e-patents.au – May 2004
- Recent landmark Court rulings in Japan are reshaping inventor's rights to royalties on inventions exploited by employers. In the latest case, electronics make Hitachi Ltd was ordered to pay about US$1.53 million in royalties to Seiji Yonezawa, an employee at the relevant time, who invented CD and DVD player technology used by the company. The Tokyo High Court, in an appeal decision, said Hitachi had failed to sufficiently compensate Mr Yonezawa and awarded the amount based on past sales of product incorporating the invention.
- IBM has once again obtained more US Patents than any other organisation in a calendar year. A spokesperson announced the company obtained 3415 US patents in 2003, making IBM the top US patent recipient for the 11th consecutive year. More than 40% of the patents were software related, marking an increasing trend for the company.
- The Victorian Supreme Court has recently ruled that two academics employed by the Victoria University of Technology must compensate the University after the academics made an agreement with an overseas company to exploit and patent software based on research by the academics. A company had been formed to exploit the invention and the Court ordered imposition of a constructive trust of the academics shares in the company on behalf of the University, and a payment to the University of an amount equal to shares already sold.
- Updating the long-running battle between Intel and Intergraph over Intel's Itanium processor, a US appeals Court has vacated a lower Court's ruling. Previously, it had been found that Intel's 64-bit Itanium chip infringed an Intergraph patent and Intergraph was awarded US$150 million. This award was based on a pre-judgment agreement between the parties that Intel would pay this amount if Intel lost, even if the company later won on appeal. The vacating of the lower Court’s judgment by the appeals Court has raised an issue over what should happen to the unusual US$150 million award.
- Australian poker machine manufacturer, Aristocrat, has been sued in the US based on an allegation of patent infringement by the company's hyperlink progressive jackpot gaming machines. Proceedings are only in initial stages. Rambus has in the past been involved in litigation over its patents and allegations that Rambus did not disclose key patents on technology when participating in setting industry standards for memory chips. Rambus has now had one of its European patents revoked in its entirety by the European Patent Office after challenges by several European semiconductor manufacturers. Rambus is also preparing for two US patent infringement cases later this year.
- A settlement has been reached between Good Technology and Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry device and holder of the relevant patents. The settlement ends litigation between the companies and provides Research in Motion with an undisclosed lump sum payment and ongoing royalties. However, Research in Motion is still battling another company, NTP, after it was recently found by a Court that the BlackBerry maker infringed some of NTP's patents. Research in Motion is appealing.
Briefly, in other reported Court awards or settlements:
- CDNow v SightSound Technologies Settlement of US$3.3 million to CDNow (Internet music downloading software)
- Microsoft v SPX Settlement of US$60 million to SPX (Interactive computer conferencing and whiteboard technology)
- Ingram Industries and Amazon.com v On Demand Machine Corp. Award of US$15 million to On Demand Machine Corp. (On demand book ordering and printing)