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?
According to a lawsuit filed this week in a Delaware federal district court, a company called XPRT Ventures thinks eBay's PayPal transaction system infringes on their e-commerce technology.
"The inventors listed on XPRT's patents shared their patent applications and ideas on how to implement such concepts taught therein, with eBay in confidence," XPRT's legal team explains. "eBay incorporated such inventive concepts and ideas into its auction payment process during current California gubernatorial candidate meg Whitman's tenure as eBay's CEO. eBay's unauthorized incorporation was a misuse of inventors' confidential and proprietary material."
As XPRT charges, eBay's implementation of PayPal infringes on no less than six patents, all of which XPRT says were filed back in 2003. eBay isn't the only one XPRT is going after, however, as BillMeLater, Shopping.com, and StubHub were also named in the lawsuit.
As anyone who's been around the electronics scene knows, there's big money to be made in selling cables and other related peripherals with big markups. Apple knows this as well as anyone, and they've gone and set their sights (and their lawyers) on a trio of companies selling knockoff power adapters for MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
Apple has filed a lawsuit against the three companies, identified as Brilliant Store, Sunvalleytek International, and Hootoo.com, according to court filings. All three companies own and operate sites that sell computer parts, accessories, and those pesky adapters Apple claims is a patent violation.
This official MacBook Pro 60W adatper runs $79 on Apple's website.
Is Apple simply protecting its interest, or playing the part of tech bully?
As founder of the uber popular social networking site Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has become one of the most recognizable names in tech circles, and outside as well. But do you know who Paul D. Ceglia is?
According to Ceglia, he's an 84 percent owner of Facebook, as he charges in a lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Ceglia says he was contracted in 2003 to design and develop a website for $1,000 and a 50 percent stake. The site in question launched as TheFacebook.com and would eventually become the Facebook that so many people know and use today, the lawsuit says.
But it doesn't stop there. As the lawsuit goes, Ceglia claims Zuckerberg agreed to fork over an additional 1 percent stake for every day it took to complete the site. All tallied, Ceglia figures he now owns an 84 percent share in Facebook, making him the majority owner.
"We believe this suit is completely frivolous and we will fight it vigorously," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
Be that as it may, Judge Thomas Brown has issued a temporary restraining order that blocks Zuckerberg from transferring assets of the site.
For about two-hundred bucks, you can pick up the closest thing you'll ever get to a real-life lightsaber, that being the S3 Spyder Arctic from Wicked Lasers. A tad on the pricey side, sure, but totally worth it to wield "the most dangerous laser ever created," as Wicked Lasers warns.
Sounds a lot like the lightsaber found in the Star Wars flicks, and according to George Lucas, it looks like one too. So much, in fact, that Lucas and his firm, Lucasfilm, sent a cease and desist order to Wicked Lasers.
"It is apparent from the design of the Pro Arctic Laser that it was intended to resemble the hilts of our lightsaber swords, which are protected by copyright," the C&D order states.
The letter goes on to call the S3 Spyder Arctic "a highly dangerous product with the potential to cause blindness, burns, and other damage to people and/or property."
That second part actually appears to be true, and to address safety concerns, Wicked Lasers made a number of changes to its device, such as adding an adjustable power mode, adjustable wave mode, secure lock/unlock mode, and a training lens that reduces the power output by 80 percent to prevent accidents of untrained Jedis...er, customers.
Check out the alleged lightsaber lookalike here, and then tell us if you think Lucas and Co. have a legal leg to stand on.
If the ongoing legal offensive against 5,000 Hurt Locker downloaders is meant to serve as a deterrent, the makers of the film have made little headway. According to torrent-centric site TorrentFreak, the mass litigation tactic hasn't deterred people from downloading the film. The film even figured on the list of the 25 most downloaded movie torrents during the month of June with around 200,000 downloads. The site further revealed that nearly a quarter of all those downloads originated in the US.
The producers of the movie are backed by a company called the U.S. Copyright Group, which is overseeing similar efforts on part of other film makers. Despite efforts to justify such litigiousness as an effective deterrent against piracy, there are many who believe it is nothing more than a witch-hunt triggered at extorting large sums from the downloaders.
Show of hands, who didn't see this one coming? Anyone? Like you, your neighbor, the local convenience store owner, and even little Billy who's more interested in what SpongeBob is up to than the world of tech, we could see the class action lawsuit(s) coming, and they've now arrived.
Defect in Design, Manufacture, and Assembly (Apple)
Breach of Express Warranty (Apple)
Breach of Implied Warranty for Merchantability (Apple and AT&T)
Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose (Ajpple and AT&T)
Deceptive Trade Practices (Apple and AT&T)
Intentional Misrepresentation (Apple and AT&T)
Negligent Misrepresentation (Apple and AT&T)
Fraud by Concealment (Apple AT&T)
Lawsuits over the iPhone 4's well documented antenna problems have also come from Washington, Massachusetts, and probably a few other places. One of the suits says "the refusal of Apple and AT&T to both acknowledge and offer to fix users' phones is incredulous."
For those of you who may have been abducted by aliens and just now returned to Earth, Apple has been catching heat for what many are saying is a defect in the iPhone 4's design that causes the device to lose a signal when covering the antenna, most often when holding it with the left hand. Steve Jobs called it a "non issue" and suggested holding the device a different way.
It's said that breaking up is hard to do, but have you ever had an ex take you to court to prevent you from seeing someone else? That's not uncommon in the business world, and as former IBM senior executive Joanne Olsen is finding out, breaking up is indeed hard to do.
After serving 31 years with IBM, Oracle managed to dangle a big enough carrot in front of Olsen to lure her away from IBM just as the rivalry between the two companies hit an all time high following Oracle's $5.6 billion buyout of Sun Microsystems. The move has IBM crying foul, which contends that Olsen has violated the terms of the non-competition agreement she signed with IBM. Under terms of the agreement, Olsen must wait a year after leaving IBM before rendering services for a competitor.
"Joanne Olsen possesses valuable confidential information about IBM and our operations. As a result, she cannot undertake a senior position at Oracle without violating her obligations to IBM," said IBM spokesman Doug Shelton.
Olsen, Oracle, and each one's legal team has yet to respond to the accusations.
The U.S. government is taking Oracle to court for alleging overcharging several million of dollars, and perhaps as much as $10 million, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
At issue are what are called "GSA schedules," which are essentially contracts designed to provide discounts that are as good or even better than those given to the vendor's preferred customers.
"The whole idea of GSA schedule discounts is that the government, in the aggregate, is likely to be one of the largest purchasers of a company's products, and is entitled to take advantage of the discounts that its large buying power should command," the complaint states.
Oracle is accused of working on the sly to find ways around the GSA restrictions so that commercial customers get even deeper discounts. According to the complaint, it's the taxpayers who ultimately pay the price for Oracle's alleged misdeeds.
With a federal judge ruling against LimeWire in a copyright infringement suit last month, it is almost down for the count. It is on the verge of being shut down as a result of that decision. The fatal blow also means that it will most likely be deprived of the ironic sense of relief that comes with being knocked out from a bout dominated entirely by the opponent. But wait! It has another bout lined up on its way to the grave. A group of music publishers sued LimeWire on Wednesday.
The fresh copyright infringement lawsuit was filed by the National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The NMPA is composed of eight music companies, including EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner/Chappell.
The NMPA wants to be compensated at a rate of $150,000 per infringed song. NMPA's chief executive David Israelite told the New York Times, “we’re looking for more than cessation of infringement, we’re looking for damages for all of the infringement done over the years.” According to court documents, the plaintiffs in the first suit fear that damages may run into "hundreds of millions of dollars, or even billions."