Apple Watch Patent Infringement Confirmed, As Masimo Seeks Import Ban

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: Apple has suffered a setback in its long-running Apple Watch patent infringement battle with medical technology company Masimo. A court has ruled that Apple has indeed infringed one of Masimo’s patents in the Apple Watch Series 6 and up. Masimi is seeking a US import on all current Apple Watches. If granted, this would effectively end Apple Watch sales in the US, as the company would not be allowed to bring in the devices from China.

The battle between the two companies has a long history. Back in 2013, Apple reportedly contacted Masimo to discuss a potential collaboration between the two companies. Instead, claims Masimo, Apple used the meetings to identify staff it wanted to poach. Masimo later called the meetings a “targeted effort to obtain information and expertise.” Apple did indeed hire a number of Masimo staff, including the company’s chief medical officer, ahead of the launch of the Apple Watch. Masimo CEO Joe Kiano later expressed concern that Apple may have been trying to steal the company’s blood oxygen sensor technology. The company describes itself as “the inventors of modern pulse oximeters,” and its tech is used in many hospitals.

In 2020, the company sued Apple for stealing trade secrets and infringing 10 Masimo patents. The lawsuit asked for an injunction on the sale of the Apple Watch. Apple has consistently denied the claims, and recently hit back with a counterclaim of its own, alleging that Masimo’s own W1 Advanced Health Tracking Watch infringes multiple Apple patents. Reuters reports that a US court has ruled against Apple on one of the patent claims.

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IPhone Sales Banned In Colombia

“5G iPhones have been slapped with a sales ban in Colombia,” reports Digital Trends, “due to a 5G patent infringement dispute between Apple and Ericsson… The ban affects the latest models, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and the iPad Pro, which the court found infringed Ericsson’s patent pertaining to 5G tech.”

They add that in response Apple is now suing Ericsson in Texas, “for damages that resulted from the ruling in Colombia, as well as any fines, fees, penalties, and costs that have been incurred because of it.”
The site FOSS Patents notes that Colombia reached the “banning” stage less than six months after the beginning of “the current wave of Ericsson v. Apple patent infringement actions.” ZDNet explains:
The backstory here is somewhat complicated but can be boiled down to the following points:

– Apple used to pay Ericsson royalty fees for patented 5G technologies.
– Apple failed to renew the licenses when they expired.
– Ericsson sued Apple.
– Apple then sued Ericsson, claiming that the company was violating FRAND rules, the patents were standard-essential patents, and Ericsson’s licensing fees were too high.

There followed a whole bunch of legal actions and counteractions, with both companies attempting to get sales bans on the other company’s hardware….

This ban is likely no big deal for Apple given the small size of that market. The problem is several more lawsuits are making their way through various courts in various territories. And since Apple isn’t disputing the validity of the patents, it’s almost certainly opening itself out to bans being enforced in other countries.

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader fermion for sharing the news!

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RED Sues Nikon For Infringing On Its Video Compression Patents

RED filed a lawsuit yesterday suing (PDF) Nikon for infringing on its video compression patents. PetaPixel reports: The lawsuit was filed in a southern California federal court today and asserts that the Japanese camera manufacturer and its United States subsidiaries have illegally infringed on seven patents that deal specifically with “a video camera that can be configured to highly compress video data in a visually lossless manner.”

In the filing, RED notes a type of compression that it says it has patented and is in use by Nikon in the Z9: “The camera can be configured to transform blue and red image data in a manner that enhances the compressibility of the data. The data can then be compressed and stored in this form. This allows a user to reconstruct the red and blue data to obtain the original raw data for a modified version of the original raw data that is visually lossless when demosaiced. Additionally, the data can be processed so the green image elements are demosaiced first, and then the red and blue elements are reconstructed based on values of the demosaiced green image elements.”

This compression comes thanks to a partnership with intoPIX’s TicoRAW which was announced last December. […] The TicoRAW feature has been in the news for months, but RED was likely waiting for it to be implemented into a competitor’s camera before filing a lawsuit. RED’s lawsuit says Nikon’s infringement on its patent was “willful” and claims Nikon would have known about RED’s patents. […] RED then cites multiple lawsuits it has filed against Kinefinity, Sony, and Nokia over the years. RED is seeking damages or royalties for the infringement as well as an injunction to ban Nikon from further infringing.

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Russia Says Its Businesses Can Steal Patents From Anyone In ‘Unfriendly’ Countries

Russia has effectively legalized patent theft from anyone affiliated with countries “unfriendly” to it, declaring that unauthorized use will not be compensated. The Washington Post reports: The decree, issued this week, illustrates the economic war waged around Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the West levies sanctions and pulls away from Russia’s huge oil and gas industry. Russian officials have also raised the possibility of lifting restrictions on some trademarks, according to state media, which could allow continued use of brands such as McDonald’s that are withdrawing from Russia in droves. The effect of losing patent protections will vary by company, experts say, depending on whether they have a valuable patent in Russia. The U.S. government has long warned of intellectual property rights violations in the country; last year Russia was among nine nations on a “priority watch list” for alleged failures to protect intellectual property. Now Russian entities could not be sued for damages if they use certain patents without permission.

The patent decree and any further lifting of intellectual property protections could affect Western investment in Russia well beyond any de-escalation of the war in Ukraine, said Josh Gerben, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington. Firms that already saw risks in Russian business would have more reason to worry. “It’s just another example of how [Putin] has forever changed the relationship that Russia will have with the world,” Gerben said. Russia’s decree removes protections for patent holders who are registered in hostile countries, do business in them or hold their nationality.

The Kremlin has not issued any decree lifting protections on trademarks. But Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development said last week that authorities are considering “removing restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods whose supply to Russia is restricted,” according to Russian state news outlet Tass, and that potential measures could affect inventions, computer programs and trademarks. The ministry said the measures would “mitigate the impact on the market of supply chain breaks, as well as shortages of goods and services that have arisen due to the new sanctions of western countries,” Tass stated. Gerben said a similar decree on trademarks would pave the way for Russian companies to exploit American brand names that have halted their business in Russia. He gave a hypothetical involving McDonald’s, one of the latest global giants to suspend operations in Russia under public pressure.

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Google Found To Have Violated Sonos Patents, Blocking Import of Google Devices

An anonymous reader quotes a report from XDA Developers: In January of 2020, Sonos filed two lawsuits against Google, claiming that the latter stole its multiroom speaker technology and infringed on 100 patents. In September, Sonos then sued Google alleging that the company’s entire line of Chromecast and Nest products violated five of Sonos’ wireless audio patents. A judge (preliminarily) ruled in favor of Sonos. Now it’s gone from bad to worse for Google, as the preliminary findings have been finalized by the U.S. International Trade Commission. As a result, Google is not allowed to import any products that violate patents owned by Sonos, which Sonos argues includes Google Pixel phones and computers, Chromecasts, and Google Home/Nest speakers.

These products produced by Google are often made outside of the United States and imported, hence why this is a big deal for Google. In the ruling (PDF) (via The New York Times), Google was also served a cease & desist in order to stop violating Sonos’ patents. It has been theorized that as a result of the lawsuit, Google had removed Cast volume controls in Android 12, though it was recently added back with the January 2022 security patch. Sonos has previously said that it had proposed a licensing deal to Google for patents the company was making use of, but that neither company was able to reach an agreement. […] There are still two more lawsuits pending against Google filed by Sonos, meaning that it’s unlikely this is the last we’ve heard of this spat.

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