Farmville privacy leak leads to Zynga fighting a lawsuit

Well, everyone demands a catchy headline so don’t complain!

Lots of people play Farmville, constantly bombarding their friends and enemies with a trail of Farmville and Mafia Wars updates such as I just found a pink cow that can ride tricycles!and My pal here is gonna kill your pal there”, problem?. Apparently, they all value their privacy a lot. Turns out that the top ten Facebook apps, six of them from Zynga, transmit referral URLs to third parties. These referral URLs are tiny parts of the URLs that tell the landing page where the link was clicked. Rapleaf (ironically, since it is also involved as one of the third parties) has a pretty good and detailed blog post about this here.


So, some Facebook user caught wind of this and slapped a class action lawsuit on Zynga:-

This appears to be another example of an online company failing the American public with empty promises to respect individual privacy rights. Companies large and small need to learn to follow through on their privacy promises or risk having consumers decide that it is simply not worth it to use their services,” added Kassra Nassiri of Nassiri & Jung LLP, co-lead attorney for the lawsuit.

So, who did not see this one coming?

(Hilariously apt image credit: Joystiq)

SIIA Files 8 Piracy Lawsuit On Behalf of Adobe Systems for Illegal eBay Sales

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for software and digital content industries filed eight new software piracy lawsuits on behalf of SIIA member Adobe Systems Incorporated.

The lawsuits were filed against online sellers who sold Adobe software on eBay and other websites. According to the lawsuits, the sellers illegally sold Adobe software, including counterfeit, and/or academic or OEM software without proper authorization.

In order to defend our members’ businesses and protect innocent consumers, SIIA operates the industry’s most aggressive anti-piracy program,said Scott Bain, Chief Litigation Counsel and Director of Internet Anti-Piracy for SIIA. We continually monitor online auctions and websites so we can identify unauthorized sellers, shut them down and bring them to justice. We expect these lawsuits to result in significant penalties for the sellers.

The lawsuit which was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California charged 8 individual defendants with engaging in copyright and trademark infringement through the unauthorized sale of Adobe Software.

Most of the defendants were eBay users along with several others who sold illegal Adobe products on other sites. eBay is known to be a haven for sellers to sell counterfeit software without any problems because of the lack of monitoring on items sold through the website.

However, eBay does periodically run checks and delists sellers who they deem to be selling illegal software or products. So will this lawsuits set a precedent for others who take up to eBay to sell counterfeit or illegal software? Only time will tell.

Microsoft Slaps Motorola With Patent Infringement Lawsuit; Demonstrates That Android Could Be Costlier than Windows Phone 7

Some one familiar with Microsoft’s mobile strategy recently claimed that Android isn’t actually free, and could turn out to be costlier than Windows Phone 7. Microsoft is pricing Windows Phone 7 at $15 per license. Several manufacturers are already working on WP7 devices and Windows Phone 7 is supposed to officially launch on October 11.

Technically, using Android isn’t exactly free. There are several hidden costs. Each OEM creates its own custom UI and needs to pay for certain licenses.

It is also known that lawsuits over Android IP disputes are quite costly in the long run.

Microsoft recently announced that it was suing Motorola for patent infringement related to Android. The lawsuit concerned a lot of software features in Android devices. The disputed features include receiving email on the go, calendar synchronization and battery and signal notifications.

What’s strange is that Microsoft chose to sue Motorola, instead of Google, which created Android. Even stranger is the fact that it isn’t suing HTC which uses the same Android OS in its phones.

SearchEngineLand has insinuated that it’s possibly because HTC is still a major mobile partner for Microsoft and is launching multiple devices powered by Windows Phone 7. Motorola, on the other hand, has made it clear that it will only support Android on its mobile devices.

This could be a strategy by Microsoft to demonstrate that Android is, in fact, costlier than Windows Phone 7.

Even Oracle recently sued Google over the use of Java in Android. Apple sued HTC a few months back, for patent infringement related to Android devices.

HP and Oracle Bury Hatchet, Resolve Mark Hurd Lawsuit

HP and Oracle, who had a bitter public showoff when HP filed a lawsuit against former CEO Mark Hurd after he joined Oracle; have decided to bury the hatchet and continue with their partnership.


In a press release from HP, both HP and Oracle have reaffirmed their long-term partnership and resolved the lawsuit was filed against Mark Hurd. The terms of settlement are confidential. Mark Hurd has promised to adhere to his obligations to protect HP’s confidential information while working at Oracle.

Both the companies CEO’s quoted about the settlement:

Quote from HP CFO and interim CEO Cathie Lesjak:

HP and Oracle have been important partners for more than twenty years and are committed to working together to provide exceptional products and service to our customers.  We look forward to collaborating with Oracle in the future.

Quote from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison:

Oracle and HP will continue to build and expand a partnership that has already lasted for over 25 years.

So now that both HP and Oracle have settled their differences, it would give Oracle more time to focus on their lawsuit against Google’s .

HP Sues Mark Hurd, Oracle Threatens Walkout From Partnership

What a way to start out the week after the long weekend. Just a day after Mark Hurd, the ousted HP CEO joined Oracle as their No 2, HP filed a civil complaint against Mark Hurd stating that HP was looking to protect HP’s trade secrets which Hurd as CEO had full access to.


The full complaint which can also be viewed here, states:

Despite being paid millions of dollars in cash, stock and stock options in exchange for Hurd’s agreements to protect HP’s trade secrets and confidential information during his employment and following his departure from his positions at HP as Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer, and President, HP is informed and believes and thereon alleges that Hurd has put HP’s most valuable trade secrets and confidential information in peril.  Hurd accepted positions with Oracle Corporation (Oracle), a competitor of HP, yesterday as its President and as a member of its Board of Directors.  In his new positions, Hurd will be in a situation in which he cannot perform his duties for Oracle without necessarily using and disclosing HP’s trade secrets and confidential information to others.

This quickly blew into a snow ball with several blogs and newspapers covering it. Oracle though did not wait long to respond to the lawsuit and in a small but terse response said that it would become difficult to continue working in partnership with HP.

Oracle in its statement, which can be viewed here, said:

Oracle has long viewed HP as an important partner,said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. By filing this vindictive lawsuit against Oracle and Mark Hurd, the HP board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees.   The HP Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and HP to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.

Oracle is not new to lawsuits, with them filing one against Google for the operating system over licensing issues with Java, which they acquired from Sun. With the HP lawsuit, it looks like Oracle will soon lose another long time partner.

(Source: Techmeme)

Oracle Sues Google Over Android For Patent and Copyright Infringement

AndroidOracle today filed a complaint against Google for copyright and patent infringement over the use of Java in Android.

“In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement,” said Oracle’s press release.

Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems quite some time back, which developed Java, the most popular programming platform. Oracle has accused Google of violating seven patents related to Java’s intellectual property.

The Android OS and the Dalvik VM is based on Java, but Java is still used in many mobile phones and is a major competitor of the Android platform.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt used to lead the Java team at Sun Microsystems before he joined Google. Google hasn’t commented on the issue yet.

via MarketWatch

Is Cyberdefender a Scam?

no-go-ico On March 24, 2010, lawyers representing the Cyberdefender Corporation issued a ‘take-down’ notice to Allen Harkleroad. The take-down notice claims that Allen published false and potentially defamatory articlesabout their product and sales practices.

The Contenders:

Cyberdefender is advertised as an easy solution for PCs that are running slow or are infected with spyware or adware. You may have seen the television advertisements for and Visits to both of those websites will prompt you to install Cyberdefender software. It looks like Cyberdefender is the owner of both of those sites.

Allen Harkleroad is a well known consumer advocate, who has taken on some pretty big names in business, such as Dell, AMD, ATI, UPS and FedEx, to name a few.

The Contention:

Allen claims that Cyberdefender is a scam and has posted several articles in his websites, supporting those claims. Here’s one of them:

Beware of and Same Scam, Same Company

Here is a copy of the legal take-down notice from Cyberdefender’s lawyers:

CyberDefender Corp, MyCleanPC, DoubleMySpeed and Catanese and Wells

At one point, Allen says that he:

I installed the MyCleanPC software on a fully patched Windows XP machine that I rarely used just to see what happen. Other than installing software I use nothing else had been installed and no software had been uninstalled on the machine. It does have anti virus software on it. The CyberDefender software found over 3,000errors on a machine that runs perfectly fine, never had software uninstalled and rarely was on the Internet.

I’ve heard others claim that Cyberdefender isn’t worth the asking price. I decided to try it myself. I used Microsoft Virtual PC, with a copy of the IE6 test virtual machine. This allows me to run a clean, new, fully patched copy of Windows XP. It doesn’t have anything installed on it, not even an anti-virus program. The advantage to using a virtual machine is that I don’t have to worry about messing up a real computer.

Below, I have created a short slide show, which gives the results of my simple test.

Go here if you can’t see the embedded slideshow.


Let the buyer beware. If I see over 300 errors reported on a clean PC, I have serious doubts and would never buy the software.   What do you think about DoubleMySpeed and MyCleanPC? Would you buy them?

Woman Sues Google Over Bad Directions

With the advent of every new technology comes a variety of lawsuits. The “Walking Directions” feature of Google Maps is no different in this regard. When Lauren Rosenberg used her Google Maps on her BlackBerry to get walking directions, she claims she was misled to a busy highway and as a result hit by a car.

Lauren has sued both Google and the car driver Patrick Harwood for damages in excess of $100,000. Usually, when the “Walking Directions” feature is used at Google Maps, a warning message displays letting users know about the beta status of the feature and the potential of routes missing pedestrian paths. In other words, Google does a good job of warning users but apparently this is only limited to the web version of Google Maps and hasn’t made it yet to the iPhone/BlackBerry version.

Here is a detailed copy of the case filing.  This is yet another example where the plaintiff ended up relying more on the superficial guidance than her common sense. What would she have done if the bad directions were provided by another pedestrian or a gas station attendant, would she have filed lawsuits against them too? The scenario is no different than getting to a road block while following your GPS, do you sue your GPS company in that case or just take a detour?

Microsoft: £25m Lawsuit From Pixart SRL Surfaces After Eighteen Months

Pixart SRL, an Open Source company has alleged Microsoft with dominating the Operating System market in Argentina through its Windows Starter Kit. This lawsuit was filed against Microsoft almost 18 months back in September 2008. It has surfaced only recently because the lawyers at Pixart SRL have claimed that the case has a better chance of getting considered now.

In an exclusive interview with eWEEK Europe, Dr. Uriel Blustien has said,

It is a suit filed in the National commission for Fair Trading’, for an alleged abuse of dominant position.  The Commission in is the process of deciding whether the trial will take place.

Pixart SRL has charged Microsoft for bad marketing practices which has dampened the market share for its products. Pixart SRL is the manufacturer of Rxart, a debian based Linux distribution. The Microsoft Starter Edition, which is essentially a stripped down version of Windows XP comes pre-installed in many PCs and this has affected Rxart sales adversely.

Pixart claims to have 320,000 users in 2005 but the number decreased steadily owing to the pre-installed hardware shipping with Windows XP. Further, offering their Operating System at a competitive price wipes out all competition in the market for Microsoft. Although, the lawyers at Pixart hope to win this case, Microsoft can drag it on by applying to a higher court.

Apple Sues HTC Over iPhone Patents, Google Backs HTC

AppleIn a recent Press Release, Apple announced that they have sued HTC for infringement of 20 different patents related to the hardware, architecture and interface of iPhone. Some of these patents date as far back as 1995 while some are as recent as February 2nd of this year. As Engadget reports in its complete breakdown of patents, some of them are too specific while some of them are surprisingly broad and Apple suing someone based on them is interesting.

In suing HTC for patent infringement, Apple is actually declaring war on Android based phones since HTC is one of the biggest manufacturers of such devices. With speculations of tens of more Android based phones jumping in the market soon and Android increasing its market share gradually, Apple has decided to try to stop Android from taking over the iPhone. This, however, has not scared Google away. Rather, Google says they will back HTC over the issue and stand behind them.

As it clearly seems, this is more of an iPhone vs Android battle rather than Apple taking out an equipment manufacturer. If Apple can prove their point, the courts have the power to stop HTC from selling further units which would be a HUGE blow to Android and Google. Apple has filed suits both with US District Courts as well as ITC (International Trade Commission) and either of the regulatory authorities can make it or break it for HTC.