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Apple had an interesting 2012 in terms of patents and trademarks, but one of the first (and I'm guessing, of many) trademarks for 2013 is something a little different - the design and layout of their retail stores.
Apple have tried for a couple of years now to trademark their iconic store designs, with the US Patent and Trademark Office rejecting their trademark twice. The USPTO said that Apple's design weren't "inherently distinctive", forcing the Cupertino-based giant to file a 122-page document arguing their case - this document included consumer surveys and photos of their storefronts.
On their third try, Apple were approved for their trademark which covers the use of a "paneled facade" of glass, recessed lighting units, and line rectangular tables. Apple have also got protection on their glass staircases, in case you were wondering.
Philips have just bowed out of the consumer electronics market, and are now focusing all of their energies into the medical equipment and lightning businesses. Philips have sold their consumer electronics business to Japanese manufacturer Funai Electric Co. for $201 million.
Philips' CEO, Frans van Houten talked to The Wall Street Journal, saying "Since we have online entertainment, people do not buy Blu-ray and DVD players anymore."
This is true though - as most consumer electronics are pretty much identical these days as the content displayed on them is completely online. Myself, I use a Samsung Smart TV and don't use any of the 'smart' features apart from two times in eight months I've used Skype. Everything comes from a networked media player, streaming from my QNAP NAS. There should be many changes in the consumer market with more players shifting and changing in the coming years.
Google, as part of its Google Giving program, is providing 15,000 UK students with Raspberry Pi computers. The Raspberry Pi is a cheap $35 computer that uses an ARM processor on a tiny integrated circuit board. Google is looking to inspire more students to learn coding, which is why they have donated the funds to purchase 15,000 units.
Some quick math and we find out that Google has donated just over $500k for these boards. The announcement was made at Chersterton Community College in Cambridge by Google Chariman Eric Schmidt and Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Google has partnered with six educational organizations in the UK to identify which students to give the units to.
CBS Interactive has filed a response to an injunction that is keeping CNET's journalists from talking about bit torrent technology. The injunction alleges that by CNET talking about, and linking to, P2P software that can be used for illegal purposes, they are encouraging users and causing it to become more pervasive.
CBSI has responded to the injunction claiming just the opposite. They say that because they provide warnings about not using the technology to infringe on copyrights, they are actually doing more good. They warn that the software is still publicly available and wouldn't come with these warnings if found by a Google search.
If CBSI were enjoined from linking to sites that offer downloads of BitTorrent clients, those sites would still remain available to the public and would still be easily found by a simple search on Google - albeit without the warning against infringement that CBSI provides. Moreover, the public interest would be damaged by denying legitimate and truthful information about a pervasive technology, as well as by impending non-infriging uses.
The bit torrent technology has many benefits and uses besides illegal downloading. Bit torrent swarms can provide theoretically unlimited bandwidth and download speed because they can provide an unlimited number of peers. It also works great for redundancy as one server can go down and the file is still available from many other sources, albeit at a reduced speed.
THQ was broken apart last week, with bits and pieces being sold to other companies in various forms. Now we're hearing that Crysis developer, Crytek, have just opened up a new studio based in Austin, Texas, and have filled it with some of the core developers from Vigil Games.
Vigil Games are the guys and girls behind Darksiders, but with THQ sinking, they were left without anything to do, until Crytek come to their rescue. Ex-Vigil co-founder, David Adams, has now become the CEO of the newly-formed Crytek USA Corp., where he has said:
I'm thrilled to be a part of the newest Crytek studio, which will boast some of the brightest development talent in the industry. The studio's launch represents Crytek's commitment to delivering diverse and high quality content to players everywhere.
WhatsApp is the subject of a joint report by Dutch and Canadian authorities which asserts that the app is violating privacy laws in both countries. The problem is that the app requires access to both users and non-users in a user's address book, which is apparently against the law in Canada and Netherlands.
"This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp," said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.
According to the report, WhatsApp stores mobile numbers of non-users from a user's contact list, which violates Dutch privacy laws. The Dutch Data Protection Authority has said that financial penalties could be imposed if WhatsApp continues this practice. WhatsApp has committed to making changes to protect users' privacy.
Following in the footsteps of Google, Twitter has released its second transparency report. The report details that Twitter complied with 69 percent of US data requests, which is less than the 88 percent of requests that Google responded to. It seems that Twitter puts a bit more effort in blocking data requests.
The report also detailed that the US government led the pack in sheer quantity of data requests. For last year, Twitter said it received a total of 1,858 requests for information from governments, 6,646 reports of copyright violations, and 48 demands from governments demanding material to be removed.
We've been thinking about ways in which we can more effectively share this information, with an aim to make it more meaningful and accessible to the community at largeWe believe the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. To that end, it is vital for us (and other Internet services) to be transparent about government requests for user information and government requests to withhold content from the Internet; these growing inquiries can have a serious chilling effect on free expression -- and real privacy implications.
815 cases came from the United States government, with 69 percent of those being fulfilled to some capacity. 60 percent of the US requests were from subpoenas, 11 percent were court orders, and 19 percent were search warrants.
Google thought it was out of the woods after it settled allegations of tracking Safari users even though their settings were set to "Do Not Track." It looks like they don't have this fully behind them quite yet as 12 Safari users in the UK have filed suit against the company over the tracking fiasco.
Law firm Olswang is handling the case and states that between summer 2011 and spring 2012, cookies were used to track Safari users, even though Google promised not to. "Google has a responsibility to consumers and should be accountable for the trust placed in them. We hope that they will take this opportunity to give Safari users a proper explanation about what happened, to apologize and, where appropriate, compensate the victims of their intrusion," says Olswang partner Dan Tench.
Prior to this lawsuit, representatives of the US government fined Google $22.5 million for the same cause of action. This lends some credibility and standing to the lawsuit. Because of this, it's somewhat likely Google will settle out of court with the twelve users.
It looks like Chinese officials are in discussions to remove their ban on gaming consoles that has been in place for twelve years now. If this ban is lifted, it would open a gigantic market for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo - without even considering Valve's Steam Box, the OUYA console, and more.
The news is coming from China Daily, where they have a source within the Ministry of Culture telling the paper:
We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market.
Lifting the ban won't be easy, as it requires all seven ministries that issued the ban to approve the decision to lift the ban itself. The ban was implemented originally in order to protect impressionable youth from video games. A grey market for consoles exists in the country, but lifting the ban should see all sorts of new markets popping up - developers, retailers, and more.
There was a time when the Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone was the undisputed champion, overlooking the grassy knolls quietly whispering 'this changes everything, again' to itself, but those days are behind it thanks to huge competition coming in from what seems like all sides.
Well, Asia's more well-off consumers in Singapore and Hong Kong are slowly switching from iPhone's to the competition - something Reuters is reporting as 'iPhone fatigue'. The problem also comes from consumers wanting to try out other brands, such as South Korea-based Samsung's Galaxy range of devices, seriously chewing into Apple's market share.
Since 2010, Apple has been completely controlling Singapore in terms of market share, with more devices in Singapore running iOS per capita than anywhere else in the world. This is where StatCounter - gs.statcounter.com, who measure traffic collected from a network of 3 million websites, calculate Apple's share of mobile devices in Singapore.