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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 86 declined, 36 accepted (122 total, 29.51% accepted)

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Submission + - Beats Music to shut down November 30 (

UnknowingFool writes: After November 30, Beats Music subscriptions will be cancelled and no longer work according to Apple. Subscribers can use Apple Music which has many of the same features. This shutdown was not unexpected when Apple purchased Beats last year for $3 billion as Apple has a history of buying companies for various reasons other the products. Many former companies have been absorbed into Apple in one form or another in this manner: The technology of Fingerworks peripherals were the start of multi-touch for iPhones. PA Semi and Intrinsity personnel were the core of Apple's internal chip design teams. AuthenTec made biometric technology that became backbone of Touch ID.

Submission + - HDMI announces premium certification program for HDMI 2.0 (

UnknowingFool writes: HDMI® Licensing LLC announced the new Premium HDMI Cable Certification Program which will certify whether cables can meet the 2.0 specification. While today's HDMI 1.4 cables can handle 4K (4096 x 2160) video, it is at 24Hz or 30Hz for the UltraHD (3840×2160) resolution. HDMI 2.0 cables should be able to handle 4K at 60Hz with 18 Gbit/s throughput and support for HDR video. HDMI 1.4 can handle 10.2 Gbit/s. No word on how many first-born children Monster will charge for 2.0 cables.

Submission + - Judge rules that Inglewood, California cannot copyright public videos (

UnknowingFool writes: Recently a judge ruled in California, that the city of Inglewood cannot hold copyrights of videos of public city council meetings which they published on their youtube account and thus cannot sue individuals for copyright infringement for using them. In several youtube videos, Joseph Teixeira, a resident of Inglewood, California criticized the mayor, James Butts. (Yes that's his real name). Under the account name, Dehol Truth, Teixeira took city council meetings posted on their youtube account and edited them to make pointed criticisms about the mayor.

The city responded by registering the videos with copyrights and then suing Teixeira for copyright infringement. Many would say it was a thinly veiled attempt to silence a critic. Teixeira filed a motion to dismiss arguing that (1) the city cannot claim copyright over public records (videos of public city council meetings) and (2) even if they could, his videos fell under Fair Use.

Unsurprisingly a judge dismissed the city's case citing California law which bars the city from holding copyrights on most public records. What is notable is that the judge dismissed the case with prejudice meaning that the city cannot refile. Normally judges do not do this unless they feel that the plaintiff's case was so weak that he feels no judge should hear the case ever again. Also because the judge agreed with the defendant Teixeira on the first point, he would not normally need to address Teixeira's Fair Use defense, but he did anyway. Anticipating that the city may appeal his decision, judge ruled that Teixeira's videos substantially met all four factors for Fair Use:
  1. There is no evidence Teixeira used the videos for commericial gain and was transformative
  2. His work was creative by adding music and commentary to the normally boring council videos
  3. Despite the city's claim he used their "entire work", it clear that he only used portions of meetings that lasted as long as four hours editing them down to a max of 15 minutes.
  4. Teixeira did not harm the city's market for the videos because the city is barred by state law from recouping more than direct costs of duplication. Even if the city could sell the videos (which they published themselves for free on youtube), his short videos are not a substitute.

This case may not be over as Teixeira's pro bono lawyer has not filed for attorney's fees. The ruling can be found here

Submission + - Behind the Microsoft write-off of Nokia (

UnknowingFool writes: Previously Microsoft had announced that they write-off the Nokia purchase for $7.6B in the last quarter. In doing so Microsoft would create only the third unprofitable quarter in the company's history. Released on July 31, new financial documents detail some of the reasoning and financials behind this decision. At the core of the problem was that the Phone Hardware business was only worth $116M after adjusting for costs and market factors. One of those factors was poor sales of Nokia handhelds in 2015. Financially it made more sense to write it all off.

the carrying value of Phone Hardware goodwill exceeded its estimated fair value. Accordingly, we recorded a goodwill impairment charge of $5.1 billion, reducing Phone Hardware’s goodwill from $5.4 billion to $116 million

Submission + - Microsoft to layoff 7,800 and write-off $7.6B from Nokia acquisition (

UnknowingFool writes: Less than 2 years after its $7.2B acquisition of Nokia's phone business, Microsoft announced it will layoff 7,800 mostly from that business and write off the acquisition for $7.6B. Among those let go will be Stephen Elop who is the former CEO of Nokia and a former executive of Microsoft. Many believe Elop was placed at Nokia to undermine their business so that Microsoft could buy it for a cheaper price. Even with the acquisition, Microsoft's share of the phone market did not increase significantly and lags behind Android and Apple.

Submission + - Microsoft to sell Bing Maps, advertising sections (

UnknowingFool writes: Microsoft has announced that they will sell some Bing Maps technology to Uber and their advertising business to AOL. About 1300 employees are expected to be offered positions in their new companies. CEO Nadella said previously that there would be "tough choices" to be made. Some outside analysts have said neither venture was very profitable for Microsoft and may have been unprofitable at times.

Submission + - Prenda Law's 9th Circuit Appeal Does Not Go Well (

UnknowingFool writes: In May 2013, US District Court Judge Otis Wright issued a blistering and Star Trek referencing sanctions order against copyright troll Prenda Law fining them for $80,000 for conduct and referring them for criminal action. Since then the firm has dissolved but their lawyer appeared before three judges of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to have them overturn the decision and the now $250,000 fine ($80,000 plus accrued penalties). It did not go well for their lawyer Daniel Voelker who at times evaded basic questions about who ran the firm and a forged document irking judges Pregerson and Tallman. Mr. Voelker kept repeating his argument that since Judge Wright threatened criminal penalties and denied a witness to appear, his clients were denied due process and thus everything should be remanded back for criminal contempt. Judge Nguyen seemingly rebuffed this argument stating that the fines were civil and not subject to criminal proceedings and tried to focus Voelker on legal arguments on the amount of the fines. Judge Tallman also expressed incredulity that Voelker was asking the court for criminal contempt as the maximum penalty for that was life imprisonment and not the $250,000 fine that was owed. Judge Pregerson at one point explicitly stated that Prenda had engaged in extortion.

Part of Prenda's Law problem was that Judge Wright had written much about their operations in his Findings of Fact which is rarely overturned by higher courts as opposed to the Findings of Law which can be scrutinized by higher courts. The court's first question to Voelker expressly asked that for the appeal court to rule in his client's favor they would have to find clear error in the Findings of Fact which he characteristically dodged again and again.

Morgan Pietz representing the opposing side did better on answering the Judges' questions. For example in doubling the original fine which may have crossed the line between criminal and civil, Pietz responded that deterrence is an important element of sanctions and doubling the fine was justified. Pietz also argued that a separate criminal proceeding could still be held without voiding the civil result.

Submission + - Apple DRM lawsuit loses last plaintiff; judge rules against dismissal (

UnknowingFool writes: In the Apple DRM lawsuit, the last plaintiff in the case has been disqualified but due to the number of potential consumers affected, the judge has denied Apple's motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs' lawyers will have to find a qualified plaintiff. To recap, the suit lost both plaintiffs in the last week when Apple reported to the judge that their iPods were not eligible (iPods must be purchased between Sept 2006 and May 2009). The first plaintiff withdrew when all her iPods were found to be outside the time period. The second plaintiff produced one iPod that was not eligible but two others that were eligible; however, Apple challenged the two eligible ones as the plaintiff could not prove she purchased them. They were purchased by her ex-husband's law firm. With one of the main claims of suit being that the price of the iPod was raised due to Apple's actions it was important to establish that she purchased them.

At the heart of the case is that Apple's use of DRM harmed customers by raising the price of the iPod and that Apple removed other competitor's music from the iPod namely RealPlayer's Harmony music files. Apple does not dispute that it removed RealPlayer's files but contends it was done for security reasons as RealPlayer was able to get the music files onto the iPod by posing as Apple FairPlay files. In testimony, Steve Jobs called RealPlayer's move "a hack" and there was considerable discussion at the time.

Submission + - iPod DRM lawsuit might be dismissed: Plaintiffs didn't own affected iPods (

UnknowingFool writes: The lawsuit involving Apple and iTunes DRM may be thrown out because the plaintiffs did not own the iPods for which they are suing. The lawsuit covers iPods for the time period between September of 2006 and March of 2009. When Apple checked the serial numbers of the iPods of the plaintiffs, it appears they were not manufactured during this time. One plaintiff did purchase an iPod in 2005 and in 2010 and has withdrawn from the suit. The second plaintiff's iPod was manufactured in July 2009 but claims purchasing another iPod in 2008. Since the two plaintiffs were the only ones in the suit, the case may be dismissed for lack of standing.

Submission + - Microsoft shows off Windows 10 (

UnknowingFool writes: Today Microsoft unveiled the next version of their OS but it will be called Windows 10 instead of 9. No reason on the skip in version numbers but Microsoft hasn't been known for their consistent naming conventions before. Windows 10 will be "mobile-first, cloud-first world" and operate both tablets and desktops. Some considerations however have been given for desktop users with Windows 7 type features. Also a feature called Continuum will change the UI depending if the user is in desktop mode or tablet mode. It is due to be released in spring 2015

Submission + - Supreme Court rules for and against EPA on greenhouse gases (

UnknowingFool writes: In Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled against the EPA on some limits to greenhouse gases but also upheld other limits. In a 5-4 partial decision, the high court ruled that EPA overstepped their authority in requiring permits only for greenhouse gases for new and modified facilities using the Clean Air act. Such regulatory action can only be granted by Congress. But in the same case on a 7-2 decision, the court also ruled that the EPA can enforce greenhouse gas limits on facilities that already require permits for other air pollutants. This leaves intact the most of the new regulations proposed by the Obama administration earlier this month as many coal plants produce other air pollutants that can be regulated by the EPA.

Submission + - MS to sell Xbox One without Kinect and separate Apps from Live Gold (

UnknowingFool writes: Starting June 9, MS will offer a $399 Xbox One that will not be come with a Kinect peripheral. Many fans wanted the Kinect optional as they did not feel the need for it. Additionally streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and HBO Go will no longer require a Live Gold subscription. There are some apps like Game DVR that will require Live Gold.

Submission + - Supreme Court makes it easier to get lawyers fees in patent cases (

UnknowingFool writes: In a pair of unanimous rulings yesterday, the Supreme Court made it easier for defendants in patent cases to collect attorneys fees if the litigation was frivolous. In the first case, Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness , the court ruled that a standard used by lower courts to award attorney's fees was impossible to meet. The original standard under Brooks Furniture Mfg., Inc. v. Dutailier Int’l, Inc. had ruled that a claim had to be both “objectively baseless” and “brought in subjective bad faith” before fees could be awarded. The high court ruled that fees should be awarded merely when the case is “exceptional” and not when the defendant must prove there was zero merit.

In the second case, Highmark v. Allcare Health Management , the Supreme Court also noted the “exceptional” standard in reversing the appellate court's decision but specifically ruled that appellate courts should give more deference to the lower courts on rulings of fact. In Highmark, the district court found that Allcare had engaged in a pattern of “vexatious” and “deceitful” conduct throughout the litigation and awarded fees. The appellate court while agreeing with the lower court about part of the case reversed the fees in their de novo review of the case. In de novo reviews, the court case is essentially retried with the higher court. The Supreme Court iterated that de novo reviews should be done typically for “questions of law” and reviews on “questions of fact” are done if there are clear errors with decisions on matters of discretion “reviewable for ‘abuse of discretion.’” In other words, the appellate courts can review a case if a lower court has not correctly interpreted law; however, they should not retry a lower case on facts unless the lower court made a clear error. Also unless the lower court abused their power in some way, the appellate court should not review their final decisions.

For example, if a person is tried for murder, an appellate court could rule that a district court misinterpreted a statute about sentencing if the person if found guilty. The appellate court should not retry the facts of the case unless the lower court had made a clear error like ruling that there was a DNA match when there was not. Also an appellate court should not reverse the lower court if they sentenced the person to a reasonable time. Now if the district court sentenced the person to 400 years for one murder, then the appellate court should intervene.

In effect the two rulings make it easier for companies to recover money should they be sued in frivolous patent lawsuits. This would make the risks greater for those who sue.

Submission + - GM announces first female CEO Mary Barra (

UnknowingFool writes: Right after the US Treasury Department sold off its last stake in GM, two surprises followed . First, CEO Dan Akerson announced his retirement, and the board chose long-time employee Mary Barra as his replacement as GM's first female CEO. While there will be comparisons to Carly Fiorina because of gender, there are major differences between the two situations. Barra has been with GM for 33 years and started working as a university co-op student while Fiorina was hired from Lucent. Barra started out as a plant engineer before completing her MBA and rising through the ranks to varied positions like plant manager, head of HR, and senior vice president of global product development while Fiorina was always in management.

Submission + - SCOTUS agrees to hear case to clarify software patents (

UnknowingFool writes: The Supreme Court agreed today to hear the case of Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International to help establish clearer guidelines on what may be patented in software. The case involves Alice Corporation who holds four patents originating in the 1990s of which was for "a computerized system for creating and exchanging financial instruments such as derivatives." These patents were challenged by CLS Bank International in 2007. The district court ruled summarily for CLS in that none of patents were valid. The Federal Circuit initially reversed the lower court; however, the full panel (en banc) voted (7 out of 10) to affirm the district court but also issued 5 separate concurring and dissenting opinions.

This confusion was noted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its amicus brief:

" . . . the Federal Circuit has failed to implement a workable standard—or, frankly, any standard at all—as to what computer- and Internet-implemented inventions are patentable. The resulting legal instability has driven up the already-ballooning costs of patent litigation . . ."

In my opinion, it appears that main patent simply added "on the computer" to an existing process, namely in an business transaction between two parties, there is a third party that ensures that payment is made and is facilitated. The computer made the transaction faster and more automated as noted by Judge Lourie in his opinion.

“simply appending generic computer functionality to lend speed or efficiency to the performance of an otherwise abstract concept does not meaningfully limit claim scope for purposes of patent eligibility.

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond