Archive for June, 2012

Don’t feed the trolls; the axiom may work well for avoiding Godwin’s Law in forum postings, but it isn’t working so well in courtrooms around the globe. In fact, a new study from the Boston University School of Law says patent trolls — companies that deal solely in IP litigation rather than actual services and products — are fatter and hungrier than ever before, costing the economy a whopping $29 billion in 2011. To put things in perspective, trolling “only” cost the economy roughly $6.7 billion in 2005.

James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer examined data from 82 companies that defended themselves against a total of 1,184 claims against patent trolls. That’s a hefty sampling, but nowhere near the total number of claims, which goes to show how prevalent patent trolling has become: overall, 2,150 companies defended against a whopping 5,842 claims from patent trolls last year.

Patent trolls often say that knowledge is just another commodity, or that they bring ideas from small inventors to the big time or foster innovation in other ways; the BU report says otherwise.

The authors found that most trolling victims were small- or mid-sized companies with an average revenue of around $10 million, not major multi-national corporations. And with the legal costs to defend a patent claim averaging out around half a million bucks and an average settlement of $1.33 million, protecting against trolls can leave a small company very bankrupt, very quickly — leaving them without a budget to invest in the innovation that trolls claim to spur on.

“Publicly-traded (patent trolls) cost small and medium-sized firms more money than (the trolls) could possibly transfer to inventors,” the authors say.

A study by Catherine Tucker is cited by the authors and posits that patent trolls can actually stifle innovation in other ways, too; after a handful of medical imaging companies were sued by a troll, the sued companies stopped innovating as aggressively with their software products, presumably to avoid further litigation and resulting in a one-third loss of sales.

So there you have it! Patent trolling sucks, and now you have the numbers to prove it.

Via PC World; image via WMPowerUser

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Entry level and/or low-cost tablets are beginning to burn bright in the market place, and none more intense than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, currently the second best selling tablet on the planet behind Apple’s iPad. Call it a glorified eBook reader if you want, the thing is selling well no matter which category it gets squeezed into, and though the competition is ramping up efforts to compete in the same category, Amazon isn’t sitting idly by. On the contrary, there’s talk of a Kindle Fire 2 device shipping in July.

News of an impending second generation Kindle Fire launch comes from CNet, which was told by a “credible source” that Amazon is targeting July 31. There have been other rumors surrounding Amazon’s Kindle Fire roadmap, one of which says the eCommerce behemoth will likely reduce the price of its current generation tablet to $149 as it introduces a newer model at the same $199 price point as current Kindle Fire devices sell for.

Amazon’s rumored approach appears to follow in the footsteps of Apple, which sees future generation devices debut with upgraded features and hardware without jacking up the price. That would be a wise move for Amazon, which currently dominates the low-cost tablet sector in terms of market share.

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Case, cooling, and peripheral maker Cooler Master has come up with a successor to its Silent Pro M line of power supplies, the new and aptly named Silent Pro M2 Series. Picking up where the original left off, Cooler Master claims it made improvements to “each aspect” of the PSU, including the addition of a 3.3v DC-to-DC board to increase overall energy efficiency and newer high quality capacitors.

The Silent Pro M2 Series is available in 620W, 720W, and 1500W models, each of which offers greater amperage over its predecessors. Cooler Master opted for a single +12V rail design on the 620W and 720W models, and a dual +12V rail design on the 1500W model, which delivers up to 55A and 70A on +12V1 and +12V2, respectively.

Other feature highlights include modular cabling, quiet operation (135mm hydraulic dynamic bearing fan), double layer EMI filter, and a five-year warranty.

Cooler Master didn’t discuss pricing, though did say all three models will available this month.

Image Credit: Cooler Master

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In the grand scheme of things, there aren’t many companies that can afford to cut checks for billion-dollar fines. Microsoft is one of them, but that doesn’t mean it will go about it willingly. Even for Microsoft, $1.3 billion, which is roughly the amount the European Union (EU) penalized the software giant for in 2008 when it imposed a fine of 899 million euros for antitrust shenanigans, is a lot of money. Following an appeal, Microsoft won’t have to pay quite as much, but it does still owe the bulk of the original fine.

The EU’s second-highest court saw fit to trim Microsoft’s antitrust fine by 4.3 percent to 860 million euros, the Financial Times reports. That works out to about $1.07 billion today, and remains one of the biggest fines ever handed out by the EU. In a statement to the press, EU’s General Court said it “essentially upholds the Commission’s decision imposing a periodic penalty payment on Microsoft,” even though it reduced the fine.

Naturally, Microsoft was “disappointed with the court’s ruling,” though it didn’t say whether or not another appeal is order. Should Microsoft settle the matter and make payment in full, it would put an end to any outstanding disagreements it has with the EU, having already settled a dispute in 2009 related to Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.

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Remember being told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?” Apple heard the message loud and clear, and applied that philosophy to our legal system where, on appeal, it was able to win a big victory against Samsung. No longer is Samsung allowed to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the U.S. after U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, ruled in Apple’s favor upon a second examination.

The same judge saw no reason to grant Apple’s request for a ban the first time Apple argued its case, but had a change of heart after a federal appeals court instructed her to take another look at the complaint.

“Although Samsung has a right to compete, it does not have a right to compete unfairly, by flooding the market with infringing products,” Koh wrote on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Apple must first post a $2.6 million bond before the order goes into effect. That money could end up in Samsung’s pockets as damages if it’s later determined the injunction was invalid to begin with.

The latest ruling comes not even a full week after a federal judge in Chicago sided with Motorola Mobility in a similar case in which Apple also sought the ban of certain imports.

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