Apple ordered to pay $530m for iTunes patents
Feb25

Apple ordered to pay $530m for iTunes patents

Apple has been ordered to pay more than $530m after a federal jury in Texas found its iTunes software infringed three patents owned by a patent licensing company called Smartflash. Although Smartflash had been asking for $852m in damages, the verdict handed down on Tuesday night was still a blow to Apple. The jury, which deliberated for eight hours, determined Apple had not only used Smartflash’s patents without permission, but did so wilfully. The patents concerned digital rights management, data storage and payment systems. Apple, which said it would appeal, said the outcome was another reason that reform was needed in the patent system to curb litigation by companies that do not make products themselves. “Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” said Apple’s Kristin Huguet. “We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating, and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system.” ‘Very happy’ Smartflash sued Apple in May 2013, alleging its iTunes software infringed its patents related to accessing and storing downloaded songs, videos and games. “Smartflash is very happy with the jury’s verdict, which recognises Apple’s longstanding wilful infringement,” said Brad Caldwell, a lawyer for Smartflash. The trial was held in Tyler, Texas, which over the past decade has become a focus for patent litigation. Smartflash’s registered office is also […]

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Samsung’s smart TVs are inserting unwanted ads into users’ own movies
Feb11

Samsung’s smart TVs are inserting unwanted ads into users’ own movies

Samsung’s smart TVs have already come under fire this week for a poorly-worded privacy policy that apparently let the devices listen in on owners’ conversations. Now, there are reports that the sets are inserting ads “every 20-30 minutes” into users’ own, locally-stored content. There’s been a string of complaints online by customers using third-party video apps such as Plex and Australian service Foxtel, with most referring to rogue Pepsi ads interrupting their viewing. “After about 15 minutes of watching live TV, the screen goes blank, and then a 16:9 sized Pepsi ads (taking up about half the screen) pops up,” wrote a professed Samsung smart TV owner on Foxtel’s support forums. “It’s as if there is a popup ad on the TV.” Samsung addressed similar complaints in January after tech writer David Chartier posted a picture of a pop-up ads for a “Yahoo Broadcast Interactivity” app appearing on his smart TV. Samsung explained that these sorts of ads were supposed to be opt-in only and was working with Yahoo to improve the system. “We are working with Yahoo to create an opt-in screen prompt specific to their service as soon as possible,” Samsung told Business Insider, adding that to disable them users should “press Menu on your Samsung Remote and scroll to Smart Hub > Terms & Policy > Yahoo Privacy Policy. Scroll to ‘I disagree with the Yahoo Privacy Notice’ and you can toggle the option on to opt-out.” The option itself is not only buried so deeply in […]

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AT&T Will Use Snapchat to Launch Scripted Superhero Series
Jan28

AT&T Will Use Snapchat to Launch Scripted Superhero Series

If that sentence makes little sense to you, you must not be from the generation AT&T will seek when it launches “SnapperHero,” a scripted series made just for consumers who are increasingly turning to mobile-based media to gain access to information and entertainment. “SnapperHero” will center on a superhero premise and will feature influential social-media personae in its cast. To create the program, AT&T has selected people with big followings on social-media outlets like YouTube, Snapchat and Vine, and will have them ask their audiences to make choices that will shape the way “SnapperHero” plays out – like character powers and origins, according to Billy Parks, producer of the series. “A lot of it will be built on suggestions that are generated from the fans, and this is how we will build the audience for the show,” said Parks, who supervised the production of @SummerBreak, a mobile series backed by AT&T and Chernin Group that played out on Twitter, Tumblr and other social-media outlets. “We start by saying, ‘Hey, we are going to make this, so what are your suggestions?’ And we will show them how it’s being made along the way.” Parks developed the series along with Kendall Ostrow, a UTA agent specializing in digital media. Launch of the series is a vote of confidence by a major advertiser in Snapchat, a photo-messaging application that allows users to send text, photos and videos to a defined set of contacts. The content typically disappears after a set number of seconds, […]

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Standalone HBO Could Inspire Millions To Ditch Cable, Survey Says
Jan26

Standalone HBO Could Inspire Millions To Ditch Cable, Survey Says

As many as 7 million people might cut the cord once HBO launches its new streaming service later this year. At least that’s how a market research firm read the numbers from its recent online survey. Such a mass exodus, if it were to occur, would be a huge blow to pay TV companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. About 100 million households in the U.S. subscribe to TV. But don’t set your timers to mass cable exodus just yet. The report from Dallas-based market researcher Parks Associates is based on an online survey of 10,000 people in U.S. homes with broadband access from late last year. And even Parks Associates suggests this drastic scenario might not actually happen. “Just because somebody says on a survey that they’re going to do something doesn’t mean they actually are,” Glenn Hower, a research analyst at Parks Associates, told The Huffington Post. “We have some doubts that 7 million households are going to say, ‘Well, I can get HBO so [I’m going to cut my cable] service.”‘ For one, the network hasn’t released many details about HBO GO — including the critical detail of how much it will cost. For the survey, Parks Associates put the price at $14.99 per month, roughly the amount you pay if you add HBO onto your current TV package. Also, most people probably aren’t subscribing to a full TV package of hundreds of channels just to get HBO. They’re watching other programming like sports and […]

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NASA, Nissan to make autonomous car by end of year
Jan14

NASA, Nissan to make autonomous car by end of year

Japanese automaker Nissan and NASA are teaming up to advance the technology behind cars that drive autonomously. Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. and NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, announced Thursday a five-year research-and-development partnership for autonomous vehicle systems so they can eventually be applied to commercially sold cars. Nissan is excited about the potential of self-driving cars, which executives say could lead to improved safety, a pillar for future autos along with low emission technology. NASA researchers will be working with Nissan’s research unit in Silicon Valley, they said in a joint statement. Researchers from the two organizations will test a fleet of zero-emission autonomous vehicles that can be used to transport materials, goods, payloads — and people. NASA says the tests will mirror the way the engineers operate rovers in space from a mission control center on Earth. They said that the first vehicle of the fleet is expected begin testing at the facility by the end of 2015. The maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models aims to introduce autonomous driving technology to consumers between 2016 and 2020. Ames developed the Mars rover software and robots onboard the International Space Station. “The partnership brings together the best and brightest of NASA and Nissan and validates our investments in Silicon Valley,” said Nissan Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn. This is not the first time Nissan has looked to NASA for help and guidance. In 2005, the company used NASA’s knowledge of what it calls the […]

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North Korea’s Internet outage was likely the work of hacktivists — but not the ones you might think
Dec24

North Korea’s Internet outage was likely the work of hacktivists — but not the ones you might think

Who — or what — might have caused North Korea’s Internet outage? The mystery has all the trappings of an international spy thriller, all the more so now that some people claiming links to Anonymous are seeking credit for the disruption. A shadowy hacker clan taking down the IT infrastructure of the world’s most secretive regime? It’s just too good. But although analysts largely believe some hacktivists were involved, it’s unlikely anyone from Anonymous was actually responsible for taking down the Hermit Kingdom’s systems. Here’s why. We know at least a few things about the 9.5-hour outage, even if we can’t pinpoint the culprit. The break in service coincided with a number of denial-of-service attacks recorded by Western network researchers. These attacks are designed to flood a network with bogus traffic so that the target’s systems are forced to shut down. The denial-of-service attacks targeted two servers responsible for routing Internet traffic to North Korean Web sites, along with a number of actual sites belonging to a North Korean university and the government’s official public portal, according to IT analysts at Arbor Networks. The surge in fake traffic also took place at roughly the same time that Twitter accounts claiming to represent Anonymous announced #OpRIPNK, a retribution campaign against North Korea. All these signs point to the work of hacktivists — not the U.S. government, researchers say. “If the government wanted to do something about this, I would suspect they would do something more targeted toward the leadership rather than […]

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