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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee covers technology policy, including copyright and patent law, telecom regulation, privacy, and free speech. He also writes about the economics of technology. He has previously written for Ars Technica and Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter or send him email.

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 08:59 AM ET, 09/08/2011

The Circuit: Google steps into Apple patent spat, America Invents Act, Erskine Bowles to Facebook board

LEADING THE DAY: Using patents it bought from Google, HTC, a major Asian smartphone manufacturer, has filed a suit against Apple, stepping up the Android-maker’s role in the patent spats between Apple and smartphone makers. The nine patents used in the case were obtained by Google less than a year ago, Bloomberg reported, and analysts say the company’s decision to hand them to HTC indicates that Google is more willing to protect its licensees from patent lawsuits.

Apple has sued several electronics companies over patent disputes involving smartphones and tablets. The company filed a new suit against Samsung in Japan late Wednesday, Reuters reported.

America Invents Act: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is making his final push for the passage of the America Invents Act, which would make fundamental changes to U.S. patent law.

The Senate is now considering the House version of the bill, which takes a different approach to funding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office than the original Senate bill. Sen. Tom Coburn  (R-Okla.) is challenging those changes, which would require the U.S. patent office to obtain Congressional approval to have access its own excess fees, rather than give the agency the right to spend that money freely.

In a late Wednesday statement, Leahy said that the fight over funding should not keep Congress from finally passing patent reform after years of debate.

Facebook names Bowles to board: Facebook has named political veteran Erskine Bowles to its Board of Directors, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Bowles, appointed by President Obama to co-chair his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, joins several famous figures on the board, including Netflix’s Reed Hastings, investor Peter Thiel and The Washington Post Co’s chairman Donald Graham.

Consumer groups pan icon-based opt-out for ads: Consumer groups in the U.S. and the EU have sent a letter to the White House, Commerce Department, Federal Trade Commission and EU policymakers asking them to reject industry self-regulation standards for online behavioral advertising. The current system lets consumers know about data collection using an icon. But the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue — a group of consumer advocates that includes Consumers Union, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy — say that those measures are not strong enough, and that an icon is not a clear enough notice of data collection.

In the letter, the TACD encouraged the U.S. and EU to “reject the current OBA self-regulatory regime as inadequate, and work with industry and consumer and privacy groups to ensure that significant revisions are made to protect consumer privacy.”

Yahoo explains Bartz decision: Yahoo’s decision to fire Carol Bartz was the result of several factors, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing “people familiar with the situation.” Yahoo’s board has apparently felt Bartz fell short in several areas. For example, her deal with Microsoft’s Bing search engine — which handed Yahoo’s search power to Bing in exchange for ad revenue — has yet to pay off, and Yahoo’s directors reportedly thought Bartz had been unrealistic about the agreement. The board reportedly concluded that Bartz had missed several goals in 2011 and, after weeks of deliberation, decided the best move was to cut her loose.

Google Books suit dropped in France: French publishers have dropped a nearly $14 million suit against Google Books filed over claims of copyright infringement, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The publishers, Editions Albin Michel SA, Editions Gallimard SA and Flammarion, have decided to restart negotiations for a deal on scanning protected works for the Google service.

Push for responders’ network nearing 9/11 anniversary: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) added her voice to the call for an interoperable public safety communications network in the run-up to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Eshoo and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have introduced a bill that would allocate the D-block of spectrum to a national network for first responders. The network’s creation was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

“On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a fitting tribute to our first responders, who fought so bravely to save lives and lost their own, is to provide them with a nationwide, interoperable broadband communications network,” Eshoo said in a statement.

By  |  08:59 AM ET, 09/08/2011

Tags:  Spectrum, IP, International, Yahoo

 
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