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Timothy B. Lee

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Posted at 02:04 PM ET, 07/09/2012

Cell carrier request reports cause concern #thecircuit

Cell carriers reveal requests: In response to questions from Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), cellular carriers said that they’ve received government requests for access to data from 1.3 million accounts. The Washington Post reported that the reports gave an overview of government requests, including requests for information on any cellphone that used a certain cell tower at a certain time.

The reports, first detailed in the New York Times, mark the first time that such data have been collected, and quickly drew concern that the government is simply looking at too much data.

“Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack?”said Markey, co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, in a statement to The Post.

Verizon-cable deal draws more scrutiny: The Consumer Federation of America said Monday that it opposes the proposed deals between Verizon and several cable companies for spectrum and cross-marketing partnerships. The group alleges that the deals will “dramatically lessen competition and are against the public interest.”

Amazon sales tax: A wave of states, including Virginia, have passed laws that will require consumers to pay sales tax on all Internet purchases as soon as next year, The Washington Post reported. Other states and the District are pursuing similar measures. And in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) wants to go further and levy a tax on songs and other digital products bought through popular sources such as iTunes.

Such taxes could buoy flagging state budgets and have the support of brick-and-mortar retailers who say Amazon and other online stores undercut their prices and piggyback off of their marketing efforts.

“You’ve been doing all of the work and then the online competitor steals the sale,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, a trade group.

Patent trolling: Patent trolling, the term that the technology industry uses to apply to those who make money off patents they did not create, is apparently on the rise. As the Wall Street Journal reported, some big name companies are spinning off their patent groups into separate entities with the aim of suing other companies if they can’t get licensing deals on the intellectual property.

“It used to be that patents were viewed as trophies given to smart people with clever inventions," said John Veschi, the chief executive of the Rockstar Consortium. "But that is no longer the case. Your strategy might be to sell, it might be to license. But just to sit on them is not responsible if you have shareholders."

Rockstar made headlines last year when it was revealed that Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Erisson and Sony were behind the patent-buying venture.

Samsung, Apple patents: A British judge ruled Monday that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 does not infringe on the design of the iPad, the Guardian reported, because, “They are not as cool.”

Things are looking up for Samsung, which had suffered two setbacks in U.S. courts in the past few weeks. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit put a temporary hold on the Nexus ban, FOSS Patents reported. Apple has until Thursday to respond to that motion. Samsung did not, however, win a stay on the injunction against the tablet in the United States.

Apple and Samsung are due to start their California trial over several patents in about three weeks, patent blogger Florian Mueller reported.

By  |  02:04 PM ET, 07/09/2012

 
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