STLR Link Roundup – October 17, 2012

iOS 6 Clock: Time is Money

Embroiled in a never-ending litany of litigation over patents protecting their smartphone design, Apple ended a potential dispute over its iOS 6 clock design almost as quietly as it arose. A few weeks ago, SBB “politely complained” to Apple about the infringing use of its trademark-protected clock. On Friday, Apple negotiated a confidential licensing agreement with SBB, a Swiss railway operator, for use of SBB’s signature clock design.

SBB’s iconic clock has graced the Zurich train station since 1944. The iOS design copied the clock’s readily identifiable features – black hour and minute hands and it thin red seconds hand with a large red bulb at the end. Thanks to the newly executed licensing agreement, every iOS 6 user can keep time with the same precision, or at least by the same aesthetic face, as the Swiss.

 

Cyber World with Real Life Consequences

Free speech faces heightened obstacles when it comes to Internet and social network blogging. The technology-induced feeling of security and anonymity fosters more vocal, animated, and irate speech. And it comes with a paper-trail available to unintended audiences.

Last week, one man learned this the hard way. In District Court for the District of Indiana, Judge Lawrence ruled that the People’s case against Mathew Michael would go forward. Mr. Michael is accused of posting threats against unspecified DEA agents. His rantings appear more akin to a disgruntled citizen spewing severe language for its entertainment and attention value than a man who intended to threaten any federal agent, specifically identified or as part of a group. However, he crossed the line and the nation will be watching as this case unfolds. Judge Lawrence wrote: “Certain categories of speech having little or no social value are not protected…” Social media posts are not insulated from that rule.

 

European Regulators Put Pressure on Google

Google’s recent privacy campaign, meant to educate users as to how personal data is shared and to share data across affiliated sites, has sparked collective European concern. In a letter signed by all 27 European Union member countries, European regulators expressed concern over the methods and scope by which Google shares private user data. The letter highlights the issues of confusion over how data is shared and how users may “opt out” of Google’s data collection program.

 

Reading is Now Fun (And More Affordable)

Some Amazon and Apple e-book customers have received messages informing them of credits that will be deposited in their accounts towards future book purchases. Qualifying e-book purchases between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 are eligible for a refund as part of a price-fixing settlement agreement. Three published sued by the Department of Justice in April agreed to create a $69 million credits fund and to desist from engaging in any price-fixing scheme.  The settlement agreement is awaiting final court approval in February.

Two additional publishers and Apple have decided not to settle and trial is expected to commence next June.

Their alleged conduct includes price-fixing with Apple to raise the price of e-books, via “agency pricing,” from the $9.99 at which price Amazon had previously forced publishers to sell most books.

 

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