The epic $1 billion patent fight between the world’s top two smartphone makers resumes Thursday in a federal courtroom when Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Corp. again square off over rights to vital technology. Samsung seeks to overturn an Aug. 24 jury verdict that found the Korean tech titan ripped off Apple Inc.’s designs for its iPhone and iPad. The jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion after finding close to two dozen of its products used technology controlled by Apple. Apple in turn is looking to add $500 million more to the award while barring many of the older Samsung products at issue from sale in the United States, CBS News reports. The companies’ lawyers will file into a San Jose federal court armed with a host of legal arguments including allegations that the jury foreman committed misconduct. The case is ultimately expected to land before the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the Washington, D.C.-based court that decides patent disputes, if not the U.S. Supreme Court.
Marijuana possession became legal in Washington state Thursday, as did same-sex marriage. Voters in Washington and Colorado last month made those the first states to decriminalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana. Washington’s law, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. PST, allows adults to have up to an ounce of pot, but bans public use of marijuana, which is punishable by a fine, just like drinking in public. Nevertheless, some people planned to gather early Thursday to smoke in public beneath Seattle’s Space Needle. Others planned a midnight party outside the Seattle headquarters of Hempfest, the 21-year-old festival that attracts tens of thousands of pot fans every summer. In another sweeping change for Washington, Gov. Chris Gregoire on Wednesday signed into law a measure legalizing same-sex marriage. The state joins several others that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. That law also takes effect Thursday, when gay and lesbian couples can start picking up their wedding certificates and licenses at county auditors’ offices. The offices in King County, the state’s largest and home to Seattle, and Thurston County, home to the state capital of Olympia, opened the earliest they could, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, to start issuing marriage licenses.
Law enforcement officials abroad came together Wednesday to take down an international fraud ring that targeted American Internet shoppers. The scheme involved eBay, Cars.com and other similar marketplace websites. Federal prosecutors in the U.S. say seven defendants, identified as Emil Butoi, Aurel Cojocaru, Nicolae Ghebosila, Cristea Mircea, Ion Pieptea, and Nicolae Simion — all Romanian nationals — and Fabian Meme — an Albanian national — who are now in custody in Romania, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Canada, saturated the sites with ads for luxury cars, boats and other big-ticket items. Those items never existed but prosecutors say the defendants duped unsuspecting victims into buying them, sometimes using fake certificates of title, fictitious websites and phony passports. The fraud cost millions but has now been dismantled. The U.S. government will seek extradition of the defendants in accordance with the appropriate international treaties.
An Occupy Wall Street protester who has waged a legal battle to keep his tweets from falling into prosecutors’ hands will plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct on Friday, his lawyer said on Wednesday, Reuters reports . The case against Malcolm Harris, 23, one of hundreds arrested during a mass march across the Brooklyn Bridge in October 2011, had drawn the attention of electronic privacy advocates who worry that it could limit the rights of Twitter users in the future. Harris’ attorney, Martin Stolar, said he has conferred with Criminal Court Judge Matthew Sciarrino and expects that Harris will be sentenced to time served when he pleads guilty. The maximum penalty is 15 days in jail, though first-time offenders are rarely imprisoned. The Brooklyn Bridge protest occurred at the height of the Occupy movement, which drew thousands of activists in New York and across the country angry at what they called an unfair economic system. Prosecutors filed a subpoena on Twitter seeking months of Harris’ tweets before and after the march, claiming they could undermine his defense that police appeared to lead protesters onto the bridge’s roadway before arresting them for obstructing traffic. The tweets are no longer available online. By pleading guilty, Harris likely would ensure that his tweets remain out of view, rather than becoming public as trial evidence. Stolar said Harris had some concern that the tweets could implicate other Occupy defendants.
The word “lunatic” will be stricken from federal law under legislation that passed the House Wednesday and is headed to President Barack Obama for his signature. The congressional action is the latest effort to remove language from the U.S. code that has become outdated or demeaning. Two years ago Congress took out references in federal law to the term “mental retardation.” The word is derived from the Latin word from moon and ancient beliefs that people could become “moonstruck” by lunar movements. The legislation cites one instance in banking regulation that refers to the authority of a bank to act as “committee of estates of lunatics” on guardianship issues. The legislation had the backing of mental health groups, including the coalition organization Mental Health Liaison Group, which said that use of outdated and offensive terms such as “lunatic” “only serve to perpetuate this stigmatization” against people with mental health conditions.