The devices you buy from US mobile carriers are almost always locked to a single network, and unlocking them has been a legal gray area for the last few years. Now Congress is finally taking action to remedy that. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act has been passed by the Senate, matching a House bill passed in February. As you can imagine, consumer rights groups are pretty jazzed.
California lawmakers have been working on a bill for some time that would require a so-called "smartphone kill switch" in every phone, but Minnesota has beaten California to the punch and become the first state to enact such a law. It mirrors the California law very closely, but goes a step further by banning some cash sales of used phones.
The main provision of the bill covers how the proposed kill switch requirement would work.
In an ideal world, a phone's SIM card would work with whichever carrier you choose. No having to sell a Verizon HTC One to switch to an identical one on Sprint. A device with a carrier-free SIM card could go wherever its owner wanted it to. The only problem is, such a product is currently illegal across most of the planet. Only in the Netherlands is the story starting to change.
Google (and Apple) representatives are having a sit-down with members of European Commission member states and the Consumer Protection Cooperation today to talk about apps. Specifically, the commission is asking some hard questions about in-app purchases following complaints from consumer protection groups in Denmark, Britain, and several other EU nations.
The issue revolves around the use of the term 'free' in the descriptions of games that push in-app purchases. The commission fears these listings could be misleading, especially to children.
Despite it being the holiday season, there is little jolliness in Google's legal department. Google has just filed a lawsuit against Rockstar. No, not the game maker of GTA fame. This legal attack is aimed at the Rockstar patent holding company owned jointly by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Sony, and Ericsson. Rockstar has been going after Google and various Android OEMs for patent infringement and Mountain View has apparently had enough.
Rockstar's patents come mostly from the purchase of the Nortel portfolio a few years ago, but Rockstar itself is merely a litigator of patents – it doesn't make anything.
The verdict in the Apple-Samsung legal battle came in much sooner than expected and the news hasn't been good for Samsung. To pull out one of the most relevant details amid all the patents and trade dress claims, the jury has ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Yikes.
Update: The jury was asked to reconsider Question 4 of the verdict form. After deliberating, the jury's answer was changed to "no" for the Intercept and one other device, and the damages amount officially changed to $1,049,343,540.
Breaking live from TheVerge, who are in the courtroom, we're hearing that the jury in Apple v. Samsung has rendered a verdict. Now, this is complicated - there were around 700 questions for the jury to answer on the instructions they were provided, so there are a lot of issues to go through here.
You've probably already read headlines in the last hour or two proclaiming that Google has "lost" its copyright case against Oracle, and in the strictest sense of the word, it has. Google lost on a number of counts, including the most important one, question one in the jury instructions. It also lost on a count involving nine lines of code that have long-since been removed from Android.
The first question, though, asked the jurors whether Google's use of 37 Java API packages, taken as a group, constituted an infringement of Oracle's copyrighted works.
Two weeks ago, the judge in Apple's case against Motorola ordered Google and Moto to hand over details on Android development. Naturally, Motorola appealed, and managed to change Judge Posner's mind. While the company isn't getting away scot-free (or at least, not yet), he did say that "[Apple's] motion is vague and overbroad and Motorola's objections are persuasive." In other words, Apple needs to tone down their request and make sure things are relevant and specific (or in my words, "Apple needs to stop requesting all the shit they can think of").