snydeq writes: A federal jury in Delaware has found Apple's iPhone infringes on three patents held by MobileMedia, a patent-holding company formed by Sony, Nokia and MPEG LA, InfoWorld reports. The jury found that the iPhone directly infringed U.S. patent 6,070,068, which was issued to Sony and covers a method for controlling the connecting state of a call, U.S. patent 6,253,075, which covers call rejection, and U.S. patent 6,427,078, which covers a data processing device. MobileMedia has garnered the unflattering descriptor "patent troll" from some observers. The company, which was formed in 2010, holds some 300 patents in all.
snydeq writes: "While Apple and Samsung fight over patents and prototypes, other copyright trolls are waging an X-rated battle on innocent users, as lawyers representing some adult movie companies are sending letters accusing users of illegally downloading their movies and saying that, for a price, they can make the charges go away. "Cases like this, usually involving pornographic content, are very common," Mitch Stoltz, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation said. At least 250,000 individuals have been named in group lawsuits over the last few years. There's a very common belief that if someone pirates your Wi-Fi connection or uses your computer without your permission, you are responsible for illegal downloads of copyrighted material. That's not true, says Stoltz; the law is quite clear. However, the lawyers who bring those cases use that misperception to convince innocent people that they had better pay up. Since $3,500 is just a fraction of the money it would take to fight a case in court, most people simply settle."
snydeq writes: "New York-based law firm Gioconda Law Group has filed a lawsuit against self-proclaimed cyber security developer Arthur Kenzie for allegedly using typosquatting tactics to set up a bogus Web domain for intercepting email messages intended for the firm. Kenzie has similarly set up so-called doppelganger domains to harvest emails intended for companies such as McDonalds, MasterCard, NewsCorp, and McAfee, the law firm alleges. According to Gioconda, which specializes in IP protection law, Kenzie registered the domain name GiocondoLaw.com, which is strikingly similar to the firm's actual domain, GiocondaLaw.com. Kenzie has allegedly used the doppelganger domain to create fake email accounts with which to intentionally intercept private emails addressed to the firm's lawyers and staff."
snydeq writes: "Law professor Tim Wu sheds light on a growing legal concern: the extent to which computers have a constitutional right to free speech. 'This may sound like a fanciful question, a matter of philosophy or science fiction. But it’s become a real issue with important consequences,' Wu writes. First it was Google defending — and winning — a civil suit on grounds that search results are constitutionally protected speech. Now it is doubling down on the argument amidst greater federal scrutiny. 'Consider that Google has attracted attention from both antitrust and consumer protection officials after accusations that it has used its dominance in search to hinder competitors and in some instances has not made clear the line between advertisement and results. Consider that the “decisions” made by Facebook’s computers may involve widely sharing your private information.... Ordinarily, such practices could violate laws meant to protect consumers. But if we call computerized decisions “speech,” the judiciary must consider these laws as potential censorship, making the First Amendment, for these companies, a formidable anti-regulatory tool.'"
snydeq writes: "The jury decided yesterday that Google did not infringe on Oracle's patents related to Android. Fantastic news — but the wider view offers little comfort, writes Simon Phipps. 'While the specific news of the patent phase verdict is good news for most people, the case still tells a sad story about software patents. The complexity found by the jury shows why software patents fail to deliver on the contract with society that they should represent. Unlike real patents, software patents contain little of value to the programmer: no sample code, only stylized algorithms. Instead, they consist mainly of a list of ways a lawyer can assert that the patent has been infringed. Even then, they are linguistically complex, leaving juries scratching their heads to interpret.'"
snydeq writes: "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister sees Oracle's suit against Google boiling down to calling dibs on the Java APIs, and if the court agrees, this will be bad news for developers everywhere. 'Oracle's argument is roughly akin to me claiming that because I own the copyright to a book of commonly used English phrases, publishers of Shakespeare need to pay me royalties. If it holds true for Java, it will hold true for any programming language, from any source. That could radically change the relationship between developers and platform vendors,' McAllister writes. 'For one thing, it raises questions about programming language licensing. If the most basic language APIs can be copyrighted, would that not in effect make any program written in any language a derivative work of that language's APIs? How would that work in practice? Who would developers have to pay? What rights would they have to sign away?'"
snydeq writes: "Oracle and Google kicked off a high-stakes jury trial in San Francisco on Monday, with Oracle arguing that Google ran roughshod over its intellectual property rights because the search giant was scared of getting left behind in the mobile advertising business. "This case is about Google's use, in Google's business, of somebody else's property without permission," said Michael Jacobs, an attorney for Oracle, in his opening remarks to the jury. Jacobs cited several emails to and from Google executives that he said would show that Google knew it needed a license for Java and that, having failed to negotiate one, it developed Android with Java anyway."
snydeq writes: "Yahoo's action against Facebook reminds us why most open source developers hate software patents — and what one community has done about them, writes Simon Phipps. 'Patents may work in other industries, where the cost of innovation is so high that a temporary, state-sanctioned monopoly provides just enough time to gain a return on the investment. But that investment-return ratio has a completely different value for software. It turns out that software patents have little bearing on encouraging innovation,' Phipps writes. 'While some business leaders bluster about how a company they are attacking has "stolen their patented ideas," in software that is almost never the case. Programming is all about solving problems, and since necessity is the mother of invention, most programmers invent things from scratch every day, without any need to use other people's patent filings to do so.'"
snydeq writes: "The open source community should feel a little safer from software patent attacks, writes InfoWorld's Simon Phipps. 'The Open Invention Network (OIN), a consortium of Linux contributors formed as a self-defense against software patents, has extended the definition of Linux so that a whopping 700 new software packages are covered, including many developer favorites. Just one hitch: The new definition also includes carve-outs that put all Linux developers on notice that Phillips and Sony reserve the right to sue over virtualization, search, user interfaces, and more.'"
snydeq writes: "A U.S. judge has ordered Motorola Mobility and Google to turn over information to Apple on Google's acquisition in 2005 of Android, its development of the Android OS and the proposed acquisition of Motorola. According to Motorola, the information Apple seeks regarding Google's acquisition of Motorola and Android is not relevant to any damages asserted in the case."
snydeq writes: "As companies increasingly enable employees to bring their own devices into business environments, significant legal questions remain regarding the data consumed and created on these employee-owned technologies. 'Strictly speaking, employees have no privacy rights for what's transmitted on company equipment, but employers don't necessarily have access rights to what's transmitted on employees' own devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and home PCs. Also unclear are the rights for information that moves between personal and corporate devices, such as between one employee who uses her own Android and an employee who uses the corporate-issued iPhone.... This confusion extends to trade secrets and other confidential data, as well as to e-discovery. When employees store company data on their personal devices, that could invalidate the trade secrets, as they've left the employer's control. Given that email clients such as Outlook and Apple Mail store local copies (again, on smartphones, tablets, and home PCs) of server-based email, theoretically many companies' trade secrets are no longer secret.'"
snydeq writes: "InfoWorld's Bill Snyder brings news of a lawsuit against Infosys for the fraudulent use of temporary visas to import foreign workers who would normally have to be admitted on H-1Bs. In the suit, whistle-blower Jack Palmer claims he was disciplined and ostracized after declining to write fraudulent letters in support of visa applicants who were really planning to work in the United States for Infosys. 'Palmer's charges are ugly. If they prove to be true, one of India's most important and respected companies will have been exposed for engaging in a pattern of deliberate fraud and tax evasion, all while thumbing its nose at laws designed to protect American workers.'"
snydeq writes: "Gripe Line's Christina Tynan-Wood lends insights into the easy money and great satisfaction that can come from suing telemarketers. 'These companies have decided that even a few settlements a year is a cost of business that cuts only slightly into the profits it gleans from this form of marketing. You are very likely to get a cash settlement if you haul one of those firms into small-claims court.' And if it's a public corporation, all the more easy, as they are not allowed to have a judgment against their books and will usually settle. How much money do you stand to win suing? 'If the company called someone who is on the Do Not Call List, that is a $500 violation. If the consumer asks for that company's Do Not Call manual and doesn't receive it? Another $500. Did the company block its own caller ID? That will cost them another $500.' Triple that in instances were the intent is to deceive."
snydeq writes: "Open Sources' Savio Rodrigues argues a less obvious answer to the question of why Oracle is suing Google: because Oracle wants a tighter reign over Java EE for revenue potential. 'Enterprises have invested billions in Java EE technology over the past decade based on the value of open standards and multiple implementations of those standards. The ability to migrate among Java EE vendors has helped minimize fears of vendor lock-in,' Rodrigues argues. 'However, Java EE's portability value proposition has come under scrutiny from the likes of Google App Engine and VMforce from EMC VMware and Salesforce.com. Google clearly states that only a subset of Java EE APIs are supported on GAE. VMforce uses a set of APIs that are only available through Salesforce.com. The fact that both platforms are cloud-based and not Java EE-compliant likely hasn't gone unnoticed by Oracle.' And if organizations prove willing to trade productivity and TCO for the higher degree of vendor lock-in associated with a cloud platform as a service, Oracle stands to lose significantly."
snydeq writes: Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister suggests that Oracle's Android lawsuit is just the first step in the long-awaited resurrection of the Java platform. 'To suggest that Oracle is being heavy-handed ignores the larger truth, which is that in recent years Sun's governance of Java has been meek and ineffective. In the absence of strong leadership, the Java community has been saddled with a slow and burdensome development process that has left the future of the platform in serious doubt. The complaint against Google is proof that Oracle aims to change all that — and it could be just what the Java community needed,' McAllister writes. 'Google claims Oracle's actions are "an attack on the Java community," but that would only be true if Google were promoting Java. To the extent that Android and the Dalvik VM are a divergent implementation that flouts the established Java standards, however, Oracle is right in describing Android as a competitor to pure Java. And as the owner of the Java intellectual property, Oracle has the right — and, perhaps, the responsibility — to defend the platform against such a competitor.' After all, if Microsoft can't splinter the community by subsetting Java, why should Google be allowed to do so?