Editor's note: the first three paragraphs of this story are a brief primer on fair use in US copyright law and the complications created by the DMCA. Skip down if you're already familiar with this stuff.
The United States copyright system has a series of protections for citizens who want to use video, audio, text quotes, and other copyrighted material in legitimate ways. These are generally called fair use exemptions: they're why Saturday Night Live can make a parody of Jeopardy or The Big Bang Theory without the fear of CBS suing them for copyright infringement, or why a movie reviewer can use clips of the movie in his video critique. Read More
Oxy is a small start-up company out of the United Kingdom that is planning to launch a new smartwatch on Indiegogo this month. By all accounts, it is not competing with any other company in the industry, not even Pebble. But Oxy got served with a lil' lawsuit threat when it tried to file for a trademark on its logo (shown on the left in the image above) by Deutsche Telekom. Reasons? Magenta. I feel like we've been down this road before.
The last time that T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom were up in arms about their Magentastic Property(TM), the offender was an AT&T subsidiary, Aio Wireless. Read More
While it's not the "rounded rectangle" iPad patent of fame, the iPhone 3G design patent is easily the second most-famous Apple design patent of record. It's called D618677, and it was a key issue in Samsung v. Apple "round one" - and by "key issue," I mean "reason for most of the remaining half billion dollars in damages." According to the USPTO, that iPhone design patent is now invalid on multiple counts of obviousness in light of prior art (in a technical, not literal, sense - two very different things).
Samsung was deemed to infringe this patent by a jury, and while it may well have were the patent valid, the USPTO is saying the point is moot - the patent itself is not eligible for protection. Read More
It's been almost eight months since the Federal Communications Commission opened its lawsuit against AT&T for misleading statements on its "unlimited" data plans. Today the Commission announced its intention (PDF link) to fine the wireless company $100 million for failing to notify its customers that going over unspecified data limits on an "unlimited" plan would result in severely reduced or "throttled" speed, well below advertised speeds, violating the 2010 Open Internet Transparency Rule. "Unlimited means Unlimited," said FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc.
The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine AT&T Mobility, LLC $100,000,000 for misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans.
Google has come out unscathed from a lawsuit in which consumers accused the company of anti-competitive practices. The basic allegation was that Google requires manufacturers to use a Google version of Android and that the way they place their own apps at the forefront has increased prices and prevented potential rivals from emerging. The main issue is the stipulation that Google's search be default in order to preload Play Services on Android devices.
There is probably some merit in the raw outline of the complaint; requiring Google Search to be default in order to access the rest of the Google goodies has probably held down competitors both in the search and mobile software market. Read More
This story is about American hardware and software company Apple and Swedish telecom infrastructure company Ericsson. Neither of these companies makes Android hardware (though Ericsson dabbled in it with its ex-partner Sony), but the outcome might affect all manufacturers that release phones in the United States. That said, it's about patents and lawsuits, so get ready for a snore-fest over the next few paragraphs. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Still with us? Alright. Ericsson is the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world, though their sales are mostly business-to-business, so most consumers don't see a lot of their wares. Read More
If you follow patent litigation news, the name "Lodsys" has the same kind of weight as, say, Kim Jong Un or Robert Ford: when you see it, you just know something crazy is going on. But it looks like the legendary patent troll has fallen on hard times, as its website domain has been allowed to expire. The domain is currently being held by Register.com, which has not re-listed it for sale. Perhaps the one-man company and overly eager patent holder and his lawyers have run out of lawsuits - we can only hope.
If you're not familiar with Lodsys, it is (or perhaps was) a Texas-based LLC formed exclusively for the holding and "protection" of four US patents originally awarded to one Daniel Abelow. Read More
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.
Nearly a decade ago, a company representing patent holder Tse Ho Keung went after Apple, Sony, and others on the basis of patent 6665797, which covers a DRM system that - boiled down to its essence - allows authorized users to access the same purchased digital content on multiple devices. Read More
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.
Milk Studios isn't particularly well-known for everyday consumers, but it's more notable than you might think. While Milk Studios started with photography services in the 90s, it has expanded into a range of niche business-to-business media sectors, including online services, equipment rental, brick-and-mortar galleries, talent management and representation, and full production of websites, commercials, and more pertinently, music and music videos. Read More
Nine out of ten times when we report on a lawsuit, it has something to do with patents or trademarks. I'll admit that those posts can get a little dull, but they're important for the world of consumer electronics. If you've been waiting for something a little juicier in your tech legal news, have we got a story for you. The Seattle Times reports that American cellular carrier T-Mobile is suing Huawei, a giant provider of telecom infrastructure hardware and currently the third-biggest manufacturer of phones on the planet, for stealing a robot.
Specifically, for stealing the design and at least some parts of "Tappy," a custom-built robot that T-Mobile USA uses for stress testing new cell phones. Read More