Closer Look at the Interval Licensing LLC Patents (Part 2 of 4)

In a previous post, the patent infringement law suit filed by Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC against numerous technology companies, including AOL, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, and Netflix, was noted. We decided to take a closer look at each of the patents asserted to be infringed in the case.

6,034,652 – Attention manager for occupying the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device.

This is an interesting patent in many respects.  First thing to note is that the patent was classified in class 345/2, which where computer-graphics-related inventions are classified.    That is interesting because this patent might just as easily be considered a business method, particularly, if the information being displayed included advertising or there was a business model associated with the implementation.  But this just goes to show the difficulty in defining a “business method”.

While the popular press has stated that this patent covers things like stock tickers and headline feeds that are continually updated and displayed in the periphery of a site, it appears that the invention also requires that such information be displayed during times of user inactivity, such as, for example, when there is a lack of keyboard input.

However, the claims are fairly broad.  Consider Claim 12, which recites:

    12. A method for engaging the peripheral attention of a person in the vicinity of a display device of an apparatus, comprising the steps of:
      acquiring a set of content data from a content providing system;
      detecting an idle period of predetermined duration; and
      selectively displaying on the display device, in an unobtrusive manner that does not distract a user of the apparatus from a primary interaction with the apparatus,
      an image or images generated from the set of content data, wherein the step of selectively displaying further comprises the step of displaying the image or images
      automatically after detection of the idle period.

But even this claim requires the step of “detecting an idle period of predetermined duration”…..  So, it will be interesting to see how the plaintiffs interpret this and assert it against the defendant’s technology.

Closer Look at the Interval Licensing LLC Patents (Part 1 of 4)

In a previous post, the patent infringement law suit filed by Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing LLC against numerous technology companies, including AOL, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo,  and Netflix, was noted.  We decided to take a closer look at each of the patents asserted to be infringed in the case.  Particularly, we will look at the claims.

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Interval's "News Browser" looks familiar [thumbnail

6,263,507 – “Browser for use in navigating a body of information with particular application to browsing information represented by audiovisual data”

The first thing to note is that this patent has a very large number of claims, specifically, 129 claims.   (The average number of claims in an issued patent is between 15 and 20, according to one study).

Of the 129 claims, 15 are independent claims.

The most interesting — and potentially broadest — claim appears to be be independent claim 20, which, arguably, reads on Google News (my comments are in bold and bracketed)

    acquiring data representing the body of information  [obtaining news from various sources]

    storing the acquired data  [storing it]
    generating a display of a first segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data [displaying a news article]
    comparing data representing a segment of the body of information to data representing a different segment of the body of information to determine whether, according to one or more predetermined criteria, the compared segments are related [finding a related news article]
    generating a display of a portion of, or a representation of, a second segment of the body of information from data that is part of the stored data, wherein the display of the portion or representation of the second segment is generated in response to the display of a first segment to which the second segment is related [displaying a portion of the related news article].

This claims may also read on other news aggregators such as Yahoo! and AOL which provide related news articles responsive to a search.

However, as several commentators have noted, the issue for the court will likely be whether the claims were novel /nonobvious in view of the prior art at the time of filing.

While I do not agree that the Patent Office was doing a poor job when they were examining software patents such as these in the late 90′s, this viewpoint has been put forward by some.

Paul Allen Company Sues For Patent Infringement

Interval Licensing, LLC,  owned by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, today filed a complaint for patent infringement against numerous technology companies, including AOL, Google, Apple, Facebook, Yahoo,  and Netflix. Interestingly, the patents asserted as being infringed were filed over ten years ago, when the Internet landscape was much different.  An example of one of the patents alleged to be infringed is U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507 which involves a method for aggregating and presenting information.

The complaint, which was filed today in federal district court, is provided below:

HP and Lexmark Ink Patents

TechDirt is reporting that Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lexmark have asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to block import of certain ink that allegedly infringes on several of its patents.  A lot is at stake given that the toner and ink jet market is worth $26 billion per year … and, according to PC Magazine, HP sells its ink at about $88 per ounce!

How to Turn an iMac into an iPad

Apple iMac with flexible base

The Patently Apple Blog has an interesting article  about a new patent application filed in Europe on July 9th that shows a computer that can switch between mouse and touch-based input via an adjustable stand.    The patent application involves technology that would allow the user to switch from an iMac to an iPad using their desktop computer.  The patent application also shows how OS X can co-exist with iOS on a Mac.  The patent is published as WO/2010/006210.