by Heather Whitney
Google calls competitors’ patent acquisition anticompetitive; Microsoft claims Google was invited
Techcrunch reports that Google accused Microsoft of buying the Nortel patents in order to supress competition from Android, Google’s popular mobile operating system. On Wednesday, Google SVP and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond released a blog post calling, among other things, the recent Nortel patent auction win by a consortium including competitors Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle anticompetitive, done to stifle Android innovation through litigation. On Thursday, Microsoft’s General Counsel, Brad Smith, tweeted a response, explaining that Microsoft asked Google to bid jointly but Google refused. Microsoft’s Head of Communication tweeted a follow-up, attaching an image of an email sent from Kent Walker, Google’s GC, to Microsoft’s GC, where Google expressly declined to bid jointly. Google responded again, as did Microsoft. In the end, Google contends that a joint bid would not have protected Android from patent litigation since Microsoft would have the patents too. Microsoft argues Google refused to join in the bid because Google was looking to buy up additional patents to use to go after Microsoft.
According to the Huffington Post, during a discussion last Tuesday on cyber bullying, Facebook’s Marketing Director Randi Zuckerberg gave a solution: get rid of online anonymity all together. “I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down… I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.” The EFF responded, claiming that while private companies like Facebook can require users to give their real names, requiring anybody roaming the Internet at all to do so constitutes a freedom of expression “disaster”. Faster Forward, a Washington Post blog, reports that, while purportedly unrelated, Zuckerberg submitted her letter of resignation a week and a day later. In her letter, Zuckerberg said she plans to leave and start her own social media company.
Eighth Circuit affirms that student’s IM with threats to third party not protected speech
Education Week reports that the Eighth Circuit, in D.J.M. v. Hannibal Public School District, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a student’s instant message containing a threat to third party students, sent outside of school, is not protected speech. The Appeals Court found that because the student directed his IMs at a student who could reasonably be seen to forward the threats to the actual victims, it was a true threat. The Eighth Circuit also analyzed the situation under the Tinker “substantial disruption” test, finding that the IM comments, given that they were easy to copy and thus foreseeably likely to be forwarded on to school administrators, constituted such a substantial disruption of the school.
Senator Grassley objects to rumored removal of NIH conflict of interest disclosure requirements.
Senator Chuck Grassley wrote a letter to Office of Management and Budget this week, urging them not to strip a proposed transparency rule of one of its central features – a requirement that universities post the financial conflicts of publicly funded medical researchers on a public website. Senator Grassley’s letter was prompted by a Nature article reporting that the requirement had been dropped. Senator Grassley also demanded documents related to meetings on the rule attended by Cass Sunstein, the head of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Pharmalot reports that Sunstein is rumored to have disliked the website requirement. Grassley has asked for a response from OMB by August 25.