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Sony, Philips-backed group sues Apple over patents

Intertrust Technologies Corporation, a company owned by Sony and Philips, has announced it is filing a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple. According to the announcement, “The lawsuit accuses Apple of making products and services that infringe on 15 Intertrust patents on security and distributed trusted computing.” Though the specific patents in question are not mentioned, “The lawsuit covers a broad range of key Apple products and services including iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad, Mac computers and laptops, Apple TV, and services including iTunes, iCloud, and the Apple App Store.” The Wall Street Journal notes that Sony and Philips each hold a 49.5 percent stake in Intertrust. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple’s hiring of Kevin Lynch draws criticism, questions

Adobe’s chief technology officer Kevin Lynch unexpectedly left the company to join Apple as vice president of technology, a hiring decision that pundits are already questioning. Most obviously, Apple engaged in a major public spat with Adobe over its Flash software, which was amongst Lynch’s products. An essay from Steve Jobs from April 2010 detailing the ways “Flash falls short” can still be found on Apple’s website, while a YouTube parody from 2009 shows Lynch and another Adobe staffer destroying iPhones in a number of ways, including running an iPhone over with a steamroller.

While many have questioned Apple’s reasoning for bringing Lynch in, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has been particularly pointed in his criticism, suggesting that Lynch may be “a bozo” and a bad hire, based largely on Lynch’s continued support for Flash well after the point at which it was publicly considered an albatross. It’s been noted that Apple CEO Tim Cook has now made several such questionable executive hires at Apple, including Mark Papermaster, John Browett, and Lynch, while other executives such as iOS senior VP Scott Forstall and retail VP Jerry McDougal have departed the company. It is unclear at this point what projects Lynch will be involved with at Apple, but he will report to Apple’s Bob Mansfield in his new role. [via AllThingsD]

Sharp misses Qualcomm deadline, IGZO screens delayed

Sharp has said it will not receive the second part of a $120 million investment from Qualcomm before a March 29 deadline, since it failed to complete a plan to start fabricating screens based on Sharp’s IGZO technology, according to a new report. Qualcomm only agreed to pay the remainder of the money if Sharp met certain production preparations and financial conditions. As a consequence of the delay, Apple’s ability to start using the thin, power-efficient IGZO panels in its next-generation devices—a plan that has been reported for some time—now seems less likely, at least for the immediate future. “The financial targets are not the reason for the delay,” Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said. The companies will now try to meet a June 30 deadline for production of the new screens, which might then become available in late 2013 products. [via Reuters]

Apple releases iOS 6.1.3

Apple has released iOS 6.1.3, which contains improvements and bug fixes, including a fix for a bug that could allow someone to bypass the passcode and access the iPhone app. The update also features improvements to iOS Maps in Japan.

EU judge criticizes Apple over warranty rights

European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Apple still isn’t informing consumers about their legal rights to a two-year warranty in EU member states, according to a report. “In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough,” Reding said. She mentioned lawsuits filed against Apple by consumer associations in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Portugal. Apple was fined twice in Italy over similar complaints, and the company may be facing some heat in Australia, as well. Warranty coverage for Apple products now varies considerably by country, despite Apple’s efforts to sell AppleCare and AppleCare+ extended warranty policies while offering standard 90-day telephone support and 1-year repair coverage across product lines. [via Dow Jones Business News]

T-Mobile announces March 26 event, could involve iPhone

T-Mobile has announced an event on Tuesday, March 26, during which it is expected to announce details about its new no-contract value plans. Reports have suggested that the company may use the event to announce the availability of the iPhone on T-Mobile’s network, as well. In early December, T-Mobile announced it would sell Apple products at some point in 2013, and a follow-up report confirmed the iPhone would be sold by the company. The company has recently come under fire by AT&T, which attempted to pre-emptively dismiss the quality of T-Mobile’s 4G wireless network; T-Mobile will apparently compete with rivals by offering contract-free access to its existing 4G network, and introducing LTE service this year. [via 9to5Mac]

Report: Apple kept two-year Australian warranties quiet

Apple stores in Australia will fix products under warranty purchased in the past two years, but a circulated email told staff not to discuss the warranty with customers, according to a report. Australian Consumer Law suggests that certain expensive items can be returned or fixed for up to 24 months. Apple’s new 24-month warranty policy currently applies to iPhones, iPads, and other iOS devices. However, it’s been reported that customers who didn’t know their rights under Australian Consumer Law and didn’t purchase AppleCare have often had to pay for fixing or replacing products. Apple has been fined twice in Italy for similar issues with warranty violations and Italian law; a Belgian consumer group has also filed a complaint based on the same issues. [via The Sydney Morning Herald]

Jobs films: Kutcher pic delayed, Funny or Die makes movie

The Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher — “Jobs,” formerly titled “jOBS,”— has been delayed, with no new release date determined as of yet. “Jobs” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in late January, and was originally slated to hit theaters April 19.

Meanwhile, comedy website Funny or Die announced its own Steve Jobs movie, “iSteve,” will be released online April 15, before “Jobs.” A report describes “iSteve” as “a biopic poking fun at biopics. Starring Justin Long as Steve Jobs, the “very silly” movie is 60 to 75 minutes long. That leaves Aaron Sorkin’s Jobs movie, based on Walter Isaacson’s officially authorized biography and said to consist of three scenes, likely to arrive third. [via The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times]

Apple unveils new ‘Why iPhone’ webpage

Apple has created a new page on its site extolling the benefits of owning an iPhone, a somewhat surprising move for the company. Following Samsung’s unveiling of its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, the new page popped up on Apple’s site, starting with the text, “There’s iPhone. And then there’s everything else.” The page touts the virtues of the device’s aluminum design, Retina display, battery life, A6 chip, LTE, iSight camera, and Siri, in addition to Apple’s iTunes, App Store, iOS 6, iCloud, and technical support. Apple’s introduction of this new page follows comparatively brief recent comments from Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller about the advantages iPhones have over Android phones, and suggests that Apple is now facing stronger competitive pressure than before.

THX sues Apple over speaker technology

THX has sued Apple alleging an infringement of speaker technology in iPhones, iPads and iMacs, according to a report. A complaint filed by THX refers to a 2008 patent for a narrow profile speaker unit that can attach to computers or flat screen TVs and output sound through a slot with a narrow dimension. The lawsuit maintains Apple products containing the speaker units infringe the patent and cause THX “monetary damage and irreparable harm.” THX seeks a court order to stop the infringement, and a royalty or damages to compensate for lost profit. [via Bloomberg]

Ex-Apple retail chief Browett: Apple’s great, I didn’t fit

Former Apple retail chief John Browett said he “just didn’t fit” the company in a recent interview at the Retail Week Live conference. Browett left Apple in late October after a brief stint with the company. “Apple is a truly fantastic business. The people are great, they’ve got great products, it’s got a great culture and I loved working there, it’s a fantastic business. The issue there was that I just didn’t fit within the way they run the business … you are rejected from the organization for fit rather than competency,” he said. However, Browett also noted what he learned during his time at Apple was “probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me, certainly from a business perspective,” suggesting that he learned humility and became a “much kinder person” as a result. Browett is now chief executive of London-based retailer Monsoon Accessorize. [via The Independent]

Apple’s Schiller downplays Android before Galaxy IV debut

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller had choice words for Android on the eve of competitor Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy IV. “Android is often given as a free replacement for a feature phone and the experience isn’t as good as an iPhone,” Schiller said in an interview. He downplayed the competition, saying that four times as many iPhone users switched from Android than those who switched to Android in the fourth quarter. Schiller also said Android users often run old operating systems and don’t have the benefits of the cohesive experience that Apple offers. “When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with,” he said. “They don’t work seamlessly together.” [via The Wall Street Journal]

Patent application shows Smart Cover inductive charging

A newly published patent application reveals Apple’s designs for a Smart Cover that uses inductive charging to wirelessly power an iPad. The protective cover described in the application could “wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the tablet device” by coupling magnetic elements. It’s also noted that “useful power can be supplied directly to a tablet device by way of a protective cover that can be placed in close proximity to a surface of the tablet device.”

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The protective cover could use a battery or inductive coils powered by an external supply. A Smart Cover battery would need to be charged normally, but other embodiments recognize the possibility for solar cells to gather power for inductive transfer. [via Apple Insider]

Apple CEO Cook forced to testify in e-book case

Apple CEO Tim Cook must sit for a deposition in the U.S. government’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple for alleged e-book price-fixing, according to a new report. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote granted a Justice Department request for Cook to testify for four hours. Apple had argued that Cook’s testimony would be “cumulative and duplicative” due to the depositions of 11 other Apple executives, but the Judge held that Cook should be made available for testimony, as there was no opportunity for live testimony from Apple’s late former CEO Steve Jobs. The lawsuit dates back to April, and initially targeted a number of publishers — Apple was the only publisher not to settle charges in the suit. A trial is currently set for June. Apple and other publishers settled an e-book EU antitrust investigation in September. [via Reuters]

Apple adds new flyovers, updated directions to Maps

Apple is updating its iOS Maps “often and significantly,” according to a new report. Flyover support was added to numerous cities in recent months, and other cities have seen flyover coverage and 3-D buildings expanded. Some city labels, satellite imagery in numerous countries, and location information have also been updated.

The map content was also recently updated in Japan, with toll road notifications, improved pronunciation during turn-by-turn navigation, updated icons and labels, and added 3-D buildings. Maps in China has a new coloring scheme, updated roads, re-prioritized locations, and a new character font for improved readability.

A full list of cities recently updated is included below. However, it’s notable that not all users might see the updates as of yet; for instance, Buffalo, NY supposedly now has flyover support, but the app doesn’t appear to show anything new. [via The Loop]

Apple social network patent tracks ‘stalkers,’ ‘spammers’

A patent granted to Apple today details a social networking system that can reliably identify friends, as well as “stalkers” and “spammers.” Under the system, a user with a relationship to another user can enter a “friend state.” However, rejections of friend requests increase a user’s “stalker count” — a user rejected a number of times within a specified time period will no longer be able to make a friend request to that same user. Likewise, a “spammer count” is created by limiting the number of friend requests one user can make within a specified time period, making it possible to prevent additional friend requests for the remainder of the time period. [via Apple Insider]

Apple must reveal secret documents in privacy lawsuit

A judge has ruled that Apple must submit “a detailed account of how it collects and evaluates” documents in a recent privacy lawsuit, according to a report. Plaintiffs’ attorneys claim Apple has withheld documents it was required to produce in a lawsuit that alleges Apple collected data from mobile devices without permission. U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal wrote that Apple “had provided more than enough evidence itself to suggest to the court that it has not fully complied with the court’s order.” The report notes the judge’s orders are forcing Apple to “reveal inner workings that the company normally goes to great lengths to hide.” Grewal’s order will also allow plaintiffs’ attorneys to view documents regarding how Apple reviews applications for mobile devices — according to a court filing, Apple redacted the information because it is “incredibly sensitive and valuable and is a closely guarded trade secret.” Apple has yet to comment on the order. [via Bloomberg]

Report: Apple’s low royalty offer stalls music streaming

Apple’s proposed streaming music service is being held up by the company’s low offer for royalty rates, according to the New York Post. Sources said Apple has offered record labels around 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, about half of what Pandora offers: 12 cents per 100 songs streamed. A December report noted that progress was slow in talks between Apple and record labels, but no further details were given. While the new report notes that labels would love to open up a new revenue stream via Apple, the offer is seen as too low. Some insiders suggest Apple should pay the rate set by the Copyright Royalty Board, which is around 21 cents per 100 songs streamed.

A related report from The New York Times notes that licensing negotiations will likely delay the launch of Apple’s proposed service until the summer. It’s believed that Apple will pre-load an app on iOS devices for the Pandora-style service, which will be supported through iAds.

Apple patent filing suggests digital content loans, resales

A recently published Apple patent filing titled “Managing Access to Digital Content Items” reveals details about the possible user-to-user transfer of digital content, such as books, music or movies found in iTunes. The most recent of three patent applications involving such transfers, filed in June, describes a system that would allow one user at a time to access a digital content item. A user who purchases a digital content item can loan the item or resell it, with part of the proceeds from the “resale” going to the original digital publisher or creator. In either case, the digital rights to access the content are also transferred. It’s also possible that the loaned or resold content could be stored remotely, in the cloud, removing the need for a seller or lender to send digital content directly to a buyer. [via Apple Insider]

Apple wins UK 3G patent ruling over Samsung

Apple has won a court ruling over Samsung in the UK over the use of standard essential 3G patents. Judge Christopher Floyd ruled Apple’s products do not infringe Samsung patents that apply to sending and receiving information from devices on a 3G network. While Samsung hopes to claim roughly 2.5 percent royalties on sales of Apple 3G products, each Apple court win makes that claim more unlikely. Samsung expressed disappointment with the result, as a company spokeswoman said it would determine whether an appeal would be filed. Apple declined comment. [via ZDNet]

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