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Apple can’t stop Samsung from selling infringing devices

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Apple may have won its second patent case against Samsung, but Judge Lucy Koh won’t allow it to take more. She has denied Cupertino’s request for an injunction that would have banned Samsung devices that have been found to be infringing on Apple’s patents from being sold in the US.

At the heart of the matter is cause and effect. In essence, Judge Koh claims that Apple was unable to convince the court that Samsung’s patent infringement has caused it significant harm, either in loss of sales or injury to Apple’s reputation. Since Apple failed to prove that, there was no reason for the court to halt sales of those infringing devices. It is almost tantamount to saying that even if Samsung has been found guilty of copying features, Apple wasn’t able to prove those features were significant enough to have cost it a fortune or users.

This latest decision may not be a devastating blow to Apple, but it sure is a slap on the face. Although Samsung isn’t exactly getting away scot-free for its crime, it will only be paying damages in the amount of $119.6 million, a measly fraction of the $2.2 billion that Apple was going after. Plus now the court is practically telling Apple that those features that Samsung copied aren’t exactly all that. Or rather, they aren’t enough to have made a significant negative impact on Apple’s part.

It isn’t known yet if Apple plans to appeal this decision, that is if it has any other legal recourse left. Could this finally be the end to the patent squabble between Apple and Samsung in the US? The two rivals have agreed to a truce on patent litigation outside the US, but so far there has been no word on their relationship this side of the world. That said, even the international ceasefire between the two isn’t exactly legally binding, so there’s really no assurance that even that would hold in the long run.

VIA: Apple Insider

California “kill switch” bill takes effect July 1, 2015

Posted by wicked August - 26 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

The once contentious “kill switch” feature, previously blocked and now accepted by the mobile industry, has finally been signed into law, at least in California. But given the practical implications of this new legal mandate, suffice it to say that we would most likely see this anti-theft feature implemented equally across the country, whether or not other states legally require it.

The ability to remotely wipe and lock down a smartphone via some security service is nothing new, at least not recently. Android has had this for quite some time now via the Android Device Manager. iPhones, too, have their Find My iPhone feature. The CTIA Wireless Association, mostly made up of mobile carriers, once disapproved of this method, preferring to simply have a database of stolen devices as a deterrent to theft. Finally, however, they caved in and announced a voluntary commitment to let users install such features. The commitment has already been signed by major carriers and manufacturers, making it practically enforcing.

The difference between these features and California’s new law is one of subtle implementation. While those previously mentioned left the decision up to carriers, manufacturers, and users, California will soon require these kill switches by default. Or to be exact, it will require devices to prompt users to enable the feature during initial setup of the device instead of burying it under dozens of settings. Users of course have the freedom to not enable it (or disable it if it is enabled by default) but should be informed of the potential consequences of that decision. Considering that OEMs, carriers, or other retailers are unlikely to have a special California-only edition, this implementation is as good as nationwide.

The law, however, isn’t overarching. For one, it doesn’t cover smartphones launched before January 1, 2015 that cannot be modified to support the feature, though that set is probably few and far in between. It also doesn’t cover devices that are just being resold in the state of California in secondhand markets. And lastly, perhaps more worryingly, it doesn’t cover tablets. At least not yet. The law goes into effect July 1, 2015 and the penalty for violating it ranges from $500 to $2,500. That’s per smartphone sold.

SOURCE: State of California (PDF)
VIA: SlashGear

XBMC changing name to Kodi

Posted by wicked August - 3 - 2014 - Sunday Comments Off

kodi_new_xbmc_logo

The developers behind XBMC, the entertainment and media center software, have announced a change in name for the platform. XBMC has started the process to be renamed Kodi as part of the upcoming release of version 14. This is not the first time the group has changed the name, the last time being in 2008. However, all of the previous name changes have been variants of the original “Xbox Media Player” which was coined in 2002. Two years after that it was renamed “Xbox Media Center” and then four years later it was shortened to the current XBMC. The change to Kodi is a radical change taking things in a whole new direction.

The development team indicates one of the factors in deciding to pursue the name change was potential legal concerns due to the inclusion of a trademarked name from another company. This not only left open the potential for action to be taken against anyone using that name, it was creating some confusion as to what sites and services were related to the XBMC platform and which ones were connected to something else.

The developers also felt the current name, and its history, was no longer reflective of the platform. As they note, the ability to run XBMC on an actual Xbox was very limited and only with the older Xbox, not the Xbox 360 or Xbox One, thus the “XB” portion of the name does not really fit. Likewise, the platform is capable of much more than displaying media as it can stream content, load games, and run addons among others, making it an entertainment center, rendering the “MC” portion no longer accurate.

As these problems and the issues they generated became more common, the XBMC team decided to seek out assistance from the Software Freedom Law Center. It was ultimately determined a change in name made the most sense. The team has determined it will continue to license the software under GPL 2.0. As far as use of the name and logo, the team plans to adopt policies modeled after the Mozilla Foundation with respect to trademark licensing. Although programmers and developers have some work to do to strip out the old name and add in the new Kodi name, for end users the change should be minimal.

The new Kodi team indicates they are still finalizing the logo, so what you see above is likely going to change. Since it is not quite ready yet, a final sale of “official” XBMC t-shirts is being offered. If you want one to hold onto so you can break it out twenty years from now to show the world what you were doing, hit the source link for more information.

Finally, the team is also making their alpha2 version of the new Kodi 14, codenamed “Helix” available for download for anyone that wants to get an early look. Again, just hit the source link for more info on how to grab it.

source: XBMC

Come comment on this article: XBMC changing name to Kodi

Microsoft brings Samsung to court over Android patent deal

Posted by wicked August - 2 - 2014 - Saturday Comments Off

On Friday, the Redmond-based global software giant Microsoft announced that it has brought South Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung to court over a contract dispute in their patent deal for Android devices. Microsoft, in very basic terms, has a contract with Samsung where it receives royalties for every Android device it sells, and it is suing Samsung because according to them, the latter has not been keeping its part of the contract.

According to Microsoft’s deputy general counsel David Howard, this legal action was done “simply to enforce our contract with Samsung.” In 2011, Microsoft signed one of those landmark Android patent deals, claiming that every Android device Samsung sells infringes on its patents, hence the royalties. As of late, Microsoft claims that Samsung has not been paying them the royalties they’ve agreed upon based on that 2011 contract, a situation that started last year – specifically after Microsoft’s Nokia acquisition.

What Microsoft is asking is actually for the court to enforce the contract as legal and binding, where Samsung has already made clear its disagreement to it. “After spending months trying to resolve our disagreement, Samsung has made clear in a series of letters and discussions that we have a fundamental disagreement as to the meaning of our contract,” Howard said.

Samsung has replied with a standard answer to the lawsuit, saying in a published statement: “We will review the complaint in detail and determine appropriate measures in response.” This patent contract has made Samsung – and many other Android device manufacturers – beholden to Microsoft, something that Google has vocally lambasted over the years. “This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft,” Google said in a statement when the patent deal was signed in 2011. “Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation.”

VIA: Recode

Apple wants more, seeks retrial and sales ban against Samsung

Posted by wicked May - 26 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

If you thought it was all over, you can be considered, at best, naive. Despite technically winning the trial, Apple wants a total redo of a trial that only ended early this month. Plus it naturally wants those infringing Samsung smartphone to be stricken off the face of the market, at least in the US.

The fact is, Apple may have won, but it practically didn’t. Of the $2.2 billion it wanted in damages, it was only awarded $119.6 million. On top of that, it was also found actually guilty of infringing one of Samsung’s patents as well, and is being ordered to pay $158,000. A measly sum to contest, but it could also be all about appearances.

This legal victory might mean nothing for Apple if it doesn’t get substantial monies. And it will be even more embarrassing if it doesn’t get rid of the shame of having been found to be guilty of infringing on other as well. Some hold that this has practically made Apple lose face, which might be a bit of an exaggeration. Nonetheless, it is something Apple is definitely not taking lightly. According to Apple, Samsung made rather prejudicial claims during the course of the trial. It also wants to prove willful infringement on Samsung’s part. In effect, it is seeking more money from Samsung.

Apple also wants the infringing devices to be banned from sales in the US, which is something natural for Apple to claim. However, not everything that Apple wants, Apple gets. In 2012, it also filed for an injunction against other Samsung devices, which was denied. Judge Lucy Koh, who has presided over all recent Apple vs. Samsung trials, is unlikely to change her stance that the continued sales of Samsung devices would hurt Apple’s sales in the slightest.

VIA: SlashGear

Minnesota becomes first to sign smartphone ‘kill switch’ into law

Posted by wicked May - 15 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

Signed by Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota has become the first state with a law on the books requiring a remote shut-off for smartphones and tablets. Simply put, Governor Dayton has signed the ‘kill switch’ bill into law. This is Chapter 241, SF1740 and will go into effect as of July 1, 2015.

Governor Dayton mentioned how “this law will help combat the growing number of violent cell phone thefts in Minnesota.” Part of the lead into having this bill signed into law included testimony from University of Minnesota police who said “up to” 62 percent of on-campus robberies are cell phone related. The Federal Communications Commission have also said that “nearly” 1 in 3 US robberies involve phone theft.

With stats like these and previous ‘kill switch’ chatter coming from other states to include California and New York — it seems likely that other states will soon be following Minnesota. Details coming from the Governor Blog on Minnesota.gov include the following;

“This new kill switch function will allow smartphone owners to remotely disable their smartphone if it is lost or stolen, rendering the devices useless to thieves and reducing the incentive for a growing wave of violent cell phone thefts.”

Along with having kill switches available on devices, the law also touched on some other factors. Once this law goes into effect any business that deals in used cell phones will have some extra rules to follow. This means better record keeping with requirements to document the “make and model of device, date, time, place, name and address of the seller, record of the buyer’s check or electronic transfer, seller’s driver’s license number or similar ID document.”

The seller will also be required to sign a statement saying the phone isn’t stolen, and they have to be at least 18 years of age. The buyer then has to keep these records for a minimum of three years.

VIA: AP

SOURCE: Minnesota.gov

California “kill switch” bill passes State Senate

Posted by wicked May - 9 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

With 26 for and 8 against, the State Senate of California went beyond the required 21 votes to get the “kill switch” bill cleared. Now the final word rests upon California Governor Jerry Brown to make it into a law.

Last February, California Democrat State Senator Mark Leno, with the backing of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, introduced a bill that would mandate smartphones sold within the jurisdiction to come with the contentious “kill switch” feature. The proposal was first shot down in April when proponents failed to muster the needed numbers. Now, however, they finally were able to push through. Apple and Microsoft, who initially opposed the bill, has seemingly backed down from their position but did not comment on the change of heart.

The bill might seem a bit redundant now that the CTIA, the biggest opponent of the anti-theft measure, has practically given way. Last month, it announced its new Voluntary Commitment that would require those who would sign the commitment to have such features readily available. However, there are two important differences between the bill and CTIA’s program. As the name implies, the commitment is purely voluntary, though binding once committed. The bill will require any smartphone to carry that feature. Second, CTIA’s policy only requires that manufacturers and carriers would not hinder users from enabling or downloading the features. California’s bill, on the other hand, would require that the feature already be enabled from the get go. It should be noted that the kill switch bill only covers smartphones and not other mobile devices like tablets.

There are, of course, still dissenting opinions on the matter. Some lawmakers felt that such a heavy-handed mandate would discourage mobile device companies from doing business in the state. Others are also worried about repercussions for smartphone retailers. Should an honest mistake result in a batch of deliveries meant for another state, which would not have the kill switch feature preinstalled and enabled, retailers could be facing fines of up to $2,500, at least according to the current form of the bill.

SOURCE: CNET
VIA: SlashGear

Apple wins against Samsung but only gets a fraction of damages

Posted by wicked May - 5 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

It is a somewhat bittersweet victory for Apple in its current patent infringement suit against Samsung. Although the jury has found Samsung guilty to some extent, it is only telling the Korean manufacturer to pay $119.6 million, which is pennies compared to the $2.2 billion that Apple was originally asking for.

The total amount, however, might still go a bit above $120 million, though not excessively so. According to Apple’s lawyers, the jury failed to compute damages for patent ’172. However, the jury decided to reschedule deliberations for Monday. It wasn’t a landslide victory for Apple, unlike the previous patent case that only ended last year. Patent infringement was determined in some devices piecemeal, and in some cases, none at all. All of Samsung’s devices have been cleared of the “quick links” patent ’647 and the “unified search” patent ’959. Only a number were found to have infringed on the “slide to unlock” patent ’721 and the “autocomplete” ’172 patent was already determined by presiding judge Lucy Koh as having been infringed.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Apple was also found guilty of infringing on one Samsung patent that the manufacturer brought to the court. It is quite interesting because this it the first time Apple was found to have infringed on a non-Standard Essential Patent or SEP, which refers to a class of patents that are needed in order to comply with international technical standards. For this infringement, Apple will have to pay Samsung $158,000, which is somewhat a laughable sum even compared to the $119.6 million to be awarded to Apple.

Naturally, the court of public, and sometimes even professional, opinion is divided on the matter. Some believe that although legally victorious, Apple has ended up losing much of its credibility, first by only winning some patents and being awarded around 5.5 percent of the amount it was asking for, and second for actually being found guilty of infringing as well. There are, however, those who hold that Apple was never expecting to be awarded the total amount anyway. Aim high but expect low, so to speak. Also, they say that, at the end of the day, Samsung was once again found guilty of copying Apple and that this case can be used by Cupertino as legal precedent in the future. We are definitely not yet at the end of this current courtroom drama, as the two will still be dishing it out for injunctions and appeals.

SOURCE: FOSS Patents
VIA: SlashGear

Samsung downplays monetary value of Apple’s patents

Posted by wicked April - 22 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

It is in court houses that you sometimes get to hear some of the most entertaining arguments, ways of thinking, or tactics you wouldn’t normally encounter in the world outside. In the current and latest bout between Samsung and Apple, the Korean manufacturer is claiming that Apple‘s patents, which are being brought against it, aren’t really worth that much.

This statement came from New York University professor Tulin Erdem who testified, on Samsung’s behalf of course, that Apple is selling its patents too much. This was a direct contradiction of Apple’s own expert witness John Hauser who, Tulin Erdem claims, was educating consumers about features that they weren’t aware of and didn’t really value. These are the same features being brought against Samsung. In short, Erdem says that Apple is artificially inflating the value of those patents, creating demand artifacts, and portraying those patents as more expensive than they really are.

This point is important for Samsung because it affects the amount of damages that Apple could be awarded in case the Cupertino-based company wins this round yet again. Apple is asking for a rather hefty sum of $20 billion in damages, around $40 for each infringing device. Samsung has also filed a counter-lawsuit against Apple, but it isn’t asking for much in comparison. This is an attempt to put up an appearance that patents really don’t cost that much.

This tactic is also interesting because, Samsung maintains that it has not infringed on any of Apple’s patents. But while it is still claiming its innocence, it is also doing everything it can to cover its bases and bring down that initial price, just in case.

SOURCE: Re/code
VIA: TalkAndroid

Samsung and Apple head back to court with new patents starting Monday

Posted by wicked March - 31 - 2014 - Monday Comments Off

The tech and mobile world will once again be inundated with back and forth mudslinging as Apple and Samsung once again face each other in the San Jose, California courthouse starting tomorrow. This time, the stakes are higher as Apple is asking for royalty that is more than five times higher than what it asked for in the previous trial.

Although one patent case between Samsung and Apple was just recently concluded, with Apple emerging as the victor, the war is far from over. The two will once again be fighting over a newer set of patents and targeting the other’s more recent, but not the most recent, devices. But while Samsung’s patent claims against Apple revolve more around wireless technology and the hardware side, Apple’s toes are dipped on software patents.

The particular issue of software patents is rather contentious, one that has resulted in calls for reforms in the US patent system, which hasn’t seen much change in decades. And while patents for physical objects or more tangible inventions fit more snugly into the patent system, patenting software has been likened to trying to patent mathematical calculations or patenting recipes or even simply patenting ideas.

In this next round, Apple is only focusing on five patents. One of which is “slide to unlock” which has, admittedly, become a popular gesture. Granted that Samsung’s implementation is more generic, since Apple’s can only slide in one direction, but as one law professor remarked, software patents are intentionally made overly broad so as to block competition. Another patent relates to how tapping on search results can lead to calling a number or putting an address on the map. Perhaps more worrisome for the wider Android community is how these patents may affect not just Samsung but other implementations as well.

Jury selection will start Monday, though that itself might already be problematic, given how close the courthouse is to Apple’s home base. Apple is demanding an unprecedented royalty of $40 per each infringing Samsung device, which could amount to $2 billion, though juries rarely award plaintiffs the full asking price. On the other hand, Apple risks losing $6 million should they lose the case. Included in the case are the Samsung Galaxy S II, Galaxy S III, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Note II. Samsung is targeting Apple’s iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad 4, and iPad mini among others.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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