Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Resolving being forgotten in Germany

Germany is considering arbitration on the issue of what information people can force internet search engines to remove from search results. A recent European Union court decision grants consumers the “right to be forgotten." The government could seek to establish “dispute-settlement mechanisms” for consumers who file so-called take-down requests. According to the Interior Ministry there, if search providers introduce automatic deletion, politicians, prominent figures and other persons would be able to hide or even delete reports they find unpleasant. Per the EU court, companies such as Google will have to review such requests on a case-by-case basis. Reportedly, in deciding whether to remove links, companies must balance issues, including how sensitive the information is, and whether there is a public interest. Apparently, the Germans don't plan to create a single mediating authority or to put mediators under state supervision. Negotiations with Google (which has not automated the process) and other providers will begin once the government has finalized its position. See full story here--

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Apple and Google Bury the Hatchet

Apple and Google settled all smartphone patent litigation between last week, dismissing their cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Interestingly, the settlement does not include a typical cross license of respective patents. Steve Jobs once called Android a "stolen product." Apple was unable to slow Android's growth to the majority of new mobile phones sold. In 2010, Motorola preemptively accused Apple of infringing several patents, including one essential to how cellphones operate on a 3G network, while Apple said Motorola violated its patents to certain smartphone features in 2011. U.S. District Judge Richard Posner dismissed that case in 2012 shortly before trial, saying neither company had sufficient evidence to prove its case. Last month, the appeals court gave Apple another chance to win a sales ban against Motorola. Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012 and recently agreed to sell its handset business to Lenovo, while keeping the vast majority of the patents. Google may have been encouraged to settle with Apple after regulators in the U.S. and Europe criticized the company for the legal strategy it employed with Motorola's patents. Motorola had pursued injunctions against Apple products based on patents that regulators said it was required to license to Apple. Apple's incentive to keep fighting the Motorola suit may have been diminished by the pending sale to Lenovo. See stories here-- and and cases 2012-1528 & 2012-1549 at

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Consumer Reports Calls for Ban on Forced Arbitration

Calling arbitration an anti-consumer practice that’s becoming all too prevalent, Consumer Reports claims there isn't a single adult in the United States who is not subject to at least one binding mandatory arbitration clause. The magazine, through Consumers Union, its policy and advocacy arm, criticizes the take-it-or-leave-it way of settling disputes. Consumer Reports, which calls itself a public-service organization, says arbitration language is hidden in the fine print of an array of common consumer contracts, including cell phones and credit cards. The editors are disturbed that forced arbitration clauses are making their way into housing, employment, and nursing-home contracts. Their column states that proponents include corporations and the organizations representing arbitrators who frame arbitration as a benefit for consumers that offers a low cost, informal alternative to lawsuits. Forcing consumers to accept arbitration and give up their rights through legalese buried in the fine print raises red flags for consumer advocates, they say. Consumer Reports is backing the Arbitration Fairness Act, pending in Congress, that would ban the use of these forced-arbitration clauses in consumer and employment contracts. See editorial here-

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Alleged Texting During Arbitration

The Orlando firefighters' union is going to battle with the city over a cell phone the deputy fire chief is accused of using to text witnesses during an arbitration hearing. The City of Orlando maintains it doesn't have access to texts, and the union couldn't inspect the phone because it had been lost. Last month, the city claimed the phone was either lost or stolen and filed a police report indicating the phone was sent to city hall through interoffice mail, but it never arrived. Apparently, Sprint, the city's carrier, is unable to provide the content of the messages. In a circuit court complaint filed this week in Orange County, the union said the city provided a list of incoming and outgoing texts from the phone, but 411 of 520 messages were redacted. Firefighters sued the city for failing to turn over text messages from the deputy chief's phone. They are requesting a judge to find the city in violation of Florida's public records law. Union leaders accuse the deputy chief of improperly texting with witnesses during the arbitration. Reportedly, phone numbers belonging to police and firefighters are exempt from the public records law, and city officials say that's why they were redacted. The lawsuit asks that a judge privately review the text information to determine whether city officials were right to redact so much information or have violated Florida's Sunshine Law. It will be interesting to see if this story gains traction like the Orange County Commission's "textgate." The private nature of arbitration hearings will also be in question with the public lawsuit. It remains to be seen whether there was witness tampering or spoliation of electronic evidence that could effect the outcome of the award. See stories here-- and and