Policymakers Debate the Internet Economy and Net Neutrality

Regardless of your opinion on the end of net neutrality, the topic is of huge importance not simply to consumers but to policymakers in Washington. A CES 2018 panel of such policymakers examined how to best protect the Internet economy. “It’s a tough time for the Internet economy,” said Center for Democracy & Technology president/chief executive Nuala O’Connor. “People are concerned about the intrusion of technology into their daily lives, and some of the conversation in DC is about what the role of technology is in democracy.” Continue reading Policymakers Debate the Internet Economy and Net Neutrality

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

States Are Battling Sales Tax Loopholes for Amazon Vendors

Starting December 1, shoppers on Amazon will most likely have to pay sales taxes on goods purchased from third-party merchants, in addition to paying tax on those bought directly from Amazon. That’s because, on that date, at least some vendors will begin collecting taxes to receive partial amnesty from back taxes in almost half of the U.S. states, including Florida, New Jersey and Texas. The deadline for the partial amnesty deal is October 17, so it is not yet clear how many merchants will take it. Continue reading States Are Battling Sales Tax Loopholes for Amazon Vendors

Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

In a case involving Lexmark International, which makes ink cartridges for its printers, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the company could not avail itself of patent law to prevent others from refilling and selling the cartridges. In doing so, the court made a decision that will positively impact consumers who will no longer be forced to buy products only from the original source. With the ruling, vendors of refurbished, repaired or resold products, will be protected from copyright infringement charges. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules That Patent Laws Don’t Cover Resales

Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

In a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court tightened rules on where patent lawsuits may be filed. The consequences, say the experts, will make it much more difficult for patent trolls to seek out friendly courts that are likely to rule in their favor. Patent trolls are companies that buy patents solely to demand royalties and sue for damages. Currently, more than 40 percent of all patent lawsuits are filed in a federal court in East Texas, with a single judge there overseeing 25 percent of all nationwide patent cases. Continue reading Supreme Court Ruling Is Likely to Suppress Patent Troll Suits

Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

A federal court on Monday declined to reconsider the telecom industry’s net neutrality challenge since the FCC and its chairman Ajit Pai plan to roll back the Obama-era rules anyway. The decision could set the stage for an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court. Despite Pai’s recent announcement regarding plans to eliminate and possibly replace net neutrality rules, telecoms and their supporters are still seeking court backing to help provide future legal protection. However, Judges Sri Srinivasan and David Tatel wrote that a rehearing “would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC’s Order.” Continue reading Federal Court Decides Not to Rehear Net Neutrality Challenge

Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In the carefully watched design patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that Samsung may not be liable for its entire $399 million in profits after copying the iPhone’s distinctive look, including its rectangular front face, rounded corners and grid of icons. In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents. “Design patents, which address what products look like, are far less common than utility patents, which cover how products work,” explains The New York Times. “The Supreme Court’s opinion, while not decisively resolving the case, found that liability in design patent cases is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.” The two companies will return to court to determine an appropriate amount for damages. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC reinstated the $119.6 million that a San Jose, California jury awarded Apple against Samsung. The recent ruling was 8-3, representing a full slate of judges, unlike the previous three-judge panel that, this last February, overturned the original verdict. The judges in the latest ruling stated that that panel examined evidence outside the record of the case, contrary to U.S. Supreme Court limits on the scope of review. Continue reading In a Big Win for Apple, Appeals Court Reinstates Jury Verdict

Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

After a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules, the NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom and the American Cable Association — all the trade organizations representing U.S. Internet service providers — challenged that ruling. They did so by filing a petition for an “en banc” rehearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. En banc hearings are to rehear a case in front of all the judges (rather than a panel), usually in cases of “exceptional public importance.” Continue reading Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

In a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the FCC’s net neutrality rules, “handing a defeat to cable and telephone companies trying to fend off tighter oversight of the consumer broadband business,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The ruling is also considered a victory for the Obama administration and companies such as Google and Netflix that see net neutrality as a defense against unfair competition from ISPs. The decision “opens the door to further pending FCC regulatory steps that cable and wireless firms have resisted,” notes WSJ. “It also sharpens a growing policy divide between Internet firms and the broadband-access industry.” Continue reading Court Rejects Telecom Industry’s Challenges to Net Neutrality

Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

The Supreme Court yesterday sided with patent holders in a decision that would make it easier to award financial damages when inventions are copied without permission. “The high court, in a unanimous opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, overturned a specialized appellate court that had adopted a hard-to-meet legal standard for winning punitive damages, even in cases where the defendant’s patent infringement was willful,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The decision provides leeway for judges regarding the amount of damages. While the Obama administration supported availability of punitive damages, tech companies such as Facebook and Google argued that strict limits on damage awards would protect innovation and curb unnecessary or abusive lawsuits. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules on Awarding Damages to Patent Holders

Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

Facebook just introduced a new way to view panoramas and VR photos on smartphones. Rather than zooming in and out, the new feature, dubbed 360 Photos, will allow the user to simply upload a panorama or photo from an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, 360 app or the Ricoh Theta camera and its ilk, which Facebook will then convert. Via a compass icon, the user can then scan the photo by tilting the phone or click/tap-and-dragging. A Gear VR user can tap the “View in VR” button to scan the 360 photo by moving his head. Continue reading Facebook Launches 360 Photos for Sharing Immersive Images

South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

In March, South Dakota passed a new law requiring many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state’s sales tax, a challenge to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Quill v. North Dakota prohibiting states from doing exactly this. The regulation has already resulted in several lawsuits. If the law is not overturned, other states are likely to follow suit, levying similar Internet sales tax rules. The implications would be enormous if numerous states adopt these rules, likely forcing audits and new tax rules in thousands of jurisdictions across the nation. Continue reading South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

States that want to collect sales taxes from out-of-state Internet e-tailers are tired of waiting for Congress to act. As a result, they’re passing state laws to do so. Alabama, South Dakota, Utah and 10 other states have passed legislation that directly contradicts the standing national law that states can only apply tax to businesses with brick-and-mortar locations there. State legislators are hoping that by challenging the existing law, they will spur litigation and force Congress to re-examine the issue. Continue reading States Push Web Tax, Hoping to Spur Litigation and Legislation

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