Microsoft filed a lawsuit today suing Barnes & Noble and its two contract manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec for patent infringement involving the Nook e-reader. Filed in the US District Court in Washington and with the US International Trade Commission, the action actually targets the entire Android platform.
Microsoft has filed a patent application which would give large-scale touchscreen computers, such as its Surface multitouch table, a dynamically changing display capable of physically presenting keys, buttons and other controls. The technology would rely on a layer of light-induced shape-memory polymer across the touchscreen surface, and which could be controlled by ultraviolet light to either protrude and harden or relax and soften.
HTC phone group announced today a licensing agreement and strategic alliance, namely, working with Intellectual Ventures (IV) to gain long-term access to IV's patent portfolio which includes more than 30,000 IP assets which will allow HTC to "defend itself and its subsidiaries from potential litigation." What's all that mean? It basically means that there's now 30,000 more ways HTC is protected against infringement should someone come up with an idea similar to something HTC has designed attempting to sue them. It's a big fat shield!
If you can't beat em, sue em is the mantra in much of the tech world. Patent suits are thrown around with reckless abandon with both sides of the battle often claiming the same thing. Microsoft filed another suit against Motorola that we mentioned earlier this week. The latest suit from Microsoft alleges that Motorola has breached commitments to standards organizations that allow other firms to license patents Motorola holds relating to wireless and video encoding tech.
Microsoft's patent suit against Motorola will definitely be escalated into a full US International Trade Commission investigation, according to the USITC. Microsoft alleges that Motorola infringes several patents in its range of Android devices, including how the smartphones synchronize contacts, calendars, and email; schedule emails; and notify applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.
There are plenty of options out there fore keyboards. Especially for people who play PC games, or use their keyboard mainly for business. Interchangeable keys are a good options, even if it is still somewhat expensive for the extra keys. But, that's a lot of switching things around, so what can you do if you just want to use one keyboard, but want it to be a bit more . . . dynamic? Microsoft is seeking a patent for what they're calling a dynamic keyboard that would feature keys that change functions based on what you need, when you need it.
Microsoft has been granted a patent for GPU acceleration of video encoding, in a move that could have significant ramifications for NVIDIA, ATI and others. The patent, "Accelerated video encoding using a graphics processing unit" filed in October 2004, describes a system whereby the GPU can "perform a motion estimation process in parallel with the video encoding process performed by the CPU" to reduce overall encoding time.
Microsoft's Courier project, which endeared itself to tablet-philes with its promise of dual-displays and an innovative pen-and-finger interface, but then was cruelly axed before launch, keeps spawning patent applications. The latest - Bimodal Touch Sensitive Digital Notebook - describes the different ways in which two types of touchscreen input, using fingers and a more precise digital stylus, could be implemented for better control of a slate.
Sometimes we wonder whether companies file patent applications just to push their luck and see what they can get approved; how else can you explain Microsoft's attempt to patent page-curl screen transitions? The new application - filed all the way back in January 2009 - describes a very iBooks-like system whereby dragging your finger across a page of text on-screen lifts the virtual page and previews the content underneath.
According to the description, Microsoft were trying to replicate the real paper experience: the lifted page would have increased transparency, showing signs of the text on its reverse, while flipping repeatedly would quickly whip through two or more pages. It's speculated that the project was part of Microsoft's Courier research, and could've been used as part of their digital notebook.
The life of the Microsoft Courier over the last few months has been one for the script of a soap opera. From seeing video of what the Courier concept would be, to its terrible cancellation, to some software confusion, the Courier has lived and died in such a roller-coaster fashion that it could be tough for anyone to keep up with. Even when Microsoft execs were being shuffled around (supposedly due to the Courier's axing), the Courier was always the main focus. And today, based on a patent months old, we're reminded all over again about what could have been.