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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

AppBucket site owners plead guilty to pirating Android apps

Posted by wicked March - 25 - 2014 - Tuesday Comments Off

Two Florida residents have just pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracty to commit copyright infringement, in this case copyrighted Android apps. This conviction is being hailed by the US Department of Justice as a landmark victory in its fight to protect intellectual property in the US.

Aside from fragmentation, one of the oft mentioned reasons why some developers still shy away from the Android platform is the rampant software piracy. Granted, this isn’t confined to Android alone, but it is not as notoriously bad compared to others. The operations behind Android app piracy, however, as considerably smaller than, say, desktop software, making them easier targets for law enforcement.

One such example is the AppBucket web site, which was reported to have been in operation from 2010 to 2012. The site provided access to, according to the FBI’s sting operation, thousands of copies of popular Android apps. The DOJ says that the distribution of the apps would have amounted to more than $700,000. Considering how Android apps cost below $10 on average, that is definitely a substantial number.

AppBucket operators Anthony Narbone, aged 26, and Thomas Allen Dye, aged 21, are scheduled to appear again in court in June and July, respectively, for sentencing. Depending on how it goes, each of them can spend a maximum of five years in prison.

VIA: CNET

Apple permanent injunction against Samsung denied

Posted by wicked March - 7 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Although Apple has claimed victory over Samsung in one its longest patent legal battles, it is not getting everything it wants. US District Court Judge Lucy Koh has just denied Apple’s motion seeking for a permanent injunction against 23 infringing Samsung devices.

One chapter of the legal saga between Samsung and Apple finally came to a close when the jury awarded Apple the final fraction of the damages that the Korean manufacturer will be required to pay for infringing on Apple’s patents. That, however, wasn’t enough for Apple who sought to have 20 of the infringing smartphones banned from sales in the US. This was despite the fact that none of these were being officially sold in the market anymore.

While it might seem strange, Apple’s motion is strategic. A permanent injunction can be used as a legal precedent that Apple can then brandish on future devices as well and not just the 20 it was targeting outright. The court saw through the tactics and denied the motion. According to Judge Koh, a patent holder cannot use a patent as competitive leverage beyond the value of the patent itself. Apple just can’t seek a permanent injunction for things that cant be covered by payment for damages.

That loss might not have much impact on Apple in the long run, especially since Samsung and Apple will be back in court again at the end of the month over another batch of patents. However, Apple might be a bit worried that the court stated that public interest favored Samsung, leading to the denial of the motion for a permanent injunction.

VIA: SlashGear, Apple Insider

California appellate court clears reading maps on phones while driving

Posted by wicked February - 28 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

The 5th District Court of Appeal of California ruled in favor of a driver who was fined for reading a map on his iPhone while behind a wheel. While the verdict is already somewhat surprising, the case itself has more turns than a long winding road.

The case actually started two years ago, on January 2012. The defendant, Steven Spriggs, was fined $165 when a California Highway Patrol officer saw him reading a map from his smartphone while stuck in traffic. While most people caught red-handed with a mobile device behind the wheel would have probably just swallowed their shame, Spriggs challenged the fine and lost, twice, in traffic court and in Fresno County Superior Court. They say third time’s a charm, and so it seems that way when he took the case to the appellate court and won, with a little help from a law firm this time.

Almost ironically, Spriggs would be the last one to fight for the cause of people using cellphones while driving. His son suffered a broken leg precisely because of a driver yapping away on a cellphone. Spriggs’ point, however, was not to really to say that he’s innocent but to say that California’s laws didn’t apply to him and, consequently, should be updated to today’s mobile habits. Luckily for him, the judges agreed.

The 18-page ruling of the appellate court judges said that while the state’s laws prohibited people from talking and listening, and also texting, on a phone while driving, it only did so when not using hands free devices or modes, which Spriggs claims he was. But more importantly, it doesn’t cover the act of looking at a digital representation of a map on the device, leaving the judges no choice but to hand Spriggs his court victory. They, however, also noted that the law should have been written more clearly. The burden now falls on California’s lawmakers to look at this loophole and plug it before other mobile devices, like, say, smartwatches and smart glasses, become common place.

SOURCE: Associated Press

Device unlocking bill narrowly passes House

Posted by wicked February - 26 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Those advocating for the freedom to unlock their carrier provided devices might soon be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. The Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, H.R. 1123 has just passed voting in the House, but last minute changes almost caused it to fail.

Thanks to some changes made in October 2012 in the rather controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act, more lovingly known as the DMCA, 2013 started by making it illegal for phones to be unlocked for use with carriers other than the one it was purchased from. Naturally, this did not sit well with consumers as well as the new FCC chair, causing back and forth negotiations with carriers who, naturally, would prefer to keep their customers within their walled gardens.

This new bill will practically reinstate something that consumers felt they had a right to in the first place but was practically taken away by the DCMA changes. However, the bill will only legally allow unlocking of devices after the service contract expires, which usually lasts two years on most offerings. It is still illegal to unlock the device during that period, but afterwards, it’s fair game for anyone.

Unfortunately, a last minute change in the bill cause some previous proponents in the House to reluctantly change sides. The change, introduced by the GOP, bans bulk unlocking. Those who reversed their votes felt that the changes were antagonistic to consumers, since it made it difficult for some people to start a phone unlocking business. Despite the slight change in tides, the numbers were still in favor of passing the bill.

SOURCE: The Hill
VIA: SlashGear

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