Hear Ye, Hear Ye!


Forget about Google or your favorite news sites, if you really want to keep abreast with what's going down in Silicon Valley, find yourself a cozy corner in a courtroom instead. The tech industry is full of lawsuits, and whether you've ever wanted to brush up on your VOIP related law or have a fetish for flaming console suits, there's a court case out there for you. Or better yet, stay right where you're at while I play armchair Justice and issue verdicts on some of today's high profile cases making the headlines.

US Dept. of Justice vs nVidia

ATI (now AMD) and nVidia are longtime sparring partners, but could they be more? It's a question being asked 51 times in suits filed against nVidia, accusing them of price fixing with AMD and other related behavior. Of course, nVidia says it's all a bunch of hogwash, but this isn't the first time in recent memory that they've been accused of unsavory business practices. It was less than a year ago that the US Department of Justice had their eye on AMD and nVidia over antitrust allegations, issuing each of them subpoenas. Still, nVidia yet to be caught with their hand undeniably in the cookie jar.

NOT GUILTY It's not that I'm ruling out the possibility of price fixing, but the real crime here is that after waiting so long for a 8800GTX killer from AMD/ATI, we got the 2900 XT instead. Then consider that the Core 2 architecture continues to parade around like Chad Johnson after a touchdown , and if anyone's guilty of anything, it's AMD for lack of, uh, ass-kickery.

Connecticut vs Best Buy

It's the company forum goers love to loathe, whether because they've had a bad experience with a misinformed employee, or general disgust for brick-and-mortar pricing compared to everyone's favorite e-tailer . I've never fallen into the anti-BestBuy camp myself, but for the virtual pitchfork yielding crowd, you may finally have something to be up in arms about. Imagine the excitement of finding a swank deal on a laptop advertised on BestBuy.com , and then the disgust of seeing it sold for $150 more in the store. Then envision a blue shirt wearing employee pulling up the same website you checked not 15 minutes earlier and confirming the higher price tag than what you saw at home. Surely the fault lies with you, right? So feeling defeated and a little bit embarrassed, you apologize to the employee, then go back home and bring up the website once more and... W hiskey T ango F oxtrot !? There's that lower price again!

It wasn't some Geeksquad Jedi mind trick, rather the confusion stemmed from an internal website identical to the real BestBuy.com, save for some pricing discrepencies. Naturally, Best Buy claims that no malice was involved, but that won't sway my verdict.

GUILTY Had Best Buy been upfront about their dirty little secret after it was discovered, I might be more sympathetic. Instead, they initially went into Area-51 mode, denying the internal site even existed. You don't get any brownie points for fessing up only after a situation becomes too large to ignore.

Talk about the ultimate bait-and-switch. Just set up an internal website that looks identical to the real one, and bump up the pricing on advertised specials!

Microsoft vs Linux

I've already blogged about Redmond's claim to over 200 patent infringements ( Microsoft Cries Foul, 235 Times ), and won't rehash what's already been said. Short and to the point:

NOT GUILTY Now if somebody would just sue the suits responsible for hacking and chopping Vista into the product it is today...

Wade Kline Estate vs Microsoft/XBox/Wal-Mart

Microsoft makes a repeat appearance in my blog impersonation of Judge Wapner (you didn't really think I'd reference myself to Judge Judy, did you?), this time as a Defendant. Seeking damages in excess of $50,000 , an Illinois family claims their XBox360 unit overheated, catching their home on fire and ultimately killing their infant son. We're all aware of the console's early overheating woes, and the suit states the fire occurred in December 2004. Almost sounds like an open and shut case, until you consider that the XBox360 didn't debut until five months later in May 2005, and why wait two and a half years to sue? Unless there was a typographical error when filing the paperwork, the Klines would need to explain how they got their hands on a hotly anticipated console almost half a year before launch, and then still have to prove the XBox was at fault.

NOT GUILTY, but... Pay anyway, just not to the Klines. You don't want to encourage bogus lawsuits, so make a good will donation to burn victims on behalf of the deceased infant. Everybody wins.

Verizon vs Vonage

Like the Star Wars trilogy (er, sixology?), the dispute between Verizon and Vonage continues to wage on. If you missed it, here's the recap: Verizon sued Vonage for infringing on VOIP related patents and won a $58 million verdict, along with a 5.5% royalty rate. Vonage was also told they could no longer sign up new subscribers, but managed to get that part overturned while they work the appeals process .

NOT GUILTY Kiss my backside, Verizon. The message here is that if you're a big telecom armed with a bevy of VOIP related patents, you can work the courts to choke the competition rather than offer a better product, and that doesn't fly in the Court of Paul.

There's more at stake in the Verizon vs Vonage suit than just Vonage's future. Should Verizon remain victorious throughout the appeals process, we could see VOIP providers start dropping like flies.

Paul Lilly vs Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics

What does this have to do with technology? Absolutely nothing, but outside of computers, I'm an avid basketball fan, and what GM Danny Ainge has done to my Boston Celtics in his four year tenure is nothing short of obscene. After taking over a team that a year prior made it to the Eastern Conference finals, the Celtics now hold the second worst record in the league. And because they slipped all the way to #5 in the draft (representing the worst case scenario), any plans of college phenoms Greg Oden and Kevin Durant saving the franchise can be scrapped.

GUILTY We'll never forget you as a player, Danny, but we'd like to wipe from memory your track record as a GM out of memory, you just need to step down first. Don't worry, we can still be friends.

Phew, busy day. The Court of Paul is adjourned!

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