Tag: court

Judges question Apple’s Samsung harm

Samsung Logo GrillworkApple received a shock in a US Appeals court when judges actaully questioned if it had been really financially harmed by Samsung stealing its ideas.

Apple told a US appeals court that rival Samsung should be barred from selling products that infringe on its smartphone patents, but the judges were skeptical.

Judge Kimberly Moore was skeptical that Apple was being harmed since it already licenses some technology to other companies. “You’ve already licensed these patents up the wazoo!” she said.

For those who don’t speak American, she was saying that it was difficult to claim you were damaged by the patent information being used, when you gave it to lots of other people for a small fee.

In the latest round, Apple is seeking an injunction against sales of some Samsung products it says infringe on its patents for technologies such as slide-to-unlock, auto-correct and quick links that can, for instance, send a telephone number from an email to the phone dialer.

Apple lawyer William Lee said Samsung could quickly design work-arounds for the patents but did not do so. He told the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington that Samsung was harming Apple.

Moore disagreed: “You’ve licensed them to everyone. So why is it irreparable harm if Samsung uses the patents?”

Judge Sharon Prost said she was “having a hard time getting past irreparable harm.”

Lee said other smartphone companies, like Google and Huawei had not licensed the technology.

To make matters worse, Samsung lawyer Kathleen Sullivan said the South Korean company had all but stopped using the patents, so no injunction was needed.

Moore lost his rag a bit and wondered then if Samsung had stopped using the patents, why were they still fighting it. “Why am I wasting my time?”

It is a good question. The so called thermonuclear war started by Steve Jobs when Samsung used his rounded rectangle design failed to do anything other than keep lawyers rich. Now it seems pointless to continue it. But it is a bit on the nose to expect Samsung to quit.

Dotcom denies defence case collapsing

budillionaire-kim-dotcomKim Dotcom’s US lawyer has denied that a guilty plea by one of the Megaupload’s former employees could cause his case to collapse.

Andrus Nomm did a deal with prosecutors where he was sentenced to a year in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement while working for the now defunct file-sharing site.

The US is trying to extradite Mr Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, from New Zealand to stand trial.

Nomm, a 36-year-old Estonian citizen, agreed to the movie studio’s estimate of $400m of harm to copyright owners as part of the deal.

Also as part of the deal Nomm had acknowledged that through his work as a computer programmer for Megaupload, he had become aware of copyright-infringing material being stored on its sites, including films and TV shows that had contained FBI anti-piracy warnings.

Assistant attorney general Leslie Caldwell said that the conviction was a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history.

Dotcom has long maintained that he had not encouraged users to upload pirated material, and has said he cannot be held responsible for what others had stored on his service.

He said that he had no grudge against Nomm, saying that he had nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Mr Dotcom’s lawyer attempted to play down the significance of the latest development.

Nomm was interested in just getting one year and being done with this, essentially he lost on procedure rather than merit.  It looked more like a scripted guilty plea that was more of a Hollywood public relations stunt.

He thought it strange that Nomm pleaded guilty as Nomm was involved particularly in video streaming which was not a copyright crime in the United States.

He also said as part of his plea bargain that no filtering was going on, but the failure to filter was at most a civil and not a criminal issue.

The issue as to whether all this case is civil and not criminal appears to be at the heart of Dotcom’s defence. If the movie studios can convince the US government that its civil cases are criminal conspiracies then it can use government-funded police as private security guards and lock people up rather than suing for damages.

An extradition hearing for Mr Dotcom and three of the other accused is scheduled to take place in Auckland in June.

Top judge calls for Ebay style courts

courtA top UK judge has called for the creation of civil courts which are held online, citing online auction outfit eBay as a method which could work.

Lord Dyson, the head of civil justice in England and Wales, said the justice system had been slow to take advantage of internet technology, and described proposals for a state-run online court as an “exciting milestone”.

A recent report by the Civil Justice Council said an online system – which would operate for cases involving less than £25,000 – would allow documents to be submitted online for examination, with the option of telephone hearings.

And the group went on to illustrate how eBay dealt with a “remarkable” 60 million disputes between traders every year using an “online dispute resolution” system.

Lord Dyson stressed that the idea was still at an early stage, and said transparency – allowing the public and media access to the proceedings – was still a “really important question” which needed to be sorted out.


Apple sued over goldfish sized memory

AJ21D2 Goldfish swimming in bowl. Image shot 2004. Exact date unknown.The fruity cargo cult, Apple has been sued by some of its customers for tinkering with the memory on the iPhone.

The  lawsuit claims that that upgrades to the iOS 8 operating system are causing the phone’s memory to fill up, and that the company has misled customers about it.

Miami residents Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara accuse Apple of “storage capacity misrepresentations and omissions” relating to Apple’s 8GB and 16GB iPhones, iPads and iPods. Orshan has two iPhone 5 and two iPads while Endara had purchased an iPhone 6.

They say that upgrades to the operating system end up taking up as much as 23 percent of the storage space on their devices and they have lots of  8 x 10 coloured glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one to prove it.

“In addition to making material misrepresentations and omissions to prospective purchasers of Devices with iOS 8 pre-installed, Apple also makes misrepresentations and omissions to owners of Devices with predecessor operating systems,” according to the complaint, which seeks class-action status for others who bought 16GB devices.

“These misrepresentations and omissions cause these consumers to ‘upgrade’ their Devices from iOS 7 (or other operating systems) to iOS 8,” it said. “Apple fails to disclose that upgrading from iOS 7 to iOS 8 will cost a Device user between 600 MB and 1.3 GB of storage space – a result that no consumer could reasonably anticipate.”

The motive for the alleged crime is that it encourages customers to move to the monthly-fee-based iCloud storage system. Apple “aggressively” marketed the iCloud about the same time that it launched the new OS.

“Using these sharp business tactics, Defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, such as when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawsuit contends. “To put this in context, each gigabyte of storage Apple short-changes its customers amounts to approximately 400-500 high resolution photographs.”


Sony sues for hacker leak

leakSony has been sending out  legal notices to those publishing its leaked e-mails.

Over the holidays Sony threatened Twitter with legal action if they allow users to publish the leaked e-mails Sony calls “stolen”.

A DMCA notice was sent to Twitter demanding that the tweets be taken down because the e-mails were copyrighted. Twitter so far has not done anything about the tweets.

Online media outlets and blogs such as Buzzfeed and Torrentfreak have been publishing leaked information too, and it is possible that Sony is testing the legal waters of stopping the spread of embarrassing information by going after a soft target.

Of course, that has not worked and Twitter has kept the accounts of its users up and running.

It is a moot point if Sony will stop any more embarrassing details from the hack coming to light. After all the US Government could not stop embarrassing information being leaked online via Wikileaks and other news sites.

India bans OnePlus smartphone

flaggOnePlus is about to see its products banned in India after a ruling by the Delhi High Court that has prohibited the company from importing, marketing and selling its flagship device.

Local manufacturer Micromax that says OnePlus is infringing on the former’s exclusive deal with Cyanogen to make the Yu series of smartphones running on CyanogenMod, with the first device slated to launch tomorrow.

OnePlus ships the One with CyanogenMod on-board, so the Delhi High Court banned the company from importing and marketing any phones with CyanogenMod’s logo on the back.

OnePlus said it was working on its own ROM to power the One but it will take until February to get it ready. Cyanogen had confirmed that it would not be offering updates to the Indian variant of the One, so OnePlus will have its work cut out getting itself ready.

The OnePlus was popular and has already gone out of stock from Amazon India, which is the only retailer for the device.

The Delhi High Court has said that OnePlus can sue Cyanogen as per Californian laws for breaching its contract. It looks like the case will run and run, but it does mean that the product will be locked out of the lucrative Indian market.

Comcast gets customers to pay its power bill

nikolapic US telco Comcast has a wizard way to set up public Wi-Fi hotspots on the cheap.  It thought it could get its customers to use their home routers to send a “secondary signal” and get a decent coverage.

Now it appears that some people have a problem with the comms company effectively powering its network on their electricity bill. They also feel that they are inviting a security problem and stuffing up their own internet connections.

Two East Bay residents are suing Comcast for plugging their home’s wireless router into what they call a power-wasting, Internet-clogging, privacy threatening network of public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claims Comcast is “exploiting them for profit” by using their Pittsburg home’s router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots.

Comcast is trying to compete with major mobile phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country’s largest cities. The company is activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company. It plans to spread to 8 million hotspots by the end of the year.

The secondary signal is supposed to be separate from the private Wi-Fi channel customers use, and it was intended for houseguests or Comcast subscribers who happen to be in range and using mobile devices.

But Comcast started activating the secondary channel in the Bay Area this summer and although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission and places “the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers.”

The suit quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push “tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers.”

Under heavy use, the secondary channel adds 30 to 40 percent more costs to a customer’s electricity bill than the modem itself.

The suit also said “the data and information on a Comcast customer’s network is at greater risk” because the hotspot network “allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers.”

Although Comcast has said it has enough bandwidth to handle the extra traffic Grear and Harris have suffered from “decreased, inadequate speeds on their home Wi-Fi network.

The suit asks for unspecified damages and an injunction preventing Comcast from using home wireless routers for its hotspot network.




IPod DRM court case could collapse on technicality

novità-apple-2013After ten years trying to get an antitrust case against Apple to court, the case might collapse because the plaintiffs can’t prove they ever bought an iPod.

The antitrust case was messy and would have bought a fair few skeletons out of the closet proving that Jobs’ Mob had done its best to kill off rivals with some dirty deeds ordered by its Messiah Steve Jobs.

The case is so old that Jobs even recorded a video testimony defending his actions. The lawsuit covers iPods purchased between September 2006 and March 2009. Lawyers representing both consumers and businesses claim that the restrictions meant Apple could inflate the prices of iPod in an anti-competitive manner. They are seeking $350m in damages, which could be tripled under US competition laws.

However, now it seems that he case might get chucked out on a technicality. Lawyers for Apple have raised a last-minute challenge saying new evidence suggested that the two women named as plaintiffs may not have bought iPod models covered by the lawsuit.

Apple lawyers checked the serial number on the lead plaintiff’s iPod Touch and found it was bought in July 2009. The other main plaintiff, Melanie Wilson, also bought iPods outside the relevant timeframe, they indicated.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said at the end of the trial’s third day of testimony in Oakland, California said she was concerned that she did not have a plaintiff.

Lawyer Bonny Sweeny said that her team was checking for other receipts. She conceded that while Ms Wilson’s iPod may not be covered, an estimated eight million consumers are believed to have purchased the affected devices.

It is a pity as so far it has emerged in the trail that between 2007 and 2009, if an iPod owner tried to sync their device with iTunes and had music from another digital store on the device, they would receive an error message telling them to restore their iPod to factory settings. This effectively wiped all non-iTunes music from the device.

Apple maintained at the trial that the software and restrictions were necessary to protect users from malicious content and hackers.

Microsoft sues the US taxman

MSlogoSoftware giant Microsoft has sued the US taxman as part of a move to find out about a law firm hired by US tax authorities in a review of how the software company books sales between subsidiaries.

Vole claims the IRS entered into a contract this year with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, which specialises in litigation. The agency is paying Quinn Emanuel more than $2 million in connection with its examination of Microsoft tax returns between 2004 and 2009, the court filing said.

Microsoft wanted more information, but the IRS had not fulfilled a Freedom of Information request seeking the complete Quinn Emanuel contract and other documents.

“Government agencies, funded by citizens, have an obligation of transparency under the Freedom of Information Act,” Microsoft said in a statement.

At issue are how multinational corporations value goods and services moving across international borders from one of their units to another. These cash transfers frequently reduce a corporation’s global tax costs.

The IRS has scrutinised technology companies, including Microsoft and Amazon over how they account for such transfer pricing and it appeared to using Quinn Emanuel.

That outfit represented the Federal Housing Finance Agency in high-profile lawsuits against financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs Group over the quality of mortgage-backed securities they sold before the financial crash.

It seems a little odd that Microsoft, instead of being concerned about a potential IRS investigation is going to court to find out who the taxman is hiring as his lawyers.


Copyright troll used robo-harassment

trollCopyright troll Rightscorp is being dragged from under its bridge to face the music in court for harassing victims with illegal harassing robo-calls.

Morgan Pietz, one of the lawyers who wrapped “copyright troll” Prenda Law in judicial red tape is targeting Rightscorp saying the outfit made illegal, harassing robo-calls to his clients, who were accused of illegal downloading. The lawsuit says that Rightscorp broke the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law which limits how automated calling devices can be used.

Under the suit, Pietz claims that Rghtscorp was a “debt collector” but made harassing phone calls and didn’t abide by federal or California debt collection laws. Rightscorp company managers, including CEO Christopher Sabec and COO Robert Steele, and Rightscorp’s clients are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Violations of federal debt collection laws can result in damages of $1,000 and include provisions for paying lawyers’ fees in successful cases.  TCPA violations can cost $500 per incident, and that can be tripled if the violations were wilful.

Pietz says he doesn’t know how many violations have occurred. But he says just one of his named plaintiffs was subject to enough illegal phone calls to add up to tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

One victim, Jeanie Reif,  had her mobile phone called every day for a couple of months, Pietz said. And there could be thousands of members of this class.

If a judge agrees with Pietz that the phone calls were harassing and illegal, Rightscorp could be on the hook for many millions of dollars and that could send it under. The company has lost $6.5 million since its inception in 2011.

If it goes under the enforcement company’s marquee music clients, who include BMG Rights Management and Warner Brothers could end up having to pay up.

Samsung cannot stop Microsoft

microsoft-in-chinaA US judge has rejected Samsung bid to put Microsoft’s smartphone patent royalties case on hold while the South Korean company pursues arbitration in Hong Kong.

New York Judge Jed Rakoff said the lawsuit would proceed despite the arbitration.

Microsoft sued Samsung in August, claiming it broke a collaboration agreement by refusing to make royalty payments after the US company announced its intention to buy Nokia’s handset business in September 2013.

The lawsuit claimed Samsung owed $6.9 million in interest on more than $1 billion in patent royalties it delayed paying. Samsung said that the Nokia acquisition in April violated its 2011 deal with Microsoft.

Samsung has gone to arbitration at the Hong Kong office of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Samsung  had agreed in 2011 to pay Microsoft royalties in exchange for a patent license covering phones that ran Google Android operating system.

Samsung also agreed to develop Windows phones and share confidential business information with Microsoft, according to the filing.

But once Microsoft acquired Nokia, it became a direct hardware competitor with Samsung, the filing said, and Samsung refused to share some sensitive information due to antitrust concerns.

Oracle and SAP bury the hatchet

9545Oracle and SAP have settled their long-running copyright litigation for $356.7 million over improper downloads of Oracle files.

For those who came in late, Oracle sued SAP over its TomorrowNow unit, which the German company bought to provide software support to Oracle customers at lower rates than what Oracle charged, hoping to persuade them to become SAP customers.

In 2007 Oracle noticed thousands of suspicious downloads of its software. A California jury awarded Oracle $1.3 billion in 2010, but that amount was knocked down in subsequent judicial rulings. Earlier this year a federal appeals court said Oracle could either accept $356.7 million, or opt for a retrial against SAP.

Oracle’s general counsel Dorian Daley called the end of the case a “landmark recovery “ and was “extremely gratified that our efforts to protect innovation and our shareholders’ interests are duly rewarded”.

SAP said it was pleased that the courts “ultimately accepted SAP’s arguments to limit Oracle’s excessive damages claims and that Oracle has finally chosen to end this matter.”

SAP conceded that its employees were illegally downloading Oracle files, but it could not agree with Oracle on how much it should pay. The 2010 trial between the two companies was widely watched, as top Oracle executives Larry Ellison and Safra Catz testified.
There was also a criminal probe, which SAP agreed to pay $20 million to make go away.

US spectrum launch delayed

LPSpectrumThe chance of the US leading the world when it comes to hi-spec mobile networks were put on ice by its regulatory authority.

The FCC has delayed the incentive auction and has prompted the agency to push the spectrum swap until 2016 thanks to a legal challenge.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) started the court case because the incentive auction could hurt TV stations that choose not to participate in the auction.

Final briefs in the case are not due until late January 2015, meaning a decision is probably not likely until mid-2015.

An FCC spokesman said it was confident it wouldl prevail in court, but given the reality of that schedule, the complexity of designing and implementing the auction, and the need for all auction participants to have certainty well in advance of the auction, a delay is necessary.

The spectrum auction will allow broadcasters to sell their unused spectrum to mobile carriers and get a cut of the purchase price. NAB has been cautiously supportive of the move, but the group’s lawsuit says that the FCC is not providing adequate protection for broadcasters who decline to participate.

NAB said it was not its narrowly focused lawsuit which was the cause for delay. NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton said the  NAB has said repeatedly, it is more important to get the auction done right than right now. Given its complexity, there is good reason Congress gave the FCC 10 years to complete the proceeding.

Workers reject Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe

courtroom_1_lgEmployees suing Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe over running a hiring cartel have asked an appeals court not to approve a $324.5 million settlement in the case.

Plaintiff workers accused Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe in a 2011 lawsuit of conspiring to avoid poaching each other’s employees. The companies agreed to a $324.5 million settlement earlier this year.

US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California rejected the proposed class action settlement, saying the amount was too low. The companies appealed last month, saying she committed “clear legal errors”.

The workers said that although they believed the $324.5 million deal originally warranted approval, the judge had the proper authority to reject it and they would “defer to Koh’s sound judgment about how best to oversee this litigation”.

Tech employees alleged that the conspiracy limited their job mobility and, as a result, kept a lid on salaries. The case was interesting because it appeared to be another conspiracy organised by Steve Jobs.  Jobs also conspired with book publishers to keep the price of eBooks artificially high.

Plaintiffs based their allegations of conspiracy largely on emails circulated among Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs and former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt.

Koh repeatedly referred to a related deal last year involving Disney and Intuit. Apple and Google workers got proportionally less in the latest agreement compared with the one involving Disney, Koh said.

To match the earlier settlement, the latest deal “would need to total at least $380 million,” Koh said.

Yahoo accused of Mexican stand-off

zapataTwo Mexican companies have sued Yahoo and law firm Baker & McKenzie in New York federal court, accusing them of engineering a conspiracy to avoid a $2.7 billion judgment.

Worldwide Directories S.A. de C.V. and Ideas Interactivas S.A. de C.V claim that Yahoo and Baker & McKenzie enlisted the help of a senior Mexican judge and other court personnel to “corrupt the appeals process and overturn the judgment.”

It all started with a contractual dispute over deals between Yahoo and the companies over an online search project in Mexico. All sides fell out and the companies filed a lawsuit in 2011 in Mexico, claiming Yahoo had breached its duties by terminating the agreements prematurely.

In December 2012, a Mexican judge issued a $2.7 billion preliminary judgment against Yahoo.

According to Thursday’s lawsuit, Yahoo and its lawyers at Baker & McKenzie successfully reduced the award to $172,500 by instructing a corrupt Mexican federal judge to meet in secret with the appellate chief judge and “intimidate” her into slashing the damages.

The appeals court also granted Yahoo a $3 million judgment on its counterclaims against the companies because of the coercion, the lawsuit said.

The company has evidence of the conspiracy in the form of sworn statements from witnesses who directly observed the misconduct, including the original trial judge who issued the judgment.

David Stone, a lawyer for the companies based in New Jersey, said the lawsuit was intended to prevent two major US corporations from “interfering with the Mexican judicial process.”