Last September, an appeals court ruled that Google’s Street View Wi-Fi sniffing tactics violated the Wiretap Act, and now Google is asking the Supreme Court to overrule that decision.
In order to get accurate Street View data, Google sniffs unencrypted Wi-Fi networks such as nearby homes and businesses. Some people see it as wiretapping, but Google thinks capturing unencrypted Wi-Fi is not wiretapping. After further investigations, it was found that an engineer was electronically eavesdropping as part of a 20-percent project, but he also urged the company’s legal team to “weigh in” before deploying the code to the Street View fleet. That request “slipped through the cracks,” and Google apologized with the understanding they would destroy the never used data.
A U.S. panel ruled today that HTC, ZTE and Huawei did not violate digital camera patents made by FlashPoint, an Apple spinoff. FlashPoint originally filed the complaint in 2012, and accused all three of the companies of infringing four patents related to phone cameras. One of those patents was dropped as the case moved forward.
In September 2013, a judge found in a preliminary decision that the HTC Vivid and HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE infringed upon one of the patents, while both ZTE and Huawei were cleared. The panel ruled in a final decision that none of the companies infringed on any patents made by FlashPoint.
It’s time for another episode of the Samsung vs Apple war. If you remember, back in December, Apple asked Judge Lucy Koh for a permanent injunction againt Samsung that would ban the sale of over 20 phones and tablets in the U.S. This was after Apple was finally awarded a total of $930 million in damages from the original landmark verdict back in August 2012. Judge Koh denied the injunction, but the future doesn’t look all that bad for Apple.
The two giants will face each other in court again later this month, but it’s on a different set of patents that involve newer devices such as the Galaxy S III. Many industry experts think more damages will be awarded to Apple since these newer products were bigger sellers. Apple and Samsung did try to settle things with a mediator, but unsurprisingly, that didn’t go so well.
Will this war ever end?
It seems the patent fight between Nokia and HTC hasn’t ended yet. Nokia once again won another German patent lawsuit filed against HTC. A German court ruled that HTC violated Nokia’s patent EP 1578613 B1 related to a “method and apparatus for enabling a mobile station to adapt its revision level based on network protocol revision level.” The patent relates to how newer devices are compatible with older technology networks. HTC has already licensed Nokia’s Standard-Essential Patents (SEPs) but this patent is not a Standard-Essential Patent.
The court found HTC infringing on this Nokia patent and ordered an injunction to prevent the import and sale of all HTC devices in Germany that violate the patent. HTC will also have to pay for damages, which will be determined in a separate proceeding.
Just like that, out of nowhere, Google was found guilty of five claims of U.S. Patent No 7,025,914 involving push notification services. The patent in question is owned by SimpleAir, an inventor-owned technology licensing company that holds eight issued U.S. patents. The Google services involved are Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM). These services are used to send instant notifications for Android apps such as Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter.
The verdict took place this past Saturday, January 18th after a week-long trial in Marshall, Texas, and was presided over by the Honorable Rodney Gilstrap. Although the jury found Google guilty on all five claims, they weren’t able to reach a unanimous decision on the amount of damages. It will now be decided by a new separate jury that will hear a limited second trial. SimpleAir is seeking over $125 million in damages.
Last month we told you about Rockstar, which is a company formed by Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, and Ericsson. They are using the patents won from the Nortel bid to attack Android manufacturers. Rockstar is essentially a patent troll with its only function being litigation. They filed a suit against Google and other Android manufacturers last month, but Google is fighting back in an attempt to not only protect themselves, but all of Android and the manufacturers.
Google’s complaint, filed this past Monday, claims that Rockstar’s patent campaign is attacking hundreds of tech companies and it has “placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform,” especially Nexus devices. Google also stated that Rockstar’s CEO said that Facebook, LinkedIn and every other tech company is infringing on these old Nortel patents.
In the ongoing string of court battles between Samsung and Apple, Samsung has come out the loser in the latest round. This battle took place in South Korea where Samsung alleged Apple violated patents related to short message display methods and messaging group features. Samsung had asked the court to put a sales ban on the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPad 2 in place and they had asked for 100 million won ($95,000 USD) in damages. The judge in the Seoul Central District Court threw out the damages claim and refused to institute the sales ban.
In response to the latest ruling, Apple’s spokesman in Korea, Steve Park, said the company is “glad the Korean court joined others around the world in standing up for real innovation and rejecting Samsung’s ridiculous claims.” Apparently Park was not referring to a case last year in which Apple was found to have infringed on two of Samsung’s patents for wireless technology.
Patent wars between Samsung and Apple continue to rage on, with both sides presenting their closing arguments for the current retrial on Monday. The matter is very complicated, but essentially in the original trial between Apple and Samsung, the jury found that multiple Samsung devices did indeed infringe on Apple’s patents. Despite the fact that multiple Apple patents were infringed upon, damages were only awarded for one patent, and what should have been awarded to Apple was miscalculated.
Samsung has paid $400 million of the original $1.05 billion that Apple was awarded, and Apple is now seeking a further $380 million on top of the remaining $650 million that Apple is owed. Samsung, however, believes that they are only responsible for a further $52 million.
As part of Apple and Samsung’s latest lawsuit, one of Apple’s top marketing executives, Phil Schiller, took to the stand to discuss the damage Samsung actually did to Apple through technology and design patent infringement. According to Schiller, he was “quite shocked” when Samsung released their original Galaxy S smartphone, since it was a direct copy of the iPhone. He claimed that it weakened the world’s view of Apple, and that it caused consumers to “question our innovation and design skills in a way that people never used to” because it was so similar. Read more
During the many, many lawsuits and court battles that Samsung and Apple have engaged in, there have been some occasions where each company has had access to private documents and information from the other company. Of course, that information should only ever be used in the context of the legal battles, but apparently Samsung had a different idea.
In one phase of Apple and Samsung’s patent fight, Apple gave Samsung confidential documents explaining their patent agreements with companies like Nokia, Ericsson, Sharp, and Philips. The court issued a protective order that was supposed to prevent Samsung from doing anything with those documents that wasn’t related to the lawsuit. According to Apple, Samsung leaked that information to roughly 90 employees and 130 unauthorized lawyers, which is a pretty big leak. Samsung executive Dr. Seungho Ahn attempted to use the information to strong-arm Nokia into a licensing agreement, but now that Nokia has joined Apple’s side in a motion for sanctions, I’m sure Samsung regrets the idea. Read more