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Appeals Court Upholds Microsoft's Win Over Motorola

posted Sunday Aug 2, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Appeals Court Upholds Microsoft's Win Over Motorola

If you've been following the Microsoft-Motorola saga over the past few years, you'll know that the two companies have been feuding over royalty payments since 2012. The fighting has been so intense that Samsung decided to jump into the fray, only to end up settling out of court. Motorola, however, tried to set up injunctions and stop sales of the Xbox 360 in 2013. The case has been ongoing, with the ITC stomping on the injunction. Now, an appeals court has upheld the initial ruling of Microsoft's royalty victory and Motorola must pay up.

The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has agreed with the decision to have Motorola pay Microsoft $14.5 million for violating license agreement in relation to patents the company were using over the past five years. This finally puts Motorola in the losing position of the half-decade lawsuit, and will require all handset and tablet manufacturers using Android as their operating system to pay Microsoft royalties for use of their patents.

From the ruling,

With the parties' consent, the district court conducted a lengthy, thorough bench trial on the RAND rate and range. The court analyzed that evidence in its exhaustive findings of fact and conclusions of law, in a manner consistent with the Federal Circuit's recent approach to establishing damages in the RAND context. The court's factual findings were properly admitted at the jury trial. The jury's verdict was supported by substantial evidence, and its damages award

was proper. The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

That's about as emphatic as it gets. The key here is that no judge before the one presiding over the case had ever ruled on what was a "fair and reasonable" basis of use for patents regarding smartphones and tablets. Well, the judge here determined that the rate of use can be pretty low, and would still fall under that clause. This sets a precedent moving forward that other companies will have to abide by. Plus, it keeps in place the funny and ironic notion surrounding the ordeal that Microsoft gets paid for each use of Android.

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CBS to Live-Stream All National Ads for Super Bowl 50

posted Sunday Aug 2, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

CBS to Live-Stream All National Ads for Super Bowl 50

There's a big change brewing for the upcoming Super Bowl in February. No, it isn't going to be actual musicians for the halftime show or the introduction of self-inflating footballs. Instead, it'll be in the advertising and commercials themselves. CBS has announced that for the first time ever, the company will be live-streaming all national Super Bowl ads through its video-streaming services.

This is huge for those who have to suffer through 5 minutes of silence between every 30 seconds of live action on the field. Super Bowl 50 on February 7th will have every ad run nationally also run through the CBS live stream, as close as possible to real time. Now, advertisers will have a whole new captive audience to reach out to and have essentially been forced to finally consider the online viewer as a viable and meaningful option.

I'm all for being able to watch the ads online, as it's one of the main reasons I enjoy watching the presentation. Plus, it seems like you won't get the option to not see them, like with Adblock or other programs that block pre-roll ads. One buyer said that "It's a huge deal. They are not going to let people opt-out."

We've seen in the past a few ads make their way online, but most were repetitive and it certainly was just a fraction of the total number of commercials aired during the broadcast. Now, CBS is actually putting together packages to media-buyers that include estimated viewer counts for the Super Bowl. Last year, only 18 of the 70 advertisers opted in to the online commercials. This year, advertisers are almost going to be forced to buy both the online and the broadcast.

With last year's Super Bowl attracting 2.5 million unique viewers, 10% more than 2014 and 20% more than 2012, online viewers are an ever-growing and important group that are finally being taken seriously in the media space. As a content creator myself, this is nothing but good news, and for the average consumer, they'll finally be able to cry along with the rest of the world as the Clydesdale gets left in the rain. Or maybe it was the sudden increase of all the onions in the room. Now that I'm thinking about it, you'll have to excuse me. My nachos require me to be cutting these onions at this very moment.

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Former Mt. Gox CEO Arrested for Theft of Bitcoin

posted Sunday Aug 2, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Former Mt. Gox CEO Arrested for Theft of Bitcoin

It's been over a year since we've discussed the Mt. Gox fiasco on our publication. It was mainly because the story became dull and a little redundant, with the value of Bitcoin rising and falling each day from news of another potential breach that never came about. But there was always one interesting piece of the story, and that was about all of the missing Bitcoin that was never recovered and how it got "lost" in the first place. We may have an answer to that, as the former CEO of Mt. Gox, Mark Karpales has been arrested on suspicion of stealing them.

Arrested this week in Japan, Karpales has been charged with falsifying records and exchange transactions. Tokyo police say that he manually adjusted his own account on Mt. Gox to show he had over $1 million in Bitcoin at a certain point. Considering Karpales has had prior run-ins with the law in relation to theft and fraud, this may come as no surprise to some, especially with the majority of people in the investigation agreeing on a theory that the missing Bitcoin was an inside job.

Karpales has since gone on record to deny the accusations, telling the Wall Street Journal that they were "false" and he would "of course deny" the charges against him. Neither official police spokespeople nor Karpales' attorneys have commented on the matter and the news around the arrest is a little blurry. The good news is that he can now be tried in court to determine if he in fact did steal the coins. The bad news is that a lot of people are still out a lot of money, thus going to show the ongoing instability in the digital currency.

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Razer Acquires Ouya, Keeps Name but Drops Hardware

posted Sunday Aug 2, 2015 by Nicholas DiMeo

Razer Acquires Ouya, Keeps Name but Drops Hardware

Ouya hasn't been in the news much lately, mostly because the company failed to gain momentum after a less than stellar Kickstarter launch. However, the $99 Android console has made headlines again as gaming company Razer announced that it acquired the console maker.

Rumors were swirling for weeks about a purchase, being confirmed after Ouya's CEO Julie Uhrman sent out a letter stating that she was looking to sell. Though with technical errors and hardware glitches, many thought it would be hard to sell the company. Razer has stepped in, off the success of its CES campaign, and has agreed to purchase the company as a whole. As a result, Uhrman will be stepping down and leaving Ouya once the deal is completed.

For Razer, the company will be taking the some of the hardware and software ideas from the Ouya console and will implement them onto their own hardware. With its latest product, the Forge TV, making its way into consumers' homes, combining the two Android consoles seemed to be the likely result anyway.

Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said in a statement,

Razer has a long-term vision for Android TV and Android-based TV consoles. This acquisition is envisaged to usher more developers and content to the Android TV platform.

Razer will continue to provide support and service for Ouya for one year. After that, it will be shutting off the platform and during the interim, will be offering incentives for Ouya customers to switch over to the Forge TV. So for the 100 people that purchased an Ouya, all you'll get after a year from now is a slightly cool-looking paperweight.

However, Razer will be keeping the Ouya name, but as the publisher behind its Android TV games. Razer will be looking to expand beyond just its own hardware with the lineup of games offered, and keeping an external name for that project makes sense. This will hold special value for Razer in China, where the country just announced it's lifted bans on video game console sales. Ouya Games may make quite an impact in a fresh market.

Additionally, Razer did also announce that it is going to continue to honor Ouya's Free the Games Fund, which was a lump sum of $1 million set for developers who launched games via Kickstarter before August of last year with an intent of being sold exclusively on Ouya devices. Even though the contract sent to devs said it could be voided after a sale or bankruptcy of the company, Razer has stepped in to say that they will fulfill all of the remaining $620,000 owed to indie developers worldwide. In addition, Razer is lifting the exclusivity clause and will be allowing studios to publish their games on any platform they wish, through the newly-named Ouya game distribution channel.

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Comcast Displeased With Sling TV Ads, Won't Air Them

posted Saturday Aug 1, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Comcast Displeased With Sling TV Ads, Won't Air Them

The Best of CES 2014 product was a television industry disrupting product: The Hopper from DISH Network. After awarding the product, CBS demanded that the award be revoked because of ongoing litigation over the product. CBS owns CNET, the company that was, at the time, responsible for the Best of CES awards. In 2015, the awards were transferred to AOL-owned Engadget who, once again, gave the award to a television industry disrupting service: Sling TV.

The service was launched to the public shortly after CES, and was welcomed with both critical and customer appreciation. The question that many of us asked, however, was how will a company like this, who is trying to change the way people interact with live television, going to screw it up. They weren't facing potential legal action like Aereo, but they had the potential to anger cable companies.

This week according to Sling CEO Roger Lynch, the company finally figured out how to accomplish this goal. Their new television ad, which will begin to air soon, shows the traditional cable companies as mean kids, bullying their customers. While this does play into their business model perfectly, it does pose a few pretty obvious problems for getting those ads run on television. The first, most obvious problem is that they will unlikely be able to run these ads on cable networks.

Many of the ads run on cable are injected by the local cable provider, with a revenue share program with the networks themselves. It is unlikely that a company like Comcast, Charter or Time Warner will purposely run an advertisement for a competitor that portrays them as mean kids. That leaves some direct sales opportunities for some of the networks, but does bring their marketing focus down to mostly broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

As the company submitted their ad to affiliates across the country for the big 4, they were met with what they seem to think was a surprising result. ABC, CBS and Fox affiliates all agreed to run the ads, while NBC affiliates denied the relationship. This is likely because NBC is owned and operated by Comcast, who was still not content with the advertisements.

Sling has taken this as an indication that their marketing is right, and has played up the disruptive angle of the company, citing Comcast's fear of the service and of the marketing. Lynch said of Comcast,

Comcast has a demonstrated history of shutting down ideas it doesn't like or understand, predictably to its benefit and at the expense of consumers. This is why we aggressively fought Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable. Our argument? That this massive conglomerate would use its incredible market power in broadband to thwart live Internet video services like Sling TV.

The future of television is certainly a different landscape than is currently available, and traditional cable companies like Comcast are understandably concerned. That is mostly because they are unwilling or unable to adjust their own business models to embrace the change, and will continue to fight them instead. In the end, it will likely end companies like Comcast as they are today, as opposed to using their immense resources to lead the shift.

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LinkedIn Shows Quarterly Success, Sees Stock Price Raise

posted Saturday Aug 1, 2015 by Scott Ertz

LinkedIn Shows Quarterly Success, Sees Stock Price Raise

When LinkedIn had their initial public offering, they proved social could be successful - something that Facebook and Groupon were not able to do. Since then, however, LinkedIn has never really shined, though they have not failed, either; they have lived right in the middle, uninteresting results. There have been no major gains nor losses in terms of user count, revenue or profit.

This past quarter saw a change for the company, with gains in many of their key metric. Their revenue was up 33%, an incredible feat for a company with total revenue in the $712 million range. They saw a 32% increase in Marketing Solutions revenue, as well as a 22% increase in premium subscription revenue. These numbers were all accomplished on 380 million members. CEO Jeff Weiner said of the quarter,

LinkedIn continued to deliver increased member and customer value in the second quarter while delivering solid financial results. We continued to invest in our long-term strategic roadmap and began integrating the acquisition of lynda.com that closed during the quarter.

This quarter included the $1.5 billion acquisition of Lynda.com, a launch of new product Elevate, as well as re-launching Pulse, the news app they purchased in 2013. Being able to accomplish all of this and see such growth in revenue shows a company that is quickly becoming capable of juggling multiple business priorities at once, something once unheard of from LinkedIn. As a result, the company's stock price rose an impressive 7%, based entirely on their earnings report. It is a good time for this, as they are recovering from a 12-month low, which was its lowest stock price since their earnings report for this quarter last year.

Hopefully LinkedIn will be able to continue this progress and get their price back to where it was only 5 months ago. Being able to succeed on multiple fronts, such as Pulse and Elevate, as well as integrating the training services of Lydia into their business goals, could be a big part of that growth.

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