Apple Wins $120 Million Patent Suit Against Samsung

It is finally over and Apple is the victor to the tune of nearly $120 million.

The Supreme Court has declined to hear Samsung’s appeal of a three-year-old patent infringement case in which it was ruled the South Korean firm’s older phones infringed on three key Apple patents.

A 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, back in 2014, ordered Samsung to shell out $119.6 million for violating three of the iPhone maker’s patents: one for quick links, another for slide-to-unlock and the third for automatic word correction.

The case has been in a state of appeal ever since, but this week’s ruling by the Supreme Court means Samsung’s efforts to avoid the $119.6-million penalty have come to nothing.

Samsung, in a statement to the media, said it was disappointed by the Court’s decision.

“Our argument was supported by many who believed that the Court should hear the case to reinstate fair standards that promote innovation and prevent abuse of the patent system,” Samsung said, adding that the ruling enables Apple to “unjustly profit” from a patent the South Korean company believes to be void.

Apple has yet to comment on the latest decision but, when the original ruling was given, the Cupertino firm said it was pleased.

“Samsung willfully stole our ideas and copied our products,” Apple said at the time. “We are fighting to defend the hard work that goes into beloved products like the iPhone, which our employees devote their lives to designing and delivering for our customers.”

This week’s ruling is not the end of the Apple-Samsung saga, however. The two companies continue to bicker over a case launched in 2011. A jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages in August of 2012, but that amount has been reduced over the years in response to Samsung appeals.

The Supreme Court in December of 2016 threw out a $399-million penalty an appeals court had handed the South Korean company, saying Samsung should not have to pay the iPhone maker damages based on the profits of the Smartphone as a whole but, rather, only for one component.

The case will be back before the courts next spring to determine the new penalty.

Fake News On Social Media A Major Problem, Says Apple CEO

Apple CEO Tim Cook is less than impressed with how social media has been used as a weapon to spread fake news.

As Facebook, Twitter and Google testify before the Senate and House Intelligence committees this week about Russia’s use of their social platforms to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, Cook, in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News, said fake news is a major issue no matter where it comes from.

Cook said that although social media companies have “learned a lot along the way,” the spread of misinformation remains a problem, although not quite the problem people might imagine

“I don’t believe the big issue are ads from foreign governments. I believe that’s like .1 percent of the issue,” Cook said. “The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers … to influence their thinking. This to me is the No. 1 through 10 issue.”

Cook also talked about tax reform, saying the government must do more to encourage large companies like Apple to bring their foreign-earned cash

“I believe that tax reform is sorely needed in this country. We don’t focus on the individual side, but for corporations, we think we have a pretty deep perspective on this,” Cook said. “The biggest issue with corporations in this country is that if you earn money outside of the United States, which most companies increasingly will, the only way that you can bring it into the U.S. and invest is if you pay 40 percent. And this is kind of a crazy thing to do. So what do people do? They don’t bring it to the United States.”

Cook also talked about the success of the iPhone and its Face ID feature. To watch the entire interview, check out the video below.

Apple Faces Lawsuit Over Breach Of Contract

Qualcomm is accusing Apple of using its “unprecedented access” to Qualcomm’s code to help its arch-rival Intel.

Qualcomm is suing Apple for breach of contract, saying the Cupertino company failed to protect the chip maker’s software, Bloomberg is reporting.

According to the report, “Apple made an e-mail request for proprietary information from Qualcomm and included an Intel engineer on the distribution list, according to the suit. It also alleges an Apple engineer working with a competitor asked a colleague to request information from Qualcomm on data download technology.”

The lawsuit, filed this week in San Diego, comes as no surprise given the bickering between the two tech titans over technology licensing fees.

Qualcomm patent fees, which cover the basics of how mobile phone systems work, are too high, according to Apple. The iPhone maker even went so far as to say that Qualcomm is taking advantage of its strong market position by overcharging. Qualcomm, however, has called Apple a liar, saying the firm is simply trying to bully it into lowering its patent fees.

The fighting between the two firms began earlier this year when Apple stopped its royalty payments and sued Qualcomm for $1 billion. Apple has alleged that Qualcomm was charging fees for technologies unrelated to its patents.

The feud between the two companies appears to be a confirmation of a report from Reuters that Apple is creating iPhones without Qualcomm technologies, possibly for as early as next year.

Microsoft Signs 10-Year Wind Deal In Netherlands

Microsoft has signed a 10-year deal to purchase 100 percent of the energy generated from a Netherlands wind farm owner Vattenfall.

As part of the agreement, the energy company will construct a 180-megawatt wind farm adjacent to Microsoft’s datacenter operations in the Netherlands that delivers Microsoft Cloud services to customers across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as global customers. 

The wind farm will be operated by Nuon, part of Vattenfall in the Wieringermeer Polder, near Amsterdam.

“Investing in local clean energy to power our local datacenter is a win-win for our business and the Netherlands,” Microsoft general manager of energy Brian Janous said in a press release. “Microsoft is committed to bringing new renewable energy sources online to power our datacenters. By focusing on local projects, we’re able to create new economic opportunities, reduce carbon emissions and make progress on our global commitment to increase the amount of clean energy used to power the Microsoft Cloud.”

Vattenfall is to begin construction of the wind farm in 2018 and it is to be operational in 2019. Once completed, the Wieringermeer wind farm will be one of the largest onshore wind farms in the Netherlands.

“We are very glad and proud to be able to support Microsoft’s transition toward using fossil-free energy in its datacenter operations,” said Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall. “This deal is completely in line with our strategy to help all our customers power their lives in ever smarter ways and free from fossil fuel within one generation.”

The farm will eventually have 100 windmills, enabling the production of roughly 1.3 billion kWh of renewable electricity.

We’ll Fix Ad Abuse At Profits’ Expense, Facebook CEO Vows

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to fix the problems with its ad platform even if he must sacrifice some of the company’s profit to do so.

Zuckerberg, in a statement regarding the social networking firm’s booming third quarter, said addressing the issue that led to Russian-backed groups using the platform to spread misinformation during the last presidential election is of utmost importance.

“Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well,” Zuckerberg said. “But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don’t bring people closer together. We’re serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We’re investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits.”

He elaborated more on the issue during a call with investors Wednesday afternoon, saying he is “dead serious” about shoring up Facebook’s defenses against further abuse.

“I’ve expressed how upset I am that the Russians used our tools to sow mistrust and undermine our values,” he said. “What they did is wrong and we’re not going to stand for it.

Facebook recorded $10.3 billion in revenue in its third-quarter with more than $10.1 billion of the funds coming came advertising. Roughly 88 percent of its advertising dollars are from mobile ads, up from approximately 84 percent in 2016’s third-quarter.

Daily active users currently sit at 1.37 billion and monthly active users at 2.07 billion, an increase of 16 percent year-over-year for both figures.

Facebook, Twitter, Google Testify On Russia Election Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter officials may be contrite for their role in Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, but company officials did little more than promise to do better in the future when testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

And the Senate Judiciary Committee was less than impressed with the response. Members of the committee pressed Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter acting general counsel Sean Edgett and Google director of law enforcement and information security Richard Salgado for answers on how their sites could be used so shamelessly by Russian groups for so long without their knowledge.

“I want to understand why no one seems to have caught on to the Russian effort earlier,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said. “How did Facebook … not make the connection that ads paid for by rubbles were paid for by Russians. Those are two data points. How could you not connect those two dots?”

Stretch called the Russian-linked fake news group’s use of its ad platform to spread misinformation about the presidential candidates in the 2016 election race “reprehensible and outrageous,” adding that such actions have “opened a new battleground” for Facebook.

Battleground indeed: The ads in question were seen by 126 million Americans and roughly 80,000 posts appeared on the site over the course of two years.

“That foreign actors, hiding behind fake accounts, abused our platform and other internet services to try to sow division and discord and to try to undermine our election process is an assault on democracy, and it violates all of our values,” Stretch said.

Edgett agreed with Stretch’s assessment, saying that Twitter was also struggling to keep pace with such foreign actors.

“The abuse of our platform to attempt state-sponsored manipulation of elections is a new challenge for us and one that we are determined to meet,” Edgett told the panel.

Twitter discovered 2,752 accounts linked to Russia which published more 131,000 messages on its platform.

He went on to say that Twitter originally thought the abuse of automation to propagate misinformation about the presidential race were “isolated incidents, rather than manifestations of a larger, coordinated effort at misinformation on our platform.”

“Once we understood the systemic 6 nature of the problem in the aftermath of the election, we launched a dedicated initiative to research and combat that new threat,” he added.

Google, meanwhile, found 18 channels with approximately 1,100 videos uploaded on its YouTube platform.

“Ultimately, violent extremism and misinformation that has the intent to manipulate our election system is an attack on open societies, and on the values we share. We acknowledge the threat and affirm that addressing it is a critical challenge for us all,” Salgado said.

“Google and YouTube are committed to doing our part, but as we all recognize across government, civil society, and the private sector, we will only make progress by working together to address these complex issues at their root.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R.-SC), the chairman of the committee, however, seemed irritated by the responses of the tech titan’s representatives.

“It’s Russia today; it could be Iran and North Korea tomorrow,” Graham said. “We need to … find ways to bring some of the controls we have on over-the-air broadcast to social media to protect the consumer.”

The representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter will appear before the House and Senate intelligence committees today to answer questions on the same issue.

The Senate and House Intelligence committees have both been investigating suspicions that Russia actively interfered in the U.S. presidential race to ensure now-president Donald Trump was elected.

Facebook Unveils New Features For Groups

Facebook wants to see the Groups on its platform grow.

To make that happen, the social network has launched a number of new tools to help Group admins grow and manage their communities. The features, which were inspired by feedback from the Communities Summit Facebook hosted in Chicago this summer, benefit both admins and members.

“Since the Summit, we’ve been busy building tools and programs that will help them grow and manage their communities,” Facebook product management director Alex Deve said in a blog post.

The tools being rolled out are:

Welcome Posts: Admins can now write a welcome post that will automatically tag new joiners.

Badges: This enables members to easily group leaders and other members. Facebook has also introduced badges for group admins, moderators and new members.

Member profiles: Now, when a group member clicks on another person’s name they will be taken to a group-specific profile which will show publicly-available information about common interests as well as a feed of that person’s activity in the group.

Finally, many admins spend hours each week making sure their Facebook groups stay supportive and safe, so we’ve built new features to help group admins grow and manage their communities,” Deve said.

“We’ve expanded the Group Insights tool to include helpful personalized tips, like scheduling posts at times when members are most engaged.”

One of the admin new tools, for instance, will allow him or her to deal members not following the group rules of conduct. Admins will have the option of being able to temporarily turn off a member’s ability to comment and post as well as remove members who violate their community’s rules from all the groups they manage with just one click.

Google, Cisco Announce Cloud Partnership

Google is teaming up with Cisco to challenge the undisputed leaders of the cloud computing market: Amazon Web Services and Microsoft.

The partnership, which gives Google Cloud a chance to gain more customers and get out of its No. 3 spot in the cloud niche, will enable Cisco customers to more easily move data to Google’s cloud platform.

“Our partnership with Google gives our customers the very best cloud has to offer— agility and scale, coupled with enterprise-class security and support,” Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said in a press release. “We share a common vision of a hybrid cloud world that delivers the speed of innovation in an open and secure environment to bring the right solutions to our customers.”

This new integration will give enterprise customers a way to run, secure and monitor workloads and, as a result, allow them to optimize all of their current investments, while also preparing their cloud migration at their own pace and evading vendor lock in. Companies will be able to develop new applications in the cloud or on premises, using the same developer tools, run time and production environment.

“This joint solution from Google and Cisco facilitates an easy and incremental approach to tapping the benefits of the Cloud. This is what we hear customers asking for,” Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene said.

The solution will be tested with a limited number of customers during the first part of 2018, but will roll out to all customers later in the year.

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