Intel breathes $2bn sigh of relief over patent trial

Jury finds that chip giant did not infringe on AVM patent

Intel is breathing two billion dollars lighter Thursday, after a jury in Delaware decided that the chip giant had not infringed on a dynamic logic circuit patent.

AVM Technologies, which holds US patent 5,859,547, first sued Intel back in 2010 claiming that the Intel Pentium 4 and Core 2 designs infringed its intellectual property – but it was dismissed for insufficient evidence.

In January 2015, AVM refiled [PDF], claiming that Intel was continuing to infringe the patent in its Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and Haswell designs.

Earlier this month, a six-day jury trial considered the years of arguments and hundreds of submissions and ultimately reached the same conclusion as the earlier case: there was insufficient evidence.

The co-inventor of the patent, Joseph Tran, is president of AVM. His earlier company, Translogic, had licensed a number of its patents to Intel, but not the '547 patent. When, in 2006, he came across an article that described technology very similar to his patent, he contacted Intel and had a number of licensing discussions with executives.

In the end, the chip giant refused to license it because it said Tran was not able to show which Intel product specifically infringed the patent. Tran claims he did not have the money to afford the "extremely expensive infringement analyses demanded by Intel."

Things were looking good for AVM and Tran just two months ago, when the judge refused Intel's motion to dismiss the entire case for being overly broad: that broadness being a key component in the massive $2bn estimate for damages if found guilty. The jury dismissed Intel no fewer than eight times when it tried to kill the case piece by piece.

But in the end, it went the other way and after the six-day trial (the transcripts won't be available until August) the jury found [PDF] that Intel had not infringed AVM's patent. ®

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ESA's Solar Orbiter sneaks in bonus science by choking on the dust of a comet tail (again)

Plucky probe due to make closest pass to the Sun in March

The European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter followed up its whizz past Earth as 2021 drew to a close by passing through the tail of a comet. Again.

While eyes were turned to French Guiana and the impending launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, for a few days around 17 December the spacecraft flew through the tail of Comet C/2021 A1 Leonard.

It's not the first time; the spacecraft also passed through the tail of the fragmenting comet C/2019 Y4 ATLAS in May and June 2020, a few short months after its launch.

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US President Joe Biden reminds the White House he is serious about repairability

Tech giants will voluntarily do the right thing because of course they always do

US President Joe Biden has weighed into the Right to Repair furore once more as sueballs fly over some alleged monopolistic practises by a well-known farming equipment manufacturer.

While Biden did not mention John Deere by name in his tweet on the matter (preferring instead to offer plaudits to Apple and Microsoft for changing their policies on punters getting kit fixed by third parties), he did not shy away from other areas in his remarks on the topic.

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How to polish the bottom line? Microsoft makes it really hard to claim expenses, say staffers

If even Captain PowerShell can't automate this, what hope is there for the rest of us?

As Microsoft toasts another quarter of soaring profits, The Reg can't help but wonder if the bottom line is being ever so gently assisted by something that seems to be blighting its staff: difficulty claiming expenses.

Jeffrey Snover, Microsoft Technical Fellow, beloved by administrators for PowerShell and stockholders for the likes of Azure Stack, kicked things off last night by airing niggles in that most measured of places – Twitter.

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Korea gives a $7.5bn nod to the metaverse and AI projects

Move over K-pop, the K-metaverse is coming

South Korea's Ministry of Science and ICT (MIST) has earmarked ₩9 trillion ($7.5bn/ £5.55bn) for projects including AI and the development of a K-metaverse as part of its Digital New Deal programme.

"The Digital New Deal is a pan-ministry National Innovation Project that seeks to overcome the COVID-19 economic crisis through digitalization across the economy and society," said MIST in a statement.

The New Deal was announced in July 2021 and includes $48.5bn to be spent on network infrastructure, AI development, and other technologies by 2025. The programme is expected to generate 900,000 jobs.

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SCC bags £91m deal after contract to support HMRC system initially set at £85m

Take a hike

SCC, a UK-based tech services and reselling dynasty, has won a five-year contract extension with UK tax collector HMRC worth £91m for IT software and services.

According to a contract award notice from December last year, the five-year extension to a relationship that began in 2016 would be awarded for £85m. Perhaps SCC did some last-minute negotiations. We've invited Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to explain the valuation.

The award, apparently made without competition, is set to see SCC provide software licences and support services in partnership with IBM to keep the Declaration Management Service (DMS) system up and running.

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Mike Lynch loses US extradition delay bid: Flight across the Atlantic looks closer than ever

Autonomy founder set for criminal trial on multiple counts of fraud over sale of biz to HPE

Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch has lost a bid to delay his extradition to the US after a High Court judge ruled there was no reason to impose a months-long delay on the case.

Mr Justice Swift dismissed Lynch's application for judicial review this morning, saying the entrepreneur failed to successfully argue that Home Secretary Priti Patel should have until March to decide whether or not Lynch ought to be extradited.

"In November [District Judge Snow] was being asked, for a second time, to allow a significant extension to the required period," said Mr Justice Swift in a written judgment handed down today. "It was hardly surprising that on that occasion he wanted to understand why the Secretary of State thought she needed to consider the contents of the judgment in the Chancery proceedings in order to decide whether specialty was a barrier to extradition."

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OpenShell has been working on a classic replacement for Windows 11's Start menu

It's still early days, though

There is a very preliminary FOSS Start menu replacement for Windows 11 – but it's not quite there yet.

Windows 11 is an interesting release, given that Microsoft once said there wouldn't be any more versions. One might be forgiven for thinking that to reverse that major decision, it would have to be something pretty epochal… but it isn't. It is a bit prettier and does polish off some of the rough edges of Windows 10, but it's mostly a facelift. In one way, it's a functional downgrade as there's a big loss in the customisability of the Taskbar and Start menu, which are the centres of Windows' UI.

Help is coming, though, in the form of OpenShell. OpenShell is the continuing development of the old Classic Shell for Windows 8. Its developers have been discussing the impact of the new Windows, and a new build has snuck out that will install and run.

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It's more than 20 years since Steps topped the charts. It could be less than that for STEP's first fusion energy

Anyone fancy a spherical tokamak in their backyard?

Fancy a fusion power plant in your back yard? The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is looking for comments from five locations shortlisted as potential hosts for its Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) programme.

The five sites were whittled down from an initial 15 and community forums between 26 January and 10 February will be in: Ardeer, North Ayrshire; Moorside, Cumbria; Goole, East Yorkshire; West Burton, Nottinghamshire; and Severn Edge, Gloucestershire.

The announcement follows the 100,000th pulse of the Joint European Torus (JET) fusion energy experiment and is a pointer to the next, er, STEP in taking fusion power from the experimental stage and into commercial usage.

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Infosec big dogs break out the bubbly over UK government's latest cyber strategy emission

See that? That's a promise of fat contracts, that is

Big industry players have praised the latest cybersecurity strategy emitted by the British government, rubbing their hands with glee at its promises of lucrative public contracts for the rest of the 2020s.

The snappily titled Government Cyber Security Strategy, wheeled out yesterday, will set UK domestic cybersecurity strategy for the next eight years. It is a separate document from the National Cyber Strategy.

"The UK's legitimacy and authority as a cyber power is however dependent upon its domestic cyber resilience, the cornerstone of which is government and the public sector organisations that deliver the functions and services which maintain and promote the UK's economy and society," said the strategy, authored by the Cabinet Office.

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Microsoft revenue up by a fifth as world shuffles through the pandemic into the metaverse

Cloud the top earner as usual but Redmond is doubling down on gaming

The blockbuster quarters just keep on rolling for Microsoft after its latest set of financials surpassed analysts' forecasts, thanks to a thriving cloud and PC market in the pandemic-driven new digital age.

For Q2 ended 31 December of Microsoft's fiscal 2022, total revenue jumped 20 per cent year-on-year to $51.7bn, higher than both Refinitive's prediction of $50.9bn and FactSet's analyst poll of $50.7bn.

Operating profit jumped 24 per cent to $22.2bn, and the bottom line was $18.8bn, up 21 per cent. Factset forecasted $17.5bn.

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Head of Big Tech Expertise? Believe it or not, it's a UK.gov vacancy for a Whitehall job

What happened to loosening stranglehold of major tech firms on the public sector?

UK government is on the hunt for an expert to help shape relations with the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google, a role that includes a remit to "fulfil partnership opportunities" with the megacorps and "deliver against their needs and demands."

The Head of Big Tech Expertise role is based within the Digital and Tech Policy Directorate of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - the “heart of the Government’s strategic policy-making and industry engagement on all things relating to tech and digital”.

"Are you interested in the way Big Tech shapes other UK economy and society? Do you want to work with the most powerful technology companies in the world (sic)," the job ad asks.

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