September 13, 2007
Lawsuits, We've Got Lawsuits
Prince wants to sue YouTube, eBay, and the Pirate Cove (a P2P hub) to take back the Internet from piracy. He wants to control his intellectual property. Take Down notices don't work for him because the content goes back up. He's tired of web sites making money off the creativity of others, blah blah blah. Advice to the artist known as Prince again, get in line.
NTP fresh from it's victory over RIM in a patent dispute is now suing AT&T, Verizon, SprintNextel, and T-Mobile over over essentially the same patents. There's also an ongoing suit against Palm. RIM was up against the wall because the federal judge in that case was going to issue an automatic injunction against RIM that would have essentially shut down its service. A separate case later decided by the U.S. Supreme Court said that injunctions in patent cases are not automatically issued as part of a remedy. Patent cases are no different than other cases and issuing injunctions in patent situations still have to meet a test for appropriateness. So, that leverage that worked against RIM is gone from these cases.
Google is being sued over patents relating to reading books online. Apparently there's a patent involving 3D navigation in online books. Sounds like any sophisticated Acrobat file can violate the patent as well.
Polaris IP is suing Google, Amazon, Borders, and Yahoo for automating their email systems. The case was filed last week in the Eastern District of Texas, also known as patent suit heaven.
And finally, Qualcomm got a federal appellate judge to overturn the ban on imports of cell phones using Qualcomm chips that allegedly violated patents held by Broadcom. The ban was placed by the International Trade Commission, which is a U.S. entity. The White House would not intervene in the case. In your face ITC et al., lawyers for Qualcomm were heard not to have said after the decision.
Windows Update Updates Itself, Like It Or Not
Windows Update secretly updates itself whether automatic updates are turned off, or not. Several executables were recently updated regardless of settings. Read about it in Information Week and ZDNet. Consider the implications.
MS Offers Students Cheap Direct Sales of Office 2007 Ultimate
Microsoft is offering copies of Office 2007 Ultimate to students actively enrolled in educational institutions for $59.95. The program is called the Ultimate Steal, which in some respects it is when you consider that the price is over 90% off the regular price. The program runs until April 30, 2008.
September 12, 2007
Google Earth Has A Surprise Inside
There's a flight simulator in Google Earth? Who knew? It's activated by pressing Control+Alt+A in Windows and Control+Option+A (should be a capital A) on the Mac. You get a choice of an F-16 or an SR22. The program will attempt to locate a joystick if one is attached to the system. The help file offers the keyboard commands to control the aircraft if there is no other controller.
The choice of airports is interesting to say the least. There is an array of U.S. and international airstrips. The U.S. is represented by Los Angeles International, JFK in New York, SFO in San Francisco, and Meigs Field in Chicago. The latter choice is the most interesting as Meigs hasn't existed in 4 years when Chicago's Mayor Daley demolished the runways one night. It was always his dream to do that. The FAA fined the city for taking the action. But there, in Google Flight Simulator, one can take off from Runway 18 and fly over the Windy City to parts unknown.
The view from the plane is pretty good as it combines flight with Google Earth satellite pictures. This should be a fun toy as it becomes better known. Who knows if more airports will be added, like maybe O'Hare.
September 11, 2007
MS Issues New Security Patches
Speaking of Microsoft, it's patch Tuesday. Remember to update your machines if you use Windows.
States Seek To Extend MS Antitrust Decree
Several states in the Microsoft Antitrust litigation have told District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that they will formally ask that the Microsoft consent decree be extended. It's set to expire on November 12th. They say Microsoft is still a monopoly. Imagine that.
Google recently filed its own amicus brief in the case. The company received permission from the judge even though she rejected an earlier attempt, saying that Google's interests were adequately handled by the states and the DOJ. Wired has a report on the latest hearing.
MS Office and Google Apps
Interesting article in the Redmond Channel Partner. It posits the question whether Microsoft Office is in trouble because of Google Apps Premier Edition. This is because Google signed a deal with Capgemini, a global services company that supports IT world wide.
This is the first challenge from a potential Office-killer where someone actually went around to market their alternative. It's not that Star Office or Open Office didn't try. It seems, though, that they though free or very low cost was enough to drive users to the product. That may work with the I-hate-Microsoft crowd, but not necessarily the wider audience needed to create a viable alternative. It's going to be interesting to see if the Google-Capgemini partnership is going to forge market share for Google Apps, and if Microsoft reacts.
September 10, 2007
House Passes Patent Reform Act
The House passed the Patent Reform Act on Friday (H.R. 1908). The Act makes major changes to how patents are issued and enforced. Among these is changing how damages are awarded. Damages are now assessed on the total value of the infringing product. The Act would change this to the value of the patent to the infringing product. The Office of Management and Budget has come out against this change saying that it wouldn't reward innovation.
Other changes make it easier to challenge a patent in court or administratively, limit forum shopping, and changes the standard from first to invent to first to file. The Senate has yet to act on the bill where it faces uncertain lobbying efforts, particularly from the pharmaceutical industry which has serious concerns about the bill.
DivX Sues UMG To Validate DMCA Safe Harbor on Videos
Universal Music Group and DivX are in court over copyright infringement. Universal has been unhappy with UMG content showing up on the DivX's Stage 6 service, which is a lot like YouTube. In this case, however, DivX is suing UMG essentially to get a federal judge to rule that by complying with takedown notices DivX squarely falls in the DMCA safe harbor. DivX notes that it uses filtering software to keep illegal content from being repeatedly uploaded. Google plaintiffs take note.
The story is in Ars Technica.
DOJ Against Net Neutrality
The Justice Department has weighed in on net neutrality. Apparently it's bad. Telecoms would have no incentive to expand their networks in a net neutral world. Even worse, the cost of any expansion would likely be thrust upon consumers. As anticompetitive conduct isn't defined or apparent in the way the Internet transport is maintained, so regulation is premature. Jinkies.
Apparently, then the future of the Internet in America (and Britain) will likely look a lot like cable with basic, expanded basic, and premium sites. The only problem is that no one knows what content will fill the premium sites. But from the DOJ's point of view, that's probably a good thing. There you have it.