litigation

Motorola/Google lost a bit of ground in their patent litigation against Microsoft when the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington invalidated or dismissed thirteen of Motorola's patent infringement claims. The litigation claims that Microsoft infringed on sixteen of Motorola's patents with the Windows Phone and Xbox 360 systems.

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Nokia has prevailed in a patent dispute the company filed against Research in Motion Limited (RIM) in 2011. Nokia filed complaints in the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada claiming RIM was in violation of WLAN patents.

Long story short, the case went to arbitration and today the Arbitrator ruled in favor of Nokia. The ruling will require RIM to pay Nokia royalties for Blackberry handsets. And until a royalty agreement can be reach, RIM is not entitle to manufacture or sell WLAN devices.

As expected, Nokia was pleased with the ruling while RIM had no immediate comment. Nokia has filed cases with the Courts of jurisdiction to enforce the Arbitrator's ruling.

Source: CrazyJoys

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A Federal lawsuit has been filed in U.S. District Court in Maine claiming Microsoft's Windows Phone Live Tiles infringe on four patents. The patents in question are held by SurfCast and the litigation involves Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 devices.

SurfCast is asking the Court to declare Microsoft directly and indirectly (through encouraging app development) guilty of infringing on their patents. The want Microsoft to be responsible for financial damages to SurfCast for this infringement.  No injunctive relief has been requestion preventing Microsoft from continuing to produce, sell or distribute the involved systems.

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While Nokia has filed a patent lawsuit against HTC and RIM, the Finnish company is now on the receiving end of litigation. Robert Chmielinski, a Nokia investor, has filed a class action suit in U.S. Federal Court claiming Nokia made false and misleading comments on its Windows Phones and how the new phones would effect the company's position in the market.

The complaint was filed in the Southern District of New York and cites several statements from Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop where he spoke of the company's plans for success with the Lumia Windows Phones.  The claim also cites industry experts who claimed Nokia had all the right tools to win the smartphone game.  Chmielinski sees these as false statements and fraud because Nokia's market shares have declined and the Lumia 900 had a software glitch which resulted in $100 credit to customers, making the Lumia 900 basically a free phone for most consumers.

"Defendant's statements set forth above were materially false and misleading because Nokia's migration to a Windows platform was not going as well as represented. The Lumia 900 had a glitch which forced Nokia to offer a $100 credit and earlier Lumia offerings were not as well accepted as represented"

Chmielinski feels that due to this fraud, he and the class suffered economic loss that could have been avoided. While the complaint doesn't place a dollar amount, the plaintiffs are asking for damages, interest and costs from Nokia as well as equitable, injunctive or other relief the Court may deem just.

Nokia has issued a very brief response to the litigation saying,

"Nokia is reviewing the allegations contained in the complaint and believes that they are without merit. Nokia will defend itself against the complaint."

So, what do you think? Did Nokia overstep it's bounds and falsely predict the Lumia's success? Or did Nokia simply have a positive outlook and investors knew the risks? Does the term caveat emptor come to mind?

You can find the full complaint against Nokia here.

Source: PCMag; Thanks, Andrew, for the tip!

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This morning, Microsoft announced a new partnership with Barnes & Noble for their eReader business having settled the previous litigation on claimed patent infringement.

The new subsidiary of Barnes & Noble called Newco (not the real name, just a placeholder to be determined later) will focus on the digital and college business of the company. Microsoft is investing $300 million into the venture and will maintain a 17.6% equity stake in the new company.

Of course it should come as no surprise that a NOOK eReader will be one of the first priorities of the nw partnership with a client for Windows 8 in the works. Barnes & Noble commented on the newly announced deal noting:

“The formation of Newco and our relationship with Microsoft are important parts of our strategy to capitalize on the rapid growth of the NOOK business, and to solidify our position as a leader in the exploding market for digital content in the consumer and education segments,” said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “Microsoft’s investment in Newco, and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business.”

Although lots of pundits like to criticize Microsoft for "patent trolling" others would claim that the company is looking out for their shareholder's interest by defending what they see as their intellectual property. Despite this, some saw in B&N as standing up to Microsoft, fighting them publicly in the matter. Instead, B&N made a deal with the devil perhaps even angering Google along the way (Android powers the new Nook eReader).

Either way, Microsoft's strategy seems to be paying off for although B&N does not have to admit any guilt for the claimed violations, they clearly were forced to the table for what looks to be an exciting deal for both companies. In fact, this could be the lifeline the fading book retailer needs in its life and death struggle with adversary Amazon.com.

No mention of a Windows Phone client has been announced which has been missing since Windows Mobile and the HTC HD2. However, rumors suggest that Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are based on the same kernel and have large amounts of overlapping code. As a result the announcement of a Windows 8 client may in fact be a dual one for Windows Phone.

Regardless, you can imagine B&N will be getting some favorable treatment from Microsoft in the future. Something that Apple and Google will have trouble in matching. For this, we' very excited by this deal (even if we're Kindle fans here).

Full press release after the break...

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Microsoft settles advertising lawsuit

Really?

It is being reported that Microsoft has settled with the novelty company Cellrderm following mediation. The litigation, filed back in July, that claimed Microsoft infringed upon copyrighted content with their "Really?" Windows Phone ad campaign.  Cellrderm ran a similar set of commercials for their novelty cellular abuse aids.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Who knows if Cellrderm had a leg to stand on in this suit but with Microsoft settling, they can concentrate on more important matters at hand. Like the U.S. launch of the Nokia Windows Phone and a $100M+ marketing campaign for Windows Phone.

If you're curious how similar the Microsoft and Cellrderms ads are, just hit the break to catch all four.

Source: paidcontent; Via: neowin

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Microsoft prevails in patent complaint

Amongst all the recent patent litigation, Microsoft filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission claiming that Motorola violated six of their smartphone patents. An Administrative Judge has ruled in favor of Microsoft in one of these complaints and dismissed the other five. Both sides have proclaimed victory.

The patent in question deals with generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device and involves the Motorola Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq XT, Devour and Backflip. The ruling could be seen as a victory for either side.  Motorola skated on the majority of the claims but won't get off scot free.  Motorola faces importation bans and will either have to develop/tweak the technology to avoid the infringement or pay licensing fees to Microsoft.  Still, Motorola is seeing the glass half full.  Motorola's Senior VP and General Counsel stated,

""We are very pleased that the majority of the rulings were favorable to Motorola Mobility. The ALJ’s initial determination may provide clarity on the definition of the Microsoft 566 patent for which a violation was found and will help us avoid infringement of this patent in the US market."

In a similar statement from Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel David Howard, Microsoft claims victory in winning one of six complaints by stating,

“We are pleased with the ITC’s initial determination finding Motorola violated four claims of a Microsoft patent. As Samsung, HTC, Acer and other companies have recognized, respecting others’ intellectual property through licensing is the right path forward.”

So what does all this mean? The Administrative Judge's ruling is the first step in resolving things. The ruling will now go to the full ITC Commission, who will likely support it, and an appropriate action will be determined that may include a ban on importing the devices in question. The ITC's final ruling is then subject to a sixty day review by President Obama.

The ITC final ruling is expected by April 20, 2012. 

source: tgdaily, allthingsd

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If you've downloaded an app from the Marketplace in the last few hours, you may have received the above pop-up screen before being allowed to continue. The "accept" part is for a new end-user licensing agreements (EULA) that seems to address the user-location tracking controversy that erupted a few weeks ago with a lawsuit. In that filing, it was alleged Microsoft was collecting user data without user consent. Microsoft at first hedged but later admitted that yes, there was a bug which sent user data before they had a chance to accept or opt-out of the location collection.

That bug was of course eliminated with the Mango update but there persisted another bug in the People Hub which is still present. That bug is set to be fixed in a later software refresh, presumably Tango. In the meantime, Microsoft is spelling all of this out in the new updated EULA where they tell us they are not using the data nefariously and how important our information is to them, yadda yadda.

The document is itself nearly 19 pages of text that explains how specific parts of the OS work when collecting data--what is being sent, can you be identified ("no"), why the information is being sent.  They do this for email, internet, Office, Phone Feedback, People Hub, Facebook, Phone Update, Pictures Hub, etc. After explaining, Microsoft then shows you how to opt out or better control what information is being sent out--it's a pretty good guide, albeit a bit dry and lengthy.

What we quickly learn is wow, a lot of info is being sent to Microsoft and it'd take awhile to turn off. But we also learn that information cannot be used to track you, identify you or reveal personal information. In light of the Carrier IQ controversy, Microsoft seems to be showing all of their cards on the matter. Of course, only you know what you are comfortable with so head on over to the new EULA, read through it and you can decide your course of action: Windows Phone Privacy Statement.

Big thanks to Brandon H. for the photo and link!

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Last week a Federal Lawsuit was filed against Microsoft involving the Windows Phone camera. In a nutshell, the allegations claims that Microsoft is ignoring user requests to not be tracked and is collecting location data whenever the camera is used. While Microsoft has previously denied similar claims, the lawsuit alleges Microsoft was fibbing.

So, to re-affirm their position on such issues Microsoft has issued a statement in response to the latest round of litigation to strike the smartphone industry. Commenting to the IBTimes, a Microsoft Spokesperson stated,

"Because we do not store unique identifiers with any data transmitted to our location service database by the Windows Phone camera or any other application, the data captured and stored on our location database cannot be correlated to a specific device or user. Any transmission of location data by the Windows Phone camera would not enable Microsoft to identify an individual or 'track' his or her movements."

Additionally, Microsoft is doing their due diligence to investigate the claims raised in the litigation. In our own, non-scientific tests we found that GPS data is not included in the image's EXIF file (file containing all the data for that particular image.) when you turn off the GPS in the camera's settings. 

From the Windows Phone Settings Menu, go to Applications and choose Pictures and Camera. From there all you have to do is turn off the GPS settings and that particular data point will not be collected. The first image on this rainy day was taken with the GPS on, the second with the GPS off.  The inserts are the EXIF data and clearly shows the absence of any GPS data when the setting is turned off.

Granted, Microsoft could still be secretly ignoring these settings and transmitting the data to servers hidden deep beneath the Redmond Campus. But for now, we'll lean towards Microsoft being on the up and up with this issue.  No date has been set for the Court to hear this case and it's even possible the suit could be dismissed in the pre-trial motion phases.

source: IBTimes

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File this one under "you've got to be kidding me!" but a proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court alleging that Microsoft is tracking customers through the Windows Phone camera. No... seriously.

The claim has Microsoft intentionally designing the camera software to ignore customer requests to turn off you location services and send it to Microsoft anyways. Early this year, Congress was concerned about privacy issues and technology. In response to these concerns, Microsoft wrote Congress and assured them that they only collected geolocation data with the express consent of the user.

Mrs. Rebecaa Cousineau, the plaintiff of record, claims "Microsoft's representations to Congress were false." Mrs. Cousineau further claims that Microsoft transmits data that includes approximate latitude and longitude coordinates of the user's device while the camera is activated. The lawsuit, brought about on behalf of all Windows Phone 7 users, is asking for an immediate injunction, punitive damages and other remedies.

Microsoft has yet to publicly respond to this latest round of litigation. It's true that your Windows Phone camera can record your GPS coordinates to your pictures EXIF file but you can also turn that feature off as well as the overall location services on your Windows Phone.

Whether or not you are truly turning these feature off has yet to be determined.

source: Reuters

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As we know, just about everyone in the smartphone industry is suing everyone else. Microsoft is suing Motorola (which has been bought by Google) over patent issues involving Motorola's Android phones. Google stepped in last week and filed a motion to block Microsoft's Android Expert, Mr. Robert Stevenson, from testifying. Google asserted the claim that Microsoft violated confidentiality agreements and disclosed source codes to Mr. Stevenson.  Source codes on an operating system everyone thought was open sourced.

The U.S. International Trade Commission Judge handed down his ruling on Google's motion and Google got the short end of the stick.  However, the ruling may have opened the door for more litigation.

Judge Theodore Essex denied the motion stating that only parties in a complaint are allowed to move for sanctions. The Judge wrote,

"Google has not set forth any legal support for the proposition that a non-party may move for sanctions."

So the expert witness can testify and the wheels of justice can continue to grind.  Still there are two things to watch with this case.

First, will Google file a seperate claim against Microsoft so they can become a "party" and seek sanctions against Microsoft?

Second, if it is ruled that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft patents and Google's Android hardware partners have to pay royalties to Microsoft, would the $12.5 billion deal have been a bust?

source: Computerworld

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Google doesn't seem to want to get along at all with Microsoft these days. We had the issue about the patent sale that Google took to the Court of Public Opinion.  Now they are taking issue with Microsoft in another Court.  Google is asking a US International Trade Commission Judge to bar a Microsoft expert witness from testifying in Microsoft's lawsuit against Motorola.

If you have lost track of who's suing who or complaining on whom, Microsoft is currently suing Motorola in an attempt to force them to pay royalties for patents Microsoft owns that are related to technology used in Android mobile operating systems.

In the motion to block the expert witness testimony, Google claims Microsoft violated a confidentiality agreement between Microsoft, Google, and Motorola when Microsoft shared "highly confidential source codes" with its expert witness. Google's motion states in part,

“The protective order governing confidentiality in this investigation explicitly requires that Microsoft disclose to Google any consultant or expert seeking access to Google confidential business information or highly confidential source code before [Google's emphasis] allowing a consultant or expert to review such information so that Google has an opportunity to object prior to disclosure.”

The sixteen page motion asks the Judge to prohibit the expert witness from testifying and require Microsoft to provide Google with a declaration, under oath, that no additional consultants or experts were permitted access to the confidential information.

Microsoft has until August 15th to respond to Google's motion. Wouldn't it be a hoot if Microsoft produced an email from Google voicing no objection to disclosing this information?  We also must ask how confidential can source code be when the Android system is supposedly open source?

Source: Yahoo News

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Where we normally expect patents and copyright litigation these days to involve hardware or technology issues, Microsoft finds itself being sued for infringing upon copyrighted content in their Windows Phone ads.

Cellrderm, a company that manufactures novelty cellular abuse aids, is claiming that Microsoft's Windows Phone "Really" ads features similar content that is copyrighted by Cellrderm and it's ad agency. The suit centers around the "Bathroom Really" and "Bedroom Really" ads. No response from Microsoft on the law suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

While there are similarities in the commercials, it's hard to say they are carbon copies. If you make the jump past the break you can see all four ads and decide for yourself. The ads might also shed some light on what exactly a cellular abuse aid is.

Source: winrumors

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Verizon ETF Settlement upheld

Verizon's ETF lawsuit has apparently come to a close with a California Appeals Court upholding a $21 million refund that will go to about 175,000 customers. The lawsuit came about when customers challenged Verizon's Early Termination Fees. The plaintiffs claimed that Verizon violated California consumer protection laws and similar State and Federal laws by imposing flat ETF's.

The class action settlement, originally agreed upon in 2008, was appealed twice by Verizon with the funds being held in escrow until all appeals of the case have been exhausted. Verizon could appeal to the California Supreme Court but a spokesperson for Verizon stated this ruling ended all ETF related litigation.

Scott Bursor, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, stated "Yesterday's ruling by the Court of Appeal confirms that this is a terrific settlement for Verizon Wireless customers, and now more than 175,000 of those customers will get a substantial refund."

There are no reports on how much the attorney fees in this case will be (likely millions) but the settlement breaks down to about $88 per plaintiff. They were challenging a $175 fee, which has increased since the litigation but is now prorated to comply with applicable laws. 

Verizon claims the increase and change in ETF policy is completely unrelated to the litigation.  No word if the Microsoft KIN was ever a part of the settlement agreement.

[read: nasdaq.com]

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