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Newegg Sues Patent Troll After Troll Dropped Its Own Lawsuit (arstechnica.com) 174

WheezyJoe writes: Not satisfied that a patent troll dropped its lawsuit against them, Newegg has sued the troll. So-called "patent holding company" Minero Digital sought to exact royalty payments on a wide range of USB hubs, suing, among others, Newegg's subsidiary Rosewill. But the "non-practicing entity" dropped its East Texas lawsuit against Rosewill within days of getting a call from the Newegg's lawyer. However, Minero dismissed its Texas lawsuit "without prejudice", meaning it can refile the case at a time of its choosing. So, Newegg filed its own lawsuit against Minero in Los Angeles federal court, asking a judge to lay down a ruling that Minero's case against Rosewill is baseless. Says Newegg's Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng, "Minero's case does not have merit, and its patent is not only expired but would suck even if it wasn't expired. Now that they have started the litigation, it would be irresponsible for Newegg to not finish it."
Businesses

Disney IT Workers Allege Conspiracy In Layoffs, File Lawsuits (computerworld.com) 243

dcblogs writes with the latest in the laid off Disney IT worker saga. According to ComputerWorld: "Disney IT workers laid off a year ago this month are now accusing the company and the outsourcing firms it hired of engaging in a 'conspiracy to displace U.S. workers.' The allegations are part of two lawsuits filed in federal court in Florida on Monday. Between 200 and 300 Disney IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Some of the workers had to train their foreign replacements — workers on H-1B visas — as a condition of severance. The lawsuits represent what may be a new approach in the attack on the use of H-1B workers to replace U.S. workers. They allege violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming that the nature of the employment of the H-1B workers was misrepresented, and that Disney and the contractors knew the ultimate intent was to replace U.S. workers with lower paid H-1B workers."
The Courts

Stingray Case Lawyers: "Everyone Knows Cell Phones Generate Location Data" (techdirt.com) 171

An anonymous reader writes with news that the Maryland Attorney General is arguing that anyone who has ever used a smartphone knows it's tracking them, so no warrant is needed for stingrays. Techdirt says: "Up in Baltimore, where law enforcement Stingray device use hit critical mass faster and more furiously than anywhere else in the country (to date...) with the exposure of 4,300 deployments in seven years, the government is still arguing there's no reason to bring search warrants into this. The state's Attorney General apparently would like the Baltimore PD's use of pen register orders to remain standard operating procedure. According to a brief filed in a criminal case relying on the warrantless deployment of an IMSI catcher (in this case a Hailstorm), the state believes there's no reason for police to seek a warrant because everyone "knows" cell phones generate data when they're turned on or in use.

The brief reads in part: 'The whereabouts of a cellular telephone are not "withdrawn from public view" until it is turned off, or its SIM card removed. Anyone who has ever used a smartphone is aware that the phone broadcasts its position on the map, leading to, for example, search results and advertising tailored for the user's location, or to a "ride-sharing" car appearing at one's address. And certainly anyone who has ever used any sort of cellular telephone knows that it must be in contact with an outside cell tower to function.'"
Advertising

German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming (reuters.com) 195

An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."
Iphone

Apple Court Testimony Reveals Why It Refuses To Unlock iPhones For Police (dailydot.com) 231

blottsie writes: Newly unsealed court transcripts from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York show that Apple now refuses to unlock iPhones for law enforcement, saying "In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform." “Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions. Never has the privacy and security of customer data been as important as it is now,” Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger said at the hearing. “A hypothetical consumer could think if Apple is not in the business of accessing my data and if Apple has built a system to prevent itself from accessing my data, why is it continuing to comply with orders that don’t have a clear lawful basis in doing so?”
The Courts

Police Department Charging TV News Network $36,000 For Body Cam Footage (arstechnica.com) 186

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NYPD charged a local television station $36k to view police body camera footage. Ars reports: "As body cams continue to flourish in police departments across the nation, an ongoing debate has ensued about how much, if any, of that footage should be made public under state open-access laws. An overlooked twist to that debate, however, has now become front and center: How much should the public have to pay for the footage if the police agree to release it? News network NY1, a Time Warner Cable News operation, was billed $36,000 by the NYPD for roughly 190 hours of footage it requested under the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Now the network is suing (PDF) the police department in New York state court, complaining that the price tag is too steep. The network said the bill runs 'counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL, as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.'"
The Courts

The Best of The Worst Hollow Copyright Claims (medium.com) 70

tiltowait writes: Slashdot readers should be familiar with most if not all of these, but the list of 20 Hollow Copyright Claims is a somber reminder of the current sorry state of intellectual property laws in the United States--as anyone who's encountered a paywall or a takedown notice (or remembers Slashdot's run-in with Scientology) can attest. It serves as a call to arms that we not lose sight of the benefits to sharing knowledge.
Privacy

Uber To Pay $20,000 In Settlement On Privacy Issues (csoonline.com) 17

itwbennett writes: Uber has agreed to pay a penalty of $20,000 in a settlement with New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman for delaying telling drivers about the data breach of their personal information in 2014. The company has also agreed to tighten employee access to geo-location data of passengers, following reports that the company's executives had an aerial 'God View' of such data, the office of the attorney general said in a statement Wednesday.
Privacy

Judge Tosses Class Action Over Michaels Data Breach Citing Lack of Damages (digitalguardian.com) 138

chicksdaddy writes: Data breaches have become so common that they've taken on a kind of formality. One of the phrases that often accompany such incidents goes something like this: "[Company X] has no evidence that any of the stolen information has been used inappropriately." Or you might read that "there is no evidence of fraud linked to the stolen data." Such assurances are generally interpreted as wishful thinking. But when courts are asked to weigh in on the question of damages resulting from cyber incidents in civil suits, the question of what harm resulted from the incident is very different – and very real. To put it simply: if nobody can prove harm resulting from a cyber incident, a company can't be held liable for those damages.

That fact was underscored again late last month, when a federal judge in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York dismissed a class action suit against arts and crafts giant Michaels Stores that was filed in the wake of that company's widely-reported data breach. As part of her ruling, the judge, Joanna Seybert, cited a legal precedent set by the recent Supreme Court ruling in "Clapper v. Amnesty International," concluding that the plaintiffs hadn't proven that any harm resulted from the Michaels breach. "Simply put, Whalen has not asserted any injuries that are 'certainly impending' or based on a 'substantial risk that the harm will occur,'" Seybert wrote in her decision, referring to Mary Jane Whalen, the Michaels customer in whose name the class action suit was filed. "Thus, Whalen's claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE for lack of subject matter jurisdiction," Seybert concluded.

This isn't to say that Whalen or other Michaels stores customers were not the target of fraudsters. In fact, Whalen's attorneys presented evidence that her stolen credit card (or a clone of it) was presented for payment fraudulently in Ecuador: at a local gym and at a venue that sold concert tickets. But regulations in the U.S. exempt consumers from paying the cost of credit card fraud, and Whalen wasn't asked to pay any unreimbursed charges as a result of the fraudulent use, the court noted. Whalen's other attempts to establish "costs" associated with the breach were also disregarded. They included the cost of credit monitoring services and the cost (in time and effort) to obtain replacement cards, the intrinsic value of her credit card information and the risk of future fraud tied to the theft of her credit card data.

Television

CBS, Others Sued For Copyright Infringement Over "Soft Kitty" In Big Bang Theory (arstechnica.com) 349

UnknowingFool writes: In the popular sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, Penny has sung "Soft Kitty" to the difficult Sheldon Cooper on numerous occasions as a lullaby and to comfort him. These scenes are such fan favorites that the song lyrics are sold on merchandise. The daughters of poet Edith Newlin are suing CBS, Warner Bros, and others claiming copyright infringement for her poem, "Warm Kitty".

The situation is not a simple copyright infringement case of Warner Brothers not obtaining any permission. The poem was created in the 1930s by Newlin, but she granted permission to Willis Music to be used as lyrics in their songbook Songs for the Nursery School. Warner Brothers obtained permission from Willis Music in 2007 for the song to be used in the show. Willis Music is also named as a defendant.

AI

Will Advanced AI Spell the End of Lawyers? 287

HughPickens.com writes: Lawyers have been described as the canaries in the coal mine in the face of a wave of automation now beginning to displace highly skilled white-collar workers as the increasing reliance on so-called "e-discovery" software in lawsuits raises the specter that $35-an-hour paralegals as well as $400-an-hour lawyers could fall victim to programs that could read and analyze legal documents more quickly and accurately than humans. Now John Markoff writes in the NY Times that a new study, "Can Robots Be Lawyers?", by Dana Remus analyzes which aspects of a lawyer's job could be automated and concludes that many of the tasks that lawyers perform fall well within human behavior that cannot be easily codified. "When a task is less structured, as many tasks are," writes Remus, "it will often be impossible to anticipate all possible contingencies."

According to Markoff being a lawyer involves performing a range of tasks including counseling, appearing in court, and persuading juries. Reading documents accounts for a relatively modest portion of a lawyer's activities. Remus estimates that about 13 percent of all legal work might ultimately fall prey to automation. According to Markoff, if that amount of work disappeared in a single year, it would be devastating but implemented over many years, this amount of technological change will be less noticeable. Even in the case of start-ups like LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, two sites that can aid in the preparation of legal documents, the impact of automation will more likely be in expanding into underserved markets rather than in displacing existing legal services.. ""A careful look at existing and emerging technologies reveals that it is only relatively structured and repetitive tasks that can currently be automated," concludes Remus. "These tasks represent a relatively modest percentage of lawyers' billable hours."
IOS

Apple Faces $5 Million Lawsuit Over Allegedly Slowing the iPhone 4S With iOS 9 (mashable.com) 344

An anonymous reader writes: A $5 million lawsuit filed in New York federal court alleges that Apple's iOS 9 mobile operating software significantly slows down the iPhone 4S. According to the complaint: "The update significantly slowed down their iPhones and interfered with the normal usage of the device, leaving Plaintiff with a difficult choice: use a slow and buggy device that disrupts everyday life or spend hundreds of dollars to buy a new phone. Apple explicitly represented to the public that iOS 9 is compatible with and supports the iPhone 4S. And Apple failed to warn iPhone 4S owners that the update may or will interfere with the device's performance."
The Courts

Federal Circuit Overturns Prohibition On "Disparaging" Trademarks (arstechnica.com) 118

New submitter flopsquad writes: On December 22, the Federal Circuit released a decision overturning, on First Amendment grounds, the part of US trademark law that prohibits registration of "disparaging" marks. This case concerned the USTPO's refusal to register a mark for the Asian-American band "The Slants". However, the decision will no doubt have wider implications for brands such as the embattled Washington Redskins, whose mark was ordered canceled earlier this year.
Businesses

Apple To Pay Ericsson Patent Royalties On iPhones and iPads (cio.com) 75

itwbennett writes: In settlement of a long-standing dispute over patents that Ericsson considers essential to the implementation of a number of mobile communications standards, including GSM, the 3G standard UMTS and LTE, Apple has agreed to pay Ericsson royalties on sales of iPhones and iPads. While the companies would not disclose further details of their agreement, Ericsson gave a hint about its value. For the full year 2015, Ericsson predicts its intellectual property rights revenue will amount to between 13 billion and 14 billion Swedish krona ($1.64 billion). In comparison, it reported IPR revenue of 10.6 billion krona for the full year 2014, including a 4.2 billion krona lump sum in settlement of a similar global dispute with Samsung Electronics.
Piracy

Cox Is Liable For Pirating Subscribers, Ordered To Pay $25 Million (torrentfreak.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: A federal jury reached a verdict that Cox Communications must pay $25 million to BMG Rights Management for failing to disconnect subscribers accused of online piracy. TorrentFreak reports: "During the trial hearings BMG revealed that the tracking company Rightscorp downloaded more than 150,000 copies of their copyrighted works directly from Cox subscribers. It also became apparent that Cox had received numerous copyright infringement warnings from Rightscorp which it willingly decided not to act on.The case was restricted to 1,397 copyrighted works and a six-person jury awarded $25 million in damages. The award is lower than the statutory maximum, which would have been over $200 million."

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