IT LegalMonday 16th May 2011
Explosion in Patent Litigation - implications for the Android market
The past 14 months has seen an increase in litigation relating to patent infringement allegations over open-source operating systems which use the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel is used in the Android mobile phone operating system. This could have far-reaching implications for the huge number of companies which rely on open source code.
The Android Open Source Project which develops and maintains Android is led by Google. However, on 15 April 2011 the software developer was found guilty of infringing a patent related to the use of the Linux kernel in its servers and Android smartphones. The case, brought by Bedrock Computer Technologies, saw Google fined for $5m (£3.2m). Bedrock has also sued Yahoo, MySpace, Amazon, PayPal, Match.com and AOL, claiming patent infringement.
On the same date, Apple filed a law suit against Samsung Electronics, which uses Google's Android operating system, for allegedly copying the design of its iPad and iPhone. Samsung has in turn countersued Apple for violating its patent rights in producing the iPad and iPhone.
Intellectual property activist Florian Mueller told BBC News "the implication here is really that there is a huge number of Linux users who will be required to pay royalties if this patent holder knocks on their doors in the US. This is definitely a major impediment to the growth of Linux and makes companies, including Google, that rely on open source code particularly vulnerable to patent threats."
Source: BBC and cNet news
High Court judge upholds Digital Economy Act
On 20 April 2011 the High Court ruled that the Digital Economy Act under which alleged illegal downloaders may have their internet service cut, is compliant with EU law. The Digital Economy Act seeks to tackle online copyright infringement in an attempt to reduce the losses currently incurred by industries such as film, music and software.
In his ruling, judge Kenneth Parker stated that "from the point of view of copyright owner and subscriber, the Digital Economy Act represents a more efficient, focused and fair system than the current arrangements.”
As a consequence thousands of warning letters will be sent to alleged illegal downloaders in the first half of next year.
The UK's two largest internet service providers, BT and TalkTalk are considering their options which may include an appeal against the judgment.
Source: V3.co.uk and Guardian
Information Commissioner’s Office penalises just 2% of data breaches
ICO data has revealed that, despite being granted additional powers to issue civil penalties for violations of the Data Protection Act in April last year, it has only taken action against 36 out of a total of 2565 breaches reported between then and March 2011, and only issued fines to four.
However an ICO spokesman, speaking to the Telegraph, said that getting bodies to comply with the Data Protection Act "isn't always best achieved by issuing organisations or businesses with monetary penalties. The action we will take depends entirely on the details of each individual case. The existence of civil monetary penalties has had a markedly beneficial effect on compliance generally. The big stick is there, but doesn't need to be deployed all the time to have an effect."
Source: The Telegraph
Ashfords LLP is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The information in this note is intended to be general information about English law only and not comprehensive. It is not to be relied on as legal advice nor as an alternative to taking professional advice relating to specific circumstances.