Five People Charged After Boy Sells Kidney For iPad

New iPad

You may remember that in April of 2011, a 17-year-old from the Anhui province in China sold one of his kidneys for ¥22,000 (roughly $3,400). The teen, who goes under the surname Wang,  claimed he sold one of his kidneys because he wanted an Apple iPad 2, but could not afford it. When asked by his mother how he acquired the Apple tablet, Wang told her about the sale. Wang is now suffering from renal deficiency, which occurs when a person’s kidney is too small to sustain normal life.

Xinhua News Agency, a government-run news network in China, has recently stated that five people have been charged with intentional injury of Wang. While we are not completely sure who these five people are, Xinhua said that the surgeon and the broker have been charged. Xinhua has not stated who bought the kidney.

The broker reportedly received ¥220,000 (approximately $35,000) for the transplant. While Wang only received ¥22,000, the rest of the cash was divided between the defendants and medical staff. As of now, we are unsure if the buyer of the kidney will be charged as the trade of organs has been illegal in China since 2007.

Unfortunately, stories like these are becoming a regular occurrence because of the growing popularity of Apple products in China. Scalpers are getting in on the deal by purchasing mass quantities of Apple products on launch day and selling them for large profits in  tthe grey market. In the end, this causes people to go to perform outrageous acts in order to get the latest and greatest Apple device.

[SAI]

Court Order Against Megaupload Mogul Kim Dotcom Incorrect

Internet superstar-turned-mogul-turned-jailed-man Kim Dotcom of Megaupload seems to be coming out of the dumps of the past few months now. Justice Judith Potter declared the restraining order slapped on Kim Dotcom “null and void” because of some procedural error by the New Zealand police. Apparently the error was committed by the police while filing documents to seize Dotcom’s property. This was admitted by the Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.

Kim Schmitz

While this is an order on a temporary basis, it may lead to the Megaupload creator to receive all his assets back and a good chance to set up his defense in the trial that is to follow on the piracy claims against Megaupload. His site bought him great wealth and a string of luxury cars and a large mansion in Auckland.

Megaupload

However there is a really sick smell of a rat around these “procedural errors”. For one, a little bit of background research on Justice Judith Potter does not turn out to be quite so rosy, with a bunch of ‘shocking’ and ‘mocking’ sentences that she has passed and she might have been a little under the water. Secondly, it might be a case where the New Zealand Government has finally stopped taking orders from a pressurizing United States and showed them the finger with this “procedural error”.

Or it might just be an error. You can never trust bureaucracy, can you?

Legitimate Megaupload Users Set to Sue the FBI

Amongst the litter of pirated songs, videos and software that filled the servers of the deceased file sharing behemoth Megaupload were also some legitimate files, original content and other innocuous material – the material that is now forever lost to the internet, and the users who created and consumed this content are taking the murderer to justice. Indeed, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom’s house and took the website offline, they also unwittingly (?) took down several users’ legitimate files that were needed by them for work in the office or as backup. Now these users wish to sue the FBI in a court of law and this will happen quite soon.

megaupload

These users are also morally supported by the Swedish copyright and patent law reform advocate Piratpartiet (Pirate Party):-

The widespread damage caused by the sudden closure of Megaupload is unjustified and completely disproportionate to the aim intended. For this reason Pirates of Catalonia, in collaboration with Pirate Parties International and other Pirate Parties, have begun investigating these potential breaches of law and will facilitate submission of complaints against the US authorities in as many countries as possible, to ensure a positive and just result.

The Pirate Party of Catalonia, Spain has said that they will be leading the charges against the FBI:-

Regardless of ideology, or opinions on the legality or morality of those running Megaupload, actions such as the closure of this service cause huge damage to lawful users of the sites and are unacceptable and disproportionate violations of their rights.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and Carpathia Hosting have opened Megaretrieval.com to assist users in filing legal complaints to get their data back.

Exciting times and I wonder what the FBI would say to all this.

Microsoft Sues Russian Over Windows.ru Domain Name

Brand protection is always something that large companies invest in, so it should come to no surprise to us that Microsoft is engaging in legal proceedings against Russian businessman Dmitry Shapovalov over “using the Windows trademark” in the domain name Windows.ru. The domain — registered in October of 1998 and paid off until 2012, according to Whois — is privately registered and paid off until the November 1st, 2012. The Moscow Commercial Court will hear the lawsuit on April 11th.

RAPSI — the Russian Legal Information Agency — reports that Microsoft stated that the company owns the rights to the Windows trademark, though Shapovalov’s attorney labeled their claim as “unclear”.

The Next Web has reached out to Microsoft for comment, and are yet to update their post with a response. Funnily enough, the domain is currently forwarded to the Russian Wikipedia entry for a physical, actual “window”. I did search for a cached version of this website on Google to no avail; does anyone have any idea as to what (if anything) this site was in the past?

Breakdown Of The Patents Against Kinect & A Look At Microsoft’s Patent Portfolio

A hot, boring, lazy Friday just turned exciting. As we reported earlier, Microsoft has been sued by Ohio based Impulse Technology Limited. Impulse claims that the Xbox Kinect infringes 7 patents the company owns. I have been closely following Microsoft’s patent portfolio for quite a while. Microsoft has been filing for several (and I mean) several patent relating to body movements, gestures and Kinect. I have done a quick preliminary search to find some of the patents. There are more, the search on USPTO is more broken than their patent system.

Going through the patent applications and Impulse’s statement, the case seems more against how Kinect Fitness leverages body scanning, room environment for health stuff. The patent claims are broad and also cover some of Kinect’s key operations. Here’s what Impulse has sued Microsoft for:

The first claim in 3 of the 7 patents (6,430,997 6,876,496 & 6,308,565) is the same. Way to go patent lawyers.

A testing and training system comprising a continuous tracking system for determining changes in an overall physical location of a player, in a defined physical space; a computer operatively coupled to the tracking system for updating in real time a player virtual location in a virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space, for updating a view of the virtual space, and for providing at least one indicia of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicia is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

Patent 6,430,997 has 30 claims, some key ones:

A reactive power training system comprising: a reactive training device which provides cues to elicit responsive changes in an overall physical location of a subject in at least two dimensions; and a resistive training device; wherein the reactive training device and the resistive training device are used in a training sequence.

A method of reactive power training for a user using a reactive training device and one or more resistive training devices, comprising: performing a training sequence, wherein the performing the training sequence includes: exercising utilizing the reactive training device, to perform reactive training bouts; and performing resistive strength enhancing activities on the one or more resistive training devices, to perform resistive training bouts; wherein the reactive training bouts are alternated with the resistive training bouts.

marker worn by the subject, wherein the reactive training device tracks movement of the marker.

a transmitter worn by the subject which transmits information to the reactive training device without being physically connected to the reactive training device.

wherein the information includes an identification of the subject.

wherein the information includes the subject’s heart rate.

wherein the transmitter acts as a marker, allowing the reactive training device to track location of the subject.

Claim #2 and #3 are Kinect Fitness. The rest of the claims I’ve listed also relate to Kinect Fitness. However, Kinect does not use any such transmitter device, sensor does all the magic. Kinect Fitness however does receive feedback about the user’s body. The Kinect sensor can be considered as the reactive device in this case.

Patent 6,765,726 has 16 claims:

A multiuser physical assessment system comprising: a first tracking system for determining changes in a first overall physical location of a first user within a first physical space; a second tracking system for determining changes in a second overall physical location of a second user within a second physical space; and at least one computer operatively coupled to the tracking systems for updating user virtual locations in a virtual space corresponding to the physical locations of the users; wherein performance of at least one of the users in the virtual space is modified so as to handicap one of the users relative to the other user.

[…] first and second displays operatively coupled to the at least one computer, wherein the displays display respective views of the virtual space; wherein the displays display different views of the virtual space; wherein the tracking systems are both continuous three-dimensional tracking systems; and wherein the at least one computer updates in real time the user virtual locations in the virtual space.

[…] wherein the first view includes first virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users; and wherein the second view includes second virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users.

All claims in this application are related to how Kinect works.

Patent 6,876,496 has 20 claims:

the computer provides at least one indicium of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicium is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

the view of the virtual space includes a player icon located at the player virtual location.

the updating of the protagonist virtual location is made in response to the changes in the physical location of the player, such that the virtual protagonist and the player engage in an interactive task.

These claims, again, go on to cover how Kinect tracks the users and displays it. Instead of an icon, Kinect shows a translucent 2D figure.

Patent 7,359,121 has 27 claims. Key claims:

A method for prompting a user to engage in a physical activity, the method comprising: causing displaying of a representation of the user on a monitor, wherein the displaying of the representation includes moving the representation of the user to reflect movement of the user; causing displaying of one or more virtual objects on the monitor, wherein the displaying of the one or more virtual objects includes displaying the one or more virtual objects to prompt physical motion of the user […]

[…] displaying the virtual objects of the method includes prompting the user to perform an interception task that includes the representation of the user moving to have the representation of the user intercept at least some of the targets.

Prompting user to engage in a physical activity, is more of what Microsoft & Kinect game advertisers are doing. Having said that, this patent is about Kinect, a moving representation of the user is the 2D figure we see in games.

Patent 7,791,808 with 20 claims:

the tracking system continuously tracks an overall physical location of the user in a defined physical space corresponding to the virtual space; wherein the computer updates in real time a user virtual location in the virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space; and wherein the viewpoint of the view is from the user virtual location.

the view is a first person view

he first person view is a first person perspective view

the tracking system tracks the translations in three dimensions

the tracking system includes a beacon worn by the user

the tracking system includes a camera

All claims, except user wearing a beacon are how Kinect works.

Patent 6,749,432 with 18 claims has a funny title: Education system challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function

A method of educating comprising: prompting a person to engage in body core movement which elevates the person’s metabolic rate; and prompting the person to engage in a cognitive academic learning task while the person’s metabolic rate is elevated, wherein the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task includes displaying a view of a virtual space, and wherein the promoting to engage in body core movement and the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task both include promoting the person to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task.

he updating a view includes updating a first person perspective view of the virtual space from the virtual location

prompting to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task includes prompting the person to engage in interactive challenges that involve manipulation of objects in a virtual world by body core movement of the person in a defined physical space

further including ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation

including adjusting the prompting to engage in body core movement to maintain the metabolic rate elevation at a desired level

ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation includes monitoring the person’s heart rate

These claims would be akin to Kinect Fitness including a freaky 3D doctor telling you why you need to do certain exercises. This patent application deals with Kinect Fitness and maybe broadly apply to other games.

Patent 6,208,565 has a 100 claims. Most of these claims are slight modifications of claims in the other patents or exactly the same. Once again, way to go patent lawyers.

These are the 7 patents Impulse has sued Microsoft. Now let’s take a look at a fraction of the Kinectgesture patents Microsoft has applied for.

Patents 20110032336 20110109724 20100194872 deal with body scanning:

A device for capturing depth information of a scene, the device comprising: a camera component, wherein the camera component receives a depth image of the scene; and a processor, wherein the processor executes computer executable instructions, and wherein the computer executable instructions comprise instructions for: receiving the depth image of the scene from the camera component; determining whether the depth image includes a human target; scanning the human target to locate at least a first joint, if the depth image includes a human target […]

A 3D user scanning device, using cameras.

Patent 20110035666 is about displaying the position of a user on the screen. (Something Impulse has claimed.) The abstract of the patent says:

A capture device may capture a user’s motion and a display device may display a model that maps to the user’s motion, including gestures that are applicable for control.

A claim from the patent:

A method for determining whether to provide feedback, the method comprising: receiving image data for a scene, wherein the image data comprises depth data representative of a target’s motion or position in a physical space; comparing the depth data representative of the target’s motion or position in the physical space […]

Patent 20110085705 is about scanning props (or objects as Impulse has mentioned in their applications):

acquiring one or more color images from one or more color sensing image sensors, the step of performing prop tracking includes using color information from the one or more color images to help track the second target.

the step of performing skeletal tracking includes receiving position information regarding the second target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the first position of the first target.

the step of performing prop tracking includes receiving position information regarding the first target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the second position of the second target.

receiving orientation information from the first prop, the step of performing prop tracking uses the orientation information to help track the first prop.

Kinect allows you to scan your own skateboard and use it in a game.

Patent 20100195867 is about tracking the user as he moves. Impulse has this in their patent claims. Microsoft’s claims include focusing on the user by ignoring non-target items from the background and some pretty smart algorithms to track the user’s movements:

[…] analyzing the observed depth image with a hand-identifying algorithm configured to identify hands on the human target; and increasing relative confidence of the exemplar pose if the exemplar pose more closely places hands in a same location as the hand-identifying algorithm […]

removing non-target background information from the observed depth image includes removing depth image information outside of a sphere surrounding the target

the source includes a depth camera

the source includes stereo cameras

Patent 20100278384 complements the above patent and is about estimating the human body’s pose.

Patent 20100195869, 20100197395, 20100197400, 20100197391, 20100197392 & 20100197399 are titled Visual Target Tracking and are related to tracking the human body movements. Claim from 20100195869:

A method of tracking a human target, the method comprising: representing the human target with a machine-readable model configured for adjustment into a plurality of different poses

One of the newer patents I came across yesterday is about multi-user tracking. This is also there somewhere in Impulse’s claims. Patent 20110175809

A processor-implemented method for tracking multiple people in a motion capture system, comprising the processor-implemented steps of: tracking at least one group which includes a first group, the first group comprises peoples’ bodies in a field of view of the motion capture system, the tracking includes detecting the peoples’ bodies in the field of view

Patent 20100306685 is having the user’s avatars on screen as feedback about the user’s physical movements. Claim from the application:

method for providing feedback to a user about a computing environment, the method comprising: recognizing, using an image-based capture device, a presence of a first user in a capture area; associating a first avatar with the first user and displaying the first avatar on a display screen; recognizing aspects of the first user within the capture area; and modifying an appearance of the first avatar to provide feedback to the first user about at least one of capabilities, features, rights or permissions of the first user in the computing environment.

Most of the Microsoft patent I’ve listed here are yet to approved. Whereas Impulse has approved patents. How that plays out will have to be seen. The patents I’ve listed are only those I could find, there are more. Kinect is a product developed using 3D camera trcking technology developed by PrimeSense. I have not looked into patent held by them or whether the patents were  transferred  to Microsoft.

Court Order Denies Samsung Preview of iPad 3 and iPhone 5

The lawsuits war between Apple and Samsung has been going on for a long time. Apple first filed suit against Samsung in April, claiming that the Samsung Galaxy line too closely imitated the look and feel of its iOS devices. Samsung then fired back at Apple, filing 10 different patent infringement claims against Apple over the iPhone and the iPad.

Samsung Apple LawsuitIn May, Samsung’s lawyers demanded that they wanted to see Apple’s future products because devices like the Droid Charge and Galaxy Tab 10.1  will presumably be in the market at the same time as the iPhone 5 and iPad 3, and they want to evaluate any possible similarities so they can prepare for further potential legal action from Apple. The request came after the court ordered Samsung to show prototypes of its new, already-announced devices to Apple.

As expected, the U.S. Circuit judge yesterday denied Samsung’s request to preview iPad 3 and iPhone 5. In her 11 page order, Judge Lucy Koh tried to explain in detail the reasons for which Samsung’s request was rejected.

The Court concludes that Samsung has not shown good cause to justify expedited discovery of Apple’s future products, packaging, and packaging inserts. Samsung’s motion to compel is therefore DENIED. As noted above, the Court nonetheless believes that Samsung should be entitled to parity in discovery directed at Apple’s potential  preliminary injunction motion. If Samsung had requested reasonable discovery along the lines discussed at the hearing on Apple’s motion for expedited discovery, the Court would have granted the request. However, as Samsung has not requested such discovery in this motion, the Court  cannot order it. In any case, it appears that Apple may be willing to provide such discovery without the need for Court intervention

Judge also noted that, Samsung’s claim of prejudice was undermined to some extent by evidence that Samsung has already released images and samples of its forthcoming products to the media and members of the public.” iPad 3 and iPhone 5 on the other hand are only rumours based on media reports and given iPad 2 was launched earlier this year, there is very little chance of Apple releasing iPad 3 anytime soon.

Everything was not good for Apple though. A part of judge’s order hinted that Apple may not get an injunction against Samsung unless it provides the iPhone 5 or the iPad 3 to the court for evaluation. It means, Samsung can continue to sell its mobile devices in the U.S. and is not under any pressure to reach a settlement in this case.

You can read the full order here:

Court Order Denying Motion Re iPhone 5 iPad 3

HP Sues Oracle Over Itanium Processor Development Pullout

Oracle is one of the world’s biggest company and database vendor. It also became one of the world’s largest server manufacturing company when they purchased Sun.

Oracle HP Lawsuit

On March 22, 2011, Oracle issued a statement (read here) that they will be stopping development for Itanium based processors and continue developing for newer processors. This looked directly in line with increasing the footage in the server business. However, it looks like HP is not taking the development nicely and and are now suing Oracle over the stoppage of development on Itanium processors.

According to a new blog post from HP, they stated that they have filed a lawsuit on June 15, 2011 in the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of Santa Clara, seeking Oracle to reverse its decision. HP says that discontinuation of the software development on Itanium processors violates a legal agreements made by Oracle to HP and their 140,000 customers.

In addition to that HP also stated that, Oracle’s decision is unlawful in the sense that they are trying to lure customers who use HP Itanium based platforms to their own Sun Solaris based platforms.

Oracle is not new to court cases and have been fighting a court battle with Google over and Java which is getting murkier by the day and is almost close to being decided. Back in September 2010, HP had also sued former HP CEO Mark Hurd over joining Oracle, Oracle in turn had threatened to walk out of their Partnership. However, the hatchet between the two was buried when HP dropped their case against Hurd.

The new case would once again pit these two companies against each other and keep their lawyers busy, but will they once again bury the hatchet and sleep together?

In the past, Oracle also has been notorious for killing lot of Open Source Software. The most recent tussle being between FSF and Oracle over OpenOffice and the Document Foundation.

Oracle has been trying to arm-twist a lot of people and companies to fall in line, but are they the one who have to mend their ways? Well, I can’t say for certain, but this HP lawsuit will definitely make for a nice little battle.

Full Statement from HP on suing Oracle:

HP believes that Oracle’s March 22 statement to discontinue all future software development on the Itanium platform violates legally binding commitments Oracle has made to HP and the more than 140,000 shared HP-Oracle customers. Further, we believe that this is an unlawful attempt to force customers from HP Itanium platforms to Oracle’s own platforms.


As a result, on June 15, HP filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of Santa Clara, seeking Oracle to reverse its decision. HP believes that Oracle is legally obligated to continue to offer its software product suite on the Itanium platform and we will take whatever legal actions are available to us necessary to protect our customers’ best interests and the significant investments they have made.

HP remains committed to a long-term mission-critical server roadmap, including Intel’s Itanium processor. Similarly, Intel has repeatedly reinforced its ongoing commitment to the Itanium roadmap.

Geohot Raps To Sony’s PlayStation 3 Lawsuit

Up until now, Geohot has been known as a very talented hacker who unlocked the iDevices from Apple and hacked the PlayStation 3. However, Sony filed a lawsuit against Geohot at the beginning of this year for jailbreaking the PS3 and also requested for a restraining order (TRO) on the distribution of the jailbreak.

Now, George Hotz a.k.a Geohot has posted an explicit rap on his YouTube account explaining the lawsuit and challenging Sony as well. Readers can watch the video (NSFW lyrics) of the Geohot rap below :

Below are the full lyrics of the rap, for people who were unable to figure out what Geohot said in the above video :

Yo it’s geohot
And for those who don’t know
I’m getting sued by Sony

Let’s take this out of the courtroom and into the streets
I’m a beast, at the least, you’ll face me in the northeast
Get my ire up, light my fire
I’ll go harder then Eminem went at Mariah
Call me a liar
Pound me in the ass with no lube, chafing
You’re f*cking with the dude who got the keys to your safe and
Those that can’t do bring suits
Cry to your Uncle Sam to settle disputes
Thought you’d tackle this with a little more tact
But then again fudgepackers, I don’t know Jack

I shed a tear everytime I think of Lik Sang
But shit man, they’re a corporation
And I’m a personification of freedom for all
You fill dockets, like thats a concept foreign to y’all
While lawyers muddy water and TROs stall
Out of business is jail for me
And you’re suing me civilly

Exhibit this in the courtroom
Go on, do it, I dare you

First the jailbreak for iDevices, then the PS3 jailbreak and now this rap. Geohot sure is a talented guy!

Google Buzz Gives Away $8.5 Million

buzzDo you remember that Google was sued for privacy violations when they first released their Google Buzz? I’d forgotten all about it. Buzz was introduced in February of this year and was considered Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter.

During the first few days, Buzz revealed users personal contacts by default, and many people were very upset about this violation. They soon corrected the problem by offering more controls over the information shared, and an easy way to opt out of the service, but the law suit continued despite this change.

Today, I received an email from Google, announcing a settlement for this class action suit.   Here’s what they said:

Google rarely contacts Gmail users via email, but we are making an exception to let you know that we’ve reached a settlement in a lawsuit regarding Google Buzz (http://buzz.google.com), a service we launched within Gmail in February of this year.

Shortly after its launch, we heard from a number of people who were concerned about privacy. In addition, we were sued by a group of Buzz users and recently reached a settlement in this case.
The settlement acknowledges that we quickly changed the service to address users’ concerns. In addition, Google has committed $8.5 million to an independent fund, most of which will support organizations promoting privacy education and policy on the web. We will also do more to educate people about privacy controls specific to Buzz. The more people know about privacy online, the better their online experience will be.

Just to be clear, this is not a settlement in which people who use Gmail can file to receive compensation. Everyone in the U.S. who uses Gmail is included in the settlement, unless you personally decide to opt out before December 6, 2010. The Court will consider final approval of the agreement on January 31, 2011. This email is a summary of the settlement, and more detailed information and instructions approved by the court, including instructions about how to opt out, object, or comment, are available at http://www.BuzzClassAction.com.

I would guess that the lawyers are the only ones making money on this deal. That’s true of many class action suits. I’d be surprised if any of the defendants collect a penny. So far, the money is going to (non-profit?) organizations to help them educate people on privacy issues.

I think this loss is a win for Google. It’s hard to imagine that losing a few million dollars hurts them. It may help them, as long as they keep this privacy lesson in mind when they release a new product.

I enjoy using Google Buzz more than Twitter or Facebook, and encourage you to give Buzz a try. Here’s my Buzz timeline as an example of what you can do there.


Oracle updates its Lawsuit, Now Reads Google Android “directly copied” Java API Code

Oracle is serious about  shelling out big bucks from Google and this can be clear from the way it is refining its lawsuit to keep Google entangled. The Lawsuit has been updated now to say, that Google Android directly “copied code” from (now) Oracle’s Java code.

The matter started in August, which, at that time was unclear about which copyrights Google was infringing upon. However, in a recent update to the lawsuit, Google has been accused with copied codes attached. Not just that, Oracle claims that a total of of-third of Android API packages are derived from Java API packages. In Oracle’s words,

The infringed elements of Oracle America’s copyrighted work include Java method and class names, definitions, organization, and parameters; the structure, organization and content of Java class libraries; and the content and organization of Java’s documentation.

In at least several instances, Android computer program code also was directly copied from copyrighted Oracle America code.

Google has not yet replied on these claims and its decision will have a decisive impact on the future of the Android OS. Oracle is playing a dirty game here, as it knows that the API libraries that Android uses forms a decisive part (1 /3rd) of its code and that Google has no other option but to comply. It would really help if Oracle channels its resources towards developing Java and taking care of  other ignored projects and people.

(Source)