Lawyers seem very trigger happy lately with class-action cases—well, when are they not?—with lawsuits recently filed against Apple and Google for location tracking, to Sony for the PlayStation Network breach, and to now a bizarre case against Twitter. Two Californian residents, Drew Moss and Sahar Maleksaeedi are suing Twitter for sending unwanted text messages.
Moss and Maleksaeedi claim that Twitter sent them confirmation text messages after they sent text messages with the command ‘STOP’ to turn off all phone notifications. They claim that Twitter is engaging in unlawful conduct by contacting them via SMS without their consent. They say that this is not only an invasion of their privacy but a violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.
The duo further claim that the automated confirmation messages sent back to them after they requested to stop receiving messages resulted in additional charges to their mobile service plans. They are seeking up to $1,500 in damages for each alleged violation. If aggregated as a class-action suit in the tens of thousands, it could exceed $5 million.
Part of the filed document reads:
At some point Plaintiffs decided that they no longer wanted to receive text message notifications on their cellular telephone from Defendant.
Plaintiffs then responded to Defendant’s last text message notification by replying “stop,” as instructed by Twitter.
At this point, Plaintiffs withdrew any express or implied consent to receive text message notification to their cellular telephone that they may have previous given Twitter.
In response to receiving this revocation of consent, Defendant then immediately sent another, unsolicited, confirmatory text message to Plaintiffs’ cellular telephones.
Google’s legal team will be earning their keep once more, with the search giant again in hot water over privacy concerns. Hot on the heels of the Apple iPhone tracking lawsuit comes similar charges leveled at Google, with two Michigan women suing the company for $50m and the cessation of sales of devices with software that can track user location.
According to the class-action suit, filed in Detroit, Google’s use of location tracking systems puts its “users at serous risk of privacy invasions, including stalking.” Google has declined to comment on the case, but Android does give users the chance to turn off location reporting as part of the initial setup of handsets (and then again in the settings pages).
Researchers highlighted Android’s collection of location data last week, with handsets running the OS reporting back their position to Google on several occasions every hour. Apple was challenged with the same allegations, and earlier this week released a Q&A attempting to explain how in fact the iPhone was logging the location of cell towers and WiFi hotspots, not its own position. That data, the company argued, allowed it to speed up positioning fixes in mapping apps and other LBS.
Sony still refuses to detail the exact exploit used to hack the PlayStation Network and its Qriocitystreaming service, but has admitted that as well as updating the software security of the network, it is physically “moving our network infrastructure and data center to a new, more secure location.” The changes are part of a number of steps Sony has been forced to take after reportedly pulling down the PSN after rampant piracy took hold.
According to reports earlier this week, a custom PS3 firmware allowed hackers to unofficially gain access to the PlayStation Network developer channels. There, they were supposedly able to use false – and unchecked – credit card details to make purchases. Sony’s only recourse, it was suggested, was shutting down PSN access altogether.
In a new Q&A – which overlaps considerably with Sony’s previous FAQ on the subject – Sony’s Patrick Seybold, Senior Director for Corporate Communications & Social Media, confirms that the company is working with both law enforcement and “a recognized technology security firm” on what is being viewed as a criminal act. According to Seybold, credit card data was encrypted and users are only being warned about it “out of an abundance of caution”; personal data, however, was not encrypted but was, he insists, “behind a very sophisticated security system.”
It’s that security system which has been breached, of course, a side-effect of what Sony hacker George Hotz suggests is likely down to “arrogance and misunderstanding of ownership.”
“Traditionally the trust boundary for a web service exists between the server and the client. But Sony believes they own the client too, so if they just put a trust boundary between the consumer and the client(can’t trust those pesky consumers), everything is good. Since everyone knows the PS3 is unhackable, why waste money adding pointless security between the client and the server? This arrogance undermines a basic security principle, never trust the client … Notice it’s only PSN that gave away all your personal data, not Xbox Live when the 360 was hacked, not iTunes when the iPhone was jailbroken, and not GMail when Android was rooted. Because other companies aren’t crazy.” George Hotz
Sony maintains that certain services will be back online in under a week, though is yet to confirm which those services will be. The company is also facing a class action suit and what experts predict could amount to $24bn in credit card fraud.
Apple’s patent suit claims Samsung copied the “look and feel” of their user interface, including having a grid of colorful square icons with uniformly rounded corners, a bottom row “Springboard” of square icons, and an overall rectangular product shape that has four uniformly rounded corners. The TouchWiz UI resemblance to Apple’s iOS UI is certainly there, but it will still be one tough legal battle with Samsung fighting back that will bring plenty of analysis on its implications for Apple and the smartphone/tablet industry as a whole. But, let’s just imagine for fun if Samsung were to lose on the UI design battlefront…
The Apple vs. Samsung legal battle is an interesting one despite the myriad of lawsuits already in full swing amongst all the major manufacturers. Apple is Samsung’s number two largest client and fills up 4% of their annual revenue, whereas Samsung is also Apple’s major components supplier in semi-conductors, memory, and displays.
For a really good breakdown of Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung, visit here.
Amazon’s Cloud Drive and streaming Cloud Player services dropped earlier than expected; the rumors had only really begun to coalesce a few days before, claiming the online retailer was struggling with the same content owner licensing issues that were plaguing Google and Apple. Instead, it seems, Amazon pushed ahead with the launch and simply expected the labels to fall into line. That, unsurprisingly, isn’t going down well, and despite Amazon’s protestations, it looks like the labels are readying themselves for a legal fight.
Asked whether it was negotiation new licenses for the cloud-storage services, Amazon told AllThingsDthat it felt it did not need them. ”We do not need a license to store music in Cloud Drive” it argues, “the functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.”
However, while Cloud Drive – the remote storage part of Amazon’s proposition – is one matter, the content streaming of Cloud Player, with clients available for PC, Mac and Android, is another. That seems to push the company into streaming, which, Sony Music reckons, demands a new license. “We hope that they’ll reach a new license deal,” spokesperson Liz Young told Reuters, “but we’re keeping all of our legal options open.”
According to music industry sources, Amazon only informed the record labels of the Cloud Player plans last week, leaving discussion of potential licensing issues until later on. So far, nobody has suggested that Amazon is actually doing anything illegal, and the frustrations appear to be the retailer’s cavalier attitude toward communications. Still, with Apple and Google both expected to launch their own streaming services this year, you can bet the content owners are looking closely at how they could take a cut of the cloud-streaming pie.
Nokia has filed a second ITC complaint against Apple, claiming that seven patents it holds are being infringed “in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, tablets and computers.” According to the Finnish company’s patent lawyers, Apple is using Nokia IP in its multi-tasking OSes, data sync technology, positioning, call quality and the Bluetooth accessory systems.
In fact, it means that Nokia now has a whopping 46 patents in suit against Apple, with Paul Melin, Vice President of Intellectual Property at Nokia pointing out that “many [were] filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone.” The case has not only been filed with the ITC but in the Delaware courts, joining an international portfolio of litigation in which the only happy people are probably the lawyers.
Still, no matter how much Nokia talks about its strong patent position, it doesn’t seem the courts necessarily agree. The ITC recently rejected the company’s claims in a previous patent case against Apple.
Nokia files second ITC complaint against Apple
Published March 29, 2011
Alleges Apple infringes additional Nokia patents in virtually all products
Espoo, Finland – Nokia has filed a further complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple infringes additional Nokia patents in virtually all of its mobile phones, portable music players, tablets and computers.
The seven Nokia patents in the new complaint relate to Nokia’s pioneering innovations that are now being used by Apple to create key features in its products in the areas of multi-tasking operating systems, data synchronization, positioning, call quality and the use of Bluetooth accessories.
This second ITC complaint follows the initial determination in Nokia’s earlier ITC filing, announced by the ITC on Friday, March 25. Nokia does not agree with the ITC’s initial determination that there was no violation of Section 337 in that complaint and is waiting to see the full details of the ruling before deciding on the next steps in that case.
In addition to the two ITC complaints, Nokia has filed cases on the same patents and others in Delaware, US and has further cases proceeding in Mannheim, Dusseldorf and the Federal Patent Court in Germany, the UK High Court in London and the District Court of the Hague in the Netherlands, some of which will come to trial in the next few months.
“Our latest ITC filing means we now have 46 Nokia patents in suit against Apple, many filed more than 10 years before Apple made its first iPhone,” said Paul Melin, Vice President, Intellectual Property at Nokia. “Nokia is a leading innovator in technologies needed to build great mobile products and Apple must stop building its products using Nokia’s proprietary innovation.”
During the last two decades, Nokia has invested approximately EUR 43 billion in research and development and built one of the wireless industry’s strongest and broadest IPR portfolios, with over 10,000 patent families. Nokia is a world leader in the development of handheld device and mobile communications technologies, which is also demonstrated by Nokia’s strong patent position.
Hacker George Hotz (aka Geohot) surprised a few people when he changed his long-standing unofficial policy on asking for donations last week; then again, when Sony unleashes its legal team on you, you need all the help you can get. It seems that help was fast forthcoming: Geohot has announced that he has all the donations he needs to secure “a few more lawyers” to defend his case over PS3 encryption cracking.
Sony’s ire is that, having closed up the routes that allowed unofficial software and platforms to be loaded onto the PS3, hackers like Hotz then came along and offered a jailbreak so that owners of the console could continue to do so. The company’s argument is that such a jailbreak enables pirated games; Geohot’s response is that there are also legitimate uses for the access. Sony sued on January 11 2011.
Sony v. Geohot litigation heats up, SCEA demands YouTube give up Hotz and Fail0verflow’s personal info
Now that Sony has started gathering the evidence it needs via discovery in the lawsuit over Hotz and friends’ PS3 jailbreak, the company has dropped a hammer by moving to reduce the amount of time the hackers have to get Sony the information it wants. Sony filed the motion — which will be heard by the court tomorrow — to better arm itself with information to oppose Geohot’s motion to dismiss, scheduled to be heard in early March. Casting its evidence-gathering net far and wide, SCEA has demanded that YouTube surrender not only information for Hotz’s account where his jailbreak video was posted, but also how many users accessed the video, the usernames of those with access to the video, and all usernames and IP addresses of everyone who posted or published comments to the vid. In addition to hitting up YouTube for dirt, Wired reports that Sony has demanded Twitter hand over the personal info of fail0verflow’s members — we’re waiting for Sony’s lawyers to don TSA gear as the next step in their search. Geohot’s attorney thinks the requests seem a bit much, but we think they make sense given Sony’s strategy of going after the entire fail0verflow team. While these goings-on make for fairly standard legal tactics, they won’t do much for Sony’s public image.