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It looks like Microsoft could be hit with a large tax bill if the Danish authorities have anything to do with it, where Denmark officials are considering a tax levy of 5.8 billion kroner, or around $1.01 billion. This is all in relation to Microsoft's acquisition of financial software maker Navavision back in 2002.
Microsoft have reportedly been using Caribbean-based shell companies to operate their acquired company's enterprise planning and account units. This has allowed Microsoft to push profits away from Denmark where tax rates are 25%, compared to the effectively 0% in the Caribbean. Obviously they aren't the first company to do something like this, with most big corporations and companies funnelling cash into places like Bermuda to save on tax.
It's being reported that Microsoft and Danish officials are in talks regarding the bill, which includes back taxes, penalties and fees, too.
The Pirate Bay have been bouncing around the sea for a week or so now, peeping through their binoculars for a new home and it now looks like they've found one.... in North Korea. A Pirate Bay insider has told Torrent Freak that the piracy-related group have been in talks with North Korean officials for around two weeks.
The Pirate Bay have said that they were invited in the same fashion that Google's Eric Schmidt were, but until now, they declined. People will find this funny as The Pirate Bay are running from corporations and governments (they're close to the same thing nowadays) such as in the US, yet a country that is synonymous with keeping people in camps and detaining others, some would think this is a move by North Korea to slyly smile at the US and nod.
You might remember Infinity Ward, the creators of Call of Duty - but that can be rolled into two men - Jason West and Vince Zampella. The two of them left IW on fiery terms and started up Respawn Entertainment.
West has now left the studio, citing family issues which have been on-going since May 2012, according to a source who didn't want to be named. West's partner, Vince, confirmed the news, saying:
Jason has left Respawn to take care of some family issues. We have worked together on some amazing accomplishments over the years, starting with an early Segasoft project that never shipped. It is sad to see things come to an end, but there are times when change is best for growth, both personally and professionally. I wish Jason the best and send my best wishes to his family. Respawn continues to amaze me, the team here is resilient and talented. E3 will be therapeutic for us, as we finally get to start showing our work again. I know the team was excited about the response we got from just admitting we were going to attend.
Kim Dotcom is constantly in the news, usually for his court case, his previous MegaUpload website, his skills in Call of Duty, but now he's in the news for an entirely new reason - finance. Dotcom has asked his twitter followers for help in making a Bitcoin-based credit card.
The card would likely be attached to his new site, Mega, but be based off of the non-fiat-based currency, Bitcoins. It would be an interesting venture for Dotcom, something I'm going to be following closely.
Microsoft has ended its advertising war against Google. The ad campaign known as "Scroogled" is no longer being featured on TV or in newspapers. While it doesn't seem to have had an impact on Google's market share, at least by one measure Microsoft's ad campaign has been a success.
Microsoft originally set out to get 25,000 signatures on its Care2 petition. The petition was to "tell Google to stop going through your email to sell ads." Over 110,000 people ended up signing the petition, marking the campaign as a success.
If you haven't seen the ads, one is embedded below. The attacking nature of the ads are reminiscent of a political campaign and seemed to backfire on Microsoft. What are your thoughts on the ad campaign?
The White House has thrown its support behind legalizing cell phone unlocking after a We The People petition achieved the 100,000 signature requirement. The practice of unlocking cellular devices was banned earlier this year after the Library of Congress ruled that it violates the DMCA.
White House Senior Advisor R. David Edelman:
The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.
Sina Khanifar, the person who kicked off the petition:
This is a big victory for consumers, and I'm glad to have played a part in it. A lot of people reacted skeptically when I originally started the petition, with lots of comments to the effect of 'petitions don't do anything.' The optimist in me is really glad to have proved them wrong. The White House just showed that they really do listen, and that they're willing to take action.
Before the PlayStation 4 is released, it looks like Sony are cashing in their bottles and cans to raise some money - the Japanese company have just announced the sale of their 13% stake in Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA. Nomura Securities are the recipients of the sale, estimated to be 40.9 billion yen, or approximately $440 million. The announcement from Sony has said:
Sony is transforming its business portfolio and reorganizing its assets in an effort to strengthen its corporate structure. This sale is made as a part of that initiative.
It's a strange move, as DeNA are one of the world's largest mobile social games companies, with over 40 million users in Japan alone. With Sony wanting to push the PS4 in a more social direction, and with Sony being a Japanese company who are loyal to their own people, why the sale of shares in a top mobile social games company, now?
Anonymous are constantly getting into the news, with their latest efforts trying to show the world that Bank of America are spying on their customers. With the Bank of America being a, well, bank, this is alarming news. But in the world we live in now, not so much.
The hacking collective reportedly took 14GB of information that belongs to Bank of America, Thomas Reuters, ClearForest, Bloomberg, and TEKSystems. The information taken reportedly has the spying habits of the BoA and other corporations, with spools of data on hundreds of thousands of employees and executives. Anonymous are trying to come out as the good guy here, saying that the information collected is interesting for numerous reasons.
Anonymous push the fact that the data was easy to obtain, with the hackers not requiring any brute force as the server they hacked into was easy to access. The data was reportedly sitting on a ClearForest server in Tel Aviv, with the server being so badly misconfigured that the hackers said it was like an open door, where anyone could've entered. Anonymous also state the most of the information was badly researched and that large parts of it might be incorrect.
LTE is only continuing to expand its reach, with South Korean electronics giant, LG, announcing that they've sold 10 million LTE-capable smartphones worldwide. This number is good, but the company haven't broken the numbers down, so we don't know if most of those sales were in South Korea, or if most were somewhere else.
The 10 million number isn't too strong, as LTE is relatively new to some countries - and in a number of countries, LTE hasn't even rolled out yet. LG are committed to 4G LTE, where we saw them push LTE-capable devices such as their F-Series at Mobile World Congress last week.
Apple vs Samsung patent war gets interesting, Samsung damages cut by $450 million with a new trial on order
There would've been smiles on the faces of corporate ladder of Apple when they were originally victorious with their patent lawsuit against Samsung but now the fun is dissolving. Judge Lucy Koh has ordered that the $1.05 billion awarded to Apple six months ago get cut by a hefty $450,514,650. Not chump change by standards.
There are now some questions that would like to be asked about Samsung's per-product damages to 14 of their devices. Judge Koh has now said there's enough going on to require a new trial. This could go two ways, with Samsung proving victorious and getting their damages cut, or removed - the flip side is that Apple may well lose the $450 million, but if victorious for a second time, could be awarded much more on top of their original $1.05 billion.
Interesting times once more, for both companies and consumers.