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California Based Apple Sued for Patent Infringement Over Touch Technology

April 24, 2012,

apple-logo-gray.jpgCalifornia - FlatWorld Interactives is suing Apple for patent infringement alleging that Apple's touch technology infringes one of FlatWorld's patents. The company out of Pennsylvania is seeking a permanent injunction from the infringement and for compensatory damages as well.

According to the complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Northern California District of California, FlatWorld is accusing Apple of knowingly infringing its patents with products such as its iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. FlatWorld is a designer of touchscreen systems used in museum displays.

In addition to seeking a jury trial, FlatWorld is requesting an immediate injunction to ban Apple from the alleged infringement. Patent attorneys representing FlatWorld claim that Apple's infringement has been on such a large scale that it has caused the company irreparable harm. Flatworld is seeking monetary damages appropriate to the level of infringement, however the amount was not specified.

The FlatWorld patent at issue involves technology that allows users to manipulate images using gestures such as flicking images off the screen and selecting the image by touching it. The goal of the gesture recognition technique is for children to have an easier and more intuitive way of interacting with computers.

FlatWorld Interactive was founded in January 2007 by cognitive science and digital design professor Slavko Milekic. Ten years earlier in 1997, Milekic had filed a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the technology, claiming priority of use from that date. He was then granted U.S. Patent No. 6,920,619 in July 2005. After creating FlatWorld in 2007, Milekic assigned the patent to the company.

The companies are scheduled to appear in a case management conference later this year to discuss the important issues in the case to avoid an unnecessary and demanding discovery process when preparing for trial.

No comment was available from Apple on the pending litigation.

Valuable Rambus Patent Deemed Invalid by Patent and Trademark Office

February 1, 2012,

circuit-chip-processor.jpgCalifornia - An appeals board for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently invalidated a third patent from tech licensing company Rambus Incorporated. According to legal documents, Rambus has used the patents to win several patent infringement lawsuits against Hewlett-Packard, Nvidia Corp., and others. The previous two patents were invalidated in September.

The three patents that the USPTO has declared invalid are known as the Barth patents and involve DDR-SDRAM memory chip technology used in personal computers. Rambus, established in 1990, has long considered the Barth patents to be among its most valued intellectual property. By aggressively using the three memory chip patents to pursue patent infringement claims against technology companies, Rambus has earned millions of dollars in licensing fees from settlement agreements resulting from its patent infringement claims.

The most recent patent invalidation by the USPTO comes as bad news to Rambus, whose stock fell sixty percent after a November 16 court decision in which it lost a $4 billion antitrust lawsuit against Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. The company's stock share prices fluctuate dramatically based on the successes and failures of its intellectual property in litigation and licensing deals.

The three Barth patents were also among six that Rambus accused a long list of technology companies of infringing in a 2011 complaint with the United States International Trade Commission. The list of companies included in the Trade Commission complaint included STMicroelectonics, MediaTek, Broadcom, and others. Broadcom has since settled the lawsuit.

It remains unclear whether Rambus has filed an appeal with the USPTO to the September invalidation of two of the Barth patents. If the company were to appeal the invalidation of the third Barth patent, it would be sent back to the patent examiner for review, who would be unlikely to disrupt the decision of the appeals board. Once the appeals process at the USPTO has been exhausted, Rambus will be able to dispute the patent invalidations to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C..

European Commission Investigating Alleged Patent Ambush By Honeywell And Dupont

December 20, 2011,

automobile.jpgCalifornia - The European Commission is opening an investigation against Dupont Co. and Honeywell International Inc. into whether they concealed patents and patent applications necessary to develop automobile refrigerant, known as Solstice 1234yf, during the development of standards pertaining to that technology. Honeywell and Dupont jointly developed an automobile refrigerant for air conditioning systems for all new cars sold in the European Union (EU) beginning in 2017, replacing the previously-used ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) refrigerant. As the sole providers of this refrigerant, EU antitrust regulators are investigating whether Honeywell and Dupont entered into anti-competitive arrangements over the joint development, licensing, and production of the refrigerant.

Further, EU regulators are also investigating Honeywell after receiving complaints of deceptive conduct with regards to Honeywell's business practices. Honeywell has been accused of not disclosing patents and patent applications to the Society of Automobile Engineers when developing the standards for the automobile refrigerant and failing to grant licenses on fair and reasonable terms.

Complainants allege Honeywell has committed a patent ambush which occurs when a company withholds relevant information to a standard-setting organization creating a standard in favor of the withholding company. Any company wishing to license the productwould have to pay a substantial royalty, effectively creating a barrier to entry into the market.

French company Arkema filed a complaint with EU regulators in April, 2011 arguing that Honeywell and Dupont did not engage in fair and reasonable negotiations for licensing the automobile refrigerant. Arkema said in a statement, "Arkema will continue to fully collaborate to the investigation which purpose of which is to clarify the legal environement related to Honeywell andDupont`s patents."

EU Competition [Antitrust] Commissioner Joaquin Almunia stated, he wanted to make sure that intellectual property rights "are used to reward inventions and motivate innovation and not as tools to foreclose access for expansion in markets."

Honeywell's spokesperson Peter Dalpe, maintains that the company's actions were compliant with the law and that "the Commission will conclude that we acted in full compliance with European Union competition rules." Dupont also contends that its actions complied with the law and that they will cooperate with the investigation.

If found in violation of European antitrust laws, Honeywell and Dupont could be fined up to 10 percent of yearly sales or required to change business practices that harm competition.