Canadian Guide To Patents

The website of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has a great guide to patents on their website [HTML] [PDF]. Although containing information specific to the Canadian patent application process it includes a lot of universally relevant information as well such as clear definitions of forms of Intellectual Property:

  • patents cover new inventions (process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter), or any new and useful improvement of an existing invention;
  • trade-mark is a word, symbol or design (or any combination of these) used to distinguish the wares or services of one person or organization from those of others in the marketplace;
  • copyrights provide protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs), and three other subject matter known as: performance, sound recording and communication signal;
  • industrial designs are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament (or any combination of these) applied to a finished manufactured article; and
  • integrated circuit topographies refer to the three-dimensional arrangement of the electronic circuits in integrated circuit products or layout designs.

There is also an examples/discussion on the standards of novelty, utility and ingenuity plus much more making this a good read for anyone interested in IP in general.

European Mobile Anti-Trust Update

  • Despite potentially resolving their EU antitrust case on fishy search results with formal concessions to the way it present search results, Google are perhaps out of the frying pan and into the fire with the FairSearch group (which counts Microsoft and Nokia amongst others as members) formally accusing of new antitrust violations relating to their Android mobile OS. The fact that manufacturers of ‘droid handsets are forced to include Google applications such as youtube/maps can certainly be compared to the situation in the EU MS antitrust case that took most of last decade. The EU Commission’s eventual decision on the matter may affect opensource software to some extent as Android is given to phone makers for free.
  • Apple is under investigation for possible antitrust abuse rising from it’s dealings with European mobile phone carriers. Apple previously drew EU fire in 2008 when as a result of a formal complaint to the European Commission it lowered the price of iTunes store songs to UK users as they were paying more than customers living elsewhere in the European Union
  • Samsung will have to deal with antitrust ramifications in the EU sometime this year, this time not from being a member of a price fixing cartel but rather from it’s patent-trolling of Apple in the region (which it has subsequently stopped). The European Commission seems to have a very fair and balanced outlook on patent usage, as demonstrated in their press release on the subject which included this statement from the Commission Vice in charge of competition policy:

“Intellectual property rights are an important cornerstone of the single market. However, such rights should not be misused when they are essential to implement industry standards, which bring huge benefits to businesses and consumers alike. When companies have contributed their patents to an industry standard and have made a commitment to license the patents in return for fair remuneration, then the use of injunctions against willing licensees can be anti-competitive.”

Common Password Patents

Xato.net has an excellent overview of patents dealing with checking for weak passwords. As the summary notes there are multiple patents covering every single aspect of password management, authentication, recovery – anything you can think of to do with passwords. The posted list of weak/common password checking alone is startling:

Although as noted some/most of these patents may have been obtained defensively with the state of patent trolling at the moment it would not be surprising if some form of assertion with accompanying litigation eventually appears.

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