The short version of this story is that Tse Ho Keung, holder of a patent that is currently within an inch of its life, has so far failed to get any traction in lawsuits against major tech companies (...and Blockbuster), and has resorted to threatening independent developers in a dual effort to either gain money or to avenge the name of his patent by forcibly eliciting amicus briefs and declaratory statements.
Android has gone through quite a few changes during its short 6 years of life. The Android that drives most of the world's smartphones of today would be almost unrecognizable to what was launched in late 2008. We've seen massive visual changes, expansion to almost every conceivable form factor, and a completely fleshed-out content ecosystem for multimedia and apps. As the operating system matured, some elements have successfully grown with it, and others have become dead weight.
Samsung seems to have a big target on its back that is particularly attractive to lawyers. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, a media company focusing on photography and management is suing Samsung over its use of the "Milk" trademark for its proprietary music service. The New York- and Los Angeles-based agency alleges that Samsung knowingly and willingly violated its trademark when designing the new service.
Can't two grown international mega-corporations just get along? Apparently not. Two months after NVIDIA filed suit against Samsung in Delaware, Samsung is suing NVIDIA right back. The South Korean manufacturer alleges that NVIDIA violated some of its technical patents, including data use and semiconductor buffering. Samsung then upped the ante by accusing NVIDIA of false advertising, saying that NVIDIA's claims that the SHIELD Tablet has the world's fastest mobile processor are demonstrably false.
Apple's proprietary iMessage system lets iPhone users send text messages to other iPhone users over a data network, avoiding SMS charges and making texting free, at least within Apple's ecosystem. It's an impressive run-around of the entrenched carrier system - the same basic idea, applied to an agnostic model, has made texting alternatives like WhatsApp fantastically popular. But users found that trying to leave Apple's walled garden was much harder after setting up iMessage with their personal phone numbers.
Following its similar deal with Samsung earlier this year, Google has just entered a cross-licensing patent agreement with South Korea's second largest smartphone manufacturer, LG Electronics. The deal covers both companies' current patents and those filed over the next ten years. The patents in question span "a broad range of products and technologies" as per LG's press release.
LG's relationship with Google has been solid over the past couple of years, with the company getting chosen to develop two Nexus devices.
If you were hoping that the litigious nature of the consumer electronics industry would fade out any time soon, well, keep on hoping. Today NVIDIA announced that it has initiated a suit against phone and tablet manufacturer Samsung and mobile chip supplier Qualcomm in the US District Court of Delaware for violating seven of its patents. The company is also petitioning the International Trade Commission to block shipments of Samsung devices using Adreno, Mali, or PowerVR graphical processing units.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been on a crusade as of late to save the world from in-app purchases, and that's probably an okay crusade on which to be. The news has come down today that Google will be settling an FTC lawsuit by refunding about $19 million in unauthorized in-app purchases made by kids whose parents foolishly allowed them to go tapping around on their Android devices.
If you're a Norwegian Android developer, you might want to consider attending JavaZone, an independent Java programming and development conference being held in Oslo from September 9th through the 11th. If you're not, you can still enjoy this parody trailer for the event posted to the group's YouTube page. If you're at work or in public, heads up: the video below has some mild swearing.
To get all the in-jokes here you'd probably need a programming undergrad degree, a passing knowledge of George R.