The U.S. Trade Representative’s office said on Tuesday it would allow a U.S. ban to become effective at midnight on importing or selling mobile devices manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd that infringe on Apple Inc patents.
The decision is the latest step in a patent battle between the two companies that has spread across several countries as Apple and Samsung vie for market share in the lucrative mobile industry. Samsung and Apple are the No. 1 and No. 2 smartphone makers globally, respectively.
The U.S. International Trade Commission said on August 9 that some older smartphones and tablets made by South Korea’s Samsung infringed on Apple patents. It banned the importation or sale of the devices.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman could have overturned the ban – as he did on August 3 in a case where Apple was found to have infringed on a Samsung patent – but did not.
“After carefully weighing policy considerations, including the impact on consumers and competition, advice from agencies, and information from interested parties, I have decided to allow the commission’s determination,” Froman said in a statement.
Apple had filed a complaint in mid-2011, accusing Samsung of infringing its patents in making a wide range of smartphones and tablets.
The ITC ruled that the Samsung devices infringed on portions of two Apple patents on digital mobile devices, related to the detection of headphone jacks and the operation of touchscreens.
Samsung has said its newer models incorporate features that work around disputed technology, and that those changes have been approved by the ITC.
In the August case, when the USTR overturned a proposed ban on some older-model Apple iPhones and iPads, the patents covered were standard essential patents, while the patents covered by Tuesday’s decision were not.
Standard essential patents are central to the products at issue and are supposed to be licensed broadly and inexpensively. U.S. antitrust authorities have argued that infringing on them should trigger requirements for license payments but not import or sales bans.
Eastman Kodak might get itself out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and return to trading.
The company said that it will seek court approval for a $406 million rights offering that could give creditors a big equity stake in the company after it emerges from protection. Kodak said creditors agreed to backstop an offering that would let the iconic company issue 34 million common shares at $11.94 each, equal to about 85 percent of the equity of a reorganized company.
Kodak Chief Executive Antonio Perez said: “This agreement, which serves as a critical component of the capital structure for the emerging Kodak, positions us to comprehensively settle our obligations with our various key creditor constituencies.”
Kodak has said it wants to emerge from Chapter 11 in the third quarter of this year.
Proceeds from the rights offering would go to repay various creditors, including more junior second-lien creditors who would no longer receive equity in the reorganised company. Kodak sought protection from creditors in January 2012 amid high pension costs, and after falling many years behind rivals in embracing digital technology in its photography business.
The company has been selling off its assets and plans to emerge from Chapter 11 as a commercial imaging business.
Google said in August last year that it was adding the number of valid copyright removal notices received for a website as one of more than 200 signals the company uses in its rankings.
“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results,” Google said in the blog post. The ranking change would help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily, it added.
Six months later, the RIAA has found no evidence that Google’s policy had a “demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy,” it said in a statement on Thursday, while releasing a ”report card” on Google’s demotion policy.
“The sites we analyzed, all of which were serial infringers per Google’s Copyright Transparency Report, were not demoted in any significant way in the search results and still managed to appear on page 1 of the search results over 98% of the time in the searches conducted,” RIAA said in the report.
The websites also figured consistently in three to five of the top 10 search results, which is of concern as studies have shown that about 94 percent of users do not go beyond the first page of results, RIAA said.
Reputed and authorized download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon.com and eMusic, only appeared in the top 10 results for a little more than half of the searches, according to the study. For 88% of searches for MP3 files and downloads of popular tracks, Google’s auto-complete feature suggested appending to the searches certain terms which are associated with sites for which it has received multiple notices of infringement, thus leading to illegal content, according to the study.
Google did not immediately comment.
Fox Broadcasting Co has requested a federal judge to stop Dish Network Corp from letting customers who use Dish’s controversial Hopper digital video recording device watch Fox programs on tablets and smartphones.
Fox, a unit of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, asked U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles to issue a preliminary injunction against Dish.
If granted, the injunction would also stop Dish, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV company, from re-transmitting live programs to computers and mobile devices via the latest Hopper set-top box.
The second version of the Hopper DVR with these new features became available to Dish’s 14 million subscribers on February 11.
“With its latest motion, Fox continues its war against how Americans watch TV,” Dish spokesman John Hall said in an emailed statement on Friday. “Dish has long argued consumers have the right to privately watch shows anywhere, anytime, and it looks forward to continuing its fight.”
The Hopper has been controversial because its “AutoHop” feature lets subscribers skip commercials on recorded programs, including prime-time shows from Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC.
Fox lost an attempt last November to block the Dish AutoHop feature, but is currently appealing that ruling by Gee to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Networks have said the feature violates copyright law and can cut into their revenue from advertisers, who fear some subscribers will fast-forward over their advertisements.
Now Fox is also fighting back against a new service from Dish – an on-the-go app that lets subscribers transfer programs to devices such as Apple iPads, making viewing possible in places lacking Internet access, such as planes and subway stations.
According to Fox, such services breached Dish’s license agreement with Fox, and Dish’s Internet re-transmission service infringed Fox’s copyrights.
Apple’s offer, disclosed in a filing to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison, comes five days before a trial is due to begin that centers on the issue of patent licensing.
During the trial, the two companies are expected to argue over licensing rates.
The patents in question are considered vital to the UMTS, GPRS, GSM and 802.11 standards in which they are used, so Motorola Mobility is required to license them to competitors on “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms,” often referred to by the acronym FRAND.
Motorola Mobility is arguing for a royalty payment of 2.25 percent on each device.
“Apple would be willing to pay a Court-ordered FRAND rate of less than or equal to $1 per covered product on the going-forward basis,” it said in the filing. “This is the rate that Apple believes is appropriate in these circumstances for Motorola’s portfolio of cellular and WiFi essential patents.”
Apple said that if the court orders it to pay a rate higher than $1 per device, it would pursue all possible appeals.
Apple said if it had to pay the Motorola Mobility rate, the total cost over several years would be larger than the $12.5 billion acquisition cost paid by Google, which bought Motorola Mobility in May.
The project aims to bring heterogeneous computing capabilities to Java for servers and clouds. It will look at how the Java virtual machine, language and APIs, can be spruced up to allow applications to take advantage of GPU acceleration, either in discrete graphics cards or in high-performance graphics processor cores such as those found in AMD APUs.
Manju Hegde, corporate vice president heterogeneous applications and developer solutions at AMD said that the OpenJDK Project represents the next step towards bringing heterogeneous computing to millions of Java developers. AMD has an established track record of collaboration with open-software development communities from OpenCL to the heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) foundation, and with this initiative we will help further the development of graphics acceleration within the Java community, he said.
Japan will enforce anti-’piracy’ laws that criminalize illegally downloading media files.
The penalties see downloaders running the risk of a two year stay in prison and a fine of up to about $25K, according to a BBC report.
The BBC reports that the enforcement proposal follows a lobbying campaign by the Japanese music industry, adding that the penalties could apply even if someone has downloaded only a single file. The laws were passed two years ago, but so far have not been implemented.
Local rightsholders will be hoping that from now on the criminal penalties will be enforced, and in spades. They are the kind of sanctions that rightsholders dream of and are much stricter than the three-strikes policy in the US.
Anyone caught uploading is also treated more sternly, and could be jailed for as long as ten years.
Japan has a large market for media material, and its government apparently is bowing to protect the interests of rightsholders.
This past Summer the Japanese government ratified the draconian Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), despite it being rejected elsewhere.
A California jury may have granted Apple more than US$1 billion in damages in late August when it defeated Samsung in a hard-fought case over smartphone and tablet patents, but the iPhone maker is coming back for more: late last Friday it asked for additional damages of $707 million.
The request includes an enhanced award of $535 million for willful violation of Apple’s designs and patents, as well as about $172 million in supplemental damages based on the fact that the original damages were calculated on Samsung’s sales through June 30. Apple wants the supplemental amount to cover the period from July 1 through the date when the case is resolved, which it estimated as December 31, 2012.
In its filing with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Apple also said that if the court decides to review the damage award based on a challenge from Samsung, it also wants an additional $155.8 million for five infringing products where the jury awarded less than the minimum amount calculated by Samsung’s damages expert.
Apple also wants either a new trial or amended judgments finding that the iPad and iPad2 design is protected and is infringed by Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, and that a wide range of Samsung phones infringe on Apple patents or trade dress.
At least that’s the findings of a KPMG survey of 668 technology business executives at $1 billion-plus companies, start-ups and venture capital firms around the world.
Of those surveyed by the audit, tax and advisory firm, 44% believe it’s likely that the “technology innovation center of the world,” now in Silicon Valley, will shift to another country in the next four years.
The most likely choice among respondents is China.
Gary Matuszak, global chair and U.S. leader of KPMG’s technology, media and telecommunications practice, said he was surprised by the response to the question of whether Silicon Valley will retain its lead, but also pointed out that a big percentage of the respondents, 42%, were from the Asia-Pacific — and those executives were largely bullish on China.
KPMG added that 34% of survey respondents were from the Americas and 23% from Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Matuszak said he also found it surprising that 28% of U.S. respondents believe that it’s likely that the world’s innovation hub would shift from Silicon Valley during the next four years.
A larger percentage, 39%, of U.S. respondents said they expect the U.S. will retain its technology leadership role, while 32% were “middle of the road” on the question, he said.
Among the survey’s China respondents, 60% felt the innovation center would change in the next four years. For those who believed a new Silicon Valley will emerge, the likely choice, not surprisingly, was China.
China’s growing tech capabilities have become a major concern in Washington. The country’s innovation efforts were the subject of a hearing in May by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
The plaintiffs have contended that Google’s plan to create the library, which would have included millions of out-of-print works, amounted to “massive copyright infringement.”
U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin on Thursday said it would be more efficient for the authors to sue as a group, and that forcing them to sue individually would have risked disparate results and “exponentially” raised litigation costs.
Chin was elevated in 2010 to the federal appeals court in New York, but kept jurisdiction over the Google case, which he had begun overseeing as a trial judge.
Google Inc, in a long-running legal battle over its plans to build a digital library of books, argued in court on Thursday that associations of authors and photographers should not be allowed to sue the company as a group.
Manhattan federal judge Denny Chin did not make an immediate decision, but noted during oral arguments that “it would take forever” to resolve cases brought by individual authors and it “seems to make sense” to consider the lawsuits as a group.
The judge reserved decision on Google’s motions to dismiss the lawsuits by the Authors Guild and the American Society of Media Photographers. They accused the search-engine giant of copyright infringement when it signed contracts with libraries for scanning, distributing and displaying about 20 million books.
Authors Guild lawyer Joanne Zack said Google was an “intimidating defendant” for individuals. “This action does call out for a mass litigation to adjudicate the mass digitization.”
The litigation stems from a seven-year legal dispute over Google’s desire to create the world’s largest digital library. In March 2011, Chin rejected a settlement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers Inc, citing antitrust and copyright concerns.
He has urged that the pact be amended to include only books whose copyright owners agree to the arrangement, rather than require authors to “opt out.”
The Authors Guild decided to litigate further and Google and the publishers say they are still hopeful of reaching agreement, perhaps sometime this year.
Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp, some academics and authors are among those who say the settlement appeared to violate copyright and antitrust law. The U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division has also opposed the settlement.
The United States on Monday again placed Russia and China on its annual list of countries with the most dismal records of preventing the theft of copyrighted material and other intellectual property (IP), the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.
Argentina, Canada and India were also put on the “priority watch list,” along with Algeria, Chile, Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.
“This year’s Special 301 Report is more significant than ever in light of recent U.S. Government data showing that IP-intensive industries support as many as 40 million American jobs and up to 60 percent of U.S. exports,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.
Canada, among the North American Free Trade Agreement nations along with Mexico and the United States, made the list for the fourth consecutive year, partly for failing to reform its copyright laws.
The priority watch list carries no threat of sanctions, but hopes to shame governments into cracking down on piracy and counterfeiting and updating their copyright laws.
It was Russia’s 16th straight year on the list, according to a tally kept by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S. business group.
China has been on the priority watch list for eight years and subject to a special monitoring program under Section 306 of U.S. trade law since the late 1990s.
YouTube said it would offer online rentals of nearly 500 Paramount films, including “Hugo” and “The Godfather,” rounding out its growing catalog of feature-length movies.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed and it was not immediately clear why the two companies, whose parent companies have fought in court for years, decided to put their differences aside for this licensing agreement.
Viacom is currently seeking to overturn its defeat in a landmark $1 billion lawsuit in which the media conglomerate charged YouTube and parent company Google Inc with “massive” copyright infringement.
Viacom alleged in its 2007 suit that many of its programs, including “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “South Park,” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” have been illegally uploaded on YouTube and that YouTube and Google executives knew about it but did nothing to stop it.
The case has been closely-watched as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 federal law making it a crime to produce technology to circumvent anti-piracy measures, and limiting liability of online service providers for copyright infringement by users.
YouTube, the world’s most popular online video website, streams 4 billion videos every day and its users upload more than 60 hours of video to the site every minute. Although much of the content on YouTube consists of home videos that are free to watch, YouTube has increasingly added professionally-produced content, some of it available to rent for a fee.
The Paramount deal means that YouTube now has movie rental deals with five of the six major film studios, as well as more than ten independent film studios, giving it access to a catalog of nearly 9,000 films.
Consumers can rent the films, generally for 24 hours or 48 hours, for anywhere from $2.99 to $3.99.
The RIAA fired the first salvo in the war of words, as other battles are being waged online and in government, when it accused The Pirate Bay of being a dreadful copyright thief.
The RIAA was commenting on the Pirate Bay’s decision to upsticks and move to a Swedish .se web domain and accused it of being brazen, and “one of the worst of the worst”.
“A blatantly illegal file-sharing site, proud that it’s an online bazaar of every conceivable U.S. copyrighted work, found criminally responsible by its own country’s legal system and who has been ordered by courts in at least seven European countries to be blocked by ISPs, has publicly acknowledged changing its domain name to escape U.S. laws,” wrote the RIAA in a blog post.
“It is motivated by its brazen philosophy of thumbing its nose at the basic rights of America’s creators. It is, in a phrase, one of the worst of the worst.”
A spokesman for The Pirate Bay has responded in a guest post at Torrentfreak. There a spokesman named “Winston” – with credit to George Orwell – said that this statement shows how detached and delusional the music industry has become.
“The piece gives us ample information on just how delusional the recording industry really is, and shows why they must be stopped,” said Winston in response to the post from Mitch Glazier, an impressively over-titled senior executive vice president at the RIAA.
“In the very first sentence Glazier uses the phrase ‘copyright theft’. It’s an interesting concept – if anyone in history ever stole copyright, it must be the record industry… A small lesson to Mr Glazier: If someone steals something, you don’t have it anymore. If you copy it, both have it. This means: If someone steals your copyright (aka ‘copyright theft’) you don’t have the copyright anymore. I’m having a hard time to see that happening though, since copyright isn’t really physical.”
Winston pokes fun at the RIAA, saying that it is out of date and relying on archaic arguments to shore up its cause.
“Maybe (jobs lost to ‘piracy’) just aren’t needed anymore! That’s what technology does! Sorry, it’s 2012 not 1912 – do you want to forbid robots as well, since they steal jobs?” he asks.
Referring back to Glaziers comment about the web site being banned in a number of countries, and relating it to the recent European Court of Justice Sabam decision that outlawed monitoring and filtering content, he suggested that the RIAA might be supporting illegal activity.
“And Mr. Glazier, talking about the countries in the EU that you have forced ISPs to block TPB (and other sites) is interesting, as the European Court has just decided that these types of censorship are just that – censorship, and should be treated as illegal,” he added. “Could we see your view on the matter, as the RIAA is clearly supporting illegal censorship?”
There is no love lost between the parties, of course, and while the RIAA suggests that it wants to work with the technology industry, The Pirate Bay will have nothing to do with it.
“F*ck that. You’re not in charge. If you want the help of the tech industry, ask for it. You’ll probably get it since most tech people are nice. You’re not in charge anymore and that’s probably why you’re pissed off,” he said.
“The recording industry is like a kid screaming for candy. The problem is that the kid has diabetes.”
According to Torrent Freak, more than 736,000 ‘first strike’ and 62,000 ‘second strike’ letters have been sent out by French authorities, with 165 on their ‘third strike’.
A report due to be published by IFPI next week will suggest that Hadopi is a success that has contributed to a 22.5 per cent increase in purchases from Apple’s Itunes.
The French put in place a ‘three strikes’ scheme in January 2010 to try to cut down on unauthorized filesharing.
Hadopi is the agency tasked with administering the system, which started sending out initial warnings in October 2010, and since then has provided statistics on how many first, second and third strikes there have been.
However, next week’s report will be the first for a recording label supported study that claims users are swapping filesharing for paid methods of downloading media content.
It will apparently show that during the last 18 months Hadopi has led to a 22.5 per cent increase in purchases from Itunes and an extra €13.8m for the French market.
With the UK’s Digital Economy Act coming into effect later this year, UK authorities will be sure to be watching closely, as they also want to use the ‘three strikes’ approach.