The Circuit: Tech groups laud immigration vote; T-Mobile’s spectrum buy; bill would exempt patent office from cuts

June 28, 2013

Tech groups cheer immigration vote: Tech groups lauded the Senate’s passage Thursday of a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Several groups, including the Consumer Electronics Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, and the Telecommunications Industry Association, lent their voices to a chorus of congratulatory statements about the bill’s passage, as did tech heavyweights such as Microsoft.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said in a statement that the bill was a “significant step toward reforming our nation’s outdated immigration policies” that would help the country’s future economic security, innovation and job growth.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary committee Thursday approved a bill from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) known as the SKILLS Visa Act, that aims to allocate green cards to foreign graduates of U.S. universities, increase the number of H-1B visas given to highly skilled foreign workers and repeal an employment-based, per-country cap.

T-Mobile buys spectrum from U.S. Cellular: T-Mobile announced Friday that it has paid $308 million to U.S. Cellular for spectrum in the Mississippi Valley. The purchase expands T-Mobile’s 4G LTE footprint in the Midwest and South, most notably in the St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans areas.

The agreement is subject to the approval of the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice.

Bill would exempt Patent Office from cuts: A House bill proposed by California Democratic Reps. Mike Honda, Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren would shield the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from cuts related to the sequestration, The Hill reported.
The bill would restore around $150 million to the office’s budget. The lawmakers argue that because the USPTO doesn’t rely on tax revenue — applications fees fund its activities — it should not be subject to the cuts.

Facebook in court Friday: Facebook was in court Friday as a judge decides whether to give final approval to a settlement over the use of Facebook users’ images in “sponsored stories.”

The suit, Fraley et al vs. Facebook, was filed in objection to a form of Facebook ad that allowed users’ images to be included in advertisements on the social network. The sponsored stories format was among those that Facebook said earlier this month it would eliminate from its ad products.

BlackBerry earnings disappoint: BlackBerry reported a first-quarter loss Friday — the first full quarter that includes sales of the company’s new BlackBerry 10 devices.

The company reported a loss of $67 million, or 13 cents per share, on $3.1 billion in revenue, and also reported that it had lost nearly 4 million subscribers during the quarter.

In a call with analysts Friday morning, BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins stressed that “BlackBerry 10 is still in the early stages of its transition.” He also highlighted parts of the company’s business that are not tied to devices, such as its enterprise IT management systems.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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