U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh can hardly contain her frustration with Apple and Samsung over their court room shenanigans, first by snapping at the latter for leaking disallowed evidence to the public, and now to the former for submitting a long witness list. Koh suggested Apple's attorneys were "smoking crack" if they thought they could summon nearly two dozen rebuttal witnesses in the waning hours of litigation.
Microsoft has spent plenty of time defending itself in the court room over the years, but arguably the case of Microsoft vs. i4i is as important a battle for the software giant as its antitrust trial was more than a decade ago. The case itself began over a claim of infringement by i4i over a recently removed feature in Microsoft Word, but more broadly the case will have a long term impact on how patents will be enforced going forward.
Microsoft has teamed up with Apple, Google, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to defend itself against i4i who is backed by 3M, 19 separate venture capital firms, and even the U.S. Government. It’s going to be the legal battle of the century, and it kicks off in front of the Supreme Court starting tomorrow.
Hit the jump to find out why everyone should care how this one unfolds.
YouTube has a message for video uploaders who run afoul of copyright law: You better check yourself before you wreck yourself. To help offending users check themselves, anyone who receives a copyright notification for one of their videos will be required to attend "YouTube Copyright School." This entails watching a copyright tutorial video and taking a quiz afterwards to make sure you didn't simply hit 'play' while you head out to go smokin' in the boys room.
As far as Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia is concerned, those dirty, rotten, no-good buggers at Apple keep getting away with patent infringement, and on a large scale. Nokia's latest lawsuit accuses Apple of infringing patents in "virtually all" of its mobile phones, portable music players, tablets, and computers. That's quite the laundry list of devices.
Microsoft and Google are joining forces to hunt down what they believe is a patent troll that goes by the name GeoTag. According to a ZDnet report, GeoTag has sued more than 300 businesses for allegedly infringing on a patent related to geotagging technology. Many of these legal targets also happen to be customers of Bing Maps and Google Maps services.
A scientific study in the late 90’s had concluded that the average mainland Chinese mind lacks the mental faculty necessary to fully comprehend the concept of intellectual property. Well, all right, I just made it all up to highlight the extreme level of piracy in China, something that has been done ad nauseam.
But the Chinese government’s latest anti-piracy initiative is a step in the right direction. According to reports in the local media, authorities in Beijing have begun cracking down on internet cafes suspected of video piracy, with over a third of the city’s 1500 registered cyber cafes on their radar.
According to a news report on InformationWeek.com, around 30% of all internet cafe customers come to watch movies, even though more than 60% of China’s 130,000 registered cyber cafes have never sought any video distribution licenses.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset must have been relived by last week's court ruling that lowered the damages awarded against her to $54,000 from a staggering $1.92 million. The 32-year-old mother of four was found guilty of illegally sharing copyrighted music through a P2P network in 2007. Relieved she might be, but a sense of triumph still evades her. Her attorneys had made it clear last week that they will not be satisfied until the fine itself is scrapped.
They appear to be in no mood to abandon or ease their stand after rejecting RIAA's offer to settle the lawsuit for $25,000 on Wednesday, the very same day as it was made. Recording Industry Association of America RIAA's out-of-court settlement offer required that Thomas-Rasset request the court to remove last week's decision from the record. The recording industry had also warned Thomas-Rasset that they would contest last week's ruling, if their settlement terms were rejected.
You didn't really expect the RIAA to roll over and accept the latest verdict in the Jammie Thomas trial, did you? There's too much at stake for that to happen. To quickly recap, the Minnesota mother who opted not to settle with the RIAA for $5,000 over copyright infringement allegations ended up being hammered in court to the tune $222,000, an award that was later increased to $1.9 million following a retrial last June.
The shocking turn of events came last Friday when District Court judge Michael Davis reduced the award by 97 percent, dropping the "monstrous and shocking" damages to $54,000. Davis then gave the RIAA seven days to challenge his ruling and schedule a trial on the damages.
Since then, there's been yet another twist in a case which has already had more twists and turns than a Six Flags theme park. While $54,000 is a far cry from $1.9 million, Thomas' lawyers have challenged the constitutionality of not just the current ruling, but the minimum amount of statutory damages. That's what we call a game changer, and as CNet words it, one that puts the RIAA in a pickle.
"This means that the RIAA cannot avoid the constitutional issue, even if (it accepts the latest ruling on the reduced damages)," said Kiwi Camara, one of Thomas' attorneys.
But even if Thomas' side doesn't challenge the ruling, the RIAA almost has to, lest the organization let a legal precedent remain that could impact any future copyright claims.
"There's some interesting language in (Davis' decision)," said Denise Howell, a Silicon Valley-based attorney. "The constitutional nature of statutory damages comes up over and over again. If you're in any kind of copyright case, and you've gotten a very high damage award entered against you, you're going to want to bring this up and use Judge Davis' reasoning. I know a few folks in other copyright cases that have nothing to do with P2P file sharing but think this is quite an interesting development."
So do we, and like everyone else, we'll have to wait to see how it unfolds.
in basketball, a shooter sometimes gets into a 'zone,' a mental state where everything's going for them and they just can't miss a shot. This is exactly the place Rambus finds itself in, only in a different kind of court, and a different game altogether. The latest opponent to go down against Rambus is Nvidia, who a judge ruled was guilty of violating three patents belonging to Rambus.
"We are pleased with the initial determination from the ITC finding two patents invalid but disappointed about its ruling on the other three patents," David Shannon, Nvidia's executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. "All five of the patents continue to be subject to re-examination proceedings in the Patent and Trademark Office, in which the Office has consistently found the asserted claims of these patents to be invalid. We will now take the patents before the full commission for a final decision on whether any of these patents are valid, enforceable, and infringed."
While it remains to be seen if the verdict will stick and, if it does, what the patents will be worth, the legal momentum has clearly shifted in Rambus' favor. Less than a week ago, the company came to a $900 million settlement agreement with Samsung, in which Samsung will pay $200 million right away, and the remainder over the course of five years.
Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, was thrust into the public eye in 2006, when the music industry chose her for the most unenviable role imaginable: the poster girl of the brand of digital piracy that the average Joe practices from the comforts of his home. Several record companies sued her for copyright infringement on April 19, 2006.
Though the court originally ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay a fine of $220,000, the fine was raised to a vertiginous $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song, at a retrial. She was now left with a three-pronged hope: a court will scrap the fine or at least lower it; or a bankruptcy court will pave the way for her escape; or she will land a major book deal.
The decision leaves the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with seven days to either accept the fresh fine or request a retrial. Joe Sibley, one of the defendant's attorneys, told Cnet that the judge had made “it much more equitable and this was much closer to the $0 award that we were seeking."
Cnet's Greg Sandoval has learnt from his sources that RIAA is not too keen on taking this any further as it only wanted to use the case as a deterrent. Sandoval also reminds everyone that Thomas-Rasset's refusal to settle with RIAA left it with no choice but to drag her to court.