A Texas Judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop "selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML." The injunction is the result of a complaint filed by Toronto-based i4i alleging Microsoft of violating its 1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) on a method for reading XML.
"We are disappointed by the court's ruling," Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said in a statement. "We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict."
The Judge also ordered Microsoft pay i4i $240 million in damages plus court costs and interest. All tallied, the fine is estimated to be more than $290 million.
As it currently stands, the ruling, which applies to Word 2003 and Word 2007, takes effect in 60 days.
It turns out Twitter can be used for more than just reading bad haikus, it can also be used to derail 8 weeks of legal proceedings, and get a case thrown in to mistrial. Last week, a Florida juror in a high profile drug trial officially went on record and admitted to the judge that he’d researched part of the case over the Internet. Normally a single biased juror isn’t a big deal; you simply eject the person in question and continue. But when the judge dug a bit further, he was shocked to find that eight other jurors had all committed the same offence. As a result a “Google” mistrial was called, and the justice system is starting to worry about the long term trends this case demonstrated.
This isn’t the first time the internet and social media has been accused of interfering with justice either. A few weeks back an Arkansas court was asked to overturn a $12.6 million dollar judgment by claiming that a juror was releasing details of the case on Twitter. Tweets such as “a big announcement is coming Monday” might seem harmless, but to the courts, they represent a grave threat to the justice system that is nearly impossible to solve. Currently jurors are warned in advance not seek information outside the courtroom, but with the answer to almost every question at our finger tips these days, the temptation to cheat seems to be getting to the best of us.
With access to the internet via mobile devices getting easier every day, do you think this is a problem the courts will ever solve? Or will we have to lock up all the twitterholics?
An order by a Texas judge to release the identities of 178 anonymous posters for making inflammatory comments on news site Topix.com may have posters thinking twice in the future before hitting the 'submit' button. The order came after Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a lawsuit against the anonymous posters for allegedly making "perverted, sick, vile, inhumane accusations" about them.
The online comments were the result of a criminal trial against the Leshers, who were being accused of sexually assaulting a former client in 2008. The Leshers were found not guilty, but that didn't stop the court of public opinion from berating the couple through the course of about 70 threads on Topix.com.
"It just basically made us both feel like common criminals," the Leshers told the Dallas Morning News. "It's like someone had basically raped us of our reputation and our standing in the community over and over and over again."
According to the complaint, comments made by the anonymous posters ran the gamut from insinuating Mark drugs women to calling Rhonda the "Herpies Queen." It was enough to convince the judge to order Topix.com to release the identities of 178 posters, for which the judge has issued a March 6 deadline.
Do you agree with the ruling? Hit the jump and post your (non-inflammatory) thoughts.
Legally besieged Mac clone maker Psystar has registered its first legal victory against Apple. U.S District Court Judge William Alsup has given the permission necessary for Psystar to continue its countersuit. The judge lent his assent to those revisions to the countersuit that had been suggested by Psystar after its antitrust charges against Apple were dismissed in November 2008.
Now Apple will have to defend itself against charges pertaining to copyright misuse. “Moreover, if established, misuse would bar enforcement (for the period of misuse) not only as to defendants who are actually party to the challenged license but also as to potential defendants not themselves injured by the misuse who may have similar interests,” Alsup said on Friday. The court’s latest fiat has rekindled Psystar’s hopes of surviving its legal ordeal upon which its actual survival hinges.
Seven of Hollywood’s most powerful studios which include Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Disney are working together to sue an Australian ISP and set a very scary precedent. iiNet, Australia’s third largest internet service provider has been largely credited with rolling out true broadband speeds to residents. Current connection speeds range anywhere from 1.5 to a not so shabby 24 Mbit/s. With all this speed however comes abuse, and allegedly a handful of its users have turned to torrents to saturate these beefy connections with copyright protected video. According to the movie studios represented by AFACT (Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft) iiNet is “failing to take reasonable steps, including enforcing its own terms and conditions, to prevent known unauthorized use of copies of the companies films and TV programs”.
Adrianne Pecotic, Executive Director of AFACT claims that they were forced to take action against iiNet seeing as they weren’t pursuing the issue aggressively enough. The studios are demanding that iiNet disconnect known infringers, an action the ISP has so far refused to do. According to an iiNet spokesman, “Our view is pretty straightforward. We don’t condone or support piracy in any form, and people who choose to pirate content should face the force of the law. This is an industry issue, and we’ve been talking with the IIA, and we’ll work with them in terms of handling it.”
iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone strongly disputes AFACT’s claims saying they have merely refused to disconnect users on the basis of an outside allegation. “We can’t go and kick the customer off on the basis of an allegation from someone else’.” The lawsuit was filed in Australia’s Federal Court on November 20th with the first hearings to being within 30 days. A finding in favor of the AFACT will only further empower the studios and might spark future lawsuits abroad.
So has Hollywood crossed the line? Hit the jump and sound off.
It’s hard to read a music industry headline these days without finding the words “lawyer” and “lawsuit” somewhere in the body. This time however, the legal cannon of EMI was pointed not just at MP3tunes.com but also its founder Michael Robertson who is likely sleeping much easier this week. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit against Robertson, but is still allowing the case against his company to continue. Suing the CEO of a company is considered a fairly dirty tactic within the industry but is often an effective means to help intimidate leaders into a settlement. The lawsuit continuing through the courts goes right to the root of MP3tunes current business model which allows customers to upload their music to “digital lockers”. Customers are then able to access their collection on nearly any web enabled device. According to Robertson the case against MP3tunes is unique. Specifically, “it will determine if it is permissible for consumers to store their music in online commercial services for everywhere access, directly analogous to the way they currently store documents, photos, and other personal data in cloud services." The verdict on this case could set an interesting precedent when it comes to storing your copyrighted data in the cloud. Fair use is an evolving definition which is too important to be left to stakeholders to decide. The question here is will the legal system allow common sense and the greater public good to prevail?
In a shocking turn of events in the Atlantic v. Howell case, the RIAA has scored a major victory and set a stern precedent against those accused of P2P copyright violations. Jeffrey Howell now finds himself on the hook for damages as a result of evidence proving that he wiped his hard drive after learning of the impending legal action against him. RIAA examiners were able to demonstrate that not only did Howell delete his shared folder, but he then formatted his drive and used a file-wiping program to destroy every last trace of the evidence .Evidence, which according to the RIAA, could have backed up his claims that he was innocent. According to the judge “Howell’s brazen destruction of evidence has wholly undermined the integrity of these judicial proceedings. The evidence that Howell destroyed could have been used to determine the origin of the music files, their locations on the hard drive, the settings and integrity of the KaZaA software, and many other relevant facts.” The guilty ruling comes in sharp contrast to the victory Howell scored this past April when a judge rejected the RIAA’s cornerstone legal theory that simply sharing a file on a P2P network was an act of copyright infringement.The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has suggested that Howell may have fared better had he been able to secure legal counsel which Howell claims was priced out of reach. The damages at this point are still unknown but one would imagine the RIAA isn’t going to get rich off a man who can’t even afford to hire a lawyer.
So is another victory for the RIAA enough to send the pirates running for iTunes? Hit the jump and let us know.
Score one for the little guy, or more specifically, score $108K for Tanya Anderson. That's how much a federal judge is awarding Anderson, who successfully defended herself against allegations of copyright infringement, prompting the RIAA to drop its suit against her. Though few would scoff at a six figure verdict, Anderson doesn't appear to be finished dipping into the RIAA's pockets.
To find out how much is Anderson seeking, and if the tables are finally turning, click through the jump.