Google has agreed to pay $8.5 million (US) to settle a privacy lawsuit filed over its Buzz social networking service, and as usual only the lawyers are going to get rich on this one. The exact terms of the settlement are still pending approval from a federal court judge, but for a company that is earning $6.5-$7 billion per quarter we are guessing they probably won’t lose too much sleep over it.
A legal ruling against the search giant is a bit of a black eye for its “do no evil” company motto, but we are guessing the whole Buzz thing in general didn’t go over as well as they had hoped.
Microsoft's legal battle against Canadian firm i4i has been a complete disaster from the very outset. Last August, Microsoft was ordered to pay i4i $290 million in damages by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas after certain versions of Word were found to be infringing on an XML-related patent held by the Canadian firm. The fine was accompanied by an injunction barring the sale of infringing versions of the popular word processing software.
All subsequent attempts to turn the tide also proved unsuccessful. Now, Microsoft has filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review the lower court's decision. This hasn't come as a huge surprise to i4i, which is confident that it will once again “prevail” over its storied rival.
Craig Smallwood, a 51-year-old man from Ewa Beach, Hawaii, will have his day in court. U.S. District Judge Alan Kay made sure of it when he dismissed half of Smallwood's eight charges against NCSoft related to alleged videogame addiction, leaving four charges still to be resolved.
According to Hawaii's Star Advisor rag, Smallwood claims he has a tough time bathing and even waking up in the morning because of "phenomena of psychological dependence and addiction" to the game "Lineage II." Smallwood further alleges that the game caused "extreme and serious emotional distress and depression."
None of us here have a degree in medicine, but it seems like Smallwood could have avoided these claimed ailments by spending a little less time plugged into Lineage II's network. Naturally, the plaintiff disagrees.
"NCSoft is a discretionary and discriminatory in its applications of the rules," Smallwood said in his original October complaint. "Often they will allow certain players to break rules ... while they enforce these rules on others."
The Judge threw out claims of misrepresentation/deceit, unfair and deceptive trade practices, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and punitive damages. The charges that remain include defamation, negligence, gross negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Around a couple of weeks back, Oracle brought a patent infringement action against Google for infringing its “Java-related intellectual property.” The search giant immediately retorted by saying that the lawsuit was without merit, and even went as far as labeling it an attack on both Google and the open-source Java community. It has once again made it clear that there is absolutely no love lost between the two companies.
“We understand that this may disappoint and inconvenience many of you, but we look forward to presenting at other venues soon. We’re proud to participate in the open source Java community, and look forward to finding additional ways to engage and contribute.”
The patent infringement lawsuit against Google pertains to the use of the Dalvik virtual machine for running Java code in Android.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed lawsuits against no fewer than nine silicon valley companies over alleged patent infringements. Targets of the suit are Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, eBay, Staples, Yahoo, AOL, and YouTube. Allen is claiming infringement of four patents by the companies. All the intellectual property in question was held by a silicon valley startup Allen ran several years ago. The company is now gone.
All the patents are described as integral to the businesses of these companies. One example is a patent held by Allen for offering suggestions on an ecommerce site based on what a customer is viewing. Facebook had a comment ready saying, "We believe this suit is completely without merit and we will fight it vigorously."
Conspicuously absent from the suit is Microsoft, which Allen is still an investor in. Amazon is also missing; the only connection there is that Amazon is based in Allen's home town of Seattle. Do you think Allen is pursuing a legitimate course of action, or is he acting like a patent troll?
Dell has been embroiled in a legal battle with web host Advanced Internet technologies for the past three years, with the latter accusing the PC maker of deliberately shipping faulty OptiPlex desktops. AIT claims to have lost business worth several million dollars as a result of the 2,000 defective OptiPlex PCs it bought from Dell. Although Dell denies any wrongdoing on its part, court documents that were recently made public for the first time in three years show that employees were aware of the defects but chose to keep them from clients.
Oracle has issued a statement today saying that they have filed suit against Google for patent and copyright infringement. The target for the lawsuit is reportedly Google's Android mobile operating system. According to Oracle's Karen Tillman, "[Google] knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property." Oracle acquired Java maker Sun last year.
No details are yet available on just what aspects of Android Oracle believes infringes on their intellectual property. The majority of apps on Android are written in Java, and are compiled on the phone. The suit could be related to how Android interprets that code. Several months ago, Apple took legal action against HTC for their use of Android, but did not go after Google itself. Oracle however, is going up against the Big G toe to toe.
We'll keep an eye on this as it develops. It is possible this will be quickly resolved with a cross-licensing deal. Anyone care to place a wager on what Google's response will be?
Ever since Wicked Lasers released its S3 Arctic Spyder III laser, comparisons have been to the lightsaber Luke Skywalker wielded in a little sci-fi flick called Star Wars. That's great for publicity, but it also caught the attention of Lucasfilm, which promptly sent Wicked Lasers a cease and desist order demanding that the company either change the design or stop selling it altogether.
Wicked Lasers responded by opting for option C, which was to put the letter on eBay and brace themselves for a legal battle. Well, there isn't going to be one. Maybe cooler heads prevailed in the Lucasfilm camp, or perhaps they didn't like the negative media attention the letter stirred up. Maybe the Force is strong with Wicked Lasers. Either way, George Lucas and company decided to retract the letter.
"We are aware that during this time you have made several statements to the media insisting that your product is not intended to resemble a lightsaber and is not marketed by your company as either a lightsaber or as having any connection with Star Wars or Lucasfilm," Lucasfilm's legal team stated in a followup letter.
"We appreciate the clarifying public comments that you have made. We have noted that apparently in response to your public comments the press coverage has changed since we issued our cease and desist notice, as the media and the public has come to realize that Lucasfilm would never endorse or license a highly dangerous product such as your Arctic Pro Laser and that in fact there is no relationship between Lucasfilm and your company or its products."
This time around, Lucasfilm went on to request that Wicked Lasers add a disclaimer stating that the Arctic Pro, as well as other similar products, are not licensed or endorsed by Lucasfilm. Or put another way, wave a virtual hand in front of the public and disclaim that these are not the official lightsaber products you're looking for.
On a related note, we had Wicked Lasers send us the laser in question. You can see the unboxing here.
As part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dell will pay a civil monetary penalty of $100 million, the PC maker announced.
"We are pleased to have resolved this matter," company chairman Michael Dell said in a statement. "We are committed to maintaining clear and accurate reporting of our periodic results, supporting our customers, and executing our growth strategy."
Both the company and Michael Dell entered into the settlement without admitting or denying any wrong doing. In addition, the company has agreed to a permanent injunction against future violations, and is required to retain an independent consultant and enhance its disclosure processes, practices, and controls, Dell said.
A few years back, the RIAA announced they would be stopping the large scale lawsuits against consumers. At the time people speculated about the cause, but thanks to some new figures uncovered by p2pnet's Jon Newton, we can be fairly sure the reason was largely financial. In 2008, the RIAA paid over $16 million in legal fees in order to recover $391,000 through settlements. Not the best business to be in.
It gets worse the farther you go back. In 2007 they spent over $24 million to pursue alleged infringers and got back only $515,929. It 2006, it was $19 million spent to coerce people into shelling out $455,000. So in this three year period, the RIAA spent $64 million to recover about $1.3 million.
Seeing the continued spread of p2p in 2008, the RIAA may have concluded that any deterrent effect of the lawsuits was minimal at best. At that point it becomes harder to justify making all those lawyers filthy rich. Is it at least possible for the RIAA to repair their image with consumers after this PR nightmare?