LG Patent Deal with Intellectual Ventures

LG has signed a deal with patent house Intellectual Ventures (IV), making it the latest smartphone manufacturer to do so. Intellectual Ventures generates revenues primarily by licensing out its huge patent library instead of using these patents to manufacture its own products. The deal will give LG access to IV patents that will allow it to counter attack against any competing firm which decides to launch an intellectual property suit against it.

This deal reflects a trend that is taking shape in the industry, as many other tech companies are likely to strike similar patent deals in years to come. The spike in breach of patent lawsuits in the technology world has caused firms to look for ways of limiting their exposure through deals with large patent houses like Intellectual Ventures.

Intellectual Ventures is considered by many in the tech industry to be a patent troll, and a notorious one at that. A patent troll is any firm which grows by collecting royalties on patents they purchase from bankrupt firms, research institutes or top universities, without manufacturing their own products. The deal between LG and Intellectual Ventures allows the South Korean electronics company to access up to 35,000 patents in the IV patent portfolio.

The deal gives LG the ability to sue any other companies which are using IV technologies without a formal licensing agreement. This frees up LG to focus on their core business of creating and manufacturing innovative electronic devices without the concern over patent disputes. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it follows on the heels of a similar deal between Samsung and IV last year.

Other major smartphone makers including Research in Motion and HTC have signed similar patent licensing deals with IV in order to avoid potential lawsuits. Korean mobile phone maker Pantech has also signed a licensing agreement with IV, and it seems that among the major phone manufacturers Motorola remains the only one willing to fight IV in court.

Handset makers must weigh the costs of litigation versus the cost of a licensing deal and decide which option is in their best interests. When the cost of the licensing deal is reasonable, the choice is often clear because the cost of fighting it in court can really add up over time. It is notable that Motorola refuses to sign an agreement with IV, in part because Google is an investor in IV and is also planning to acquire Motorola.

Patent Application for New BMW Turbocharger

BMW has applied for a patent on a new electric turbocharger, and industry enthusiasts speculate that the technology is destined for use in the next version of the M3. This new design appears to be the most advanced solution yet to the issue of turbocharger lag at higher RPMs. BMW has been working on this performance issue ever since it began to regularly employ turbochargers in factory power plants.

The patent application for the new technology was filed in Germany. The BMW engineers have created a new kind of turbo charger which uses a small electric motor which synchronizes with a more conventional turbo charger. This design allows the electric motor to power the turbo’s turbine as the device shifts from idle to load. In the process, turbo lag is dramatically reduced.

It is speculated that the patent could be put to market use right away in the next gen M3, which is expected to hit the market sometime in 2014. The new technology represents a big leap forward in addressing turbo lag, which is defined as the time it takes for a turbo charger to spool up.

The electric turbo boosts fuel efficiency by keeping the engine running at its optimal operating rate, while also boosting performance by reducing the turbo lag. While BMW has not announced specific production plans for the new technology yet, it is likely that it will show up in the high performance models first as a way of defraying the cost of development. However, since it is a fuel saving technology it’s likely that eventually it will show up in lower end models as well.

Automobile enthusiasts are excited over the new patent application, as it represents the first real solution to the problem of turbo lag which has plagued turbo chargers from the start. The specifics of the patent application are quite technical, but a general summary is that the system utilizes a series of clutches along with an electric motor to significantly minimize turbo lag.

Each time the driver pushes the accelerator, the electric turbo charger motor will spool up the turbo which will provide more optimal performance. When the electric motor is not needed, it will switch over to function like an alternator and recharge its own battery. Simultaneously, the motor controls the turbo speed at an optimal level so the need for a wastegate is eliminated.

Sony Biometric Controller Patent

Sony has been awarded a patent for a new biometric game controller design. The controller has been designed to work with the company’s Playstation systems and would actually be able to sense the biometrics of a player such as perspiration, heart beat and muscle movements. These new controllers would look just like standard controllers, and Sony has not released any details of specific uses for the new devices.

This has led to wide ranging speculation among experts in the gaming industry over what they will be used for. Some have suggested that they would be used to detect player stress levels adjust the level of game play accordingly to suit the player’s mood. A good example would be a shooter game in which the player’s character is holding a weapon. As the player becomes more relaxed, the biometric controller would sense this and their character would hold the weapon with a steadier grip.

The new Sony patent is the latest indication that the video game industry is moving in the direction of biometrics, but gamers will have to wait a while for these devices to actually hit the market according to industry insiders. The announcement by Nintendo of their biometric Vitality Sensor caused a lot of buzz, only to disappoint everyone when it was delayed with no release date in sight. The same goes for the Ubisoft Innergy biometric controller design.

It’s no surprise that gamers may be a bit skeptical about the new Sony device, with some wondering whether it will also get cancelled before it’s ever released to the market. The Sony patent covers both biometric controllers for console gaming, and also for hand held systems which will be designed with built in biometric sensors.

The patent gives Sony the potential to get a jump on the market for biometric controllers, especially given the failed attempts of its competitors in the last few years. The Sony device features more advanced technology than the failed Wii Vitality Sensor from Nintendo, which clipped onto the player’s finger to measure biometric data. That project was cancelled due to the inconsistent performance of the device.

The new devices proposed by Sony will measure 3 unique biometric stats, which include galvanic skin resistance, electro muscular data and elector cardio data. All of this data will be transmitted and interpreted by the video game when the user simply holds the controller or hand held system in their hands.

New Nintendo Wii Patent

A new patent from Nintendo outlines an innovative accessory that allows the user to use their Wii Remote as a touch pad. The line art from the patent app illustrates an accessory that you slip onto your Wii Remote, along with a device that connects to the Wii as well. The touch pad accessory works by amplifying the LED with mirrors on the remote.

It interprets the resulting signals as positional data each time the user touches the pad. This is certainly an ingenious solution to turn a standard controller into a touch pad, rather than creating an entirely new device. The fact that the company filed the patent application is no guarantee that this accessory will ever hit the market, or when you will be able to buy it in the stores.

The Japanese Nintendo patent application reveals a design that will turn a standard controller into a touch pad by simply sliding the new accessory onto the touch pad. When the user touches the pad it activates an infrared LED light. The beams of light are then amplified by bouncing off a mirror, and used by the controller as positional data.

The device doesn’t alter the operation of the remote so it can still be used as a standard Wii remote if the user chooses by simply not touching the pad. Nintendo has suggested that the accessory can work as a drawing pad or mouse pointer for advanced game activities. However, the standard Wii Remote already has mouse pointer functionality via the sensor bar.

Some people speculate that due to the aging lifespan of the current Wii system, it’s a good possibility that the new technology the patent describes may not hit the market until the arrival of the next generation Wii console, the Wii U. The main controller for the Wii U was revealed at E3 earlier this year, and unlike the standard Wii controller today it is a larger, tablet style touch screen device.

However, this device is also compatible with current Wii remotes. It is speculated that the touch pad accessory will add similar functionality to serve as an upgrade to older Wii remotes for the new system. However, the patent application drawings don’t make it clear whether the device includes a real touch screen or simply a touch sensitive pad. There are other rumors floating around the net that also hint at the new device being intended specifically for the Wii U system only.

ASU Licensing Agreement with Roche

Arizona State University (ASU) has decided to sign a licensing agreement for the results of several biotech research projects with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. The company, based in Basel, Switzerland, is currently the largest biotech firm in the world, with several global sites in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Brazil and many more.

While Arizona State University is a public research university with over 70,000 students enrolled in 2010. The technologies which will be licensed from ASU include technology for a DNA sequencing system which was developed in collaboration with scientists at Columbia University.

The licensing deal will provide additional revenue for the ASU biotech team, which is also benefiting from a $5 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant. The grant was intended to help the researchers construct a prototype of the DNA sequencing device, with a goal of increasing its capacity to read DNA molecules much faster than the current rate. Roche may be able to commercialize the device in cost effective chips for DNA sequencing.

Neither party is disclosing financial deals of the licensing agreement at this time. The agreement is the latest step in an ongoing relationship between the two companies, which has resulted in the licensing of five different ASU patent applications over the years. The school is known for its advanced biotech research, and it even has its own technology transfer division known as Arizona Technology Enterprises.

This organization has invested over $100,000 in the DNA sequencing technology, so the licensing agreement represents a return on this investment. The biotech development team at ASU is headed up by Dr. Stuart Lindsay who is working on the DNA sequencing technology in collaboration with Dr. Colin Nuckolls of Columbia. The agreement represents a growth opportunity for Roche to add to its annual sales of over $50 billion.

Pfizer inks Licensing Agreement with GlycoMimetics

GlycoMimetics has inked a worldwide licensing agreement with pharmacutical giant Pfizer for an investigatory compound the company has been researching known as GMI-1070. This compound is indicated for the treatment of vaso-occlusive crisis, a condition commonly associated with sickle cell anemia. It is a pan selection antagonist in the Phase 2 stage of development which has received Fast Track and Orphan Drug status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Pfizer is an American multinational pharmaceutical company based in New York. Some of its top productions are Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction, Lipitor used to lower blood cholesterol and Celebrex for anti-inflammation. GlycoMimetics, on the other hand, specializes in developing drugs that target rare diseases.

Under the terms of the licensing agreement, GlycoMimetics will retain responsibility for completing the Phase 2 trials under the oversight of Pfizer. Following completion of these ongoing trials, Pfizer will assume responsibility for ongoing development and marketing of the drug. The agreement is valued at $340 million for GlycoMimetics, a sum which includes a series of milestone payments along with an upfront payment and royalties.

The exclusive licensing agreement between GlycoMimetics and Pfizer will offer a new treatment option for vaso-occlusive crisis, a condition that lasts between five to six days and results in more than 75,000 cases of hospitalization in the US each year. During a vaso-occlusive crisis, the patient experiences tissue damage and pain and can suffer damage to multiple organs.

This new drug represents the first significant advance in the treatment of vaso-occlusive crisis related to sickle cell disease in the last 50 years. It works by inhibiting selecting interactions to head off the inflammation which leads to vaso-occlusive crises. Pre-clinical trials showed that GMI-1070 was effective in restoring blood flow to vessels in animals with sickle cell disease. This leading drug candidate is now being evaluated in human subjects with sickle cell disease.

Acacia Acquires Hearing Aid Patent

A subsidiary of patent troll Acacia has recently acquired a patent for technology relating to hearing aids from a major company in the industry. The subsidiary of Acacia Research Corporation has acquired the patent in its ongoing effort to broaden its licensing success.

Many major tech companies have partnered with Acacia in licensing agreements for their patentable technologies. Acacia, a US company with headquarters in California, is known for using strong arm tactics to secure a leadership role in the technology licensing space, and continues to aggressively expand its patent portfolio through licensing agreements such as this one.

Acacia Research Corporation currently controls almost 200 patent portfolios that cover a wide range of technologies in various industries. Through its numerous subsidiaries, Acacia’s business model is premised on patent trolling. This involves Acacia buying patents and then licensing them or filing lawsuits against alleged infringers of its intellectual property.

This most recent acquisition in the medical technology space adds to Acacia’s existing patent portfolio on hearing aid technology which dates back to acquisitions the company made in 2005. These acquisitions were originally made by Acacia Patent

Acquisition Corporation, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Acacia Technologies. They acquired several patents at that time which covered hearing aid technology known as electromagnetic compatibility shielding, or ECS. This form of technology is common to most hearing aids on the market today.

It is a patented technology which helps to shield the devices from electromagnetic interference that is emitted by mobile devices like cell phones, wireless headsets and WiFi/Bluetooth devices. ECS technology is easy to incorporate into a variety of hearing aid styles, and the market for these medical devices in the US is lucrative with millions of units sold annually.

The average price of hearing aids incorporating ECS technology can vary widely from $1000 to over $3000.

Amazon Tablet Faces Patent Lawsuit

The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet has yet to hit store shelves, yet it is already the subject of a patent suit filed by Smartphone Technologies. The company alleges that the Fire is in violation of 4 different patents.

Smartphone Technologies is a subsidiary of Acacia Research, which is known in the industry as a patent troll thanks to its long history of litigation against major tech firms like RIM and Apple. Amazon.com, on the other hand, is an American e-commerce company based in Seattle, Washington, with operations worldwide. Amazon is the world’s biggest online retailer, offering a range of products for sale such as books, DVDs, video games, toys, apparel and more.

The four patents that the Fire is accused of violating cover a number of basic features which are shared by most tablets and smartphones on the market today. For example, one of the patents covers a method by which a touch screen can be used to enter commands on a mobile device. Specifically, this refers to U.S. Patent No. 6,956,562. One of the other patents covers a method for calendar storage on a mobile device.

The patent lawsuit from Smartphone Technologies was filed just two week after Amazon introduced the Fire tablet, which is intended to be a low priced tablet option. It is slated to hit the store shelves priced at $199 this November. It’s interesting to note that the patent in the lawsuit relating to the calendar storage method dates back almost ten years and has never been challenged in court before.

This patent was initially granted to Palm back in 2002, while another patent in the suit targets the “Kindle 3G + WiFi” mobile device itself. Acacia has been unsuccessful in some of its previous patent trolling attempts, which include a loss back in 2007 against Red Hat and Novell. Acacia’s stock price dropped over 35% following the result of that patent suit.

RIM Must Pay Licensing Fees on Blackberry and Playbook

Dolby Labs has won two patent lawsuits against Research in Motion (RIM) for infringement of proprietary audio technologies. As part of the standard terms won by Dolby, RIM will now have to pay licensing fees to the company.

Dolby Labs is an American public company that was originally founded in the United Kingdom, and it specializes in audio encoding, audio compression and noise reduction technologies. On the other hand, RIM is a Canadian telecommunication device corporation that is well renowned for producing the Blackberry smartphone.

The financial details of the licensing agreement were not disclosed, but Dolby had previously estimated that they would be owed about $15 million in back royalties plus interest. Dolby filed suit against RIM in Germany and the US this year over patents on High Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding, a technology that enables high quality playback of compressed audio files in digital format.

This standard is widely used in music players, smartphones, tablets, PCs and other mobile devices. The lawsuit from Dolby alleged that RIM was using the technology without a license in its Playbook and BlackBerry devices.

The costs of the licensing agreement between RIM and Dolby are small in comparison to the impact of RIM’s patent loss against NTP several years back. RIM is currently engaged in patent spats with a number of other tech companies such as Kodak, which may end up selling some of their patents as a possible resolution. Via Licensing, a Dolby subsidiary in charge of managing various Dolby technologies, is also working with NFC, WiMAX and LTE patent issues.

The next quarterly results from RIM will show the full impact of the licensing agreement with Dolby on the company’s outlook for their financial future. The standing question is whether RIM is profitable enough today to comfortably pay out more licensing fees or whether it will have a materially adverse impact on their financial outlook.

Licensing Agreement Between Telemundo and Netflix

A licensing agreement between Netflix and Spanish language network provider Telemundo will result in 1,200 hours of streaming content for Netflix subscribers. The international distribution arm of Telemundo, NBC Universal’s Telemundo Internacional, agreed to provide the content to Netflix on a per year basis.

It will be accessible to Latin American Netflix subscribers via streaming, as part of Netflix’s Latin American expansion.

The company’s goal is to expand its services to 43 Latin American and Caribbean countries by year end. Netflix has already signed agreements with several of the other major Spanish language media giants in Mexico, including Televisa and TV Azteca.

The agreement with Televisa is a multi year deal which will provide3,000 hours of programming per year, while the deal with TV Azteca will provide 1,500 hours of content per year.

The licensing agreement between Telemundo and Netflix will benefit Latin American Netflix subscribers as they will gain access to hit programs from Telemundo Internacional such as the popular tele novela La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South).

The Telemundo deal will provide over 1,200 hours per year of the top original Telemundo productions to Netflix. The Telemundo streaming is set to launch in Latin America later this year in the SVOD platform and all connected devices.

Telemundo officials said that they are proud to work with Netflix and that they are offering their full support behind the company’s international expansion plans. Telemundo executives are working with Netflix to provide the best content, and they are excited about the growth potential of the Netflix SVOD platform for their own expansion plans into all new media and other innovative broadcasting platforms.

The financial details of the licensing agreement were not disclosed, and Telemundo asserted that the agreement will be analysed every year that it is in effect.