Fake Apple Store in China Rebranded to “Smart Store”

Apple is quite serious when it comes to copyright infringement and does not take things lying down when someone tries to copy it. We have seen how aggressive Apple was when it claimed that the Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was a copy of the iPad 2 in terms of design. They eventually succeeded in stopping the sales of the Galaxy Tab in Europe for the same reason.

In the ongoing war of the patents, every large scale company we see is trying to acquire as many patents as possible, and due to this, we are seeing companies suing each other for copyright violations. Apple and Samsung are suing each other, Nokia is suing Apple and Microsoft is suing Google to mint more money from Android Smartphones.

Earlier today, Google officially announced the  acquisition  of the mobile division of Motorola for $12.5 billion ($40 per share) in cash. Why? Because Google desperately wants to put an end to all the intimidation and lawsuits from companies like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, and the only way to stop it is by acquiring companies that have huge amounts of patents, and that is one of the reasons why Google decided to buy Motorola.

Coming back to Apple and the fake Apple stores in Knuming (China), the Chinese authorities found out that these stores were not licensed by Apple, and has ordered them to stop using the Apple brand and logo anywhere in their store. Apple China, on the other hand, has accused the stores of biased competition and trademark infringement. But it looks like the owners of the “fake” stores are taking a “smarter” step in rebranding it. One such store has been rebranded to “Smart Store” from the not-to-be-used Apple Store.

Here are some images shared by MIC Gadget

Fake Apple Store Rebranded to "Smart Store"

Fake Apple Store Rebranded to "Smart Store"

The rebranded “Smart Store” is facing a shut down if it does not remove Apple trademarks, and other stores are facing similar deadlines. It is likely that each one of these stores will get a new name and remove the Apple logo from their stores to continue with their business as usual. However, with all the media attention, it is expected that the Chinese authorities will close this store soon if they aren’t doing so already.

Apple Suing Motorola Over Design of Xoom Tablet

Apple vs MotorolaApple recently has been involved in a number of patent lawsuits with competitors using the Android OS. A new discovery by FOSS Patents, reveals that Apple has also sued Motorola in Europe, claiming that the Motorola Xoom tablet infringes the design of Apple’s products. This was revealed in a court document filed in Germany and associated with the preliminary injuction given against Samsung yesterday banning the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Prior to or simultaneously with the motion for a preliminary injunction against Samsung, Apple also filed a complaint with the same court over the design of the Motorola Xoom tablet. Here’s a passage from the Samsung complaint that mentions two other lawsuits Apple instigated against iPad competitors — Motorola and a local German company named JAY-tech…

The filing does not say whether or not  Apple has pushed for a preliminary injunction against the sale of the Xoom in the European Union as it did for the Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, Apple is considering a  permanent injunction against Motorola’s Xoom.

In addition, the filing also notes that a preliminary injunction against  JAY-tech  was granted and further upheld “in its entirety” following a hearing.  JAY-tech last year began offering a budget 7-inch Android-based tablet, and the company is no longer selling the product.

Last year, Motorola filed a suit against Apple  claiming infringement of a series of 18 Motorola patents with a broad array of Mac and iOS products. Since then, the two companies have been quiet between each other but today’s  revelation suggests that  Apple has continued to go after Motorola.

Amazon Launches a Web-Based iPad Kindle Reader

Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon hasn’t publicly announced it yet, but they have quietly launched a new web app called “Kindle Cloud Reader” that allows Chrome and Safari users to access their Kindle eBooks through their browsers. The entire app was created with HTML5 and offers offline reading. In addition, the Cloud Reader supports the iPad version of Safari, enabling Amazon to workaround Apple’s new subscription rules requiring in-app sales. However, the app currently does not support the iPhone.

TechCrunch reports that the new system is already live at  http://read.amazon.com  and works great on the iPad:

The iPad version is especially good because the store is fully optimized for the device. And you can easily switch back and forth between the store and your own library. It feels like a native app, but it’s not.

Since the web app supports local storage, you can read your Kindle books even without an internet connection. Also, the cloud versions of the Kindle books are still limited to a set number of devices. Meaning that  if you have your books downloaded to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, etc, you may be over the limit and will not be able to read them in the cloud.

Apple is probably having a difficult time getting  many content providers to implement their new subscription rules which prevent native iOS app publishers from selling content outside of Apple’s own in-app system. Amazon decided to obey these rules by removing the Kindle Store button from their native app, and for now  the iPad now has this web-based option that integrates  with their sales system.

Apple Reveals Fifth Avenue Cube Renovation Plans

Last month, it was reported that Apple began working on a $6.6 million renovation of the plaza and glass cube at the iconic Fifth Avenue Apple Store in Manhattan. Barriers were setup around the plaza and glass cube, but still allowing customers access to the store through a covered passageway. When Apple first began work, documents suggested that the glass cube would be removed in order to work on drainage, pavers, and bollards on the plaza. However, it was unclear if Apple would be making changes to the cube itself.

Apple Store Fifth Avenue Cube Sign

Now the plans have been revealed for the cube by Apple. A new sign posted on the barrier surrounding the plaza shows that the cube’s glass panels will be replaced with new, larger panels and will offer a “seamless” cleaner appearance. The sign reads…

We’re simplifying the Fifth Avenue cube. By using larger, seamless pieces of glass, we’re using just 15 panes instead of 90.

The diagram on the sign suggests that Apple will be using three glass panes per side of the cube, with each side pane stretching the entire height of the cube.

Last year, Apple filed for a trademark on the original design of the Fifth Avenue store’s cube. In addition, the Fifth Avenue Apple Store is one of the most-photographed sites in Manhattan.

[Image credit: AppleInsider]

Class-action Suit Filed Against Apple and 5 Book Publishers Over E-book Pricing

iPad iBookYesterday, Apple was sued  over  a “fast booting” patent. Today, a new class-action lawsuit has been filed against Apple and 5 major book publishers. The lawsuit claims that they “colluded to  increase prices for popular e-book titles to boost profits and force e-book rival Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing.”

This lawsuit claims that Apple  and Hachette, HarperCollins, MacMillan, Penguin, and Simon & Shuster illegally worked together to enable an “agency model” as the standard for e-book sales instead of a “wholesale model”. In addition, the complaint insists that the strategy used was unfair and anticompetitive because e-book prices rose after the agreements were finalized.

In November 2007, Amazon revolutionized the book publishing industry by releasing the Kindle, a handheld digital reader for electronic books or eBooks.Using proprietary electronic inktechnology, the Kindle replicated the appearance of ink on paper and introduced numerous efficiency-enhancing characteristics, including portability and other advantages of a digital format.

A major economic advantage to eBook technology is its potential to massively reduce distribution costs historically associated with brick-and-mortar publishing. But publishers quickly realized that if market forces were allowed to prevail too quickly, these efficiency enhancing characteristics would rapidly lead to lower consumer prices, improved consumer welfare, and threaten the current business model and available surplus (profit margins). So, faced with disruptive eBook technology that threatened their inefficient and antiquated business model, several major book publishers, working with Apple Inc. (Apple), decided free market competition should not be allowed to work together they coordinated their activities to fight back in an effort to restrain trade and retard innovation. The largest book publishers and Apple were successful.

When the iBookstore was first introduced by Apple, they used  an “agency model” where publishers set the price for their content and Apple would take a 30% cut. The same model is used for the iTunes Store for music and App Store.

The class-action lawsuit suggests that this is a “direct result of the anticompetitive conduct as intended by the conspiracy, the price of the eBooks soared” and “bring claims under federal and state antitrust laws to enjoin the illegal conduct and to obtain damages.”

MacRumors has uploaded the entire lawsuit to Scribd.

Apple Smiles (Wickedly) After German Court Bans Sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe

Update:  Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Ban Lifted in Europe, Except Germany

Following the case filed by Apple against Samsung  for patent infringement lawsuits in April, a German court passed down an initial injunction by bringing to halt all distribution of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European countries earlier this morning.

Apple claims infringement  on intellectual property rights and patents on the device that was released earlier this year. Under the German Copyright Law (case number 14c O 194/11), Apple is seeking the German court to impose a fine, threatening Samsung to pay $350,000 (250,000 euros) fine for each violation or imprisonment for Samsung management. Well, these are the standards under the German law for contempt of a preliminary injunction.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1The ban is imposed in European countries including Germany, France, Spain and the U.K. Netherlands is the only exclusion where the ban won’t be affected.

According to the suit filed in April in the US District Court in Northern California, Samsung’s Galaxy line of mobile phones and tablets have slavishlycopied the iPhone and iPad –

Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,the lawsuit said.

“Samsung is disappointed with the court’s decision and we intend to act immediately to defend our intellectual property rights through the ongoing legal proceedings in Germany and will continue to actively defend these rights throughout the world,” the company said in a statement.

Apple also asked for a similar preliminary injunction in Australia, due to which Samsung had to reschedule the launch of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia. The injunction is all about design-related intellectual property rights and is not related to any hardware or software patents.

Needless to say, this hindrance could be critical for Samsung as Europe being the biggest market for Samsung, since the majority of its smartphones and tablet sales originate from the European countries.

Last year, Apple filed a lawsuit against Nokia with the same German court, asserting nine European software patents. In the same year, the nine patents were also asserted in a lawsuit in London. Although Apple and Nokia settled in June, Apple did not ask for a preliminary injunction against Nokia.

Apple seems to be worried after Samsung’s smartphone sales overtook Apple’s  Apple.  Not to forget, Apple is a major customer of Samsung, using its components in many of its products? Bad Apple!

Apple Expands Recycling Options for Old Computers and Mobile Devices

Today, MacRumors has discovered that Apple has updated its reuse and recycling programs. This program helps consumers recycle their outdated computers and mobiles. The new changes include the addition of old iPhone and iPad devices and free recycling is provided for all computers and displays, regardless of manufacture.

Apple Recycle Program

iPhone and iPad are now accepted for Apple gift card trade-ins. Apple has partnered with PowerOn for a while now and offers users to trade in an old Mac or PC. In exchange for the trade in, an Apple gift card is offered for the fair market value of the computer. This offer has been expanded to iPhone and iPad devices.

 Turn that iPhone, iPad, or computer — Mac or PC — you’re not using anymore into something brand new. Send it to us and we’ll determine if it qualifies for reuse. If it does, that means your device has monetary value that we’ll apply to an Apple Gift Card, which you can use for purchases at any Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. If your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC doesn’t qualify for reuse, we’ll recycle it responsibly at no cost to you.

Apple also has had an existing partnership with WeRecycle to help recycle computers that no longer have any trade-in value. The service previously offered free recycling of all old Macs and PCs for customers purchasing Macs. Now, Apple has expanded its partnership with WeRecycle to support free recycling of all brands of computers and display, regardless of whether the user is purchasing a new Mac.

If all you want is to dispose of your unwanted equipment — regardless of brand — we can help you do that. Apple contracts with WeRecycle! to responsibly recycle computers and displays from any manufacturer. Just call 877-712-2405 to receive a free prepaid shipping label. Then pack up your equipment using your own box and send it off.

In addition, Apple also continues to offer its iPod and mobile phone recycling program. The program offers users 10% off of the purchase of a new iPod when they trade in an old iPod at an Apple retail store. Users also have the option to recycle their old iPods or mobile phones free of charge via mail.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich to be Launched in October?

Rumors about the launch date and specifications of the upcoming Apple iPhone 5 have been circulating since months. Every other day, some blog comes up with a new rumor about the iPhone 5 specifications or design, based on the iPhone 5 cases designed by some obscure Chinese company. The iPhone 5 may be launched by Apple in either September or October, depending on who you choose to believe.

New Windows Phone 7 devices are also expected to be launched in September, along with the Mango update.

However, there has been relatively low buzz about the next version of the Android OS – Android Ice Cream Sandwich. In fact, other than a rumor or two, we haven’t heard anything about it at all.

Android Ice Cream Sandwich will be the unified OS which developers and users have been praying for. It will run on both smartphones and tablets. The next Nexus device will likely be powered by the TI OMAP4 platform.

Today, BGR revealed that Google may be planning to launch Android Ice Cream Sandwich, along with the new Nexus smartphone as early as October. Google is apparently pushing up the release date of Ice Cream Sandwich to steal some limelight from the much awaited iPhone 5 launch. It also doesn’t want potential Android customers, whose contracts are set to expire in October, going for the iPhone 5.

Apple is Now the Most Valuable Company in the World

The moment I have been waiting for is finally here. In the past few months, we have seen Apple’s stock gradually scale new heights. Apple’s market capitalization first exceeded the market capitalization of its arch nemesis, Microsoft, almost a year back.

Right now, it’s almost $120 billion ahead of Microsoft.

It had been the second most valuable company in the world for a few months now, and has been closing in on its target – Exxon Mobil, the number one corporation in the world by market cap.

Today, it has surpassed Exxon Mobil, to become the most valuable company in the world. Apple now has a market capitalization of $349.49 billion, compared to Exxon Mobil’s market cap of $349.42 billion.

I’ve attached the screenshots, just in case you miss it if the stock prices fluctuate too much.

XOM: $341.42 billion. AAPL: $341.49 billion. #LikeABoss


Exxon Mobil

Go Apple!

Update: Apple seems to be back below Exxon Mobil again, due to some price fluctuations. However, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it regains its number one status.

Apple Sued Over Fast Booting Patent Linked to LG

Apple LG

Patently Apple has discovered that Apple has been hit with a new patent lawsuit regarding “fast booting” used in OS X. “Fast booting” is a method that utilizes boot configuration information from early booting processes to speed up the system during its startup process.

The lawsuit specifically states that Apple’s OS X violates “at least Claim 1″ of the OSS patent. The claim in question reads as follows:

“A method for fast booting a computer system, comprising the steps of: A. performing a power on self test (POST) of basic input output system (BIOS) when the system is powered on or reset is requested; B. checking whether a boot configuration information including a system booting state which was created while executing a previous normal booting process exists or not; C. storing the boot configuration information from execution of the POST operation before loading a graphic interface (GUI) program, based on the checking result; and D. loading the graphic user interface (GUI) program.”

It is interesting to note that the patent and lawsuit associated with the patent application was filed back in 1999 and allocated to LG Electronics. LG can be considered a competitor to Apple since they also offer smartphones, but they mainly serve as a display supplier to Apple.

Whether LG has any stake in the patent is uncertain since the assignment on the patent has changed multiple times dating back to 2004. According to the report, LG passed the patent off to Microconnect LLC, but the patent was also passed along to Protimus Technologies LLC and ANPA Inc while also being reissued along the way. The lawsuit has been made by a Florida based company called Operating Systems Solutions LLC, and appears to be an unknown entity that might have been created specifically for the lawsuit.

Apple has been sued for patent and other types of lawsuits, not only by major corporations but also from smaller firms in the past.