Amazon Is Planning To Launch Its Own Smartphone

The year 2012 is all about powerful smartphones, tablets, mobile operating systems and the never-ending patent wars. Until the last few months, Apple was the market leader in the super-competitive smartphone market. However, the tables have been turned. Now, Samsung has became the market leader by shipping 42.2 million smartphones worldwide, followed by Apple, which managed to ship 35.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2012.

According to the new rumors floating around the Internet, Amazon is likely to launch its very own smartphone in the coming months. This rumor is definitely not surprising for most of us since we have already see the capability of the retail giant. Last year, Amazon successfully launched its very own tablet, the Kindle Fire. This tablet was powered by the Android Operating System with Amazon’s heavily customized (shoptimized) UI on top of it. Thanks to the low cost and amazing specs, the Kindle Fire sold like hot cakes during the holiday season.

Bloomberg is reporting that the Seattle-based online retail company is planning to launch a smartphone which will compete with the Apple’s iPhone as well as other Android superphones. Basically, it means that Amazon is planning to compete with Apple and Samsung in the competitive smartphone market. The Amazon’s smartphone will run on the latest version of the Android Operating System. No prizes for guessing the user interface. It will come with the Amazon’s shoptimized UI on top of the OS.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. Yes, we are talking about the same Chinese mobile-phone maker which currently manufactures the Apple’s extremely popular iPhone’s and iPad’s. According to the rumors, the retail giant is working with Foxconn to develop its first smartphone. If these rumors turns out to be true, then you should expect yet another powerful smartphone with a stunning design.

Amazon has been already involved in five patent-related cases this year and 20 cases last year. To protect itself against potential patent infringement lawsuits from competitors claiming illegal use of technology, Amazon has already started obtaining vital patents through acquisitions. It has recently considered acquiring wireless patents from Pennsylvania based InterDigital. Sadly, the company sold its assets to Intel Corp. instead of Amazon for $375 million in June 2012.

It was not the end of the road for Amazon. The company recently hired Matt Gordon for patent acquisitions and investments at Amazon. Previously, Matt Gordon was the senior director of acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures Management LLC, which owns more than 35,000 intellectual property assets.

What are your views on the Amazon’s upcoming smartphone? Do you think this smartphone can survive in the competitive smartphone market? We would love to hear your views in the comments section below.

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Kodak Patent Auction to Provide New Ammo in Mobile Patent Wars

Kodak, the once great but now bankrupt camera giant, has stated that a U.S. bankruptcy court has approved its bid to auction off the bundle of patents it has despite efforts by the likes of Apple to derail the sale by claiming that it has rights over some of them.

“The Apple and FlashPoint claims are baseless and Kodak will still seek dismissal on summary judgment in July. Today’s ruling provides a court-approved process allowing buyers to acquire the patents free and clear of all ownership allegations, regardless of the status of the dispute with Apple and FlashPoint at the time of closing,” said Timothy Lynch, Kodak Vice President and Chief IP Officer.

Kodak filed for bankruptcy some time ago, and is hoping that a patent sale will generate a significant amount of cash. It has nearly 700 patents related to image capture, processing and transmission technologies for digital cameras and smartphones, and some other 400 patents related to image analysis and manipulation tools.

Kodak’s business was largely disrupted first by digital cameras and then smartphones, as it failed to keep up with the times.

The patent auction will close next month, and should provide enough ammo for the next round of battles in the ongoing patent wars. We expect the auctions to see interest from major technology companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google and others.

Microsoft Shuts Down German Distribution Center Due To Patent Spat With Motorola

According to a report on Monday, Microsoft will be moving its European distribution center to the Netherlands, effectively shutting down its current center in Germany. This is due to a patent dispute with Motorola Mobility Inc. in Germany.

“We would have preferred to keep our European distribution centre in Germany, where it has been for many years. But unfortunately the risk from disruptions from Motorola’s patent litigation is simply too high,” said Thomas Baumgaertner, a Microsoft spokesperson.

The dispute between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility has to do with patents surrounding the H.234 video standard and 802.11 WiFi. Basically, Microsoft is complaining that Motorola are charging exorbitant royalties — reportedly over $22.50 per $1,000 laptop — for use of technologies pertaining to their patents. Apple share the same sentiment, as they have to pay Motorola 2.25% of every iPhone or iPad produced due to a 3G patent held by Motorola. That being said, Microsoft and Apple are both complaining to the EU that these high royalties are not in compliance with FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms.)

Motorola claims that they have made Microsoft a “fair offer”, however a compromise is yet to be reached.

In Germany, the patent wars have been raging on for quite some time. Their courts have served as a battlefield for patent disputes in recent times, forcing Samsung to stop selling the Galaxy 10.1 in Germany while also having Apple disable push notification functionality for some users.

Google Patents a Futuristic “Continuous Search” Gesture for Android

Google has changed the way we think about web search. It has constantly innovated with search, and with Android, it found a new platform for its services and products. However, Android provides a touch interface, and search on Android was following the desktop way until now. The good news is Google is about to change that.

Google has patented a search gesture on Android that follows the letter+lasso style. Therefore, if you want to Google text content anywhere, you simply have to draw a lowercase ‘g’ and draw a lasso around the content. As soon as you lift your finger, the search will be performed automatically. Likewise, you can also search on Yahoo or Wikipedia with a ‘s’ followed by the lasso. In this case, a pop-up will ask you for a choice between Yahoo and Wikipedia. The gestures are explained better in the image shown below.


According to Patently Apple, this patent will solve a practical problem that touchscreen device users face frequently.

Touch-sensitive devices present problems with respect to the detection of user input that are not present with more classical devices as described above. For example, if a user seeks to select text via a touch-sensitive device, it may be difficult for the user to pinpoint the desired text because the user’s finger (or stylus) is larger than the desired text presented on the display.

This is a welcome change. Google is known for search, and searching on Android has been sloppy until now, with the use of selection markers to mark text, and then copy pasting them to search. This patent will let Google bring its remarkable search engine into all content on an Android phone, with lesser number of steps between identifying a searchable content, and getting search results.

Nokia Sells 450 Wireless Patents to Patent Troll

Nokia may no longer be the market leader in smartphones, but it still has more than 30,000 patents related to various technologies used in smartphones, wireless equipment and standards. It is one of the few companies to win against Apple in a patent duel, and still receives licensing royalty payments from Apple.

Nokia has sold more than 450 patents to Sisvel, an Italian patent licensing company, or in other words, a patent troll. The patents cover technologies related to 3G, LTE and GSM. Some of them are essential patents, and must be licensed to others on FRAND terms.

Nokia still retains a license to these patents, but the exact details of the deal haven’t been revealed. Nokia could either have sold them off for a lump sum amount, or it could have sold them in return for a cut of the licensing revenue and access to other patents in Sisvel’s portfolio. In any case, it is selling off part of its patent portfolio to raise funds, presumably to expand operations.

Nokia’s patent portfolio is one of the most important ones in the mobile and wireless industry, which has been plagued by patent lawsuits among the major players. Google recently acquired Motorola primarily for its patent portfolio. Microsoft is set to generate billions of dollars in licensing revenue from Android device manufacturers.

It’s not clear what Sisvel plans to do with the acquired patents, but it’s definitely not going to sit on them.

Google Buys More Patents from IBM

We recently reported that Google acquired more than 1000 patents from IBM in July. Ever since Google and its partners have been hounded by heavyweights like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, it has been trying to bulk up its patent portfolio for self-defense. It recently acquired Motorola for $12.5 billion, primarily for its massive patent portfolio. But apparently, that hasn’t been enough.


Today, according to a report by SEO by the Sea, Google bought 1023 patents from IBM, in addition to its earlier purchase. Records from the USPTO indicate that the date of the acquisition was August 17, 2011.

Google recently transferred some patents to HTC, which will help it in its lawsuit against Apple. It is now taking on a more proactive role in defending its partners, which are being wooed by Microsoft to adopt its Windows Phone 7 platform.

This recent purchase includes patents related to Java, wireless patents and web and search related patents. On the surface, it looks like it could help Google against all three – Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.

IBM has traditionally possessed one of the greatest patent portfolios, while Google hardly had any, compared to Microsoft or Apple. In the last couple of months, Google has considerably added to its portfolio and now has a portfolio comparable to Microsoft.

You can check out more details about those patents here: Google and IBM do it again: Google Acquires over 1,000 Patents from IBM in August

Microsoft Continues to Milk the Android Cash Cow

Thanks to its large stash of patents, Microsoft has been one of the largest beneficiaries of the patent wars currently underway in the smartphone industry.

In an earlier post (Android: Microsoft’s New Cash Cow), I already explained how Microsoft had turned Android into its new cash cow. It was actually on track to generate more than a billion dollars by licensing patents to Android smartphone manufacturers in 2012, and was making way more money from Android than it did from Windows Phone 7.

It has already been getting patent licensing payments from HTC, Onkyo, Wistron, and was in talks with Samsung for a licensing agreement which would net it close to $15 for every Android smartphone manufactured by Samsung.

According to a report by BGR, Microsoft has confirmed that it has signed licensing agreements with two other major Android manufacturers – ViewSonic and Acer. Both the companies make Android smartphones and tablets. Apparently the deal covers not only Android devices, but also devices running Chrome OS.

We are pleased that ViewSonic is taking advantage of our industrywide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property.said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.

While these specific deals are unlikely to net Microsoft a lot of money, they do help Microsoft send across a clear message – if so many heavyweights decided to license its patents instead of fighting patent lawsuits, other Android manufacturers should rather directly pay a licensing fee to Microsoft instead of fighting it in the courts, where Microsoft is likely to win.

It’s a win-win situation for Microsoft.