announce it's teaming up with Nielsen Holdings NV (NLSN) to unveil a way to measure mobile audience sizes the same way marketers measure television viewers, according to a person with knowledge of the project, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn't public.

Customers Overwhelmed

The results haven't come without hiccups, including some that affected customers. The quick development time and rapid rollout of ad products for the social network's website and mobile app created a buying process that was sometimes overwhelming to marketers. Earlier this year, the number of separate tools had climbed to more than 25.

The system became "fairly confusing," especially for small advertisers, and Facebook needed to simplify and streamline those features, said Zachary Reiss-Davis, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. (FORR)

Bosworth, best known for his earlier work on user content in Facebook's News Feed, put up the advertiser-complaint screens outside his conference room. Posters were hung up around the ad area to keep workers focused on the customers.

Slashing Products

That's led to cultural change, said Brian Boland, a vice president who handles marketing for advertiser tools. The ad team already has unveiled plans to slash the number of advertising product options by half, he said.

"You'll see us changing a lot of our products to make them easier to understand and simpler to use," he said.

Facebook's learning curve has been steep. The company rolled out its first mobile-ad products in March 2012, and just two months later and days before the IPO, it spooked investors by saying daily active users -- especially mobile users -- were increasing more rapidly than the number of ads it was delivering.

The company's first quarterly report as a public company in July 2012 did little to assuage those concerns. In June, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had addressed the entire staff.

"He stood in front of the company and said, 'We are a mobile company,'" Sandberg said. "If we're a mobile-first company, that means mobile ads."

No Banners

Seeking to avoid the sometimes jarring nature of promotions on smartphones on other applications, the company wanted to take a more measured approach. Instead of squeezing an ad onto handsets' small screens, Facebook put the paid messages in the hub -- called the News Feed -- where users view updates from friends.

"It's not a small banner in the corner of the screen," said Cathleen Ryan, marketing manager for Intuit Inc. (INTU)'s TurboTax, which advertises on Facebook mobile. "It's a truly integrated News Feed experience."

That doesn't mean the ads aren't a nuisance for some users. While Facebook says it takes precautions to avoid overwhelming the News Feed, too many promotions in a user's stream could spur a revolt. Average members now get one ad for every 20 photos, messages or other content they view on the social network.

More Engaging

Early on, Facebook executives saw that News Feed ads generated more user response than those running on the side of the desktop screen. News Feed promotions could be eight times more engaging than the traditional ads. All mobile ads are in the News Feed.

Facebook also made it easier for mobile-ad customers to target potential shoppers by using data it already gathers on members.

"That was a complete revelation," Boland said. "It's very hard to get that targeting data on mobile."

The results started showing up in the second half of 2012 - - mobile made up 14 percent of ad sales in the third quarter and 23 percent in the fourth.

Marketers have noticed. In recent months, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) has seen more engagement with mobile ads than those on desktop computers, said Monica Peterson, Toyota's director of social media. Facebook is getting better with targeting, making it easier to reach those who may be checking their phones several times a day, she said.

"We have to be where our people are, and give them the message at the right time," she said. "A larger percentage of people are accessing Facebook from their mobile device."

Small Businesses

The company is also focusing on turning more small businesses into paying mobile customers. Facebook has almost 18 million local businesses using its site, with only about 1 million of them as paying customers.

Those advertisers include Naturebox, a startup that delivers healthy snacks to consumers. The company devotes 10 percent to 20 percent of its Facebook advertising budget to mobile, and that could rise, said Ken Chen, the company's co-founder and chief marketing officer.

Facebook remains a distant No. 2 in mobile ads, with Google estimated to hold 53 percent of the market this year, compared with Facebook's 16 percent, according to EMarketer.

"Every six months, someone wakes up and goes, 'Oh, we should try Facebook,'" said Jesse Pujji, CEO of Ampush Media Inc., a San Francisco-based company that helps clients buy ads on the social network. "Now, we're seeing it's working, and people are saying, 'Oh yeah, I want to do more with this.'"

(BN) AT&T Shifts Network Spending From Hardware to Software

(Bloomberg ) AT&T Inc. (T), the largest U.S. phone company, plans to shift its spending away from equipment purchases and toward software, aiming to improve network performance and handle more traffic while keeping costs down.

AT&T introduced a supplier overhaul yesterday called Domain 2.0, a long-term plan designed to trim hardware costs over the next five years and coax vendors into developing broader software capabilities. The shift will create a "downward bias" to capital spending, according to a statement.

The effort relies on so-called virtualization, which uses software to allow hardware to handle more tasks at once. By extending to AT&T's entire network, the move represents the most ambitious effort of its kind, said Iain Gillott, an analyst at IGR Inc. in Austin, Texas. Until now, carriers have only dabbled in virtualization, he said.

"The difference is like if Mercedes said they were building a hybrid car versus Mercedes saying all their cars will be hybrids in five years," Gillott said.

AT&T, one of the biggest U.S. companies in terms of equipment expenditures, is on track to spend $21 billion on capital improvements this year. The carrier has been reassessing its spending in an effort to better manage burgeoning traffic, said AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Donovan. Sales of smartphones and tablets have led to a flood of data and video over AT&T's pipes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

(BN) Nokia, Marvell, Nirma, Mondelez: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) Nokia Oyj, the Finnish company selling its handset business to Microsoft Corp., won a mixed ruling in the first round of its U.S. patent-infringement fight against Taiwanese phone maker HTC Corp.

HTC violated two Nokia patent rights, while no infringement was found on another patent, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice posted yesterday on the Washington agency's website. The judge's findings are subject to a review by the six-member commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents and is scheduled to make a final decision by Jan. 23.

The judge found that HTC violated Nokia's patents for a way to remove errors in radio signals and another for a process to deal with different radio frequencies. No violation was found on a third Nokia patent for a way to transmit data from a computer to a mobile phone, which Google Inc. helped Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC challenge.

Nokia had long been the world's biggest maker of mobile phones before losing its 14-year title to Samsung Electronics Co. in 2011. It has sought to use patent licensing to recoup some of the money it spent on phone innovations. Those patents will stay with Nokia after it sells its handset business and licenses its technology to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion.

Espoo, Finland-based Nokia had accused HTC of infringing nine patents related to mobile phones when it filed the complaint in May 2012.

While Pender found that a domestic industry existed in the U.S. to be violated in the first two Nokia patents, he ruled that there was none regarding the patent claim targeting Android.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablet Computers, 337-847, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

Marvell Fails to Overturn $1.2 Billion Verdict

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. failed to overturn a $1.17 billion verdict it lost last year to Carnegie Mellon University after a judge said it deserved to pay for deliberately infringing patents for hard-disk drives.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh yesterday denied Marvell's request for a new trial on either liability or damages, and agreed with Carnegie Mellon's argument that the jury's award should be increased because it found willful infringement. The judge said she would issue a further opinion later. The verdict was the fourth-biggest patent decision in U.S. history, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The jury said Marvell intentionally infringed two Carnegie Mellon patents for a way to more accurately detect data from computer hard-disk drives. The university claimed Marvell knew of its inventions and intentionally incorporated the technology in its chips for computers and mobile phones for more than a decade.

"There was adequate evidence upon which a reasonable jury could properly find a verdict in favor of CMU," the judge said on infringement. She also rejected Marvell's invalidity arguments and said the damage award, while large, isn't disproportionate since it was based on more than $10.3 billion in Marvell sales.

Fischer also upheld the finding that Marvell knew about the university patents and went ahead with its designs anyway. The company's "bad facts and even worse litigation strategy were fatal to its cause," the judge said.

"At one point in trial, the court observed two out of Marvell's three experts sound asleep for a period of time," the judge said. "In all likelihood, the jury made the same observation."

The judge has yet to rule on Marvell's argument that the university took too long to file the suit, which could lower the damage award, or on Carnegie Mellon's request for either an order blocking further use of its inventions or a payment schedule for future royalties.

In a Sept. 5 regulatory filing, Marvell said it doesn't believe a material loss is probable, and that "there are strong grounds for appeal."

The case is Carnegie Mellon University v. Marvell Technology Group Ltd., 09cv290, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh).

CalTech Sues OmniVision Over Patents for Phone-Camera Sensors

California Institute of Technology sued imaging-chip maker OmniVision Technologies Inc. for allegedly infringing patents covering sensors used in cameras contained in mobile devices.

OmniVision, based in Santa Clara, California, knowingly infringed eight patents, some of which had previously been covered by license agreements, according to the complaint filed Sept. 20 in federal court in Delaware.

The Pasadena, California-based university asked the court for money damages, attorney fees and litigation costs, as well as an order barring further infringement. CalTech said OmniVision's infringing sensors are included in products made by Apple Inc. and Dell Inc., neither of which are parties to the suit.

OmniVision didn't respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment.

The case is California Institute of Technology v. OmniVision Technologies Inc., 1:13-cv-01589-UNA, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).


UMG Takedown Requests Halt 'Charming Charlie' Tumblr Postings

Universal Music Group Inc.'s takedown requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are "increasing every hour," according to a user of Yahoo! Inc.'s Tumblr microblogging site.

The blogger's "This Charming Charlie" site presented a mash-up of images from Charles M. Schultz's "Peanuts" comic strip and music from the now-defunct '80s rock band The Smiths.

Lauren LoPrete, the graphic designer who created "This Charming Charlie," is herself a music producer, running the Loglady label, she said on her Tumblr site.

In her most recent Charming Charlie post, LoPrete said simply "I know it's over."

The fight may not be completely over. LoPrete later responded to a query from the Motherboard tech news website, saying she had received a "flood of offers" from lawyers specializing in Internet law who said they are willing to take on her representation pro bono and challenge UMG's takedown requests.

BBC, Welsh Music Group Go to Copyright Tribunal Over Royalties

A dispute over fees paid to Welsh musicians, publishers and composers by the British Broadcasting Corp. will be handled by a copyright tribunal, the BBC reported.

Eos, the agency representing the Welsh music interests, is seeking an increase in annual royalty payments from 120,000 British pounds ($193,000) to 1.5 million pounds, according to the BBC.

The Welsh group was formed after the British performing rights society reduced its royalty payments in 2007, causing some affected Welsh-language musicians to lose as much as 85 percent of their income, the BBC reported.

The BBC said it has given Eos an interim annual license fee as well as 35,000 pounds for it to use for legal representation before the tribunal.

For more copyright news, click here.


Nirma Fails to Block Nirmal's Indian Trademark Registration

Nirma Ltd., a maker of detergents and industrial products from Ahmedabad, India, has lost its bid to block Indian trademark registrations by Nirmal Industrial Controls Pvt. Ltd. of Mumbai, according to the Times of India.

Nirma had registered "Nirma" as a trademark for a range of categories including metal goods, the newspaper reported.

After Nirma blocked Nirmal's registrations, the Mumbai-based company asked India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board to remove the Nirma registration for metal goods, according to the Times.

The board found that Nirma wasn't using the mark for this class of goods, accused the company of "excessive monopolistic problems, and canceled the Nirma mark for metal goods, while leaving it in place for other categories, the newspaper reported.

Cadbury Loses Bid to Block Whittaker's 'Berry Forest' Mark

Mondelez International Inc.'s Cadbury unit lost its bid to block a trademark registration by its New Zealand rival Whittaker's, Fairfax New Zealand News website reported.

Cadbury had claimed Whittaker's ''Berry Forest' trademark for a chocolate bar was too close to its ''Black Forest" mark, also used for chocolate, according to the news website.

The mark used by Whittaker's -- founded 117 years ago by a former Cadbury's apprentice -- called to mind a forest of berries, while the Cadbury name had the association of black forest cake, the trademark examiner found and Fairfax News Zealand News reported.

The examiner said the two marks differed sufficiently visually, aurally and conceptually to allow the Whittaker's trademark registration to go forward, according to Fairfax News New Zealand.

Harper Lee's 'Mockingbird' Trademark Opposed by Alabama Museum

Harper Lee, author of the iconic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," has until Sept. 28 to respond to objections filed to her application to register the book's name as a trademark for clothing.

Lee filed her application to register the mark in September 2012, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The objection was filed by the Monroe County Heritage Museum Inc. of Monroeville, Alabama.

The museum has a site in a courtroom in the Old Monroe County Courthouse specifically devoted to Lee's novel. That courtroom is the setting for the trial that is the heart of "To Kill a Mockingbird." According to the museum, the courtroom was "carefully recreated on a Hollywood sound stage" for the trial scenes in the 1962 film based on the novel.

The museum said its gift shop sells items related to the novel, including " dozens of custom items available ONLY in Monroeville."

Harper Lee's copyright suit against her former literary agent for allegedly depriving her of royalties from her novel about racial issues in Alabama was dismissed Sept. 11.

Lee agreed to terminate the suit against her former agent, Samuel Pinkus, and other defendants, according to a federal court filing in Manhattan. No details of the agreement were disclosed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

(BN) Nokia Wins Preliminary Ruling in Patent Fight With HTC

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj, the Finnish company selling its handset business to Microsoft Corp., won the first round of its U.S. patent-infringement fight against Taiwanese phonemaker HTC Corp.

HTC violated two Nokia patent rights, while no infringement was found on another patent, U.S. International Trade Commission Judge Thomas Pender said in a notice posted today on the Washington agency's website. The judge's findings are subject to a review by the six-member commission, which has the power to block imports of products that infringe U.S. patents and is scheduled to make a final decision by Jan. 23.

The judge found that HTC violated Nokia's patents for a way to remove errors in radio signals and another for a process to deal with different radio frequencies. No violation was found on a third Nokia patent for a way to transmit data from a computer to a mobile phone, which Google Inc. helped Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC challenge. It was directed at phones running on Google's Android operating system.

Nokia was the world's biggest maker of mobile phones before losing its 14-year title to Samsung Electronics Co. in 2011. It has sought to use patent licensing to recoup some of the money it spent on phone innovations. Those patents will stay with Nokia after it sells its handset business and licenses its technology to Microsoft Corp. for $7.2 billion.

Espoo, Finland-based Nokia had accused HTC of infringing nine patents related to mobile phones when it filed the complaint in May 2012.

Same Technology

One of the patents found to be infringed covers the same technology that Nokia has asserted against HTC in courts in London; Dusseldorf, Germany; and Rome, said Mark Durrant, a spokesman for Nokia.

He said the company was pleased with the two infringement findings and "we will reserve further comment until we have had the chance to study the judgment in detail."

HTC General Counsel Grace Lei said in an e-mail the handset maker was pleased with the part of the judge's findings it won.

"We look forward to a final determination by the commission in favor of HTC on this matter," Lei said. "In the meantime, HTC will keep its alternative plans ready to ensure no business disruption."

HTC's Struggles

The case targets HTC phones including the Amaze 4G, One S, Rhyme and Vivid, as well as the Flyer and Jetstream tablet computers. Nokia has a second trade case, filed in May, that targets the HTC One and Droid Incredible. The companies also are fighting in Germany.

HTC, Taiwan's biggest maker of smartphones, has struggled to increase its presence in the U.S. and elsewhere by revamping its marketing strategy and shuffling executives. The company's share price peaked in 2011, and has plunged 89 percent since then as Samsung and Apple Inc. became the dominate players in the $280 billion smartphone market.

(BN) Solar Panel Is Next Granite Countertop for Homebuilders

(Bloomberg ) Solar panels are the next granite countertops: an amenity for new homes that's becoming a standard option for buyers in U.S. markets.

At least six of 10 largest U.S. homebuilders led by KB Home include the photovoltaic devices in new construction, according to supplier SunPower Corp. (SPWR) Two California towns are mandating installations, and demand for the systems that generate electricity at home will jump 56 percent nationwide this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

"In the next six months, homebuilders in California and the expensive-energy states will be going solar as a standard, and just incorporating it into the cost of the house like any other feature," Jim Petersen, chief executive officer of the PetersenDean Inc., the largest closely held U.S. roofing and solar contractor, said in an interview.

Lashing panels to roofs during construction is about 20 percent cheaper than after a house is built. Homeowners who can afford the extra $10,000 to $20,000 cost in return for free power threaten the business of traditional utilities such as Edison International of California or Kansas' Westar Energy Inc.

Power companies are losing business because they can't cut their rates in line with the tumbling prices of residential solar systems. Those cost about $4.93 a watt in the first quarter, down 16 percent from a year earlier, according to the Washington-based solar association. That was sparked by the 18 percent slump in prices for solar panels and related hardware in the same period.

Mortgage Embed

A 3-kilowatt system, enough to power a typical mid-size home, costs less than $15,000 and can be rolled into a mortgage, said Tom Werner, CEO of San Jose, California-based SunPower.

"You embed it into your home mortgage, you're cashflow positive month one," he said.

That's similar to how some buyers decided to pay $5,000 or $10,000 for a kitchen countertop that would be from natural materials and would outlast a Formica-style top.

"You're going to see a transition from novelty, to granite countertops, to mainstream option," Werner said in an interview. "We're rapidly passing the equivalent of a 'countertops decision' to a 'no-brainer.' You just do it."

As more homes generate their own power, typically with the help of state or federal subsidies, they're buying less electricity from traditional utilities.

Jeopardizing Grid

PG&E Corp., California's biggest, has said this jeopardizes the power grid because there's less revenue to maintain the infrastructure. In response, utilities are raising rates, a burden that's a slightly heavier burden for people without solar power. In California they may eventually pass on as much as $1.3 billion in annual costs to customers who don't have panels.

The price crunch has also clobbered many manufacturers, pushing some of the biggest in Germany and China to protect themselves from creditors and restructure debt over the past two years, including Solar Millennium AG and Q-Cells SE.

PetersenDean installed photovoltaic systems on about 7.5 percent of the 100,000 roofs it built last year. CEO Petersen said he expects that figure to double this year.

"We've picked up at least a dozen new subdivisions since mid-March, and all of them have incorporated it into the cost of construction," he said.

KB Home (KBH) has built about 1,800 homes with rooftop solar since 2011, according to Steve Ruffner, president of the company's Southern California unit. It's currently developing 22 communities in the most populous state that include panels as a standard feature, he said.

Arizona Offers

"Our buyers told us that's the way they wanted to go," Ruffner said in an interview. "Selling solar to the consumer is the value in the process, because they can put that in their mortgage." The company delivered almost 3,300 homes in total during in the six months through May and expects to surpass that in the second half of its fiscal year.

KB sells solar as an option on homes in Nevada, Texas and Colorado and plans to offer it in Arizona beginning next month.

Megan McGrath, a real estate analyst with Stamford, Connecticut-based MKM Partners LLC, said building new homes with panels is still mainly a California phenomenon.

"It's not as big of a deal elsewhere," she said. Builders in other states haven't seen significant demand for energy-efficient homes, so "it's not really an important part of your strategy."

10,000 Homes

About 494 megawatts of panels were installed atop new and existing U.S. homes in 2012, according to the solar trade group. That figure is expected to swell to 770 megawatts this year as prices continue to slide and may reach 2,175 megawatts in 2016.

SunPower has supplied components for more than 10,000 U.S. homes, including 4,000 built last year in California, the biggest solar state. As many as one in five homes built in the state this year will have solar, Werner said.

The panel maker also has provided systems to builders including DR Horton Inc., PulteGroup Inc., Standard Pacific Homes and Richmond American Homes, all of which declined to make executives available to discuss their strategies.

R. Rex Parris, the mayor of Lancaster, California, pushed through legislation in March requiring the equivalent of at least 1 kilowatt of solar power on all new homes starting next year. About 97 percent of city buildings are considered "net zero," producing as much power as they consume, he said.

The entire city, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, may be net-zero within three years, he said. Sebastopol, California, a town about 55 miles north of San Francisco, passed a similar measure in May that applies to new residential and commercial buildings.

"Economically, there's absolutely no reason not to do this," Parris said. "Solar's the only way to go."

Consumer profiling in TV ads

(Bloomberg ) To reach potential buyers of its all-electric RAV4, Toyota Motor Corp. is using an advertising strategy as experimental as the battery-powered crossover car it seeks to sell.

The automaker is working with DirecTV to zero in on would-be customers identified as tech-savvy early adopters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, where the $50,000 vehicle is sold. They're using a new tool that combs satellite-TV subscriber data to help marketers like Toyota reach narrow slices of consumers, cutting wasted dollars and improving the effectiveness of ads.

"A mass campaign doesn't make sense," Dionne Colvin, Toyota's national media marketing manager, said in a phone interview. "But we do want to get the message out."

The new technology is known as dynamic advertising, and it reflects a push by U.S. TV networks, cable and satellite carriers and providers of Web-based TV services to help marketers like Toyota connect more directly with audiences. The changes threaten to upend a decades-old system of delivering commercials over TV airwaves to large slices of the population, many of whom have little interest in the products.

DirecTV hires marketing-data firms that compile consumer information from credit cards and other sources to identify, for instance, Spanish speakers, people trying to lose weight or, in the case of the Toyota campaign, who are like to buy new gadgets. DirecTV can transmit the ads only to subscribers who meet the criteria and live in the targeted cities.

Cosmic Clash

At stake for DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite service, along with broadcasters such as CBS Corp. and cable operator Comcast Corp., is part of the $73 billion a year marketers spend on U.S. TV advertising. They're also defending their share of the almost $100 billion a year consumers spend for packages of channels at a time when technology companies like Intel Corp. are developing pay-TV services that will use the Web to collect ever-more granular data on viewers.

Competition for users and advertisers alike is made all the more intense by the emergence of a generation of consumers who choose not to buy pay TV altogether. These budget-conscious young adults, known as cord-nevers, are bypassing pay-TV subscriptions, getting by on Hulu, YouTube and Netflix streaming. This year is the first ever that total U.S. pay-TV subscriptions will decline, according to researcher IHS.

Advertising Bump

Advertisers too are directing more money toward digital budgets, and television networks are putting shows online to accommodate them. Intel, Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Sony Corp. are all racing to introduce pay-TV services that would deliver programming over the Internet, gather a rich trove of data on viewers and accelerate the push toward targeted ads.

Those ads on U.S. cable channels and video-on-demand will generate about $150 million in revenue this year, Seth Haberman, chief executive officer of the New York-based ad firm Visible World, said in an interview.

The amount will double annually for the next three years, exceeding $1 billion in 2016, he said. Even with that growth, the sum is a fraction of the $73 billion that SNL Kagan estimates will be spent on U.S. TV advertising this year.

For DirecTV, better targeting is a tool to attract advertisers and keep them in the fold, while maximizing revenue from a shrinking pool of viewers. The company, based in El Segundo, California, doesn't have phone or Internet businesses to cushion any revenue loss.

Concurrent Commercials

DirecTV controls two minutes of airtime per hour on 46 cable networks, including ESPN and USA, according to Paul Guyardo, executive vice president and chief revenue officer. That compares with about 14 minutes for the networks. The satellite company sends targeted ads to the 12 million of its 20 million subscribers who have high-definition video recorders.

"We can run hundreds of different commercials concurrently," Guyardo said in an interview. "You're taking 12 million households and literally slicing those up by a bunch of different criteria."

The new services have the potential to disrupt a system in place since the 1940s. Networks like CBS or MTV traditionally show ads to broad swaths of TV audiences. Marketers choose shows and pay based on the number of people reached within a targeted demographic group -- say, women ages 18 to 49.

In the new world, Gillette could show a shaving ad to a male viewer, even if he's watching Oprah instead of ESPN. Neighbors might be watching the same program at the same time, over the same pay-TV service, and see different ads because one is a woman shopping for a car and the other is a male who doesn't buy cosmetics.

Higher Rates

Pay-TV services have been testing the technology that allows for more tailored commercials for several years, said Amanda Richman, president of investment and activation at advertising firm Starcom USA.

"Companies are willing to pay more to reach that qualified viewer," Richman said.

DirecTV isn't alone. Fox Networks Group, part of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc., will begin showing targeted ads to subscribers of Comcast, the largest U.S. cable system, in January, Toby Byrne, the division's ad sales chief, said at a May presentation to advertisers.

The ads will run in programs accessed through Comcast's video-on-demand service, moving toward the precise targeting advertisers can find on the Web.

'Catching Up'

"Technology is thankfully catching up," Byrne said in an interview. "We would have liked to do this earlier but it wasn't possible."

Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, aims to start a TV service this year. Its set-top box and servers will take targeting further, letting advertisers bid in real time for individual spots and gain feedback on demographics, behavior and location, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Advertisers would have the ability to target individual consumers as they sit in front of their screens, using a profile based on viewing habits, services purchased and billing information like ZIP Codes.

Intel and other technology companies weighing a TV service would round out the portrait with data from third-party marketing firms such as Experian, according to Haberman, the advertising executive. DirecTV is already appending its viewer data with information from third parties.

'Creepy Factor'

Even television makers such as LG Electronics Inc. and Sony are developing the ability to insert commercials based on who's watching. Sony's Gracenote unit is working with manufacturers and broadcasters on a system that will allow them to place ads for viewers in real time.

LG TVs that made their debut this month at IFA, Europe's largest consumer electronics show, include digital sleuthing technology that tracks what viewers are watching, information that can be passed along to broadcasters and advertisers.

If they prove popular, the sets could siphon some advertisers from cable and satellite companies, and deliver an ongoing cut of revenue to TV makers.

They risk raising the "creepy factor," said Warren Schlichting, senior vice president of media sales and analytics at Dish Network Corp., the second-largest satellite-TV service. Companies tackling the problem from an engineering background lack the relevant experience with consumers and may push the boundaries of privacy, he said.

Executives at Sony's Gracenote and at Cognitive Networks Inc., which is working with LG, said their technology is similar to software that tracks websites consumers visit from iPads. Users opt in before the system is enabled, Gracenote President Stephen White said.

Special K

"It's important to be upfront with consumers about how you're going to use their data," White said.

Advertisers are happy with the attention. Toyota's Colvin is at work on a campaign to reach viewers who speak both English and Spanish at home.

Kellogg Co. worked with DirecTV on a campaign for its Special K breakfast cereal, targeting weight-conscious women, said Aaron Fetters, director of Kellogg's insights and analytics solutions center in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A new round of commercials will begin airing in the next few months, on DirecTV and other pay-TV systems, Fetters said.

For DirecTV, its airtime becomes more valuable, letting the company sell more to Toyota and less to small businesses whose grainy, low-cost commercials have been a hallmark of local marketing on TV.

"This is the main driver of our ad sales going forward," DirecTV's Guyardo said. "It takes the value of our inventory and improves it by a multiple of 4 or 5 times."

(BN) Self-Driving Vehicles Progress Faster Than Rules of Road

(Bloomberg ) The world has moved quickly from wonder at the idea of driverless cars to impatient expectation. The Cadillac SRX zipping around a test track in suburban Detroit is flashing a sign: Not so fast.

The car can pilot itself at highway speed while the person in the driver's seat eats a hamburger.

Yet the first versions of General Motors Co. autonomous vehicles, due out by 2020, will drive themselves only on controlled-access highways, such as an interstate. Don't count on them to avoid accidents on their own; it will be up to a licensed driver behind the wheel to avoid the deer running out from the roadside. The reasons are parts technological, regulatory and psychological.

"The technology's probably doable, but how do we implement it, how do we regulate it and how do we standardize it?" said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst with auto researcher, based in Santa Monica, California, in an interview. What's more, "there are certain people who want to be in control and they don't want driving taken away from them."

The cautiousness in developing fully autonomous technology, like that envisioned by Google Inc., reflects what GM officials say is a realistic view of what consumers will accept and the rules of the road will allow.

'Wild West'

In the U.S., the federal government oversees vehicle safety and each state regulates insurance and licensing drivers.

Insurers and state authorities will have to decide how to assign liability and responsibility for an accident if an inanimate object rather than a person is driving. If an autonomous car is caught speeding or violating other traffic laws, who are laws enforced on?

"You're going to have to have some kind of regulatory foundations in place at a reasonably nascent place," said Bill Visnic, an analyst who follows autonomous vehicles for "Or else everybody's going to get the feeling it's the Wild West out there."

Ninety percent of respondents in a survey sponsored by insurer Chubb Corp., and released by ORC International Ltd. today, said a licensed driver should be in the driver's seat of a driverless car. Of the survey's 1,000 respondents, only one-third said they'd feel safe on a road with autonomous vehicles.

The same obstacles likely exist in other countries, Visnic said.

U.S. auto-safety regulators in May released their first draft of an autonomous-vehicles policy. National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland has said so-called active-safety technologies that lead to self-driving cars are the next step in cutting U.S. highway deaths.

State Rules

The policy encourages development of technologies envisioned as components of autonomous vehicles. Those include wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems, brakes that apply themselves when a crash is sensed to be imminent, and sensors that are as accurate as or better than human vision.

So far, only three U.S. states -- California, Florida and Nevada -- plus the District of Columbia have laws or rules spelling out how autonomous vehicles may be used on their roads.

Proposed legislation in Michigan's state Senate would allow and regulate automated vehicles of automakers or companies that have partnerships with them, and qualify for special license plates, said the bill's sponsor, Senator Mike Kowall. A companion bill in the state House would establish rules for liability insurance for the cars.

'Makes Sense'

Recognizing the policy and regulatory debates ahead, GM has designed its prototype so it wouldn't require any changes to laws or regulations to operate, said John Capp, GM's lead for active safety technology strategy.

"It makes sense that cars will be able to drive themselves in the future," Capp said in an interview. "But getting there is a lot of work."

Dubbed Super Cruise, the self-driving sport-utility vehicle's technology builds on an adaptive cruise control system on which development began about 15 years ago and now is available on many luxury vehicles, as well as some mainstream models.

To some extent, the GM system is an advance on old-fashioned cruise, the kind that drivers turn on to go a steady 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour on the highway.

About five years ago, GM engineers began work to allow a car to "see" lane markings and move between two lines painted on a road, using radar to center itself. Cameras and radars around the vehicle supplement those systems to give the car situational awareness.

Road Debris

That's why the system would work on a controlled-access highway. It's not designed to brake for turns or direct itself, unlike the Google car, which uses mapping along with cameras and sensors to get around.

GM learned from testing on "hundreds of thousands of miles around the country" that small bits of road debris that a human driver would know to drive over without much thought could confuse a self-driving car, said Jeremy Salinger, head of Super Cruise research and development. Engineers have worked on radars to avoid such surprises.

Capp compares the Cadillac to a new driver to whom you wouldn't entrust everything right away.

"As we move into automated systems, we need to make sure the vehicle is able to get itself out of a mess it gets into," Capp said, calling Super Cruise "a realistic autonomous system that we can offer this decade."

GM's cautious approach isn't unique. Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz in August announced a similar tempered approach, saying its autonomous vehicle will take over from the human in traffic jams. Google declined to comment.

As with many new safety technologies, GM plans to start selling its autonomous-vehicle package as an option on luxury models.

"To bring a $20,000 option package to market doesn't make sense," Capp said. "We'd sell two."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Greatest Innovations of Silicon Valley (BUS/SCI 117): reading list.

This Fall, John Kelley and I are teaching The Greatest Innovations of Silicon Valley (BUS/SCI 117) at Stanford University Continuing Studies Program. In addition to the regular class, we'll be giving a two-day version of the same course to a group of students from China. Here's our recommended reading list for both courses.

The Silicon Valley Edge, Chapter 10 ("The Role of Stanford University: A Dean's Reflections")

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, Chapters 2-3, 5 (“Augmentation,” Red-Diaper Baby,” and “Dealing Lightning”)

Scalable Innovation: A Guide for Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and IP Professionals,
Chapters 1-3, 11-13

Making Silicon Valley: Innovation and the Growth of High Tech, 1930-1970,
Chapter 5 (“Opening Up New Markets”)

Understanding Silicon Valley, Chapter 5 (“Venture Capital in Silicon Valley: Fueling New Firm Formation”)

Meet Nvidia CEO Jen-HsunHuang, the man who plans to make the CPU obsolete” (Wired)

In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, Part 1 (“The World According to Google”)

(BN) Zynga, Samsung, Escobar, Purdue: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) and its former studio general manager settled a trade-secrets misappropriation case, according to a Sept. 9 filing at a California state court.

San Francisco-based Zynga sued Alan Patmore in San Francisco County Superior Court last October, accusing him of taking companies files with him when he joined Zynga competitor Kixeye. Both companies create games for use on social-media websites.

Zynga said the files contained revenue information and monetization strategy for its games, plus design documents for more than 10 unreleased games, in addition to 14 months of confidential e-mails reserved exclusively for Zynga's executive staff.

It alleged that Kixeye, which like Zynga, releases free-to-play online social games, had "failed to achieve success" because it lacked Zynga's know-how. Zynga said that on Patmore's final day of employment, he refused to confirm he had returned company data and refused to sign a termination certification document.

In a cross-complaint filed in November, Kixeye said Zynga had nothing that it wanted. "Comparing Kixeye's games to Zynga's games is like comparing a Ducati racing motorcycle to a minivan. Both are motorized vehicles, but Ducati motorcycles, like Kixeye's midcore games, appeal to a small but passionate group of users who are focused on quality and performance," the company said in its pleadings.

Kixeye dismissed Zynga's work as "cranking out games that will fit the whole family without offending anyone" and claimed that Zynga is "notorious for copyright and cloning the games of its competition, often trampling those competitors' intellectual property rights in the process."

The motivation behind Zynga's suit, Kixeye claimed, was to scare any of its employees that might want to leave and work at the competitor, and to use the case as a "Trojan Horse" to gain access to Kixeye's inner workings and trade secrets.

According to the Sept. 9 court filing, a request for dismissal will be filed within 45 days of the Sept. 6 settlement of the dispute.

Zynga appears to be moving beyond social-media games. On Aug. 20 the company received patent 8,512,117, which covers a technology used to manage linked gambling video games. The patent specifically mentioned poker as one of the games in which this technology could be used.

The case is Zynga Inc. v. Patmore, CGC-12-525099, Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco (San Francisco).


Samsung, Motorola Mobility Antitrust Rulings Close, EU Says

The European Union's antitrust chief said probes are close to completion into whether Samsung Electronics Co. and Google Inc. (GOOG)'s Motorola Mobility abused key mobile-phone patents in their struggle for supremacy with Apple Inc.

The European Commission's approach on standard-essential patents will be "clarified" in two separate cases, one concerning Samsung, the other Motorola Mobility, Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Sept. 13 at an event in Florence, Italy. Decisions are in the "pipeline," he said. The timing of the decisions "does not depend only on the commission side."

The EU is cracking down on patent abuses as Google's Motorola Mobility, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Apple and Samsung trade victories in divergent court rulings across the world on intellectual property. Almunia has sent statements of objections to Samsung and to Motorola Mobility, laying out the EU's concerns about possible antitrust violations. Almunia has said he is targeting "rules of the game" to prevent companies from unfairly leveraging their inventions to thwart rivals.

"We have some others in the pipeline but not as advanced as these two" cases, Almunia said. In the Samsung case, the Brussels-based EU regulator is "trying to reach an agreement."

Samsung failed to deflect the EU complaint when it announced on Dec. 18 it planned to withdraw injunctions in Europe that seek to block sales of Apple (AAPL) products.

Under phone industry agreements on standards, companies owning the rights to essential technology must usually license it to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, known as FRAND.

Samsung began seeking injunctions against Apple in courts in EU member countries in 2011, based on alleged infringement of patents for 3G technology, according to the commission.

Samsung's spokeswoman Rhee So-Eui declined to comment.

The EU opened a similar probe into Motorola Mobility, which makes smartphones that run on Google's Android software, in April 2012, following complaints by Microsoft and Apple.

Colombia Rejects Application to Register Escobar's Name as Mark

The government of Columbia rejected an application to register the name of Pablo Escobar as a trademark, Associated Press reported.

Escobar, who was killed by police gunfire in 1993, was a cocaine distributor, according to Associated Press.

Colombia's Commission of Industry and Commerce said the application was rejected because trademarking the drug king's name would be immoral and against public order, according to AP.

His family is seeking the registration, and his son didn't respond to an AP request for information on how the mark would have been used.

Purdue Says 'OxyContin' Name for Cocktail is Objectionable

Purdue Pharma LP is objecting to the name a Chicago distillery and bar has given one of its cocktails, TimeOut Chicago reported.

The CH Distillery is offering an OxyContin cocktail, which, although it contains none of Purdue's OxyContin painkiller, is likely to bring to mind the fatal overdoses that have been related to its misuse, according to TimeOut Chicago.

Jim Heins, spokesman for Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue, told TimeOut Chicago that the company objects "to any unlicensed use of our trademark,"and said using its name in conjunction with a cocktail was particularly objectionable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in efforts to combat misuse of this class of drug, has recommended that physicians and patients initially consider other pain-relief methods, according to TimeOut Chicago.

Twenty-First Century Fox Appealing Russian Trademark Ruling

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. (FOXA) is appealing a Russian court's refusal to terminate a Russian company's registration of the "PoBeGi" trademark in that country, the Russian Legal News Service reported.

The film wants to use the mark in connection with its Russian adaptation of the Prison Break Series, known in Russia as POBeg, according to the news service.

The mark is registered to a sports company, Begushchy Gorod, the news service reported.

The sports company used the mark for sports events it sponsors, promotional posters and some of its products, according to the news service.


Cameron Names Music-Fan Parliamentarian to Oversee Piracy Issues

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron appointed a former music-industry figure as an adviser to the government on music-related piracy issues, according to a government statement.

Newly appointed Mike Weatherley, a member of Parliament, is the former finance director of the Pete Waterman Group, and also served as the vice president for Europe of Motion Picture Licensing Corp.

He is known for his stated plan to wear a t-shirt blazoned with the logo of the Iron Maiden heavy metal band into the House of Commons, a gesture that wasn't permitted. He is known for his "House of Rock" radio program on Radio Reverb, a community radio station in Brighton, England.

Weatherley's focus in his new unpaid position is to be enforcement issues relating to the creative industries, the government said.

He has an undergraduate degree in business studies from South Bank University, London.


'Hydrogen Sponge' Patent Offers Hydrogen Storage Method

A patent for a method of solid-state storage of hydrogen was issued to a scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Professor Peter J. Schubert, who heads the school's Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy, is the named inventor on patent 8,518,856, which was issued Aug. 27, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent covers a storage system made from porous silicon. Use of this material makes it possible to store hydrogen at lower temperatures and lower pressure than in conventional storage systems, according to the patent.

When used in an automobile, the system would reduce the potential hazards in a crash involving a car powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The patent specifies that this technology could be used for fuel cells for "vehicles, stationary power systems, and consumer electronics, and non-power applications including chemical production."

The university's technology licensing agency is spinning off Hydrogen Sponge LLC, a company aimed at commercializing the invention. According to the company website, the initial target market for its fuel cells is hand-held electronics.

The university said in a statement that it plans to seek some funding through Kickstarter Inc.'s crowd-sourced funding website. It is also looking to potential investors from China.

(BN) Staples, RadioShack Yank Amazon Lockers From Stores

(Bloomberg ) Staples Inc. (SPLS) and RadioShack Corp. (RSH) have removed Inc. (AMZN) lockers from their stores about a year after starting the program as competition stiffens with the online retailer.

The chains began testing a system last year in which Amazon shoppers could have a Web order delivered to a store and then pick it up for no extra cost. This allowed customers, especially urban apartment dwellers, to avoid being home to receive a package or risking a delivery being stolen because it had to be dropped off on a doorstep or in a lobby.

The decision to enter a partnership that made life easier for Amazon's customers came at a time when the online retailing giant was already a major competitor to both chains.

"That was a little bit odd, but what they were hoping for was that when customers would come in to pick up stuff from the locker, they would pick up additional items," said Brian Yarbrough, a retail analyst with Edward Jones & Co. in St. Louis. If they pulled the lockers, that means they probably "weren't seeing the incremental sales out of the deal."

Staples ended the test with Amazon after it "didn't meet the criteria we set up together," Demos Parneros, president of North American stores and online for Staples, said in an e-mail. The company declined to comment further on why it ended the partnership or how many lockers it had in place.

Didn't Fit

RadioShack stopped the program because it didn't fit with its strategy, Merianne Roth, spokeswoman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer, said today in an e-mail. Chief Executive Officer Joe Magnacca, who took charge in February, is cutting items to reduce clutter in stores while improving displays to boost sales of major brands such as Apple Inc.

Mary Osako, a spokeswoman for Amazon, didn't respond to a request for comment.

With Amazon and other online retailers undercutting RadioShack on price and selection, sales at the electronics chain have declined for the past six quarters, leading to a net loss of more than $200 million in that period.

Amazon has also been taking sales from Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples as it sells more office and school products. Revenue at the world's largest office-supplies chain has slid in seven of the past eight quarters. Staples also sells Amazon's Kindle line of tablets and e-readers.

The fact that these chains were willing to help the customers of a major competitor "tells you it's difficult out there and they are willing to try a lot of different things to bring people in the door," Yarbrough said.

(BN) Google, Golden Balls, NFL, UMG: Intellectual Property

By Victoria Slind-Flor(Bloomberg)

In a Sept. 19 blog posting by engineering manager Jon Orwant, Google said it added patent documents from China, Germany, Canada and the World Intellectual Property Organization to its database.

Last year, Google expanded its patent offerings to include patents from the European Patent office and the Prior Art Finder, a search engine that seeks inventions that predate a patent and potentially render it invalid.

The patents are available both in their original language and in English through the use of Google Translate, and they can be searched in any language, according to Orwant's posting.

GE, DuPont Oppose Change to Business Method Patent Law

More than 100 organizations and businesses, including General Electric Co. and DuPont Co., wrote Congress to oppose the expansion of a new review process for business-method patents.

In the Sept. 19 letter, sent to the House Committee on the Judiciary, the companies said the change included in the 2011 patent law revisions may have dire effects. They object to new post-grant review proceedings for patents covering business methods related to a "financial product or service."

Recently introduced legislation could expand this category to cover data-processing patents used in "any enterprise, product or service," the companies said. As a result, they said, any party sued or charged with infringement would always be able to challenge patents that fell into this category, which they claim is "extremely broad."

Data processing affects such activities as the development of cancer therapies and automobile safety systems, the companies said. Subjecting patents that cover those areas to the new process would create uncertainty and risk, discouraging investment in those fields, according to the letter.

Expanding the category also may violate U.S. treaty obligations to make patents available without discrimination based on the field technology, they said in their letter.

Google Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) are among companies supporting the extension of the category of covered business method parents.


U.K. Sportswear Company Wins Right to 'Golden Balls' Mark

A U.K. couple won its battle with the international governing body of soccer over the phrase "Golden Balls," the London24 News Network's Ham&High website reported.

FIFA objected to Inez and Gus Bodur's Golden Balls sportswear company, claiming the name infringed its trademark for the Ballon d'Or, an award given annually to the best pro soccer player, according to Ham&High.

The Bodurs went to the European Court of Justice and successfully appealed a ruling that gave some of the "golden balls" rights to soccer organizers, Ham&High reported.

They have sold Golden Balls sportswear since 2001 and also licensed it for use in a U.K. television game show "Golden Balls," according to Ham&High.

Oneida Nation Sets Up Radio Campaign Against Team's Trademark

The Oneida Nation, a federally recognized tribe of the Oneida people, is running a series of radio ads to play on stations in cities where Washington's National Football League team is scheduled to play this season.

The ads are part of the Oneida Nation's campaign to change the team's name from Redskins, which they say is racist and offensive.

The nation has also set up a website focused on the issue, In a statement, the nation called the name "the R-word," and a "hurtful epithet relegating indigenous peoples to second-class status."

Proceedings seeking the cancellation of the mark are pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the patent office database.

Christine Brennan, a sportswriter for USA Today, said Sept. 12 that she will no longer use the term when referring to the team. She said it was a personal decision and it's "no longer right" to use the term. According to her story, Peter King of Sports Illustrated also has said he will no longer use the name.

Daniel Snyder, owner of the team, said in May that he will never change the name and that his decision is supported by the fans.

A bill was introduced in the U.S. Congress that would amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to bar registration of terms that disparage Native Americans. H.R. 1278, which has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, lists "redskin" as a term that is offensive.


Conan Doyle Estate Claims Characters' Protection Continues

Holders of the rights to the literary estate of the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories filed court papers claiming that the tales' characters are covered by copyright law, even though some of the works are now in the public domain.

Arthur Conan Doyle's estate made the argument in a case brought by an author who sought a court declaration that his use of the characters doesn't infringe the copyright. Conan Doyle, an Edinburgh-born physician, brought out the first Holmes story in 1887. He died in 1930.

Leslie S. Klinger sued in federal court in Chicago in February over a proposed collection of original stories by contemporary authors who would use elements from the Holmes books. Klinger, who is editing the collection, said he anticipated being sued for copyright infringement.

Klinger argued that no permission or license should be required for the book. He said the collection uses only characters and story elements from the Holmes works that are in the public domain.

Agents for the estate have threatened that, should the book be published without a license, it won't be sold by Inc. or Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), according to court papers.

In its Sept. 10 response, the estate said the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson continued to be developed in later stories that are still protected by copyright. Klinger "suggests the characters can be dismantled into partial versions of themselves," according to court papers.

"A complex literary character can be no more unraveled than a human personality," the estate argued.

The case is Klinger v. Conan Doyle Estate Ltd., 13-cv-01226, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

UMG Targets Domain Name Registrar in Fight Against Torrent Site

Universal Music Group Inc. is using a new tactic against content pirates, the TorrentFreak file-sharing and copyright news website reported.

The music company's German division got a court order against a domain registrar, barring it from enabling the distribution by means of the BitTorrent protocol of unauthorized copies of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" album through the website, according to TorrentFreak.

Key-Systems GmbH, the Cologne, Germany-based domain registrar, told TorrentFreak the only way it could comply with the court order was either to take down the name servers or delete the domain.

TorrentFreak reported that this case marks the first time content owners have gone through a domain registrar to target a site, and that Key-Systems has said it will fight the ruling. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Memristor patent issued. (Eugene's #29).

Today, the United States PTO issued patent 8,530,880 Reconfigurable Multilayer Circuit (Strukov, et al.) where I'm the third inventor (this is the 29th US patent where I'm listed as a co-inventor). The patent covers a 3-D structure that uses memristor as one of its key building blocks. I described some of the ideas behind the patent in my earlier blog post and in our book Scalable Innovation, Chapter 10.

Source: Scalable Innovation, by Eugene Shteyn and Max Shtein. 2013. Fig 10.3.

At the time of the invention, Dmitry Strukov and Stanley Williams were scientists at HP Labs, working on the theory and practical configurations for the newly created memristor architecture. (Dmitry Strukov is now a professor at UC Santa Barbara). My role was to help them build HP's IP licensing portfolio, by using  advanced invention development methods. And it worked!

This particular invention enables creation of an integrated circuit configuration where (among other cool stuff) different sensing and processing functions can be packed into the same computer chip. What's really great about it is that, using memristor-specific properties, system configurations can be created dynamically, instead of building everything in the original chip. One of the long-term applications for the technology would be a combination of sensors, neural networks, and traditional computing on the same tiny device, which makes it capable of learning.

tags: invention, patent, semiconductors, electronics