RegHardware: Four major players in the media market space have teamed up to create a joint portfolio of Blu-ray-related intellectual property patents with hopes of squeezing some additional royalty money from any and all Blu-ray products. Tony Smith has more details of this recent development in his topical piece, Toshiba prices up Blu-ray Disc patent portfolio. He writes:

Consumer electronics and entertainment companies Mitsubishi, Thomson, Toshiba and Warner Bros have together begun charging for their intellectual property that is “essential” to Blu-ray Disc players, drives and recorders.

The four firms’ pooled technology also extends to Blu-ray kit that incorporates DVD functionality, including hybrid BD/DVD media, they said. It also covers components that decode and encode the data stored on Blu-ray discs – and the discs themselves.

Looks like they’ve covered all their bases for maximizing the value of their collective Blu-ray IP, nu? Smith comments on the group’s new royalty collecting and licensing branch:

Licenses for the patent portfolio will be available for products that comply with the Blu-ray Disc specifications as maintained by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), the four said.

Individually, the fees are not large, of course, but they are likely to amount to substantial revenues for the four companies and their BD4C Licensing Group offshoot, which will collect and share the royalties.

A few million dollars a penny at a time or so adds up to real money eventually. Or even better, “the group “reserves the right to adjust the rates as necessary to encourage the broad participation in the programme by interested companies with essential patents”, which might mean gouging but generally means if they start losing sales of related Blu-ray products, the royalty and licensing fees will drop, too.

StandardNet: In a strange (misguided?) move to capitalize on Utah’s unique blend of dirt and microbes, a Utah senator is introducing a bill to require registration by any who use dust, dirt or microbes from the state for eventual inclusion in a licensing fee plan. Joe Pyrah reports:

We are Utah, right down to the single-cell organisms living under 6 inches of salt on the flats.

A bill is alive and well that would force companies who take advantage of Utah’s unique biodiversity to pay up.

“If they’re using Utah organisms, we think Utah as a state should benefit from royalties. Like a patent,” said Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan.

Hillyard’s bill would require that people who remove single-cell organisms for research or commercial purposes register with the Utah Geological Survey. It is expected that, in the future, another law would require those who turn that material into a commercial product pay royalties to the state.

Not to be left out of the “land” grab, one official at Utah State University jumps on the “Utah has special bugs” bandwagon. “USU Vice President Ned Weinshenker said organic material — even of the same variety — differs subtly state by state. As such, the state should protect its potential revenue stream. ‘It may be a unique resource to the state of Utah,’ said Weinshenker, a doctor of organic chemistry in charge of the university’s strategic ventures and economic development.” Will other states follow the lead of the Beehive State or will they come to their senses before they patent everything in sight as a potential revenue stream? Read Pyrah’s Senate bill would make state’s biodiversity pay off for the rest of this silliness.

Milord & Associates PC: Coca Cola has been slapped with a lawsuit claiming “a declaration of no trademark or design patent infringement” by a rival beverage maker. Milord A. Keshishian explains:

BT Beverage Company sued The Coca Cola Company for a declaration of no trademark or design patent infringement. BT sells beverages in bottles that are shaped like sports balls including baseballs, basketballs, soccer balls, and golf balls. BT has filed numerous trademark applications with the USPTO to register its various bottle designs.

The folks at Coke think BT’s round bottle infringes on its intellectual property and “sent a cease and desist letter charging infringement of the trade dress bottle design and Design Patent No. D554,523. BT responded by using Coca Cola’s previous stance against it by denying that Coca Cola had an exclusive right to round shaped bottles for beverage products. The parties’ inability to resolve the dispute resulted in this lawsuit.” Can this one go the distance or will Coke and BT kiss and make up with an IP cross-licensing agreement? Check out Keshishian’s lengthily-titled Design Patent and Trademark Lawsuit Filed Against Coca Cola Over Sports Ball Shaped Beverage Bottles and find out more.

Some exciting patent news in the form of a disposable razor-blade life-extending product courtesy of Rachael Gallagos at the Iowa City Press Citizen:

Now with an approved patent, Ron Christensen Sr. sees the products he’s created to increase the life of razor blades really taking off.

The owner of Game Day Iowa started developing two Revolt products in 2003 and said they greatly lengthen the life of razor blades and reduce skin irritation from shaving.
The Revolt Lubricating Liquid is for storing razors and spare blades, preventing the rust and corrosion that occurs from contact with water and oxygen. The razor and liquid are put together in a glass, and the user only needs to add a couple drops each time they shave to maintain the liquid level, Christensen said.

Instead of only getting five shaves per $3 blade, with the Revolt, Christensen said he now uses the same razor blade from Jan. 1 of one year to Jan. 1 of the next.

Maybe the people at Gillette would be willing to pay Mr. Christensen a tidy sum to purchase his new patented razor-saving technology? Read Man gets patent for razor blade product for more on this edgy topic.

FierceWireless: Apple and HTC are going to have a court-mandated cooling-off period according to a recent piece by Phil Goldstein. In Goldstein’s Judge halts Apple-Nokia patent spat for now, we learn of this stumbling block to both companies’ patent lawsuit plans.

A federal judge in Delaware has put competing patent-infringement claims between Apple and Nokia on hold while the U.S. International Trade Commission tries to resolve the dispute.

The order staying the proceedings covers both Nokia’s claims and Apple’s counterclaims, and means that nothing further will happen until the ITC makes a decision on whether to ban U.S. imports of products from either company. Nokia started the round-robin of litigation in October by claiming that Apple’s iPhone infringed on 10 Nokia patents. Apple countersued in December, arguing Nokia was infringing on 13 of its patents.

So the ITC will have the first option of deciding the fate of claim and counterclaim with the Delaware judicial system playing second fiddle, if it comes to that. One would figure that Apple and HTC could come to some kind of mutually-agreeable arrangement but maybe there’s more to these suits than meets the eye…

Bonus IP piece o’ the day: Patent reform bill close to passing? at Inventors Digest.