iPhone 4 “Antennagate” owners beginning to receive settlement checks from Apple

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

It’s not a whopping amount of justice, but it’s still justice.

Or at least a settlement.

Per 9to5Mac, iPhone 4 owners who participated in a class action lawsuit against Apple over antenna attenuation complaints are finally starting to receive settlement checks.

More than a year ago, Apple reached a settlement with attorneys for the class action complaint, agreeing to pay US$53 million to make the problem go away after supposedly “misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software.”

Owners who cashed in on Cupertino’s earlier offer of a free bumper or case were not eligible for the settlement, so if you haven’t seen a check, that could be why. According to recipients, the settlement checks for a whopping US$15 were issued on April 17 and must be cashed by July 16, 2013 or they are null and void.

Why only 15 smackeroos? Apparently the class action lawyers took home a US$16 million fee from the settlement, which doesn’t make anyone feel any better…

If you’ve received a settlement check for the iPhone 4 antenna issue, please let us know in the comments.

Class action lawsuit launched over alleged LG display flaws in 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina Display notebook

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Date: Friday, March 15th, 2013, 07:13
Category: Hardware, Legal, MacBook Pro, News

If you feel like the 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro has let you down, you’re not along.

Per 9to5Mac and Law360, since Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, there have been a growing number of complaints from customers experiencing issues with the product. By far the most reported problem is one that causes a burn-in or ghosting problem on the device’s display. This has resulted in a support thread boasting over 364,769 views.

Apple presently uses two display suppliers for the device, LG and Samsung, and it wasn’t until months later that many started speculating the source of the issue was with LG. Today, MacBook Pro user Beau Hodges has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against Apple in a federal court in California alleging MacBook Pro customers have no way of telling which MacBooks have an LG display at the time of purchase. Hodges is apparently seeking unspecified damages for Retina MacBook Pro customers nationwide:

The electronics giant must know about the differences between the two versions because it spent a considerable amount of time testing the products during research and development and has been inundated with complaints from customers about the LG screen’s problems, according to the suit.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Many users report Apple replacing their LG displays with a Samsung-made display following the issues, but Apple has yet to confirm the problem publicly and some users with Samsung-made displays continue to experience graphic-related issues. Some reports indicated that Apple might have addressed issues with the Retina MacBook Pro in a minor refresh to the device last month, but many of the major problems still exist according to some consumers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lawmakers drafting bipartisan bill that would allow for cell phone unlocking after contract terms have been met

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Date: Tuesday, March 12th, 2013, 07:30
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

Well, maybe SOME aspects of the government sort of work.

Per AppleInsider, U.S. Senator Al Franken and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow users to legally unlock their smartphone once their contract subsidy has concluded.

The Democrat from Minnesota announced on Tuesday that the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act” would restore an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and allow users to unlock their cell phone once their contract expires.

Joining Franken were Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

The senators defined the bill as a “narrow and common sense proposal” that they believe will promote competition and improve consumer choice.

The bill was prompted by a Library of Congress ruling made in late 2012 that determined cell phone unlocking would be removed as a legal exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As of Jan. 26, 2013, unauthorized unlocking of all newly purchased phones became illegal. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one.” — Sen. Al Franken

“Right now, folks who decide to change cellphone carriers are frequently forced to buy a new phone or risk the possibility of criminal penalties, and that’s just not fair for consumers,” Franken said. “This bipartisan legislation will quickly allow consumers to unlock their current phones instead of having to purchase a new one. I support this commonsense solution to save consumers money.”

Last week, President Barack Obama’s administration also came out in support of legalizing the unlocking of cell phones and tablets. Their endorsement was given in response to a White House petition created by Sina Khanifar, which to date has received nearly 115,000 signatures.

Khanifar said he frequently travels from Europe to San Francisco, Calif. Those international trips have made cell phone locking not only a nuisance, but also a financial burden.

“Anyone who travels internationally, and most people do at some point, you won’t be able to take your cell phone with you,” he said. “Trying to use it with the existing roaming fees that carriers charge is almost impossible because they’re so exorbitant.”

The proposed Senate bill would alleviate those issues for consumers like Khanifar. A similar bipartisan bill is also expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives this week.

“It just makes sense that cell phone users should be able to do what they want with their phones after satisfying their initial service contract,” Hatch said. “This bill reinstates that ability, while also ensuring that copyrights are not violated.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Lawmakers looking to draft legislation to legalize cellphone unlocking

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Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 06:13
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

This could lead to something interesting.

Per 9to5Mac, following a statement from the White House on Monday confirming it would support “narrow legislative fixes” to make unlocking cellphones legal again, several lawmakers have announced plans to introduce legislation. According to a report from The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Chair of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights Senator Amy Klobuchar have confirmed they will introduce bills in support of the legalization of cellphone unlocking:

“I intend to work in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to restore users’ ability to unlock their phones and provide them with the choice and freedom that we have all come to expect in the digital era,” Leahy said in a statement.

The Judiciary Committee, which handles copyright issues, would likely have jurisdiction over any bill to legalize cellphone unlocking.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, said she plans to introduce her own bill this week.

During a recent panel discussion on Capitol Hill, other lawmakers voiced their support for the legislation, including Representatives Darrell Issa and Jared Polis, while The Hill reported the Federal Communication Commissions’ Jessica Rosenworcel “encouraged Congress to re-examine the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”

The decision was made by the Library of Congress in October to make unlocking cellphones illegal, and that policy officially took effect in January. Following the White House’s statement in response to a petition with over 110,000 signatures, the Library of Congress issued a statement and agreed that “the question of locked cell phones has implications for telecommunications policy and that it would benefit from review and resolution in that context.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

White House backs petition for unlocking of phones after contract expires

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Date: Monday, March 4th, 2013, 14:05
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

If you were looking for a bit of positive news today, this might be it.

Per Engadget, a recent ruling that effectively bans third-party phone unlocking has elicited 114,322 electronic signatures to the White House. Now a petition to the White House, which asks that DMCA protection of phone unlockers be reconsidered, has finally received an official response. R. David Edelman, Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation and Privacy, had this to say:

“The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties,” Edelman writes. All told, the response matches that of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which wrote a letter to the Librarian of Congress in support of extending the exemption last year.

Edelman went on to state: “The Obama Administration would support a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes in the telecommunications space that make it clear: neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation.” We’re not going to see immediate change, but it appears that a chain of events is now in motion in which the FCC and Congress potentially play a huge role.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Wireless handset unlocking becomes illegal in U.S. without carrier permission

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Date: Monday, January 28th, 2013, 08:45
Category: iPhone, Legal, wireless

Well, here’s the thing that’ll drive you nuts today.

Per Electronista and TechCrunch, phone unlocking without carrier permission is now illegal in the United States. A 90-day transition period, permitting the practice after an exemption added to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was reversed in October, has now run out. The expiration of the exemption now forces customers to either ask and potentially pay carriers for unlocking services, or to buy phones that have been unlocked beforehand.

The exemption was put in place after a campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2010. Three exemptions were applied for, including making jailbreaking legal and the renewal of an existing exemption that permitted phone unlocking. In October, the U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress reviewed and then overturned the unlocking exemption, citing the relative ease for consumers to either get an unlocked handset or to unlock a phone through a carrier. A 90-day transition period was then put in place, which has since ran out.

Penalties for unlocking, as outlined by CTIA, range from the carrier’s “actual damages and any additional profits of the violator”, to a court-awarded statutory damages of between US$200 and US$2500 per individual unlock, on the Civil Penalties side. Criminal penalties would see violators fined at most US$500,000 or imprisoned for up to five years, or both, for a first offense, with the values doubled for subsequent offenses.

In light of the unlocking exemption’s closure, a “We The People” petition asking for the Librarian of Congress to rescind the decision or to make unlocking permanently legal, has gathered over 25,000 signatures.

Jailbreaking and rooting of smartphones continues to be legal.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple, Samsung come to terms over Galaxy S III Mini, remove it from forthcoming patent infringement case claims

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Date: Monday, December 31st, 2012, 08:47
Category: Legal, News

Not that this is going to entirely alleviate the ongoing conflict between the Hatfields and the McCoys, but it’s a small step in the right direction.

Per AppleInsider, a court document filed on Friday revealed that Apple is dropping all claims against Samsung’s Galaxy S III Mini smartphone after the Korean company said it has no plans to formally import and sell the handset in the U.S.

In Apple’s filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, a reply in support of a November motion to amend its claims against Samsung, the company agreed to drop the Galaxy S III Mini from the suit in response to the Galaxy maker’s opposition of adding new products to the upcoming case.

Apple looked to broaden assertions with a proposed Nov. 23 motion which added the Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III with Android 4.1, Galaxy S III Mini, Rugby Pro, Galaxy Tab 8.9 Wi-Fi and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 to a suit scheduled to be heard in 2014.

Samsung countered by saying it is not “making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the Galaxy S III Mini in the United States,” and opposed the inclusion of the Galaxy Tab 8.9, Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, and Galaxy Rugby Pro, because “Apple did not serve its claim charts for these products until November 30, after the November 23 date identified by the Court.”

According to Friday’s filing, Apple will not contest the partial opposition and claimed it misunderstood a Nov. 15 court order regarding a limitation on assertions, a stipulation Samsung pointed to in its retort. If the Court agrees with Samsung’s reading of the order, which concludes that all new contentions made after Nov. 23 are invalid, Apple “will of course voluntarily withdraw any infringement contentions” made after that date.

As for the Galaxy S III Mini, Apple noted that the handset can be purchased at retail outlets like Amazon.com’s U.S. storefront, but agreed to withdraw its claims as long as they can be reinstated if the device was to see official sale in America.

The case, which involves the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III flagship smartphones, is set to start hearings on Mar. 31, 2014.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple ordered to pay Samsung’s legal fees, remove “false and misleading” notice of judgment

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Date: Tuesday, November 13th, 2012, 08:59
Category: Legal, News

This feud’s going to continue until even your grandchildren are considering which nursing home to go to…

Per iLounge and Bailii, Apple has been ordered to pay Samsung’s legal fees on an indemnity basis, after being ordered to remove a “false and misleading” notice of judgment it had previously posted on the Apple U.K. website.

The legal decision was rendered due to Apple’s initial website notice in which the company made reference to its “cool” and “far more popular” iPad in comparison to the Galaxy tablet and pointed to other courts’ decisions in Apple’s favor in similar cases.

As noted in the judgment, fees awarded on an indemnity basis are “higher than the normal, ‘standard’ basis” and were awarded “as a mark of the court’s disapproval of a party’s conduct, particularly in relation to its respect for an order of the court. Apple’s conduct warranted such an order.” Further analysis of the removed website notice is included in this most recent decision, stemming from Apple’s appeal loss to Samsung over tablet design infringement.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Revised DMCA allows for unlocking of handsets, other exemptions

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Date: Friday, October 26th, 2012, 07:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Legal, News, Software

There’s exceptions to every rule and some of them get pretty interesting.

Per the cool cats at Ars Technica, the Digital Millennium Copyright makes it illegal to “circumvent” digital rights management schemes. But when Congress passed the DMCA in 1998, it gave the Librarian of Congress the power to grant exemptions. The latest batch of exemptions, which will be in force for three years, were announced on Thursday.

Between now and late 2015, there will be five categories of circumvention that will be allowed under the Librarian’s rules, one fewer than the current batch of exemptions, which was announced in July 2010. The new exemptions take effect October 28.

The new batch of exemptions illustrate the fundamentally arbitrary nature of the DMCA’s exemption process. For the next three years, you’ll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You’ll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad.

The first exemption applies to “literary works, distributed electronically, that are protected by technological measures which either prevent the enabling of read-aloud functionality or interfere with screen readers or other applications or assistive technologies.” The work must have been purchased legitimately through “customary channels,” such that “the rights owner is remunerated.”

A similar version of the exemption was offered in 2010, but that one allowed circumvention only if “all existing e-book editions of the work contain access controls” that inhibit disabled access. Disability groups urged the Librarian to drop this restriction, arguing that “despite the rapid growth of the e-book market, most e-book titles remain inaccessible due to fragmentation within the industry and differing technical standards and accessibility capabilities across platforms.” That meant that the rule effectively required disabled users to own multiple devices—a Kindle, a Nook, and an iPad, for example—in order to gain access to a full range of e-books. The Librarian accepted this argument and allowed circumvention by disabled users even if a work is available in an open format on another platform.

The new rules allow circumvention of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” In other words, jailbreaking is permitted for “telephone handsets,” as it was under the 2010 rules.

Unfortunately, the Librarian “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”

The Librarian ruled that “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.”

In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that’s coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.”

In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.

Why the change? The Librarian cited two key factors. One is a 2010 ruling that held that when you purchase software, you don’t actually own it. Rather, you merely license it according to the terms of the End User License Agreement. The Librarian argued that this undermined the claim that unlocking your own phone was fair use.

Also, the Librarian found that there are more unlocked phones on the market than there were three years ago, and that most wireless carriers have liberal policies for unlocking their handsets. As a result, the Librarian of Congress decided that it should no longer be legal to unlock your cell phone without the carrier’s permission.

The most complicated exemption focuses on DVDs. Between now and 2015, it will be legal to rip a DVD “in order to make use of short portions of the motion pictures for the purpose of criticism or comment in the following instances: (i) in noncommercial videos; (ii) in documentary films; (iii) in nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and (iv) for educational purposes in film studies or other courses requiring close analysis of film and media excerpts, by college and university faculty, college and university students, and kindergarten through twelfth grade educators.” A similar exemption applies for “online distribution services.”

The Librarian also allowed DVDs to be decrypted to facilitate disability access. Specifically, it’s now legal “to access the playhead and/or related time code information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”

But the Librarian did not allow circumvention for space-shifting purposes. While public interest groups had argued that consumers should be allowed to rip a DVD in order to watch it on an iPad that lacks a built-in DVD drive, the Librarian concluded that no court has found that such “space shifting” is a fair use under copyright law.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and, well, enjoy unlocking your handsets.

Apple to file injunction against certain Samsung smartphones on December 6th

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Date: Wednesday, August 29th, 2012, 07:22
Category: Legal, News

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Come December 6th, Apple will be looking to take punitive action against Samsung.

Per Reuters, Apple v. Samsung presiding Judge Lucy Koh on Tuesday set the date on which the Court will hear Apple’s request for a permanent sales ban against certain Samsung smartphones.

According to a court order filed on Tuesday, the judge is slated to hear arguments on Dec. 6 regarding Apple’s move for a permanent injunction against eight Samsung handsets identified on Monday.

The order also outlines the deadlines by which both parties must submit their respective replies and oppositions regarding post-judgment filings. In the interest of expediency, Judge Koh has consolidated other post-trial motions for the Dec. 6 hearing. Apple and Samsung were initially scheduled to meet on Sept. 20 to discuss the injunction, but that date is now reserved for the Korean company’s request to dissolve a sales ban against the Galaxy 10.1.

Judge Koh is once again pushing for strict adherence to her mandates regarding post-judgment motions, a position she took during the trial to avoid an onslaught of filings. During the trial, the judge fought to keep the case on track as her “rag tag” team was having trouble keeping up with filings from the two companies’ “legion” of lawyers.

From the order:
“The page limits set forth herein will be strictly enforced. Any argument that is not explicitly articulated within the briefing page limits will be disregarded. Any supporting documentation shall be for corroboration purposes solely and shall not be used as a vehicle for circumventing the Court’s page limits. Any citations to the record must include the relevant testimony or exhibit language. Any single-spaced bullets in an attempt to circumvent the briefing page limits will be disregarded.”

Apple on Friday won a sweeping victory over Samsung as a jury found Samsung in violation of six Apple design and utility patents, assigning damages of nearly US$1.05 billion for the offense.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.