Author: Nick Farrell

Texas jury awards Bluetooth to patent troll

trollA Texas jury which was told by a patent troll that a plaintiff did not invent Bluetooth 2.0, has told him that he really did.

Gordon Bremer is connected to a patent trolling outfit called Rembrandt which takes on big companies with wide patents before East Texas juries.

East Texas juries are famous for handing down patent rulings in favour of plaintiffs.

Bremer told the court he didn’t invent Bluetooth 2.0. In fact he hadn’t even read the specification for it until it had been in the market for three years.

The jury found in Rembrandt’s favour after a week-long trial, finding that Samsung’s Bluetooth-enabled products, including its most popular mobile phones, tablets, and televisions, infringe Bremer’s patents, numbered 8,023,580 and 8,457,228. The patents relate to compatibility between different types of modems, and connect to a string of applications going back to 1997.

This means that without doing anything Bremer may be being paid a hefty royalty by Samsung, after a jury ruled that the Korean electronics company infringed Bremer’s patents. He stands to get 2.5 percent of the $15.7 million verdict.

The first version of Bluetooth was invented by Swedish cell phone company Ericsson in 1994 and Rembrandt made the same complaint against Blackberry .

Now Rembrandt’s lawyers have made clear they believe the Bremer patents apply to all products using Bluetooth 2.0.

Rembrandt lawyer Demetrios Anaipakos said that “justice had been done” and that  the Rembrandt inventions are at the heart of Samsung Bluetooth capabilities.

Bremer told Rembrandt higher-ups that his patents, originally applied to work he did on modems back in 1997, could be applied to Bluetooth products.

“I had a kind of ‘aha’ moment. I came up with an (eloquent) solution… I realised if I put an indicator at the beginning of each communication that said change the modulation, this communication could happen instantly.”

Bremer continues to create more patents for Rembrandt. He has more than 100 to his name. It’s a symbiotic relationship—he creates the patents, testifies and gets deposed, while Rembrandt provides the legal muscle

On cross-examination, he acknowledged that it was the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, or BSIG, that came up with the 2.0 version, including the Enhanced Data Rate or EDR technology and he made no contributions to the standards body.

Samsung lawyer Jeff Sherwood appeared to face an uphill battle focusing on the non-infringement argument. That was because the defence was heavily technical and the jury preferred that he talked about the wording in the patents.

Bremer had never created a product based on his patents, Sherwood noted. He tried to sell his patents to other parties, but “no one wanted them” until they were bought by Rembrandt.

Samsung hired as its expert a man who was deeply involved in the technology—Steven Hall, now a technical director of Broadcom, who was vice-chair of the Bluetooth SIG “Core Specification Working Group.”

Hall had never heard of Bremer.

It took the jury less than an hour before it returned a verdict that Samsung should pay up.


Cisco to invest in French starters

Cooked_snailsUS network equipment maker Cisco is to invest $100 million in French start-ups according to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The investment is part of a partnership between the company and the French state that aims to develop better networks, improve cybersecurity, provide training 200,000 people over three years and finance academic research.

A statement from Valls’ office said that Cisco would assist digital innovation thanks to an  in French startups.

The deal was announced after Valls met Cisco CEO, John Chambers. It is not clear what Cicso’s cunning plan in France is yet, but we suspect it will be part of Chamber’s cloud strategy.

Recently SFR France announced that it was using Cisco products in its upgrade from IPv4 to IPv6.


EU furious with Obama’s defence

Obama BarackThe European Commission is angry at US president’s Barack Obama claims that the EU was  intentionally setting up commercially-driven roadblocks to prevent US technology companies from operating here.

Obama claimed these roadblocks were put in place to stop US tech companies like Google and Facebook from doing business in Europe and competing fairly with homegrown rivals.

Instead, Obama praised the US companies for being “more commercially-driven than anything else” while the EU companies were rubbish because they could not really compete with the glorious US corporations.

Obama said that the US “owned the internet” and it was created by US companies. “And oftentimes what is portrayed as high-minded positions on issues sometimes is just designed to carve out some of their commercial interests.”

He said that the Germans “given its history with the Stasi” are very sensitive to [privacy] issues.

All this seems particularly dark when you consider that the roadblock appear to be antitrust investigations held by the European Commission against Google.

That sort of pro-corporate US Imperialism did not go down too well with the Europeans.  After all it was a British person who invented the world wide web.

A European Commission spokesperson told the Financial Times: “This point – that regulations are only there to shelter our companies – is out of line. Regulations should make it easier for non-EU companies to access the single market. It is in [US companies’] interest that things are enforced in a uniform manner.”

However, there is more to it than that. Pressure is mounting on the EU to do something about US companies’ tax avoidance efforts, as well as prevent companies from taking a monopolistic stranglehold of any one market.

Last year, Google was made to comply with Europe’s “right to be forgotten” which allows people to request their personal details are removed from the company’s search engine results.

Catalan MEP Ramon Tremosa told the FT: “President Obama forgets or maybe isn’t aware that among the dozens of complaints in the Google antitrust case, there are several US companies.”

Tremosa added: “Some companies, like [search engine] Yelp, have no problem going public. Others don’t want to attack Google only because they fear retaliation measures, such as demotion/exclusion and penalties supposedly applied by Google to some rival companies.”

FBI captures its most wanted cyber criminal

The_UntouchablesThe Untouchables have finally fingered the collar of the world’s most wanted “cybercriminal”.

Noor Aziz Uddin, 52, was wanted for his alleged involvement in an international telecommunications scheme that defrauded victims of amounts in excess of $50 million.

He was found in Pakistan following a two-and-a-half year manhunt. Aziz Uddin’s presumed accomplice, Farhan Arshad, 41, was also arrested in the pre-dawn raid carried out by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency in Karachi.

The FBI had offered separate rewards of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of both Aziz Udin and Arshad, having issued arrest warrants for the men on 29 June, 2012.

“(The telecommunications scheme) defrauded unsuspecting individuals, companies, and government entities, to include large telecom companies, in both the United States and abroad,” the FBI’s Most Wanted files on the pair stated.

“Between November of 2008 and April of 2012, Noor Aziz Uddin is alleged to have compromised computer systems and conducted the scheme which ultimately defrauded victims of amounts in excess of $50 million.”

The international operation extended into Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Spain, Singapore, Italy, and Malaysia, according to the FBI.

Aziz Uddin was arrested by Interpol in Malaysia but let go due to a lack of evidence.

Dotcom denies defence case collapsing

budillionaire-kim-dotcomKim Dotcom’s US lawyer has denied that a guilty plea by one of the Megaupload’s former employees could cause his case to collapse.

Andrus Nomm did a deal with prosecutors where he was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement while working for the now defunct file-sharing site.

The US is trying to extradite Mr Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, from New Zealand to stand trial.

Nomm, a 36-year-old Estonian citizen, agreed to the movie studio’s estimate of $400m of harm to copyright owners as part of the deal.

Also as part of the deal Nomm had acknowledged that through his work as a computer programmer for Megaupload, he had become aware of copyright-infringing material being stored on its sites, including films and TV shows that had contained FBI anti-piracy warnings.

Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell said that the conviction was a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history.

Dotcom has long maintained that he had not encouraged users to upload pirated material, and has said he cannot be held responsible for what others had stored on his service.

He said that he had no grudge against Nomm, saying that he had nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Mr Dotcom’s lawyer attempted to play down the significance of the latest development.

Nomm was interested in just getting one year and being done with this, essentially he lost on procedure rather than merit.  It looked more like a scripted guilty plea that was more of a Hollywood public relations stunt.

He thought it strange that Nomm pleaded guilty as Nomm was involved particularly in video streaming which was not a copyright crime in the United States.

He also said as part of his plea bargain that no filtering was going on, but the failure to filter was at most a civil and not a criminal issue.

The issue as to whether all this case is civil and not criminal appears to be at the heart of Dotcom’s defence. If the movie studios can convince the US government that its civil cases are criminal conspiracies then it can use government-funded police as private security guards and lock people up rather than suing for damages.

An extradition hearing for Mr Dotcom and three of the other accused is scheduled to take place in Auckland in June.

US spooks hide in hard drives

spyIf you own hard-drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba all your data could have been seen by US spooks.

According to Kaspersky Lab, the US National Security Agency figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron and Samsung.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The Russian outfit did not name the US as the country behind the software, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, which was a NSA-led effort.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the spy agency valued these espionage programmes as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, a move that could help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001

The announcement could lead to a backlash against Western technology, in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most technology suppliers to provide copies of their software code for inspection.

Kaspersky said the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

The information was news to Western Digital, Seagate and Micron who said it was the first they had heard of it. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment and IBM just ignored hacks requests.

Apple wants to build legendary nightmare

Titans were nightmare monsters from Greek legend.

Titans were nightmare monsters from Greek legend.

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell of a yarn which claims that Apple wants to get into the automotive industry and make self-driving cars named after legendary nightmares. 

Apparently, the numbers people have looked up the numbers and concluded that there is a gap in the market for outrageously priced cars which need to be replaced every year because some ridiculously trivial “update” has been added.

Of course the news has not come from Apple,  it is leaving that announcement to its unpaid press officers – or journalists, as they like to call themselves.  Steve Jobs wanted an iCar so apparently it will happen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has hundreds of people working on a top secret project: an electric minivan.   Apparently, this job is “massive” and is codenamed Titan – named after the godlike beings who tried to destroy the world.

The project is expected to last years, and it’s entirely possible that Apple will say “sod this for a game of soldiers” lets go back to making expensive toys.

However for the next 20 years you can expect lots of sittings of cars which the Tame Apple Press will try to convince you are the prototype.  Gizmodo, for example said

“Recently, a janky-looking Dodge Caravan outfitted with what appears to be self-driving car technology has been spotted around the Bay Area. However, it’s worth noting that that minivan might just be doing work for Apple Maps.”

So in other words, every souped up van a reporter sees for the next 20 years might be Apple’s self-driving van.  We are not sure that we can put up with it.

Insurance industry drags feet on big data

next-years-mainframe-model-comes-in-nearly-half-the-spaceThe insurance industry
is in danger of falling behind other companies because it is not interested in the latest digital technology.

Reuters reported that while some insurers are using developments such as telematics, or social media sources, to increase the amount of information they have about customers to reduce claims and make insurance cheaper for all most are luddite laggers.

Famously we will probably need  “black boxes” in our cars so that we can be rewarded with lower insurance premiums if we drive carefully.

But apparently when it comes to Big Data, insurance companies are saying a big “no.”

This is because the insurance industry is still locked in the early 20th century, where pen and paper were mightier even that the typewriter.

Staff at Lloyd’s, home to more than 90 trading syndicates in London’s financial district, still trundle suitcases of claim forms for complex insurance transactions.

Lloyd’s Chief Executive Inga Beale has said the industry needs to take technology on board to maintain its role in global business. The firm recently appointed a Chief Data Officer and Beale said the sector needs to attract new, tech-savvy talent.

Part if the difficulty is that there are a mass of different systems out there and firms are often  swallowed up by bigger insurers, makes it hard to streamline technology.

Firms might like the idea of technology, but cannot be bothered spending because they are having trouble balancing their books with bond yields at record lows.

This is despite the fact that a report from Morgan Stanley and Boston Consulting Group says the first movers will clean up.

They say a full transformation to becoming a digital company could cut an insurer’s combined ratio by 21 percentage points, in other words making the firm more profitable. Expenses could fall by 10 percent of premiums and claims by 8 percent.


War between LG and Samsung turns ugly

Newspaper Seller, 1939The competition between LG and Samsung appears to have taken an ugly turn with the arrest of a senior LG manager on a charge of deliberately damaging Samsung products.

An LG Electronics spokeswoman confirmed on Sunday that Jo Seong-jin and two other employees have been indicted by local prosecutors.

The impending court case continues a run of disputes between the cross-town rivals. The two companies compete on several fronts, including televisions and home appliances, and have quarrelled publicly.

Samsung filed an official complaint in September, accusing Jo and other LG employees of deliberately damaging Samsung washers at retail stores in Germany. The police investigated and found that it was all true.

LG had agreed to pay for what it called “accidental damage” to four machines after mediation by German authorities.  However it seemed that it couldn’t resist taking a pot shot at the quality of its rival’s products at the same time and Samsung lashed back at slanderous claims and filed an official complaint.

Ham Yoon-keun, a lawyer who will be defending Jo in court, said in a statement provided by LG said that it was questionable whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that the president of a global company deliberately destroyed the machines where employees of the competing company were present.

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that representatives of Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics met recently in an unsuccessful attempt at mediation by prosecutors.

Meanwhile Samsung Display admitted that four of its employees were indicted on Friday on charges of stealing organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panel technology from LG Display.

LG sniffed that the information is one of LG Display’s business secrets, Samsung Display’s such action should obviously be considered as a theft.

Samsung Display said the indictment was excessive, arguing that the technology in question was already widely known.

Top judge calls for Ebay style courts

courtA top UK judge has called for the creation of civil courts which are held online, citing online auction outfit eBay as a method which could work.

Lord Dyson, the head of civil justice in England and Wales, said the justice system had been slow to take advantage of internet technology, and described proposals for a state-run online court as an “exciting milestone”.

A recent report by the Civil Justice Council said an online system – which would operate for cases involving less than £25,000 – would allow documents to be submitted online for examination, with the option of telephone hearings.

And the group went on to illustrate how eBay dealt with a “remarkable” 60 million disputes between traders every year using an “online dispute resolution” system.

Lord Dyson stressed that the idea was still at an early stage, and said transparency – allowing the public and media access to the proceedings – was still a “really important question” which needed to be sorted out.


Ballmer is still excited about Microsoft

ballmerThe shy and retired former Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer has been quietly supporting Microsoft’s new Windows 10 software in his usual understated manner.

Last week after the Windows 10 event Ballmer expressed his continued love for the company, despite the fact he was forbidden to take to the stage and bounce anymore.

For those with memories like goldfish, Ballmer was chief executive at Microsoft for 14 years before Satya Nadella took over last year. In August, Ballmer resigned from Microsoft’s board, to concentrate on a basketball team he had bought so he could have something to shout at.

Nadella appears to be making all the sorts of changes that shareholders want, but Ballmer was not delivering.  However Steve does not seem to be flinging chairs about now that Nadella is undoing all his hard work.

He made one of his rare tweets saying that:

“Today made all MSFT employees proud, customers excited and shareholders salivate. The wave of windows 10 hw, services OS rocks. I love MSFT.”

It seems like Ballmer is just as excited about the reborn Microsoft as he always was. Still he does have a lot of shares in the outfit, so we guess he still has to be.


AMD might get lots of Chinese cash

 Photo of China from satellite - Wikimedia CommonsThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which suggests that AMD might be set to expand thanks to wodges of Chinese cash being thrown at it.

Since Intel paid AMD a billion for its anti-trust doings,  AMD’s bottom line has not been that good.

However it is still in a good position to churn out processors and video cards. This would make it a good deal for a buy out.  Some have suggested Samsung, but others Qualcomm.

But there is also one name which is cropping up on the rumour mill a lot more — a Chinese company called BLX IC Design Corp.

The sticking point to any buy out is that it would require the renegotiation of the licence with Intel over the x86 architecture, however an investment by a third company would work. Trade restrictions by the US government could prevent an outright purchase by an institution run by the Chinese government, but the US loves Chinese cash.

BLX has collaborated with AMD in the past, and does not need to buy the company to get what it wants.

The rumour, looked at  by Tom’s Hardware suggests that BLX IC Design could buy a share of AMD .  It controls the manufacturer of microprocessors Loongson Technology (MIPS architecture, family Godson), may make a strategic investment in technologies and products from AMD with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The Chinese chip designer could provide enough money to AMD to increase its capacity for research and development. The budget of AMD in research and development for this quarter will be about $ 200 million, well below the historical spending. As the company’s sales are shrinking, will not increase spending in this area, which could jeopardize its future and the long-term survival.

AMD bosses were in Beijing in late January and early February for meetings related to the possible deal.

Armed with Chinese cash, AMD could damage Intel with projects like Zen and K12 and put the fear of god into Nvidia. Its new partners could help it make inroads into the huge Chinese market and provide the Chinese semiconductor industry with much needed patents and R&D.


Freescale about to sell itself

slave-auction-virginia-PIf anyone wants to buy a second hand chipmaker, Freescale has indicated that it might be selling itself off.

According to the New York Post, Freescale has hired investment bankers to explore a possible sale, and it has an unnamed buyer in mind.

It is pretty likely to be Samsung as this has been rumoured for a while. Freescale makes chips used in automobiles, consumer products, telecommunications infrastructure and industrial equipment and this is an area Samsung wants to expand into. Samsung Electronics has $63 billion in cash which could be spent on acquisitions,

Of course no one is saying anything at the moment and it is unlikely to be confirmed for a while.

Freescale went public in 2011 after being taken private in 2006 for $17.6 billion in a leveraged buyout by a group of private equity firms that included Blackstone, Carlyle and TPG Capital.

On January 27, the company reported strong results for the fourth quarter — with revenue up 11 percent and increased margins — as well as a forecast for the current quarter that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Since then, Freescale shares have jumped 32 percent.

Oracle claims to still love Sunsparc and Solaris

oracleOracle has been doing its best to set the record straight after claims that it really no longer loves Sun’s Sunsparc technology.

Reports started to appear  saying that the company was no longer committed to the technology.

However Marshall Choy, senior director of product management for Optimised Solutions at Oracle, insists that is not the case and since Oracle bought Sun it has taken five processors to market in a four-year time frame. That covers the T3 to M6 lines.

“The speed and rate of innovation has increased from the Sun days, not just Sun processor deliveries but the timeliness of those deliveries to market, and meeting and beating the performance forecast,” he told me. Choy said Oracle has doubled performance with each subsequent generation of processor.

Oracle has two processor lines, the T-line and M-line.  They are the same core technology, it’s just they target different size platforms. The T-line process is a 16-core chip with eight threads per core, definitely well beyond Intel’s Xeons, at least for threads. The M-line is a 12-core chip, also with eight threads per core.

Choy acknowledged that Sparc sales are mostly existing Sparc customers replacing ageing hardware, but also insisted that the company “continues to pursue and win competitive takeouts, both from RISC competitors and x86”.

However numbers seem to be falling.  Choy also defended Solaris, saying there have been multiple release with significant updates, particularly Release 11.2, released in April 2014. That version added an integrated hypervisor, an image packaging system for patching and updates, unified archives for rapid provisioning of apps and services, software defined networking and support for OpenStack cloud provisioning in Solaris.

The argument is that Oracle continues to make massive investments in future versions of Sparc and it is not going the way of the dodo. The only problem is that it does not appear to be making them much cash.


Intel plans Xeon E7-v3 CPUs with up to 18 Cores

Intel-Core-MIt seems that Intel is planning a version of its Xeon E7-v3 CPU with up to 18 Cores under the bonnet. has dug up a list of specifications for some of the upcoming Xeon E7 series processors from Intel.

The information has not been confirmed by Intel but since the list comes from a CSV (Comma Separated Value) price list for the X-series server products from IBM it is likely to be reliable.

The CPUs based on Haswell are baked using the 22nm process. It seems to be 165 W TDP which is hardly a low power envelope but given that it is running a chip with 18 physical cores at 2.5 GHz it is pretty good.

The list is

Model                                   Cores    Frequency          TDP

Xeon E7-4809 v3               8              2.0 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4820 v3               10           1.9 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4830 v3               12           2.1 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-4850 v3               14           2.2 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-8860 v3               16           2.2 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8867 v3               16           2.5 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8870 v3               18           2.1 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8880 v3               18           2.3 GHz                 140W

Xeon E7-8880L v3             18           2.0 GHz                 115W

Xeon E7-8890 v3               18           2.5 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8891 v3               10           2.8 GHz                 165W

Xeon E7-8893 v3               4              3.2 GHz                 140W


Core counts range from four through 18 cores, and clock speeds  from 1.9 GHz through 3.2 GHz. More cores operate at lower clock speeds.

No word on price yet but these processors are likely to be very expensive so they are only going to go into server situations where they are going to get shedloads of use.