U.S. jury awards Apple $290 million in retrial against Samsung

SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) – A U.S. jury awarded Apple Inc about $290 million in a damages retrial against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, restoring a large chunk of a historic verdict the iPhone maker won last year.

After a week long trial, the jury deliberated for nearly two days before reaching a decision on Thursday in a San Jose, California federal court. Apple had requested $379.8 million, while Samsung argued that it should have to pay $52.7 million.

Apple and Samsung have been fighting in the courts for over two years. Apple was awarded over $1 billion last year after it convinced a jury that Samsung copied various iPhone features – like using fingers to pinch and zoom on the screen – along with design touches like the phone’s flat, black glass screen.

Earlier this year U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh upheld nearly $640 million of that verdict but ordered a retrial on the rest, ruling that the previous jury had made some errors in its calculations. Combined with the retrial verdict of $290.5 million on Thursday, Apple has now been awarded $929.8 million in the case.

Apple called its marketing chief Phil Schiller to testify during the trial. Samsung did not call any senior executives, a fact hammered on by Apple attorneys during closing argument. Juror Barry Goldman-Hall, 60, said the six-woman two-man jury discussed the disparity.

“We felt like we had way more information from Apple and we were left wondering why we hadn’t gotten other information from Samsung,” said Goldman-Hall, a therapist.

Samsung spokeswoman Lauren Restuccia said the company is disappointed by the verdict, especially because one of the patents in the case has been recently deemed invalid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple is contesting that finding.

Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said it was grateful to the jury for imposing costs on Samsung, though she said the case has been more about protecting innovation than winning money.

Samsung manufactures phones that use the Android operating system, which is developed by Google. In addition to the fight over money, Apple is seeking a permanent injunction against several older Samsung phones. Koh had previously rejected such a sales ban, but earlier this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered her to reconsider.

Nick Rodelli, a lawyer and adviser to institutional investors for CFRA Research in Maryland, said injunctions are much more important in these legal battles than monetary awards. Still, he said, the verdict shows that Apple’s narrative was persuasive to a second jury drawn from Silicon Valley.

“A jury award on the high end of the range is a modestly positive signal for Apple,” Rodelli said.

Colleen Allen, the jury forewoman, said Apple did not enjoy a home field advantage from having the trial so close to the iPhone maker’s headquarters in Cupertino. Both companies are global players, she said, and while Apple engineers may be based in Northern California, its products are manufactured overseas.

The jurors based their decision on the evidence, said Allen, a 36-year old nurse.

“Samsung could’ve come up with a little more evidence,” Allen said.

The case is likely to drag on as Samsung appeals both verdicts, said Brian Love, a professor at Santa Clara Law in Silicon Valley.

“Litigation between the parties is far from over, and there is no end in sight,” Love said.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc vs. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, 11-1846.

(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Writing by Dan Levine; Editing by Gary Hill, Phil Berlowitz and Andrew Hay)

John McAfee sells a $100 gadget that blocks NSA

John McAfee wants to sell you a $100 gadget that blocks the NSA

Part-time fugitive and antivirus software founder John McAfee has a new invention he’s working on. After spending some of his time filming a drug-fueled video tutorial to uninstall the antivirus program he helped create, McAfee now believes he can outsmart the NSA. Speaking at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center on Saturday, McAfee unveiled his grand plan to create a “D-Central” gadget that communicates with smartphones, tablets, and laptops to create decentralized networks that can’t be accessed by government agencies.

The gadget might sound like something straight out of a Bond movie, but McAfee wants to build it and sell it for less than $100. “There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are,” McAfee says. Effectively, it works by creating small private networks that act as a dark web that’s inaccessible to others. McAfee says he has been planning the technology for a few years, but work on the project has intensified “rapidly” over the past few months. It’s not designed to replace the internet; instead it provides a localized dynamic network where users can communicate in private and share files. It will provide a private and public mode, and McAfee says he’s planning to use public nodes too.

McAfee will sell D-Central even if it gets banned in the US

McAfee explains the device is localized and has a range of around three blocks. Everyone in those three blocks can then communicate with each other and that will obviously change as users move in and out of a local area. McAfee says he’s around six months away from a prototype device, and the current one is a round shape with no screens. “We have the design in place, we’re looking for partners for development of the hardware,” he explains, noting there may be three or four varieties of final hardware. The whole project may never make it to retail shelves though, especially if concerns over its use result in a ban. McAfee answered questions over its criminal use by comparing D-Central to the telephone network. “Of course it will be used for nefarious purposes, just like the telephone is used for nefarious purposes.” If the device gets banned in the US, McAfee says he’ll simply “sell it in England, Japan, the Third World.”

While McAfee claims he has developed unique encryption that “the NSA won’t get into it,” the main use for such a gadget might be at college campuses across the US. Napster rose to fame in the ’90s when it used peer-to-peer technology to make sharing MP3s quick and easy. McAfee’s gadget could be used widely to share files at colleges, making it difficult for authorities to police. “I cannot imagine any college student not standing in line to buy one of these,” he claims. While the NSA claims are bold, McAfee is only outlining its use at a high level right now. A clock is ticking on his D-Central website, and we should learn more about the technology in 174 days. Until then, keep your tinfoil hat firmly in place.

Apple Passes Coca-Cola as Most Valuable Brand

APPLE is the new most valuable brand in the world, according to a closely followed annual report.

The report, to be released on Monday, is from Interbrand, a corporate identity and brand consulting company owned by the Omnicom Group that has been compiling what it calls the Best Global Brands report since 2000. The previous No. 1 brand, Coca-Cola, fell to No. 3.

Not only has Apple replaced Coca-Cola as first among the 100 most valuable brands based on criteria that include financial performance, this is the first time that the soft drink known for slogans like “It’s the real thing” has not been No. 1.

Apple’s arrival in the top spot was perhaps “a matter of time,” Jez Frampton, global chief executive at Interbrand, said in a recent interview. Apple was No. 2 last year, climbing from No. 8 in the 2011 report.

“What is it they say, ‘Long live the king’?” Mr. Frampton asked. “This year, the king is Apple.”

The 2013 report begins: “Every so often, a company changes our lives, not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Interbrand has a new No. 1 — Apple.”

The report estimates the value of the Apple brand at $98.3 billion, up 28 percent from the 2012 report. The value of the Coca-Cola brand also rose, by 2 percent to $79.2 billion, but that was not sufficient to give Coca-Cola a 14th year as Interbrand’s most valuable brand.

Although “Coca-Cola is an efficient, outstanding brand marketer, no doubt about it,” Mr. Frampton said, Apple and other leading technology brands have become “very much the poster child of the marketing community.”

That is underscored by the brand in second place in the new report: Google, which rose from fourth place last year. In fact, of the top 10 Best Global Brands for 2013, five are in technology: Apple; Google; Microsoft, No. 5, unchanged from last year; Samsung, 8, compared with 9 last year; and Intel, 9, compared with 8 last year.

Samsung’s ascent followed the company’s adoption of a new brand strategy called the Brand Ideal, which includes “a greater focus on social purpose,” Sue Shim, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Samsung, said by e-mail. That reflected research indicating American consumers would switch brands to “one that was associated with improving people’s lives,” she added.

I.B.M. — No. 4 in 2013, down a notch from 2012 — is ranked as a business services brand. Otherwise, technology would account for six of the top 10.

“Brands like Apple and Google and Samsung are changing our behavior: how we buy, how we communicate with each other, even whether we speak with each other,” Mr. Frampton said. “They have literally changed the way we live our lives.”

Among other transformative technology brands that performed well in the new report was Facebook, which climbed to 52 from 69 last year, its first year on the list.

However, not all technology brands fared well. BlackBerry, which tumbled last year to 93 from 56 in 2011, has disappeared from the list. And Nokia, which dropped to 19 from 14 in 2011, finished this year in 57th place — “the biggest faller” among the 100, Mr. Frampton said.

Among nontechnology brands, a notable addition to the list was Chevrolet, at 89, the first General Motors brand to rank among the Best Global Brands.

“It feels good to hit the list for the first time,” Alan Batey, global head of Chevrolet at G.M., said in a telephone interview. “It’s a great first step, but we’ve got a long way to go. There are a lot of big brands in front of us.”

The milestone reflects how General Motors has been “making a conscious effort to globalize Chevrolet,” Mr. Batey said, selling the brand in 140 countries in ads that play up attributes like “value for money and designs that move hearts and minds.”

Commonwealth, the creative agency for Chevrolet, “played a key role” in helping the brand make the list, he added. Commonwealth is part of the McCann Worldgroup division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

Last year, when Coca-Cola finished atop the Best Global Brands list for the 13th consecutive time, an executive at the Coca-Cola Company acknowledged the streak but noted that “nothing lasts forever.”

A year later, the executive, Joseph V. Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial leadership officer, had this reaction: “Of course, we would like to remain on top of the list forever. That said, we are honored to continue to be included among such an esteemed group of global brands, and we congratulate Apple and Google, both valued partners of ours.”

“We’ve seen the value of technology brands rise as they create new ways for people to stay connected virtually,” Mr. Tripodi said by e-mail. “We understand this, as the lasting power of our brand is built on the social moment of sharing a Coca-Cola with friends and family.”

“Creating these simple moments and delivering on our brand promise each and every day remains our focus,” he added, “as we continue to grow the value of brand Coca-Cola for decades to come.”

If it is consolation, Coca-Cola remains far ahead of Apple and Google in likes on Facebook fan pages. Coca-Cola has 73.2 million, compared with 9.8 million for Apple and 15.1 million for Google.

PayPal acquires Braintree for $800 million

PayPal agreed to pay about $800 million in cash for Braintree, a Chicago-based start-up that was founded in 2007 and has about 4,000 merchants using its service. Braintree’s platform helps process payments for start-ups such as Airbnb, TaskRabbit and Uber.

Braintree, headed by Bill Ready, also owns Venmo, which lets users pay each other for free through a mobile app.

PayPal paid so much for Braintree for three main reasons, according to Sanjay Sakhrani, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

First, the deal gives eBay access to current and prospective clients of Braintree. The start-up has focused on integrating its payment platform with fast-growing start-ups and the mobile apps that power much of their business, Sakhrani explained.

Second, Briantree’s Venmo business has gained a lot of traction with younger users, a demographic that PayPal may have been struggling to reach, according to the KBW analyst.

Third, Braintree has superior application programming interfaces, or APIs, which control how different software interacts with each other. This is important for attracting software developers to a platform. While PayPal has been trying to improve its APIs, it probably made sense to buy Braintree and quickly adopt its APIs, Sakhrani said.

“They also took out a pretty viable competitor, which always helps,” he added.

eBay shares rose 3.9% to $56.32 in afternoon trading Thursday. That pushed the stock close to a 52-week high of $58.04.

Mobile commerce is the fastest-growing part of e-commerce because people are increasingly using smartphones to shop and pay for things. Retail mobile commerce sales will grow 68% to $41.68 billion this year and by 2017, retail sales made on mobile devices will climb to well over $100 billion, eMarketer estimates.

PayPal has its own rapidly expanding mobile payments business, however, the company has lots of competitors, including Square and Google.

“Braintree is a perfect fit with PayPal,” said eBay CEO John Donahoe. “Bill Ready and his team add complementary talent and technology that we believe will help accelerate PayPal’s global leadership in mobile payments.”

Braintree will continue to operate as a separate service within PayPal under CEO Ready, who will report to PayPal President David Marcus. Braintree’s management team and employees are expected to stay in place, PayPal said.

Moon to become next hot vacation destination

Golden Spike, a company full of ex-NASA people, announces ambitious plans to launch commercial spaceflights to the moon by 2020

I feel sorry for all those suckers who blew $20 million and only got a lousy trip to the International Space Station. If they had held out, they might have had an opportunity to invest many more millions on a trip to the moon.

Golden Spike Company announced yesterday a venture to launch commercial voyages to the moon by 2020. Of course, this sort of experience doesn’t come cheap. Golden Spike is expecting a trip to cost $1.5 billion per flight.

At that price, most private clients would be left out in the cold. As awesome as moon tourism sounds, Golden Spike is mainly focused

on offering its services to governments that would like a lunar lift, much like Russia helped other countries get to the space station. Still, I’m guessing Golden Spike would think twice about turning down a multi-billionaire with the dough and desire to buy a ride.

For those of us who don’t bathe in tubs full of hundred dollar bills, Golden Spike has announced its intention to make moon visits frequent and affordable. The definition of affordable is up for debate.

If you’re going to take a chance on a private moon transportation company, you could do worse than Golden Spike. The chairman of the board is Gerry Griffin, Apollo flight director and former director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The president and CEO is planetary scientist Alan Stern, former head of all NASA science missions. NASA resumes are all over the Golden Spike team listings.

On the front page of its site, Golden Spike says, “Private sector human expeditions to the moon are now feasible and profitable without

government funding.” That’s a bold statement. Let’s keep an eye on Golden Spike and see if it can deliver.

A rendering of a Golden Spike vehicle on the moon.

Apollo 17 moon mission

(Credit: Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

In 10 years, folks will share 1,000 times

Zuckerberg: In 10 years, folks will share 1,000 times what they do now

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Facebook CEO and co-founder

addressed an adoring crowd at Y Combinator’s startup school today, speaking confidently about Facebook and describing a world in which people will share a whole lot more than they do now — via Facebook and other social companies.

“It’s sort of a social-networking version of Moore’s Law,” said Zuckerberg, who was interviewed by Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham. “We expect this rate [of sharing] will double every 10 years. So in 10 years from now, people will be sharing about 1,000 times as many things as they do today.”

That, of course, is what Zuckerberg and the newly public Facebook are banking on: That the company’s 1 billion plus users will keep using Facebook not just for keeping in touch with friends but also for interacting with brands.

Today’s interview wasn’t about Facebook the business however. This was a crowd of huge fans — some 1,700 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs who came from across the country, largely to get inspired by Zuckerberg, who was the featured speaker. They packed into Stanford Memorial Hall auditorium, some of them lining up hours in advance to snag a good seat.

So Graham, who runs the most influential startup incubator anywhere, didn’t ask about the stock price or about the impact that Facebook’s messy IPO has had on startup funding in general. He didn’t ask about the ad business. He didn’t even once mention the word “mobile,” which is Facebook’s key challenge now that 600 million Facebook users are accessing the service on their smartphones.

Microsoft Surface tablet back-ordered

microsoft surface
microsoft surface

Call it round one of a Microsoft-Apple hardware heavyweight bout.

A few days before the expected rollout of Apple’s new tablets, all Microsoft Surface tablets are now officially back-ordered in the U.S.

A Microsoft representative confirmed with CNET today that delivery of three Surface RT modelshas been pushed back.

On Tuesday, the same day that sales were launched, the order status of the $499 model (32GB) quickly slipped to three weeks.

Now the $599 Surface with the black Touch Cover (keyboard/cover, 32GB) and the $699 Surface with the black Touch Cover (64GB) are back-ordered “one to two weeks.”

Microsoft also offered this statement.

Surface is available online in eight markets across the world: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Online availability adjusts based on orders and inventory. Regardless of online availability, beginning Oct. 26, 2012, all three Surface SKUs will be available for purchase at all Microsoft Store locations in the United States and Canada, including in all 34 new holiday stores. Customers can go [here] to find the Microsoft Store nearest them.

Surface is the first Microsoft-branded PC, making it the first Microsoft computer to go head-to-head with Apple.

And Microsoft is injecting fresh competition into the PC market, too. Surface will compete with Windows 8 and Windows RT products from Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo, Asus, and others.

Apple may phase out iPad 2

apple ipad min

Tablet buyers may see the iPad 2 sink away as the iPad Mini prepares to surface, says Evercore Partners analyst Rob Cihra.

Chira said he thinks Apple could phase out the iPad 2 because the company’s vision leads toward “clearer product tiers,” according to AppleInsider. Apple is expected to unveil the iPad Mini at a launch event on October 23.

Launched in March 2011, the 16GB iPad 2 is currently available through Apple at a price of $399 for the Wi-Fi only version and $529 for the Wi-Fi + 3G edition. In contrast, the new iPad starts at a price of $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version and shoots up to $829 for the 64GB model with Wi-Fi and 4G.

Apple has teased at a smaller iPad, using the term “we’ve got a little more to show you” on the invites for the October 23 event. But the company hasn’t yet officially announced any such device, so there’s been only speculation about it. Some reports say the smaller tablet will sport a 7.85-inch screen with the entry-level model offering 8GB of storage and Wi-Fi only access and a price tag of $249.

A few rumors have pinned November 2 as the date the new tablet will go on sale. A “source close to Apple’s supply chain” reportedly confirmed that date to TechCrunch as well.

Apple releases iOS 6.0.1 with over-the-air update tool

Apple has rolled out the first bug fix update to iOS 6 since the software’s release in mid-September.

Version 6.0.1, which went out as a free update this morning, fixes a handful of bugs, including one that Apple says kept iPhone 5 users from installing over-the-air software updates. Apple’s fix includes installing a special “iOS updater” app to help the process along, which is removed from the device after 6.0.1 is installed.

Also included in the update is a fix for a nasty Exchange bug that could delete a meeting for all invited attendees if one user declined an invitation. The issue could be so bad that some companies put into place specific workarounds, warning those with iOS 6 devices to keep from declining invites and use a computer instead.

Here’s the full change log:

 

  • Fixes a bug that prevents iPhone 5 from installing software updates wirelessly over the air
  • Fixes a bug where horizontal lines may be displayed across the keyboard
  • Fixes an issue that could cause camera flash to not go off
  • Improves reliability of iPhone 5 and iPod Touch (5th generation) when connected to encrypted WPA2 Wi-Fi networks
  • Resolves an issue that prevents iPhone from using the cellular network in some instances
  • Consolidated the Use Cellular Data switch for iTunes Match
  • Fixes a Passcode Lock bug that sometimes allowed access to Passbook pass details from lock screen
  • Fixes a bug affecting Exchange meetings

 

Here’s an image of the special installer for iPhone 5 users:


(Credit: CNET)

A report from Boy Genius Report late last month suggested Apple had iOS 6.0.1 in testing phases with all of the above fixes, with mention that the company was also at work on a more full-featured release of 6.1 for after the holidays.

As a frame of reference, it took Apple a little under a month to release iOS 5.0.1 following the release of iOS 5 last October. The release brought mostly bug and security fixes, though also added multitasking gestures for original iPad users. The jump to iOS 5.1, which reworked the camera application on the iPad, and increased the size limit for over-the-air app downloads, came about four months later.

According to Apple, iOS 6 adds “over 200 new features” to iOS 5. Chief among them is Apple’s own maps application, changes to Siri that add more information about movies, restaurants, and sports scores, as well as deep integration with Facebook.