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Nokia BH-200 Bluetooth Headset
Lawsuit would restrict the sale of Bluetooth devices in the United States

Nokia, Panasonic and Samsung are facing a new lawsuit from a U.S.-based research institute over their use of Bluetooth technology in mobile phones. The Washington Research Foundation claims that the three companies infringe on a patent filed in 1999 for a "simplified high-frequency broadband tuner and tuning method."

The Bluetooth standard was developed by engineers at Ericsson and was eventually rolled into the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The first version of the freely available wireless standard was made available in 1998 -- a year before the patent in question was filed.

Patent number 6,427,068 was filed on May 24, 1999 and issued on July 30, 2002. The patent in general covers the transmitting and receiving of RF signals without the inherent disadvantages of using discrete-time processing (high DSP performance requirements and related costs) and direct conversion (1/f noise, phase and amplitude errors). The patent goes on to describe the use of quadrature mixing with the help of a coarse-tuned local oscillator to produce approximate digital I and Q signals.

The patent dispute would directly affect all Bluetooth devices sold within the United States. That means that the red-hot Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone market in the United States, which currently accounts for 15-20% of global sales, will see the biggest impact.

British-based chip maker CSL was not named in the suit even though the company currently holds over half of the global market for Bluetooth chips. CSL, which does not directly sell chips in the United States, stated that "CSR has taken advice from its attorneys. The suit is without merit in relation to CSR's Bluetooth chips, and CSR will defend its products vigorously."

Another company untouched by the lawsuit is US-based Broadcom. Broadcom had the foresight to license the radio technology in question.

"The document is positive news for Broadcom, but negative for CSR. These two are the main global players in the Bluetooth chip market," said Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston.

Products featuring Bluetooth technology have been adopted rather slowly in the United States, but globally the technology has blossomed. The Bluetooth SIG announced in November of last year that the number of Bluetooth devices shipped globally have topped the 1 billion mark.

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By stromgald on 1/3/2007 2:30:52 PM , Rating: 1
If the dailytech article is correct, I think this is ridiculous. That patent shouldn't hold up in court. It's like having a patent on compact cars (i.e. "a small easy to park car that fits in even tight spaces") or all user friendly GUIs.

If cell phone companies copied the tuning 'method' or are using a standard the research institute produced, then maybe they have a case, otherwise it just seems frivolous. I'd have to read the patent to make sure, but from this article, it seems pretty bogus to me.

Maybe they should pay patent reviewers some more money. Maybe then we get some patent reviewers with at least half a brain.

RE: Bull****
By patentman on 1/3/2007 2:41:17 PM , Rating: 2
Have you seen the claims of this patent? Do you even know what the patent number is? Given that neither the DT article nor the article it references provide the number of the patent at issue, my guess is no on both counts. Without at least looking at the claims, you can't tell anything about the scope of the patent at issue. Thus, you don't know what your talking about and you post is nothing but pure, unadulterated, worthless drivel.

RE: Bull****
By stromgald on 1/3/2007 2:49:37 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm, maybe that's why in about every paragraph of my post I say something like "according to the DT artcile". I also mention that I don't know anything about the patent and would like to know more.

Nevertheless, there have been some frivolous patents approved recently and this could be one of them. Technology just moves too fast and sometimes simple things get passed that shouldn't. I'm just surprised Nokia, Samsung, and other companies didn't do their homework. I'm leaning towards that the patent being invalid, but we would need the actual patent application to draw any conclusions.

If you would actually read what's posted instead of just having fun blasting people online, then maybe you would post something sensible next time.

RE: Bull****
By patentman on 1/4/2007 12:52:32 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to get on your case, but people jumping to conclusions about patents (and in particular calling them worthless) when they haven't looked at the claims is a serious pet peeve of mine. That's like looking at a bottle of wine and saying it sucks because you don't like the name on the label.

I agree that there are a lot of frivolous patents. Heck, lots of patents are not worth the paper they are printed on. One thing to keep in mind however is that less than 3% of all patents are ever actively enforced by patentees, much less litigated. If the claims of a patent are invalid, everything will work itself out in the end, as most alleged infringers will immediately spend a couple thousand bucks to pay a searcher to find art that anticipates the claims. Is this economically inefficient? Yes and no. But it works.

As for blasting you, I stand by my statements. If someone is going to spout off nonsense about an area of the law that I happen to have a lot of expertise in then I am going to get on their case. I refuse to stand idly by and let people foster misconceptions about the U.S. patent system, which, although flawed in many respects, generally serves its purpose quite well.

RE: Bull****
By TGIM824 on 1/4/2007 7:38:19 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe I do not understand your statement, "Do you even know what the patent number is?" The patent number, and the link is listed in the above artilce "Patent number 6,427,068 was filed on May 24, 1999 and issued on July 30, 2002."

RE: Bull****
By Oregonian2 on 1/3/2007 3:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, you point out an inherent problem in our patent system. A test for patents is that it be something not obvious to someone "skilled in the art" involved. Someone skilled wouldn't be working for the patent office (low pay, as well as not an environment that grows one's skills -- so they'd actually want people toward the end of their careers which makes them even more expensive).

RE: Bull****
By patentman on 1/4/2007 12:40:27 AM , Rating: 1
The PTO actually isn't a bad place to work, although I agree it is generally populated with half trained monkey's. However, there are at least a few good Examiners (particularly in the Art Units that handle organic chemistry and pharmaceuticals). Pay is top notch for a government job as well. Can't beat the flex schedule either. Heck, if it wouldn't be a 55% pay cut, I would actually consider working there to take adcantage of the work/life balance.

RE: Bull****
By patentman on 1/4/2007 1:00:49 AM , Rating: 2
"Yes, you point out an inherent problem in our patent system. A test for patents is that it be something not obvious to someone "skilled in the art" involved."

Just to nitpick, the test for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103(a) is whether "it would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art at the time the invention was made" to recreate the claimed invention from the teaching of the prior art. This requires an examiner to show at leas three things: 1) That the prior art teaches or suggests each and every element of the claims; 2) that there is some teaching ir suggestion in the cited references that woudl have motivated one of ordinary skill in the art to modify the teachings of the references so as to arrive at the claimed invention; and 3) that one of ordainry skill in the art would have had a reasonable expectation of success in making the asserted modification.

RE: Bull****
By masher2 on 1/3/2007 6:33:16 PM , Rating: 3
A majority of the patents issued today shouldn't be. I have quite a few myself, and I've seen worthy ones rejected because the patent examiner couldn't understand plain English, and, to be honest, a few of mine which had no business being accepted made it through without question. Patent examiners are poorly paid, trained, and nearly everyone else in civil service.

RE: Bull****
By patentman on 1/4/2007 12:56:49 AM , Rating: 2
masher, out of curiosity would you mind sending me the patent numbers for some of your "unworthy patents." I'd like to see who you have been dealing with at the PTO. Send me a PM on the anadtech forums sometime.

RE: Bull****
By masher2 on 1/4/2007 9:25:35 AM , Rating: 2
I certainly won't identify by number a patent I consider spurious, especially to an ex-patent examiner, but you're welcome to look up all of them and judge for yourself. You can email me here at dailytech; my email is my user name.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs

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