A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against Apple and several other companies can proceed as a class-action suit today after determining that a significant number of employees across the tech industry were hurt by “do-not-hire” arrangements between their employers and other companies. The policies in question were practiced by Apple, Google, Adobe, Pixar, and more as a way of keeping their own employees from defecting to competitors for higher pay. Essentially the agreements barred two companies from offering jobs to competing employees for a higher salary. Because doing so gave employees leverage with which to bargain for higher pay at their own jobs, employers were often faced with the decision to either pay any given employee more to keep them around or lose them to a competitor willing to pay more.
Apple’s decision to disable VPN on demand functionality on iOS due to the virnetX lawsuit isn’t the only patent related Apple news today. Head below for a roundup of Apple’s court woes and wins from earlier today:
Samsung infringes key text-selection patent: Reuters reports that the International Trade Commission has handed down a preliminary decision ruling Samsung infringed on an Apple patent related to a text-selection feature. However, the courts also ruled Samsung didn’t infringe another patent related to detecting when other devices are plugged into a microphone jack. If the text-selection decision is upheld, the result could be a U.S. import ban on Galaxy, Transform, and Nexus devices: Read more
A police officer in the U.K. named Doug Crossan reported his own 13-year-old son for fraud after Apple refused to refund £3,700 that the child ran up playing freemium App Store titles on his iPad. DailyMail has the story:
Cameron then racked up more than 300 purchases on games such as Plants vs Zombies, Hungry Shark, Gun Builder, Nova 3. Many of them are free to download but users can buy in-game extras – in one game Cameron had purchased a virtual chest of gold coins costing £77.98.
But the technology company has refused and his only way of recouping the money is to report the purchases as being fraudulent. So Mr Crossan, of Clevedon, North Somerset, has shopped Cameron to the Action Fraud helpline – meaning his son could face arrest and questioning by the his father’s colleagues. He said: ‘I am sure Cameron had no intention to do it, but I had to have a crime reference number if there was any chance of getting any credit card payments refunded.
We reported last week that Apple was adding a new “offers in-app purchases” warning in the App Store to better inform consumers downloading free apps that additional content will require a fee. The move followed a settling a class action lawsuit that alleged children were able to rack up thousands of dollars through the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, with both parents and children under the impression that the games were free. Apple is refusing to refund Crossan, citing “parental responsibility and pointing out that iPads contain password locks to prevent accidental or unwanted purchases.”
Bloomberg reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal has ordered Apple to reveal exactly how it’s complying with previous orders to hand over evidence in a lawsuit that accused the company of collecting users’ location data. It will also have to submit documents related to its process for reviewing apps. Earlier this week, Apple’s lawyer, Ashlie Beringer, told the court that the decision to not provide emails from Steve Jobs in an order from November was a “mistake.”
“Luckily for the plaintiffs, Apple has provided more than enough evidence itself to suggest to the court that it has not fully complied with the court’s order,” Grewal wrote in the March 6 order. “In light of Apple’s performance in this case, the court cannot rely on its representations that this time it really has or will produce all responsive documents.”
According to the report, Grewal said in his order today that “it was ‘unacceptable’ that Apple waited more than three months to verify whether it complied with his November order to turn over documents.”
Apple has said previously that it has guarded some documents in the case to protect customers from harm if the documents were “inadvertently released to the public or fell into the wrong hands.”
Beringer said she and her team of lawyers reviewed more than 8,000 e-mails over the previous weekend and determined that they should turn over messages involving Apple’s late co-founder Jobs, Phil Schiller, its marketing chief, and Scott Forstall, the former head of mobile software, among others.
The result is Apple will now have to give a “detailed account” by March 8 of how it went about gathering documents it was ordered to submit to the plaintiffs: Read more
Last time we checked in on the in-app purchase class-action lawsuit against Apple, courts refused Apple’s request to throw out the case brought on by parents arguing the iOS freemium model, i.e. in-app purchases, allowed children to easily rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars. Today, Law360 (via GigaOM) reported Apple has agreed to pay a settlement and will be contacting 23 million iTunes users that “made a Game Currency purchase in one or more Qualified Apps.”
According to the report, Apple will pay $5 in iTunes credit to those who claim in-app content was purchased by a minor without their permission. For purchases above $30, users will be able to request a full refund. However, credits will likely not get to users until early 2014 when the settlement meets regulatory approval: Read more
When we reported on Apple’s courtroom woes in March, we told you lawmakers were sending letters to iOS devs (Apple included) and questioning them on their privacy policies about how apps access contact data without explicit user permission. Despite promises, Apple has yet to carry out an update requiring apps to ask for user-approval, but an earlier case over the collection of user data has been given the green light by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in California. Reuters reported the lawyers representing customers in the case claimed in court today that Apple “collected data on customers’ geographical locations even after users said they didn’t want to share the information.” The judge is asking Apple to submit relevant documents to the plaintiffs by May 17.
In other courtroom news, ComputerWorld reported this week that Judge Koh ordered Apple and Samsung to “streamline” its patent claims ahead of a trial set for July 30. According to the report, the companies have already cut back the claims included in the case to 37 products, 16 patents, six trademark, five trade dress claims, and an antitrust suit, but Judge Koh said the extent of the case is “cruel and unusual punishment to a jury.” If Apple and Samsung do not agree to reduce the set of claims, the trial could be postponed until next year. The news comes after the companies agreed with Koh to have their CEOs meet for settlement talks related to the patent cases on May 21-22.
Justia.com reported this week that Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit over claims that iTunes is continually double billing a customer for downloads of a song. Apple apparently refuses to refund some customers for these double billing incidents, citing its Terms of Service. A copy of the lawsuit and more information on the class action is here.