STLR Link Roundup – March 15, 2019

The Apple-Qualcomm Patent Battle

On March 15, 2019, the jury of the federal District Court for the Southern District of California found that Apple infringed on three patents of Qualcomm and was required to compensate Qualcomm $1.41 per infringing iPhone sold. Specifically, the court found that Apple’s iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus and X have infringed Qualcomm’s two U.S. patents, 8,838,949 and 9,535,490. Also, Apple’s iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X have infringed Qualcomm’s U.S. patent 8,633,936. In total, Apple was asked to pay Qualcomm for damages of $31 million from the filing of the lawsuit on July 6, 2017, to the end of the trial. The U.S. patent 8,838,949 patent covers “flashless booting,” so that smartphones do not need to use separate flash memory (thus reducing cost and hardware size) and can quickly access the Internet when turned on. The technologies in U.S. patent 9,535,490 ensures that applications on smartphones can upload and download Internet data quickly and efficiently by acting as an intelligent “traffic police” between the application processor and the modem. The U.S. patent 8,633,936 patent supports the high performance rich visual graphics while extending the battery life of the smartphone. None of these patents are implemented in modem processors, nor are they necessary to implement any cellular communication technology standards. None of these patents are implemented in modems, nor are they necessary to implement any cellular communication technology standards.


FDA Tightens Restrictions on Flavored E-Cigarette

On March 13, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement on a new draft compliance policy “aimed at preventing youth access to, and appeal of, flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.” The draft is currently open for public comment for a period of 30 days. If the draft is passed, this policy may ban some flavored e-cigarette products. However, this potential restriction does not include tobacco, mint, and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, which are more popular with adults and used by some people to help stop smoking. Currently, e-cigarettes have become popular among teenagers, placing them at risk of nicotine addiction. Nicotine can damage brain development. According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, teenagers who are addicted to e-cigarettes are more likely to eventually choose to smoke than those who are not addicted.


China’s New Foreign Investment Law

On March 15, 2019, China’s National People’s Congress passed the new Foreign Investment Law, which will be implemented on January 1, 2020. The law aims to create a more level playing field between domestic and foreign businesses. Specifically, it is designed to strengthen the legal protection of intellectual property rights for foreign investors, including foreign companies with high-tech technology. The new law bans forced tech transfer and emphasizes reciprocity. For the more than 330,000 joint ventures in China, it is of great significance: the joint venture parties will re-edit the terms of cooperation in accordance with the new law, with a grace period of five years. According to the BBC, some commentators view the investment law as “an olive branch to the U.S. amid trade war negotiations,” but others think that it “does not fully address the concerns that foreign firms have about doing business in China.”


Public Interest Technology University Network

On March 11, 2019, 21 leading universities in US, including Columbia University, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, announced that they had formed a new organization called the Public Interest Technology University Network. It is a partnership that “fosters collaboration” between these universities, “committed to building the nascent field of public interest technology and growing a new generation of civic-minded technologists.” According to the New York Times, “the group aims to both humanize technologists and technologize humanists.” On the one hand, it helps “technologists think about the social, ethical, legal and policy implications of their work.” Further, it helps “students interested in law, government and nonprofit careers to learn computational and technology skills to serve the public.”


Boeing’s Potential Product Liability Lawsuits

With the crash of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 passenger jet in Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, families of the 157 victims may institute lawsuits against Boeing, headquartered in Chicago, in U.S. courts, where the damages could be exceedingly large. The crash in Ethiopia occurred five months after the same model of the plane went down in Indonesia, which may generate another series of U.S. lawsuit against Boeing by families of the 189 victims of the Indonesian crash. A central issue of these potential cases is product liability. Though the causes are still unclear, in both accidents, a “relatively new 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashed within minutes of takeoff” after experiencing “sudden drops in altitude, when aircrafts should have been steadily climbing.” This malfunction points to a digital anti-stall system called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which was “designed specifically for 737 MAX 8 aircrafts to offset the extra lift from larger engines mounted on its low-slung frame.”



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