Friday, January 31, 2014

(BN) IBM’s Complaint to Twitter Leads to Patent Purchase

(Bloomberg ) Twitter Inc. (TWTR), the microblogging service that went public last year, agreed to buy 900 patents from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) to gain access to new technology and build a defense against infringement suits.

The agreement, signed last month and announced today, also resolves a dispute that prompted IBM to write to Twitter last year about possible infringement of at least three patents. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The purchase "provides us with greater intellectual property protection and gives us freedom of action to innovate on behalf of all those who use our service," Ben Lee, legal director for Twitter, said in a statement.

Twitter had nine patents and 95 pending applications before its initial public offering in November, far fewer than other leading technology companies. It said in a regulatory filing that the lack of intellectual property could make the company a target for litigation and limit its ability to fight back by asserting its own patents.

Patent battles are an "increasing distraction" for technology companies, even if Twitter itself wasn't facing much of an immediate threat, said Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering Group, a technology assessment consulting firm in Seaford, New York. "At some point it becomes just a balancing function to take advantage of warehouses of intellectual property, like at IBM."

Video Delivery

In its letter to Twitter, IBM cited patents relating to a networking technique based on common contacts, a way to show advertisements without interfering with an interactive site, and using interconnected computers to reduce Web traffic. San Francisco-based Twitter also will probably gain IBM inventions related to things like video compression, Doherty said.

"As Twitter expands and starts delivering video, they need to increase their intellectual property portfolio," he said. "We believe some know-how is going along with the patent transfer, not just patent numbers."

The patents include some that directly relate to Twitter's business plan. One covers a way to enable compliance with international shipping requirements. Twitter is seeking to get more revenue from retailers and is trying to make it easier for users to shop via its 140-character messages.

Messaging Technology

Another of the patents is for improved messaging, according to information posted on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. Others are less clearly connected, such as a way to prevent damage to semiconductor chips.

For Twitter, the deal marks its first patent acquisition, not counting intellectual property it gained by purchasing other companies. The companies also entered a cross-licensing agreement. Of the three patents cited by IBM in its initial letter to Twitter, only one -- for interconnected computers -- has been assigned to Twitter, according to the patent office.

Shares of Twitter gained 1.4 percent to $64.35 at 11:52 a.m. in New York. IBM's stock was little changed at $176.37.

IBM, which has received the most U.S. patents of any company for 21 straight years, has made deals with patent-light technology firms before. The Armonk, New York-based company has sold patents to Google Inc. (GOOG) to aid the Android software maker's battle with rivals over smartphone technology. A sale of 750 patents to Facebook Inc. helped the social-networking site settle a lawsuit with Yahoo! Inc.

"It illustrates the value of patented IBM inventions and demonstrates our commitment to licensing access to our broad patent portfolio," Ken King, general manager of intellectual property for IBM, said in a statement. "We look forward to a productive relationship with Twitter in the future."

The licensing and sales deals mean IBM has agreements with almost every technology company in business. Its patents generate approximately $1 billion a year in licensing income, about 1 percent of its sales last year.

(BN) Samsung, Super Bowl, Prince: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) avoided the severe penalties Apple Inc. sought after being sanctioned by a U.S. judge for violating a court order protecting the confidentiality of the iPhone maker's patent-licensing accords.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal said Jan. 29 that "public findings of wrongdoing" by Samsung's law firm, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, and Quinn Emanuel's payment of Apple and Nokia Oyj (NOK1V)'s legal costs would be "sufficient both to remedy Apple and Nokia's harm."

The e-mail disclosure at issue, which Samsung said was accidental, came as the companies were waging their first patent-infringement dispute in federal court in San Jose, California, over smartphone technology.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has another case against Suwon, South Korea-based Samsung going to trial in March over newer smartphone models, including Samsung's Galaxy S III.

The first case is Apple Inc. (AAPL) v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11-cv-01846; the second is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 12-cv-00630, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

Idenix Sues Gilead After Adverse Patent Inventorship Ruling

Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, sued Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)'s Pharmasset unit seeking review of an adverse decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Trial and Appeal Board related to a patent application and an issued patent covering a drug used to treat Hepatitis C.

The board determined Jan. 29 that Idenix wasn't the first to invent the compound covered by the patent.

Gilead's version of the compound is to be marketed as Sovaldi, and has a wholesale price of $28,000 for a bottle of 28 tablets, according to a company statement.

The case is Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDIX) v. Gilead Pharmasset LLC, 14-cv-00109, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).


Sellers of Fake Super Bowl Tickets Arrested in New York

New York police arrested two men charged with selling counterfeit tickets to the Super Bowl, Newsday reported.

The arrest was made after police bought a number of fake tickets for recent National Football League playoff games, according to Newsday.

Although the fake tickets' bar codes would have passed muster by the stadium's scanners, the tickets had misprints and the printing was "washed out," law enforcement officials told Newsday.

The NFL championship game will be played Feb. 2 in New Jersey.


Prince Drops Infringement Suit Against Bloggers, Facebook Users

Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician who performs as Prince, dropped a copyright-infringement suit he filed this month against 22 defendants in federal court in San Francisco.

Prince accused them of infringing his copyrights by using Google Inc. (GOOG)'s Blogger platform and Facebook Inc. (FB)'s website to link to unauthorized copies of his live performances.

Court filings didn't indicate why the suit was dropped.

The case is Nelson v. Chodera, 14-cv-00273, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Mr. Chow Waited Too Long to Bring Claim, Appeals Court Rules

Mr. Chow Enterprises Ltd., operator of a high-end Chinese restaurant chain, waited too long to bring trade secrets claims against a competitor, a federal appeals court ruled.

The restaurant chain, founded in Beverly Hills, California, in 1974, sued a former employee who opened similar restaurants in New York, Florida and California, and who, like Mr. Chow, offered guests a "noodle show" during which fresh noodles were prepared.

The Atlanta-based appeals court said that while the trial court properly determined that Mr. Cow waited too long to make its trade-secrets claims, a false-advertising jury award of $500,000 was appropriate.

The case is Chow v. Chau, 12-15884, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Facebook latest patents - connectivity.

In 2012, Facebook bought a large patent portfolio from AOL for $550M. Now, we can see some of the results from the new owner. For example, here's five US Patents with the same title:

A couple of days ago, the US PTO office awarded the #1 on the list with a new set of claims. While the original invention was about establishing an alternative connection when setting a broadband link, the latest patent claims a broad concept of a mobile device with two connections. Arguably, the patent covers a smartphone app that first uses a low-bandwidth 3G connection, then switches to Wi-Fi.

1. A method comprising: establishing a first communications connection between a mobile user device and a host, the first communications connection enabling an application on the mobile user device to exchange data; establishing a second communications connection between the mobile user device and the host; enabling, using at least one processor, display of an indication that the second communications connection is established; and enabling the application on the mobile user device to continue to exchange data by way of the second communications connection.
For example, the claim describes a scenario when I start downloading a song on 3G, then switch to Wi-Fi to save mobile bandwidth. Not bad. After 10 years of lawyering, a black pig turns into a white swan.

In system terms, we have a Distribution element that has different Routes. The Control system selects a specific set, based on operating conditions, e.g. failure. Conceptually, this is no different from our favorite 19th century railroad analogy: if the Indians destroy one rail link try to ship your troops via another one. In a more sophisticated shipping system, heavy loads are shipped by sea; light ones by air.

tags: patent, example, distribution, control

Smartphone apps: mobile and insecure.

MIT Technology review writes:

A 2012 study of 13,500 Android apps by researchers in Germany found that only 0.8 percent used encrypted connections exclusively, and that 43 percent use no encryption at all. Last week mobile app security company MetaIntell reported that 92 percent of the 500 most popular Android applications communicated some data insecurely.

To move into the enterprise on scale, mobile devices and apps have to become secure. The same goes for mobile payments and NFC-based apps. Enhanced security requirements will demand more computing power, which many companies would not able to afford. As a result, secure cloud-based services will have an opportunity for long-term growth. Although before that, NSA surveylance issues have to be resolved, so that customers feel comfortable with having their vital data hosted externally.

tags: mobile, security, packaged, payload, control, business, enterprise

(BN) Google, Tiffany, Ziggo, American Cowslip: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Jan. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc.'s Motorola Mobility unit is seeking a patent on a technology that would help drivers pass information about road hazards to drivers behind them.

Application 20140022108, published Jan. 23 in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, covers an inter-vehicle alert system, with a video camera in the front vehicle and a transmitter than sends a signal to those following.

Motorola Mobility filed the application in July 2012, two months after it was acquired by Mountain View, California-based Google.


J&J Wins Reversal of $257 Million Louisiana Risperdal Verdict

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) persuaded a Louisiana appeals court to throw out a $257.7 million verdict holding the drugmaker liable for deceptively marketing the antipsychotic medicine Risperdal to doctors across the state.

Louisiana officials didn't present enough evidence to show J&J violated state medical-assistance law with an advertising campaign touting Risperdal's performance and safety, the state Supreme Court ruled Jan 28. The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company is appealing larger judgments in similar cases in two other states.

The Louisiana case was carved out of a $2.2 billion settlement of U.S. criminal and civil probes of J&J's Risperdal marketing campaign announced in November. The company's Janssen unit pleaded guilty to misbranding the antipsychotic medicine. The plea was tied to the company's effort to market the drug to elderly dementia patients without U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

The case is Caldwell v. Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc., Civil Action 2012-C-2466, Supreme Court of Louisiana (Baton Rouge).

Tiffany Sues Almost 200 Defendants Over Sale of Fake Merchandise

Tiffany & Co. (TIF), the New York-based luxury jeweler, sued more than 90 named and 100 unnamed defendants for trademark infringement.

According to a complaint filed Jan. 28 in a Florida federal court, the defendants are selling merchandise online that is falsely marked with Tiffany trademarks. The jewelry company is seeking money damages and court orders barring further infringement.

The case is Tiffany (NJ) LLC v., 0:14-cv-60210, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Ft. Lauderdale).


Ziggo Wins Lifting of Dutch Court's Ban on Pirate Bay Access

Dutch Internet providers Ziggo BV and XS4ALL persuaded a Dutch court to lift a blockade that denied their users' access to the Pirate Bay file-sharing site.

The Court of The Hague overturned a January 2012 ruling in a case brought by the Dutch entertainment industry association BREIN, saying the ban was ineffective.

'American Cowslip' Producers Ask for $860,500 Default Judgment

Claiming "American Cowslip," a 2009 independent film starring Val Kilmer, Peter Falk, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, lost $869,500 to piracy by a Virgin Islands-based file-hosting service, the film's producers asked a California federal court for a default judgment for that amount.

The defendant, Fileserve Holdings Ltd., as of yesterday hadn't responded to court filings in the copyright infringement case filed in May 2013, according to the electronic case docket.

The case is Cowslip Film Partners LLC v. Fileserve Holdings Ltd., 2:13-cv-02190, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

(BN) Google’s Motorola Sale Underscores Primacy of Patents

(Bloomberg ) With two patent-related deals in less than a week, Google Inc. (GOOG) is shoring up its intellectual property portfolio.

Google yesterday agreed to sell its Motorola Mobility handset division to Lenovo Group Ltd. for $2.9 billion, while holding onto most of the unit's patent portfolio. Earlier this week, Google signed a patent-licensing agreement with hardware partner Samsung Electronics Co., covering existing patents and those filed for the next decade.

The pair of deals underscore how Google is using patents to create a defensive moat against litigation and also tie partners like Samsung more closely to itself. That aids the world's largest search engine as it battles in mobile with its Android operating system against smartphone rival Apple Inc. (AAPL), said Chris Sargent, an intellectual property lawyer at ComputerLaw Group LLP in Palo Alto, California.

"This set of deals indicate that Google continues to be worried about Apple," said Sargent. "They think of themselves as the target of lawsuits more than as the instigator of them."

While Google is doubling down on patents, it's also reversing an ill-fated foray into mobile hardware. The acquisition of Motorola's handset business in 2012 threatened to alienate other device makers that also use Google's Android mobile software, yet competed with Motorola. Motorola devices released under Google's watch also failed to break through with many customers.

Selling Motorola

The sale of Motorola may have partly been a result of the cross-licensing deal that Google reached with Samsung, the biggest maker of Android phones, said Kevin Rivette, a managing partner in the Silicon Valley office of 3LP Advisors LLC, which has advised companies on patent strategies.

For Samsung, "to have to compete against Motorola, that would be a big issue for me," said Rivette. "I bet Google wanted to get rid of the handset business. They weren't comfortable with it. They kept the patents they wanted to use."

Matt Kallman, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment on ties between Samsung and selling Motorola.

On patents, "given the explosion of patent lawsuits, a strong portfolio helps us enter into cross-licenses and defend our inventions," said Allen Lo, Google deputy general counsel for patents. "We'd much rather innovate than litigate."

Good Buy?

Patents were a key part of the Motorola purchase, which cost $12.4 billion in 2012. Google has said $5.5 billion of the purchase price was tied to the intellectual property, which comprised about 17,000 patents that cover some fundamental phone technology.

At a conference this week, Google General Counsel Kent Walker called the deal a success because there had been no lawsuits against the Android operating system by competitors since the Motorola acquisition, said Ron Laurie, managing director of Inflexion Point Strategy LLC, who attended the event.

"Was it a good buy? In hindsight, considering everything that's happened, my opinion is yes," said Erin-Michael Gill, managing director of MDB Capital Group, an IP-focused investment bank based in Santa Monica, California.

Still, Google hasn't been able to use ownership of the patents to force Microsoft Corp. or Apple to settle with other Android manufacturers. And it's lost some patent-infringement cases that have gone to trial against Microsoft and Apple.

Headache, Asset

The fundamental technology developed by Motorola has become a regulatory headache as well. U.S. and European antitrust officials have accused the company of demanding unfair royalties for use of technology that's essential to any wireless device.

Yet the patents remain a good asset for Google and likely reduced costs for the company, according to Sameet Sinha, an analyst with B. Riley & Co., who has the equivalent of a buy rating on the stock.

"We don't know what these patents saved Google from," he said. "I think the patents will continue to have value for a long period of time."

Meanwhile, Google's patent-licensing agreement with Samsung earlier this week means ongoing collaboration between the Internet company and the smartphone maker. The strengthened cooperation between the companies may reduce potential litigation, Google and Samsung said in an e-mailed statement at the time.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Solving the Life vs Glory dilemma - 2

Recap: In my earlier posts I described and analyzed in detail a typical dilemma situation: a person faces mutually exclusive choices. For example, the ancient Greek hero Achilles has to choose between dying young with eternal glory or living a long, uneventful life. The modern hero Neo from the Matrix has to chose between the Red pill and the Blue pill.

In art, heroes choose dilemmas. In real life, we try to get away from them by picking a reasonable trade-off - "the middle way." A fundamental characteristic of a dilemma or trade-off situation is the existence of "The Box." The Box represents a set of constraints, either visible or invisible. The first step to think outside the box is to discover what the box is.

In the Achilles example, we've established that he is locked in the box of personal mortal combat with an opposing fighter - Patroclus. Even if Achilles wins today, sooner or later a new fighter will be born to kill him. That is, once you've entered the dilemma box, the choices are unavoidable: Achilles wins some great battles, but he is eventually killed by Paris, who, in turn, dies in combat later.

At the first glance, the Achilles' Life vs Glory dilemma seems to have no happy outcome. On the other hand, we've established that another Greek Hero - Odysseus - had found a breakthrough solution: he reached eternal glory AND lived a long, fulfilling life. How did he do that?

First, let me say that the Achilles' box is version of a theoretical construct created by economist Francis Ysidro Edgeworth in the 19th century. It serves as a foundational principle for the modern economics of free markets, where people make rational choices about allocation of limited resources. That is why the first principle of economics is often stated as "Everything is a trade-off."

In Sclalable Innovation (Prologue), we show that great innovations often happen when people break trade-offs and dilemmas, instead of strengthening them. Odysseus is no exception. As a creative individual, he sees outside the Achilles' box. In his thinking, a 3-rd dimension exists - gods and other people (fig below).

When Odysseus encounters a tough challenge he leverages this dimension to generate a broad variety of coordinated actions. During the siege of Troy, he finally defeats the enemy city by getting one group of Greeks build the Trojan Horse, another group to hide inside it, yet another to rush the city when the Horse is inside, etc. This pattern of problem solving repeats when Odysseus runs into trouble on his way back home to Ithaca. For example, he uses the help of his team to defeat the Cyclops and escape from the cave. (Even the Cyclops' sheep act as "members" his team.) Odysseus accomplishes the impossible feat of listening to the song of the Sirens and surviving it too. (I posted about his solution in detail in 2011). Odysseus returns home to Ithaca and restores himself as the rightful king, by craftily creating a coalition of players and arranging the circumstances to benefit his cause. As the result of his adventures, Odysseus achieves eternal glory AND ensures that he has a long life.

In short, Odysseus is a 3D strategist, while Achilles is a 2D tactician. Achilles thinks inside the box, while Odysseus thinks outside it, by discovering dimensions of the situation that Achilles cannot see. In these dimensions, he finds opportunities for novel actions and their novel combinations. To motivate his allies, he uses certain psychological effects, which I'm going to cover later.

tags: creativity, problem, solution, dilemma, trade-off, separation, breakthrough, luck, control

Lunch Talk: (@Google) Cognitive Science and Mediation.

Speaker: Philippe Goldin
Philippe is a research
scientist and heads the Clinically Applied Affective Neuroscience group in
the Department of Psychology at Stanford University.

He spent 6 years in India and Nepal studying various languages, Buddhist philosophy and debate at Namgyal Monastery and the Dialectic Monastic Institute, and serving as an interpreter for various Tibetan Buddhist lamas. He then returned to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University. His NIH-funded clinical research focuses on (a) functional neuroimaging investigations of cognitive-affective mechanisms in adults with anxiety disorders, (b) comparing the effects of mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy on brain-behavior correlates of emotional reactivity and regulation, and (c) training children in family and elementary school settings in mindfulness skills to reduce anxiety and enhance compassion, self-esteem and quality of family interactions.

lunchtalk, psychology, biology, social

(BN) Yahoo’s Mayer Fails to Revive Growth 18 Months Into Job

(Bloomberg ) Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer has failed to spur growth at the Web portal 18 months after taking the job -- and the outlook isn't improving as advertisers continue spending their money elsewhere.

First-quarter sales, excluding revenue passed to partner sites, will be $1.06 billion to $1.1 billion in the current quarter, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said yesterday in a statement. The middle of that range would represent growth of less than 1 percent from $1.07 billion a year earlier. Shares fell in late trading.

Mayer, who left Google Inc. (GOOG) in July 2012 to turn around Yahoo, is struggling to win ad sales as users show preference for her former employer and Facebook Inc. She benefited last year as Yahoo's stock price doubled, reflecting the company's stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Her challenge now is translating a catalog of new products -- from updated advertising features to a food site -- into growing sales.

"It's a dismal outlook," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners in New York, who rates the stock a hold. "There's going to be more pressure to perform as the year progresses."

Yahoo fell as much as 6.9 percent to $35.60 in extended trading after yesterday's report. The stock rose 4.3 percent to $38.22 at the close in New York.

The company holds a stake of about 24 percent in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company that is considering an initial public offering.

Alibaba Earnings

Earnings from Yahoo's equity interests, including its holdings in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, rose to $222 million from $149 million in the fourth quarter last year. Alibaba's revenue rose 51 percent to $1.78 billion during the three months ended September. Sales growth slowed from 61 percent in the prior quarter, another reason for concern at Yahoo, said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie Securities in New York.

"It's fair to say that people were hoping those results would be a bit better," said Schachter, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on Yahoo. "What's been driving the stock has been Alibaba."

Yahoo said net income in the period increased 28 percent to $348.2 million, or 33 cents a share, from $272.3 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier, helped by a gain from the sale of patents. Net sales slipped to $1.2 billion from $1.22 billion a year ago, in line with analysts' average estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mayer said during a conference call yesterday that reaching a desirable level of growth will take years. To speed a recovery, Mayer said she's boosted investments in engineering, shuttered underperforming services and focused on attracting users with more engaging products. She also made a risky bet by spending $1.1 billion last year on Tumblr Inc., a blogging site with little revenue.

Limited Progress

"In 2013, we built a foundation for growth," she said. "I'm very pleased with our progress."

In her first full year on the job, Mayer presided over a 0.9 percent decline in net revenue to $4.43 billion from $4.47 billion in 2012. Ken Goldman, Yahoo's chief financial officer, said yesterday that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, will fall "modestly" this year.

"I think they still have some time before they can really start exhibiting some positive traction," said Sameet Sinha, an analyst at B. Riley & Co. in San Francisco who has a buy rating on the stock and doesn't own it.

Management Changes

Yahoo's results follow a leadership shakeup. Mayer fired Chief Operating Officer Henrique de Castro, another former Google executive, earlier this month after tensions erupted between the two. During the conference call, Mayer said de Castro was not a "fit" for the company and added that she will not be replacing him, giving the CEO more direct access to leaders on the advertising team.

In a memo to employees announcing de Castro's departure, Mayer said some of the former COO's lieutenants will report to her, including Ned Brody, head of the Americas region; Dawn Airey, senior vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa; and Rose Tsou, senior vice president for Asia-Pacific.

Before de Castro left, Yahoo unveiled updated advertising features, including a service to help marketers better target audiences and a new ad exchange to give clients more tools to manage promotions on their websites.

The company also is pushing out a new lineup of products to help attract more visitors like a publication that targets consumer technology users and a channel called Yahoo Food, which features photos, recipes and trends in cuisine.

(BN) Apple, Cronut, Seahawks, Rovio: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL), maker of the iPad and iPhone, received a patent for a solar-powered laptop.

Patent 8,638,549, issued yesterday, covers an electronic device display module that includes photovoltaic cells on the back side of the display unit. The cells can produce power when activated by an external light source.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, applied for the patent in August 2010 with assistance from Treyz Law Group of San Francisco.


'Cronut' Trademark Holder Ansel Seeks Registration for Wider Use

Dominique Ansel, the New York pastry chef who successfully registered "Cronut" as a trademark for his doughnut/croissant hybrid pastry Jan. 17, is now seeking registration of the mark for other goods.

According to an application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, other categories for which Ansel wants to register the trademark include frozen desserts, sports bags, credit cards, wheeled shopping bags, cookbooks, marking pens, novels, body-piercing rings, nail polish, flash cards and coloring books.

Ansel threatened trademark litigation against a California doughnut shop last year until the shop changed the name of its pastry from "Dkronut" to "DK Double Decker O-Nut."

Seahawks Pay for Exclusive Use of Texas A&M's '12th Man' Mark

The Seattle Seahawks, who will meet the Denver Broncos in the Feb. 2 Super Bowl game, have the right to use the "12th man" trademark belonging to Texas A&M University, the website reported.

Seattle's National Football League team paid the school $100,000 for rights to the mark and will make an annual payment of $5,000 through 2016, according to

The school registered the mark in 1990 and licensed the term to the Seahawks in 2006, reported.


IDG Ventures Sued for Infringement by Vietnamese Music Producer

IDG Ventures Inc. was sued for copyright infringement by a California company that produces Vietnamese music.

IDG Ventures, based in San Francisco, is accused of funding and having some control over Vietnam's VNG Corp., which runs a music website through which Westminster, California's Lang Van Inc.'s content is allegedly infringed. VNG is also a defendant in the complaint filed Jan. 22 in federal court in Santa Ana, California.

IDG Ventures didn't respond immediately to an e-mailed request for comment on the suit.

The case is Lang Van Inc. v. VNG Corp., 14-cv-00100, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Rovio Says It Doesn't Pass User Data to Government Spy Agencies

Rovio Corp. (ROVI)'s Rovio Entertainment unit said in a statement yesterday that it doesn't "share data, collaborate or collude" with any government spy agencies anywhere in the world.

The Espoo, Finland-based company was responding to news reports that the U.S. National Security Agency had targeted Rovio's "Angry Birds" game to collect end-user data, based on information from documents about alleged government spying and industrial espionage leaked by Edward Snowden.

In its statement, the company said that if there is surveillance, it may be conducted through third-party ad networks "used by millions of commercial websites and mobile applications across all industries."

If ad networks are targeted, Rovio said, it would appear that no Internet-enabled device that visits ad-enabled websites or uses ad-enabled applications is immune to such surveillance.

The company said it doesn't allow any third-party network to use or hand over personal end-user data from its apps.

(BN) NSA Spying on Apps Shows Perils of Google+, ‘Candy Crush’

(Bloomberg ) Revelations that the National Security Agency is tapping smartphone applications to mine personal information highlight the risk millions take every day when they play games, schedule lunch or check the weather.

Documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden to the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica show the U.S. and U.K. have infiltrated mobile software for details about users' comings and goings and social affiliations. Among the so-called leaky apps with the greatest privacy perils are Google Inc. (GOOG)'s Google Plus, Pinterest Inc.'s online bulletin board and "Candy Crush Saga," the most popular game on Facebook Inc. (FB), according to an analysis by Zscaler Inc.

"Privacy is dead in the digital world that we live in," said Michael Sutton, vice president of security research at San Jose, California-based Zscaler. "I tell people, unless you are comfortable putting that statement on a billboard in Times Square and having everyone see it, I would not share that information digitally."

The latest disclosures from Snowden underscore how vast a treasure trove mobile apps are, and not only for the advertisers that sweep them for consumer data. Zscaler's analysis found that 96 percent of the top 25 social-networking apps request e-mail access, 92 percent ask for access to users' address books and 84 percent inquire about their physical locations. Sutton said most people give the apps what they want.

No Encryption

Applications for smartphones and tablets present a challenge when it comes to security because, unlike with computer software, most apps depend almost entirely on ads to make money.

While technology companies often encrypt what they collect to shield it from prying eyes, the advertising services they work with frequently don't, said Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder and chief technology officer of Lookout Inc. in San Francisco.

Lookout studied 30,000 apps this month and found that 38 percent of those for Android systems could determine locations, that half could access the unique code assigned to a person's device and that 15 percent could grab phone numbers.

The reach of apps, and of the networks advertisers use to pass data around, make them natural eavesdropping targets and are aiding a shift in the focus of surveillance efforts away from personal computers, Mahaffey said.

"They have a lot of valuable information and they're everywhere," he said. "Everyone from the NSA to Microsoft to Google see mobile as the future."

Google, based in Mountain View, California, declined to comment and referred to a statement from the Application Developers Alliance, a trade group to which it belongs.

'Uninhibited Collection'

"Uninhibited collection of consumers' personal data by governments hacking into apps is unacceptable," said Jon Potter, the group's president, in the statement. "This surveillance damages our entire industry and undermines the hard work of app developer entrepreneurs everywhere."

Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, said the company encrypts its mobile-app data and pointed to two earlier statements defending its security technologies., the London-based company behind "Candy Crush Saga," and San Francisco-based Pinterest didn't respond to e-mail messages sent during U.S. business hours.

The mobile-app industry, less than 10 years old, will be worth $143 billion globally by 2016, according to London-based research firm VisionMobile.

Third-Party Networks

Many people aren't aware of what their applications are scooping up, and the information is often tangential or irrelevant to an app's central purpose.

One game that makes surprising grabs -- asking for a user's location or a device's unique code -- is "Angry Birds," according to research by Jason Hong, an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, that was published in November. Another is Brightest Flashlight, which turns on all of a device's lights at once, Hong found.

"Angry Birds," whose games have been downloaded more than 1 billion times, was identified in the Snowden documents as a target of NSA spying.

Its creator, Rovio Entertainment Oy, which is based in Espoo, Finland, said in a statement that it doesn't share data with government agencies and that any leaking of customer data is being facilitated by vulnerable advertising networks.

"In order to protect our end users, we will, like all other companies using third-party advertising networks, have to re-evaluate working with these networks if they are being used for spying purposes," said Mikael Hed, Rovio's chief executive officer, in the statement.

GoldenShores Technologies, the creator of Brightest Flashlight, didn't respond to an e-mail message.

Contact Lists

There are dozens of networks that collect and share details from apps and connect marketers to users with tailored ads. AdMob, owned by Google, and Millennial Media are the two biggest networks for Android, the largest smartphone operating system in the world. AdMob declined to comment and Millennial didn't respond to e-mail messages.

The NSA sensors that capture traffic traveling across key Internet junctures are probably what allow the agency to collect mobile-ad data and look for patterns, Carnegie Mellon's Hong said. Some ad networks pass around entire contact lists in unencrypted form, which makes them vulnerable to interception at any point along their path, Hong said.

While mobile-app data could have unquestioned value for investigators in select cases, it's difficult to separate key signals from noise in such huge datasets, he said. "It's unclear what signals might be useful" to surveillance agencies.

Russian Resident

The apps documents released by Snowden, who lives in Russia, were the latest to bring to light the extent to which NSA and other agencies, including the U.K.'s Government Communications Headquarters, have targeted digital information. The U.S. has charged Snowden with theft and espionage for leaking documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post last year that unveiled the breadth of the NSA's collection of Internet and telephone records.

The agency has defended its data gathering as essential to national security.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dilemma of the Day: Making Money vs Influencing Debate

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, says:
The reason that we [academics] write these things [books] is not to make money but to influence ideas [that] influence the shaping of the intellectual debate.
Source: Joseph Stiglitz. The Sixth Annual Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property.February 16, 2007 at Duke Law School. (12m.45s).

In contrast, major Silicon Valley innovators, both companies and VCs, break this dilemma by making money AND influencing the world. The Stiglitz' view highlights the difference between invention (i.e. production of concepts) and innovation (implementing concepts on a large scale). In innovation, the goal is to shape the debate for the sake of changing the world and making lots money in the process.

tags: dilemma, quote, business, invention, innovation

Lunch Talk: The Economic Foundations of Intellectual Property (@duke)

Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz of Columbia University presents the Sixth Annual Frey Lecture in Intellectual Property.

Update: The Stiglitz' approach to Intellectual Property is fundamentally flawed because he doesn't understand the difference between invention and innovation. He uses the terms interchangeably, without giving much thought to the critical distinction between a) coming up with an idea (invention), and b) making it work on a large scale (innovation). For example, he says that when granting a patent to Basmati rice, "the US patent office thought it was a great innovation." This is untrue, because the patent office only considers the novelty of idea, not its impact on the world. The vast majority of patents are totally useless because they cover novel ideas that fail miserably in the marketplace.

Stiglitz doesn't understand the difference between "knowing what" and "knowing how." Creating an invention that becomes a large-scale innovation is like winning a lottery: lots of futile tries by many people. Nevertheless, we don't force the winner to give up his reward because the winning numbers become public knowledge after the draw.

Stiglitz' example of Microsoft's monopoly power as an abuse of Intellectual Property is also wrong. Microsoft neither invented, nor patented DOS OS, Windows OS, Office, Browser, etc. On the contrary, they used other peoples' ideas (inventions) to implement the technology and gain monopoly market power.
Moreover, Microsoft's monopoly fell apart when new markets were created - Web search, smartphone, etc. Google and Apple prevailed over the Microsoft's monopoly because they found a way to create and protect their own IP. If Google made all aspects of its search algorithm public from the very beginning, Microsoft would be able to move into web search with ease. Luckily, that scenario didn't materialize because Google, as well as Apple, protected their know how.

lunchtalk, intellectual, property

Amazon patents - Content Management

Amazon continues its push into content management technology. Their  US 8,639,817 patent issued on January 27, 2014) is the latest in a series that covers delivery of digital media.

The patent applies (among other things) to delivering ads based on the original content. In their terminology, a first set of users consumes the "real" content, while a second set gets [relevant] ads. For example, Claim 2 reads:

In claim 3, they continue using the anticipatory approach we found earlier in their other patents, which cover delivery of physical goods.

With physical goods, Amazon describes a scenario where the system
1) routes packages to a general geographical location in anticipation of demand;
2) re-routes packages to a specific address, based on a customer order.

With virtual goods, Amazon patents a scenario where the system
1) delivers content to a content delivery network in anticipation of content demand;
2) delivers content to a specific user device, based on user requests or targeting logic.

In system terms, Amazon creates a smart Distribution network, which sits in between the content providers and users. We model the arrangement in Scalable Innovation, Chapter 25. Anticipating Control Problems. Because Amazon collects a lot of information about both content (Packaged Payload), users (Tool), and providers (Source), it has the ability to determine and anticipate consumption patterns. The patents are a strong indication that business value migrates from the Tool -- Source axis, to the Distribution -- Control axis.

Similarly, Facebook, Google, Twitter, NSA, and others sit between users and content providers (e.g. other users). Remarkably, Amazon doesn't cover social networking scenarios in their patents. Vice versa, Facebook doesn't talk about content management in their patents.

tags: patent, system, aboutness, distribution, control, business, value, amazon, facebook

(BN) Ericsson, J&J, Microsoft, Snowden: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Ericsson AB (ERICB) and Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) settled their patent dispute and struck a new licensing deal over wireless technology in smartphones, televisions, tablets and Blu-ray disc players.

The decision ends cases at the U.S. International Trade Commission and came just as a judge was scheduled to release findings in one.

The two companies have used litigation before to get the upper hand in royalty talks over some of the most fundamental technologies in modern electronics. A 2007 agreement was reached after more than a year of lawsuits in the U.S. and Europe, with each getting access to the other's patents and Samsung making payments to Ericsson.

The ITC cases are In the Matter of Certain Electronic Devices, including Wireless Communication Devices, 337-862, and In the Matter of Certain Wireless Communication Equipment, 337-866, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

J&J Escapes $482 Million Verdict as Court Rejects Patent Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a $482 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) over disputed heart devices, rejecting an appeal by a doctor who said the company infringed his patent.

The justices yesterday left intact a federal appeals court decision that overturned the verdict. The appeals court said the judge overseeing the trial misinterpreted Bruce Saffran's patent and that, under the correct definition of key terms, J&J's Cordis unit wasn't using his invention.

The January 2011 jury award was the ninth-largest patent verdict in U.S. history, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. With more than $111 million in interest, the amount J&J was told to pay reached $593.4 million.

The case is Saffran v. Johnson & Johnson, 13-405.


Microsoft's Online Storage Gets Name Change After BSkyB Suit

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world's largest software company, changed the name of its online storage server from SkyDrive to OneDrive after settling a trademark suit brought in the U.K. by British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSY), Computerworld reported.

The case was settled in July 2013, with Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft promising to come up with a new name for the service, according to Computerworld.

Shopping-Cart Race Changes Name from Idiotarod to Idiotarodorama

Organizers of a New York shopping-cart race known as the Idiotarod changed the name of the event in response to trademark complaints from Seattle's Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, counsel for the annual Iditarod dog-sled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska.

In a posting on Facebook (FB), the cart-race organizers said they changed the name of the event to "Idiotarodorama NYC."

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Snowden Says U.S. Spy Agency Collects Economic Intelligence

There's "no doubt" the U.S. engages in industrial espionage, Edward Snowden said in an interview in which he also asserted that he worked alone in disclosing mass surveillance by the National Security Agency.

The former government contractor, now a fugitive in Russia, told a German television station that if a company such as Munich-based Siemens AG (SIE) were found to have information useful to the U.S., the NSA would use it, he said.

(BN) Silicon Valley-Backed Students Aim to Expel Bad Teachers

(Bloomberg ) A group of California public school students, backed by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and a lawyer who defended companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Apple Inc. (AAPL), are asking a judge to void state laws that they say let incompetent teachers keep their jobs. 

The students claim in a case that went to trial today that the California law providing public-school teachers with tenure and four other statutes protecting their jobs violate children's constitutional right to receive a basic education, especially in poor and minority schools.

Ted Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for the students, said the lawsuit pitting the group against teacher unions is the broadest legal challenge to tenure laws ever undertaken and is intended to set a nationwide example.

"The situation in California is one of ultimate political gridlock where you have entrenched interests fighting things out with rhetoric and campaign contributions and commercials without regard to the interests of students," he said in a phone interview. "It's kind of unfair for kids to be at the mercy of the political realm. That's where the Constitution comes in because it protects kids' fundamental right to an education."

Students Matter, the nonprofit organization backing the student's lawsuit, was started by David Welch, the president and co-founder of Sunnyvale, California-based Infinera Corp. (INFN), a maker of optical networking gear. Welch, who said in a newspaper commentary last year that "impact litigation" will be a more effective way than politics to bring about change, has joined other business leaders in a nationwide fight with teacher unions over how to better educate students and prepare them for employment.

Gates, Waltons

Billionaires including Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, homebuilding and insurance entrepreneur Eli Broad, and the Walton family that founded Wal-Mart, have been pushing for public schools to be run more like businesses. Charter schools, independent of local school districts and typically free of unionized teachers, have been one of their favorite causes.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported programs based on the premise, shared by U.S. Education Secretary and Gates ally Arne Duncan, that student performance is improved by removing bad teachers, identifying good ones and rewarding them with more money.

The Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation have given money to Students Matter, according to Manny Rivera, a spokesman for the organization. The students are represented by Boutrous and his firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Boutrous helped Wal-Mart win a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that barred a nationwide sex-discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 1 million female workers.

Opening Statement

As a nonjury trial got under way today in state court in Los Angeles, home to the biggest public school district in the U.S. after New York, Boutrous said in his opening statement that the case isn't about attacking teachers' due-process rights or scapegoating teachers for other ills in society.

"Every student in California deserves quality teachers," said Boutrous, whose opening was shown on Courtroom View Network. "It's hard to argue with that proposition."

California Deputy Attorney General Nimrod Elias, who represents the state in the case, said tenure helps attract people to low-paid jobs in often difficult work conditions. It also protects teachers from pressure by school boards when they teach controversial subjects such as evolution, Elias said.

"The harms of which these plaintiffs complain are caused by other things than these laws," Elias said in his opening statement.

The nine students haven't been able to identify a "grossly ineffective" teacher who taught them and the ones they alleged are "grossly ineffective" are actually good teachers, Elias said.

Nine Students

The Students Matter lawsuit, filed in 2012, was brought by parents on behalf of nine students who were as young as seven years old at the time of the filing and enrolled in public schools in Los Angeles, Oakland and other California districts.

If Judge Rolf Treu agrees that students' right to an education is harmed by tenure protections, he can order the state to stop enforcing the statutes.

Frank Wells, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association, said that while the lawsuit's proponents call themselves reformers, their case is part of a broader effort to undermine labor unions. Smaller class sizes and adequate resources have been proven to improve public education and are more relevant than attacking teachers, he said.

Labor 'Beef'

"It's simply not the case that California is rife with ineffective teachers," Wells said in a phone interview. "Obviously these people have some kind of beef with organized labor."

The students who sued claim that ineffective teachers are disproportionally assigned to schools mostly attended by minority or economically disadvantaged students. This makes the quality of education at California schools a function of race and wealth in violation of the equal protection provision of the state constitution, according to their complaint.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Beatriz Vergara, a 15-year-old in the Los Angeles Unified School District, described as socio-economically disadvantaged, had one teacher who consistently fell asleep in class and couldn't control his students, according to a court filing. She said she had another teacher who let students smoke marijuana in class and referred to her and her sister, Elizabeth, 16, and other Latinos using the ethnic slur "cholos," saying they would "never graduate" and would end up cleaning houses for a living.

College Dreams

"Beatriz and Elizabeth suffered the consequences of their teachers' inadequacies, as Beatriz fell behind in math and Elizabeth's writing and analytical abilities deteriorated," lawyers for the girls wrote in the filing. "They worry deeply that having another grossly ineffective teacher could put college out of reach for them entirely."

Other students, including those in elementary and middle school, experienced similarly poor instruction and insults such as being called stupid, according to court filings. One student from Encino had a "superstar" teacher in kindergarten and first grade while the principal told parents he could do nothing about her "grossly ineffective" second-grade teacher, according to the filing.

The permanent employment statute guarantees a teacher's job after an 18-month probationary period. Three other statutes require school administrators to provide written charges, a "correct and cure" procedure, and a dismissal hearing before they can fire a teacher, according to the complaint.

Least Seniority

The fifth statute stipulates that, if teachers are laid off because of budget cuts, those with least seniority are the first to lose their jobs.

"The challenged statutes prevent school administrators from prioritizing, or even meaningfully considering, the interests of their students in having effective teachers when making employment and dismissal decisions," the students said in the complaint.

Teachers' tenure in California may also be the subject of a ballot initiative in November. Matt David, a former spokesman for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was governor of the state, filed a proposed initiative last month that would make performance rather than seniority the criterion by which teachers can be laid off.

46th Ranking

California's public schools rank 46th in the U.S. in fourth-grade reading and 47th in eighth-grade math, according to the students' lawsuit. A "staggering" 98 percent of probationary teachers secured permanent employment in the Los Angeles Unified School District after either a "cursory" performance evaluation or none at all, according to the complaint.

"For our opponents to characterize the affirmation of student's fundamental constitutional right to equality of education as an attack on unions is simply incorrect," Rivera, the Student Matters spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. "When it comes to teachers, school districts are currently handcuffed from doing what's best for kids, and that simply should not be the case."

The CTA and the smaller California Federation of Teachers, which together represent about 445,000 teachers, intervened in the lawsuit last year to defend the constitutionality of the five provisions of the education code.

Avoiding Turnover

"Far from erecting the insurmountable, multimillion-dollar barriers to termination that plaintiffs allege, these statutes operate in practice to encourage effective personnel management by school districts; prevent terminations for arbitrary, unfair, or unlawful reasons; and avoid the costs to the public school system, students, and teachers of unnecessary teacher turnover," the unions said in a court filing.

Josh Pechthalt, president of the CFT, said in a phone interview that the due-process and seniority provisions that the students challenge assure that teachers can talk about controversial social issues in the classroom without having to fear for their jobs.

In 2012, unions supported a California ballot initiative that temporarily raises state income taxes for people making more than $250,000 a year. The measure, which helped public schools avoid $6 billion in funding cuts, has done more than anything else to stabilize public education in California, Pechthalt said.

The case is Vergara v. State of California, BC484642, Los Angeles County Superior Court (Los Angeles).

(BN) Berkshire Adds Concierge for Mercedes in MyAssist Deal

(Bloomberg ) Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) is betting on a service that helps companies including Ford Motor Co. (F) and Daimler AG (DAI)'s Mercedes-Benz provide live, in-car support to drivers.

Berkshire agreed to buy the assets of MyAssist Inc., a concierge and personal-assistant service, from Noel Group, according to a statement today from a unit of Buffett's Omaha, Nebraska-based company. John Noel, founder and chief executive officer of Noel, will continue to lead the company.

"We do a branded product that allows our business customers to, in essence, be the superhero for their customers in solving day-to-day problems," Noel said in an interview. For Mercedes-Benz, MyAssist provides personalized trip assistance from human attendants using "location-aware technology" from Verizon Communications Inc.

Automakers are racing to create connected cars as consumers increasingly demand their vehicles keep them constantly linked to their digital lives. In-vehicle technology is the top selling point for 39 percent of car buyers today -- more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures like horsepower and speed -- according to a December study by consulting firm Accenture.

The number of cars connected to the Internet worldwide will grow more than sixfold to 152 million in 2020 from 23 million now, according to researcher IHS Automotive.

Among MyAssist's offerings is a call center staffed by operators. As computing power and connectivity increase, automakers are moving away from human-concierge services and toward technology that draws information into the car from the cloud, said Mark Boyadjis, an IHS Automotive analyst based in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

The Oracle

"I didn't really see much life left in MyAssist, but clearly they've got more going for them if the Oracle himself is acquiring them," Boyadjis said, referring to Buffett.

Noel said he plans to build the business "in a significant way" in the next year for both MyAssist and other products in development. One possible area for expansion could be sales to businesses outside the U.S., he said.

Noel Group also agreed to sell Insure America LLC, which provides insurance products to the travel industry, to Berkshire. The acquired businesses will add about 200 employees to Buffett's company, Noel said.

The businesses will become part of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, a commercial carrier that Buffett started last year after hiring four executives from American International Group Inc. MyAssist also works with insurers.

'Potential Acquisitions'

"We are approaching potential acquisitions strategically and thoughtfully as we build our business for the long term," BHSI President Peter Eastwood said in the statement. "We believe MyAssist's list of customers speaks volumes about the appeal of its products."

Buffett, 83, built Berkshire into a $275 billion business over five decades through takeovers. He frequently highlights his willingness to retain managers after buying companies and empowers them to run their operations as they see fit. That's made Berkshire a buyer of choice for many closely held businesses.

"I've always had an interest in being aligned with Berkshire," Noel said. "It was my interest that brought about the discussion."

Terms for the MyAssist deal weren't disclosed. Noel said he agreed to sell, in part, because he admires Buffett's commitment to give most of his wealth away to charity and example of working into one's later years.

(BN) Netanyahu Gambles on Cyber Opportunities Outside Israel

(Bloomberg ) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the benefits of opening the country's cyber industry to foreign partnerships can balance out security risks.

"There is tension" between security and business, he said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 24. "I made a decision to take a gamble on expanding our cyber cooperation with companies and countries."

Netanyahu's comments suggest he may seek to loosen export licensing restrictions on cyber-related technologies after a stronger shekel and a faltering global economy led to a decline in the country's sales abroad last year. Israel's chief scientist, who runs a government project that invests in startups, last year urged an export policy reform that would balance national security needs with that of the industry.

"If you really want to extend the benefits of cyber security, then you need partners," said Netanyahu, without directly commenting on the export policy. He met with heads of state and the chief executive of Yahoo! Inc. during his three days at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

Israel's financial news website reported today that multinationals including Microsoft Corp. and Inc. have said in private talks that they plan to open cyber centers in Israel. It didn't say where it received the information.

Multinationals Present

Israel already has companies like Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP), that trades in New York with a market value of $13 billion, and software security company Trusteer Inc. that International Business Machines Corp. bought for about $800 million last year.

Hackers briefly shut down several Israeli government websites last April in a coordinated assault protesting the treatment of Palestinians. Attacks against Web hosting servers and data centers are a growing threat, Bloomberg Industries said in a Jan. 16 report citing Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) Highly publicized attacks such as on the discount chain Target Corp. have raised the profile of network security providers.

"The Internet drives growth and everything is dependent on one thing, having security," said Netanyahu. "We will balance our security needs with our business."

Israel's cyber-security industry has grown from a few dozen companies to more than 220 in the past three years, according to the Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center that monitors the industry. Seventy-eight companies in the space raised more than $400 million during that period and 20 multinationals operate development centers in Israel.

Bureau Formed

Netanyahu established the National Cyber Bureau about two years ago to promote cyber security companies, coordinate between the military, education and business sectors, and start a high school program to train students early.

The industry is augmented by young men and women who serve at least two years in military cyber security units, offering the civilian sector a pool of experienced staff.

EMC Corp., the world's largest maker of storage computers, said in November it will establish a second development center in Israel and expand activity at its first while developing solutions for the Israeli Defense ministry and military.

"There is a strong momentum in the cyber security sector and increasing interest from foreign financial, corporate and government investors," IVC Chief Executive Officer Koby Simana said in a phone interview.

Boost Exports

Cyber technology will add to Israeli exports, that account for about a third of Israel's economy and have been a growth engine for the past decade. Sales abroad contracted 0.1 percent last year, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Solving the Life vs Glory dilemma - 1

In my earlier post, I quoted Achilles' dilemma from the Iliad. He has a difficult choice between 1) a short, but glorious life of a mortal combat hero; and 2) long, but uneventful life of a provincial king. I also noted a similar choice that Neo, the main character of the Matrix, faces in the virtual world of the all-powerful Mr. Smith(s). Morpheus, another rebel hero, offers him the choice between the Blue and Red pills. Neo chooses the Red pill, which leads him to a dangerous fight with the intelligent machines that rule his world.

Here's how we can diagram the dilemma. The horizontal axis is length of Life; the vertical - Glory. The curvy line is a typical trade-off trajectory, which can take extreme positions: Red = Eternal Glory and Early Death; Blue = Long Life and No Glory.

After posting the dilemma, I went on our regular evening dog walk with Dolce, the Giant Schnauzer. As we were walking, I started to think about Achilles' choices. Neither one of them felt really attractive. Nevertheless, I was sure that the dilemma must have a solution. That is, solving trade-offs and dilemmas is the bread and butter of the TRIZ methodology, which I studied back in college and still practice in my invention work.

The key principle we need to apply here is "Think Slowly!" That is, instead of making a quick choice based on intuition, we have to carefully consider the problem situation. Luckily, a dog walk is perfect for unhurried thinking.

The first step is to get rid of simple, meaningless labels.  For example, the phrase "Blue pill or Red pill" makes the choices easy to perceive in movies, but it tells us nothing about the nature of the situation. The contrasting colors can describe a conflict between all kinds of situations: from chess, to sports teams, to countries, etc. Since we don't know the relevance of colors, when offered the Blue or Red pill, we should say "Neither" and think hard.

How to think about dilemmas? Usually, a trade-off or dilemma is a sign of a constraint that we take for granted. It acts as a box that limits our choices. To solve the dilemma, we have to think outside the box. But how? First, let's try to identify the Achilles' box.

To find the box, we need to see the situation from a different perspective. We know that Achilles is the ultimate mortal combat fighter. He achieves his eternal glory by fighting other heroes to death. In the Iliad, he challenges a famous Trojan warrior - Patroclus. Therefore, we need to add a Patroclus' perspective to the picture (above). Now, we can see the box! Achilles and Patroclus are locked in mortal combat. If one lives, another dies.

In the Iliad, Achilles kills his adversary (the red circle in the figure above). Patroclus dies, but he achieves the eternal glory because he fights valiantly. In the mortal combat dilemma, he gets the Red pill. Although the Patroclus situation is clear, Achilles appears to escape his predicament. He gets the best of both worlds: 1) eternal glory for killing the best Trojan hero; 2) long life after the combat. Achilles lives with glory!

Unfortunately, the career of a mortal combat fighter doesn't end at the last fight he wins. On the contrary, it ends when he eventually looses to the next great hero. In the Iliad, Paris (the guy who stole Helen from the Greeks) shoots and kills Achilles with an arrow. Remarkably, the arrow hits Achilles in the heel, the only unprotected part of his body (thus, the expression the Achilles' Heel).

As the result, the original prophesy is fulfilled: Achilles dies and earns eternal glory (the red circle in the figure above). Given the mortal combat box, it's easy to predict the fate of Paris too.
The Achilles dilemma strikes again: Paris dies in combat, earning for himself eternal glory and, in the process, causing the eventual destruction of Troy.

By the time Dolce and I are halfway through our walk, the original dilemma looks totally unsolvable. Nevertheless, as we continue our problem analysis, we recognize that our favorite hero Odysseus, "the man of twists and turns," manages to escape the fate of Achilles and other mortal combat heroes. That is, he earns eternal glory and lives a long, fulfilled life. Moreover, his method of problem-solving is consistent throughout the Iliad and Odyssey. In each dilemma, he finds a way to think outside the box. How? I'll try to cover his method of problem solving tomorrow. Now, it's time for a dog walk.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dilemma of the Day: Life or Glory

In the Iliad we find an excellent example of a two-dimensional dilemma. During the Trojan war Achilles has to choose between life and glory,

If I stay here and fight it out round Ilium [Troy], there is no home-coming for me, but there will be eternal glory instead. If I go back to the land of my fathers, my heroic glory will be forfeit, but my life will be long and I shall be spared an early death.

The dilemma is somewhat similar to the choice Neo faces in the Matrix: blue pill or red pill. Note, that in the Matrix the writer makes it easy for us to remember the difficult choice by labeling opposing options with different colors. We don't remember what they mean, but we do remember the colors.

tags: dilemma, story

(BN) Samsung, Google Sign Agreement to License Each Other’s Patents

(Bloomberg ) Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), the world's biggest maker of smartphones using Android software, signed a global patent-licensing agreement with Google Inc. (GOOG) to share their technologies.

The agreement covers existing patents and those filed during the next 10 years, according to an e-mailed statement today. The strengthened cooperation between the companies may reduce potential litigation, they said.

While the maker of Galaxy devices has risen to the top of the smartphone market using Android, the South Korean company is also working with others, including Intel Corp., on the Tizen open-source platform. Samsung said previously it would release its first Tizen phone in February through wireless operators including Japan's NTT Docomo Inc., which this month said it won't bring out a phone using the new system "for the time being."

"It seems like Samsung's strategy over Tizen-powered smartphones is fizzling out," said Lee Seung Woo, an analyst at IBK Securities Co. in Seoul. "Samsung seems to be reworking its strategy and sticking with Android on smartphones and developing Tizen for other applications, including its home appliances and TVs, instead."

Samsung, which released the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 last year, planned a Tizen device as one of three new high-end smartphones to compete with Apple Inc. in the most-profitable segment of the smartphone market. A February release would be four months later than the company had initially forecast.

Apple Battle

Samsung's rise has also been accompanied by patent litigation with Apple that has spanned four continents. Apple is trying to force Samsung to change or stop selling some smartphones and tablet computers, and previously won a $1 billion judgment in the U.S.

The agreement between Samsung and Mountain View, California-based Google may help the Suwon, South Korea-based company in its legal battles with Apple.

"Since Google is also a big U.S. company and has a broad range of high-profile patents and technologies, that will make Apple more cautious about future litigation," said Jung Dong Joon, a patent lawyer with SU Intellectual Property in Seoul. "It means Samsung has earned a huge ally in the ongoing legal dispute with Apple."

(BN) Apple Said to Be Exploring Expansion of Mobile Payments

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL), which has more than 400 million credit cards on file with its iTunes Store, is exploring an expansion of the mobile-payments system, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

The initiative is being led by Eddy Cue, chief of the iTunes and App Store and online services, and he has tapped executive Jennifer Bailey for the effort, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. The timing of the payments effort isn't clear, said the person.

Amy Bessette, a spokeswoman for Apple, didn't immediately return a call for comment. The plans were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

The move would expand Apple's reach into a competitive online payments field and potentially give it a new revenue source as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook looks to reignite growth. Apple hasn't entered a new product category since the 2010 debut of its iPad tablet and profit and sales growth have slowed.

Apple released an upgraded smartphone, the iPhone 5s, last year with a fingerprint sensor that opens more opportunities for the device to be a tool for making purchases at stores, technology analysts have said. The fingerprint technology is initially being used to confirm the purchase of a song or movie through iTunes, or an application from Apple's App Store. The credit-card numbers on file through iTunes could also be leveraged for a system in which an iPhone could be used as a new digital credit card, analysts have said.

Streamternet - a new term for describing our post-web world.

I've been struggling for a while to find a name for the new, post-web reality of the Internet. In Scalable Innovation (Section 3), we explain why we think that the web is dead, but we don't use any new word to mark the new reality. 

The core idea is that instead of sending files, we now deal with streams, e.g. video or update messages: Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, High-Frequency Trading, etc. In system terms, we see a dramatic change in the Packaged Payload and the intensity of its flow. 

Fundamentally, the iPhone and Google Glass are Streamternet devices. Their zoomable interfaces allow us to zoom in and out of the stream of information, and see it, e.g. in 2D, 3D, or 4D. The difference between the web and Streamternet is that time flows differently in them. That is, the intensity of data transactions is 100X higher on the Streamternet.

web, streamternet, system, packaged, payload, tool, 10X

Thursday, January 23, 2014

(BN) Novo Nordisk, Big Sky, Tudou: Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOB) quit the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa amid disagreements over a proposed publicity campaign against new laws that favor cheaper generic drugs.

Ipasa had e-mailed members including global drugmakers Merck & Co. and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) to ask whether they supported a document prepared by Washington-based lobbying firm Public Affairs Engagement that said drug companies should support the campaign against South Africa's overhaul of intellectual property laws.

"Novo said it didn't support the PAE proposal and last week distanced itself from the association," Ipasa Chief Operating Officer Val Beaumont said by phone yesterday.

The Bagsvaerd, Denmark-based company resigned from Ipasa on Jan. 17, company spokeswoman Shelley Harris said by e-mail.


Big Sky Brewing Drops 'Hold My Beer' Case Against Anheuser-Busch

A craft brewer dropped its trademark case against Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (BUD), the world's biggest brewery, according to a court filing.

Big Sky Brewing Co. of Missoula, Montana, filed the complaint in federal court Dec. 20, saying it objected to Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch's use of the phrase "Hold my beer and watch this" in promotional videos the company has uploaded to Google Inc. (GOOG)'s YouTube video-sharing website.

The Jan. 22 court filing says only that Big Sky dismissed the case before Anheuser-Busch had been served. The videos at issue are no longer available on YouTube.

The case is Big Sky Brewing Co. v. Anheuser Busch LLC, 13-cv-00307, U.S. District Court, District of Montana (Missoula).

Bunny in Ear of Mandela Statue is Trademark, Artists Claim

The artists who created a statue of Nelson Mandela claim the tiny rabbit figure in the ear of the late South African leader is a trademark and wasn't intended as a sign of disrespect, the Guardian reported.

South African government officials are demanding the bunny be removed from the statue, which stands outside government buildings in Pretoria, according to the U.K. newspaper.

One critic said leaving the rabbit in Mandela's ear would be like making a statue of Barack Obama with a bunny in his nose, the newspaper reported.


Tudou Unit Fined Almost $50,000 for Infringement in China

Tudou Holdings Ltd.'s video-sharing website was fined 370,000 yuan ($49,568) for copyright violations in China, the Global Times reported.

The plaintiffs were EDKO Film Co. and, according to the newspaper.

A film and a television program are at issue, the newspaper reported.

IP Address Isn't Enough to Bring Infringement Claim, Judge Says

A federal judge in Seattle dismissed a movie company's copyright-infringement suit, saying that an alleged infringer's Internet Protocol address alone isn't enough information on which to state a claim.

U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said in his Jan. 17 ruling that simply identifying the account holder associated with an IP address "tells us very little" about who actually downloaded the film.

The case is Elf-Man LLC v. Cariveau, 13-cv-00507, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

Trade Secrets

Freedom Industries Calls Spilled Chemical's Ingredients Secret

Freedom Industries Inc., the chemical maker whose leaky storage tank polluted the Elk River in West Virginia, declined to reveal the exact components of one of the chemicals involved in the spill, the Charleston Daily News reported.

The company said that while the components of one of the chemicals are "polyglycol ethers," their specific identity is a trade secret, according to the newspaper.

(BN) Vringo, DC Comics, Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg ) 

Vringo Inc. (VRNG) won a patent ruling entitling it to additional royalties from Google Inc. (GOOG) over its AdWords product.

A modified version of AdWords is "nothing more than a colorable variation of the infringing system," U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk, Virginia, said in an opinion posted yesterday on the court's website.

Vringo "is entitled to ongoing royalties as long as defendants continue to use the modified system," the judge wrote.

The case is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 11-cv-00512, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Norfolk). The appeal is I/P Engine Inc. v. AOL Inc., 14-1233, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).

Medtronic Loses Appeals Court Bid to Revive Edwards Case

Medtronic Inc. (MDT) lost its appeals court bid to revive patent-infringement claims against Edwards Lifesciences Corp. over a prosthetic valve used in open-heart surgery.

Aspects of a Medtronic patent asserted against Edwards are invalid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington said in an opinion posted on its website. Medtronic had argued its invention dated to 2000, while the appeals court said a trial judge in California was correct to say it was 2003, well after other patent applications were made public.

The case is part of a broader dispute between the two companies, with Medtronic getting its CoreValve device approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and a federal jury in Delaware awarding Edwards $392 million against Medtronic.

The case is Medtronic CoreValve LLC v. Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (EW), 13-1117, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington).


North Face Accused of Olympic 'Ambush Marketing' in Canada

VF Corp. (VFC)'s North Face unit was accused by the Canadian Olympic Committee of creating a line of clothing that falsely associates itself with the upcoming Sochi Olympics, Toronto's Globe & Mail newspaper reported.

The committee objects to some of the clothing in North Face's "International Collection" decorated with the Canadian flag or features a world map with a red star designating Sochi's location, and it claims North Face is engaging in so-called "ambush marketing," according to the newspaper.

North Face, which is not a marketing partner of the Canadian or International Olympic committee, was sent a cease-and-desist letter by Canadian Olympic authorities, the Globe & Mail reported. Opposes Stoic's 'Banner Saga' Trademark Application Ltd., the maker of the "Candy Crush Saga" social-media game, is opposing the "Banner Saga" trademark application for computer game software filed by Austin, Texas-based Stoic LLC.

Stoic, which created a Viking-themed computer game named "The Banner Saga," filed an application in January 2013 to register the mark, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office., which filed its notice of opposition Dec. 27, is seeking to register "Candy" as a U.S. trademark.


Appeals Court Ends Copyright Fight Over DC Comics' Superman

Time Warner Inc. (TWX)'s DC Comics unit's long-standing copyright battle with the heirs to the two creators of the Superman character apparently has ended. A federal appeals court said Jan. 21 that it would not rehear the case, in which it delivered a ruling in November 2013.

The U.S. appeals court said at the time that the heirs had previously granted DC Comics all the rights to the character, and that they could not rescind that agreement.

The case is DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp., 12-57245, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

City-Owned Casino Director's Pay Justification Called a Secret

Mystique Casino, a city-owned gambling establishment in Dubuque, Iowa, refused to provide justification for its chief executive's pay, claiming it is a trade secret, the Des Moines Register reported.

The newspaper made the inquiry after records indicated that as the casino's revenues dropped 20 percent in the past five fiscal years, the executive's salary rose 38 percent to an annual compensation of $708,898 in 2012.

Counsel for the casino directed its present and past board members, some of whom are publicly elected, not to speak with the newspaper, according to the Register.

(BN) NSA’s Spying on Phone Calls Illegal: U.S. Privacy Board

(Bloomberg ) The U.S. National Security Agency is illegally collecting phone call records from millions of Americans and the program should be stopped, a federal privacy board said in a report issued today.

The five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by Congress to protect privacy under post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism laws, said in a 238-page report that the program has provided only "minimal" help to the U.S. in thwarting other terrorist attacks.

This panel has no authority to change the programs and President Barack Obama last week presented his own plan without waiting for its report. Obama said he would address legal and privacy issues raised by NSA surveillance while continuing NSA collection and use of bulk phone records.

The board's conclusions present a public relations challenge for a White House under pressure from phone and Internet companies, foreign governments and civil libertarians after disclosures by former government contractor Edward Snowden of electronic spying by the NSA.

Big Data Meets Big Surveillance

By questioning the program's legality, the panel may give ammunition to critics in Congress and fuel legal challenges. At the same time, the board's 3-2 split on the question of legality of collecting phone data from such carriers as Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and AT&T Inc. may diminish the impact of the report and highlights the complexities of balancing security and democratic freedoms.

Administration Reaction

Obama and his advisers met with board members "multiple times" and their recommendations were taken into account in the administration's review, Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in an e-mail.

"We disagree with the board's analysis on the legality" of the telephone metadata program, she said. Based on federal court rulings, "the administration believes that the program is lawful."

The board said the U.S. justification for the phone records collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act "implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value."

"As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program," the report said.

Obama's Defense

The bombshell nature of the report's central conclusion may explain why Obama, after meeting with the board on its planned recommendations weeks ago, decided to announce his proposals on Jan. 17. Obama defended U.S. electronic spying as a bulwark against terrorism. He proposed changing aspects of the phone metadata program, which may require Congress to sort out details such as whether the government, the phone companies or an unidentified third party should retain the data.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the judiciary committee and a critic of the NSA programs, said the finding will add to growing support for limiting government surveillance.

"The report reaffirms the conclusion of many that the Section 215 bulk phone records program has not been critical to our national security, is not worth the intrusion on Americans' privacy, and should be shut down immediately," he said in a statement.

Board Dissent

Three of the five privacy board members agreed with the legal analysis that the NSA's phone records collection is illegal, while two other panelists said the board should limit its review to whether the program violates privacy and civil liberties. The dissenters served in President George W. Bush's administration. All the members were appointed by Obama and confirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and chairman of the House intelligence committee, who has been supportive of the surveillance tools, seized on that disagreement in an e-mailed statement today.

"In 38 times over the past seven years, 17 federal judges have examined this issue and found the telephone metadata program to be legal, concluding this program complies with both the statutory text and with the U.S. Constitution," Rogers said. "I don't believe the Board should go outside its expertise to opine on the effectiveness of counterterrorism programs."

The panel's findings were reported earlier by the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Internet Data

Internet companies such as Google Inc. (GOOG), Yahoo! Inc., and Facebook Inc., which have pushed for more transparency about government court requests for e-mail and other content from their customers, should be able to "voluntarily disclose certain statistical information," the report said. "In addition, the government should publicly disclose more detailed statistics to provide a more complete picture of government surveillance operations."

Obama had deferred decisions regarding the NSA's Internet data collection to Congress and a new panel expected to be appointed.

Members of the privacy board briefed Obama on their planned recommendations ahead of his Jan. 17 announcement. The recommendations from the bipartisan, independent agency housed in the executive branch also follows a December report by a separate, independent review panel appointed by the president.

Privacy Panel

The privacy panel, created by Congress in 2007 but only operational last year, is led by David Medine, a former Federal Trade Commission official in former President Bill Clinton's administration. Medine agreed with the findings along with retired appeals court Judge Patricia M. Wald, and James X. Dempsey, a civil liberties advocate who specializes in technology issues.

The two members who disagreed with the legal analysis are Washington attorneys Rachel Brand and Elisebeth Collins Cook.

Obama said he would require judicial review of requests to query phone call databases and ordered the Justice Department and intelligence officials to devise a way to take storage of that data out of the government's hands.

He left other steps to limit surveillance up to a divided Congress, meaning that other changes may be months away if they are adopted at all.

Obama gave Attorney General Eric Holder and intelligence officials 60 days to develop a plan for storing bulk telephone records outside of government custody, one of the most contentious issues arising from Snowden's disclosures.

New Panel

Phone companies, such as Verizon and AT&T, have resisted being required to retain telephone metadata for the government because of the potential cost and legal exposure. An entity to take on that role doesn't yet exist. The administration plans to deliver a proposal on data storage to Congress by the end of March.

Obama called for the creation of an outside panel of advocates to weigh in on new and major privacy issues before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The most concrete and immediate changes announced by Obama will require judicial review for queries of the metadata records. In addition, the government can no longer access records that go beyond two persons removed from the query the government makes.

Under the president's plan, the U.S. won't monitor the communications of leaders of close allies unless there is a compelling national security interest while that leaves loopholes for the U.S. government to continue its spying abroad.