Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Last week, the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product that you can either use to turn water into a presumably not-that-delicious marg or to snort if you don't care too much about your brain cells. It's the first time a powdered alcohol product has been approved for sale in the US, but not the first time someone has devised one, and such products have been available in parts of Europe for a few years now. Now you may be wondering, as I was, how the heck do you go about powdering alcohol? As you might expect, there's quite a bit of chemistry involved, but the process doesn't seem overly difficult; we've known how to do it since the early 1970s, when researchers at the General Foods Corporation (now a subsidiary of Kraft) applied for a patent for an 'alcohol-containing powder.'" It turns out the labels were issued in error, so don't expect it to be available soon. But it does appear to be a real thing that someone is trying to have approved.
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theodp (442580) writes "As Google Glass goes on sale [ed: or rather, went on sale] to the general public, GeekWire reports that Bill Gates has already snagged one patent for 'detecting and responding to an intruding camera' and has another in the works. The invention proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are among the 16 co-inventors of the so-called Unauthorized Viewer Detection System and Method, which the patent application notes is useful 'while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present.' So, is Bill's patent muse none other than NYC subway rider Sergey Brin?" A more cynical interpretation: closing the analog hole. Vaguely related, mpicpp pointed out that Google filed a patent for cameras embedded in contact lenses.
An anonymous reader writes "Vidya Narayanan spent seven years working on the Internet Engineering Task Force, and was nominated for the Internet Architecture Board. But she declined the nomination and left the IETF because standards bodies are not able to keep up with the rapid pace of tech development. She says, '[W]hile the pace at which standards are written hasn't changed in many years, the pace at which the real world adopts software has become orders of magnitude faster. Standards, unfortunately, have become the playground for hashing out conflicts and carrying out silo-ed agendas and as a result, have suffered a drastic degradation. ... Running code and rough consensus, the motto of the IETF, used to be realizable at some point. Nowadays, it is as though Margaret Thatcher's words, "consensus is the lack of leadership" have come to life. In the name of consensus, we debate frivolous details forever. In the name of patents, we never finish. One recent case in point is the long and painful codec battles in the WebRTC working group.'"
itwbennett writes: "On Tuesday, China's Ministry of Commerce gave conditional regulatory approval to Microsoft's purchase of Nokia's Devices & Services business. The $7.2 billion deal means that Microsoft could very soon produce its own smartphones using the Windows Phone operating system. In return, China is requiring Microsoft and Nokia to make promises on fair patent use, fearing that the proposed acquisition between the two companies could spell trouble for the nation's Android device makers."
theodp (442580) writes "GeekWire reports that a Microsoft researcher's 1991 video could torpedo Apple's key 'slide to unlock' patent, one of 5 patents that the iPhone maker cited in its demand for $40 per Samsung phone. Confronted with what appears to be damning video evidence of prior art that pre-dates its 'invention' by more than a decade, Apple has reportedly argued that the sliding on/off switch demoed by Catherine Plaisant is materially different than the slide to unlock switch that its 7 inventors came up with. Apple's patent has already been deemed invalid in Europe because of similar functionality present in the Swedish Neonode N1M." The toggle widgets demoed in the video (attached below) support sliding across the toggle to make it more difficult to swap state (preventing accidental toggling). The video itself is worth a watch — it's interesting to see modern UIs adopting some of the idioms that testing in the early 90s showed were awful (e.g. Gtk+ 3's state toggles).
Zothecula (1870348) writes "At Microsoft's Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot has demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in just under 30 seconds. With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car."
concertina226 (2447056) writes with this excerpt from IBTimes: "Apple has been granted a patent for interchangeable camera lenses — which could be used on the up-coming iPhone 6. The application was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in remarkably quick time, according to Patently Apple. Patent No. 8,687,299 has been granted to Apple today for 'Bayonet attachment mechanisms,' i.e. a bayonet mount that is able to securely attach lenses to an iOS device, such as an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. A bayonet mount is a fastening mechanism which is typically seen on cameras, used to attach lenses to the camera body. At the moment, there is no adjustable camera lens system in existence for smartphones, although there are lots of third party macro lens products that consumers can buy to clip onto their smartphone."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh on Sunday overruled Samsung Electronics' objections to showing jurors a recent instructional video on how patents work, ahead of a trial in a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung. The new video, called 'The Patent Process: An Overview for Jurors,' was developed by the Federal Judicial Center to provide jurors with an introduction to the patent system. Samsung's objection is to several scenes in which Apple products are depicted and used (and, by extension, seen as patentable and innovative)."
walterbyrd (182728) writes "The case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, poses huge risks for both sides. If the court upholds the patent or rules only narrowly against it without affecting most others, the problem of too many patents — and patent lawsuits — will continue. In that case, Justice Stephen Breyer said, future competition could move from price and quality to 'who has the best patent lawyer.'"
jfruh (300774) writes "The venerable Nortel Networks may have vanished into bankruptcy five years ago, but thanks to U.S. patent law, it can strike back at its old rival Cisco from beyond the grave. Spherix, a Virginia-based 'research company' that bought Nortel's patents in 2009, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Cisco has been knowingly violating 11 Nortel patents. 'The vast majority of Cisco's switching and routing revenue from March 2008 until the present is and has been generated by products and services implementing technology that infringes the Asserted Patents,' the lawsuit claims."
Lemeowski (3017099) writes "In a time where there's a 'gold rush' for 3D printing patents, there's one company that's doing everything it can to keep its 3D printers as open as possible. Jeff Moe, CEO of Aleph Objects, said in an interview with Opensource.com that his company's strategy is 'to not patent anything, but to establish prior art as soon as we can. So when we develop things we try to push it out there as soon as possible and hope to establish prior art if there isn't prior art already. That allows us to develop a lot more quickly.' The company makes the Lulzbot 3D printers, and goes to the extreme of publishing every last detail about its printers, Moe said, including syncing its internal file system that it uses to share files on the development of the machine to the public every hour so you can see what they're doing."
First time accepted submitter tor528 (896250) writes "Patent troll Personal Audio has sued top podcasters including Adam Carolla and HowStuffWorks, claiming that they own the patent for delivery of episodic content over the Internet. Adam Carolla is fighting back and has started a Fund Anything campaign to cover legal fees. From the Fund Anything campaign page: 'If Adam Carolla loses this battle, then every other Podcast will be quickly shut down. Why? Because Patent Trolls like Personal Audio would use a victory over Carolla as leverage to extort money from every other Podcast.. As you probably know, Podcasts are inherently small, owner-operated businesses that do not have the financial resources to fight off this type of an assault. Therefore, Podcasts as we know them today would cease to exist.' James Logan of Personal Audio answered Slashdotters' questions in June 2013. Links to the patent in question can be found on Personal Audio's website. The EFF filed a challenge against Personal Audio's podcasting patent in October 2013."
An anonymous reader writes with this news from MIT's Technology Review: "Like other federal agencies, the NSA is compelled by law to try to commercialize its R&D. It employs patent attorneys and has a marketing department that is now trying to license inventions ... The agency claims more than 170 patents ... But the NSA has faced severe challenges trying to keep up with rapidly changing technology. ... Most recently, the NSA's revamp included a sweeping effort to dismantle ... 'stovepipes,' and switch to flexible cloud computing ... in 2008, NSA brass ordered the agency's computer and information sciences research organization to create a version of the system Google uses to store its index of the Web and the raw images of Google Earth. That team was led by Adam Fuchs, now Sqrrl's chief technology officer. Its twist on big data was to add 'cell-level security,' a way of requiring a passcode for each data point ... that's how software (like the infamous PRISM application) knows what can be shown only to people with top-secret clearance. Similar features could control access to data about U.S. citizens. 'A lot of the technology we put [in] is to protect rights," says Fuchs. Like other big-data projects, the NSA team's system, called Accumulo, was built on top of open-source code because "you don't want to have to replicate everything yourself," ... In 2011, the NSA released 200,000 lines of code to the Apache Foundation. When Atlas Venture's Lynch read about that, he jumped—here was a technology already developed, proven to work on tens of terabytes of data, and with security features sorely needed by heavily regulated health-care and banking customers.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Apple and Samsung couldn't agree on a patent cross-license even though their CEOs met recently. What could be the reason (or one of the reasons) is that Apple is asking for obscenely high patent royalties. At the March 31 trial an Apple-hired expert will present to a California jury (already the third jury trial in this dispute) a damages claim of $40 per device (phone or tablet) for just a handful of software patents. The patents are related to, but don't cover all aspects and elements of, functionalities like slide-to-unlock, autocorrect, data synchronization, unified search and the famous tap-on-phone-number-to-dial feature. Google says there are 250,000 patentable inventions in a smartphone. On average, Apple wants $8 per patent per device. That would add a patent licensing bill of $2 million to each gadget. So Apple and Samsung will be back to court again later this month."
An anonymous reader writes "Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. Michael Geist reports that the intellectual property chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals — particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia — the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. Instead, the approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections. That means no copyright term extension, no three-strikes and you're out rules, and increase to pharma patents."
rjmarvin writes "Samsung looks to have found a way around voice commands for smart glasses by projecting an augmented reality keyboard onto users' hands. Galaxy Glass wearers' thumbs are used as input devices, tapping different areas of their fingers where various keys are virtually mapped. According to the August 2013 patent filing with the WIPO and South Korea's Intellectual Property Office, Samsung states that voice controls are too imprecise a technology, which are too heavily impacted by the noise levels of the surrounding environment."
An anonymous reader writes "If you think the average wait of 28.3 months for a patent to be approved is ridiculous, don't complain to Gilbert P. Hyatt. The 76-year-old inventor has been waiting over forty years for a ruling on whether his electronic signal to control machinery should be granted a patent. 'It's totally unconscionable,' said Brad Wright, a patent lawyer with Banner & Witcoff in Washington who specializes in computer-related applications and isn't involved in Hyatt's case. 'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'"
WebMink writes "In rare joint move, the OSI and FSF have joined with Eben Moglen's Software Freedom Law Center to file a U.S. Supreme Court briefing in the CLS vs Alice case. The brief asserts the basic arguments that processes are not patentable if they are implemented solely through computer software, and that the best test for whether a software-implemented invention is solely implemented through software is whether special apparatus or the transformation of matter have been presented as part of the claims (the 'machine or transformation' test). They assert that finding software-only inventions unpatentable will not imperil the pace of software innovation, citing the overwhelming success of open source in the software industry as proof."
Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital restrictions management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
itwbennett writes "The Obama administration on Thursday launched a website with information to assist people and businesses targeted in patent lawsuits or receiving patent demand letters. The White House also announced that it would launch a new crowdsourcing initiative focused on identifying prior art (evidence of existing inventions) that the USPTO can use to reject bad patent claims and will expand a USPTO patent examiner technical training program by allowing outside technologists to help with the training."