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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 119

New York's attorney general has removed 2,100 sex offenders from online games

Your kids are bit safer online now thanks to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. His office has removed more than 2,100 registered sex offenders from popular online games, including those from Gaia Online, NCSoft, and THQ. The removal comes as part of Operation: Game Over, a fitting title for his project.


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"The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, and we must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators," Schneiderman said today in a statement. "That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims."


Registered sex offenders in the state of New York are required by law to hang over all electronic identities to the state. New York authorities review the list and contact game developers asking them to remove accounts that are on the lists turned in by registered offenders.


"Operation: Game Over coincides with recent incidents of sexual predators using voice and text chat functions in online gaming services to lure underage victims across the country," the attorney general's office said today in a statement.


"I applaud the online gaming companies that have purged registered sex offenders from their networks in time for the holiday season," Schneiderman said today. "Together, we are making the online community a safer place for the children of New York."

Apple's 'pinch-to-zoom' patent ruled invalid in preliminary review, will face more scrutiny

Apple's famous "pinch-to-zoom" patent has been ruled invalid in a preliminary review by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent currently remains valid, though it will be reviewed with the possibility of it being thrown out as an invalid patent. This patent was one of six in the recent battle between Apple and Samsung.


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Apple is widely expected to appeal the preliminary ruling, though if the patent is found invalid, the $1bn+ verdict gained by Apple should be lowered by a judge. Back in October, the USPTO also placed the "rubber band" patent under review. The "rubber band" patent was another patent used in the case against Samsung.


The patent has been ruled invalid because the 21 specific methodologies claimed by Apple's filing had been granted to previous applicants, according to the USPTO. Samsung will likely try and use these reviews as a reason to lower the amount owed to Apple, while Apple is currently trying to get the amount increased.

Boost Mobile to throttle data beginning January 20, will throttle for users above 2.5GB

Boost Mobile, a pre-paid subsidiary of Sprint in the US, will begin throttling data speeds January 20 for users who have transferred more than 2.5GB in a billing period. Boost will send out a warning text message at 85 percent of 2.5GB, and then will throttle speeds to 256kbps after the threshold is passed.


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This isn't the first unlimited data plan provider to begin throttling connections. Boost says that the throttling will only affect a small portion of its customer base, though some vocal customers are upset with the change. Boost has tried to reassure people that 2.5GB is a lot of data, likening it to 90,000 e-mails, 91 hours of streamed music, or 20 hours of video clips.


If you're on Boost and use a lot of data, be ready to get throttled come January 20.

Boeing testing the effect of WiFi on flights, substitutes potatoes for humans

Boeing has been reportedly hauling around 20,000 pounds of potatoes in an effort to test the affects of WiFi on airplanes. One might ask what does potatoes and WiFi have in common? The simple answer is that they make great human analogs and closely replicate the way radio waves behave when passing through humans.


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The study is trying to determine if everyday common place WiFi has any adverse effects on airplane navigation, avionics, and radar. In an attempt to inject a little humor, Boeing has titled the experiment SPUDS (Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution).


We hope that WiFi becoming common place in every commercial flight is the result of the event and we are left wondering if the potatoes seated in first class had to pay more for their tickets.

eBay jumps into the precious metals game with AMPEX-powered Bullion Vertical

At the moment, eBay sell virtually everything - but one market they haven't gotten into is precious metals. Gold and silver are pretty much safe havens for investors, with stocks and currency constantly fluctuating, as it is easily manipulated at the top of the food chain, but precious metals are scarce.


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eBay have announced a new, exclusive partnership with APMEX which will see eBay offer up the APMEX Bullion Center on eBay, which is open for business. eBay have said that there has been an increase in interest of precious metal purchases from consumers, and with APMEX being one of the world's largest precious metals retailers, it is a great partnership for the online merchant.


The Bullion Center offers 200 precious metal products, which are all backed up by eBay's Buyer Protection and APMEX's satisfaction guarantee. All of the purchases are also delivered safely to consumers in unmarked packages. Gold and silver currently sell on eBay, but it's hard to stamp the fixed-price or auction model to these items as the value of the metals are constantly changing with every passing minute. APMEX offers up-to-date pricing, right up to the minute of purchase.

Ex-Windows chief, Steven Sinofsky becomes Harvard professor

Just weeks after Windows 8 was launched, Microsoft pushed their Windows President, Steven Sinofsky, out onto the street. But, with his previous record of employment, we all knew it wouldn't be long until he landed another position.


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Well, the ex-Windows chief has announced through Twitter that he was "excited to return" to teach at Harvard Business School this coming spring. CNET has reported that he previously served as a "visiting scholar" at Harvard Business School in the late-90s.


So for those of you at HBS, you might be rubbing shoulders with the ex-Windows President next year.

ReportTT: Apple Television not coming anytime soon

There has been a lot of talk about Apple TV lately, with Tim Cook even complaining about TV, saying it's like going back 30 years. A few analysts have been predicting that the release of an Apple TV is imminent, but it has yet to materialize. A new report from Apple Insider suggests that the TV isn't anywhere near ready.


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Citing Focus Taiwan, who cited a source at Hon Hai Precision Industry, or Foxconn, Apple Insider says that the TVs are just starting to undergo initial product testing, suggesting that the TVs won't be available to ship until the end of 2013 or beyond. The report says that they are testing TVs sized 46 to 55 inches.


Taking away a bit of the validity of the report, it says that Apple TV-related products will be shown at CES, a trade show that Apple has seemingly avoided like the plague in past years. If they do show something this year, we'll be sure to get the scoop while we're in town.

EFF gets a $500k donation from Mark Cuban and Notch, creator of Minecraft

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has gotten a $500,000 donation from Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, and Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. The donation is going to be used to hire attorneys as the EFF pushes to reform the entire software patent system.


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Cuban's $250,000 will go to pay for EFF Staff Attorney Julie Samuels's new position that will be called "The Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents." Persson's $250,000 isn't quite as earmarked as Cuban's, and will contribute to the EFF as a whole.


"Temporary fixes aren't good enough - we need deep and meaningful reform to protect software development and keep it as free and democratic as possible," Persson said in a statement. "New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better - an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely."


Cuban's said in a statement: "The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful. Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer." and "It's time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help."

Kodak to sell patent portfolio for $525 million

Kodak is in a bit of trouble as they have filed for bankruptcy and have been battling the changing market known as the digital camera. Kodak is selling 1,100 digital imaging patents for $525 million. The patents are being purchased by a collection of companies, including Apple, Google, Facebook, and Samsung.


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Kodak needs this sale to try and stay afloat and adapt to the changing market. "This monetization of patents is another major milestone toward successful emergence," Antonio M. Perez, Kodak's chief executive, said in a press release. "Our progress has accelerated over the past several weeks as we prepare to emerge as a strong, sustainable company."


Of course, as part of the deal, Kodak retains the ability to use the patents in future products, as well as use for the companies that it is selling.


In other Kodak news, the company is looking to move into the professional printing and packaging business, an area where it expects to have "significant competitive advantages and strong growth prospects."

THQ files for bankruptcy protections, sells assets to Clearlake for $60 million

Gamemaker THQ has filed for bankruptcy. Over the past year, they have had issues with cash and have finally decided they can't make it. They have sold their assets to an investor. Clearlake Capital Group purchased the assets for $60 million. The deal looks to shed "legacy obligations and emerge with the strong financial backing of a new owner with substantial experience in software and technology."


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"The sale and filing are necessary next steps to complete THQ's transformation and position the company for the future, as we remain confident in our existing pipeline of games, the strength of our studios, and THQ's deep bench of talent, said Brian Farrell, chairman and chief executive of THQ, in a statement. "We are grateful to our outstanding team of employees, partners and suppliers who have worked with us through this transition. We are pleased to have attracted a strong financial partner for our business, and hope to complete the sale swiftly to make the process as seamless as possible."


The reason THQ has suffered isn't 100 percent clear, though it appears to be a victim of the quick transition from traditional games, such as Xbox 360 and PC, to mobile games, such as Temple Run on the iPhone. The business is set to keep running and customers shouldn't notice any impact during the deal.

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