Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Patent Moves

The European Commission has reiterated its demand for the creation of a single European patent stating that the absence of such a protection is hindering the growth of technology companies in the European Union. The Commission state that though, they have announced increased funding for technology research this was only part of the its plan to create more economic value from EU research.

Patents operated by the European Patent Office (EPO), can cover most of Europe but the office is not part of EU government. EPO can approval patent applications but these are granted only in the countries specified and not automatically in all the countries signed up to its governing principles, the European Patent Convention.
The Commission has recommended to the Parliament and Council that a single EU patent would help to create more economic value from research.

As if on cue, Discovery, known for the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, filed suit today against Amazon in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, alleging infringement of a patent filed by the company in September of 1999. Describing an "Electronic Book Security and Copyright Protection System," the patent was awarded in 2007.

The suit claims, "Amazon's infringing activities...include the operation of the website and the provision of services related to the Kindle and Kindle 2 through and by the website, including but not limited to the sale of electronic books."

The patent describes a system that "provides for secure distribution of electronic text and graphics to subscribers and secure storage." This covers distribution to bookstores, public libraries, and schools as well as consumers equipped with a "home subsystem." "The home subsystem connects to a secure video distribution system or variety of alternative secure distribution systems, generates menus and stores text, and transacts through communicating mechanisms," The patent continues, "A portable book-shaped viewer is used for secure viewing of the text. A billing system performs the transaction, management, authorization, collection and payments utilizing the telephone system or a variety of alternative communication systems using secure techniques."

On a different note we also read about Andrew Harsley, who appeared on the popular UK TV program ‘Dragons Den’ and not only caught the attention of millions of television viewers, but also secured an investment of £150K for the Rapstrap plastic cable tie on the show. Harsley has since won a £35 million contract for up to a billion units of his cable ties and secured patents in Mexico and China.

Patents are clearly big business and infringement can be even bigger years later.

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