The escalating war between technology companies over intellectual property, that has already swept up the smartphone and tablet sectors and high-tech stalwarts such as Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., Samsung, RIM, and others, reaches the social media stage.
Yahoo says it owns patents for as many as 20 technologies used by Facebook, that include online advertising social networking, privacy controlling, and messaging. “Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights” the company said. Patent fights are nothing new in Silicon Valley, with the realm of smartphones having become the most visible backdrop for such battles. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility last year largely to get access to the phone maker’s intellectual property. And a consortium of companies led by Apple and Microsoft paid $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents held by Nortel, the defunct communications equipment maker.
A court in Paris has fined Google $65,000 because its search engine’s autocomplete feature brings up an oscene word when users type the name of an insurance company. Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which said staffers at Google should have monitored linked words better. Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought. The french court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word. In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.
Mozilla has announced the launch of Aurora, a new Firefox release channel that is intended to open up experimental Firefox features to a broader audience of testers. The Aurora channel will serve up a stream of Firefox builds that are less fragile than the nightly builds but not as stable as official pre-releases. Mozilla is transitioning to shorter release cycles and a more incremental development model. The organization aims to deliver three more major Firefox releases this year, bringing the open source Web browser’s version number up to 7. The transition will require much more intensive testing throughout the open source development cycle. Launching the Aurora channel and increasing concurrent testing is one part of Mozilla’s strategy for preserving its high standards of quality assurance as it transitions to shorter development cycles. As part of the transition to the channel model, Mozilla is also going eliminate the need for freezes on the mozilla-central repository during stabilization—effectively making it possible for new code to continue landing in trunk throughout the whole cycle. Mozilla already offers a nightly build channel, which is codenamed Minefield. The Minefield builds are produced by an automated build server based on the latest Firefox code in Mozilla’s version control system. Firefox contributors and some adventurous testers routinely experiment with the nightly builds and submit bug reports to Mozilla based on issues that they encounter. The nightly builds have long been a great way to ride the burning edge of the Firefox trunk, but are subject to breakage. The quality of the nightly builds tends to fluctuate considerably throughout the development cycle. The lack of predictability makes it generally unsuitable for day-to-day use. Mozilla is offering Aurora as a more robust alternative to nightly builds with the aim of making early-stage testing palatable to a slightly more mainstream (and much larger) audience of software enthusiasts. The Aurora builds are available for users to download and install.
The Guardian improve its Open Platform, a service that will allow partners to reuse guardian.co.uk content and data for free and weave it “into the fabric of the internet”. Open Platform launched with two separate content-sharing services, which will allow users to build their own applications in return for carrying Guardian advertising. A content application programming interface (API) will smooth the way for web developers to build applications and services using Guardian content, while a Data Store will contain datasets curated by Guardian editors and open for others to use. Emily Bell, the Guardian News & Media director of digital content, described Open Platform as a “new chapter in our history and a new foundation for the future of our journalism”. She said that Open Platform would allow Guardian content “to be woven into the fabric of the internet” as people outside the organization saw the value of adding Guardian content to their projects. The Guardian content API includes written articles from Guardian and Observer staff and freelances to whose work the Guardian has rights.