San Diego - Amazon recently announced that has received a patent for a double-sided Kindle-type device. The newly patented technology would combine e-ink and an LCD display together into one product, with one display for reading and one for watching videos. Much like an open book, the display screens would be on opposite sides of the product. In addition to the open book display format, the device would include cameras in front and back that would display content based on the individual determination made by each camera. According to the patent, the new device “might alternatively utilize at least one camera to determine which side of the device is facing the user, and might activate the display on that side of the device to convey content”. Moreover, the product might also be touch sensitive and “display notifications on an edge of the device, such that a current orientation of the device might be less important.”
Users might assume that all of the high-tech options offered on the new Amazon patent would have a tendency to drain the product’s battery very rapidly. However, Amazon claims that it’s new product would actually consume less power by switching back and forth to e-ink depending on if the product is utilizing slow or fast moving content. More specifically, the information provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office states that the product is “an electronic device including two or more display elements can provide enhanced functionality with improved rates of power consumption. A user can cause information that does not change rapidly to be provided or moved to a relatively static display element, such as an electronic ink display, which enables that information to be displayed for a period of time with little additional power consumption.”
To help introduce its new product, Amazon has planned a press event in Los Angeles on September 6. However, Kindle fans should be careful not get too excited too quickly. It is likely that Amazon will not launch its next-generation Kindle e-reader until 2013. To the delight of many, Kindle users should have the double-sided option in their hands by Christmas 2013.
San Diego – Companies and individuals who have become known as “patent trolls” exploit the civil justice system by purchasing patents for the sole purpose of filing potentially lucrative patent infringement cases against companies alleged to be infringing on the patent at issue.
These trolls are no trifling matter as indicated by the recent announcement of Google’s opening bid of $900 million for the acquisition of the late Nortel’s 6,000 tech patents. According to the President of the American Tort Reform Association, Tiger Joyce, Google’s bid for these patents is part of an effort to shield itself from the increasingly strong troll offensive. With companies like Google pumping millions of dollars into protective efforts against patent trolls instead of funding their own growth and innovative pursuits, it is clear that these trolls are disrupting, and potentially preventing, the productivity that we depend on to help resuscitate the economy.
While virtuous companies and individuals should be ensured protection from infringement, it is vital that we identify and preclude brazen trolls from squandering the intended purposes of patent protection as well as prevent the resulting impediment they put on the economic recovery. Despite a provision in Section 18 of the proposed patent reform bill allowing the USPTO to re-examine business method patents disputed in court (the most frequently litigated type of patent) and potentially reduce the amount of “entrolled” cases, the threat of patent trolls would still persist. With billions of dollars litigated in patent cases annually, vigilance against the trolls themselves is a must.
Vice President of Hewlett-Packard Intellectual Property Licensing, Joe Beyers, suggests that the first step is to differentiate trolls from legitimate businesses by creating a standard definition of patent trolls. It would also be prudent of the courts to establish requisites for filing an infringement suit other than simply owning a patent and claiming infringement. For example, filing an infringement suit could require that the company or individual actually offer the products or services described in the patent, i.e. actually “practice” the patent. In taking these steps, lawmakers and industry heads could restructure patent law and business practices in such a way that patent trolls will no longer be able to unnecessarily burden legitimate businesses and the courts.