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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

Posted by:
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

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

applelogo_silver

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.

Samsung vows to appeal, fight injunctions sought by Apple

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, August 28th, 2012, 06:59
Category: Legal, News

When you get thrashed to the tune of US$1.05 billion in open court, it’s generally good form to go for the appeal…

According to the Wall Street Journal, Samsung has vowed to fight back and keep some of its best selling products on the market.

Samsung will combat Apple’s attempt to ban the sales of eight smartphones with “all necessary measures,” the company said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Among the options available to Samsung are filing to stop the injunction, appealing if the injunction is granted by Judge Lucy Koh, and modifying its products to circumvent any bans.

Citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter, Tuesday’s report also indicated that officials from Samsung have begun talking to wireless partners about “removing or modifying infringing features to keep products on the market if the injunctions are granted.”

In a filing on Monday, Apple asked the court to bar the sale of 8 Samsung smartphones, including the company’s U.S. Galaxy S II lineup. In all, the phones Apple wishes to bar from sale accounted for US$1.3 billion of Samsung’s U.S. sales during the first six months of 2012, documents disclosed in Samsung’s lawsuit with Apple have revealed.

The eight smartphones Apple hopes to ban accounted for the lion’s share of Samsung’s American profits in the first half of the year. A total of 28 devices were included in the Apple-Samsung case, which earned a collective US$1.5 billion in U.S. sales in the first six months of 2012.

A jury determined last week that Samsung’s products have infringed upon Apple’s patented inventions. The jury awarded Apple nearly $1.05 billion in damages from Samsung as well.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Jury rules in Apple’s favor, Samsung ordered to pay $1.05 billion fine for patent infringement

Posted by:
Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 17:16
Category: Hardware, Legal, News

applelogo_silver

It went on for months, it got about as ugly as a legal case could possibly get, but in the end, the jury mostly sided with Apple.

Per Wired and Mac|Life, the verdict came in on Friday with Samsung being ordered to pay US$1.05 billion in damages for violating Apple’s patents for its iPad tablet design.

The court ruled that Samsung had infringed upon patents relating to user interface design (like scrolling and multi-touch), as well as physical design. Samsung could not convince the court that it hadn’t taken its design ideas from Apple’s iPad.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the case while Apple has stated that the company will file for injunctions against Samsung products it believes currently violate its patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you make of the case in the comments.

Viacom, Time Warner Cable settle streaming/content spat for TWC TV iPad app

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, May 17th, 2012, 07:11
Category: iPad, Legal, News, Software

Even the worst spats, complete with attorneys, sometimes get resolved.

Per the mighty TechCrunch, Time Warner Cable and Viacom have agreed to set aside a legal dispute over an iPad app that streams television content within customers’ homes.

The two companies released a joint statement on Wednesday announcing that Viacom content would be coming back to the TWC TV app:

Viacom and Time Warner Cable have agreed to resolve their pending litigations. All of Viacom’s programming will now be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers for in-home viewing via internet protocol-enabled devices such as iPads and Time Warner Cable will continue to carry Viacom’s Country Music Television (CMT) programming. In reaching the settlement agreement, Time Warner Cable and Viacom were also able to resolve other unrelated business matters to their mutual satisfaction. Neither side is conceding its original legal position or will have further comment.

TWC pulled several channels, including MTV and FX, from its iPad app in late March after complaints from the major media companies. Viacom took the most umbrage over the app and filed a lawsuit against Time Warner, which quickly filed a countersuit.

Viacom accused TWC of trying to “unilaterally change the terms” of their contract, while TWC argued that the app simply turned the iPad into another TV screen in the home.

AT&T customer wins in 3G throttling case, could open floodgates for similar lawsuits against carrier

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 27th, 2012, 07:18
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, Legal, News

attlogo

Sometimes you CAN fight the giant and win.

Per the Associated Press, in a California court ruling on Friday, an AT&T customer who saw a reduction in his iPhone’s download speed due to high usage was awarded US$850 on claims that the telecom’s throttling measures are unfair to consumers.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel handed down the decision in favor of Matt Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Vally, bringing an end to the small claims case that was filed in January which asserted that AT&T unfairly reduces unlimited data plan users’ bandwidth speeds.

The ruling could affect the roughly 17 million subscribers, or a little under half of AT&T’s smartphone customer base, who pay for a so-called unlimited data plan that was first introduced alongside the original iPhone.

The nation’s second-largest mobile carrier ended its all-you-can-eat plan in 2010, however the company allowed existing users to keep their unlimited service on the condition that the privilege would end if they ever opted to go with a tiered contract. In other words, an unlimited subscriber cannot return to the endless data plan if ever they choose one of AT&T’s tiered options.

As smartphones grew in popularity after the launch of Apple’s handset and smartphones running Google’s Android OS, data bandwidth became increasingly scarce. In an attempt to stem the swelling tide of data users, AT&T and other telecoms made the decision to throttle the download speeds of the top five percent of “heavy users.”

An inherent issue with the new throttling model is that an unlimited plan subscriber can see speed reductions if they are deemed to be within the top five percent of heavy users, regardless of the amount of data used. Tiered subscribers are never throttled.

In Spaccarelli’s case, speed was reduced after about 1.5 GB to 2 GB of data usage during a particular billing cycle, which is far less than the identically priced 3 GB tiered plan. Currently, unlimited access to AT&T’s network costs US$30 per month for grandfathered-in customers, while tiered plans run US$20, US$30 and US$50 per month for 300 MB, 3 GB and 5 GB, respectively.

According to an in-court argument by AT&T area sales manager Peter Hartlove, the carrier has the right to modify or cancel a contract if data usage is so high that it bogs down the network.

In addition, a clause in contracts signed by data users prohibits customers from joining a class action suit or jury trial, and instead must take any grievance to arbitration or a small claims court.

The agreement also claims that if a plaintiff wins an arbitration case, the minimum award from AT&T would be $10,000. Although Spaccarrelli asked for the same compensation, the small claims court judge only awarded him for US$85 for each of the remaining 10 months of his contract.

In theory, every customer who has been throttled could potentially take the Dallas-based carrier to court if they feel that the speed reduction is a violation of rights.

AT&T’s attempt to clear data congestion has been vague since its introduction in 2011, as the system is based on a sliding scale and not a set bandwidth cap. User also won’t know if they are part of the top five percent until a warning message is received, and by that point they only have a few days of regular usage before seeing a reduction of speed.

So, let the floodgates open. If you have any thoughts on this, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments.

Apple Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cable faces legal questions from industry group

Posted by:
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011, 04:50
Category: Accessory, Legal

applelogo_silver

Sometimes it’s the really useful stuff that gets picked on..

Per TechRadar, HDMI Org, the group that oversees HDMI specifications, has deemed Mini DisplayPort to HDMI cables outside of its standard and will not allow them to be sold.

The group explained that “the HDMI specification defines an HDMI cable as having only HDMI connectors on either end. Anything else is not a licensed use of the specification and therefore, not allowed.”

All licensed HDMI products must undergo compliance testing. Given the fact that the cable is undefined by the group, “it cannot be tested against the Specification,” thereby making it unofficial and
unlicensed.

This outcome is devastating for the numerous companies that make money from these cables, though there is one upside. Cables, or dongles, that have a DisplayPort on one end and an HDMI female receptacle on the other are licensed.

HDMI Org does, however, note that there are users who covet this type of cable system, stating that recognizes that there “may be a market need for a cable solution rather than a dongle solution. However, at this time, there is no way to produce these cable products in a licensed manner.” According to the report, hundreds of thousands of cables could be affected by a recall.

Apple reportedly developed a Mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter but never released it, relying instead upon third-party offerings .

First introduced in October 2008, the Mini DisplayPort connector is used by Apple in its latest Mac offerings. The standard was designed by Apple as a smaller form factor alternative to the DisplayPort standard. The Video Electronics Standard Association officially adopted the specification in 2009.

More recently, Apple and Intel have collaborated on Thunderbolt, a new high-speed I/O technology that makes use of the Mini DisplayPort connector. The first generation of Thunderbolt offers two channels of 10Gbps transfers in both directions, simultaneously, and 10 watts of power. Intel expects to scale the technology up to transfer rates of 100Gbps within a few years.

Late last month, Apple released the first Thunderbolt cable and added the first third-party Thunderbolt storage solutions to its online store. The cable was revealed to be an active cable with a transceiver chip at each end and “tons of little resistors.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

State Law Kills Amazon Associates Program

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 30th, 2011, 08:28
Category: Announcement, Legal, News, Services

As the result of a new bill passed by Governor Jerry Brown in California, Amazon will be terminating its service contracts for all Amazon Associates members residing in California. The new bill, which requires that taxes be collected on all sales by online retailers, extends its reach to “California-based marketing affiliates” which includes the referral status from residents participating in the Amazon Associates program. All current participants should have received an email covering the details from Amazon.com in the last few days, as the termination went into effect as of June 29, 2011. Here are some excerpts from the emails that were sent out:

Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

[...] we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

The change does not affect any participants who reside outside of California, and those services will continue as normal. If a participant has or is planning to move to another state, they can contact Amazon to be reinstated into the program here.