June 27th, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) applauds the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision today in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association striking down a California law that prohibited, in part, the sale of certain video games to minors. ACT Executive Director Morgan Reed issued the following statement.
One of the most important aspects of this decision was the court’s recognition of media equality; electronic media receive the same first amendment protections as books and movies.
The Court correctly noted that, “the basic principles of freedom of speech and the press . . . do not vary ‘when a new and different medium for communication appears.’” This recognition that all content creators enjoy the same constitutional rights, regardless of the format, provides a strong foundation on which emerging technologies may rely. In addition, the Supreme Court today helped remind us that our founders likely did not want laws disfavoring certain industries on the basis of technology.
The Court recognized that voluntary, self-regulatory rating systems like the ESRB rating system for video games may provide a better mechanism for creators to communicate information about content to parents than overly broad laws.
May 23rd, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology applauded Apple’s step today to reassure app developers that in-app purchases are covered by the Cupertino company’s license of Lodsys technology. Last week, Lodsys sent letters to individual app developers demanding they license the use of its technology. ACT Executive Director Morgan Reed:
The developer community is pleased that Apple has taken steps to reassure app makers regarding Lodsys’s licensing demands. Lodsys in-app purchasing technology is already licensed by Apple. Developers share that company’s understanding that in-app purchasing applications written for its iOS platform are covered under this license. Lodsys has created uncertainty in the apps marketplace and we hope that it will take the appropriate step to withdraw its unwarranted licensing demands.
May 2nd, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology today applauded the settlement reached between TiVo and Echostar as a victory for intellectual property rights. ACT submitted two amicus briefs in the case supporting TiVo in its case against Echostar. ACT’s Morgan Reed issued the following statement in response to the settlement.
Today’s settlement marks a decisive moment for startups and small business innovators. Despite the widespread adoption of its DVR, TiVo remains a small business. Like other small companies, it can compete with massive companies like EchoStar by creating game-changing new technologies. TiVo had a great new product that changed the way we watch TV, but had to fight more than a decade to keep Echostar from stealing it.
Last month’s court decision, and today’s resulting settlement, was a big victory for startups. It showed that courts will protect the intellectual property of a small business no matter how many resources a big company throws at them. This is crucial for entrepreneurs because they will only take risks making new companies and technologies if they are certain their innovation will be protected from copycats and thieves.
May 2nd, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology, a trade association representing thousands of mobile app and software developers, today responded to the Cellular Telephone and Internet Association’s proposal to rate smartphone apps, rejecting the suggestion that CTIA act as the apps regulator. Software developers have expressed loud and clear that they do not want an association with competing interests to regulate the applications ecosystem.
“Recently, government officials and trade associations have been speaking about app developers, but no one has been speaking to app developers,” said ACT Executive Director Morgan Reed. “Wireless carriers and their representatives have suggested that apps developers submit to a ‘self-regulatory’ process in which carriers and handset manufacturers would set and enforce standards. This is not the right direction.
“We have heard loud and clear from our members that any self-regulatory initiative for apps developers should be undertaken by apps developers. They are wise enough to understand that self-regulation does not mean putting your company’s future in the hands of another industry.
“Phone manufacturers have helped to create an ecosystem that supports our applications, but their concerns are focused on maximizing the number of handsets sold, not on the needs of application developers. An onerous rating system may have no direct impact on handset sales, but could devastate a small developer whose business relies on the ability of consumers to determine for themselves which feature sets they prefer.”
App sales are currently a $2 billion-a-year industry, expected to rise to $38 billion by 2015. The rising demand for wireless broadband and mobile devices derives largely from the widespread availability of apps created by application developers to make these devices productive and enjoyable to use.
A copy of the ACT letter to CTIA may be found here, http://acton.li/mQFSUg
April 20th, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) applauded today’s Federal Circuit Court decision in Tivo v. Echostar. ACT filed a brief in the case in support of TiVo against Echostar’s infringement of its intellectual property and its repeated contempt violations for refusing to disable infringing devices.
“Today’s decision by the Federal Circuit has finally brought an end to Echostar’s strategy of infringe first and ignore the courts later,” said ACT Executive Director Morgan Reed. “After repeatedly being found in contempt for failing to halt its infringement of TiVo’s DVR technology, Echostar now faces substantial penalties and damages, and the enforcement of a permanent injunction requiring its infringing DVRs be disabled.
“This important decision vindicates the substance of Tivo’s claims that Echostar acted with contempt for both Tivo’s federal patent rights and the federal court proceedings Tivo was forced to file to enforce them. The Federal Circuit’s clarification of its own prior standard for assessing contempt in patent infringement cases will require some further proceedings on remand to the district court. Nevertheless, the seriousness of the rulings affirmed by the Federal Circuit should require swift and expedited action on remand to ensure that Echostar finally ceases to benefit from its long strategy of infringement, delay and contempt.
“TiVo’s victory in this case is important for startups and small and medium-sized businesses that take risks to create innovative new products and marketplaces. The protection of intellectual property is essential for startups to invest in innovation and today’s decision reaffirms that.”
April 8th, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) reacted with measured optimism today to the Department of Justice’s announcement regarding the Google-ITA merger settlement. The DOJ’s action demonstrates that regulators understand Google’s ability to leverage its dominant position.
“Today’s decision by the Justice Department is a good start on what must be a longer investigatory process,” said ACT President Jonathan Zuck. “Until the industry has greater transparency on how Google search results are created, technology companies will continue to operate at the whim of the search giant. Already declared a monopoly by DOJ, Google openly admits it favors its own properties in search results over competitors. The Justice Department has yet to address Google’s admitted manipulation of search results, but we are cautiously optimistic that antitrust regulators will continue to look into Google’s anti-competitive practices.”
March 30th, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
Association for Competitive Technology Executive Director Morgan Reed issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the FTC of a proposed settlement in the Google Buzz case.
The Federal Trade Commission today announced a proposed settlement in its case against Google for the privacy violations behind its Buzz social networking product. You may recall, Google launched Buzz by integrating it directly into its email program, immediately disclosing the identities of people a user regularly contacted. Google failed to inform consumers that this was a function of Buzz and did not fully remove those who sought to opt-out of the service.
Google would be required to submit to a third-party audit of its privacy programs every two years, the results of which will not be made public. A lot can happen in two years. After all, in far less time, Google has:
- revealed who you communicate with (Buzz);
- eavesdropped on your home wireless network collecting your passwords, emails, instant messages, and account information (Wi-Spy); and
- begun profiling your children collecting their social security numbers and other personally identifiable information (Doodle for Google drawing contest).
Google’s dominance in online search, advertising and analytics allow it to acquire an extraordinary amount of information if it chooses to violate consumer privacy protections. And while fines of $16,000 for privacy violations aren’t much of a deterrent to a company worth $180 billion, it is a start. The FTC and other agencies will need to take further actions against Google if they hope to discourage it from repeatedly violating consumer privacy.
This matter is a great concern for those in the technology industry because continued bad behavior by a dominant market player, that proceeds unchecked, will inevitably result in an over-sized regulatory response. Broad, industry-wide regulation will be the eventual outcome affecting everyone if Google is never sufficiently punished for thumbing its nose at consumers, privacy regulations, and government authorities.
March 23rd, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
The Association for Competitive Technology released the following statement on the Court decision on the Google Books Settlement. Today, in The Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the Google Books Amended Settlement Agreement (ASA) concluding it was an unfair, unreasonable and illegal attempt to “implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books, without permission of the copyright owners. Indeed, the ASA would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.”
The comments below are attributable to ACT Intellectual Property Fellow Tom Sydnor.
The Court correctly concluded that Google should be punished, not rewarded, for its conduct. This was nothing less than a broadside attack by Google on the international norms and laws defining the exclusive rights of authors, into a permanent barrier against any present and future challenges to its dominance of the markets for internet search and advertising.
The Court found that Google tried to dupe federal judges into letting Google use mass infringement as a means to impose unfair, unreasonable, and global restraints of trade on competitors in the Google-dominated markets for search and advertising. This should send a clear and powerful message to antitrust enforcement and consumer protection agencies.
March 23rd, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
Morgan Reed, Executive Director of the Association for Competitive Technology, released the following statement in response to the letter from Senators Reid, Schumer, Lautenberg and Udall calling for mobile applications stores to block the distribution of traffic software apps like Trapster and PhantomALERT.
While I applaud the Senators for seeking to curb drunk driving, their criticism of online travel apps misses the point. These programs feature information about speed and red light cameras by mapping publicly available information provided by law enforcement agencies. There is also a social networking element of the apps which allows users to submit traffic information so drivers can avoid traffic jams. This makes these programs very popular attracting tens of millions of users. Law enforcement authorities have embraced these services expressing their strong approval for products that reduce speeding and improve traffic safety.
These traffic apps rely on user-submitted and law enforcement provided information. Any one of the programs’ users can submit a warning about a traffic obstruction as simply as emailing a friend or posting a message on their Facebook profile. The suggestion that the government should compel Apple, RIM, or other mobile application stores to block programs that simply allow users to report information based on location is misguided at best. Taken to its conclusion, that would require blocking apps like Foursquare and Loopt. Having the government act as arbiter of which products should be sold in stores is a slippery slope that few would welcome.
March 15th, 2011 | Jonathan Godfrey
Today, Victoria Espinel, the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (“IPEC”), released a White Paper on Intellectual Property Enforcement Legislative Recommendations. The following quotes may be attributed to Thomas Sydnor II, Fellow for Intellectual Property at the Association for Competitive Technology.
“This White Paper shows why President Obama chose wisely when he chose Ms. Victoria Espinel to be the nation’s first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. The White Paper presents a thoughtful, balanced list of proposed improvements to existing laws intended to enhance the enforceability of the existing intellectual property rights that have made America the world’s most successful net exporter of a vast array of expressive works, trusted brands, and important inventions.
“In particular, I would commend the IPEC for conducting a thorough and long-needed review of the extent to which we need to update our nation’s anti-counterfeiting laws in light of the rise in international trade and the increasing use of the Internet as a means to inject potentially dangerous counterfeit products into our public and private supply chains.
“In addition, the IPEC has also proposed useful improvements to our copyright laws. For example, the IPEC proposed that felony penalties for willful commercial copyright piracy should be available regardless of whether streaming or downloading technologies were used to commit the crime. This change would make existing laws more effective and more technology neutral.”