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  1. Amazon Patented Taking Pictures In Front of a White Background

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    The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an easy punchline for jokes about bureaucratic inanity, but a recently-granted patent proves that reputation is deserved. Turns out Amazon has patented taking pictures in front of a white background, so I guess Shutterstock is doomed.

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  2. Obama’s Office Killed Impending iPad/iPhone Sales Ban

    If you kids don't stop fighting, Obama will turn this car right around.

    As a result of the lawsuits between Apple and Samsung, Apple was facing a sales ban on some of its older products. The ban was overturned by the Executive Office of the President, so you won't have to worry about being able to still snag some older Apple gear.

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  3. Big Brother is Charging: Proposed Phone Battery Tracks Your Every Movement to Save Power

    We're that much closer to HAL 9000 deciding not to do stuff for us.

    Apple has apparently decided to show up Asimov when it comes to self-aware technology that constantly tries to outdo itself in making our lives easier. Their newest attempt: A battery that learns your habits to decide how much power is needed at any given time, and to keep your phone charged while away from a charger.

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  4. Supreme Court Declares Victory for Common Sense, Denies Patents for Naturally Occurring Human Genes

    Identifying a gene is not the same as inventing, says a Supreme Court that can barely keep from rolling its eyes.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has handed down some truly weird and sometimes downright awful decisions recently -- the "corporations have civil rights just like people do" debacle springs to mind -- but it's good to know that they don't always go against the individual while reviewing important cases. In a unanimous decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that naturally occurring human genes may not be patented, ending a dispute over intellectual property of genes that are used to detect early signs of certain cancers. So now we can all find out our cancer risk without having to pay exorbitant fees! You know, other than the ones we'd have to pay to address those risks. Those fees are still pretty exorbitant.

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  5. Kind of a Big Deal: Google Offers Patents for Use by Open Source Developers

    I'm going to try to make patent law sound exciting here, because this is actually pretty big news. Google just announced that they won't sue developers or anyone else using open source software that uses their patents. There are some limitations, including a very limited number of patents to start with, and that Google reserves the right to sue if they're "first attacked," but it's still great news for tech innovation.

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  6. FTC Finds No Evidence to Suggest Bias in Google Search Results, Concludes Investigation

    The United States Federal Trade Commission today officially concluded their antitrust investigation of search engine giant Google with a series of decisions ranging from interesting to potentially fascinating. Perhaps most importantly, Google must stop attempting to exclude competitors from using patents important to key technologies. In other words, they can't use the patents they've acquired from their Motorola acquisition like a giant cudgel. We say most importantly because it's the only major change being made. When it comes to the actual allegations of search bias, though, that's a horse of a different color.

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  7. Apple and Google Join Forces to Purchase Kodak Patents, Hell in Process of Freezing Over

    Bankruptcies, and the patents that companies sell off during them, tend to cause the strangest of bedfellows. Depending on what's at stake, otherwise competing groups will band together in order to gobble up whatever patents are for sale in order to avoid potential lawsuits going forward. Generally speaking, it's better for everyone involved. Litigation can get quickly get expensive, as Apple is well aware. So the news that Apple and Google might be teaming up to purchase Kodak's patents -- for sale thanks to their bankruptcy -- makes perfect sense. Even so, it's still odd to see the two working together.

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  8. Microsoft Wants to Count Number of Folks Watching Television, Could Charge Per View Eventually

    When it comes to rentals and the like, most digital distribution avenues provide their content either for a limited period of time or only allow such things to be played a certain number of times. Neither of these options are exactly effective in the eyes of those businesses that make money off such ventures. Microsoft might finally be doing something about it, though. A patent application from the technology giant indicates that they're looking to count the number of folks viewing content using cameras and sensors in order to then charge based on the number of viewers.

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  9. Apple Issues Absurdly Snide U.K. Acknowledgement That Samsung Didn’t Infringe on Their Patents

    The sniping between Apple and Samsung over whether the latter's tablet infringes on the former's patents is getting worse. Samsung came off as somewhat bitter after the initial U.S. verdict when they ran ads poking fun at the Apple Genius Bar. Apple has just escalated this feud to an entirely new level, however. See, the U.K. courts didn't agree with Apple, and actually found that the Samsung Galaxy Tab didn't infringe on their patents. Part of the ruling required Apple to issue an acknowledgement on their website, and they have. It's probably not what the courts had in mind, though.

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  10. U.S. Patent Office Invalidates Apple Patent Used in Samsung Trial, Puts Jury Ruling at Risk

    These days, patents are used more in legal posturing than just about anything else. It goes to show just how ludicrous the system is, however, that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has filed an invalidation for Apple's U.S. Patent No. 7,469,381. All 20 claims of Apple's rubber-banding patent are now officially on their way to being thrown out. This includes the same claim 19 that was used against Samsung in the company's recent high-profile trial.

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  11. Apple Will Actually Have to Run Ads in the U.K. Saying Samsung Didn’t Infringe on Their iPad Patents

    Back in July, a United Kingdom court ruled the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 didn't infringe on the iPad design patents as claimed by Apple. By filing the lawsuit and dragging Samsung's name through the mud, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Samsung in general were associated with patent infringement and illegal activity in the minds of the people. The United Kingdom court asserted that Apple would have to run what's basically a giant retraction by taking out advertisements saying Samsung didn't infringe on their patents in order to rectify the situation. Apple's just lost their appeal, so it looks like they actually will have to run the ads.

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  12. Skewed Priorities: Apple and Google Spent More on Patents Last Year Than They Did on R&D

    We live in a world where enormous corporations have backed themselves into a legal corner. Essentially, companies like Google and Apple religiously patent anything and everything they can in order to avoid lawsuits. The theory is that if they create a large enough stable of patents, they'll be able to curtail the majority of disputes. It's also rather expensive to go about doing this. Last year, Apple and Google spent more on patents than they did on research and development. This is the first time this has happened, but it's not likely to be the last.

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  13. Samsung Adds iPhone 5 to Apple Lawsuit, Patent Madness Continues

    Samsung threatened that they would sue Apple over the iPhone 5, and now they've gone ahead and followed through with it. They've filed an amendment to have the iPhone 5 added to their already existing suit against Apple. At this point, it's all just posturing and such, but it's still amusing to see Samsung attempt to go after every little nook and cranny that they can. Any company might do the same if they were hit with a verdict that required them to pay over a billion dollars.

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  14. Go Daddy Patents Announcing Domain Registrations on Websites, Clearly Nothing Wrong With System

    The patent system, as it stands, is kind of a silly mess. The usual cycle is that companies patent anything and everything they can get away with in order to prevent themselves from being trolled only to then troll others with their menagerie of ridiculous patents. It's a numbers game, and something's bound to stick. For example, Go Daddy now has a patent for "announcing a domain name registration on a social website" in their stable. Perhaps someone should patent "announcing a relationship status change on a social website" before Facebook gets there first.

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  15. Stack Exchange Launches Ask Patents to Help Stop Patent Tomfoolery

    I think we can all agree that patents have gotten way out of hand here. Trolls of all shapes and sizes love to use ridiculous patents to force companies to settle for outrageous sums. Don't want to spend countless dollars fighting a court battle over rounded corners? Settle with the patent holder. That's been the suggested response for ages. Thanks to Stack Exchange, and a small provision in the America Invents Act, the public can finally get involved in the fight in earnest with Ask Patents.

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  16. Google+ Might Finally Embrace the Internet, Allow Anonymous Profiles

    One of the big parts of Google+ is the fact that it requires you to use your "common name" when signing up. Google doesn't want any of the typical social media naming schemes, after all, and they almost definitely want to associate all the data they can with a single person. To this end, the Google+ guidelines include a strict naming policy on what is and is not kosher when signing up for their service. According to a patent that's just been issued to the company, however, they might be changing their minds a bit.

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  17. Apple v. Samsung: Jury Rules Samsung Owes $1.049 Billion

    The jury of the Apple v. Samsung copyright trial has made their decision, and it was a bloodbath. After a surprisingly short deliberation period yesterday, the nine-member jury ruled that Samsung had infringed on every one of Apple's patents on nearly every device in question. Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple a whopping $1.049 billion for basing many of their phones off the iPhone's design as well as copying many of Apple's core features for touch-based designs.

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  18. Context-Free Patent Art Is Deliciously Surreal

    Say what you will about patent trolls, an excess of patents does have one completely positive effect on the world; it creates an excess of weird patent art. Now that things like software and video games are one of the main driving forces behind innovation, many patent drawings try to illustrate things that are fairly abstract. This has the bonus of making them hilarious and bizarre out of context, something the Tumblr Context-Free Patent Art has been doing, and to great effect.

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  19. Samsung, RIM Sued Because There’s A Patent For Buttons That Write “:)”

    Patents are aimed to protect innovators and make sure they get their due. When you invent something, a non-obvious something, you patent it and these wonderful laws will make sure that, for a limited time at least, you alone reap the benefits of your genius. After all, it was your idea. It's all great in theory, but patent trolls have been turning it on its head for a while, and the ever increasing amount of things that can be patented isn't helping. Someone patented menus and buttons that assist users in writing emoticons, for instance, and RIM and Samsung are being sued over it.

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  20. Yahoo! Sues Facebook For Patent Infringement

    After holding its tongue for years, it seems, Yahoo! has unleashed a patent lawsuit against Facebook, arguing that Facebook's momumental success would not have been possible without the use of techniques developed and patented by Yahoo! in it's heyday. Like software patent suits that have laid claim to everything from the concept of the micro-transaction to the concept of torrenting, this suit is mainly concerned with broadly defined techniques and strategies, as opposed to specific technologies or anything so physical. Social networking juggernaut Facebook is no small target, and it this seems to be an all-or-nothing sort of play on Yahoo!'s part.

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