Supreme Court to Lexmark: when you sell something, the buyer then owns it

Lexmark has spent nearly 20 years fighting the war on carbon, trying to stop you from refilling your laser printer cartridges. In 2003, they attempted to use the DMCA and DRM to argue that it was an act of piracy (the courts didn't buy it) and then in 2015, they went all the way to the Supreme Court with the idea that you were violating their patent license terms if you treated the cartridges you purchased as though you owned them. Read the rest

MP3 put out to pasture

It's the end of an era, sort of: Fraunhofer IIS, the developers of the MP3 audio compression format, announced that they are ceasing their licensing program. In a blog post, spokesman Matthias Rose says that it's had a good 20-year run and is obsolete. But it's also true that the decoding patents expired last year, and the last encoding patents are soon to follow. So there's not much hope of selling any licenses in any case. Read the rest

India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research blew so much money on rubbish patents, it's gone broke

CSIR-Tech is the commercial arm of the Indian government's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; after spending ₹50 crore (about USD7.6M) pursuing more than 13,000 "bio-data patents" (patents of no real value save burnishing the credentials of the scientists whose names appear on them), they have run out of money and shut down. Read the rest

Donald Trump, Jr is a patent-troll and his biggest client now does business with the US government

Oklahoma's Anyware Mobile Solutions was founded in 1997 to make PDA software, but after its sales collapsed, it changed its name to Macrosolve and devoted itself to suing people for violating a farcical patent that they said covered filling in questionnaires using an app. Read the rest

The US Patent Office just (in 2017!) awarded IBM a patent over out-of-office email

On January 17, 2017 -- yes, 2017 -- the USPTO granted Patent 9,547,842 to IBM: "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system." Read the rest

Public universities and even the US Navy have sold hundreds of patents to America's most notorious troll

Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy. Read the rest

The Trolls: hilarious comedy about...patent trolls?

The Trolls is a new indie feature about plucky entrepreneurs who have their lives destroyed by patent trolls, so they patent the act of being a patent troll, and turn the tables! Read the rest

Patent fighters attack the crown jewels of three of America's worst patent trolls

Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members' sectors: now it's going for the gold. Read the rest

Fashion student simulates couture collection made from Alexander McQueen's cloned skin

Alexander McQueen's first collection after graduating from Central Saint Martins was Jack the Ripper Stalks His Victims which included locks of his hair; for her own grad project, called "Pure Human," Central Saint Martins student Tina Gorjanc created a line of clothes and accessories that asks the audience to imagine that it was made from pelts cloned from DNA retrieved from McQueen's hair strands. Read the rest

Google patents an adhesive that sticks pedestrians to cars that hit them

Florida man has prior art!

From The Guardian:

The patent, which was granted on 17 May, is for a sticky adhesive layer on the front end of a vehicle, which would aim to reduce the damage caused when a pedestrian hit by a car is flung into other vehicles or scenery.

“Ideally, the adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously,” according to the patent description.

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Printer ink wars may make private property the exclusive domain of corporations

Printer manufacturer Lexmark hates America, and everything good and right in the world, because we keep stubbornly insisting that if we buy a printer cartridge, we can refill it, because it's ours.

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Menstruation is the mother of invention

Rose Eveleth presents us a history of patented menstrual devices from 1928 on, from cellular tampons that message you when they need changing to a "Nether garment for and method of controlling crotch odors." Read the rest

TPP vs Canada: a parade of horribles

Michael Geist has rung in the new year with the first in a series of posts that set out, in eye-watering detail, the bowel-loosening terror of the effects that the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership would have on Canada if the country ratifies it. Read the rest

Microsoft's patent on a UI slider is EFF's Stupid Patent of the Month

EFF has awarded its coveted Stupid Patent of the Month prize to Microsoft for D554,140, a design patent on a slider widget for a UI. Read the rest

How enforcing a crappy patent bankrupted the Eskimo Pie company

Russell Stover's innovative Eskimo Pie treats were the smash-hit of 1920, and represented the culmination of long and careful experimentation with different techniques for adding a chocolate coating to ice-cream. Read the rest

Landmark patent case will determine whether you can ever truly own a device again

Former IBM division Lexmark (which, a decade ago, lost a key copyright case that tried to ban ink-toner refilling) is headed to court in a patent case called Lexmark v. Impression, where it argues that patent law gives it the right to restrict your use of your property after you buy it. Read the rest

The shape of the Internet (according to patent drawings)

The stylized art of patent drawings is instantly recognizable. Before the information age, the drawings were drafter's jewelboxes, designed to make the workings of new mechanical inventions legible to other inventors (and patent examiners). Read the rest

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