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Apple and more than a dozen other titans of technology have written to European Union officials, expressing concern that a unified patent court system could encourage patent trolls to expand their lawsuits overseas.

Apple and more than a dozen other titans of technology have written to European Union officials, expressing concern that a unified patent court system could encourage patent trolls to expand their lawsuits overseas.

New rules now being developed could create “significant opportunities for abuse” allowing patent owners to “extract substantial royalties,” according to the letter obtained by the New York Times.

Starting in 2024 trolls could take infringement cases to non-member countries or nations without much experience, creating a European version of the Eastern District of Texas. Courts in that U.S. district are notorious for rulings favorable to companies suing tech firms, according to the letter…

After looking at the EU’s plans “companies now fear that the new system could be vulnerable to what they call patent assertion entities, less politely known as patent trolls, which make a business of filing patent-infringement lawsuits,” reports the New York Times.

The EU’s proposal would create a unified patent court, replacing the current patchwork quilt of countries all with differing levels of experience handling patent-infringement claims.

Along with Apple (the favorite target of patent trolls), Google, Samsung, BlackBerry, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Intel, Yahoo and Cisco signed the letter of concern sent Thursday. European firms such as Deutsche Telekom and Telecom Italia also signed, according to the report.

Ironies abound on both sides.

Google, which signed the letter warning of European patent abuse, recently found its Motorola Mobility the first convicted patent troll. The Times also notes than many of the people helping the EU draft the unified patent court “work for law practices or lobbying firms” which count as clients the signatories of today’s letter.

Spain and Poland are also raising objections, while Italy has some reservations about the proposal.

Spain is suing the EU over the plan, saying the Spanish language is not among those within the court system. Poland believes the proposal could hurt its economy, while Italy is unsure about so-called pan-European patents. At least 13 of the 25 EU member states must approve the court proposal for it to go into effect.

Chief among the worries by U.S. companies is that patent trolls could shop for a European country either with little experience handling patent issues or a nation that has not signed onto the unified court plan.

Another problem is the new system would split the question of whether infringement occurred from consideration of if the patent is even valid. While the procedure is common in German courts, the division on questions opens up “significant opportunities for abuse,” the letter writers explain.

In 2012 signatory Microsoft moved operations from Germany to the Netherlands due to what it said was a patent lawsuit filed by Motorola Mobility in Germany. Germany’s Deutsche Telekom was forced to pay a patent-infringement settlement to IPNav, which owns more than 1,000 patents, according to the Times.

Over the last half-decade, IPNav has sued over 1,600 U.S.-based companies, a record. Defendants have included Google, Adobe and Hitachi.

IPNav has written that the proposed change in how Europe handles patent challenges is “a great benefit to innovators” and the new setup “is going to cut the cost of litigation down significantly.”

The proposed change in Europe comes as patent trolls become a front-burner topic in the U.S. The FTC has launched an investigation into patent-infringement claims as the Obama administration orders agencies such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office take a closer look at patent applications and their owners.

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Reversible Transactions On Ethereum Will Fight Against Crypto Theft

Reversibility of transactions on Ethereum will guarantee a refund of transactions made during a Crypto Theft

Imagine that one day you unwittingly fall for a cryptocurrency phishing scam and the con artist manages to take 10 ether (ETH) from you. There isn’t much you can do because cryptocurrency transactions are final, right? Well, not quite yet.

Adding reversible transactions to Ethereum has recently been suggested by a group of Stanford researchers as a way to guarantee that stolen cryptocurrency is returned to its rightful owner. If a standard like this were to be implemented, the disappointed thief would be left out of pocket while your 10 ETH would theoretically ricochet back into your wallet. Reversibility would likely be a well-liked feature, particularly with the risk-averse people who have so far refrained from adopting Ethereum. Costs must also be taken into account, though. Any time a component of a payment system is changed to address a specific issue, additional issues are subsequently created elsewhere on the network. No such thing as a free fix exists. Let’s examine these charges in more detail.

Reversibility would likely be a well-liked feature, particularly with the risk-averse people who have so far refrained from adopting Ethereum. Costs must also be taken into account, though. Any time a component of a payment system is changed to address a specific issue, additional issues are subsequently created elsewhere on the network. No such thing as a free fix exists. Let’s examine these charges in more detail.

Everything from large-scale attacks to modest retail phishing schemes uses cryptocurrency theft. Kaili Wang and associates have proposed creating an Ethereum token standard that permits transactions to be momentarily reversed to make the crypto economy more secure. A victim of theft could appeal to a decentralized arbitrator during that period, let’s say four days, to get their stolen cryptocurrency restored. The inventor of the Bitcoin blockchain, Satoshi Nakamoto, would be horrified. After all, the white paper by Nakamoto may be interpreted as a tirade against reversible transactions. Nakamoto claimed that because financial institutions “cannot avoid mediating conflicts,” businesses “must be suspicious of their clients, harassing them for more information than they would otherwise require.”

Ethereum is not meant to be entirely reversible, according to Stanford academics. Reversible tokens are not for everyone, thus they can still only interact with non-reversible tokens. Reversible tokens may be the extra barrier that entices people who are put off by the high level of expertise needed to utilize Ethereum responsibly. The trade-offs of payment systems are extremely complicated. To solve one problem, another must be created. This can be best understood in terms of the following too-small-blanket conundrum. Consider the scenario where you want to sleep but your blanket doesn’t reach your toes. Your neck is exposed after you pull it down. Your shoulders are now exposed as you turn the blanket so that it covers both your toes and your neck. There is no ideal solution. You must carefully consider which parts of your body to cover and which to leave bare. Payments follow the same rules. Reversibility may lessen theft, but it may also expose the network to new issues, namely fraud reversal, according to the too-small-blanket paradox. Credit card processing systems provide you with a decent sense of what to anticipate.

Reversibility would affect fungibility if it were added to Ethereum. Assets are fully interchangeable when a thing is fungible. A payment system should be fungible. The dollar payment system is simpler to operate if all dollars are convertible.

Eu Market Tests Settlement Proposed By Apple And Publishers In Ebook Price Fixing Case

Following a federal judge’s decision to approve settlements with three publishers and the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, the Apple/Amazon eBook price-fixing case is taking a different turn in the European Union with officials prepared to market test settlements put forward by Apple and the majority of publishers involved. In the EU, Apple appears to be proposing a settlement similar to the one it is fighting in the U.S. (and expected to appeal), allowing retailers to freely set prices for the next two years. The EU’s European Commission issued a press release earlier today (via Cnet):

Antitrust: Commission market tests commitments proposed by Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple for the sale of e-books

The Commission considers at this stage that these companies may have breached EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive practices by jointly switching the sale of e-books from a wholesale model to agency contracts containing the same key terms (in particular an unusual so-called “Most Favoured Nation” – MFN – clause for retail prices). The agency model allows more control by publishers over retail prices. The Commission has concerns that this switch may have been the result of collusion between competing publishers, with the help of Apple, and may have aimed at raising retail prices of e-books in the EEA or preventing the emergence of lower prices.

In the proposed commitments, the five companies offer to terminate existing agency agreements and refrain from adopting price MFN clauses for five years. In case any of the four publishers would enter into new agency agreements, retailers would be free to set the retail price of e-books during a two-year period, provided the aggregate value of price discounts granted by retailers does not exceed the total annual amount of the commissions that the retailer receives from the publisher.


Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement prohibit agreements and concerted practices which may affect trade and prevent or restrict competition.

After unannounced inspections in March 2011 (see MEMO/11/126), the Commission opened proceedings in December 2011 against Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck, Penguin and Apple (see IP/11/1509). Following discussions with the Commission, four of these publishers and Apple offered commitments with a view to seeking an early resolution of the case. Penguin (Pearson group, United Kingdom) has not offered any commitments and the investigation into their conduct is on-going.

If the market test indicates that the commitments are a satisfactory solution to the Commission’s competition concerns, the Commission may adopt a decision under Article 9 of the EU’s antitrust Regulation 1/2003, to make them legally binding on Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, Hachette, Holtzbrinck and Apple. Such an Article 9 decision does not conclude that there is an infringement of EU antitrust rules but legally binds the companies concerned to respect the commitments offered. If a company breaks such commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide turnover, without having to find an infringement of the antitrust rules.

Latest Apple Videos Focus On Women In Tech And Diversity

Apple United Kingdom today shared several new videos through its official YouTube channel.

More than a dozen new videos from the company focus on women in tech and diversity by featuring engineers from all walks of life. Some of the female engineers highlighted include people working on Apple’s camera and iOS Photos team and manufacturing engineers, with one of the clips focusing on the company’s App Store specialist who is deaf.

Watch the latest Apple videos

And now, watch these videos embedded right ahead.

Divya – Manager, Human Interface Devices team

“Divya, an engineer, has a passion for the connection between health and happiness and she brings that to her role on the Human Interface Devices team. Her group is responsible for developing the unique sensors on Apple Watch.”

Emilie – Engineering Manager, iOS Photos and Camera Engineering team

“Emilie has always been an avid photographer and that passion is a big part of what drives her commitment to the customer’s photographic experience. She and her team are always working on better ways to help people take beautiful photos, no matter what their skill level.”

Jen – Advanced Manufacturing Engineer

“Jen designs automation for final assembly. Working with the Product Design teams, she visits China for hands-on engineering experimentation to find the balance between the best possible product and the best possible way to manufacture it. Jen has the freedom to explore ideas and use her imagination all day.”

Mariana – Specialist, Apple Century City

“Mariana understands the importance of connecting with everyone who visits her store. As a member of the deaf community, she knows customers are always amazed by the impact Apple products have on her. But for her, it’s much more rewarding to show customers amazing experiences that can help them enrich their own lives.”

Cecile – Manager, Computer Vision / Machine Learning Hardware Acceleration

“Cecile and her team develop the software layers that enable hardware acceleration for neural networks on Apple platforms, delivering real-time performance for a variety of applications. She attributes these great customer experiences to some inspiring collaboration among a diverse group of people at Apple.”

Melissa – Genius

“Before she joined the Apple Store, Melissa thought of herself as more of a people person than a tech person. But she was eager to learn and today she’s certified to repair Apple hardware — although she considers her customer experiences the most rewarding part of her day.”

Sujin – Expert, Apple Highcross

“Sujin loves photography, especially portraits. And that affinity for exploring the person-to-person connection is what drew her to a role at the Apple Store. She learns from customers and they learn from her.”

Harriet – Creative Pro, Apple Regent Street

“Art was always a personal passion for Harriet and now it’s a professional passion. She brings what she loves to her role at the Apple Store, helping customers discover new ways to express their creativity.”

Suzie – Manager, Acoustic Prototyping team

“Suzie explores new ways to push the limits of audio technologies. For example, she developed some of the Apple HomePod prototypes that helped define the precise placement of the tweeter array ports — to design high-fidelity sound for listeners, even as they move around the room.”

Giulia – Engineering Manager, Natural Language Processing Team

“Giulia and her colleagues teach machines to recognise patterns such as numbers, images or words, including over 30,000 handwritten Chinese characters. Collaborating with her team and other groups at Apple also helps her stay at the forefront of her field.”

Shravan – Manufacturing Design Engineer

“Shravan and his team help bring Apple’s bold design visions to the real world. They develop processes that can go beyond Apple’s present product needs to become part of Apple’s manufacturing future. He develops innovative approaches toward CNC machining, joining technologies, lasers, robotics, assembly and more — but Shravan believes his most valuable tool is creativity.”

Ehsan – Engineering Manager, Sensing Product Design team

“For Ehsan, it’s the customer’s touch that matters most. His team is responsible for the mechanical design and deployment of next-generation touch, optical and motion-sensing technologies within Apple products.”

Santa – Specialist, Apple Regent Street

“For Santa, music is a constant exploration of fresh ideas and he brings that passion for discovery to his role at work. Learning new things is what the Apple Store is all about — for customers and employees alike.”

Chris – Creative Pro, Apple Country Club Plaza

“As a musician, Chris appreciates how music can bring people together in a shared experience. In fact, it’s one of his favorite things about his job. The opportunity to help others explore their own creativity is why he joined the Apple Store team.”

Jeronimo – Technical Specialist

“When Jeronimo started at the Apple Store, he wasn’t sure he had the tech skills needed, but he found out that personality was even more important. Thanks to coaching and mentoring, he’s brought his skills to life, making connections with customers and his team members.”

Jason – Manager, Wireless Software Engineering team

Apple and women in tech

On the surface, this is Apple’s love letter to engineers.

But I also see a company that focuses on diversity and helping people with disabilities by leading by example by creating a picture of what’s possible (especially the Mariana clip). It is no coincidence that nearly all of the aforementioned promotional videos feature women.

As the issue of women’s leadership in Silicon Valley has been all over the news for a long time, Apple seems to be making a proactive effort that they’re being very transparent about. Just recently, for example, the Apple Women’s Entrepreneur Camp has wrapped up its first year and is now accepting new applications for the next cohort in 2023.

Your two cents

What do you make of these videos?

Web Scraping: For And Against

There’s no doubt that we’re in a very complicated time in terms of personal data. Most uneducated consumers don’t realize how much sensitive information is traded each time they log in to their favorite social media apps or use an in-home electronic assistant.

In turn, they’re unsuspectingly leaving hordes of details about their private lives out for anyone (or any corporation) to expose.

And that’s where web scraping comes in. Also referred to as web harvesting or web data collection, this process involves specialized software that collects information from a website and compiles it for other uses. Just like any other technological tool, the process can be used for both positive and negative purposes.

Here are a few things to consider when looking at the argument of whether web scraping should be considered illegal.

Positive: Compilations of Data, Facts, and Figures

There are numerous benefits of using data scraping, and many businesses around the globe use the byproduct of this practice, whether they know it or not.

Those who feel data harvesting is not a threat, often cite the ability to compile data together from multiple websites in an easy and cost-effective fashion. From this perspective, the general thought is that anything put out on the internet is the same as having it in public view, thus making it general knowledge.

In some cases, they’re right. Web scraping powers the Wayback Machine, a website dedicated to providing previous editions of websites in a clear and easy-to-use manner.

This program makes it easy to look back at previous data, which is definitely a positive. But the technology used to attain the information is what concerns many in the industry.

Also read: How to Start An E-commerce Business From Scratch in 2023

Negative: Difficult to Interpret and Invasion of Personal Privacy

However, there is a downside to the process of web scraping and using personal data for business purposes.

From a technical perspective, harvested data isn’t always easy to interpret or gives you the information you really need. For example, the information scraped using a software program might just be gibberish without any real context. It can also be the wrong information or data that has no real significance on the business you’re trying to conduct.

But the biggest and most hotly contested factor doesn’t deal with technical limitations. Rather, it has to do with the public’s understanding of web scraping and whether it is really an invasion of personal privacy.

Many individuals feel that any outside entity’s ability to pull random data from various public websites and compile it to come up with a specific conclusion is a form of privacy invasion. But, whether they like it or not, it isn’t really all that uncommon.

Marketing companies use this process all the time to try and predict likes, dislikes, and future moves of consumers. They have been doing so for a very long time.

Protections Against Web Scraping and Data Mining

What this all basically comes down to is that website owners are responsible for protecting their customers and users from actions like web scraping and data mining.

By keeping certain sensitive pieces of information private, like banking transaction details or contact information, these organizations can help limit their risk of a breach and ensure positive customer satisfaction.

While that kind of sounds like a no-brainer, it really isn’t always the normal course for some major platforms. For example, Venmo got into a bit of hot water in 2023 by publicly publishing all transactions and keeping them in a database.

This meant that anyone who had a specific user’s username could see every single time they paid for a cup of coffee or sent a roommate half of the month’s rent.

Also read: 5 Best Resource Capacity Planning Tools for Teams

Wrap Up: Pros and Cons of Web Scraping

Like with anything else in tech, there are certainly pros and cons to web scraping. While the process isn’t a big deal when it comes to innocent or general information, it can cause huge problems when you’re talking about very specific details about a website user’s lifestyle.

Thus, it is incredibly important for all website owners to pay extra attention when it comes to protecting certain pieces of data, as the practice is so widely used that it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

Ftc And Google Close To Reaching Patent Case Settlement

It’s being reported that Google is close to reaching a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding its long running anti-trust investigation.

Google Agrees To Compromise

Regarding the patent issue, Google may well have decided to compromise with the FTC after realizing that it doesn’t have much of a case to put forward any. The crux of the matter is that Google holds what are known as ‘standard essential patents’, used by the software industry to protect technical standards’ technology. One example of this would be a patent that allows one wireless phone brand to connect to another, says Reuters.

Whilst Google has used standard essential patents in a number of international legal disputes with its rivals, it’s unlikely that it will be able to do so at home, following a federal judge’s ruling that they cannot be used to win injunctions. This comes after previous rulings from FTC commissioners that using such patents could also be considered anti-competitive.

As such, Google is now thought to be nearing a deal in which it will only request an injunction against companies using its patents if they refuse to license them. Reuters says that such a deal could be concluded as early as this week.

No Resolution in Search Bias Case

How the more pertinent aspect of Google’s battle with the FTC will be resolved remains anybody’s guess meanwhile. Google has been accused of tweaking its search engine so that it displays results from its own websites and products ahead of rival companies in a variety of lucrative niches, a practice that numerous travel and shopping websites have described as unfair.

One possible course of action by the FTC might be to just dump the problem in the hands of the European Commission, which has mounted its own investigation into Google’s alleged unfair practices. Separately, Reuters claims that a number of Google’s competitors ready to take the case to the US Justice Department should any decision go against them.

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