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CEO said SoftBank holds patent on a piece of Google Glass functionality

Posted: , by Michael H.

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CEO said SoftBank holds patent on a piece of Google Glass functionality
Patent filings are always a tricky situation, especially when the person or company holding the patent has a lot of money to throw at lawyers. This is why this story is one to keep on the radar. Masayoshi Son is the CEO of Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank and a billionaire as well; and, he has said that SoftBank holds the patent in Japan on one of the pieces of Google Glass functionality.

The claim comes from a talk that Son gave back in 2010 called "SoftBank Next 30-Year Vision". In it, Son describes a number of innovations that we would see in the next 30 years like shoes that would give you directions (because your shoes are the best place for that tech), and a number of innovations that would come because of cloud computing. At around 1:22:00 of the talk, Son describes a pair of glasses that would act as a translator by listening to someone, then showing you "subtitles" in the glasses. Of course, Google Glass didn't exist at the time, but Son did make sure he mentioned that SoftBank had "already taken out a patent on this -- translation glasses with captions." 

This doesn't mean that SoftBank has any plans to assert this patent against Google, nor does it even mean that SoftBank holds that patent anywhere outside of Japan. But in general, it's probably pretty reasonable to assume that there will be a fair amount of patent lawsuits being brought against Google once Glass hits the market in Japan. This one is notable because it wouldn't be coming from a patent troll, but an established company with a fair amount of clout. 

source: SoftBank via Engadget

10 Comments
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posted on 11 Apr 2013, 17:36 1

1. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Just don't sell them there. If the people in Japan want it bad enough there is always eBay - BAHAHAHAHA. But no, seriously this sucks just a little bit.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 17:44 3

2. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Why apply for a patent if you aren't going to use it? Oh right....to patent-troll obviously, since they have no actual tech to apply this patent to.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 17:56 8

3. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2693; Member since: 26 May 2011)


No, you patent everything regardless, because that's the way the patent system works. The patent system doesn't require actual working prototypes, so companies don't need to be on that step. Plenty of companies have tons of patents that they will never use, because the patent system is stupid like that.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 18:39

4. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


I know and it isn't right. Oh...just so you know, I filed a patent for websites that focus on phone related news. (Better inform your employer Michael) lol.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 19:33 2

5. downphoenix (Posts: 2415; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


well maybe the patent system will need to be changed for actual working prototypes.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 20:55

6. BiN4RY (Posts: 82; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)


No it doesn't. A patent is defined as a "system that protect ideas", not a system that protects in-in-development prototype.

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 21:16

7. kozza3 (Posts: 575; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


who came up with that idea? :P

posted on 11 Apr 2013, 21:33

8. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


I'm guessing the ones who issue the patents came up with that idea...or at least whoever keeps issuing these 'bad' patents that keep getting invalidated in court. Maybe the courts should start getting involved in the patent approval process as apparently they know more than the patent office.

posted on 12 Apr 2013, 01:57

9. lyndon420 (Posts: 1785; Member since: 11 Jul 2012)


Have you ever seen a product with the phrase 'Patent Pending' on it. I have...numerous times.

Down with patent trolls. Fix the system that is obviously broken since it seems the courts know more about patents than the patent office. To have a patent on an idea gives little guarantee that the idea will remain yours. Buy the courts, then patent the idea.

posted on 12 Apr 2013, 07:47

10. jsdechavez (Posts: 708; Member since: 20 Jul 2012)


Some small cross-licensing deal perhaps should settle this..

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