Tag: lawsuit

Tesla settles autopilot lawsuit

Tesla has settled the lawsuit against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for stealing proprietary information about the Autopilot programme and recruiting fellow Tesla engineers to work with him at Aurora Innovation.

The lawsuit was settled with Tesla withdrawing its allegations without damages and Aurora agreeing to make itself available for an audit by a third party to make sure it doen’t have proprietary information from Tesla’s Autopilot program.

Aurora also agreed to cover the cost of the audit for up to $100,000. The startup claims that it had already ordered its own audit, which found no material Tesla confidential information.

As for the allegations of poaching employees, Aurora has agreed not to reach out to Tesla employees for a year and to release the names of former Tesla employees who have joined the startup already.

It seems rather odd that Tesla appears to be backing down having made such a bit noise against the outfit. It does appear as if the whole legal project went off half cocked from the outset.  The tech press did a quite shufty at all the Aurora employees on LinkedIn and it is  clear that Tesla has nothing to moan about.

A handful of Autopilot engineers joined Aurora while almost a dozen former Uber engineers working on self-driving have joined the startup, including Drew Bagnell, a Carnegie Mellon University who was part of Uber’s autonomous driving leadership until last December.


Oracle sued by shareholder over whistleblower case

Oracle could be shown the hand of the law if claims that it tried to “stonewall” a whistleblower lawsuit and shelled out a $200 million settlement fee after the case had already gone to court, are found to be true.

Shareholder Jordan Weinib is going after the company claiming that CEO Larry Ellison and his gang of past and present directors agreed on the settlement with the US government after costly legal action had already been taken. He said the board had wound up huge fees because it had insisted on “digging in and litigating the matter”, despite knowing that the whistleblowers accusations were correct.

He said the end result of the huge costs, instead of a small fine, meant that Oracle had breached its duty to shareholders.

“The board forced the government to expend additional resources litigating the action when the board knew the company was in a significant liability position and that additional litigation would certainly raise the ultimate price of settlement,” Weinrib said in the complaint.

The argument stems from a lawsuit filed by the whistleblower – Oracle’s former senior director of contract services, Paul Frascella –  in 2007. At the time he accused the company of violating price-reduction clauses in federal contracts covering $775 million in goods, extending discounts to commercial clients without doing the same for government buyers.

Not liking the claims, the US Department of Justice waded into the lawsuit in 2010, which led to Oracle paying the $200 million settlement in 2011. This included interest and payments for the whistleblower and racked up a bill that is claimed to be the largest of its kind under the federal False Claims Act.

He said that by litigating the case, Oracle drove up the ultimate settlement price, “harming taxpayers and shareholders alike.”

He continued to point the finger at Ellison, claiming that the board didn’t adopt safety measures such as tracking systems, internal controls and policies to prevent the fraud happening in the first place.

Weinrib now wants an undisclosed amount in damages on behalf of shareholders.

Yahoo targets IPO-ready Facebook in patent spat

Yahoo has decided to slap Facebook with an intellectual property lawsuit claiming that the social networking site infringed 10 of its patents.

It accused Facebook of having a “free ride” off the back of Yahoo’s patents, covering areas such as online advertising, privacy controls and messaging.

Yahoo is going as far as claiming that it has patents covering many of Facebook’s features, including news feed generation, social commenting and ad displays.  

The patent filing, which has been made public after the companies were unable to come to agreement in backroom meetings, will bring a refreshing change to the smartphone vs smartphone battle, but also has the potential to turn nasty as the two go head-to-head. 

Yahoo is demanding unspecified damages from Facebook, as well as a trial and an injunction against further patent infringement by the social networking site. 

In a statement to the WSJ, Yahoo boldly claimed: “We are confident that we will prevail.”

Facebook said that it was “disappointed” that its “longtime business partner” and a company that had “benefitted from its association with Facebook” had decided to take such action. It described the lawsuit as “puzzling” and insisted it would fight against the claims.

Yahoo’s claims come as Facebook moves toward an initial public offering of stock that could value the company at $100 billion.

Back in 2004 the company took similar action against Google just ahead of its floatation. As a result it was given 2.7 million shares as a settlement. 


ZTE hits back at Huawei with patent lawsuit

Less than 24 hours after a ZTE spokesperson told Techeye that they were “astonished” by Huawei’s patent lawsuit against the firm, the telecommunications firms has hit back with a similar announcement.

Just like Huawei did yesterday, ZTE has now filed a suit claiming patent infringements over its fourth generation LTE technology in China, according to a statement made today.

The suit, again just like Huawei did yesterday, asks that Huawei ceases its use of offending technologies and offers up some cash in the way of compensation.

The firm will also launch legal action globally to protect its intellectual property, with both firm’s being based in China though having far reaching telecommunications businesses across the world.

ZTE points to its strength in patents across 2G, 3G and 4G technologies, talking of “high-quality patented global deployments”, with Huawei also going to great lengths to show its patent strength yesterday, detailing how it would never dream of infringing on another firm’s patents.

However it seems that both firms are more than happy to accuse either of lacking such a moral code.

According to patent expert at FOSS Patents Florian Mueller the swiftness with which ZTE has hit back shows that the two firms were likely preparing to strike out for a good while as recent negotiations broke down.

“These are two firms which have enough resources that they can easily evaluate potential patent infringements in parallel to negotiations and ZTE was likely looking into this for a while before Huawei made the first move,” Mueller told Techeye.

And Mueller believes that the lawsuits will soon branch out to include other regions such as in Europe where the two rivals do much business.

“It is likely that they are both preparing to file similar suits across Europe as well, and though it is not clear whether this might be a matter of months, weeks or days, it would be very strange that this would not branch out into other countries where the two firms are involved,” he said.

Huawei sues ZTE in Chinese giant patent spat

Huawei has filed lawsuits against rival ZTE accusing the telecommunications firm of infringing upon patents and trademarks of its data card and LTE technologies.

The suits, filed in Germany, France and Hungary allege that ZTE has been willingly infringing upon a number of LTE patents as well as even using the Huawei trademark on some data card products, without agreement.

According to Huawei’s chief legal officer, Dr Song Liuping, the company wants to “stop the illegal use of Huawei’s intellectual property” and is willing to enter negotiations with ZTE so as to ensure that disputed technology is “used in a lawful manner”.

The move appears to be a step up from cease and desist letters Huawei has been sending to ZTE.

Huawei claims that it has attempted to enter into cross patent licensing negotiations with the firm without court intervention in the past on “numerous occasions” – but was evidently unsuccessful.

Having received no response indicating that its wishes are fulfilled, it claims it has no alternative but to drag ZTE through the European courts.

In a statement today, Huawei took the moral high ground, stating that last year it paid $222 million in patent licensing fees for relevant technologies. It is demanding that it ZTE follow its lead as an exemplary role model, not caring to mention that whole Motorola and NSN business.

“Where violations are taking place, we will do whatever is required to ensure that the use of Huawei’s intellectual property by any company is based on internationally accepted protocols and practices,” Dr. Song said.

The two have recently posted decent profits, with ZTE’s growth in part due to its market success with data cards.

ZTE says it is “astonished”. A spokesperson told TechEye: “ZTE Corporation is astonished that Huawei Technologies has taken these legal actions. As a company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, ZTE respects and adheres to international intellectual property laws and regulations without reservation, and absolutely rejects that there has been any patent and trademark infringement.

“ZTE is always willing to negotiate on issues in good faith, but will definitely take vigorous legal action in situations like this to protect its interests and those of its customers worldwide.”

YouTube hits back at Viacom copyright attack

YouTube has hit back at a lawsuit appeal by media and entertainment firm Viacom over the website’s role in removing copyright infringing material from its website.

Last year Viacom filed a lawsuit in the district court against YouTube insisting that under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act the video hosting site was responsible for removing all copyright infringing material, without necessarily being prompted.

The case was very quickly thrown out by the court due to some not particularly thought through claims by Viacom, according to Techdirt.

Essentially the firm was claiming that YouTube’s lack of ownership for content uploaded onto its site would “severely impair, if not completely destroy, the value of many copyrighted creations”.

Furthermore it would effectively warrant the immunisation from copyright infringement liability for “even avowedly piratical Internet businesses”.

Viacom believes that it is then the responsibility of the site host to proactively investigate if there is copyright infringing material onsite.

However, YouTube maintains that the DMCA rules state that it is not compelled by any “investigative duties to make such determinations” and claims that Viacom’s argument  “makes no sense”.

Of course when the firm is notified about any copyright infringements it swiftly takes content down, but it claims that it cannot be held immediately accountable for what is even temporarily uploaded onto the site.

YouTube also points to Viacom’s various claims where it is accused that a previous system, which allowed users of the site to flag material that was potentially copyright infringing, had been dumped as a result of YouTube’s willingness to avoid the detection of offending material.

But YouTube says the system didn’t actually work, as users, just like YouTube itself, were not always sure about what constitutes copyright infringement on a case by case basis.

And of course, if it had wanted to avoid having to flag up infringing material it wouldn’t have bothered putting the system in the first place.

Luckily for YouTube the district court saw that it was evidently doing all it reasonably could to avoid hosting copyrighted material that its owners did not want published, and it is thought that Viacom, having already been laughed out of court once, is set for another disappointment.

Almighty Imperium goes after Apple and RIM with camera lawsuit

Imperium Holdings has launched a lawsuit against a host of firms over the alleged infringement of patents pertaining to image sensor technology.

Firms involved in the suit, which has been given to the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Sherman Division, include Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, RIM and Sony Ericsson and covers five separate patents.

The patents all relate to CMOS image technology used in the digital cameras found in smartphones, with Apple’s iPhone and Motorla’s EM330 cited as examples of what Imperium believes to be an infringement of its own technology.

The patents cover the following: ‘Image Flicker Reduction with Fluorescent Lighting’, which was filed in August 2001, ‘High Sensitivity Snap Shot CMOS Image Sensor’, filed in January 2005, ‘CMOS Image Sensor Arrangement with Reduced Pixel Light Shadowing’, also filed in January 2005, ‘Bad Pixel Correction While Preserving Features’, filed in June 2006, and ‘Semiconductor Device for Isolating a Photodiode to Reduce Junction Leakage’, filed in September 2006.

Basically the patent cover various parts of the image sensor mechanics of the way that pixels are arranged in an array, for example to reduce shadowing, and the way that pixels turn analog data into digital data among other applications.

Imperium now seeks a permanent injunction against the defendants over the production and sale of the products which it believes contravenes the technologies set out in its patents, with applicable damages to be awarded by the court.

David Icke, who likes to comment on US CMOS patent disputes, believes that the Cayman Island’s Imperium is “quite possibly a front for a reptilian group sent to Earth to carry out patent trolling”.

HW Technology lawsuit attacks Apple, RIM over smartphone search

Texan firm HW Technology has hit a long list of major companies, many of which operate in the mobile sector, with a patent lawsuit over the use of IP technology in handsets.

The suit, put forth at the District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Divisions, takes on Apple, RIM, HTC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola among a mass of others, due to an alleged infringement of a patent filed in 2004 and issued in April 2009.

The patent refers to a software platform in an IP phone that is able to be used with “different communication infrastructures such as broadband, wireless communication and Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) service”, or more generally, smartphones, with Apple’s iPhone and Blackberry’s Torch specifically mentioned.

It also covers software which is able to provide functionality such as “searches and advertising, given its ability to converge voice and data within a single terminal”.

Furthermore the patent, ‘Internet Protocol (IP) Phone with Search and Advertising Capability’ covers the use of a memory unit and processor to enable contextual searches particularly relating to receiving advertising offers on the handset and then completing a transaction without having to make a phone call.

The defendant firms, which also include vendors and advertisers such as Google and Amazon, are accused of “making, using, offering to sell, selling or importing products and methods that utilise, in whole or in part, a multi-convergence device having a domain specific application that allows such transactions to be made”.

HW Technology has requested that all of the firms targeted in the lawsuit pay damages and costs alongside ceasing from continuing with products and services that it deems to be in violation of its patent.

It is not thought that David Icke is particularly fussed about the patent dispute though he is believed to have once enjoyed owning a Nokia 3210 in the late nineties.

Google and Microsoft join forces for joint lawsuit

It is nice when old adversaries patch things up and join forces, even if it is in honour of crushing a smaller competitor that has dared to challenge their combined might.

That is what appears to be happening with Google and Microsoft, who were only recently at each other’s throats over the suspected pilfering of web results to be used on Microsoft’s search engine Bing.

However the two firms now appear to be teaming up to swat away a small firm named GeoTag that has been pestering their customers with lawsuits over a geotagging patent.

The patent, called “Internet organizer for accessing geographically and topically based information”, was applied for back in 1996 and describes the following:

“A software interface organizes information predicated upon the geographical area of the resources about which the information is desired.”

“A user is presented with a “viewpoint” map which may comprise, for example, an actual visually displayed map of a selected geographical area, or text information which pertains to the resources associated with the selected geographical area.”

All of which sounds rather like certain applications that Microsoft and Google have themselves, so it is no surprise that they are both seeking to get a declaration of invalidity on the grounds of the patent not taking into account other information at the time it was applied for.

The patent, proudly displayed with a rosette on GeoTag’s website, has been used against more than 300 entities, which can be viewed on the FOSS Patent blog, and is source of the joint lawsuit between the two firms.

Developers working on OpenJDK Android platform

With evidence stacking against Google in the Java lawsuit filed against it by Oracle, a group of open source developers have taken the matter into their own hands and have begun development of an alternative Java code that Android could use.

If Google loses its case, it could be prevented from using Java in Android, which would require a complete rewrite from the bottom up. It could also be forced to pay damages to Oracle and hefty licence fees if it wants to continue using its code, which was acquired through the buyout of Sun Microsystems.

In anticipation of this fate, some open source developers have started working on a reworked Java Virtual Machine based on the OpenJDK platform, which is open source with a General Public License v2. Currently Android is based on the Apache Harmony implementation of Java, which Oracle is contesting in court.

“By integrating Java code available on GPLv2 terms they hope to be safe from legal attacks on Oracle’s part, but this depends on what exactly they do and how the implicit patent license contained in the GPLv2 would apply,” said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property expert. “The more they modify the OpenJDK code, the less likely they are to be covered by that implicit patent license.”

The move will also see the developers create their own version of Android, based on the new code, but as suggested above, they could find themselves in legal hot water if they modify the code too far away from the original OpenJDK, which may be necessary to replicate the features in Android.

Google has not yet lost its battle in court, but it appears that at least some developers are preparing for the worst. Whether or not Google decides to pay licence fees to use the Oracle code or try out the OpenJDK alternative remains to be seen.