Patent trolls’ days of effortlessly rolling into court and collecting licensing fees for products they don’t produce may be coming to an end. The Washington Post reports that courts have been increasingly citing the landmark 1978 Supreme Court case Parker v. Flook, which is the strongest ruling that the court has ever made against patents for abstract ideas such as algorithms. Given that courts are applying the Parker v. Flook precedent more often in software patent cases, it seems that courts are starting to reassert control over what can and cannot be patented. The Post acknowledges that “not every citation of Flook means that a patent was invalidated” but says that “it’s at least a sign that the courts are wrestling with the limits the high court articulated more than three decades ago.”
There are some concerns about gaming on the next-generation Xbox One. The system doesn’t allow independent developers to self-publish games on Xbox Live Arcade and Microsoft’s used game policy is still unclear. The company did confirm that it has big plans for its in-house gaming studio, however. Phil Harrison, a corporate vice president at Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, revealed in an interview with VentureBeat that Microsoft is investing heavily in the gaming experience for the Xbox One. The executive noted that the company is planning to invest more than $1 billion for new content, including 15 internally developed titles in the coming year, eight of which will be brand new. The Xbox One is expected to help breath new life into the struggling gaming industry when it is released later this year.
Amazon on Thursday announced expanded availability of its Kindle Fire HD tablet lineup. Both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models are now available for preorder in more than 170 countries worldwide. The Kindle Fire HD is equipped with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution display and a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4460 processor, while the 8.9-inch model features a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display and a 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP4470 processor. The Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 are available for $199 and $269, respectively, and will ship to new countries beginning June 13th. Amazon also announced that it has expanded access to its Android Appstore, which can now be used by customers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.
With all the emphasis that Microsoft is giving to its redesigned Kinect sensor as a key feature of the Xbox One, it’s not surprising that the company wants to bring it to its Windows operating system as well. And sure enough, Microsoft on Thursday announced that it will “deliver a new generation Kinect for Windows sensor next year” that will deliver several improvements to the previous version of Kinect, including a higher resolution camera capable of more accurately tracking and identifying objects, an expanded field of view and improved skeletal tracking. Microsoft says it will share more details about the next-generation Kinect for Windows at its BUILD 2013 conference in June and also says that the new sensor will likely be available on Window-based devices sometime next year.
A new report suggests that Nokia is preparing to launch its 41-megapixel Lumia smartphone, codenamed EOS, this coming summer. According to MobileGeeks, the handset will launch during the second week of July, on or around July 9th. The most recent rumors claim the Lumia EOS would be similar to the Lumia 920, with a polycarbonate case and a 4.5-inch 720p display. The biggest differentiator will reportedly be the smartphone’s 41-megapixel rear camera with a Carl Zeiss lens and Nokia’s new “Pro Camera” application. Earlier reports suggested the Lumia EOS would arrive on AT&T in the United States sometime this summer.
Shocking as it may seem, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) still isn’t happy with Google’s efforts to stamp out piracy. On its official blog this week, the RIAA once again bemoaned Google’s supposed lack of enthusiasm for removing links to alleged pirated content from its search results. In particular, the RIAA complained that online piracy is still thriving despite the fact that Google has removed 20 million links to alleged piracy sites from its search results.
Microsoft has released a second advertisement targeting Apple and its popular iPad this week. The company compares the iPad to an ASUS VivoTab RT, noting that the Windows RT device is slimmer, lighter and can perform more functions than Apple’s tablet. Microsoft highlights Windows RT’s multitasking ability, integration with Office, and convenience with features such as a built-in microSD card reader and compatibility with “nearly all printers.” This is the second advertisement released by Microsoft that targets the iPad, as an earlier video mocked the supposedly inferior voice recognition capabilities of Apple’s Siri voice assistant. Microsoft’s Windows RT commercial follows below.
Yes, the major cable companies are losing paid television subscribers and yes, they have stunningly low customer satisfaction ratings. But as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson ably explains, they aren’t going anywhere because they’re still making money hand over fist providing home broadband connections to tens of millions of households. Essentially, cable companies have been losing TV subscribers since the 1990s but have more than made up for this lost revenue by increasing their total number of Internet subscribers and squeezing more monthly revenue out customers “both by charging more for television and by getting households to buy more than just TV,” Thompson writes.
In addition to scoring rumors about the low-cost iPhone on Thursday, Japanese blog Macotakara also published the latest news on the fifth-generation iPad, which it says will likely launch after Apple releases the iPhone 5S in September and will feature a rear microphone located directly next to the camera, similar to the design of the iPhone 5. AppleInsider notes that early prototypes of the iPad mini also had a rear microphone but that this design was apparently ditched for the final version of the product. Earlier rumors have indicated that the fifth-generation iPad will take more design cues from the iPad mini, such as having thinner side bezels.
A new report suggests that Apple is preparing to begin testing its long-rumored low-cost iPhone sometime next month. According to Japanese website Macotakara, the handset will be available in a variety of colors, including Navy, Gold-Orange, White, Gray, Pink, Green, Blue and Yellow-Orange. Only 1,000 units of the low-cost iPhone will reportedly be produced for field tests in June, with consumer production slated to take place between July and September. Earlier reports claimed Apple would offer the device for as little as $99 or $149 from retailers. It has also been suggested that the cheaper iPhone would feature a shell made of polycarbonate plastic to bring the price down.
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