Lucius Fox

Chief Executive Officer of Wayne Enterprises

Federal regulators escalated their antitrust investigation of Google on Thursday by hiring a prominent litigator, sending a strong signal that they are prepared to take the Internet giant to court, report David Streitfeld and Edward Wyatt on Friday in The New York Times.

The inquiry, by the Federal Trade Commission, centers on whether Google is abusing its advantage in Internet search by manipulating results to favor its own products. The case has the potential to be the biggest showdown between regulators and Silicon Valley since the government took on Microsoft 14 years ago.

The news about the antitrust investigation overshadowed Google’s formal response earlier Thursday to a fine by the Federal Communications Commission for obstructing a separate investigation into whether privacy laws had been violated in the Street View project. In the response, Google formally denied obstructing the F.C.C. inquiry, but agreed to pay a small fine anyway.

Posted at 11:19am and tagged with: Google Inc., Google, GOOG, Anti-Trust, Law, Legal, Department of Justice, DOJ, Federal Communications Commission, FCC,.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., invoked George Orwell’s classic as he argued Thursday against the passage of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is meant to allow for increased sharing of information between the government and companies in the name of cybersecurity. In a surprise vote that was not supposed to take place until today, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed the controversial bill 248-168, sending it on to the Senate — which has its own measure — and defied the wishes of the Obama administration, which has threatened a veto. Critics from all over the political spectrum (the ACLU, the Republican Liberty CaucusAnonymousSan Jose Rep. Zoe Lofgren and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, among many others) have Big Brother-related concerns: While they agree with the need for action on cybersecurity, they say the bill could lead the way to government spying enabled by corporations. In addition, language in the bill appears to trump existing criminal laws. (See Trading privacy for security: on CISPA.) But Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., one of the bill’s authors, said Thursday: “There is no government surveillance, none, not any in this bill.”

Posted at 2:36pm and tagged with: Hank Johnson, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, CISPA, US House of Representatives, US Senate, Congress, United States, Law,.

I know it’s 2012, but it feels like ’1984′ in this House.

By now, you’ve probably heard that the JOBS Act passed. The “Jumpstart Our Business Startups,” or JOBS Act, will allow entrepreneurs to crowdfund online to fund small businesses and startups. Plus, entrepreneurs can raise funds from non-accredited investors. The catch: The regulations aren’t in place until the SEC review period is up in January 2013.

While the bill itself is effective immediately, still pending are how the sections that fall under the SEC scope will be regulated. The SEC has 270 days to focus on how to regulate the offerings targeting non-accredited investors. In the meantime, entrepreneurs will be able to crowdfund only to accredited investors beginning July 4, 2012.

Posted at 1:32pm and tagged with: JOBS Act, Jumpstart Our Business Startups, Law, Legislation, Business, Entrepreneurship, Start-ups,.

Despite the online protests of Web freedom advocacy groups, a new cybersecurity bill known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has gathered supporters in Congress and the private sector as it heads towards a vote in the House of Representatives this week.

That support makes the bill’s primary sponsor, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, pretty confident that the bill will be passed by the House, paving its path to become law, if also passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama.

“I feel pretty confident that we’ll close out the bill,” Rogers told TPM in a phone interview. “There is a strong chance that the bill will be passed [by the House this] week.”

That said, the White House on April 17 issued a thinly veiled critique of CISPA, indicating the President may not sign it if it reaches his desk in its current form.

Posted at 5:54pm and tagged with: CISPA, Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, Law, Internet, Congress, US Senate, US House of Representatives,.

“I don’t think you understand. We can’t treat newspapers or magazines any differently than we treat FarmVille.”

With those words, senior Apple executive Eddy Cue stuck to his take-it-or-leave-it business model of a 30 percent revenue share payable for transactions through the iTunes service. Despite my arguments to Mr. Cue in Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., offices last year on behalf of news publishers seeking different terms, to him there was no difference between a newspaper and an online game.

Posted at 2:37pm and tagged with: Department of Justice, DOJ, Law, Legal, Anti-Trust, Apple Inc., Apple, APPL,.

One of the biggest trials in the recent history of the tech industry is in full swing, as Oracle and Google confront each other in downtown San Francisco over whether or not Google improperly used technology from Oracle’s Java when developing Android.

Posted at 9:06am and tagged with: Oracle, Oracle Corporation, ORCL, Google, GOOG, Android, Sun Microsystems, Java, Law, Legal, Patents, Technology,.

Capital punishment has been meted out in Connecticut since colonial times, when convicted witches were sentenced to death. In recent years it has been used sparingly. Of the 4,686 murders committed between 1973 and 2007, only 66 led to convictions of a capital felony, according to a 2011 study of capital punishment in Connecticut by John Donohue of Stanford Law School. And only nine of the culprits actually received the death sentence. Indeed, the execution in 2005 of Michael Ross, a serial killer who waived further appeals, was the first since 1960. Eleven people are in various stages of appeal on death row, including two who have been there for two decades. “Keeping it without using it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” notes Richard Dieter, head of the Death Penalty Information Centre.

Posted at 10:11am and tagged with: Death Penalty, Capital Punishment, United States, Law, Stanford University, Stanford Law School,.

A Texas shell company says Apple and others have infringed on technology for basic smartphone gestures like dragging and “double tap.” The patents were issued in 2007 to a Taiwanese maker of touchpad technology.

In lawsuits filed this week, a shell called “Touchscreen Gestures” claims devices like the iPhone, the iPad and the Blackberry Playbook are infringing on its technology. A related suit accuses Samsung’s Galaxy tablet of violating the same patents.

The patents are US  Patent 7190356 (“A method of identifying double tap gesture”), US Patent 7180506 (“A method for identifying a movement of single tap 7180506) and US Patent 7184031 (“A method identifying a drag gesture”).

Posted at 5:53pm and tagged with: Apple, Apple Inc., APPL, RIM, Research In Motion, RIMM, Patents, Law, Intellectual Property, IP,.

Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in an opinion released Wednesday that explains why the 2010 conviction of a programmer accused of downloading code from Goldman Sachs — shortly before he left for another job — was overturned in February. The court said Sergey Aleynikov was wrongly convicted of theft because code is not physical property, and that the Economic Espionage Act did not apply because the code was not used in interstate commerce. The ruling could have far-reaching effects. “Prosecutors brought this case to send a message about economic espionage in the information age. This is a major setback,” Joel Reidenberg, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, told Reuters. In a concurring opinion, Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi wrote that he hoped Congress would revisit the Economic Espionage Act and update its language: “[I]t is hard for me to conclude that Congress, in this law, actually meant to exempt the kind of behavior in which Aleynikov engaged.”

Posted at 1:05pm and tagged with: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Law, Goldman Sachs, Economic Espionage Act,.

We decline to stretch or update statutory words of plain and ordinary meaning in order to better accommodate the digital age.

The U.S. hit Apple Inc. AAPL -0.63% and five of the nation’s largest publishers with an antitrust lawsuit over the fast-growing e-book market, alleging they conspired to raise prices and block Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.38% from selling e-books at $9.99.

Three of the publishers settled the U.S. suit and agreed to let Amazon and other retailers set the consumer price of e-books, upending the model that had led the price of many best-selling e-books to rise to $12.99 or $14.99. A separate settlement with states could lead to tens of millions of dollars in restitution to consumers who bought e-books.

Posted at 3:14pm and tagged with: Department of Justice, DOJ, Law, Anti-Trust, Apple, Apple Inc., APPL, Amazon.com Inc., AMZN, Business,.