The UpStream

US District Judge Overturns $147 Million Settlement Against Research in Motion

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

US District Judge Overturns $147 Million Settlement Against Research in Motion

Good things come to those who wait long enough. For Research in Motion, the maker of the infamous BlackBerry devices which have come and gone with their popularity as fast as Kevin Federline's rap career, the wait seems to have been very, very long. Inappropriate jobs, faulty PlayBooks and marketing blunders have plagued the company until recently, where RIM has decided to set a new course for their future. Now, it would appear good things are happening in the customary set of three.

RIM's second piece of good news in five months comes from none other than a US judge, overturning a ruling of infringement between Research in Motion and Mformation Technologies. The judge said that RIM did not infringe on the plaintiff's patent involving a remote management system on a wireless device.

How much money will RIM get back and what's next for the company. We dive into the good stuff, head-first, after the break.

Zynga Bribes Employees to Keep Them From Quitting

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Scott Ertz

It has been a rough couple of weeks for Zynga. Though the largest producer of Facebook games, their earnings report sucked this quarter, their future products have not impressed and their $200 million OMGPOP acquisition has not exactly gone as planned. The company has begun to resort to licensing tactics, including a Draw Something-branded TV show to try and keep the lights on. Combine that with an insider trading investigation and a lawsuit from EA over the similarities between their new game The Ville and EA's The Sims Social.

None of this inspires confidence from the market, but even less confidence is inside the office. Because of this, the company is expecting many employees to leave out of fear. In an attempt to prevent this, the company handed out stock to all full-time employees to encourage them to stick around. While stock options are a common occurrence within Zynga for performance within a quarter, a full-company handout is not. As of right now, Zynga has 77.4 million outstanding options worth about 76 cents apiece.

Is this a sign of the end or common practice? Hit the break to find out.

Another Kidney for Apple Products

posted Saturday Aug 11, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Another Kidney for Apple Products

I cannot believe I am writing about this again, but here we are. Another Chinese teenager, a 17-year-old boy, sold his kidney on the black market for about $3,500 US, which he then used to purchase an iPad and an iPhone. Yes, this kid underwent surgery in order to purchase a couple of meh consumer electronic devices. As I mentioned, this is not the first time I have written about this. There was the first kidney harvest and the virginity auction, both for Apple products in China last year.

So, what is going on here? Why are people willing to give up their virginity or organs in return for Apple products in China? There are a couple of problems. First, with 1.5 million organ transplants needed in China and only about 10,000 donations, that leaves a HUGE black market open. In fact, this kid's kidney fetched about $35,000 US, most of which was split between the surgeon, hospital official and the Internet troll who found the boy in a chatroom. The fact that even the hospitals are in on the racket is a sign that something is going wrong in the culture or in the government (no kidding, right?).

The other major factor is the social impact of Apple products in the Chinese culture. Since Apple products are so unbelievably expensive, it is a status symbol for a Chinese citizen to own one. Because of the status and the fact that a round of golf is beyond most Chinese budgets, people are willing to do all kinds of crazy things to prove they are important with an iPhone. For example, the boy in question here is currently suffering renal failure and is so weak he is unable to attend the trial in which he is trying to get $350,000 US in damages from the perpetrators of this crime.

Despite the common nature of the harvesting, the practice is obviously illegal, and the people involved are currently facing 10 years in prison, which is not something anyone wants in China. The fact that it is as common as it is, suggests that generally China doesn't prosecute the crime, though they have begun to as of late with 137 recent arrests.

So, now that we have talked about this a couple of times, I need to know: is there anything you would be willing to sell a part of yourself for? Let us know in the comments.

Acer Thinks Surface Tablet is Bad for Business, Threatens Microsoft to Reconsider

posted Wednesday Aug 8, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Acer Thinks Surface Tablet is Bad for Business, Threatens Microsoft to Reconsider

I didn't think anybody but Apple fans would be upset when the Microsoft Surface was announced along with the stunning new accessories. Microsoft beat the first wave of apprehension when they said they welcomed other manufacturers to step their games up against the Surface, and Samsung was quick to announce they'd be launching a Windows 8 RT tablet. All is not well in the Microsoft manufacturer world, though. The last company in my mind that would seem to have an issue, however, would be Acer, but that's exactly who is causing a stir in the tech industry this week as they have told Microsoft to "think twice" about the upcoming flagship Surface tablet.

What's happening here and why is Acer upset? Are they just being childish in the whole matter? Is Microsoft going to put them out of business? We have the answers to all of these questions after the break.

Sony Posts $300 Million Loss for FY Q1, Overall Revenue Slightly Up

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Sony Posts $300 Million Loss for FY Q1, Overall Revenue Slightly Up

Sony's new CEO Kaz Hirai has said countless times that the company's revival plan will right the ship. Since that July 1st meeting and discussion to reassure investors, Sony has purchased Gaikai for $380 million and is readying its third generation of the PlayStation 3. We had to assume that all of this would cost Sony some money but at least would justify the job cuts in a way. At the very least, we'd hoped there wouldn't be another disastrous loss.

I don't know if "disastrous" would be used to cover their sales numbers they posted this week, but it certainly isn't good. Sony said that the economy was still tough and that "the trend toward appreciation of the yen (took) hold." The company also reconsidered its forecast on the fiscal year and estimated a "severe operating environment" for Q2. Unfortunately their gaming division was severely impacted by the losses and Sony had to lower its sales outlook for PlayStation consoles/handhelds that will be sold this year, which will end up making this division perform "significantly below" the original forecast.

So how bad did Sony do? We have the painful numbers after the break.

EA Sues Zynga Over Sims Social Look-a-like, The Ville

posted Saturday Aug 4, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

EA Sues Zynga Over <i>Sims Social</i> Look-a-like, <i>The Ville</i>

As discussed last week on our show, Zynga's slumping performance as of late has led them to be a little bit desperate to hold on to their quickly diminishing userbase; some games have lost half of their 15 million users. They held a massively unimpressive press event to show off uninteresting games and are now grasping at straws with their new social game, The Ville. If you've played the game or even looked at the screen shots, you'd think you were playing The Sims Social, right down to some of the icons!

It didn't take Electronic Arts very long to notice the almost identical game style and design and because of that, the company has sued Zynga, citing direct copying of key features and other important aspects of the game. For Zynga, the company has faced several lawsuits lately that they've just let slide and not paid much attention to, however I think they will make an exception for EA. The stature of the opponent combined with their dismal sales numbers should make for an interesting case in court.

EA says that when The Ville's avatars dance around, talk to one another and do other Sim-y things that they look identical to EA's star social game. EA also said that The Ville's eight levels of player types, from villain to athlete, are just like the scoundrel to jock set in The Sims, except different names. Zynga is also being sued for the color scheme it has used for selecting the player's skin tone. Even the naming of the game is a direct copy: single out the distinctive word from your game series. SimCity, SimTower, SimFarm, etc became The Sims; FarmVille, CityVille and CastleVille became The Ville.

They do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think a cease-and-desist is a fitting return gesture, no?

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