Biz Break: No more hoverboard imports, for now

Top Of The Order: 

So Much For That Fad: You know all those hoverboards that people got for Christmas? The ones that they took out in public with very little practice riding, thus leading to many hilarious videos of hoverboard riders crashing in just about every possible location? Yeah, those hoverboards.

Well, hoverboard haters can rejoice, in a way, for a while. On Wednesday, the U.S. International Trade Commission banned nearly all hoverboard imports into the U.S. because of one of the favorite issues that tech companies love to throw at each other: a patent claim.

This one involves patents owned by Segway. You remember them. They make those scooters that came out around 2000 and were supposed to change how we all commute, live and interact with each other, but are now mostly used by mall cops and city tourists who don’t mind looking weird as they cruise around parts of San Francisco? Segway owns more than 400 patents tied to the balancing technology used in hoverboards, and well, the ITC is agreeing with Segway’s complaints about at least 13 companies that it says are infringing on its patents.

It remains possible that some kind of deal will be worked out between Segway and anyone who wants to import hoverboards, most of which come from China. But for the time being, importing hoverboards that infringe on Segway’s patents will be as illegal as smuggling drugs across the borders.

Middle Innings:

It Just Rolls Off The Tongue: Try saying O-A-B-E three times fast. It has to be easier than spitting out Oracle Accelerated Buying Experience.

But, no…The Oracle Accelerated Buying Experience is something that Oracle announced late Wednesday in a letter sent to all Oracle employees and signed by Chairman Larry Ellison and co-Chief Executives Mark Hurd and Safra Catz. And what is the Oracle Accelerated Buying Experience? According to Oracle, the OABE is:

  • “A major component of our (Oracle’s) cloud transformation.”
  • Something that “enables customers to effortlessly purchase our cloud services with the click of a button.”
  • “Available for license and other non-cloud transactions in the near future.”
  • The name of a really cool, but long-forgotten British prog-rock band.

(OK, I made that last one up.)

In a nutshell, the OABE is a new part of Oracle’s transformation to cloud-based software and services, and will let a customer purchase Oracle software without having to use an Oracle sales rep. If Oracle doesn’t have to pay all those sales commissions, it might even end up with better earnings than what it reported late Tuesday. Those earnings, and sales results, helped boost Oracle’s shares by almost 4 percent Wednesday to close at $40.22.

Will I Still Get Kim Kardashian’s Feed?: In case you missed it, Facebook’s Instagram photo-sharing app is going to begin displaying picture feeds based on content that a user may be interested in first, as opposed to putting up the images in chronological order. Instagram hopes the change will result in its users seeing photos based on subjects like a person’s relationship with who is posting, how likely they will be interested in the post, and, of course, if the post comes from Kim Kardashian.

And More In Patent-Infringement Land: Storage-technology giant EMC is in the process of being acquired by Dell for $67 billion, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t use a little loose $14 million.

That’s the amount that a federal jury in Delaware said Mountain View-based Pure Storage owes EMC for infringing on one of three patents that EMC had sued over. Pure specializes in using flash memory instead of disk drives for its corporate-storage tech products.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Wednesday…

Movin’ On Up: Gains came from Barracuda Networks, Omnicell, Advanced Micro Devices, Oclaro and Aemtis.

In The Red: Besides LinkedIn, which fell 5 percent, decliners included FormFactor, Nektar Therapeutics, Genomic Health and Accuray.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 1 percent to 1,578.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.8 percent to 4,763.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4 percent to close at 17,325.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index edged up by 0.6 percent to 2,027.

Quote Of The Day: “I cook with wine. Sometimes, I even add it to the food.” — W.C. Fields.

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Photo: A BykeBoard hoverboard at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair on the fair’s opening day on March 14 in Hanover, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)


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