Patents

Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-defense-is-a-strong-offense dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We read about a lot of patent troll cases. Some are successful and some are not, but many such cases are decided before ever going to court. It's how the patent troll operates — they know exactly how high litigation costs are. Even without a legal leg to stand on, they can ask for settlements that make better financial sense for the target to accept, rather than dumping just as much money into attorney's fees for an uncertain outcome. Fortunately, some companies fight back. TV-maker Vizio is one of these, and they've successfully defended against 16 different patent trolls, some with multiple claims. In addition, they're going on the offensive, trying to wrest legal fees from the plaintiffs for their spurious claims. "For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs' firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail. ... For Vizio, the company feels that it's on the verge of getting vindication for a long-standing policy of not backing down to patent trolls."
Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
Google

Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit 339

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-ready-for-carrousel dept.
dcblogs writes: The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Between 2007 and 2013, Google's workforce grew from 9,500 to more than 28,000 employees, "yet as of 2013, its employees' median age was 29 years old," the lawsuit claims. That's in contrast to the median age of nearly 43 for all U.S. workers who are computer programmers, according to the lawsuit.
Crime

Gen. Petraeus To Be Sentenced To Two Years Probation and Fine 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the standing-tall-before-the-man dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Petraeus, a now-retired U.S. Army General, has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. As part of the agreement with prosecutors filed in March, the government will not seek any prison time. Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents. The recommendations are not binding on the federal judge who will preside at the hearing Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
Government

Bill To Require Vaccination of Children Advances In California 606

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
mpicpp sends the latest news on California legislation that would eliminate exemptions for vaccinating school children. A bill that would require nearly all children in California to be vaccinated by eliminating "personal belief" exemptions advanced through the State Legislature on Wednesday, though it still has several hurdles to clear. If approved, California would become one of only three states that require all parents to vaccinate their children as a condition of going to school, unless there is a medical reason not to do so. Under the bill, introduced after a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland, parents who refuse vaccines for philosophical or religious reasons would have to educate their children at home. The legislation prompted a roiling debate in Sacramento, and last week hundreds of people protested at the Capitol, arguing that it infringed on their rights and that it would unfairly shut their children out of schools. Last Wednesday, the legislation stalled in the Senate Education Committee as lawmakers said they were concerned that too many students would be forced into home schooling. This Wednesday, however, the bill passed that committee after its authors tweaked it, adding amendments that would expand the definition of home schooling to allow multiple families to join together to teach their children or participate in independent study programs run by public school systems.
Advertising

German Court Rules Adblock Plus Is Legal 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the non-crazy-software-judgments dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Following a four-month trial, a German court in Hamburg has ruled that the practice of blocking advertising is perfectly legitimate. Germany-based Eyeo, the company that owns Adblock Plus, has won a case against German publishers Zeit Online and Handelsblatt. These companies operate Zeit.de, Handelsblatt.com, and Wiwo.de. Their lawsuit, filed on December 3, charged that Adblock Plus should not be allowed to block ads on their websites. While the decision is undoubtedly a big win for users today, it could also set a precedent for future lawsuits against Adblock Plus and any other tool that offers similar functions. The German court has essentially declared that users are legally allowed to control what happens on their screens and on their computers while they browse the Web.
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional 399

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-allowed-to-hound-you-anymore dept.
bmxeroh writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority (6-3) that police authority "ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed." The case, Rodriguez v. United States, 13-9972, all started with Rodriguez was stopped in Nebraska for driving out of his lane. After he was given the ticket for that infraction, he was made to wait an additional seven to eight minutes for a drug dog to arrive which promptly alerted to the presence of drugs in the car. Upon search, the officers found a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession.
The Courts

Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet 333

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-have-standing dept.
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Update: 04/21 21:39 GMT by S : Science has updated their article with news that the court has released an amended order (PDF) with the words "writ of habeas corpus" removed, no longer implying that chimps have legal personhood. The order still allows the litigation to go forward, but we'll have to wait for resolution.
Privacy

Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-remember-that-episode-of-The-Wire dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city's police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It's a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn't include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.
United Kingdom

Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference 191

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-get-a-harrumph-outta-that-guy dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Commonwealth Law Conference in Glasgow was subjected to walk outs and boycott once it became known that Julian Assange was to appear by video link from the Ecuadorian embassy to give a talk at the conference. The Guardian reports that, "Judges from Scotland, England and Wales and the UK supreme court had agreed to speak at or chair other sessions but withdrew – in some cases after arriving at the conference centre– when they found out about Assange's appearance. Among those to boycott the conference were the most senior judge in Scotland, Lord Gill, and two judges on the supreme court, Lord Neuberger and Lord Hodge. A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: "The conference programme was changed to include Mr Assange's participation at short notice and without consultation. Mr Assange is, as a matter of law, currently a fugitive from justice, and it would therefore not be appropriate for judges to be addressed by him. "Under these circumstances, the lord president, Lord Gill, and the other Scottish judicial officeholders in attendance have withdrawn from the conference." A spokesman for the UK supreme court added: "Lord Neuberger and Lord Hodge share the concerns expressed by Lord Gill and his fellow senior Scottish judges ... "As a result of this unfortunate development, they trust that delegates will understand their decision to withdraw from the conference. ..." A spokesman for judiciary of England and Wales said: "The lord chief justice shares the concerns expressed by Lord Gill and Lord Neuberger ... He agreed with the position taken by both, and the judges of England and Wales also withdrew from the conference. ...""
Crime

Oklahoma Says It Will Now Use Nitrogen Gas As Its Backup Method of Execution 590

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-the-only-cost dept.
schwit1 writes Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol.
The Courts

DIA Polygraph Countermeasure Case Files Leaked 114

Posted by timothy
from the well-someone-is-fibbing dept.
George Maschke writes AntiPolygraph.org (of which I am a co-founder) has published a set of leaked Defense Intelligence Agency polygraph countermeasure case files along with a case-by-case analysis. The case files, which include polygraph charts and the exact questions used, suggest that the only people being "caught" trying to beat the polygraph are those using crude, unsophisticated methods that anyone who actually understood polygraph procedure and effective countermeasures (like, say, a real spy, saboteur, or terrorist) would ever use. AntiPolygraph.org has previously published polygraph community training materials on countermeasures that indicate they lack the ability to detect countermeasures like those described in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF) or in former police polygraph examiner Doug Williams' manual, How to Sting the Polygraph. Williams, who was indicted last year after teaching undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph, is scheduled to stand trial on May 12 in Oklahoma City.
The Courts

FBI Overstated Forensic Hair Matches In Nearly All Trials Before 2000 173

Posted by timothy
from the why-the-house-wins-so-often dept.
schwit1 writes The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 153

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
Government

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C. 271

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-if-air-&-space-gets-the-copter? dept.
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.