legal Stories December 30, 2016

Meizu settles with Qualcomm over licensing dispute, resuming international expansion

Back in June, Meizu — known for interesting designs and high specs at low prices — was sued by Qualcomm for refusing to pay licensing fees. The two companies have since settled (via Bloomberg), with four lawsuits around the world coming to a close and Meizu agreeing to license its usage of various tech.

legal Stories April 22, 2016

Microsoft and Google agree to drop all complaints to regulators against each other

Microsoft and Google have reached an agreement to stop complaining about each other to regulators. Speaking to Re/code, the companies have said they will attempt to work out any issues between themselves in the future, before getting regulators involved.

legal Stories March 8, 2016

google-search

In the Netherlands, Google has been battling it out in court over fake reviews on several of its sites. TechCrunch today reports that a nursery in Amsterdam has recently won the lawsuit against Google, not only forcing the company to take down the fake reviews, but also forcing it to hand over the details of those who initially posted the reviews.

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legal Stories March 3, 2016

France Google

Google today has joined over twenty other tech companies and filed a joint amicus brief with the U.S. federal court, expressing support for Apple in its battle with the FBI over unlocking an iPhone used by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Google filed a joint brief with companies such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Snapchat. Another joint brief was also filed today by Twitter, Airbnb, and others.  Google explained its motives in a blog post, curiously never mentioning Apple by name…

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legal Stories July 23, 2015

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Google today has started a program for startups to gain two non-organic patent families from Google, as well as the opportunity buy more patents from the company at some point down the line. To be eligible however, the interested startup must also join the LOT Network, which includes companies like Dropbox and Canon and focuses on stopping patent trolls (via TechCrunch).

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legal Stories July 8, 2015

google

It was ruled as part of the ‘right to be forgotten‘ case in Europe last year that individuals could request to have links removed from Google search results, and now another group is calling for that right to be expanded to the United States. An activist group on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission that Google needs to expand the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling to the United States, arguing that users should have the right to have inaccurate links removed from search results (via The Hill).

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legal Stories April 3, 2015

google-android

Reuters reports that the plaintiffs in an antitrust lawsuit against Google have finally withdrawn their case. The case, which was brought against Google nearly a year ago, accused the company of being anticompetitive with several of its Search and Android practices.

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rich receipt shot

Google announced today that it has started rolling out an update to Google Wallet on Android with a couple of notable new features. First off, Wallet on Android now packs Google Maps integration. With this integration, you can see exactly where you performed any given transaction on an embedded map. This feature, Google says, will make it easier to notice any sort of suspicious activity that occurs.

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legal Stories February 20, 2015

google-android

Last May, Google was hit with an class-action anti-trust lawsuit over several of its Android and Search practices. The case centered around the idea that Google was forcing Android handset manufacturers to make its search engine the default on all their devices, as well as pre-load apps such as YouTube. These practices, in turn, drove up the price of Android devices. Reuters reports this evening, however, that a federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit due to a lack of evidence from the plaintiffs.

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legal Stories November 17, 2014

Europe Antitrust Google

A San Francisco court recently ruled that Google is free to display its search results as it sees fit. Backed by the First Amendment, the tech juggernaut has been battling for this right for several years and a California judge ruled in its favor last week. This situation started when a website called CoastNews filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that the company intentionally lowered its rankings in web search results.

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legal Stories November 8, 2014

eff android

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced this week that it has filed a petition with the U.S. Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that makes rooting an Android device or jailbreaking an iOS device possible without violating the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States. expand full story

legal Stories July 16, 2014

Hidden-From-Google

A controversial European court ruling recently determined that people had the “right to be forgotten” and ordered search engines like Google to purge unflattering web links from their search history, but does the internet really have a delete button? A new website called “Hidden From Google” has been banking links removed since the European Union Court of Justice’s ruling.

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legal Stories May 29, 2014

google

Following a ruling by a European court that users have the “right to be forgotten” online, Google has launched a new web page that allows some users seeking a bit of privacy to have certain links removed from the company’s search results. The Mountain View search giant says it has already gotten thousands of takedown requests—and that’s before the form was even public (via Re/code).

The system isn’t automated, and Google says it will need to consider each request on a case-by-case basis to decide whether a certain link should be removed or left intact in the interest of public information. If that sounds a bit inefficient, that might be because it is. An introductory statement on the page calls it “an initial effort” which will undoubtedly be improved on over time:

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legal Stories May 15, 2014

gavel

After a recent ruling by the European Union Court of Justice, Google users have been flooding the company with requests to have unflattering links removed from its search engine. People ranging from politicians to sex offenders have already reached out to Google asking the software giant to purge their tainted web history.

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legal Stories June 21, 2013

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Google’s run-ins with the law in Europe have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this week, the company was ordered to fix its privacy issues in France to avoid facing fines, and now a UK regulator is ordering the company to delete all remaining Street View data within 35 days to avoid facing criminal charges, the ICO reports. Should Google find any further data, then it must inform the ICO immediately.

Today’s enforcement notice strengthens the action already taken by our office, placing a legal requirement on Google to delete the remaining payload data identified last year within the next 35 days and immediately inform the ICO if any further disks are found. Failure to abide by the notice will be considered as contempt of court, which is a criminal offense.

Back in 2010, Google had reached an agreement with the IOC over the WiFi data its Street View cars had accidentally collected. Earlier this year, however, Google stated that had not deleted all the data the first time around, which the IOC was not pleased with. Should Google fail to delete the remaining data within the given time period, it will be hit with a criminal offense.  expand full story

legal Stories June 20, 2013

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Google has run into trouble with the French government yet again for its privacy tactics. According to a new report from Bloomberg, the company has three months to change its policy surrounding its users’ data to avoid being fined. Five other European countries will supposedly follow France’s actions by the end of July. The country says Google is violating its privacy laws because it “prevents individuals from knowing how their personal data may be used and from controlling such use.”

Google, of course, denies these allegations and said that its “privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services” and it has “engaged fully with the data protection authorities involved throughout this process and will continue to do so going forward.”

The French data protection watchdog ordered the company to spell out for users why it collects information “to understand practically the processing of their personal data,” better inform users of its privacy policy, and “define retention periods of personal data processed that do not exceed the period necessary for the purposes for which they are collected.” CNIL is also asking the owner of the Gmail messaging system to request users’ permission for “the potentially unlimited combination” of their data, ask users’ approval to collect their data with tools such as the “Doubleclick” and “Analytics” cookies, “+1” buttons or any other Google service on third-party websites, and “inform users and then obtain their consent in particular before storing cookies in their terminal.”

Google can be fined a maximum of 150,000 euros, or $198,000, and 300,000 euros in for a repeated offense. Spain, the U.K., and Germany are all expected to take action soon, as well. This all comes on the heels of five countries ordering for more information about Google Glass privacy yesterday.  expand full story

legal Stories October 5, 2011

Remember how Samsung threatened to ban sales of Apple’s next iPhone the second it becomes official? They are keeping good on that promise by filing two separate motions for preliminary injunctions in Paris and Milan in an attempt to bar sales of the iPhone 4S in France and Italy. From Samsung’s corporate blog:

Samsung Electronics will file separate preliminary injunction motions in Paris, France and Milano, Italy on October 5 local time requesting the courts block the sale of Apple’s iPhone 4S in the respective markets.

Samsung’s preliminary injunction requests in France and Italy will each cite two patent infringements related to wireless telecommunications technology, specifically Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) standards for 3G mobile handsets.

The infringed technology is essential to the reliable functioning of telecom networks and devices and Samsung believes that Apple’s violation as being too severe and that the iPhone 4S should be barred from sales.

Apple has continued to flagrantly violate our intellectual property rights and free ride on our technology. We believe it is now necessary to take legal action to protect our innovation.

Samsung plans to file preliminary injunctions in other countries after further review.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com.

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legal Stories October 4, 2011

Apple today before a Sydney court rejected Samsung’s seemingly practical proposal calling for the removal of certain Galaxy Tab 10.1 capabilities in exchange for a smooth tablet launch in Australia. Samsung reportedly agreed to take out the feature which ignores unintended touches on the home screen to prevent apps from being launched accidentally. Apple, it appears, instead wants a definite ruling on a temporary Galaxy Tab 10.1 injunction, which should be expected later this week.

If the court sides with Samsung, it gets to launch its iPad rival in Australia in time for Christmas. If not, the case drags out into another year, possibly without a clear winner in sight. Remember, Samsung threatened to ban sales of the new iPhone in Korea the instant it launches. Apple is scheduled to unveil their next iPhone at a media event today in the Cupertino headquarters at 1pm ET, 10am PT. The event is headlined under the “Let’s talk iPhone” tagline, suggesting that the rumored Assistant feature will be in the focus, among other things.

Lawyers for the Cupertino, California-based Apple insist the Galaxy Tab 10.1 “is vastly the one that is going to be targeting the iPad 2”According to Reuters, Apple lawyer Steven Burley made it clear that “the main reason we are here is to prevent the launch and maintain the status quo”. Note: The Wall Street Journal provides a live blog of today’s court hearing. Such a legal maneuvering on the part of the iPhone maker suggests that Apple isn’t interested in settling its dispute with Samsung out of the court unless, of course, unexpected legal setbacks arise.

This is the second blow in two weeks to Samsung’s efforts to make peace with Apple, its largest buyer of components such as NAND flash chips, custom-designed iPhone processors and displays.

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legal Stories September 29, 2011

Apple has made its concerns official. The iPhone maker fears Samsung tablet will lure consumers away from the powerful iTunes ecosystem. Apple’s been successfully leveraging iTunes to tie people to the platform through app and entertainment content sales.

The heated Apple vs. Samsung legal battle over who’s copying who is really about the ecosystem rather than the hardware or the patents. That’s the gist of today’s hearing before the Federal Court in Sydney related to an Apple-requested ban on sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia. According to Smh.com.au, lawyers for Apple argued that the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 could take away iPad 2 sales so quickly that buyers may be “seduced” from the iOS platform.

It’s all about the apps and the broader ecosystem, Apple’s legal team told Justice Annabelle Bennett, arguing the Galaxy Tab 10.1 “is vastly the one that is going to be targeting the iPad 2”. IDC numbers released today suggest that that tablet shipments to Australia and New Zealand doubled sequentially in the June quarter, which the research firm attributed to an influx of Android tablets recently released into those markets.

Apple’s lawyers then resorted to the “fire hose” metaphor to make their case:

This is going to be launched on the market with the velocity of a fire hose and it is going to just come in and take away iPad 2 sales so quickly that by the time we get to final hearing the full impact of the patent infringement will be to the detriment of Apple and to the benefit of Samsung.

And this bit about the battle of ecosystems:

They’ll then be Android people and the investment in the apps that they make to purchase on their Galaxy Tab will be something they can’t use on an Apple product.

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All major Android backers are now paying royalties to Microsoft for using Android in smartphones, even the likes of Samsung and HTC. Goldman Sachs estimated the Windows maker could rake in a whopping $444 million this year alone from Android patent pacts, easily exceeding Windows Phone licensing revenues. Now that the $199 Kindle Fire tablet has come into full view, the question arises whether Amazon, too, will run to Microsoft’s arms seeking Android patent protection.

The two companies last year had cut a cross-licensing agreement. However, the Seattle Times notes that the 2010 deal covers the existing Kindle e-readers but not Android, which powers the Kindle Fire tablet. TechCrunch’s MG Seigler, who saw early prototypes of the Fire tablet, described  a forked Android version which is at the core of the Kindle Fire experience:

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legal Stories September 28, 2011

Microsoft just announced a cross-licensing agreement with Samsung. Akin to their patent deals with other Android backers, this one will have Samsung pay per-device royalties for mobile phones and tablets running Android. Microsoft has in total eight cross-licensing agreements with Android backers Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic, Wistron, HTC and Samsung.

Microsoft explained in a blog post that the agreement “gives both companies greater patent coverage relating to each other’s technologies, and opens the door to a deeper partnership in the development of new phones for the Windows Phone platform”.

Did the software maker just say that Samsung will focus more on Windows Phone in the future? Per press release, Microsoft and Samsung “agreed to cooperate in the development and marketing of Windows Phone”. Could be just what Microsoft needs given their struggle to keep Nokia afloat. Patent expert Florian Mueller characterized the announcement on his FOSSPatents blog as “the most important Android-related intellectual property deal in its own right”, adding:

If Samsung truly believed that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was going to be helpful to the Android ecosystem at large, it would have waited until that deal is closed before concluding the license agreement with Microsoft. But Samsung probably knows it can’t rely on Google. It decided to address Android’s intellectual property issues on its own.

Samsung has circa 28,000 patents in the United States and more than 100,000 patents around the world. Curiously, Microsoft hasn’t targeted Apple’s iOS with its patents so far which leads us to believe that Oracle, Microsoft and Apple may be working together to derail Android or at least make it a pricey proposition for handset makers. Be that as it may, it is going to be interesting seeing how this Microsoft-Samsung patent protection affects the nine Apple vs. Samsung lawsuits in twenty countries around the world…

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legal Stories September 27, 2011

The second day of a two-day hearing between Apple and Samsung has brought resolution to a user interface-related patent claim by the iPhone maker. Webwerld editor Andreas Udo de Haes, who covers the hearing from a Dutch court room, wrote on Twitter that carriers are currently testing a firmware update for Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones. It is said to tweak the user interface of the photo gallery program so it doesn’t infringe anymore:

Meanwhile, Samsung can get around this with an update for Android that changes the UI of the photo gallery, so is doesn’t infringe anymore

Some people are reporting that today’s 2.3.4 firmware update lost the bounce effect on whole Android and replaced it with the blue fading effect. For more intricacies of the legalities, knock yourself out here.

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legal Stories September 26, 2011

It’s litigation day as Apple and Samsung battle it out in courts the world over. In a two-day hearing which began this morning in Australia a judge asked for more time to study Apple’s claims, resulting in a brief Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch delay until the end of the month. Meanwhile, the first round of hearings is underway in The Hague over Samsung’s accusations that Apple’s iPad and iPhone infringe on Samsung’s wireless patents. The Korean company is seeking a ban on those products in The Netherlands.

Apple is represented by Rutger Kleemans (Freshfields) while Samsung’s legal counsels are headed by Bas Berghuis (Simmons & Simmons). Per information sourced from Webwerld editor Andreas Udo de Haes on Twitter and this Nu.nl report, Apple says Samsung is seeking a 2.4 percent charge of chip price for every patent. Apple has called those demands “simply excessive”. Sounds to us like Apple might have awoken the beast. Apple says because the two parties are still negotiating a licensing agreement of sorts, granting an injunction would be premature.

The Mac maker’s legal sharks stress Apple is buying its components from Intel and Infineon, hence no need for royalties to Samsung. Interestingly, Apple’s lawyers also explicitly stated that iOS devices sold in Europe do not use Qualcomm silicon found in CDMA versions of iPad and iPhone. Apple also said Samsung changed the license to Qualcomm to exclude Apple. In a nutshell, Apple’s argument is that Samsung’s technology and patents are already incorporated in Intel’s chipsets.

Samsung obviously disagrees and argues Apple has more than ten component suppliers and is obscuring them purposefully in order to make determining which components infringe on Samsung’s patents that much harder. Apple launched the iPhone in Holland back in 2008 without securing the necessary licenses, the lawyers for Samsung said. Apple denied Samsung’s claims and said Samsung, its parts supplier, wouldn’t demand a license until 2010 because Apple was an important customer. According to this Guardian article, the Apple account is worth fourth percent of Samsung’s total business…

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Apple in August secured a temporary ban on Samsung’s planned Galaxy Tab 10.1 release in Australia. Today is the first day of a two-day hearing over the matter and Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett said she needed more time to dive into Apple’s claims before she ruled on Apple’s request for an injunction.

Bennet observed that “technology moves very quickly”, adding that “it would be in both sides’ interest to have this matter finalized quickly”. The development could further push the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the country. Per Bloomberg:

At today’s hearing, Apple focused on one alleged patent infringement, relating to the touch screen technology of the iPads. Samsung had agreed not to fight Apple’s claim that the Galaxy 10.1 uses zoom technology that infringes its patent.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for Apple’s fierce competitor from Korea, which counts the Mac maker as its biggest customer. Just as they announced channel shipments of ten million Galaxy S II smartphones worldwide (and expecting to ship as much tablets in 2011), Samsung in Korea took the wraps off the Galaxy S II HD LTE which features a native 720p display and fourth-generation LTE radio technology. Samsung also raised stakes in the legal spat with Apple by threatening to go after the yet unannounced iPhone 5 in both Korea and Europe as soon as Apple put the handset on sale. More importantly, the company has made an important ally in Verizon Wireless in the United States which voiced support for Samsung in the Apple case. Also… expand full story

legal Stories September 13, 2011

This is a Samsung-branded Windows 8 tablet Microsoft is giving away to BUILD attendees today. Wanna take bets on possible actions from Apple? Go past the break for unboxing clips. Image courtesy of MobileTechWorld

The latest in the ongoing patent saga involving Apple, Google, Motorola and Samsung includes an unexpected twist as Samsung goes after iPhone and iPad with a complaint filed before a Paris district court in July. The filing alleges infringement of Samsung’s three technology patents, reports AFP. The first hearing is expected in December of this year.

Meanwhile, patent expert Florian Müller notes on his blog FOSSPatents that Apple has filed motions to temporarily halt two Motorola lawsuits until Google completes its $12.5 billion acquisition, which shook the technology world last month. Put simply, Apple argues Motorola waived its rights to sue when it transferred patents to Google. Apple wrote:

To further its pending acquisition by Google, Motorola has surrendered critical rights in the patents-in-suit, such that Motorola no longer has prudential standing to pursue this action. According to the publicly-filed Merger Agreement, Motorola has ceded control of the most basic rights regarding the patents-in-suit

As you know, Google has transferred some of the Motorola patents to HTC, in addition to the ones acquired from Palm and Openwave Systems. HTC then used those patents to counter-sue Apple. Back to Apple vs. Samsung…

Financial Times today opined that Samsung needs to hit the reset button, predicting a licensing agreement of sorts provided Apple succeeds in blocking Galaxy products in the U.S. next month. Contrary to the reports, the publication thinks “Apple is restricted from taking its chip business to Samsung’s rivals in Taiwan because Samsung offers a complete package of components that other firms cannot match”. However, there are indications that Apple’s been lowering Samsung orders for some time and it’s widely believed the company is eager to take its silicon business to TSMC beginning next year.

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legal Stories September 8, 2011

Japanese carrier Docomo sold 100,000 Galaxy S II phones in the first three days and today they launched an LTE version of the Galaxy Tab tablet.

Apple’s patent infringement claims against Samsung now include twelve courts in nine countries on four continents. Reuters reported this morning that Apple is now formally suing Samsung in Japan and seeking to block sales of Samsung phones and tablets in the country:

Apple has filed a suit with the Tokyo District Court seeking the suspension of sales of Galaxy S and its sequel S II smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7 in Japan, according to sources close to the matter. The first hearing was held on Wednesday, the source said.

The iPhone maker is seeking 100 million yen, or approximately $1.3 million, in damages. Apple previously had filed four complaints before the Tokyo District Court, according to patent expert Florian Müller. Coincidentally, Japan is also another high-revenue market for Apple. Other countries where Apple took Samsung to court include Germany, U.K., U.S., Australia and more.

Samsung’s Galaxy S has outsold the iPhone in Japan last year. In July of this year, Samsung announced sales of three million Galaxy S II phones in 55 days, the successor to the popular Galaxy S handset. Samsung is also the world’s #2 smartphone maker, after Apple. The Korean company surprised investors by deciding against divulging sales of phones and tablets in the face of growing competition with Apple. Android-based handsets and iPhones together hold well over three-quarters of the Japanese market for smartphones, forming a duopoly which is present in pretty much every other market where Google and Apple compete are locked in the battle for smartphone supremacy.

Apple is projected to sell 86.4 million iPhones worldwide in 2011 and its iPad is dominating the post-PC world with approximately two-thirds of all tablets sold worldwide. In an interesting twist, court in Australia recently advised the Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget giant to divulge iPad 2 sales figures in the U.S. and U.K. if the Samsung sales blockade is to hold. In a nutshell, judge wants proof that the similarities between Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet and iPad 2, which had been first brought to light by Apple, have in fact hurt iPad 2 sales.

Last week Apple successfully banned the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 from the IFA show in Germany. Samsung will also cease to market that device in the country until its legal dispute with Apple is resolved. Samsung, also Apple’s supplier of memory chips, processors and other components, considers litigation with Apple as “destiny”, their CEO Choi Gee-sung told reporters in Korea last week:

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legal Stories August 29, 2011

Samsung on Monday promised to challenge Apple’s copyright infringement claims  in Australia. Specifically, news agencies report, the Korean consumer electronics maker said today it “will continue to actively defend its right to launch the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia”. Reuters reports that the company confirmed plans to delay the Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch in Australia until after  a court ruling in late September on its ongoing legal spat with Apple. Furthermore, Samsung will file a counterclaim with the Australian court in the coming days, seeking to invalidate Apple’s patents plus another one asserting a patent infringement on Apple’s part:

Today, Samsung informed the Federal Court of Australia it intends to file a cross claim against Apple Australia and Apple Inc regarding the invalidity of the patents previously asserted by Apple and also a cross claim against Apple regarding violation of patents held by Samsung by selling its iPhones and iPads

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a hearing before the Australian court is due September 26 and 29 and Samsung agreed “not to sell or advertise” the tablet before September 30. The article also mentions the possibility of a high-profile testimony by both parties:

Apple and Samsung returned to court this afternoon, with Samsung agreeing not to sell or advertise the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before September 30. Apple will detail the specific patents involved in the case by this Friday and will provide a more comprehensive statement of facts by September 5. Samsung will provide points in answer by September 16, with the case going to a formal hearing on September 26 and 29. It was indicated today that top executives and inventors from both Apple and Samsung may appear in person or over video link to explain their patents.

It’s an interesting strategy on Samsung’s part…

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legal Stories August 23, 2011

You may have heard about “prior art”. In patent law, prior art is basically all information made available publicly before a date which might be relevant to a patent’s claims of originality. Hence, if any invention can be described in prior art, its patent can be invalidated. Samsung is resorting to some pretty sci-fi (literally!) arguments in its legal spat with the Cupertino gadget maker, having gone as far as citing Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ movie as prior art against Apple’s tablet.

The finding, discovered by intellectual property expert Florian Mueller on his blog FOSS Patents, stems from page two of an exhibit Samsung filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The document reads:

Attached hereto as Exhibit D is a true and correct copy of a still image taken from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In a clip from that film lasting about one minute, two astronauts are eating and at the same time using personal tablet computers. The clip can be downloaded online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ8pQVDyaLo. As with the design claimed by the D’889 Patent, the tablet disclosed in the clip has an overall rectangular shape with a dominant display screen, narrow borders, a predominately flat front surface, a flat back surface (which is evident because the tablets are lying flat on the table’s surface), and a thin form factor.

The prior art claim is in Samsung’s defense against Apple’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The company recently claimed in a Dutch court that Apple doctored Galaxy smartphone images.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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legal Stories August 15, 2011

The web is abuzz with the news that Google is snapping up Motorola Mobility in a deal valued at $12.5 billion. And while there are concerns that Google is pursuing the deal purely for the patents, CEO Larry Page said in a blog post that the agreement will let them “supercharge the Android ecosystem” by fending off patent threats from Apple, Microsoft and other companies. In addition, he dropped hints of “wonderful user experiences” in a nod at tightly integrated devices that Apple famously builds.

Now, conventional wisdom has it that the transaction will put other Android backers in an uneasy position as they get to compete with Motorola on an uneven playing field. Not to worry, Boy Genius Report has reactions from major Android backers that appear to be upbeat about the deal. For example, J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division says:

We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.

The publication quoted similar statements by executives from HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson that Google published on their site. On the other hand, as noted by Business Insider, Android backers cannot be satisfied with the outcome of this time, regardless of their voice of support. TIMN wonders what this deal means for the future of Motorola products and the level of Google’s involvement in product development. So far, this is about intellectual property. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha revealed in a conference call discussing the Google deal that his company controls a rich patent portfolio of 17,000 issued patents and 7,500 patent applications filed, indicating that Google will use this patent war chest as a powerful leverage against legal pressure from rivals Apple and Microsoft.

Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said this in the call:

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After a shocking announcement this morning from Google regarding a $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, most are already discussing what this means for the future of Android. However, a report from WSJ claims their sources are reporting Motorola has an “unusually large” 20% reverse termination fee in place that would see Google paying $2.5 billion if the deal falls through.

The report claims this might be proof Motorola is worried the acquisition could be the subject of antitrust regulators who are already investigating Google for its ability to abuse its market lead. However, Google execs noted in a conference call with financial analysts this morning that they aren’t worried about the deal being seen as anti-competitive in nature.

Why would the deal fall through? The report points to potential legal hurdles in Washington, similar to those that allegedly stopped a Groupon acquisition from happening. Google is already the subject of an antitrust probe related to their purchase of ITA software, and continues to be in the middle of intense legal battles with rival smartphone makers. expand full story

legal Stories August 10, 2011

The Federal Trade Commission began an anti-trust probe of various Google services six weeks ago after serving the company with a number of “broad subpoenas”. Today, sources familiar with the proceedings report the probe is now extending to Android and Google’s endeavours in the mobile space.

The WSJ explains:

Six weeks after serving Google with broad subpoenas, FTC lawyers, in conjunction with several state attorneys general, have been asking whether Google prevents smartphone manufacturers that use its Android operating system from using competitors’ services, these people said.

They also have inquired whether Google grants preferential placement on its website to its own products, such as Google’s “Places” business listings, its “Shopping results” or Google Finance services above most other results.

This wouldn’t be the first time government has targeted a technology company expanding into areas other than what they’ve been known for, and it certainly wont be the last. Despite that, Google doesn’t seem to be worried… a Google spokesperson had this to say about the probe: expand full story

legal Stories August 9, 2011

Update: Samsung has issued the following statement (via TNW) addressing the court’s decision to grant Apple the preliminary injunction:

Samsung is disappointed with the court’s decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world.

The request for injunction was filed with no notice to Samsung, and the order was issued without any hearing or presentation of evidence from Samsung.

We will take all necessary measures to ensure Samsung’s innovative mobile communications devices are available to customers in Europe and around the world.

This decision by the court in Germany in no way influences other legal proceedings filed with the courts in Europe and elsewhere.

Reports are coming in that Apple has been granted a preliminary injunction for the entire European Union (excluding Netherlands) that will halt distribution of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. This comes on the heels of a postponed launch of the device in Australia due to a lawsuit with Apple. If you’ve been in the market for an Android-based tablet, you might have to grab one of those new Vizio tablets or wait for the rumored Kal-El Honeycomb powered “Motorola Kore”.

The decision by the Regional Court of Dusseldorf in Germany to block sales of the device comes after a judge sided with Apple on claims that Galaxy Tab copied key design components related to the iPad 2. While Samsung can appeal the court’s decision sometime in the next month, the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond is quick to point out it would be heard by the same judge. Apple is also said to have a separate lawsuit filed in the Netherlands as well.

Samsung had this to say in a recent statement about their legal disputes with Apple:

“Samsung believes that there is no legal basis for this assertion. We will continue to serve our customers and distributors and the sale of Samsung products will be continued.”

And Apple has made their stance on the situation clear… expand full story

legal Stories August 3, 2011

Samsung today issued the following statement announcing its planned Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch event in Australia has been postponed, citing legal spat with Apple (via Gizmodo):

In light of the current legal proceedings by Apple Inc. against Samsung Electronics Australia, Samsung regrets to announce it will be postponing its media launch event, scheduled for 11th August 2011, for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The company will announce a new date for the Galaxy Tab 10.1 media launch event “as soon as practicable”. It’s another PR blow for Samsung Mobile which has thus far confused the press with inconsistent messages about the Australia situation…

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Over the past few weeks, the patent arms race has been accelerating and the latest comes in a Bloomberg story that has old frenemies – Apple, Google and Samsung – locked in a fight for InterDigital’s patent portfolio. Samsung is said to be interested the most in InterDigita’s intellectual property their CEO claims is “stronger” than the 6,000 Nortel patents the Apple-led consortium recently acquired for $4.5 billion. People familiar with the matter tell the publication Samsung has been “approached to make a bid”:

Samsung is looking at the patents along with Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc. (GOOG) and other potential bidders, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. InterDigital, which holds patents related to mobile technologies used to transfer information, said last month that it hired bankers as it considers a sale.

InterDigital’s patent portfolio covers technology for high-speed cellphone networks “now used by the world’s biggest handset makers”, including Apple’s iPhone as well as BlackBerry and Android phones. The portfolio includes 8,000 patents in total and is estimated to be worth $5 billion or more. “To hedge the risk, Samsung could go ahead with bidding, although they may have to pay a big premium”, says  Shinyoung Securities Co. analyst Lee Seung Woo…

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legal Stories August 2, 2011

In response to media reports that it has halted planned sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia until Apple lawsuit is resolved, Samsung Australia has stepped forward and shed some light on the matter. The company clarified via the official statement published by Ausdroid.net that a court injunction involves a Galaxy Tab 10.1 variant that the company “had no plans of selling” in Australia whatsoever.

They re-iterate plans to launch a version for the Australian market “in the near future”. It is not clear from the statement whether or not said version will hit the market regardless of the outcome of the Apple lawsuit in the country. The company does stress that “this undertaking” will not affect availability of their smartphones and tablets around the world. Here’s Samsung’s statement in its entirety:

Apple Inc. filed a complaint with the Federal Court of Australia involving a Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 variant that Samsung Electronics had no plans of selling in Australia. No injunction was issued by the court and the parties in the case reached a mutual agreement which stipulates that the variant in question will not be sold in Australia. A Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 for the Australian market will be released in the near future. This undertaking does not affect any other Samsung smartphone or tablet available in the Australian market or other countries. Samsung will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communication business.

CNN has confirmed authenticity of the statement. 9to5Google has contacted Samsung Mobile seeking clarification and will updated the post accordingly when we hear back from them. We suggested that the very fact Samsung has bowed to Apple in Australia could be viewed either as their concession to Apple ahead of a possible settlement or a major setback in their legal spat with the Cupertino, California gadget maker. FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller concurs and points out that “if Samsung believed that the US version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 doesn’t infringe any of Apple’s rights, it would have defended itself as a matter of principle”.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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legal Stories August 1, 2011

Update: Samsung issued a statement and a “workaround”

In a surprising turn of events to anyone following the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung spat, Bloomberg reported this morning that Samsung has agreed to temporarily cease sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet until their legal dispute with Apple is settled or they win court approval:

Apple Inc. escalated a patent dispute against Samsung Electronics Co. and won an agreement that the South Korean company won’t sell the newest version of its tablet computer in Australia until a lawsuit is resolved. Samsung, based in Suwon, South Korea, agreed to stop advertising the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia and not to sell the device until it wins court approval or the lawsuit is resolved.

It’s interesting because Samsung was advertising the Galaxy Tab 10.1 launch in the country since July 20. Still, carriers Vodafone and Optus both hinted at plans to offer the device to their Australian customers “soon”. Samsung’s decision came as a lawyer for Apple sought an injunction before Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett in Sydney, claiming Samsung’s tablet infringes ten Apple patents. With that in mind, Samsung’s clearly on the defensive here. Apple also wants wants to “stop Samsung from selling the tablet in other countries” and Samsung’s conceding to Apple may have set an important precedence for other countries. Of course…

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legal Stories July 29, 2011

Anticipating Android backers will face legal hurdles as Apple now has the upper hand in its case against HTC (here and here), Google has stepped up and bought more than a thousand IBM patents for an undisclosed sum. The news was first reported by the blog SEO by the Sea and picked up by The Wall Street Journal. The search company might use IBM inventions as a leverage against pending lawsuits that indirectly involve its Android software.

Google failed to outbid the Apple-led consortium which paid $4.5 billion for Nortel’s treasure chest of more than 6,000 patents covering wireless technologies, among them crucial inventions related to fourth-generation cellular networks. The new patent deal is in line with Google’s focus on snapping up patent portfolios left and right in creating a “disincentive for others to sue Google”as noted on their official blog back in April. The 1,030 granted patents Google bought from IBM cover varied technologies, including…

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legal Stories July 19, 2011

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has gone on the offensive and bashed Apple over patent infringement claims the company had filed against high-profile Android backers such HTC and Samsung. In what could be viewed as an effort to sway the public perception, he launched a nasty attack speaking at Google’s Mobile Revolution conference in Tokyo. To Schmidt, Apple’s taking rivals to court sends a strong signal, that of the lack of innovation and jealousy:

The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding. Because they are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits. We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success.

Schmidt re-iterated sales of 135 million Android phones since 2008 and highlighted more than 550,000 daily activations that exclude tablets and non-smartphone devices, which is up from 400,000 a day in May. He said Google will support HTC’s legal battle against Apple’s copyright accusations, but wouldn’t elaborate.

Whether or not Apple’s legal pressure stems from jealousy is up for debate, of course. Cynics might argue Schmidt’s comment draws from nervousness on Google’s part because Android backers are increasingly discovering hidden costs as Microsoft and Apple emerge as holders of patents crucial to Google’s mobile operating system. Apple’s victory over HTC may set what RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky painted as a high royalty precedent for Android devices that could further shrink the already slim margins on Android phones.

As if that wasn’t enough, Microsoft is already taking money from five Android vendors for patent protection, including HTC which is said to pay five bucks each time it ships an Android handset and General Dynamics Itronix. Microsoft is also understood to have targeted Samsung, seeking royalties in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The Cupertino, California-headquartered gadget giant quoted Steve Jobs in a statement announcing the HTC lawsuit March last year:

Then Google CEO Eric Schmidt shares the stage with Steve Jobs at the January 2007 iPhone unveiling. The times of happiness would abruptly come to an end amid Android whispers, culminating with Apple announcing Schmidt’s resignation from its board August 3, 2009.

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legal Stories July 18, 2011

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Shares of the Taiwanese Android phone maker HTC fell 6.5 percent this morning following the ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the company violated two patents held by Apple. The company’s shares have been pretty much free-falling throughout last week. The agency’s commissioners still have to support the ruling, but investors are already panicking over fears that the ruling will favor the California-based gadget maker. This, in turn, would open doors to ITC’s ban on imports of HTC’s phones into the United States. In response to the crisis, HTC announced a share buy back program worth up to $760 million in an attempt to stabilize its share price and restore investor confidence, reports Financial Times:

The attempt to prop up HTC’s share price appeared to have little effect as the stock fell below HTC’s minimum purchase price of T$900 to close down 3.9 per cent at T$871. The sell-off highlights investor fears that the legal battle could have wider implications for the competitive balance between Apple and Google Android-based phonemakers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola.

HTC is thought to have recently acquired S3 Graphics for $300 million in a bid to secure a stronger ground in its legal dealings with Apple, which filed its patent infringement complaint against the Taiwanese company back in March 2010. Apple accused HTC of violating up to twenty patents related to the iPhone’s hardware, software and its user interface. ITC recently ruled in favor of S3 Graphics, deciding the iPhone maker infringed on two patents held by S3 Graphics. They also acquired a portfolio of 82 patents from US-based ADC Communications for $75 million and signed an Android protection pact with Microsoft. HTC is expected to use all of this in the hope of relieving some of the pressure from Apple’s legal sharks. If ITC decides to ban import of HTC phones into the US and the company does not reach a timely settlement with Apple, its stock price could free-fall further.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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legal Stories July 6, 2011

In case you didn’t notice, tech headlines recently are all about patents. Be it the ongoing case of patent troll Lodsys which is now suing The New York Times Company and five other firms that previously sued Lodsys (bringing the number of defendants to 33) or Microsoft going after Samsung and signing Android patent protection pacts with five more vendors or the Apple led-consortium winning a crucial $4.5 billion bid for Nortel’s patent trove – you name it, the blogosphere is all over it.

HTC is now joining the craze with the news that they will snap up graphics vendor S3 Graphics from Via Technologies. The transaction valued at $300 million is about – you guessed right – patents. A total of 235 patents and pending applications will change hands once regulators approve the deal (VIA’s and HTC’s boards of directors already have). The patent agreement should help HTC protect themselves from future patent litigation from rivals. There’s also this:

On July 1, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge ruled that Apple infringed on some of the claims contained in two S3 Graphics patents. Judge E. James Gildea found that Apple infringed on U.S. Patent No. 6,658,146 directed to systems and methods for compressing images and U.S. Patent No. 6,683,978 directed to image data formats, both of which belong to S3 Graphics.

HTC has been trying to escape Apple’s lawsuits since March of last year, when Apple took the Taiwanese handset maker to court over an alleged breach of twenty patents pertaining to the iPhone hardware, software and user interface. With this acquisition, HTC may be out of trouble as both firms now have what the others want – intellectual property – even with HTC bringing a lot less to the negotiating table…

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It’s interesting how Microsoft is becoming an intellectual property vendor these days. This is all thanks to Google’s Linux-based Android operating system which incorporate Microsoft’s many patents, allowing the Redmond firm to seek royalties from handset vendors. Microsoft first forced HTC to pony up five bucks in royalties per each handset sold. The revelation has prompted pundits to note that the HTC deal earns Microsoft more money then licensing fees collected from Windows Phone partners.

Microsoft has signed a similar pact with General Dynamics Itronix and their licensing division took cash from component maker Wistron Corp., in addition to Android backers Veloicty Micro and Onkyo Corp. And now, we learn that Microsoft’s legal rottweilers are after Samsung, the leading Android handset maker, reports Reuters based on local media. Note that Microsoft already has licensing agreements in place with Samsung and LG.

Microsoft Corp has demanded that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd pay $15 for each smartphone handset it makes based on Google Inc’s Android operating system as the software giant has a wide range of patents used in the mobile platform, local media reported on Wednesday. Samsung would likely seek to lower the payment to about $10 in exchange for a deeper alliance with Microsoft for the U.S. company’s Windows platform, the Maeil Business Newspaper quoted unnamed industry officials as saying.

Let’s put it this way: Microsoft is set to make $30 million in Galaxy S 2 royalties alone based on sales of three million Galaxy S II smartphones. That’s a run-rate of twenty million handsets a year, meaning the Samsung deal could be potentially worth a cool $200 million in annual licensing fees on the Galaxy S II smartphone alone. And what happens if an Android vendor does not sign with Microsoft for patent protection?

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legal Stories June 21, 2011

Samsung has issued a statement regarding claims of high-level talks with Apple concerning an ongoing legal dispute involving flagship mobile devices from both firms. A company spokesperson told V3.co.uk yesterday:

We are unaware of any meetings or discussions between the two sides over this matter.

The comment follows a report by Reuters which asserted that US district judge Lucy Koh told both parties during a Friday hearing to get their act together and come to an amicable solution. Apparently, Apple’s legal counsel Harold McElhinny told judge that Apple and Samsung executives are involved in talks. It’s obvious one of the parties is not telling the truth. This cat-and-mouse game is beginning to point at a possible settlement because neither party would benefit from dragging each other through the mud in a multi-year lawsuit. Plus, Samsung is Apple’s key supplier after all…

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legal Stories June 17, 2011

Apple is applying more oomph to copycat claims against its key supplier Samsung. Just days after it wrote in court documents that Samsung was “harassing us”, Apple yesterday amended the filing with more intellectual property rights against more products – even re-phrasing accusations more strongly. The legal maneuver comes on the eve of today’s court hearing where the judge will decide about granting each party access to the other’s unreleased products. FOSS Patents spotted the updated complaint:

The original complaint specifically accused the following products of infringement: “the Samsung Captivate, Continuum, Vibrant, Galaxy S 4G, Epic 4G, Indulge, Mesmerize, Showcase, Fascinate, Nexus S, Gem, Transform, Intercept, and Acclaim smart phones and the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet.”

The amended complaint accuses all of the above plus the Droid Charge, Exhibit 4G, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prevail, Galaxy S (i9000), Gravity, Infuse 4G, Nexus S 4G, Replenish, Sidekick, Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Galaxy S II (aka Galaxy S 2). It also specifies the accusation against “Showcase” products, naming the Showcase i500 and Showcase Galaxy S.

Per rephrased wording, Samsung “has been even bolder” than other companies by putting out “products that blatantly imitate the appearance of Apple’s products to capitalize on Apple’s success”. The company claims that the F700 released in 2007 was the first Samsung phone to “copy the clean flat clear surface of the Apple iPhone Trade Dress and the Apple iPhone/iPhone 3G/iPhone 4 Trade Dress”. Apple also points out that its products and brand have been featured in credible newspapers and magazines and even points out the #1 position it took in the BrandZ index. In Apple’s words, this is why iPhone is an iconic product:

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legal Stories May 30, 2011

Strategy Analytics ranked Samsung the #1 Android tablet maker and the world’s #2 tablet company behind Apple in Q1 2011. It took them a month to sell a millionth Galaxy S II smartphone in Korea  and brag about it  on their Flickr account with the above image.

Samsung is content on releasing more Android tablets despite that pending legal spat with Apple, which is accusing them of stealing the iPad’s and iPhone’s design, software features and hardware engineering with the Galaxy-branded tablets and smartphones. The Wall Street Journal quoted this morning Samsung’s J.K. Shin who underscored his company’s determinacy to release more Honeycomb tablets this year as they “continue to work with Android on future tablets”. Their senior vice president of sales and marketing Younghee Lee added:

Android is the fastest-growing platform and the market direction is headed toward Android so we’re riding the wave. When there is a market need for our own software, we will consider it but that’s not our plan at the moment.

Samsung also says it’ll continue offering tablet PCs in multiple screen sizes as a way of distinguishing themselves from Apple. Asked to comment on that pending lawsuit with Apple, Shin responded:

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legal Stories May 27, 2011

A report from Citi analyst Walter Pritchard made headlines this morning with claims that HTC agreed to paying five bucks per every Android handset sold. The basis for this is Microsoft’s patent settlement with the Taiwanese handset maker over intellectual property infringement, the analyst has found out. The fact that HTC makes Windows Phones obviously didn’t help dodge that patent hit.

Microsoft’s boss Steve Ballmer argued last October that Android wasn’t free just because it’s open-sourced. Some watchers are calling the Android platform a patent bomb waiting to explode. HTC is also being sued by Apple over alleged breach of iPhone patents and Oracle is suing Google over use of Java in Android. Pritchard warns other Android vendors can expect to pay royalties to Microsoft between $7.50 to $12.50 per device, which is troubling and here’s why.

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You may have heard about the latest scandal in the world of Apple involving an unknown company called Lodsys which came out of nowhere, applying legal pressure to the makers of popular iPhone apps that use in-app billing in an effort to extort royalties. Patent troll Lodsys (even though they beg to differ) claims Apple, Microsoft and Google signed licensing agreements with them related to in-app purchasing that don’t, however, include third-party apps. Acting on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s public letter calling out Apple for not stepping up for its developers, the iPhone maker publicly ensured developers that they are covered under its license.

Figuring out the extortionate strategy may have not worked out as expected, Lodsys is now apparently targeting Android developers with patent infringement claims. MacRumors spotted a Google Groups discussion thread which reveals that at least one Android developer may have found itself in Lodsys’ cross-hair. Here’s how that developer described his legal woes with the patent troll firm:

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