legal

President Obama has signed the E-Label Act into law on Wednesday, which will allow electronics manufacturers to add labels for products using software rather than having to print the labels on hardware. Essentially, with the law, phones and tablets can be made with cleaner designs as labels and stickers will no longer be needed and the information could instead be found within the phone's software. While some Lumia phones hide their serial number and IMEI numbers under the SIM tray, some still ship with identifying labels; Windows tablets and notebooks ship with even more information.

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Patent-holding consortium Rockstar, which counts Microsoft, Apple, and BlackBerry among its members, has reached a settlement agreement with rival tech giant Google from a lawsuit originating last October. In its suit, Rockstar alleged that Google had infringed on seven search-related patents that it owned after winning a bid to acquire Nortel's intellectual property portfolio.

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Microsoft has publicly announced a malware crackdown targeting selected domains hosted through the DNS service No-IP. The company is continuing its war against the spread of malware online, but it seems as though innocent web users have been affected by the shut down. Microsoft received the go-ahead from a Nevada court to redirect traffic on targeted domains to stop the NJrat and Jenxcus botnets. These botnets relied on the No-IP framework to remain online and be constantly connected to the internet.

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Nokia is currently in a $333 million tax dispute with Indian authorities, but the company has reported that the Delhi High Court last week ruled in their favour. This ruling was in a case where the tax office froze some owned assets. Nokia also states the company is working closely with authorities to ensure that a solution to remaining issues is found.

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Earlier this year Microsoft and other tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook were accused of giving the government backdoor access to their systems. The program, in operation since 2007, is called PRISM and is operated by United States National Security Agency. Recent leaks by Edward Snowden revealed a relationship that has been in place for quite some time. Microsoft in particular has been singled out in regards to Skype communications allegedly being available to the government. All companies involved have denied giving the government direct access.

In a recent blog post, Microsoft goes on the offensive and responds to the issue around government demands for your data. Here is what is currently going down.

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Nokia released a statement today saying that it had sent a "letter of objection" to the Indian government following a January raid on its facility in Chennai over alleged back taxes totaling $545 million. The Finnish tech superpower firmly denied the allegations and said:

"The actions of the income tax authorities in Chennai are excessive, unacceptable and inconsistent with Indian standards of fair play and governance. We do not see any merit in any of the claims, and are ready to defend ourselves vigorously."

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Say what you will about Microsoft and Apple but the two companies either appear to be the only adults in the room or alternatively, they have formed an alliance against Android. Or maybe both.

Evidence has come forth in the Apple-Samsung trial that the former has licensed so-called ‘design patents’ to Microsoft, which indemnify them against lawsuits from Apple over their Windows Phone and Surface tablets. This may partially explain why Apple was trying to collect patent royalties from Samsung in their late 2010 offer to the company.

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Nokia has recently sold 450 patents to Sisvel, an italian Intellectual property manager. Of those, 350 patents spanning across 33 families encapsulate key wireless technologies like GSM, UMTS/WCDMA, and LTE. Although Nokia nor Sisvel are going into details of the deal, it's expected that Nokia will retain the rights to use these patents, and likely collect on some of the ongoing royalties, but Sisvel will likely get a cut of royalties in exchange for actively protecting the patents in the courtroom. 

It might seem natural that Nokia hold onto these patents with an iron fist and squeeze every penny-worth of royalties out of them, but legal costs can add up; by incentivizing an outside source to do the trolling while possibly still getting some of the royalties themselves, Nokia will be able to focus their resources (both legal and monetary) on Windows Phone. It will be interesting to see how aggressive Sisvel is in protecting the patents, and if they're able to lock down any big licensing deals that Nokia wasn't able to. The last big case Nokia won was against Apple, so I have a hard time imagining that Nokia has left any stone unturned. 

Source: IntoMobile

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An initial ruling against HTC by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) is evidently starting to have ripple effects. The case was brought by Apple, who is accusing HTC of infringing upon 10 patents of which the ITC found HTC to be violating two. Two caveats: the ITC's ruling is preliminary and not final but, Apple just needs to win on one patent infringement claim to potentially halt imports by HTC into the U.S. [Read Nilay Patel's excellent piece at ThisIsMyNext]

The patents in question seem specifically tied to the Android OS and other firms seem to be taking notice. According to 21st Century Business Herald, based in China:

"Some of these vendors worry about the risk of becoming embroiled in patent infringement due to adoption of Android, and have drawn up three strategies to cope with potential impact. The three strategies are enhancement of support to Microsoft Mango operating system, promotion of smartphone customization by mobile telecom carriers for protection through binding common interest (especially carriers partnering with Apple and Microsoft), self-development of own operating systems, the source pointed out. China-based smartphone vendors Huawei Device and ZTE have planned to adopt Mango, the source indicated."

That's a very interesting paragraph. For one, Huawei is not yet a key partner of Microsoft for Windows Phone--so that's potentially new (even though it will matter more for Eastern markets). Second, we're evidently starting to see OEMs start to make contingency plans if these lawsuits continue to go forward. The reason why is because Google does not offer any protection against claims of patent infringement, contra Microsoft who will defend the OS in court to the chagrin of the OEMs. Combined with those continued licensing fees for Android and the speculation of further legal threats, Windows Phone is starting to look ike a good choice right about now.

Source: Digitimes/21st Century Business Herald; via Electronista

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