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President Obama issues five executive actions against patent trolls

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June 5, 2013

As many legal observers had predicted, President Barack Obama has come out today in full force against patent trolls, and has issued five executive actions it will take against companies that collect patents for the sole purpose of licensing them and suing other companies that may or may not be violating them.

The President has ordered that patent owners regularly update their ownership information so they can't hide patents in other entities.

It has also requested that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office enhance employee training to decrease the chances of broad patents being approved at large.

The other actions revolve around improved education and training for citizens, entrepreneurs, and USPTO workers, and ensuring that the U.S. International Trade Commission's power to bar the importation of goods to the U.S. is proper and that the process behind that action is fully transparent, effective, and efficient.

However, the president wasn't done with just that. In his statement, he urged Congress to get to work at greatly improving the current patent system in the United States by changing the way product injunctions are awarded and increase the overall transparency across the board, among several other recommendations.

"What we need to do is pull together additional stakeholders and see if we can build some additional consensus on smarter patent laws," the President said, leading to the announcement of these latest rules.

Overall, patent trolls aren't very well-liked in the technology industry and for good reason. For several years, technology and software companies have said that the trolls generate revenue through the use of broad patents, and along the way, they stifle innovation.

It's a comment with which the White House and various organizations like The Internet Association, which tries to protect companies against patent trolls, agree.

"The Internet Association applauds the executive actions on high-tech patents announced by the President today, and we echo the administration's call for stronger legislation to put patent trolls out of business for good," The Internet Association wrote in an emailed statement.

"As the President said, patent trolls are nothing more than extortionists, abusing the court system to shake down innocent inventors, entrepreneurs and end users," the statement added.

In other IT news

Intel has launched its long-awaited lineup of Haswell processors this morning, and the company heralded the new 2-in-1 form-factor (PCs that can turn into tablets) in which many of these new chips will find themselves.

As one of the most widely trailed and hyped processor launches in many years, Haswell has a lot to live up to, but there are some important caveats as to whether it can rejuvenate a lacklustre PC market.

Attendees at the Computex show where the event took place could be forgiven for thinking this was 2012 all over again. Last year, it was all about Ivy Bridge and Windows 8 based devices while this year, the hype in Taipei is focused on Haswell and the upcoming Windows 8.1.

The question some commentators are asking is-- if the predicted uptick in sales didn’t work after Ivy Bridge/Win8, what’s different this time around?

Well, we've done some looking around into Haswell, and the 22nm Tri-Gate chips are touted as offering 50 percent more battery life for notebooks than Ivy Bridge and even double the graphics performance, with power consumption as low as 6 Watts-- the biggest “generational leap” in Intel’s history, according to some observers.

What this means is over 9 hours of active battery life and up to thirteen days on standby in some models, with wakeup speeds eight times faster than in a four year old machine running a Core i5 processor, Intel said.

In a keynote to launch Haswell, executive vice president Tom Kilroy demo'd a series of 2-in-1 devices, claiming there are over 50 designs in the pipeline and expected to hit shelves for a range of different prices come September.

“In 2011, we talked about reinventing the notebook with the ultrabook and today we’re talking about 2-in-1. It’s PC performance and tablet-like mobility in one,” said Kilroy.

“We’re on the tip of bringing in an exciting new era. We believe the 2-in-1 era is the new norm,” he added.

As a matter of fact, Intel spoke so exclusively about its 2-in-1s that Kilroy was forced to clarify in the subsequent press conference that the ultrabook dream has not actually been abandoned, and that some of the coming Haswell 2-in-1 models will belong to that exclusive category.

Intel's new plan is that the ultrabook will continue to serve as a high-spec’d premium format, driving innovation and momentum for everything beneath it to make notebooks thinner, faster, lighter and touchscreen, added Kilroy.

In a separate event, Intel’s PC Client manager Kirk Skaugen showcased a number of upcoming 2-in-1s to prove OEMs are already innovating in the form factor.

These included the “ferris wheel” design of Dell's XPS 12, the detachable Asus Transformer Book Trio launched yesterday, and other variations on the 2-in-1 theme including “sliders”, “swivel” designs and some with raised hinges.

Intel said there would be a tenfold increase in the number of designs hitting the shelves from spring 2013 to the autumn. Needless to say, OEM partners like Asus, Acer and Quanta were quick to talk on the reasons Haswell did well in such little time.

Overall, the global PC market could certainly use a boost once in a while, and it looks like today it's here. IDC predicted last week that global PC shipments will fall by about 7.8 percent in 2013 as users delay PC purchases and increasingly look to tablets and smartphones to satisfy their computing needs.

But the key to Haswell and Intel’s 2-in-1 strategic success may be, quite simply, price alone. It will be the quad core Atom "Bay Trail" chips which go into the lower-cost models, with Intel saying today that 2-in-1 machines featuring these Silvermont-based CPUs will hit store shelves this autumn for $399.

Haswell, with all its much-touted benefits, will end up in higher-end models, it's just a question of time. That said, the analysts seem to be cautiously optimistic about what the new chips could deliver, if they deliver anything.

“To be honest, we have rarely if ever seen a CPU upgrade really make any kind of dramatic difference to PC sales,” said IDC’s vice president Bob O’Donnell.

“Of course, I certainly think that Haswell will help, particularly if the claims of 50 percent greater battery life really do turn out to be true, but it's still going to take lower PC prices, the increased availability of touch, the re-launch of Windows with 8.1 and more stylish designs to really get the PC market going again.”

Source: The White House.

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