Patently Absurd

What’s Worth More: Kodak’s Patents, or Its People?

Quick, to the patent office!

Tim Carmondy has an interesting piece up on Wired’s Epicenter blog about the value of Kodak’s patent portfolio. Following the massive $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola by Google, and the recent record setting $4.5 billion auction for Nortel’s patent portfolio, it’s a seller’s market for ailing tech companies with large and storied troves of patents.

Kodak has an incredible array of patents in the mobile photo space dating back to the early 20th century. While it might seem odd that patents on vintage cameras could be valuable in the age of Instagram, when it comes to defending a patent in court, the more prior art a company can own, the better. It’s the reason Bloomberg recently ran a story entitled, Read More

Patently Absurd

Patent Trolls Come in All Shapes and Sizes

tech job data

The team at Oddcast, a viral marketing firm founded in New York during the peak of the dot-com boom, has a special affinity for faces. In campaigns for blue-chip clients like McDonalds, Disney, Verizon and Ford, Oddcast created online games and promotions that allowed users to upload photos of themselves and create virtual avatars, digital composites that took their facial features and produced a likeness they could share with friends.

Oddcast was one of the small group of companies among hundreds of start-ups launched in 1999 to survive the bursting of the tech bubble in 2001. Over the next decade the company grew to more 40 employees and was able to secure a $4 million round of funding in 2004 from Union Square Ventures, one of the top V.C. firms in the nation. Little did they know that around the same time, a small, Fresno, Calif., firm called IQ Biometrix was securing several patents related to the creation of digital facial images. It wasn’t until 2009, when they received notice of a lawsuit over patent infringement, that Oddcast even knew IQ Biometrix existed.

A source familiar with the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because of the nature of the lawsuit, said the team at Oddcast felt like the victims of a practical joke. “Anyone who has owned a Mr. Potato Head understands the idea of taking different features and putting them together to make a face. Oddcast never competed with this company for market share, never saw a line of their code and never borrowed an idea from them to create their business.” But at the urging of their board members, lawyers and investors, Oddcast agreed to settle, rather than fight the lawsuit in court. Read More

Tao of Steve

Apple Files a Motion to Help Developers Targeted By Lodsys

lodsys.snapshot

Developers at WWDC were frustrated not to hear a word from Steve Jobs about the war patent firm Lodsys is waging against third-party developers. But at long last—okay fine, nine days later—Apple has come out swinging. Yesterday, they filed a motion to intervene in Lodsys’ lawsuit against seven small-time iOS app developers for an in-app purchase mechanism. The court has yet to decide whether it will grant Apple’s motion to act as an intervenor,which Lodsys has the power to oppose. But Apple has already submitted its answer to Lodsys’ complaint and a counterclaim. Apple’s proposed defense is that the alleged infringements are covered under an existing license agreement in Apple’s favor. Read More