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Apple, Google call truce in smartphone patent war
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) May 17, 2014

Google buys written language translation startup
San Francisco (AFP) May 16, 2014 - Google on Friday confirmed it has bought a startup specializing in using smartphones to translate signs, billboards or other written words in real time.

Quest Visual and the technology built into its Word Lens application will become part of a Google team devoted to developing translation features and services.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Google declined to make any comment on the record.

"With Word Lens, we've seen the beginnings of what's possible when we harness the power of mobile devices to see the world in your language," Quest said in a blog post.

"By joining Google, we can incorporate Quest Visual's technology into Google Translate's broad language coverage and translation capabilities in the future."

Word Lens uses smartphone video cameras to "read" words in one language and translate them into another almost instantly without need for network connections.

Versions of the application have been tailored for smartphones powered by Apple or Android software as well as for Google Glass eyewear that links to the Internet.

The news came as Google this week began letting anyone in the United States buy Glass, priced at $1,500 a pair.

Google has promised lower-priced, fashionably versions of Glass in the not too distant future and has been prepping the market for their arrival.

Fashion industry veteran and jewelry artist Ivy Ross will take charge of Google's Glass efforts beginning Monday, according to the California-based technology titan.

"I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses," Ross said in a post at Google+ social network.

"Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it?"

Her resume includes stints at Calvin Klein, Swatch, Coach, Mattel, Bausch & Lomb, Gap and, most recently,

The decision to open the "Glass" test, or beta, program on Wednesday to anyone with enough money and curiosity came about a month after a one-day sale of the eyewear to the public.

Google and Apple, the two technology titans behind the world's top smartphone platforms, called a truce Friday in a long-running patent war.

"Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies," the companies said in a joint statement.

"Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform."

The companies made it clear that the detente does not include licensing their technology to each other.

Motorola filed a patent lawsuit against Apple in US federal court four years ago, prompting the iPhone maker to fire back with a patent suit of its own. Litigation spread to more than a dozen other courts.

"The parties have entered into a second-class settlement from a position of mutual weakness," wrote intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller at

"They had to recognize that under the procedural circumstances their patents were not strong enough to give either party decisive leverage over the other, at least not anytime soon," Mueller wrote.

- Widespread patent fight -

Google took on the legal wrangling when it bought Motorola Mobility in 2012 in what was seen at the time as a move to use its patents for defending Android operating software in the increasingly litigious smartphone and tablet markets.

Early this year, Google agreed to sell Motorola Mobility to China-based computer giant Lenovo. The sale has yet to be completed.

California-based Apple has been battling smartphone competitors in courts around the world, accusing rivals using Google's Android software of copying features from its popular mobile devices.

The legal truce between Apple and Google does not take the pressure off South Korea-based Samsung, which has been a prime legal target for the maker of iPhones and iPads.

Japan's Intellectual Property High Court has ruled that Samsung could claim 9.96 million yen ($98,000) from its US arch-rival for use of Samsung's data transmission technology, found to have been used in Apple's iPhone 4 and iPad 2.

And early this month in Silicon Valley, jurors at a different patent trial held the line on its $119.6 million damages award to Apple in a patent battle with Samsung.

While the amount of the award is huge, it is a fraction of the more than $2 billion Apple had sought at the outset of the trial against is South Korean competitor in the hot smartphone and tablet computer market.

Jurors agreed that Samsung violated three of five Apple patents at issue in the two-month trial.

Jurors also found that Apple violated a Samsung patent, and said Apple should pay its rival $158,400 in damages.

- Holy war -

Samsung lawyers maintained that the legal onslaught emerged from a "holy war" Apple declared on Google-made Android software used to power smartphones.

The argument evidently struck a chord with members of the panel, who remarked after the verdict that Apple and Google should deal with their mobile gadget patent issues face to face instead of in courts.

The truce did not touch on Apple patent lawsuits aimed at Google partners who make Android-powered smartphones or tablets.

The outcome in the recent Silicon Valley trial pitting Apple against Samsung was sharply different from a 2012 patent trial in the same court. Unlike the previous case in which Apple was a clear winner, this time Samsung prevailed in many areas.

In August 2012, a separate jury in the same court decided that Samsung should pay Apple $1.049 billion in damages for illegally copying iPhone and iPad features, in one of the biggest patent cases in decades.

The damage award was later trimmed to $929 million and is being appealed.


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Google selling Glass Internet eyewear in US
San Francisco (AFP) May 14, 2014
Google's Internet-linked eyewear - hotly anticipated by some, feared by others - is now available to anyone in the United States with $1,500 to spare and a yen to become an "explorer." The decision to open the "Glass" test, or beta, program on Wednesday to anyone with enough money and curiosity came about a month after a one-day sale of the eyewear to the public. "We learned a lot when ... read more

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