Apple slapped with patent suit over Siri’s natural language abilities

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Non-practicing entity Portal Communications on Thursday filed suit against Apple for alleged infringement of three patents related to natural language voice and audio query systems, technology similar to that of the company’s Siri virtual assistant.
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Apple Slapped with £136 Million Tax Bill After Extensive Audit in Britain

Apple has been ordered to pay £136 million in taxes after an “extensive audit” was conducted by HM Revenue and Customs, Britain’s tax collector.

According to the BBC, the company’s British subsidiary (Apple Europe) has agreed to comply with “corporate income tax adjustment.” The tax covers the years leading up to September 26th, 2015.

In a statement, the company said it’s committed to paying its fair share of tax. “We know the important role that tax payments play in society,” commented Apple.

“Apple pays all that we owe according to tax laws and local customs in the countries where we operate.”

The firm explained that HMRC has just completed a review of its British accounts. “As a multinational business and the largest taxpayer in the world, Apple is regularly audited by tax authorities around the world,” said the firm.

“HMRC recently concluded a multiyear audit of our UK accounts and the settlement we reached with HMRC is reflected in our recently filed accounts.”

Apple added that this tax sum “reflects the company’s increased activity”. It said: “As a result of this adjustment, the company’s corporate income tax payments will increase going forward.”

In the past, Apple has been criticised over taxation. And currently, it’s embroiled in a bitter battle with the European Commission, which has ordered the company to pay a hefty €13 billion tax sum.

The Commission has slammed the Irish Government’s decision to give Apple a hefty tax break. It’s been paying Ireland 1 percent of corporation tax.

In 2016, European Union officials accused Ireland of providing illegal tax relief to Apple. The tech giant is currently paying the sum, but Ireland is fighting the decision.

At the time, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said: “Member states cannot give tax benefits to selected companies – this is illegal under EU state aid rules,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

She added: “The Commission’s investigation concluded that Ireland granted illegal tax benefits to Apple, which enabled it to pay substantially less tax than other businesses over many years.”

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Spotify slapped with $1.6B copyright lawsuit over songs by The Doors, Tom Petty, others

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Spotify last week was hit with a $ 1.6 billion lawsuit leveled by Wixen Music Publishing, a music publisher that alleges the streaming music giant is using thousands of songs from its catalog without a license and compensation.
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Apple Slapped with Smart Lock Patent Infringement Lawsuit

Earlier this week, Apple was sued by a company claiming to be the owner of a 2008 patent which covers the technology behind ‘Remotizer®’ — one of the firm’s “remote control electronic deadbolt keyless entry systems.”

In his complaint filed with the Southern Texas District Court, Mr. Mark Kilbourne asserts that Apple “knowingly and willfully” infringed on his “Universal remote deadbolt adapter” patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,373,795). Mr. Kilbourne is the owner of the patent, Richmond, Texas-based, Mr. Butler, LLC., and the sole inventor of the Remotizer® locking system.

“In late 2014, as part of an effort to promote and sell his patented Remotizer® system, Mr. Kilbourne worked to develop a software application that could permit Apple products, such as the Apple iPhone, to be used as a remote control to open and close deadbolt locks retrofitted with the Remotizer® system,” the complaint reads, while going on to add that “Around the September, 2014, time frame, Mr. Butler LLC approached Apple to seek approval to offer the application for its Remotizer® system through the Apple App Store.”

The claim then asserts that sometime within the months that followed, Apple ultimately responded to Mr. Kilbourne’s request with a somewhat unconventional message, indicating that “We began review of the app but are not able to continue because we need the associated hardware to fully assess your app features.”

Apple, of course, was suggesting that it “needed to assess” Mr. Kilbourne’s Remotizer® device — however worth noting, first of all, is the sheerly unusual nature of the request, itself. In the past, Apple hasn’t required its app developers to submit their hardware devices for review when trying to get companion apps approved for distribution on the App Store, however the request is not completely unjustified.

Meanwhile, as Mr. Kilbourne was readying his Remotizer® device to submit to Apple for review (as requested), the company was secretly putting the finishing touches on its then-unannounced HomeKit platform, which is Apple’s proprietary framework designed to permit the interaction between compatible devices and a variety of home automation products — many of which the iPhone-maker offers for sale via its retail and online storefronts.

August Smart Lock

At the core of Mr. Kilbourne’s complaint is the August Smart Lock — described as “a system for remotely opening and closing a pre-existing deadbolt lock,” and referred to in the complaint as a quote-unquote “Accused Product” (meaning that its primary method of operation “infringes upon one or more” of the technologies outlined in the ‘795 patent being contested.)

“For purposes of this Count, the term ‘Accused Products’ refers to the August Smart Lock products sold and offered by sale by Defendant,” the complaint states, adding, in summation, “Defendant has committed, and continues to commit, acts of infringement of the ‘795 Patent at least by selling, and offering to sell, the Accused Products.”

Presently, and for some time prior, Apple has indeed offered the August Smart Lock for sale; and therefore, the complaint states, “Defendant is liable for contributory infringement by contributing to the direct infringement of the ‘795 Patent by purchasers and users of the Accused Products as sold by Apple.”

In other words, the complaint essentially portends that Apple has contributed to the infringement of Mr. Kilbourne’s Patent, simply because it’s allowed the August Smart Lock to continue being sold despite having been informed of the conflict.

No judge has been assigned to the case yet, which was filed this week with the Houseton and Fort Bend office of the Southern Texas District Court.

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Ketchapp has taken The Tower and slapped an Assassin’s Creed skin on it

Ketchapp has taken their popular casual tower building game The Tower and has slightly tweaked it for Assassin’s Creed’s 10th anniversary with the release of an all-new yet familiar title. This new game is known simply as The Tower Assassin’s Creed, and you can expect all of the same tower building goodness of the original with the added benefit of having an Assasin’s Creed character jumping off of these towers.

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Ketchapp has taken The Tower and slapped an Assassin’s Creed skin on it was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Taiwan’s FTC Slapped Qualcomm with a $773 Million Fine

The Free Trade Commission (FTC) of Taiwan has handed down a $ 773 million judgment against Qualcomm over what the Island-nation’s high court declared as systematic anti-trust violations, which have allegedly been taking place over the last seven years, according to a Bloomberg report.

It’s during that period of time, court documents state, Qualcomm collected an estimated $ 13.2 billion from local, Taiwanese companies.

“Qualcomm holds big number of standard essential patents in CDMA, WCDMA and LTE segments and is the dominant provider of CDMA, WCDMA and LTE baseband chips,” Taiwan’s FTC wrote, while adding that the chip-maker “abused its advantage in mobile communication standards, refused to license necessary patents.”

In addition to its whopping, multi-million dollar judgment, Taiwan’s FTC ruled that Qualcomm must also remove any terms — including names, numbers, shipping quantities and/or pricing details — from its products that are pertinent to previous licensing agreements. And of course, the greatest penalty of all is that this ruling could ultimately have major implications for Qualcomm’s myriad of ongoing legal battles with Apple.

Apple vs. Qualcomm

Of course, if you’ve been following the news this year, you’ll likely know this is but the latest in a long and complicated saga of Qualcomm’s courtroom drama — and while this case, in particular, appears to relate more so to the company’s overall business practices, it’s certainly worth noting that Apple has played a major role in bringing Qualcomm to its knees.

The whole fiasco began earlier this year when Apple, backed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, filed an injunction against Qualcomm for what the iPhone-maker alleged were unfair and monopolistic practices, claiming that the modem-maker withheld almost $ 1 billion in rebates from its partners because of an ongoing South Korean anti-trust investigation.

Alleging that the San Diego, Calif.-based chip-maker uses its “monopoly power” to leverage control over the market, Apple then accused Qualcomm of trying to undermine fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) patent commitments in order to maximize the royalties its customers owed for using Qualcomm-built chips.

Qualcomm and Apple each followed up with their own array of claims and damning accusations, including subsequent anti-trust lawsuits filed in Beijing, China, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. And, without relent, the incessant cat-and-mouse game has been unfolding ever since.

For its part, Qualcomm has adamantly denied all of Apple’s accusations — chalking their disagreement up to a matter of Cupertino merely colluding with its other contract-based suppliers to put pressure on it. However the chip-maker also claims in its counter-arguments that Apple is in breach of contract since the company hasn’t been paying its fees, while encouraging its closest partners to follow suit.

We’ll just have to sit tight and see how this massive fine affects the other lawsuits currently going on, but on the surface, it would appear from this latest development that Qualcomm might be nearing its tipping-point.

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Uber slapped with FTC audits for next 20 years due to privacy lapses


Uber is facing twenty years of audits following a ruling by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the latter, Uber didn’t do enough to protect the privacy of its riders or drivers. The FTC ruled that the rideshare company had not adequately protected the information of its users. Uber is now required to implement a privacy program, and it will be audited every two years for the next two decades. According to Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, “Our order requires a culture of privacy sensitivity for Uber. It’s going to make them take privacy into account every day.” The FTC…

This story continues at The Next Web

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Google Slapped with $2.7B Fine for EU Antitrust Violation

Google has been slapped with a record-breaking $ 2.7 billion fine after the European Commission concluded that the company was in violation of EU antitrust regulations. The fine is the largest the EU has ever imposed on a single company and concludes a seven-year investigation into the matter.

European antitrust regulators accused Google of “abusing dominance” by unfairly favoring its own services over its rivals. Specifically, regulators found that Google was giving more prominence to its own comparison shopping service, while downplaying rival services in its search results, according to a European Commission press release. Additionally, the Mountain View company has also been accused of blocking rival’s ads in online searches.

“Google abused its market dominance as a search engine…” Commissioner Magrethe Vestager said. “It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

To put the fine into context, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was reported to have a full-year revenue of around $ 90 billion in 2016. That makes the EU fine around 3 percent of Alphabet’s turnover for the year — the company’s largest regulatory setback thus far, Reuters reported. “We respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today. We will review the Commission’s decision in detail as we consider an appeal, and we look forward to making our case,” Google’s Kent Walker said in a statement.

The Commission said that Google has 90 days to stop favoring its own services, or the tech giant will face a more severe penalty of around 5 percent of its average global turnover per day.

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