News from the video game industry for the week of December 21
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a single article with some of the significant happenings in the video game industry for the previous week. In this edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Nintendo winning two patent disputes, the catch with the free game offer for Assassin's Creed Unity issues, new details on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Resident Evil HD cross-buy, and expansion of PlayStation Now to non-Sony devices.
Mysterious dispute resulted in Bose products taken off store shelves
A French enthusiast site has reported, citing anonymous sources, that Apple will soon return Bose products back to the shelves of the iPhone maker's brick-and-mortar Apple Stores following a two-month fallout in which Bose products were removed. The move was originally thought to be in response to a lawsuit Bose filed against Beats, its rival in headphones, or possibly a unilateral move by Apple to reduce competing products in its stores now that it owns Beats, but the truth of the matter has yet to emerge.
Update to 2003 filing focuses on adaption, doesn't mean official emulation coming
Last week, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) posted a recent patent update from Nintendo. Patent application 20140349751, filed in June 2014, looks to improve upon Nintendo patent 8157654, adding processor-level adaptation for emulators of handheld consoles like the Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advanced. While some fans may take it as a sign that Nintendo is official moving into the smartphone and tablet space, it's more likely done for legal purposes.
Apple not given what it wanted; Samsung appeals, Apple filing shortly
Judge Lucy Koh, overseeing the myriad Apple versus Samsung smartphone patent trials, has partially granted a motion by Apple. The ruling would allow the Cupertino manufacturer to collect post-judgement royalties on ongoing sales of some Samsung devices -- but the amount received will be less than Apple wanted. The motion, filed for the second Apple versus Samsung trial, covers two patents -- data detectors and "slide to unlock" -- and specifically covers 10 products and other devices that infringe on the patent or are not "demonstrably different" than the infringing products.
Computer builder 'caught off guard,' believes fallout will affect employees, community
Custom computer builder Velocity Micro is stuck in a legal battle between two computing powerhouses after Samsung lumped the company in with Nvidia over a patent dispute. The Virginia-based company issued an open letter today admitting it is confused by the whole situation, adding that it intends to fight the suit that will drain company resources.
Nvidia responds to benchmark criticism with multi-benchmark graph
Samsung has filed a lawsuit against chip producer Nvidia, accusing it of infringing its patents and faking benchmark results for its processors. Nvidia has since spoken up about the suit, filed last week, claiming Samsung's accusations of benchmark deception is false, by comparing its Tegra K1-powered Shield Tablet against Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 and its Exynos 5433 processor.
Court filing calls Microsoft direct hardware competitors after Nokia acquisition
Samsung is petitioning a court to allow it to invalidate its contract with Microsoft, an agreement that it has only belatedly paid patent license fees on for the last year. A late Thursday court filing declares that once Microsoft acquired Nokia, it became a significant competitor with Samsung. The Korean manufacturer claims that the buy puts the two companies on equal footing in the smartphone market, and continuing the contract thus would induce some problems with US laws. Samsung pays royalties to Microsoft on patents it owns that are used in Android and other software.
Texas court abused discretion, single California case heard for less confusion, resource savings
Google's battle with the Rockstar Consortium is getting closer to a trial, as the matter of the venue for the case has finally been settled. While several cases were ongoing in California and Texas, judges gave different opinions on where the court battle should take place. Google asked the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to weigh in, a risky move that ended up working in its favor.
Nvidia alleges that Qualcomm, Samsung violate seven graphics patents in devices
Video card maker Nvidia has cleared its first hurdle in a patent dispute with Samsung and Qualcomm, as the US International Trade Commission (ITC) voted to investigate complaints the GPU manufacturer filed over infringement. The ITC will evaluate if a number of possibly-infringing devices, such as the recently announced Galaxy Note 4, should be barred from entering the country. The decision stems from complaints Nvidia filed last month with the ITC and US District Court in Delaware.
Jury awards Personal Audio $1.3 million, less than the $7.8 million sought
Podcasters may not be in the clear of potential patent violations after a ruling this week in a Texas court. Six jurors found that CBS Corporation, home of the television network with shows like The Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest, infringed upon the patent by streaming episodic content of its television shows on the Internet. The trial only lasted four days, with CBS failing to prove the patent owned by Personal Audio LLC should be invalidated.
Terms under 'quiet period' until September 30, Adam Carolla crowdfunded defense fund
Big name podcasts may be in the clear for the time being, as Personal Audio and Adam Carolla's Lotzi Digital recently agreed to jointly dismiss a patent lawsuit without prejudice last Friday. The filing, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), comes after a settlement was reached between the two parties, the details of which have yet to be announced. Both companies are under a "quiet period" until September 30.
Application outlines features of the device, doesn't dip into components used
In a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, information on a head-mounted wearable display similar to Google Glass has been discovered from Lenovo. The application filing, which dates back to last December, covers "an electronic device and a sound-capturing method." It just happens that the device looks like a pair of glasses with embedded electronics.
Both Apple, Samsung file near close of business on Friday
Both Apple and Samsung petitioned Judge Lucy Koh's court late on Friday afternoon, seeking to redress grievances brought about by the jury verdict and various court rulings. Bolstered by its most recent victory in court, Apple has filed for a Samsung product sales embargo for most of the Samsung devices found to be infringing the '172 patent covering user text prediction, the '647 data detectors patent, and the "slide to unlock" '721 patent. Additionally, the company is seeking triple the damages awarded by the jury, as Samsung was found to be willfully infringing on Apple's patents.
Move makes patent troll curbing measures unlikely for 2014
Comprehensive patent reform in the 2014 Senate is unlikely to happen. Citing the absence of "sufficient support behind any comprehensive deal," Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has torpedoed legislation fixing the US patent system. Leahy is concerned about the long-term scope of the deal, and potential problems it may have for legitimate patent holders.
Patents filings outline design, features of Microsoft's smart watch entry
Recent patent information has given those awaiting a Microsoft entry into the smart watch race something to look at. A patent award for an "electronic band," and an application for a "wearable personal information system" filed by the company, give information on what is to come from the software giant.
'Studio arrangement' process for true white backdrop photos filed in 2011
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted a questionable patent to Amazon in March, which gives the online retailer a hold on a common photography practice. Called "studio arrangement," the practice awarded the patent is an instruction set that outlines specific light and object placement to achieve photos of a subject on a white background, as well as steps for the process -- which has used by retailers for catalogs since the beginning of commercial photography.
Secret Google indemnity deal 'interesting' but 'didn't change our decision'
With the trial now over in the second Apple-Samsung patent case, jurors have begun talking to the media about the case -- particularly foreman Thomas Dunham, a retired IBM supervisor. Commenting on the verdict, he said that "ultimately, the consumer is the loser in all this" and that he'd like to see the two tech giants "find a way to settle." After revising figures owing to what Dunham called a "clerical error" earlier in the day, the jury left the total awards to Samsung and Apple intact.
Mixed verdict sends mixed signals; punitive awards possible?
Today's verdict in the Apple-Samsung patent trial -- which was marked by a self-declared "non-technical" jury, complex and mind-numbing patent and software code minutia and flanks of overpaid experts -- sent few clear signals either in the ongoing patent battle between the two tech giants, or the larger issue of IP theft ... or even who exactly won. One thing seems obvious: yet again, a jury found that Samsung stole more from Apple than they were stolen from. Beyond that, the waters get terribly murky -- on a number of levels.
Samsung offers Google engineers, but Samsung marketers in day of witnesses
Over the weekend, Judge Lucy Koh turned down Samsung's request for a summary judgement in the Samsung-Apple second patent trial, claiming that Apple had failed to prove its case during its presentation. Judge Koh rebuffed the claims and thus the trial continued on Monday, with Samsung still presenting its defense. Continuing its strategy of saying the case is about a dispute between Apple and Google rather than Samsung, the Galaxy smartphone maker put on a stunning seven witnesses -- most of them from the search and advertising giant.
Samsung begins its defense, downplays Apple patents, losses
Apple's presentation to the jury in the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with attorneys for the iPhone maker resting their case as expected on Friday following the completion of damages expert Christopher Vellturo's detailed explanation of why Apple is asking for $2.191 billion in total from Samsung. Apple had one final witness on its list, but decided against calling him following Vellturo's testimony. Samsung has already begun its presentation, which seeks to minimize the value of Apple's royalties and calls the damages estimate "grossly inflated."
New details on competition emerge; lies told in court, says Apple
The second full day of the second Apple-Samsung patent trial is over, with Phil Schiller starting the day by continuing to submit to cross-examination by Samsung attorney Bill Price. Also on the stand on Friday was early iPhone engineer Greg Christie, and Apple-hired patent expert witness Dr. Andrew Cockburn. In the course of proceedings, some additional details about how buyers perceive the iPhone and its creation were revealed, and Judge Lucy Koh ruled against Apple on two objections.
Relatively minor suit could set the stage for patent law's future
For the first time in over three decades, the US Supreme Court is hearing significant arguments on whether "computer-implemented inventions," otherwise known as software, can be patented. The debate will center around what qualifies for a patent, centering on a debate about a computer system used to handle financial transactions, evaluating risks of default. Despite the suit itself being relatively small, the ruling will set precent for patent law for decades to come.
Jury will see instructional video on patent process that features Apple products
Ahead of the second patent trial between Apple and Samsung, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh has overruled objections filed by Samsung over an instructional video on the US patent process that will be shown to jurors. Samsung's attorneys had complained that the video depicts a number of Apple products, in most cases used innocuously, and would be "highly prejudicial" to the jury.
Makes patent trolling a violation of Unlawful Trade Practices Act
The Senate in the State of Oregon passed a bill on February 14 that adds a ban on patent trolling in accordance to Oregon's Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Senate Bill 1540 had overwhelming support in the Senate, with a 30-0 with no abstaining votes. The bill will now be passed to the House Judiciary Committee for review.
USPTO information hints at future retina displays
Information from Patently Apple shows that new developments for Apple's retina displays may be in the works for the company. Four patent applications published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office show the use of quantum dots on display layers and various technologies surrounding their optimization for better color through displays which the company had began approaching with a filing in September 2012.
Trial to be rescheduled, likely in 2015
The long-running smartphone patent court duel between Google's Motorola Mobility and non-practicing entity Intellectual Ventures was declared a mistrial earlier today. A two-week long trial resulted in a hung jury in the Wilmington, Delaware venue, with Judge Sue Robinson making the ruling.
Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note 2 and Tab 2; iPhone 5 and iPad 4 among alleged infringers
In the upcoming trial between Apple and Samsung set to start at the end of March, each company is allowed to assert five claims and ten products it accuses the other of infringing. The new trial, which is not related to the first Apple-Samsung trial that saw Apple make a clean sweep of claims against Samsung (and won nearly $900 million in penalties, though both the verdict and damages are being appealed), will see Apple start the case with a slight advantage over its rival.
Patent deal reduces threat of litigation for both Cisco and Google
Google and Cisco have signed a cross-licensing agreement for each others patent portfolios. The long-term agreement, which is said to cover a "broad range of products and technologies," is said to help both companies defend themselves from future patent infringement lawsuits as well as preventing the two companies from suing each other.
Patent outlines manufacturing and growing process
Along with the patent awarded for the ejectable component assembly last week, the United States Patent & Trademark Office also granted Apple a patent for manufacturing sapphire windows, which had originally been submitted in July 2012. The patent gives credence to the reports of all-sapphire glass displays used on the new iPhone prototypes, as well as the company pushing to open a US sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona this year.
Thinner tray to house SIMs and other small cards
Earlier this week, Apple was awarded a patent from the United States Patent & Trademark Office based on a filing from September 2012. The filing, for "ejectable component assemblies in electronic devices," marks another win for Apple as it moves into different markets -- including the anticipated iWatch that the company has been bolstering its ranks for as of late. The application builds on provisional patent application 61675328, which was filed in July 2012.
Customers could get free travel to business locations
Online advertising could offer viewers free travel to businesses in the future, based on a recently-granted patent. The filing, titled "Transportation-aware physical advertising conversions," suggests a way for a system that can provide free or discounted transit of a customer to a physical location, in order for the customer to buy products or to try out a service.
1,400 US patents and applications bought by Qualcomm
Processor producer Qualcomm has acquired a considerable haul of patents from HP, including some originally from the portfolios of iPAQ, Bitfone, and Palm. Though the sale price was not revealed by the company in a statement, it did reveal that the purchase includes approximately 1,400 granted patents and pending applications from the United States, and another 1,000 from other countries.
Google faces 'more than $125 million' damages for infringement
Google and SimpleAir's court case wrapped up its first phase today in the Eastern District of Texas. The jury found Google guilty of infringing SimpleAir's patent on its push notification implementation after a week-long trial. Google faces a seperate trail after a hung jury failed to resolve damages, but SimpleAir claims that it is seeking $125 million or more from the search engine giant.
Patent awarded at end of 2013 shows single screen spanning two tablet halves
Samsung is still working on a folding tablet with a single seamless screen, according to a newly-granted design patent. The USPTO filing shows a tablet that appears to consist of two halves of a tablet that closes like a book, but still retains a single screen without a central seam or hinge in the middle of the display, something that the company has been working on for some time.
Filings hint at future product features
The US Patent and Trademark Office has published several Apple patent applications, including separate filings for an "interactive map" interface and "quantum dot-enhanced display." The map application, spotted by AppleInsider, details an interactive interface that dynamically adjusts map content based on a chosen mode, with different modes for a range of activities or interests.
Microsoft-led suit led to embargo of older Motorola devices, suits continue
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld Microsoft's ban on Motorola's products that used a meeting scheduler patent. Google-owned Motorola attempted to get the ruling overturned, hoping that the court would invalidate the patent and overturn the US International Trade Commission finding holding it valid.
Patent hints at curved device development
The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple patent protection for a manufacturing process that focuses on curved touchscreens. Patent No. 8,603,574, spotted by AppleInsider, describes a fabrication method that attempts to minimize a curved touchscreen's substrate and film thickness without distorting or damaging the integrated components.
Threat of antitrust investigation by EC if Nokia overreaches with patents
Nokia has been warned by the European Commission (EC) to avoid becoming a "patent troll," once the company completes the sale of its Devices and Services arm to Microsoft. Joaquin Almunia, head of competition and vice president of the EC, reconfirmed the Commission's approval of the purchase, but advised that there is a danger that Nokia could try to "extract higher returns" from its patent portfolio.
Bill aims to reduce frivolous litigation
The US House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill that aims to reduce negative impact from the practice derisively known as patent trolling. Passing by a wide margin of 323 to 89, Rep. Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA) Innovation Act (PDF) focuses on a range of litigation reforms to help protect businesses against frivolous patent-infringement lawsuits.
Infringing competitior questioned validity of key patent-in-suit
A last-minute move during the damages retrial by Samsung has failed to stop Judge Lucy Koh from moving forward with the trial's results, where once again the Korean company was found guilty of infringing on several Apple patents, but ordered to pay $112 million dollars less to Apple in damages than the first jury's just over $1 billion dollar initial judgement. Samsung had attempted to stop the proceedings on the grounds that a key patent-in-suit during the retrial might be found invalid.
Inventor argued that iPhone equalled computer plus phone
An inventor named Richard L. Ditzik has discovered, thanks to a jury, that an iPhone isn't just a computer and a phone slapped together. The inventor, through his company NetAirus Technologies, has sued Apple (though strangely, no other smartphone makers) claiming in a just-decided case that the iPhone 4 violated a patent that described a method for computers to make phone calls through Wi-Fi and cellular networks. A jury, in an unusual majority vote, disagreed that Apple was in violation.
Legal dispute noted in IPO filings
In an amended S-1 filing with the SEC, Twitter has revealed that it has been threatened with a patent-infringement lawsuit by IBM. In a letter sent to the former ahead of its IPO, IBM accused the company of violating US Patent No. 6,957,224: "Efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators," No. 7,072,849: "Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service," and No. 7,099,862: "Programmatic discovery of common contacts."
Samsung payment to Nokia for patent licenses to be determined in 2015
Nokia has made an agreement with Samsung which lets the Korean manufacturer license part of Nokia's patent portfolio for five more years. The extension to an existing patent licensing deal, revealed today by Nokia, will allow Samsung to avoid any potential lawsuits from Nokia in the future, and at the same time provides Nokia with funds after it sells off its mobile device arm to Microsoft.
Partial license terms of Apple and Nokia deal known to many Samsung execs
Samsung and its attorneys in its smartphone patent battle with Apple were grilled today by Federal Court Judge Lucy Koh over alleged mishandling of confidential Apple and Nokia documents. Apple calls the misuse of the documents released by law firm Quinn Emanuel a "massive unauthorized disclosure of highly confidential information" that gives Samsung an edge in negotiations with some of Apple’s business partners, including Nokia itself.
Details app that recognises item or media, returns Amazon store page
Rumors of an Amazon-created smartphone have had a boost, thanks to a recently filed patent application. The unearthed filing for "User guided object identification" provides details for how a smartphone can recognize an object and then provide the user with an appropriate Amazon product page, a feature that was mentioned in a rumor from earlier this month.
Prototype integrates six displays
Nokia recently submitted a patent filing for a smartwatch concept that features modular display components. The application describes a wearable device with up to six displays, each capable of showing separate content as the band is rotated around the wrist.
Hands-free input for stereo, climate control
Google has submitted a patent application for gesture-based controls inside automobiles. The company describes various ways that hand gestures could be used to adjust a car's climate control system, change the seat position, open or close the windows, or control stereo playback and volume.
Display producers to work together rather than continue legal action
Samsung and LG Display are ending their display-related patent lawsuits against each other, with a view to working together on the technologies in the future. The agreement, which effectively ends a courtroom battle that commenced in September 2012, was rumored to have been close to dropping in March of this year, but has only just finished.
Geolocation used to improve service
Apple is currently seeking patent protection for technology that is designed to improve speech recognition through location awareness. A Thursday filing titled "Automatic input signal recognition using location based language modeling." describes a system that automatically associates voice input with location-specific language models and geographic information such as nearby businesses and street names.
Steering mechanism in Samsung cleaner copies patent, claims Dyson
Samsung has found itself in yet more legal trouble, thanks to a recently-launched vacuum cleaner. Dyson, a manufacturer of bag-less vacuum cleaners, believes that the Samsung Motion Sync cleaner revealed at IFA last week uses a similar steering mechanism to its own cylinder cleaner, one that Dyson patented in 2009.