Congress is a lot like a slot machine - once in a while, something good comes out. A new bill introduced by Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts would require cellular carriers in the US to disclose to end users upon purchase of a mobile device any tracking software present on said device, or any such software that might be installed at a later date by the carrier, manufacturer, or OS provider (that would be Google for Android).
After the Carrier IQ debacle, the public has taken a heightened interest in the privacy of the information on their smartphone devices, and rightfully so. Read More
This a cause I think we can all get behind. Back in 2010, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress issued a rulemaking statement exempting smartphones and DVDs from reverse engineering laws under the DMCA. Previously, companies like Apple had used these provisions to threaten criminal prosecution (as well as civil action) against those who "jailbroke" (rooted) devices such as the iPhone (or iPad). The exemption to these penalties put in place by the Copyright Office extended to the "jailbreaking" (or, as we know it in the Android community, rooting) of all smartphones (it also extends to things like bootloader unlocking). Read More
The ridiculous and wasteful patent war continues, with a German court confirming that Apple has filed two new suits against Samsung. The first is against 10 phones including the SGSII, and the second against 5 tablets. Details are light at the moment, but evidently Apple is using these two (unsurprisingly very vague) patents in the smartphone suit:
Yes, seriously - their patents are basically for a shape. Readers familiar with the current lawsuit situation in the tech world know the situation is violently out of control, and close followers of AP have heard my thoughts on just how hypocritical and ridiculous Apple is. Read More
In a court filing last night demanding an early trial date for the ongoing Google v. Oracle patent litigation, Oracle claims that Android is now irreparably harming Java's market share in the mobile, TV, and tablet space. Oracle says that these are areas where Java "has traditionally been strong." News to us.
Last time I checked, cheap multimedia flip phones running Opera Mobile weren't exactly high on Google's target product list for Android, but maybe I missed the memo on that one. Also, please direct me to these Java-powered TVs and tablets, Oracle - the Amazon Kindle is not a tablet, it's an eReader. Read More
Yesterday, we caught early wind of two class action lawsuits filed against CarrierIQ, HTC, and Samsung in Chicago and St. Louis. You can now add a whole new class action suit to the pile, except this time it also names AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Motorola, and Apple in addition to the aforementioned three companies.
Led by law firms from Delaware and New Jersey - Sianni & Straite LLP, Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy LLP, and Keefe Bartels L.L.C. - the lawsuit "asserts that three cell phone providers (T-Mobile, Sprint and AT&T) and four manufacturers of cell phones (HTC, Motorola, Apple and Samsung) violated the Federal Wiretap Act, the Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act." CarrierIQ is not named in that quote, but it is listed in the press release's title, so don't worry - the whole gang is included. Read More
If you haven't heard, Germany has pretty much become the hotspot for smartphone and tablet patent litigation. Most recently, HTC has been hitting headlines in its ongoing battle against IPCom, an intellectual property firm. IPCom claims that HTC's smartphones violate a number of its patents in the realm of 3G GSM technology. HTC says that the last time it made a phone which might have violated those patents was in 2009, and that it has since developed a workaround which does not infringe on IPCom's patents.
A court in Karlsruhe issued an injunction against HTC because of these patents last week. Read More
OK, before I even get into this post, let me be clear: this is based on old news. However, it was news that no one seemed to pick up at the time, and when we discovered it, we thought it was quite interesting.
If you're unfamiliar with Lodsys, let's start with a history lesson. They're better known as the shell corporation offspring of a company called Intellectual Ventures LLC, a patent clearinghouse owned by a group of, shall we say, enterprising individuals. Their purpose? Buy as many viable tech patents as possible, and force major corporations into licensing (paying royalties) deals when infringement on any of these patents, which is actively searched for, is discovered. Read More
4G. The acronym is probably the most abused term in tech industry since "HD." And if you spend as much time reading up on mobile phone news as us (we hope you don't, that's what we're for!), you probably have come to the same conclusion: it's almost without meaning, constantly misrepresented, and defined on a completely subjective basis. We don't like any of this.
Neither do some of the members of congress, apparently. Today, a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate that would require carriers to disclose the following information to consumers about their supposed "4G" services:
- 4G Minimum data speed
- 4G Network reliability
- 4G Coverage area maps
- 4G Pricing
- 4G Network tech used
- Conditions which may affect network speed
It's kind of a lot. Read More
It certainly seems like it. Yesterday, Microsoft announced via blog that it had concluded negotiations with Samsung and reached a licensing deal for the same seven patents it previously licensed to HTC for Android (along with other, smaller Android manufacturers). There were rumblings about just what royalty rate Samsung is paying, but the guess is anywhere from $5 to $15 per handset (it's likely on a percentage-of-MSRP basis - so think about 1-3% per $500 MSRP phone).
When it comes to royalty agreements, rates are usually internally fixed regarding certain categories of IP to avoid confusion about damages in lawsuits, but when there are allegations of continued infringement, the game changes. Read More
Everyone's getting on the peace train, it seems. T-Mobile, in concert with Verizon's filing last week, submitted an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief to the Federal Court for the Northern District of California this morning in regard to the ongoing patent and trademark suit between Samsung and Apple. Its contents? Basically the same thing Verizon's said - that denying Americans their 4G Samsung devices just for some silly little patent infringement will hurt 4G deployment in the US and decrease access to high-speed mobile broadband. T-Mobile actually refers to Verizon's brief in their own document, basically saying "Yeah, whatever he said, too."
After T-Mobile's statement regarding the fact that it still doesn't have the iPhone earlier this week (as though customers needed a reminder), this brief is a pretty logical step for the company to take. Read More