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.
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.
Profits are always something to celebrate, especially if the profit is the first one in three years. AMD is definitely in the mood to celebrate. But it’s what underlies AMD’s profit that gives others pause about this achievement--the profit only exists because of AMD’s arch-rival Intel. Since Intel’s involuntary largess is likely a one-shot deal, AMD might want to party hard, because the its next quarterly report may just return to the red AMD has become so accustomed to.
Still, there’s a bright side for AMD. Overall, revenues are up 42 percent, due to an upswing in the computer market, and unit sales of its microprocessors and graphics chips rose. For the full year, AMD reported a net income of $304 million on revenues of $5.4 billion, a nice contrast to 2008, which saw a net loss of $3.1 billion on revenues of $5.8 billion.
The lawyers at AT&T have got fantastic job security. Last year, the telco giant was sued over ringtones, internet speeds, and lack of features. The first AT&T lawsuit of 2010 could be a doozie: charging its customers fake taxes.
Yep, you heard it right. AT&T has been collecting sales tax on its iPhone users’ data plans, which is a no-no according to the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act. The act bans most taxes on internet access, which arguably includes the iPhone data plan, until the legislation is up for renewal in 2014. However, like any other law, it can be (and is) interpreted and enforced in different ways throughout the country.
The lawsuit has been filed in Georgia, Indiana, and Alabama where an individual agreed to bring the complaint to a judge. The lawyers at Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson and Gorny hope the judge certifies the case as a class action lawsuit, which will get far more people involved.
Grooveshark is quite a predatory name for a music streaming service constantly under threat from record labels. The new year has gotten off to a woeful start for the music service, based entirely on user-uploaded content, with Universal Music Group dragging it to court over the presence of unauthorized copies of its content on Grooveshark. The fresh lawsuit comes barely three months after it resolved its legal dispute with EMI by agreeing to a licensing deal. In a filing with a New York State Court, UMG alleged that Grooveshark hosts unlicensed content from its pre-1972 catalog. The label also slammed Grooveshark for its refusal to deploy copyright filtering software, alleging that it has based its business solely on copyright infringement.
No point in saving any ammunition for tomorrow: all out war means just that--all out. Nokia has opened up a third front in its legal battle with Apple with a second complaint filed in U.S. federal courts, this one alleging infringement on “implementation patents” held by Nokia.
This lawsuit argues that Apple’s implementation technology in the iPhone, from camera sensors to touchscreens, treads on Nokia’s intellectual property. This is in addition to an initial lawsuit about infringement on GSM patents, and an unfair trade complaint filed with the International Trade Commission (ITC).
Whether Nokia’s move is one of strength or weaknesses isn’t yet clear. This third filling, along with the request to the ITC to ban imports on Apple mobile products (including laptops), might be Nokia flexing its muscles, signalling to Apple just how serious it is about these various complaints. Or, it might be Noika going for broke--firing off everything in their legal arsenal in the hopes of wounding Apple enough to force a favorable settlement.
Nokia has thrown another punch in its patent infringement fight with Apple, filing a new complaint against the maker of the iPhone with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). In this complaint Nokia alleges Apple’s iPhones, iPods, and computers infringe on seven Nokia patents. The filing with the USITC, an independent federal agency, expands Nokia’s claims against Apple to include unfair trade practices.
Last October Nokia filed its first complaint against Apple, in a federal court in Delaware, alleging the iPhone infringed on ten of Nokia’s patents. Apple countered Nokia’s filing with one of its own, claiming Nokia was violating 13 of Apple’s iPhone patents.
In a statement, Nokia said, “While our litigation in Delaware is about Apple's attempt to free-ride on the back of Nokia investment in wireless standards, the [US]ITC case filed today is about Apple's practice of building its business on Nokia's proprietary innovation.”
Nokia’s efforts to protect it’s $57.5 billion research and development investments, and 11,000 patents, comes at a time when Apple has surpassed Nokia in quarterly mobile phone profits, garnering $1.6 billion last quarter compared to $1.1 billion for Nokia.
The litigation gods don't seem to be favoring Microsoft at the moment. A U.S court of appeals dashed all its hopes of a turnaround in its legal battle with Canadian firm i4i when it upheld a previous ruling against the Redmond-based company on Tuesday. In August, a U.S District Judge had ruled that certain versions of Microsoft Word encroach upon i4i's patents and consequently slapped the software giant with a $290 million fine, besides placing an injunction on the sale of all infringing versions of Word in the U.S.
The appeals court had stayed the injunction in September until the matter was in consideration. But now that it has affirmed the previous ruling against Microsoft, there is very little the company can do apart from purging Word 2007 and Office 2007 of the features that violate i4i's patents. According to a Reuters report, the company is already taking the necessary corrective measures.
However, the company is also exploring other legal options, including a rehearing by a full panel of judges or a Supreme Court review, according to its spokesperson Kevin Kutz. A spokesperson for i4i said it is “pleased with the court's decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors.” This small inventor with a vindictive name certainly has every reason to be pleased.
Trying to convince the world that “Binging” things on the Internet is as catchy as “Googling” is challenging enough, but now Microsoft will need to fight for the right to keep its name. Bing! Information Design LLC has filed a suit against Microsoft in the Circuit Court of St. Louis alleging, “trademark infringement, unfair competition, and tortuous interference with business expectancy”.Bing! Information design claims they have been using the trademark since early 2000, while Microsoft only began using it around 6 months ago.
The lawsuit is seeking “actual and punitive damages” since Bing! claims Microsoft knew of the design company long before launching its search engine, and therefore is also asking the judge to grant funds for corrective advertising to remedy the confusion they have caused. Legally, companies that are in different industries are generally allowed to have similar names, but Bing! claims that because it makes heavy use of the Internet and search engine advertising, they have a valid complaint.
A Microsoft spokesperson responded to Ars Technica on the issue, and they don’t seem to be all that concerned about it at this point. “We believe this suit to be without merit and we do not believe there is any confusion in the marketplace with regards to the complaint, but are aware of the suit based on media reports. We respect trademarks and other people’s intellectual property, and look forward to the next steps in the judicial process”. Its possible to pick a fight with them on these grounds after they got caught red handed stealing source code from the open source community, but at least they made good in the end.
Is Bing! Information Design just after some free publicity?
There are three main thrusts to the FTC’s complaint against Intel. The first is that Intel used its dominate position in the market to cow computer makers, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, to buy only Intel CPUs. Intel would either threaten to withhold product, or enter into exclusive deals with computer makers that prevented them from marketing computers built with chips from other makers, such as CPUs from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).
Second, according to the FTC, Intel designed crucial software, which the FTC identifies as a “compiler”, so it deliberately hampered the performance of chips from competitors. Intel failed to disclose their tinkering with the software, thus deceived computer makers about the performance differences between Intel and its competitors.
Third, the FTC says that Intel is now engaging in these same tactics in the graphics processing market. The FTC argues that GPUs are becoming more powerful, lessening the need for sophisticated CPUs, which undermines Intel’s market dominance. To protect its position, Intel is waging its battle against the likes of Nvidia, over which it holds a substantial financial and market advantage.
According to Richard A. Feinstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, “Intel has engaged in a deliberate campaign to hamstring competitive threats to its monopoly. It's been running roughshod over the principles of fair play and the laws protecting competition on the merits. The Commission’s action today seeks to remedy the damage that Intel has done to competition, innovation, and, ultimately, the American consumer.”