July 2012

July 26, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – After a protracted legal battle, Apple announced this week that it has secured an injunction in a German Court against Samsung to prevent further distribution of its Galaxy Tab 7.7. Much to the delight of Apple, the result of the injunction is a ban on all sales of its competitor’s tablet in the European Union. The German Court rejected Samsung’s argument that the ban should only be applicable to German markets, and not the entire European Union. In anticipation of the wide reach of the ban, products have already been pulled from stores in Germany.

According to reports, the German court determined that Apple’s South Korean competitor copied its 2004 product designs. However, regardless of the final outcome of the EU patent infringement action, all is not lost for Samsung. German courts neglected to direct a full ban on sales of the redesigned Galaxy Tab 10 and allowed it to continue being sold in Germany. A redesigned tablet case likely saved the latest version of the product from also being banned.

Despite this recent ruling, Samsung continues to insist that its product, the Galaxy 10, does not infringe on Apple’s patents or violate laws of unfair competition. Apple’s most significant competitor argues that innovation and progress in the industry will be severely restricted if Apple is continually allowed to win legal claims based what it considers generic design patents. It is also important to note that Samsung recently won a similar case in the United Kingdom. Unlike the courts in Germany, the UK courts ruled that the Galaxy Tab 7.7 did not infringe on Apple’s patents. To the surprise of many who were watching the case, the judge stated in his decision that Samsung could not have copied the Apple patents because the Samsung products were “not as cool” as the iPad. In the ruling, Apple was also ordered to publicly state on its website that Samsung was not guilty of infringing on its patents.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Samsung and Apple continue to battle over intellectual property. Preliminary injunctions against the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus are currently pending. Both parties eagerly await the outcome of upcoming rulings, as they will likely dictate the degree of success each will have in the very hot tablet marketplace in the upcoming months.

July 19, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Some might call this a year of innovation for Apple, as the pace of new and improved products seems to be increasing. New smartphones, head-mounted computer display devices, a sophisticated new stylus, and new technology abounds as the California company further increases its market share and pushes its stock price even higher.

Smartphone cases were one of the more recent innovations that were both functional, practical, and allowed users to express their personalities with a variety of colors and designs. Apple’s most recent contribution to its patent portfolio is a noise-canceling iPhone case. The newest patent involves a “windscreen”, designed to reduce distracting background sounds that are usually picked up by the device’s microphone and result in decreased sound quality. The patent is also good for all portable electronic devices that enable two-way conversations in real time.

Originally filed January 11, 2011, patent application number 20120177239 shows a diagram with a windscreen over the microphone, which is specially designed to reduce wind noise, air blasts and any other noise that may negatively affect call quality. The patent includes a diagram that shows a “windscreen” sealed across the opening of the case, aligned with the device’s microphone port.

The new product would effectively allow intelligible speech despite background noise and without requiring the user to increase call or voice volume. According to the patent application, the case will be formed from plastic, acrylic, polycarbonate, silicon, or rubber. The screen will likely be of mesh, foam or a feather-like material. And like the current products, the new noise-reduction cases will be available in different colors and designs. A release date for the new iPhone case has not been determined yet. However, judging by the shape of the case in the diagram, it appears that iPhones will remain the same size and shape or the new case will be released prior to any changes down the road for iPhone designs.

July 18, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Everyone knows someone who owns a videogame system or someone that is anxiously waiting for the latest great thing in that industry. According to recently published patent documents, Microsoft’s latest patent for a scaleable console would allow consumers to customize their Xbox.

Much like what PC gamers can do with desktop computers, the new patent would allow users to add or remove components, creating a video gaming system to suit individual needs. Under the recently published patent application, Microsoft described a basic platform that would be offered with hardware resources to scale up or down according to needs of the user. In addition, the product would have two smaller gaming consoles combined for single use that can be upgraded with an optional third console to assist the other two.

Xbox fans who are clamoring for new products are already wondering what the practical application is for the newest Xbox rendition. Microsoft answers many of these questions in its patent documents which show that the new product will be capable of running apps and opening a strategy guide simultaneously while playing games. Under the new patent, one hardware component would handle the game while another would deal with the apps and other functions. According to Microsoft, this new form of “communication fabric” allows maneuvers and links the console properties, while performing the critical regulation of bandwidth. As such, each hardware component is regulated so as to not unnecessarily leech system resources from critical components.

In addition to a new look and hardware composition, the newest version of the Xbox could be subsidized with monthly payments and yearly updates, eliminating backwards compatibility issues. And although the patent application was only recently filed in 2010, parents and video game enthusiasts are fervently hoping the product will make its way into the marketplace in time for Christmas 2012.

July 16, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Qualcomm owns thousands of patents and has dozens more in development to add to its significant patent portfolio. Additionally, as a leader in mobile technologies and chip manufacturing, Qualcomm has long captured a significant market share by ensuring that its products are embedded in the top computers, phones and other hand-held devices.

However, its mobile technologies have become more and more important in its company growth plan. Mobile technologies account for 90% of Qualcomm’s patent licensing revenues and a large chunk of the company’s revenue on the whole. Moreover, Qualcomm’s patents are becoming increasingly significant as the use of 3G and 4G networks proliferate. Consequently, the San Diego based communications specialist and chip manufacturer recently determined that its current business structure did not adequately support the desired direction of its development and sales. As such, Qualcomm announced that it has plans to restructure its business operations. That reorganization includes the addition of new units to handle its chip business, effectively separating that part of its business from its key mobile communications and other intellectual property.

This is not to say that Qualcomm’s chip development is not also an integral part of its business. Apple is one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers using Qualcomm’s baseband chips in its tremendously popular iPhones and iPads. Additionally, the Snapdragon chip for smart phones and tablets is being used in Google’s Android and future laptops supporting Microsoft’s Windows RT Operating Systems. Qualcomm is highly motivated to continue its growth in the chip manufacturing field, thus the separation of its critical portions of business are expected to yield positive results almost immediately. To that end, Qualcomm expects that it’s reshuffling of business operations will allow products and services to be delivered more quickly and efficiently.

The tech behemoth also anticipates that separation of its open-source contributions from its 3G/4G patents will allow for greater efforts to increase market shares in both areas. Qualcomm is one of the more prolific and aggressive patent licensing companies with a significant patent portfolio. However, the nature of its internal organization did not allow for as much development in open-source software as many other top companies in the industry. It is anticipated that the recent reorganization will allow for greater contributions to open-source communities, as well as concurrent patent development. Patents are not necessary for contribution, but the restructure will now allow Qualcomm to compete with IBM and other significant open-source contributors without weakening the company’s market share.

July 6, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

Los Angeles – Almost everyone knows someone who has accidentally dropped their phone in water and then been forced to deal with the unhappy repercussions. Most people first attempt to dry out the device before resorting to customer service just purchasing a new phone.

With an eye toward this problem, Apple announced this week that it has received a patent for its liquid contact indicator technology. Patent 8,210,032 was awarded for Apple’s technology that can quickly determine whether or not a device has been submerged in liquid. The tiny electronic device, intended for use by customer service representatives, is placed inside the product and provides a visual indicator when a product is dropped into water or any other liquid. The liquid indicator technology included in Apple’s new patent is particularly helpful because water damage is one of the top reasons for product malfunction. Because it is sometimes difficult to determine the exact reason for product malfunction by a simple physical examination or a quick phone call, verification of water exposure is an essential troubleshooting feature. The instantaneous verification of a blinking red light can assist customer service representatives to quickly ascertain the exact nature of the problem, provide more efficient trouble-shooting and help in warranty claim assessment.

Despite the fact that the patent for its water detection device was filed in 2010 and awarded only recently, Apple has included some form of the technology in products since the inception of the iPhone. The water detection technology is particularly important because Apple’s iPhone warranty specifically excludes water damage. Apple’s iPhones currently have a small button that shows red when a device is dropped in water, thus giving customer service representatives the instant ability to ascertain specific details about product malfunction. Consequently, by instantly eliminating the warranty claims of any consumer who has dropped their device in water, the company can save thousands of dollars in insurance claims and countless hours of wasted customer service representative troubleshooting.