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As I first reported yesterday, the US House of Representatives has been hearing arguments on a new bill that could put an end to many of the frivolous patent lawsuits filled each year by so-called patent trolls. As expected, the bill has passed in the House with support from both sides of the isle.
Known as the Innovation Act 325-91, the bill will now make its way to the senate where it is expected to pass with a bipartisan majority as well. Once it is finished in congress, the bill will make its way to President Obama's desk and he also is expected to sign it into law. If this does happen, we could see an end to the era of east Texas shell corporations that exist only to file and buy low-quality, low-detail patents that are so vague that they can be claimed as part of many technologies.
This is the first step into patent reform, and hopefully the next step will be a complete overhaul of the United States Patent and Trade office. With companies now patenting seeds, human, animal and plant genes, and even specific code, we need to work hard to prevent these sort of things from happening. If not, then I am afraid that we may see an immense slowdown in technological and scientific innovation and breakthroughs for decades to come.
The saga over who will become Microsoft's next CEO has taken yet another step forward today after a board member at Ford told press that Alan Mulally will not be leaving the car maker for Redmond, Washington. Since this news began to spread earlier this week, Microsoft's stock has fallen about 3.5-percent, equating in a $12 billion fall in market cap for the company.
The news came from Ford board member, Edsel Ford II who stated that "Alan is staying through the end of 2014," a time frame far past Steve Ballmer's departing date. This is good news for Nokia's Stephen Elop, who is also in the running to take the CEO seat. Today's news does not surprise me at all though, as I have expected Elop to be the "Chosen One" since Microsoft announced its acquisition plans for Nokia. Other reports suggest that Microsoft's head of Cloud Services Satya Nadella could head up the company, but I see that as a far stretch at this point.
Another step to ending the endless stream of patent lawsuits filled by patent trolls is almost complete. Today AllThingsD is reporting that supporters are confident that a bill designed to stifle abusive patent lawsuits will pass in the House of Representatives later this week.
"The Innovation Act from House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) is aimed at discouraging patent holders from filing frivolous lawsuits in hopes of extracting a settlement. The bill would give judges more discretion to limit discovery or award legal fees when a lawsuit fails to prove infringement," the report read.
With major corporations such as Newegg.com losing frivolous patent lawsuits to known patent trolls such as TQP Development something must be done, or innovation could be suppressed for decades while inventors, developers, and designers wait for existing patents to expire. Personally, I feel that the entire US and UK patent systems need a complete overhaul. They worked well during the industrial revolution and even somewhat well since them, but in today's world of 0's and 1's, we need to pay very close attention to what we allow to be patented, or we may miss out on the next big breakthrough in science.
Billionaire activist is at it again, and this time he is pushing Apple to buy back $50 billion worth of its shares from investors. Today Time Magazine reported that Icahn has filed a proposal that he hopes will pressure Apple into increasing its share buyback program to a whopping $50 billion.
Apple has confirmed that the proposal has been filed, but no comment on the actual proposal was made. Apple could more than afford the buyback, but it would cut its cash reserves significantly. On the other hand, with Apple's stock falling over the course of the last 12 months, the buyback increase could see some investors make back some of their lost investments.
The MPAA has won a 3-year long lawsuit against Hotfile, a file sharing service that payed users to upload and share various files including pirated movies. Today the two parties agreed on an $80 million settlement, and Hotfile was ordered to cease all operations unless it implement's digital fingerprinting of files.
"This judgment by the court is another important step toward protecting an Internet that works for everyone. Sites like Hotfile that illegally profit off of the creativity and hard work of others do a serious disservice to audiences, who deserve high-quality, legitimate viewing experiences online," said MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd.
This is yet another big win for the MPAA against online piracy, and even though only a fraction of the $500 million the MPAA was seeking was ordered, Hotfile may not survive this outcome. At the current time, Hotfile has removed all premium offerings from its service, and it is unclear if any future payments will be made to it users.
Spotify has just launched a new set of tools that artists, managers and others can use to track the popularity of their music on the music streaming service. Spotify continues to focus on communicating to the music industry that its service is great for artists, and that all of the bad words you hear about music streaming isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Spotify provides an analytics dashboard, which allows artists a real-time look at just how much their content is being listened to. Also included in this, are details on listeners, such as age, gender, location of their listeners and more. Spotify one-ups this though, providing details on just how the royalties are paid out from Spotify.
It also shows other avenues where Spotify exposes artists to the public, with the music streaming company saying that it pays "more than two times more" than ad-supported services like YouTube, and "significantly" more than traditional and online radio services. Spotify holds just 30% of the profits, giving the remaining 70% to its artists.
If unlocking your iPhone via your fingerprint was not easy enough, Apple has been granted a patent on yet another unlocking method. The new method would all you to unlock your phone by simply looking at it. This time Apple wants not only your fingerprint to be saved on the device, but for your face to be digitized and saved as well.
Apple says that in addition to simply unlocking the device, this facial recognition could be used to launch or open up specific apps on the device. Android has had this functionality for a while now, and so has Apple. About two years ago, Apple was awarded a similar patent that used different control methods for facial recognition. With the companies recent purchase of PrimeSense, they could take this patent very far.
In what is certainly one of the last pages in the OCZ saga, the company announced this afternoon that it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Toshiba Corporation to acquire substantially all of OCZ's assets in a chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding for $35 million.
The acquisition will land Toshiba access to OCZ's proprietary controller, firmware, and softeare and well as the engineering teams responsible for these technologies. OCZ will continue to operate and server existing and future customers during a transition phase, and Toshiba will provide the company with the capital to operate during this period. The sale is expected to finalize within the next 60-days.
You would think that if you walked into the Google HQ, that you'd see Chromebooks sprawled everywhere, but that is not the case. Google's OS of choice, is Apple's Mac OS X platform, with the company imposing Mac use to all its employees.
The company supports most operating systems, including Windows, Linux and its own Chrome OS. Google System Engineer, Clay Caviness, says: "There was a time when Macs were a small part of the Google fleet, but as of now if you start at Google and want to use a platform other than Mac you have to make a business case."
I can see where Google is coming from, Macs are great, and overall, more 'stable' than Windows. I think this is in part to Macs being more secure, and its user base is nowhere near the size of Windows' user base. But, everyone has their preferences. Google's Chairman, Eric Schmidt, had some interesting things to say about the 'superiority' of Macs versus PCs, where he compared Android devices with Macs.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Foxconn has hired more workers, and thanks to its high volume production capabilities, iPhone 5S availability is improving and is now able to meet consumers' demand.
Apple has a 3-5 business day shipping time on the iPhone 5S, which is much better than the 2-3 week wait from last month. Foxconn hires around 300,000 workers at its Zhengzhou site, which is dedicated to manufacturing the iPhone 5S, and some of its most key components. The Journal's source, who was an "executive who declined to be named", said: "we have been churning out about 500,000 iPhone 5Ss everyday, the highest daily output ever."