Oracle, Google on track for trial after deal rejected


Oracle, Google on track for trial after deal rejected

Oracle, Google on track for trial after deal rejected

SAN FRANCISCO: Google and Oracle continued legal wrangling on Wednesday in a dimming effort to reach a deal to avoid facing off before jurors in a patent case trial.

The trial remained set to start next month in a San Francisco federal court after Oracle spurned a proposal that Google pay about $3 million in damages and potentially cut the company in for less than a percent of Android revenue.

Northern California-based business software titan Oracle rejected the offer as too low.

“Oracle cannot agree to Google’s proposal that Oracle waive its constitutional right to a jury trial,” Oracle lawyers said in a formal response filed Tuesday to US District Court Judge William Alsup.

“Although there are issues for the Court to decide, there are substantial questions for the jury as well.”

Oracle is accusing Google’s Android software of infringing on Java computer programming language patents held by Oracle stemming from its recent purchase of Java inventor Sun Microsystems.

Google has denied the patent infringement claims and said it believes mobile phone makers and other users of its open-source Android operating system are entitled to use the Java technology in dispute.

Google has maintained that Sun, before it was acquired by Oracle, had declared that Java would be open-source, allowing any software developer to use it, and released some of its source code in 2006 and 2007.

Oracle completed its acquisition of Sun, a one-time Silicon Valley star, in January of 2010 and subsequently filed suit against Google.

Google-backed Android software is used in an array of devices that have been gaining ground in the hotly competitive global smartphone and tablet markets. (AFP)

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Mean girls: Fighting on reality TV


Mean girls: Fighting on reality TV

By Stephanie Goldberg, CNN
January 27, 2012 — Updated 1541 GMT (2341 HKT)
Sammi Giancola and Jenni Farley fight during the third season of
Sammi Giancola and Jenni Farley fight during the third season of “Jersey Shore.”

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sammi Giancola engaged in a bar fight on Thursday’s episode of “Jersey Shore”
  • Catfights have become standard for many cable and network reality series
  • “The Bachelor,” “Mob Wives” and “Love & Hip Hop” feature such aggressive behavior

(CNN) — Table flipping. Hair pulling. Name calling. Glass chucking. Fist throwing.

Who needs scripted dialogue when women are willing to physically and emotionally exchange blows for the camera?

MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” the mega-hit known for both male and female brawls, featured yet another bar fight on Thursday night’s episode. Despite hyping the altercation between cast member Sammi Giancola and a female club-goer in a promo for the show, the scene was treated like any other segment.

Catfights have become practically de rigueur for many cable and network reality series. Shows like “The Bachelor,” “Mob Wives,” “The Real Housewives” and “Love & Hip Hop” all seemingly rely on female cast members’ aggressive behavior for ratings.

The genre has become more about shock TV than reality TV, said Steve Carbone, who runs the spoiler site Realitysteve.com. That said, “If you’re shocked by what you see (on reality TV), you shouldn’t be,” he said.

For almost a decade, viewers have watched 25 to 30 women vie for the attention of one man each season on ABC’s “The Bachelor.” And if the majority of catfights on reality TV have taught us anything, it’s that viewers love watching women fight over a man.

So what’s shocking about the current season’s villain, Courtney, who said she’d like to “verbally assault” and “rip another girl’s head off”? Carbone rhetorically asked. “People, two years ago, were saying the exact same thing about Vienna.”

Mary McClelland, who contributes to the reality TV site Reality Tea, said viewers are still shocked by cattiness and girl-on-girl violence despite no longer being appalled by it.

“Viewers almost revel in it … in an excited way,” she said, adding that stories about catfights on reality shows elicit the most comments on Reality Tea.

Judging by the comments, people seem to be annoyed by the constant cattiness on such shows, McClelland said, adding, “Maybe people like the cringe factor.”

And so producers routinely cast women who will be controversial.

As Shaunie O’Neal, the executive producer and star of VH1’s “Basketball Wives,” wrote in a commentary for CNN.com in July, “I’m not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there’s bound to be a little drama.”

“More and more people are starting to realize how scripted some of this stuff is,” Carbone said. “Not in terms of words, but in unscripted drama. They’re not telling people what to say, but they’re giving them a situation where they know what’s going to arise.”

That’s exactly what happened when VH1’s other reality hit “Love & Hip Hop” found Chrissy Lampkin and Kimbella Vanderhee in the same room. What began as a verbal disagreement ended with flying fists and exposed lady parts.

“Viewers like to find a character to dislike,” McClelland said. “People like to have sides. Like with ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ — Caroline (Manzo) vs. Teresa (Giudice). Fans are into that.”

Who could forget Giudice’s infamous “last supper,” in which she flipped a table over.

“There’s over 100 (reality shows) with all of the cable programs,” Carbone said. “You almost have to outdo the others to get noticed.”

The aggression appears to have amped up recently. A study out of Brigham Young University published in 2010 stated that “reality-television programs contained high levels of verbal and relational aggression, but almost no physical violence. Such ‘meanness’ is so frequent, that it is almost expected in reality programs.”

And shows like Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club” are built around mean girls and fights.

These shows clearly have an audience. However, Carbone said, that doesn’t mean viewers are desensitized to girl-on-girl violence. If they were, he said, producers would move on to a new attention-grabbing storyline.

Which raises a frightening question: What does a show have to do for us to say, “Oh, we’ve never seen this on reality TV before”?

Brilliant Sharapova cruises through to Miami semifinals


Brilliant Sharapova cruises through to Miami semifinals

 

March 27, 2012 — Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Maria Sharapova celebrates her superb straight sets victory over Li Na in Miami.
Maria Sharapova celebrates her superb straight sets victory over Li Na in Miami.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria Sharapova through to the semifinals of the Miami Masters after beating Li Na
  • Second seed Sharapova in superb form as she beats French Open champion 6-3 6-0
  • Rafael Nadal, Mardy Fish and Janko Tipsarevic all go through to men’s quarterfinals

(CNN) — Second seed Maria Sharapova is through to the semifinals of the Miami Masters after crushing French Open champion Li Na in straight sets on Tuesday.

Sharapova, who has never won the Miami title despite reaching three previous finals, won eight games in a row on her way to a 6-3 6-0 success in just 68 minutes.

The win also ended eighth seed Na’s recent superiority over Sharapova, with the Chinese player having won their last four previous meetings in straight sets — including in the semifinals at Roland Garros.

Sharapova will now face either fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki or 10th seed Serena Williams for a place in the final.

No. 1 Azarenka extends winning run

Meanwhile, there were no surprises in the men’s section as second seed Rafael Nadal became the first player to reach the quarterfinals.

Nadal proved too good for 16th seed Kei Nishikori, reaching the last eight with a 6-4 6-4 victory, and he now faces either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Florian Mayer for a semifinal place.

The Spaniard is joined in the quarters by eighth seed Mardy Fish and ninth seed Janko Tipsarevic.

Fish was taken to three sets by 12th seed Nicolas Almagro, eventually prevailing 6-3 6-7 6-3, while Tipsarevic ended the run of unseeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, winning 7-6 6-2.

Tipsarevic will next play Andy Murray or Gilles Simon, while Fish will face Andy Roddick in an all-American quarterfinal provided his compatriot can overcome Argentina’s Juan Monaco.

Madrid and Chelsea both claim away wins


Madrid and Chelsea both claim away wins

Karim Benzema scored twice for Real Madrid in their comfortable victory in Cyprus.
Karim Benzema scored twice for Real Madrid in their comfortable victory in Cyprus.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Real Madrid and Chelsea edge closer to the Champions League semifinals with away wins
  • Karim Benzema scores twice as Real Madrid win 3-0 at Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia
  • A late goal from Salomon Kalou is enough for Chelsea to claim a vital victory at Benfica

(CNN) — Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid won 3-0 at APOEL Nicosia to all but secure their place in the Champions League semifinals.

And Jose Mourinho’s side could well be joined in the last four by his former side Chelsea, who claimed a vital 1-0 success at Benfica courtesy of Salomon Kalou’s last strike.

APOEL have been the fairytale story of this season’s Champions League, entering the competition at the qualification stage they have continued to surprise more illustrious opponents to become the first Cypriot side to reach the last quarterfinal stage.

David vs. the Galacticos: APOEL’s mission impossible?

But, against the Spanish league leaders, APOEL always looked second best, failing to register a single shot on target in the whole of the 90 minutes, while conceding a remarkable 72% possession to their opponents.

Champions League preview

However, despite their dominance, Real needed three goals in the final 15 minutes to confirm their superiority.

And it was French international Benzema who finally broke the deadlock, heading home a cross from substitute Kaka.

Kaka himself added the second goal when slotting home a Marcelo pass, while Benzema secured a comfortable victory in the final minute when turning home Mesut Ozil’s cross.

Madrid now appear certainties to face either Bayern Munich or Marseille in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, caretaker manager Roberto Di Matteo continues to turn Chelsea’s fortunes around, following the dismissal of previous coach Andre Villas Boas, as the London club secured a superb 1-0 victory at Benfica.

Villas Boas had been criticized for not using Chelsea’s experienced older players enough during his tenure at Stamford Bridge.

But his former assistant di Matteo chose to leave top stars like Didier Drogba, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard on the bench — and his decision was vindicated with Chelsea’s first away win in Europe this season.

A tight match was settled 15 minutes from time when Ivory Coast international Kalou jabbed home Fernando Torres’ cross from close range as Benfica slumped to a rare home defeat.

Chelsea now only need a draw to seal in the return leg at home to secure a last four showdown with either defending champions Barcelona or AC Milan.

US regulators call for tighter online privacy rules


US regulators call for tighter online privacy rules
Photo illustration. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called for Internet users to be given an easy-to-use "Do Not Track" feature in a report released on Monday backing tighter online privacy laws.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called for Internet users to be given an easy-to-use “Do Not Track” feature in a report released on Monday backing tighter online privacy laws.

The FTC voted three-to-one to put its seal on recommendations for businesses and US legislators to better protect people’s privacy in “an era of rapid change.”

“If companies adopt our final recommendations for best practices – and many of them already have – they will be able to innovate and deliver creative new services that consumers can enjoy without sacrificing their privacy,” said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz.

“We are confident that consumers will have an easy to use and effective Do-Not-Track option by the end of the year because companies are moving forward expeditiously to make it happen and because lawmakers will want to enact legislation if they don’t.”

The proposed privacy framework for businesses and US policy makers built on a staff report at the FTC in late 2010.

Firms crafting online services should factor privacy into every phase of projects, with special care given to ensure people’s data is kept safe and to limit how much is collected, according to the report.

“Companies should give consumers the option to decide what information is shared about them, and with whom,” the report said.

“This should include a Do-Not-Track mechanism that would provide a simple, easy way for consumers to control the tracking of their online activities.”

Progress is being made on a do-not-track tool that would prevent online services or advertisers from recording people’s Internet activities without their permission, according to the FTC.

“The Commission will work with these groups to complete implementation of an easy-to-use, persistent, and effective Do Not Track system,” the report says.

The FTC plans a public workshop in the second half of this year to explore concerns about Internet service providers, operating systems, online social networks, and browser software tracking people’s online behaviors.

Companies behind services, and those that act as data brokers, should make it clear to users what information is collected, the FTC recommended.

The FTC called for Congress to pass online privacy laws and for the Internet industry to “accelerate the pace of self-regulation.”

Reaction by Internet privacy advocates ranged from praise to criticism, with Information Technology & Innovation Foundation senior analyst Daniel Castro calling it “misguided.”

“The new report shows the FTC still does not understand the fundamental economics of the Internet,” Castro said in a release.

“The FTC’s recommendations would create economic burdens that could stifle the efficiency and innovation that consumers also want from the Internet.”

The dissenting commissioner, J. Thomas Rosch, wrote in the report that he was worried about the legality of stopping Internet companies being able to tell users “take-it-or-leave-it” regarding data collection practices.

“Unfairness is an elastic and elusive concept,” Rosch said while explaining his reasons for not endorsing the final version of the report.

“What is ‘unfair’ is in the eye of the beholder.”

Stopping companies from making money by targeting advertising in practices openly outlined in policies could stifle innovation, according to Rosch.

Nonprofit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog lauded the FTC for supporting a do-not-track tool, which the group has sought for two years.

“The FTC’s support of Do Not Track means that consumers should have a meaningful way to control the tracking of their online activities by the end of the year,” said organization director John Simpson.

The Center for Democracy & Technology called the FTC report an “important reminder” of the need for control of online behavior tracking and said the commission joined “a growing chorus of support” for privacy legislation.

“This report encourages Congress to pass legislation to promote consumer online privacy protection,” said US Senator John Rockefeller, chairman of the senate committee on commerce, science and transportation.

“Online companies need to do a better job of honoring consumer requests when they make a ‘do-not-track’ request on their Internet browsers.”

Facebook buys IBM patents


Facebook confirmed Friday that it has added a trove of IBM patents to its arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Facebook confirmed Friday that it has added a trove of IBM patents to its arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Reports that Facebook bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM surfaced less than two weeks after struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! accused the thriving young firm of infringing on 10 of its patents.

“I can confirm that there was a purchase but I don’t have any other details to share,” Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said in response to an AFP inquiry.

IBM would not comment.

Acquisition of the patents came as California-based Facebook prepared for an initial public offering and as Internet titans increasingly battle in courts as well as in marketplaces.

Yahoo!, in a lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California on March 12, accused Facebook of infringing on patents in several areas including advertising, privacy and messaging.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company asked the court to order Facebook to halt its alleged patent-infringing activities and to assess unspecified damages.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, a decade after Yahoo!, expressed disappointment with the move.

“We’re disappointed that Yahoo!, a longtime business partner of Facebook and a company that has substantially benefited from its association with Facebook, has decided to resort to litigation,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

In the suit, Yahoo! said that Facebook’s growth to more than 850 million users “has been based in large part on Facebook’s use of Yahoo!’s patented technology.”

“For much of the technology upon which Facebook is based, Yahoo! got there first and was therefore granted patents by the United States Patent Office to protect those innovations,” Yahoo! said.

“Yahoo!’s patents relate to cutting edge innovations in online products, including in messaging, news feed generation, social commenting, advertising display, preventing click fraud and privacy controls.”

Once seen as the Internet’s leading light, Yahoo! has struggled in recent years to build a strongly profitable, growing business out of its huge Web presence and global audience.

Taiwan’s HTC unveils phone with powerful camera


Taiwan’s HTC unveils phone with powerful camera

A model displays the new "One" series smartphone by Taiwan's HTC during a press conference in Taipei on March 26, 2012. Taiwan's HTC on Monday unveiled the smartphones that it said would allow users to "retire" their digital cameras, as it sought to fight back against rivals Apple and Samsung.

Taiwan’s HTC on Monday unveiled the smartphones that it said would allow users to “retire” their digital cameras, as it sought to fight back against rivals Apple and Samsung.

The “One” series of phones, which will hit Asian markets on April 2, have cameras that can autofocus in just 0.2 seconds, making them the equal of many modern digital cameras, the company said.

“From now on, you won’t miss any fabulous moments in your life,” said president of HTC North Asia Jack Tong, who also noted that photography is the second most popular function of a smartphone.

“With the One in hand, you can retire your digital cameras,” he said.

The handsets will cost up to to Tw$20,900 ($706) when they hit the shelves next week.

The X model will be installed with a 4.7 inch screen and powered by a quad core processor, while the cheaper V model will have a 3.7 inch screen.

Analysts say the new models are expected to boost the company’s revenue.

The company has said its first quarter revenue will likely fall 33 to 38 percent to Tw$65 billion-Tw$70 billion ($2.2 billion-$2.36 billion), down from Tw$104.16 billion a year ago as Apple and Samsung strengthen their grip on the market.

The company’s net profit in the three months to December dived to Tw$10.94 billion, down from Tw$18.6 billion in the previous quarter.

Yahoo! proxy fight looms after board shakeup


Yahoo! proxy fight looms after board shakeup

Yahoo! on Sunday announced the appointment of three independent board members as the struggling Internet firm moved to shake up its team and fend off a challenge from an activist hedge fund.

Yahoo! announced the appointment of three independent board members as the struggling Internet firm moved to shake up its team and fend off a challenge from an activist hedge fund.

But the hedge fund seeking to wrest control of the firm said it was disappointed with the move, and would press its case to shareholders.

Yahoo! said the new board members were John Hayes, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of American Express; Peter Liguori, former chief operating officer of Discovery Communications and former chairman and president of entertainment of Fox Broadcasting Network; and Thomas McInerney, the outgoing chief financial officer of IAC/InterActiveCorp.

Yahoo said the new board members “bring a powerful mix of exactly the right ingredients to fuel Yahoo!’s forward momentum.”

Yahoo! named Scott Thompson as its new chief executive in January and promised urgent action to turn the company around after a year of falling income and profits.

Thompson, named Yahoo! CEO only on January 4, said the Internet giant needed to move quickly to exploit its huge bank of user data to regain market share, especially in display ads where it has lost ground.

But the nominating committee rejected a push for a slate of nominees from hedge fund Third Point, which has taken a large stake in Yahoo, saying it chose the “best qualified” candidates.

A Yahoo! statement said the company had proposed accepting one of the Third Point candidates along with another candidate mutually acceptable to the board and the hedge fund.

But the statement said Third Point founder and chief executive Daniel Loeb “rejected this proposal and declined to end Third Point’s solicitation with respect to its own four candidates unless he personally was appointed to the board.”

The Yahoo! board said it “remains open to hearing Third Point’s ideas and to working constructively with Third Point, but believes that appointing Mr. Loeb to the board is not in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.”

But Third Point said it was disappointed and that the Yahoo! board “has shown yet again that they are unable to execute deals that are in the company’s best interests.”

“Since we launched our campaign for a better Yahoo!, our goal has been clear: to fix a dysfunctional board by adding new directors who are truly independent and squarely aligned with shareholders to increase Yahoo!’s value,” a Third Point statement said.

“Since the board has left us with no choice but to take our case directly to our fellow shareholders, Third Point intends to move forward with a proxy contest. Yahoo!’s shareholders deserve a voice and a choice. We intend to provide them with one at this year’s annual meeting.”

After Thompson was recruited, Yahoo! co-founder and former chief executive Jerry Yang resigned from the board of directors. A few weeks later the chairman and three other directors said they would step down, opening the way for Thompson’s agenda.

Japan court orders Google to halt auto-complete


Japan court orders Google to halt auto-complete

A Japanese court has ordered search giant Google to suspend its auto-complete function because it breaches one man's privacy, his lawyer said. Tokyo District Court approved a petition by the man, who claimed typing his name into the search engine generated a suggestion linking him to crimes he did not commit, lawyer Hiroyuki Tomita told media Sunday.

A Japanese court has ordered search giant Google to suspend its auto-complete function because it breaches one man’s privacy, his lawyer said.

Tokyo District Court approved a petition by the man, who claimed typing his name into the search engine generated a suggestion linking him to crimes he did not commit, lawyer Hiroyuki Tomita told media Sunday.

If a user accepts the search suggestion, thousands of results are produced that imply criminality of which the man is not guilty, Tomita said.

The lawyer added that since these postings began appearing on the Internet over the last few years, his client has had difficulty finding work, with his online reputation always in question.

Auto-complete is a function provided by many search engines that predicts what a user may be looking for. It is often based on what previous users have searched for when they typed the same initial letters of a word.

The details of this case are not known, but it is possible that the plaintiff shares a name with someone who is legitimately associated with a crime.

Tomita said the auto-complete function was problematic because it guides users to sites that may contain false or misleading information.

Google has responded to the man’s complaints by saying that since the results are compiled automatically there is no intrusion of privacy, Tomita said.

The petition was approved by the court on March 19, but Google has so far refused to take action, saying Japanese law does not apply to its US headquarters and its own corporate privacy policy, Tomita told reporters.

The man may seek financial damages in a bid to press Google to erase the suggested search, said Tomita, who was trained in California and has taken on many Internet-related cases, including online reputation issues.

Google did not immediately respond to AFP enquiries about the case, but has told Japanese network NHK that it was considering its response.