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Business, Financial & Legal Posts - Page 5

Amazon asks FAA for permission to ramp up drone development

When Amazon rolled out a glimpse at its Prime Air drones a while back, most of us though it was a hoax. Amazon appears to believe there may be a future for using drones to deliver products and is asking the FAA to let it develop drones.

 

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Amazon wants to be able to test drones outside of its testing sites designated by the FAA. By expanding its testing sites, Amazon says that it will be able to innovate more quickly. Currently to test a new design, Amazon has to travel to one of the six FAA approved sites around the country.

 

Ultimately, Amazon wants to be able to deliver packages weighing five pounds or less by drones. The retail giant says that 86% of the packages sold on its site weigh less than five pounds. Amazon also says that it has a drone capable of flying over 50 mph while carrying a five-pound package.

FTC says Amazon let kids make unauthorized in-app purchases

The FTC says that Amazon has made it too easy for kids to make in-app purchase using parents phones and accounts. According to the FTC, Amazon's in-app purchase system allowed children to make millions of dollars of in-app purchases that the parent didn't authorize. The FTC leveled this allegation against Amazon in a complaint filed Thursday in a US court.

 

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The suit was filed against Amazon in the Western District of Washington and is seeking a court order to force Amazon to refund money to parents for all unauthorized purchases made by kids. The FTC is also seeking a ban on Amazon's ability to bill parents and other account holders for in-app charges without consent.

 

The FTC wants to highlight a central tenant in this case and that tenant is that companies should get parents permission before charging for in-app purchases. Director of the FTC Consumer Protection Bureau Jessica Rich says that Amazon employees raised concerns about purchases by children years before Amazon changed any procedures. The FTC complaint also notes that the refund process is "unclear and rife with deterrents."

Elon Musk donates $1 million to the Nikola Tesla Museum

It wasn't too long ago that The Oatmeal was asking for funds to erect the Nikola Tesla Museum, going as far as asking the founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, for some help.

 

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Back in May, Musk replied over Twitter saying "I would be happy to help". He has now just helped, providing a huge $1 million for the project. Musk reportedly called up Matthew Inman (the man behind The Oatmeal) promising two things - first, a Tesla supercharger to be built outside of the museum, making the museum part of Tesla's massive, nationwide recharging network, and two - the $1 million for the development and construction of the museum.

 

The original crowdfunding campaign saw $1.3 million raised, which was enough to save Tesla's old laboratory from being torn to the ground. In order to make it into a museum, more money was required, with a rough estimate of $8 million required. This $1 million injection of cash is one great start for that though.

Uber driver allegedly flees authorities with three passengers onboard

A man named Ryan W Simonetti and two of his coworkers were in Washington DC recently where they hailed an Uber ride via the app. When the trio walked up to the Uber car, they noticed a DC Taxi inspector talking to the driver of the Uber car. As the inspector walked off, Simonetti says the Uber driver just drove off.

 

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The inspector turned on his lights and started to follow the Uber car according to Simonetti. The passenger told the driver the cop was following him and the Uber driver allegedly responded, "He's not a real cop." The driver then ran a red light and proceeded to drive above the speed limit. Simonetti said it was like an episode of cops.

 

The driver allegedly told the passengers he couldn't stop and let them out because he would get a $2,000 fine. "It was insane," Simonetti said. "I physically tried to force his leg to hit the brake. I ripped off his pant leg ... I said, 'Here's two options. You take this exit, or I'm going to knock the side of your head in. If we crash, we crash, but you're gonna kill us anyway.'" The driver eventually let them out of the car and continued to flee authorities. The matter is under investigation by law enforcement and Uber.

Antenna patent ruling threatens Motorola products in Europe

A German firm could have just forced Google's Motorola handsets off store shelves thanks to a new patent ruling.

 

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It was argued that Motorola's antennas infringe on a patent owned by German laser specialist company LPKF, and now a local court has just ruled in the latter's favor. At the moment LPKF hasn't decided how it will act, but it has the power to pull Motorola products if an agreement is not reached. The patent dispute surrounds a technology LPKF believes it has the rights to - Laser Direct Structuring - which cuts costs and simplifies creating patterns for antennas.

 

LPKF had previously filed against companies in China, but a court overruled the claims. "The more attractive a patent is, the harder you have to work to defend it," LPKF CEO Ingo Bretthauer said in a statement. "We will continue to fight for our patent in China and systematically take action against infringers outside China." A Motorola spokesperson said the company had "taken steps" to avoid interruptions in the supply line.

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.

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