USPTO Says Only Humans Can Patent, Although AI May Assist

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued revised guidance on patents for inventions created using artificial intelligence, a fast-developing category of intellectual property law. The advisory says patents may cover AI-assisted inventions in cases where “a natural person provided a significant contribution.” Insofar as what constitutes appropriately significant input, the agency is looking for the “right balance” between “awarding patent protection to promote human ingenuity and investment for AI-assisted inventions while not unnecessarily locking up innovation for future developments,” according to a USPTO blog post. Continue reading USPTO Says Only Humans Can Patent, Although AI May Assist

CES: Panelists Weigh Need for Safe AI That Serves the Public

A CES session on government AI policy featured an address by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson (who is also administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration), followed by a discussion of government activities, and finally industry perspective from execs at Google, Microsoft and Xperi. Davidson studied at MIT under nuclear scientist Professor Philip Morrison, who spent the first part of his career developing the atomic bomb and the second half trying to stop its use. That lesson was not lost on Davidson. At NTIA they are working to ensure “that new technologies are developed and deployed in the service of people and in the service of human progress.” Continue reading CES: Panelists Weigh Need for Safe AI That Serves the Public

Apple Yanks Newer Watches from Retail Following Patent Suit

Apple is pausing sales of its two newest Apple Watch models following a U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) import ban due to unauthorized use of technology patented by Irvine, California-based medical device maker Masimo. Apple plans to have the Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches removed from its online and retail stores by December 26. The move, which comes at the height of the holiday shopping season, will no doubt prompt a frenzy of in-store purchases between now and Sunday. Apple has the decision under review. Barring reversal, it could take steps to reintroduce the watches. Continue reading Apple Yanks Newer Watches from Retail Following Patent Suit

Cisco to Acquire Cybersecurity Firm Splunk in $28 Billion Deal

Cisco is poised to make its biggest acquisition ever, with an agreement in place to buy cybersecurity firm Splunk for $28 billion. Cisco, which turns 30 next year, is a global leader in the manufacture of computer networking equipment. Splunk is a 20-year-old company with more than 1,100 patents and a business built around keeping systems and data safe, resolving technical issues and minimizing the risk of hacks, most recently introducing new AI-based services. The companies expect the deal to close in late 2024. Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins says the deal will be financed with a combination of cash and debt. Continue reading Cisco to Acquire Cybersecurity Firm Splunk in $28 Billion Deal

Sphere Launches Burbank Studio, Immersive Camera System

Sphere Entertainment, James Dolan’s MSG Entertainment spin-off, has opened Sphere Studios in Burbank. The 68,000-square-foot compound will output immersive entertainment for Sphere venues. The flagship Sphere in Las Vegas opens in September with a series of U2 concerts designed to show-off the 580,000 square-foot display that Sphere says is “the world’s highest-resolution LED screen.” The company has filed eight patents, including for the ultra-high resolution Big Sky camera, unveiled this week. Sphere says Big Sky has “the world’s sharpest cinematic lenses,” capable of delivering edge-to-edge images for the 16K x 16K immersive display at Sphere Vegas. Continue reading Sphere Launches Burbank Studio, Immersive Camera System

AI Startup Led by Former Apple Execs Raises Its Next $100M

AI startup Humane, founded by former Apple employees, has raised $100 million in a Series C round to fund its vision to deliver an “integrated device and cloud services platform” for artificial intelligence. That brings Humane’s total funding to $230 million from investors including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. This recent round, led by Kindred Ventures, includes Microsoft, SK Networks and OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman. While Humane hasn’t been publicizing its plans, the company — founded by ex-Apple execs Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri — drew attention after hiring dozens of former Apple staffers. It now numbers about 200 employees. Continue reading AI Startup Led by Former Apple Execs Raises Its Next $100M

DeepMind Tool Provides AI-Powered Screenplay Assistance

Alphabet’s AI offshoot DeepMind has created an AI tool called Dramatron that can help co-write scripts, generating things like plot points, character and location descriptions and dialogue. While a human will still need to manage the process by editing and rewriting Dramatron’s suggestions, the app is designed to make the screenwriting process faster and easier. To deploy Dramatron, users will need an OpenAI API key and, ideally, a Perspective API key to minimize the risk of “offensive text.” In addition to AI researchers, DeepMind tested the tool with 15 playwrights and screenwriters who used it to co-write scripts. Continue reading DeepMind Tool Provides AI-Powered Screenplay Assistance

IBM Creates Machine-Learning Aided Watermarking Process

IBM now has a patent-pending, machine learning enabled watermarking process that promises to stop intellectual property theft. IBM manager of cognitive cybersecurity intelligence Marc Ph. Stoecklin described how the process embeds unique identifiers into neural networks to create “nearly imperceptible” watermarks. The process, recently highlighted at the ACM Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security (ASIACCS) 2018 in Korea, might be productized soon, either within IBM or as a product for its clients. Continue reading IBM Creates Machine-Learning Aided Watermarking Process

Samsung Reportedly Plans to Debut Foldable Phone in 2019

Samsung Electronics plans to debut a smartphone, codenamed “Winner,” with a foldable screen early next year, according to sources. The screen measures about 7 inches diagonally and can be folded in half, similar to a wallet. In the folded position, the exterior has cameras on one side and a small display bar on the other. Unfolded, the phone will be almost entirely screen. Samsung’s phone could help spark a comeback in the smartphone market, where sales have dipped 0.3 percent in 2017, the first in the industry’s history, notes IDC. Continue reading Samsung Reportedly Plans to Debut Foldable Phone in 2019

Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Amazon dominates e-commerce, but now Google and Walmart Stores are partnered to compete. Google will enable customers to place orders via its virtual assistant, and Walmart will join Google’s online shopping market Google Express. Walmart will fulfill orders made through Google Express, and will also share consumers’ purchase history with Google, which streamlines re-ordering of products. Voice-enabled shopping is a rapidly growing market sector, with Amazon enabling it through its Alexa voice assistant and Echo speakers. Continue reading Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Amazon’s drone delivery program faces the challenge of getting drones near enough to large population centers, but the company just filed a patent application for a solution. What Amazon calls “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” would place drones in the midst of cities in vertical structures, thereby letting drones fly in and out of the building while avoiding pedestrians. Although this idea would solve one problem, it raises others pursuant to drones flying in the sky above a city. Continue reading Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

While Snap extends availability of its $130 Spectacles into Europe, the company is reportedly developing a second generation of the photo- and video-recording glasses. The “project is closely guarded inside the company,” reports TechCrunch. Based on a recent patent application, “it seems increasingly likely that Spectacles II will ship with augmented reality features built in … Snap’s app is already primed to support such a move. It recently rolled out an augmented reality feature — called World Lenses — in April which allows users to place digital objects around them.” Snap has also been looking into other hardware possibilities, including drones and a 360-degree camera.

Continue reading Snap May Include AR Tech With Next-Generation Spectacles

Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

In a case involving Lexmark International, which makes ink cartridges for its printers, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the company could not avail itself of patent law to prevent others from refilling and selling the cartridges. In doing so, the court made a decision that will positively impact consumers who will no longer be forced to buy products only from the original source. With the ruling, vendors of refurbished, repaired or resold products, will be protected from copyright infringement charges. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

NBCUniversal Awarded Patent to Halt Illegal BitTorrent Piracy

NBCUniversal just received a patent to track files, in real-time, shared by groups on peer-to-peer networks, part of an anti-piracy effort. “Early detection of high volume peer-to-peer swarms,” the title of the patent, looks for a popular swarm so that the copyright holders can take action before it is “too late to do much good.” Detection relies on a data feed of peer-to-peer swarm activity, augmented by a data analytics engine that processes the data to identify swarms with parameters exceeding a threshold. Continue reading NBCUniversal Awarded Patent to Halt Illegal BitTorrent Piracy