Tag: court

EU to decide if companies can stop online sales

 

Europe’s top court will begin a case today to determine whether luxury goods companies can stop retailers from selling their products via marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay.

Owners of luxury brands have been fighting with online retailers for the last decade, arguing that they should have the right to choose who distributes their products to protect their luxury image and exclusivity.

Online platforms dispute this, saying that such restrictive distribution deals are anti-competitive and hurt consumers.

The European Commission is pushing for more cross-border online sales to boost growth and jobs, and catch up with the United States and Asia.

The case before the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) concerns German company Coty, a subsidiary of US beauty products maker Coty, which wants to stop a retailer from selling its goods on online marketplaces such as Amazon.

Coty says this breaches its agreement with the retailer which prohibits the sale of its products via third parties. The case originally went to a court in Germany which later asked the ECJ for guidance.

The EU court’s ruling will be crucial because companies are seeking to curb sales of their products online

Lobby group Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), whose members include Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Rakuten and Yahoo, said the problem was broader than just luxury good companies protecting their

CCIA director Jakob Kucharczyk, said: “We do not consider this to be a ‘fight’ with or against luxury brands. This issue is far more relevant because online marketplace bans are imposed with respect to a range of day-to-day, mass market products which makes them anti-competitive and unjustifiable.”

A court adviser is expected to give a non-binding recommendation in about six months, followed by the court judgment a few months later.

Appeals court backs Apple against Texas troll

US court in deep in the heart of Texas

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided to save the fruity tax-dodging cargo cult from the clutches of a patent troll.

The court decided to throw out the verdict of a two-year old legal case against Apple based on data storage patents.

The original verdict reached by a Texas jury stuck Apple with $533 million in damages.  It had been hoping for a hanging but settled for the next best thing.

Smartflash mostly targeted game developers who largely all settled out of court in 2014, but Apple defended its use of data storage management and payment processing technology in court.

The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash’s patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely.

A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said Smartflash’s patents were too “abstract” and did not go far enough in describing an actual invention to warrant protection.

It is unlikely that Smartflash will rise again to hit other companies.

 

Samsung boss goes free for now

 downloadA South Korean court dismissed an arrest warrant against the head of Samsung amid a graft scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Jay Lee, 48, may still be charged as the special prosecutor’s office said it could pursue the case but at the moment he is not looking like he will have to go on an all porridge diet. The South Korean system means that once you have been arrested you are locked up until your trial.

The judge said in a statement on his ruling that an arrest was not necessary – for now.

“After reviewing the contents and the process of the investigation so far … it is difficult to acknowledge the necessity and substantiality of an arrest at the current stage,” he said.

If the special prosecutor gets its way Lee will face the same charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury, just will not try to lock him up before the trial.

The special prosecutor’s office said it would be continuing its probe but had not decided whether to make another arrest warrant request, and the setback would not change its plans to investigate other conglomerates.

Spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said the prosecution was unconvinced by the Samsung chief’s argument that he was a victim of coercion due to pressure from Park.

The spokesman also said Samsung Group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung had been classified as a suspect on suspicion of bribery, but did not elaborate further. Two other Samsung officials, Choi’s deputy Chang Choong-ki and Samsung Electronics executive Park Sang-jin, were also under investigation.

The office has accused Lee of paying multi-million dollar bribes to Park’s confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the heart of the scandal, to win support from the National Pension Service for a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung Group affiliates.

The merger helped cement Lee’s control over the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire. He has denied it all.

Samsung said in an emailed statement that it appreciated “the fact that the merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention”.

However, the case has highlighted the sharp division between how the system treats big business people and how it deals with the great unwashed.

The public is muttering that the law is not equal for all and if you run a big corporate you can get away with anything.

Microsoft staff sue over being force to watch smut

687474703a2f2f696d61676573352e66616e706f702e636f6d2f696d6167652f70686f746f732f32393530303030302f41726961476966732d617269612d6d6f6e74676f6d6572792d32393536333539302d3530302d3238302e676966While companies fire their staff for watching porn, Microsoft is being sued by some of its staff for making them watch it.

Former employees who worked for Microsoft’s Online Safety Team have sued their employer for not offering a good health plan while at the same time requiring them to watch the most horrendous porn and snuff films the Internet could throw at them.

Former employees Henry Soto and Greg Blauert allege in a lawsuit filed on 30 December that they were hired to screen Microsoft users’ communications for child pornography and evidence of other crimes. While that was not a problem, they claim that after years of being made to watch the “most twisted” videos on the internet, employees said they suffered severe psychological distress.

They asked Vole to stump up for a shrink or to pay for therapy so that they could cope, but Microsoft told them to have a smoking break instead. After all that is a bit cheaper.

Now the two former employees and their families are suing for damages from what they describe as permanent psychological injuries, for which they were denied worker’s compensation.

Microsoft is a little cross about the court case. “We have put in place robust wellness programs to ensure the employees who handle this material have the resources and support they need,” a spokesVole said.

However, the former employees allege neglect at Microsoft’s hands. Soto even says that he didn’t want to join the department in the first place.

He was already a Microsoft employee and was “involuntarily transferred” to the Online Safety Team in 2008. Soto “was not informed prior to the transfer as to the full nature” of his work, and was allegedly told that he would be reviewing “terms of use” violations.
Volish employee policy dictated that he and all other Online Safety Team members remain in their new posts for at least 18 months before getting a transfer.

Nokia wades into Apple

wellington-bootThis week has seen the former maker of rubber boots Nokia sending patent lawsuits daily to the fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple.

Nokia said yesterday it had filed a new set of patent lawsuits against Apple in Asia, Europe and the United States.

This follows the announcement on Wednesday it was suing Apple, accusing the iPhone maker of violating 32 technology patents. All up this means that Apple is facing 40 patents suits in 11 countries.

The Tame Apple Press has warned Nokia that a battle with Apple could hold up royalty payments that are vital to shoring up the Finnish company’s profits, but Nokia pointed out yesterday that Apple had stopped paying anyway.

Ford’s in-car infotainment a “polished turd”

60Edsel-largeWhile the IT industry falls over itself to get its technology into motors, Ford is discovering the hard way what happens when they get it wrong.

A court case into the infotainment system Ford installed in its cars has opened in the US and lawyers for the complainants have got their paws on some rather damaging emails from Ford engineers which show their low opinion of the system.

One engineer describes the system as a “polished turd” and another worries that it is unsellable.

Documents in a class-action lawsuit against Ford and its original MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system in a 2013 lawsuit show Ford engineers believed the IVI, which was powered by the SYNC operating system launched in 2010, might be “unsaleable” and even described a later upgrade as a “polished turd.”

At the centre of the problem was Microsoft’s SYNC OS which Vole continued releasing software revisions it knew were defective.

“In the spring of 2011, Ford hired Microsoft to oversee revisions, and hopefully the improvement, of the [software]. But … Microsoft was unable to meaningfully improve the software, and Ford continued releasing revised software that it knew was still defective,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit describes an IVI screen that would freeze or go blank; generate error messages that wouldn’t go away; voice recognition and navigation systems that failed to work, problems wirelessly pairing with smartphones, and a generally slow system.

Ford’s CEO Mark Fields even moaned that the SYNC IVI was pants having crashed on several occasions. The court case revealed that he was so frustrated with the system “he may have damaged his car’s screen out of aggravation.”

Fields, who was president of Ford’s Americas division at the time penned an angry email saying that he was once again having many problems with my Sync system.  “And yes, you guys already installed version 3.5!!!”

Three months later, Fields expressed his frustration with customers who had to wait for fixes and stated, “I don’t even use the system anymore”.

Ironically Henry Ford’s great grandson experienced significant problems with SYNC and was forced to wait on a roadside for the system to reset and could not continue to drive because he was unable to use the IVI’s navigation system.  For those who don’t know Ford’s grandson had a car named after him – the Edsel.

The Tame Apple press assures us that last year, Ford rolled out a software upgrade to its SYNC infotainment system that lets iPhone users wirelessly access Siri Eyes-Free capabilities over Bluetooth and it now uses Apple Maps.

What they are less likely to tell you is that the system also has glitches. For example, when using it to look up phone numbers for points of interest, such as a restaurant, the system will find the phone number but fails to dial it on command.

 

Chinese court bans iPhone 6 sales

big-trouble-in-little-chinaFruity cargo cult Apple is having Big Trouble in Big China after its iPhone 6 phone was banned from by a court because Jobs’ Mob is alleged to have stolen the designs of a Chinese company.

A Chinese regulator has ordered Apple to stop selling two versions of its iPhone 6 in Beijing after finding they look too much like a competitor, but Apple insists that sales are going ahead while it appeals.

While Apple is hoping that Chinese sales will save its bacon, the outfit is having huge problems getting its goods to market behind the bamboo curtain. Apple’s iBooks, iTunes Movies, music service has also been banned in China. Meanwhile what is left of Apple’s business faces completion from local brands including Huawei and Xiaomi.

The order by the Beijing tribunal said the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus looked too much like the 100C model made by Shenzhen Beili, a small Chinese brand. The order was issued in May but reported this week by the Chinese press.

Apple said a Beijing court stayed the administrative order on appeal and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus still were on sale.

Already Apple has to share the name “iphone” with a Chinese bag maker, which got the name first. Apple said it would appeal that judgement too.

Google beats Oracle in Android in “fair use” case

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884A federal jury has ruled that Google’s Android operating system does not infringe Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs was protected by “fair use”.

The Jury took three days to reach its verdict. Oracle has decided it will appeal.

There was only one question on the special verdict form, asking if Google’s use of the Java APIs was a “fair use” under copyright law. The jury unanimously answered “yes,” in Google’s favour.

If Oracle had won, the same jury would have gone into a “damages phase” to determine how much Google should pay.

US District Judge William Alsup, who has overseen the litigation since 2010 said the jury had did a great job and he “would like to come in the jury room and shake each of your hands individually.”

Google said in a statement that its victory was good for everybody. “Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages to build innovative consumer products,” a spokesGoogle said.

Oracle which had expected to win billions off of the court case vowed to appeal.  Dorian Daley, Oracle’s general counsel, said in a statement:

“We strongly believe that Google developed Android by illegally copying core Java technology to rush into the mobile device market. Oracle brought this lawsuit to put a stop to Google’s illegal behavior. We believe there are numerous grounds for appeal and we plan to bring this case back to the Federal Circuit on appeal.”

APIs can be protected by copyright under the law of at least one appeals court. However, the first high-profile attempt to control APIs with copyright law has now been stymied by a “fair use” defence.

Over the course of the two-week trial, jurors heard testimony from current and former CEOs at Sun Microsystems, Google, and Oracle, as well as in-the-trenches programmers and computer experts from both companies.

Oracle bought Java when it purchased Sun Microsystems and started a law suit against Google over the APIs in 2010. In 2012, following a first jury trial, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that APIs can’t be copyrighted, but Alsup’s opinion was overturned on appeal. At this month’s trial, Google’s only available argument was that the 37 APIs constituted “fair use.”

Oracle argued that Google copied parts of Java API packages as well as related declaring code, in order to take a “shortcut at Oracle’s expense.” As Android prospered, Oracle’s Java licensing business, cantered largely around feature-phones, tanked.

“They copied 11,500 lines of code. It’s undisputed. They took the code, they copied it, and put it right into Android,” Oracle attorney Peter Bicks told the court.

Google pointed out that Java has always been “free and open” to use—and that included re-implementing Java APIs. Sun and its CEO Jonathan Schwartz accepted Android as a legitimate, if inconvenient, competitive product.

Google attorney Robert Van Nest told the jury that Oracle’s case was all about having a big sulk. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison welcomed Android at first, but later he “changed his mind, after he had tried to use Java to build his own smartphone and failed to do it.”

 

Handbags drawn at dawn as Page snarls at Oracle lawyer

pearl-harborGoogle founder Larry Page had a handbags at dawn exchange with Oracle’s lawyer over the use of Java in Android.

Oracle is trying to screw billions out of Google for using Java applets in the construction of Andriod. Google said it  believed that the intellectual property was free for anyone to use.

Larry Page, chief executive of Google’s parent company, told jurors the Google unit said it should be able to use Java without paying a fee under the fair-use provision of copyright law.  If he loses then the software industry will grind to a halt as trolls feed on anyone who used a line of cost which was similar.

Page, whose vocal cords have been affected by a previous medical condition, spoke quietly into the microphone. “Sorry I’m a little bit soft,” he said to jurors.

Oracle attorney Peter Bicks sharply questioned Page about the importance of Android to Google’s business, pointing to documents noting billions of dollars in revenue, as well as earnings transcripts in which Page said 700,000 Android phones were “lit up” every day.  Things got a little testy when Page with his sore throat was asked to repeat stuff he had already said.

“Yes, I already testified I think Android is significant to Google,” said Page, who testified for about a half hour.

Bicks asked Page if Google paid Oracle for the use of Java, which was developed by Sun Micro systems in the early 1990s and acquired by Oracle in 2010. He said when Sun established Java it was open source.   Bicks asked the same question again and Page snarled that Google did not  pay for the free and open things.

Under questioning from Google attorney Robert Van Nest, Page said Google’s use of Java was consistent with widespread industry practice.

“I think we acted very responsibly and carefully around the intellectual property issues,” Page said.

Google and Microsoft bury the hatchet

9545Microsoft and  Google have buried the hatchet and reached a deal to withdraw all the regulatory complaints against each other.

A spokesVole said that Microsoft had agreed to withdraw its regulatory complaints against Google, reflecting our changing legal priorities.

“We will continue to focus on competing vigorously for business and for customers,” he said.

Google said the companies would want to compete vigorously based on the merits of their products, not in “legal proceedings”.

The companies in September agreed to bury all patent infringement litigations against each other, settling 18 cases in the United States and Germany.

“… Following our patent agreement, we’ve now agreed to withdraw regulatory complaints against one another,” Google said.

Google’s rivals had reached out to US regulators alleging that the Internet services company unfairly uses its Android system to win online advertising.

The European Commission also accused Google last year of distorting internet search results to favor its shopping service, harming both rivals and consumers.