Microsoft is no stranger to lawsuits, but the most recent case to cross the legal desk in Redmond has me wondering if they even bother to check their mail anymore. A new patent infringement case has been filed in a Wisconsin U.S. District Court which alleges that the Zune's "Buy from FM" service violates IP owned by Dr Edward Yavitz. The good doctor claims that even though he contacted Microsoft several times regarding the infringement, his plea's for a peaceful resolution landed of def ears. "I got no reply whatsoever" Yavitz told InternetNews.com.
Patent trolling is considered somewhat of a nuisance in the tech industry, but you have to feel for the guy when you consider that he filed the patent in question years before there was even an iPod. "They are definitely taking notice of it now" Yavitz said. It's likely that Microsoft's change in heart has something to do with Windows Phone 7 Series, which is more Zune than Windows Mobile. Assuming that Dr Yavitz has a case here, this lawsuit could get mighty expensive if Microsoft's new mobile platform actually takes off.
Microsoft officials declined to comment on the suit, or its merits, but when is that ever not the case?
The launch of the Google Nexus One had its share of mishaps, with poor customer service, unexpected fees, and spotty 3G. As the weeks passed the superphone was selling, but not very fast. We recently heard that the Nexus One sold only 135,000 phones in the time it took the iPhone to reach 1 million. Many used this to declare the Nexus a flop. HTC CEO Peter Chou disagrees with that.
Chou points to the new ground broken by the Nexus One. It was sold by Google in a new way, bypassing the carriers. It was also the first to run Android 2.1. Chou believes the phone’s launch gives his company more clout, which is good considering the legal situation they find themselves in. When speaking about the numbers, Chou explained, "[Google's] goal with the Nexus One was to really show how good Android can be."
HTC believes that the recognition they got from the Nexus One can serve them well, even as they also move ahead with Windows Phone 7. Have you ever owned an HTC phone? How did you like it?
I case you had forgotten, Viacom is still suing YouTube. Opening statements were presented today and the arguments are shaping up much as we expected. Viacom says YouTube doesn’t do enough to keep copyrighted materials off YouTube, and YouTube says that the “safe harbors” provision of the DMCA protects them from the claims. However, some interesting bits of behind the scene dealings have also come out.
According to a blog post by YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine, for years Viacom hired people to upload their content, and even went so far as to “rough up” the video so it looked stolen. In an attempt to be stealthy they sent employees to the local Kinkos to upload some content so it wouldn’t be traced to Viacom. All this sneaking around worked super well, even on Vacom itself. YouTube points out that Viacom occasionally asked for a clip to be removed only to reverse themselves upon realizing they uploaded it. According to YouTube, several of the clips involved in the suit were uploaded by Viacom.
The post closes with assurances that YouTube would fight the charges and continue to be a “leader in providing media companies with 21st century tools to control, distribute, and make money from their content online”. Do you think YouTube is at fault, or is Viacom just spoiling for a fight?
But Apple can be expected to pull out all the stops to retain its comfortable lead over its younger rival. Earlier this month, it dragged Taiwanese phone maker HTC to court, alleging that its Android phones infringe nearly 20 of its patents. It wants a ban on the import of all such HTC handsets that infringe the iPhone-related patents.
Although HTC is yet to officially respond in court, the phone maker from the Far East has finally broken its silence over the lawsuit. It should not surprise anyone that HTC disagrees with Apple's claims and remains unfazed. It has vowed to “fully defend” itself.
“HTC strongly advocates intellectual property protection and will continue to respect other innovators and their technologies as we have always done, but we will continue to embrace competition through our own innovation as a healthy way for consumers to get the best mobile experience possible,” said Peter Chou, chief executive officer, HTC Corporation.
The press release appears to be a reminder of HTC's ability to innovate to anyone who doubts it. It quite proudly points out “HTC’s technology firsts” that include the first Windows PDA (1998), first 3G CDMA EVDO smartphone (October 2005), first Google Android smartphone and first 4G WIMAX smartphone (November 2008).
Google’s request comes on the heels of Viacom’s asking for the records to be unsealed right away. Unsealed means the records will be publicly accessible--the ‘down and dirty’ of the Google/YouTube-Viacom battle can at last be revealed. According to Viacom, and entertainment lawyer Ben Sheffner, law requires that records, save for trade secrets, be unsealed once summary judgment has been filed for. Google, on the other hand, envisions a nightmare of inefficiency in processing the records, which might impede Google’s final arguments in the case.
What’s in the records is anyone’s guess. Some are hopeful there’ll be more embarrassing admissions, such as Google emails that indicate YouTube managers were uploading or condoning the presence of copyrighted material on YouTube. Or Viacom’s, where employees purposely uploaded Viacom content to YouTube to promote Viacom’s product.
If such things do exist in these records it will take a while to find out. During the three year battle hundreds of thousands of pages of information have been exchanged. It’ll take a while to shift through it all once its released--whether that’s now, as Viacom as requested, or in June, when Google prefers.
Well, we suppose it was inevitable. After being handed their walking papers earlier this week, former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella have rallied their lawyers for what promises to be the court equivalent of a train wreck colliding with the last two Matrix movies and the remnants of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie career.
“We were shocked by Activision’s decision to terminate our contract,” said West. “We poured our heart and soul into that company, building not only a world class development studio, but assembling a team we’ve been proud to work with for nearly a decade. We think the work we’ve done speaks for itself.”
“After all we have given to Activision, we shouldn’t have to sue to get paid,” Zampella added.
And boy, are they trying to get paid. The duo hopes to come away from the suit with “at least $36 million” in addition to full rights to the Modern Warfare brand.
Activision, meanwhile, has dismissed the lawsuit as “meritless.”
“Activision is disappointed that Mr. Zampella and Mr. West have chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes their claims are meritless. Over eight years, Activision shareholders provided these executives with the capital they needed to start Infinity Ward, as well as the financial support, resources and creative independence that helped them flourish and achieve enormous professional success and personal wealth,” said a statement from the publisher.
Modern Warfare 3 who? Looks like World War 3’s going to be waged in a courtroom. Grab some popcorn, folks. It’s time for fireworks.
In a statement that sounds all too familiar, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” Reminiscent of its current battle with Nokia, Apple will fight this one out concurrently in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.
Is Microsoft waging a proxy legal war against Google? The answer is a big fat yes, if Google's Ohio-based attorney Mark Sheriff is to be believed. The war is being waged on many fronts and Google finds itself beset by lawsuits, allegedly backed by Microsoft, in both the U.S and Europe. According to a Wall Street Journal report, there is evidence to suggest that Microsoft is slyly aiding Google's rivals in court.
A recent 24-page antitrust lawsuit against Google by an Ohio-based internet site is a case in point. Although on the face of it nothing seems amiss – a small firm countering Google's lawsuit with a complaint of its own, the plot thickens the moment the name of one Charles “Rick” Rule crops up as the small internet firm's legal counsel. Charles Rule, an attorney with the D.C law firm Cadwalader, counts Microsoft among his illustrious clients. He is also representing another small firm against Google in a separate lawsuit.
"It's not every day that a big D.C. law firm like Cadwalader gets involved in a collections lawsuit in Ohio,” Google attorney Mark Sheriff told the Wall Street Journal. In Europe, a series of antitrust complaints from various companies, including one of Microsoft's German subsidiaries, is also cited as part of Microsoft's legal war with Google. The European Commission has ordered a preliminary inquiry against Google after taking cognizance of the anti-trust complaints. What does Microsoft stand to gain from all this?
One thing Google and Yahoo have in common is that they're both big into the search game. And what else? They're both also being sued by Xerox.
In a lawsuit filed late last week, Xerox says both Google and Yahoo operate products and services that infringe on two of its patents, No. 6,778,979 and No. 6,236,994. These patents, granted in 2004 and 2001, respectively, have to do with how documents are organized.
Xerox said it has tried to work out a licensing deal with the two search giants, but neither Google or Yahoo would have any part of it. As it currently stands, the trio will do battle in court, where Xerox will seek an injunction against both search parties as part of the case.
Experi-Metal Inc. (EMI), a Michigan-based metal supply company, is suing Comerica Bank alleging that the bank exposed its customers to phishing attacks, and thus is responsible for EMI's financial losses.
EMI fell victim to a phishing scam in which one of the EMI's employees handed over the company's banking credentials. Those credentials were then used to initiate wire transfers totaling $560,000 from EMI's account to numerous other accounts scattered about in Russia, Estonia, Scotland, Finland, China, and the U.S. The funds were quickly withdrawn once the transfers were complete.
Not wanting to eat its loss, EMI alleges that the phishing scam only worked because of Comerica's routine practice of sending emails to its customers asking them to click on a link to update their security information. The lawsuit also criticizes Comerica's token-based authentication system that replaced the company's digital certificates it had been using up until 2008.
"Comerica knew or should have known that the technology of the two-factor authentication procedure which it instituted in 2008 was known to be lacking in any reasonable fortification against 'man in the middle' phishing attacks," EMI said.
Naturally, Comerica sees things differently, pinning the blame squarely on EMI.
"Valid credentials assigned to an EMI employee were used to authenticate a logon for purposes of online banking transactions," the bank said. "If some unknown criminals used those credentials, rather than an EMI employee to whom they had been entrusted, this was caused solely by the actions of that EMI employee."