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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 16

Lyft heads to New York City Friday despite legal issues

Lyft is a car-hiring app that lets normal people play cabbie to earn extra money. Lyft has been available in cities around the country for a while and it is set to expand into New York City this Friday. The catch for Lyft and the drivers that plan to drive for the service is that Lyft is not legal in New York.

 

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There are over 500 people signed up to drive for Lyft when it launches in Brooklyn and Queens this week. The issue for these drivers and Lyft with the launch is that it is not certified by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Drivers for Lyft risk having cars seized and high fines for working illegally.

 

In NYC, anyone offering rides for money without a TLC license is subject to $600 penalty and $185 in tow fees. Lyft thinks that these laws don't apply to ride sharing apps. "We don't believe any city law has the jurisdiction to do anything to these drivers," said Lyft cofounder John Zimmer. After a ride is over, Lyft will offer a suggested donation rate for the ride, said to be about 30% cheaper than a normal taxi.

Apple loses patent case in China clearing way for more legal action

Apple has lost a patent infringement case in China this week after Chinese courts upheld a patent owned by a Chinese firm. The court upholding the Chinese patent means that a legal case against Apple can now proceed. Apple took Chinese firm Zhizhen Internet Technology and the Chinese State Intellectual Property Office to court in an attempt to get a ruling that a patent on speech recognition tech being used by Zhizhen was invalid.

 

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The Beijing first Intermediate Court ruled in Zhizhen's favor according to a state run newspaper. Apple says that it intends to appeal the case and take it to the Beijing Higher People's Court. Zhizhen filed suit against Apple in 2012 claiming that Siri violated its voice system patents.

 

"Unfortunately, we were not aware of Zhizhen's patent before we introduced Siri (speech recognition technology) and we do not believe we are using this patent," said a Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman in an emailed statement to Reuters.

 

"While a separate court considers this question, we remain open to reasonable discussions with Zhizhen," the spokeswoman said.

Los Angeles receives first bitcoin ATM machines courtesy of Robocoin

Bitcoin payment processor ExpressCoin has rolled out two new bitcoin-to-cash ATM machines in Los Angeles, manufactured by Robocoin. To verify the transaction, customers need to enter an email address and submit a palm scan - and it's possible to purchase or sell bitcoins using U.S. currency or other popular forms of currency, according to reports. The machines are located in Hollywood and Venice.

 

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This is another major step forward for Robocoin, which has seen its ATM machines rolled out in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Las Vegas, and other select metropolitan areas. There are more than 30 Robocoin ATMs spread throughout the world, and that number will continue to grow moving forward.

 

"I regard the financial system in general and the players in that as our competitor," said John Russell, Robocoin founder, in a statement. "Western Union is on our cross hairs big-time... the process of wire transfers, international wire transfers - we're going to smash them, we're going to crush them. We're going to totally disrupt that environment, and that's what I'm most excited about."

Isis Wallet forced to rebrand after establishment of ISIS in Iraq

The carrier-pushed, Google Wallet alternative Isis Mobile Wallet is having to change its name due to the recent violent establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS.

 

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ISIS - the militant group - has recently exerted force to seize control of vital oil fields in Iraq and seems to be gaining territories. So it's not exactly a surprise that a mobile payment option may want to distance itself from the extremely violent group. "Recently, we have observed with growing concern a militant group whose name, when translated into English, is Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - often referenced by the acronym ISIS," CEO Michael Abbott said. "Changing a brand is never easy, but we know this is the right decision."

 

For now, details of the rebrand are being kept under wraps, but the blog post from Abbott promises to reveal more details soon. For now the company will continue to operate as normal while it makes the tricky, unfortunate transition.

New Zealand ISP gives subscribers access to US version of Netflix

Netflix doesn't offer the same programs to everyone; availability varies depending on the country where you live due to streaming agreements. One ISP in New Zealand is offering subscribers a way to get around that limitation with a new global mode. The ISP is Slingshot and global mode lets users access the US version of Netflix.

 

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Global mode is said to be at its core a VPN that reroutes traffic through servers in other countries so people in NZ look like they are in New York, for instance. VPN use for accessing country-restricted content is frowned on.

 

Slingshot suggests that this service is only aimed at New Zealand homes housing international visitors. Global mode likely violates the terms of service for most streaming video providers.

Samsung forecasts sales recovery for smartphones after earnings miss

Things were looking bleak for Samsung not long ago when it announced a profit for Q2 that fell short of what analysts were expecting. The reason for that shortfall was competition from Chinese smartphone makers and gains for the Korean won. Despite the weak profit that Samsung reported, the company is now forecasting an improvement in smartphone sales.

 

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Samsung has said that new products and demand for 4G devices will boost its sales in Q3. Samsung is counting on new products from competitors like Apple to increase the demand for devices overall. The company is also hoping that demand for 4G phones in China will increase in Q3.

 

In Q2, Samsung saw sales of its smartphones slide to 78 million units compared to 87.5 million units in Q1 marking the third straight quarter with sales decline. Several analysts agree with Samsung's expectation for improved sales.

Google Street View maps Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Cruise ships are massive machines that ply the seas like floating hotels packed with people. Some of the cruise ships have more to do on them than others and it can be hard to figure out exactly what the ship looks like before booking a trip. Google is fixing that issue with Street View mapping its very first cruise ship.

 

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Google Street View has mapped the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas cruise ship. The mapping of the cruise ship was done as part of Google Maps Business View, a service where business pays to have its location imaged by a Google certified photographer and then features on Street View.

 

The imagery of the cruise ship was shot using a DSLR camera over eight days and then pieced together from 20,000 separate images. Passengers thinking of booking a trip on the ship can see the ships neighborhoods with a replica of Central Park, the Royal Promenade, and the outside sun deck. The ship's swimming pools and ice rink are also visible.

Home Depot expands its Wink smart home devices to nearly 60

Home Depot has been offering a few smart home products that run on the Wink platform and can be controlled using a Wink app on Android or iOS devices for a while. Home Depot has now expanded the number of Wink devices in its stores to almost 60 including things like smart light bulbs, sprinklers for the yard, and even water heaters.

 

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The new Wink devices will be available in almost all of its 2000 stores in the US as well as its website. Wink devices can be controlled by a Wink hub that sells for around $50 normally, but can be purchased for half that amount when bought with another Wink enabled device like a light bulb.

 

When the hub is bought with two Wink devices, it can be purchased for 99 cents. Wink apps also allow control of certain other smart home items from Chamberlain, Honeywell, and LED bulbs by Philips and GE.

Intel and others launch Open Interconnect Consortium

Some of the major tech firms in the US and abroad have banded together to start a new consortium that is focused on promoting standards for the Internet of Things. The new consortium is called the Open Interconnect Consortium and it boasts among its participants Intel, Samsung, Dell, Broadcom, and Amtel.

 

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The group wants to define a common communication framework that is based on industry standards that will allow wireless connectivity and intelligent management of data between devices. Connectivity under the plan will be possible regardless of form factor, OS, or service provider according to the group.

 

For now, the group is offering no details on how it plans to pull that goal off. The bad news for these firms is that there is another group called the Allseen Alliance trying to do the same thing and that group boasts 50 members including Microsoft, Cisco, LG, Panasonic, Sharp, and others.

$36 million worth of phones and tablets stolen from Samsung factory

Armed robbers have attacked one of Samsung's factories in Brazil, holding workers hostage while they took truckloads of smartphones, tablets and notebooks from a factory near Sao Paulo, Brazil. These goods were valued at $36 million.

 

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The thieves carjacked a shuttle used by factory employees, after which they took the place overnight during the four-hour heist in Campinas. Campinas is an industrial hub in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo. The thieves reportedly made off with an incredible seven trucks of goods, stealing over 40,000 products.

 

A Samsung spokesperson has said: "We have cooperated fully with the police investigation that is underway and will do our best to avoid any sort of repeat incident".

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