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President Obama Proposes Patent Troll Laws That Will Probably Do Very Little To Stop Most Patent Trolling

Patent trolling is far from a divisive issue in the United States. Pretty much everyone but the trolls can agree that patent trolling is damaging to the economy, and generally kind of a dick move. Patent trolling, if you're not familiar with the practice, is quite simple in concept: buy patents, extort licensing fees from alleged infringers, and sue if they refuse to comply. President Obama proposed some "major" changes to US law that will supposedly reduce the effectiveness of such companies.

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A Brief History Of Verizon And Google Wallet, And Why The Carrier Is Still Allowed To "Block" It

In September of 2011, Google introduced a product called Wallet. Android lovers were understandably thrilled by the idea of paying for things with their Android phones. A month later, Google introduced a product called the Galaxy Nexus, and it had Google Wallet, and Android lovers were, once again, thrilled. A few days after that, Verizon announced its own version of the Galaxy Nexus. There was yet more thrillilation.

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In California, Using Your Maps App Is Just As Illegal As Texting While Driving, Court Says

Texting and driving is a pretty heinous crime. Bad enough that it's spawned entire ad campaigns devoted to educating the public on the dangers of such acts. Of this, you are no doubt aware. What you may be less aware of is the fact that figuring out where you're going is exactly as dangerous as sending someone a message that says "Doesn't the Peachoid look like a giant..."

California, despite having no known Peachoids, knows this very well and a court has ruled that using a mapping application is just as bad (and illegal) as texting behind the wheel.

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Google Launches Open Patent Pledge, Promising Free Use Of Patents For People Who Don't Sue

Google has announced a new initiative today that might, if we're lucky, slowly lead to some meaningful changes in how patent litigation is approached. Or, alternatively, make it easier to highlight the jerks who are ruining it for everyone. The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge gives would-be inventors a pool of patents that Google promises to never sue anyone over, "unless first attacked." That last part is where eyebrows go up, though.

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DxO Labs Issues DMCA Takedown Requests On 12 GitHub Repositories, Some CyanogenMod Repos Affected

A French image processing company by the name of DxO Labs has filed a DMCA takedown request targeting 12 GitHub repositories containing device-specific code for ROMs, most of them maintained by CyanogenMod team members. The notice is vague, only citing:

[3] I have a good faith belief that the file downloads identified below (by URL) are unlawful under these copyright laws because among other things, the files circumvent effective access controls and/or copyright protection measures;

[4] Reason:

Content Type: "Custom Firmware" files

Violation(s): Trafficking a device that circumvents effective access controls and/or trafficking a device that circumvents effective copyright protection measures.

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AT&T: 'We Unlock Our Customers' Devices', Claims New Ban Will Not Negatively Affect Any Of Its Customers

Most of the time, major corporations like to cushion their words so that, in the event of a PR disaster, it's easier to walk back its statements. Today, an AT&T exec in charge of public policy decided to throw that caution to the wind and announce in no uncertain terms 'the Librarian’s ruling will not negatively impact any of AT&T’s customers.' Well. That sure is blunt.

We're not apt to take any AT&T rep at their word, and there are certainly some things to raise eyebrows over.

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Now We're Getting Somewhere: U.S. Senator Introduces Bill To Allow Carrier Unlocking Phones For Interoperability Purposes

Two days ago, the White House announced its support for carrier unlocking handsets. The administration promised an FCC/NTIA investigation as well as a willingness to "work with Congress" on legislation to fix the problem. So, we can probably count on the President's support of the new Wireless Device Independence Act, introduced last night by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). The bill, which is only three pages long, has a simple goal: amend the DMCA such that it explicitly allows the unlocking of cell phones, obviating the need for a tri-yearly exemption.

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Judge Koh Vacates $450m From The $1b Samsung Owes Apple, Second Trial To Reassess Damages

Last year, Apple won what was perhaps the largest legal victory in its war on Android when a court ruled that Samsung infringed its patents on a significant number of devices and owed the Cupertino company in excess of a billion dollars. Today, however, that same judge is vacating $450m from that total until a second damages trial with a new jury can commence.

That amount won't be stripped away entirely, mind you.

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Judge Koh Rules Samsung Did Not Willfully Infringe Apple's Patents (But Yes, It Still Infringed Them)

Finally ruling on a hearing held in early December, Judge Koh decided that Apple's billion-dollar verdict won't be getting any bigger - having formally ruled that Samsung did not infringe Apple's patents willfully. Willful infringement is a concept in patent law that is largely self-explanatory (at least in a non-technical sense): did the defendant purposefully or with wanton disregard for obvious risk infringe the plaintiff's patents?

The jury in this trial held that Samsung did willfully infringe.

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US DOJ Requests Delay Of FCC Approval Of Sprint / Softbank Merger For Further Review

According to Bloomberg, the US Department of Justice has just announced that it will submit a deferment request for the Sprint / Softbank merger to the FCC. Telecom acquisitions in the United States require approval from both the DoJ and the FCC, with the former agency focusing largely on potential anti-trust issues. Softbank officially announced the buyout in October.

It's not exactly a big surprise that the DoJ is looking at this deal cautiously.

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