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Apple’s secret weapon

“The technology giant will ask a federal judge this week to stop sales of a Samsung tablet for allegedly ripping off the iPad. The case rests on an increasingly vital set of assets: design patents.

By Roger Parloff, senior editor

FORTUNE — On Friday, Apple will ask a federal judge in San Jose, California to yank a popular model of Samsung tablet computer off the market for allegedly copying its iPad design. Given the central part played by Apple in the Silicon Valley industrial design renaissance, it is fitting that the company’s demand also marks the coming of age of a murky form of intellectual property that many may have never even realized existed: the design patent.

Unlike the much more common utility patent, which lasts for 20 years from application and covers the way something works, a design patent lasts for 14 years from issuance and covers the way something looks, explains Christopher V. Carani of Chicago’s McAndrews, Held & Malloy, an attorney who practices this burgeoning black art. (Apple’s (AAPL) patent suit against Motorola (GOOG) in Chicago, which was surprisingly dismissed Friday by Judge Richard Posner, acting as a district judge, involved only conventional utility patents.) The necessarily subjective test for infringement of design patents is simply whether the “overall impression” of the accused product looks “substantially the same” as the patented design in the “eyes of an ordinary observer.” The design must also be “ornamental” — that is, not “dictated by” function.

In the Samsung case, the iPad design patent at issue (on which Steve Jobs is listed as a co-inventor) is just five pages long. Four and a half of those consist of sketches, from different angles, of an object that, to the untrained eye, looks like an unopened TV dinner. The crucial “claim” is just one sentence: “We claim the ornamental design for an electronic device, substantially as shown” — referring to the sketches. In those, solid lines show what’s being patented, while dotted lines show incidental features. Like the proverbial Jackson Pollock painting, your kid could have drawn these.

On the other hand, Apple invests fortunes to come up with its minimalist masterpieces, and consumers will move heaven and earth to possess one, so is it fair to let Johnny-come-lately’s just rip Apple off?

In May, a panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit preliminarily ruled that Apple’s iPad design patent, known as D504,889, was valid, notwithstanding the existence of at least two roughly similar designs for earlier tablets—a 1994 Knight-Ridder prototype and the 2002 HP-Compaq TC1000. Circuit Judge William C. Bryson, writing for the panel, then ruled that the iPad design was likely infringed by Samsung’s popular Galaxy 10.1 Tab, which came out in June 2011. He ordered the case sent back to U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to decide whether to pull the Samsung tablet from shelves immediately or wait till after she has presided over a full jury trial, currently scheduled to start July 30. That preliminary injunction hearing is now set for Friday.

In the same ruling Judge Bryson also preliminarily approved the validity of two of Apple’s (and Jobs’s, as co-inventor) iPhone design patents and found that they, too, were likely infringed by Samsung’s Galaxy S 4G and Infuse 4G smartphones—though Bryson affirmed Judge Koh’s earlier decision to order no pretrial embargo on those devices. (Samsung did not respond to requests for comment on the suit.)

Though the U.S. Supreme Court has not heard a design patent case since 1871 — that one involved the ornamentation on some pre-Civil War silver flatware handles — it might be time for a fresh look. While the number of design patents issued annually across all industries has increased only incrementally over the past decade — cumulatively, about 26% — tech design patents have shot through the roof. While Apple obtained just 10 of them in 2001, when Samsung acquired 8, last year Apple hauled in 123 (an 1100% increase), while Samsung harvested 333 (a 4000% increase).”

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Source: Fortune CNN News

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5 Re-Commerce Sites That Will Buy Back Your Old Mac

“Did your mouth water, your jaw drop and your eyes bulge over the beautiful new retina display MacBook that Apple announced at Monday’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference? Yeah, us too. As for the $2,199 starting price point? Well, pixels are pricey, especially when there’s 5 million of them.

But there is hope. Supplement your purchase of a stylish new gadget with money you’ve earned from selling the old ones.

First of all, don’t bother with eBay — the site is overloaded with used tech. At last check, there were 51,000 listings for MacBook Pros and 15,000 listings for MacBook Airs. Your gadget might get overlooked in the clutter.

Instead, we suggest you turn to one of these “re-commerce” sites, which specialize in trade-in and buy-back of used electronics. Simply enter information about your device, including its condition and original packaging, if applicable. Bing bang boom! The sites will give you an estimate right then and there; if you accept, they send you a pre-paid shipping label (and in some cases, even a box).

If your assessment of the device’s condition is fair, the money is yours — and your home will be less cluttered for it. I just wonder if the new and improved Siri could have told you that.

Keep in mind that when you’re trading in a laptop, unlike a smartphone or tablet, the resale value will vary by hard drive, RAM and optical drive. Those configurations will have a greater impact on the yielded value than the actual model of the device.

According to Jeff Trachsel, chief marketing officer for NextWorth, the best laptop trade-in values are for Apple, HP, Dell, Sony, Toshiba and Compaq. The highest-value laptops will likely come with Intel Core i7, Intel Core i5, Intel Core i3 or Intel Core2Duo 2.0+ GHz processors.

We’ve rounded up a selection of five re-commerce sites, each with a slightly different schtick. Pick the one that’s right for you, and sell, sell, sell!

Quick Tip: Before you send anything in for a re-sell, make sure all of your information is wiped from the device. It’s best to restore your gadget to its original factory settings to be sure everything is deleted. For full details on how to erase the contents of your devices, see Apple’s tutorials for iOS and OS X.”

 

Source: http://www.mashable.com

iPad accounts for 94 per cent of tablet web traffic

THERE is no question that the iPad is the dominant force when it comes to tablet sales. But when it comes to usage, the iPad’s power is even more impressive.

Aiming to get a sense of how powerful the tablet is, online advertising network Chitika looked at what devices it was serving ads to and found that it was almost exclusively Apple tablets.

For every 100 iPad impressions, Chitika is serving slightly more than one ad to a Samsung Galaxy and Asus Transformer Prime and under one ad to the Motorola Xoom, BlackBerry PlayBook and Kindle Fire. The Nook Tablet share is even lower, though clearly both the Nook and Kindle are marketed less as web browsing devices and more as media consumption tools.

In total, the iPad accounted for more than 94 percent of ads, Chitika said.

“Going forward, the competition is going to be hard pressed to find a way to overthrow the seemingly omnipotent Apple,” Chitika said. “Not only do they offer a great product, they have the undying devotion of their enthusiasts.”

Source :Daily Telegraph Australia

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