Minerva Industries: We Own Your Smartphone
You probably have never heard of
Industries - they are a California
based company that doesn't appear to have any noticeable products.
But the US Patent Office have recently granted them
a patent that seems to cover just about every reasonably
high end phone and smartphone produced over the past
couple of years.
covers the following:
A mobile entertainment and communication device
in a palm-held size housing has a cellular or satellite
telephone capable of wireless communication with
the Internet and one or more replaceable memory
card sockets for receiving a blank memory card for
recording data directly from the Internet and, in
particular, musical performances that then can be
selectively reproduced by the device for the enjoyment
of the user, including both audio and visual recordings
and reproductions. The device also includes a camera
and microphone for recording images and sound within
the range of the device that can be wirelessly transmitted,
either selectively or automatically to a remote
telephone. Further, the device includes sensors
for sensing unusual conditions that may also be
transmitted to a remote telephone, together with
the location of the device as determined by a GPS
section of the device.
patent was filed in November 2003, and it follows on
Patent 6,681,120 which is almost identical, filed
in March 2000. Of course, the Nokia
N95 does all of those things today, but back in
2000 you could perhaps see individual elements in the
9110 (Internet connection, memory card), the Sharp
J-SH04 was released later that year (first camera
audio players had already been around for a few
years with the first MP3 capable phone, the Samsung
M100, following later in 2000. Furthermore, GPS
has been available to civilians since the mid-1990s.
So, are these patents really valid, or do they just
lump in obvious developments?
It's likely that we will find out. Almost immediately
after being granted the patent, Minerva Technologies
filed a lawsuit again several companies, including Nokia,
Sony Ericsson, Apple, HTC, Palm, Samsung, RIM, T-Mobile
and Virgin Mobile plus many others.
This looks like yet another case that
will be dragged through the courts. Perhaps Minerva
Industries are a Patent
Troll, or perhaps they have a valid claim. One thing
is for certain, there is a lot of money at stake.
You can read more about this case at
Troll Tracker and Techdirt.