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Old News but a Keeper Quote: Google to the Eurocrats

September 2, 2015

The news is old. Google has done nothing untoward. I understand. I love the Alphabet Google. Tucked into a BBC write up called “Google Rejects EU’s Search Abuse Complaint” was this statement:

“Data from users and advertisers confirms they like these formats. That’s not ‘favouring’ – that’s giving our customers and advertisers what they find most useful.”–Google’s lawyer Kent Walker

I like relevance, but what do I know? How does Alphabet  spell, “precision” and “recall”?

Stephen E Arnold, September 2, 2014

Alphabet Google: EU Spells Trouble

August 24, 2015

You will need a copy of the dead tree edition of the Wall Street Journal or one of those nifty for fee accounts. Navigate to “EU Deepens Antitrust Investigation into Google’s Practices.” Do not complain to me if the link is dead. Buy a newspaper. The practices of newspapers are above reproach—mostly.

The point of the write up is that the “bloc” (Cold Warish term, no?) wants information about Google’s advertising contract practices. Yikes. Actual contracts. I don’t recall getting a contract for the Adsense ads which grace this blog.

Anyway the “real” newspaper reported:

The European Commission, the bloc’s competition watchdog, has sent out questionnaires to companies requesting more detailed information into Google’s business practices in those areas, according to two documents seen by The Wall Street Journal. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. The European Commission didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Well, without verification why question the accuracy of the report?

Shift gears to Alphabet. What can Alphabet Google spell with its new Scrabble letters? I could go for, “We use algorithms.” I also like, “Please, ask the new CEO.”

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2015

The Recursion of Google Forgottenness

August 23, 2015

Short honk: Legal decisions are delightful. I read “Google Ordered to Remove Links to Stories about Google Removing Links to Stories.” The write included this statement:

One obvious question about this kind of recursive request is whether it is recursive itself—in other words, whether news stories that report on this latest removal including details of the criminal offence will also face de-listing from Google’s search results.

What happens if a student writes about a removal, citing examples of stories removed. I bet a 15 year old would mesh nicely with the prison population. The cell mate might ask, “What are you in for, pal?”

The answer, “Research.” I love this legal wizardry. No wonder Messrs Brin and Page did the alphabet thing. How else might one spell, “Wacky”?

Stephen E Arnold, August 23, 2015

Alphabet Google: A Variant of the Dog Ate My Homework

August 14, 2015

I read a story which I assume is true. I had a brief brush with teaching in graduate school. I heard some amazing things. Most of them focused on a common theme:

I need more time to complete my paper.

I never heard anyone say, “The dog ate my homework.” I did hear that a student was caught in a family squabble and various legal actions triggered several days of absences. Once my short, confusing instructional experience ended, I assumed that I would not hear any more of the dog ate my homework excuse.

I was wrong.

Navigate to “EU Extends Google Antitrust Investigation Response Deadline.” I learned:

Google now has until August 31 to answer the charges made against it. It’s the second time that Google has had the deadline for responding to the claims made against it extended, with the web firm’s initial deadline of July 7 previously moved back to August 17.

Google has been busy. Google is now alphabet. The Google that used to include Loon balloons and beating death is now the “old” Google. I am not confused, but I assume that figuring out who and what is under EU scrutiny takes some time to figure out.

What’s fascinating is that Google did the student thing. Even more surprising is that the EU seems to be a flexible deadline setter.

Woof, woof. The dog does not have indigestion. Will the disobedient dog make another attempt to consume GOOG or Alphabet or – wait, wait, don’t tell me – maybe GOOGL outputs again?

Ploy or time management issues? You decide.

Stephen E Arnold, August 14, 2015

Social Media Litigation Is on the Rise

August 6, 2015

When you think about social media and litigation, it might seem it would only come up during a civil, domestic, criminal mischief, or even a thievery suit.  Businesses, however, rely on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to advertise their services, connect with their clients, and increase their Web presence.  It turns out that social media is also playing a bigger role not only for social cases, but for business ones as well.  The X1 eDiscovery Law and Tech Blog posted about the “Gibson Dunn Report: Number of Cases Involving Social Media Evidence ‘Skyrocket’” and how social media litigation has increased in the first half of 2015.

The biggest issue the post discusses is the authenticity of the social media evidence.  A person printing out a social media page or summarizing the content for court does not qualify as sufficient evidence.  The big question right now is how to guarantee that social media passes an authenticity test and can withstand the court proceedings.

This is where eDiscovery software comes into play:

“These cases cited by Gibson Dunn illustrate why best practices software is needed to properly collect and preserve social media evidence. Ideally, a proponent of the evidence can rely on uncontroverted direct testimony from the creator of the web page in question. In many cases, such as in the Vayner case where incriminating social media evidence is at issue, that option is not available. In such situations, the testimony of the examiner who preserved the social media or other Internet evidence “in combination with circumstantial indicia of authenticity (such as the dates and web addresses), would support a finding” that the website documents are what the proponent asserts.”

The post then goes into a spiel about how the X1 Social Discovery software can make social media display all the “circumstantial indicia” or “additional confirming circumstances,” for solid evidence in court.  What authenticates social media is the metadata and a MD5 checksum aka “hash value.” What really makes the information sink in is that Facebook apparently has every twenty unique metadata fields, which require eDiscovery software to determine authorship and the like.  It is key to know that everything leaves a data trail on the Internet, but the average Google search is not going to dig it up.

Whitney Grace, August 6, 2015
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Endeca: Facets of Novelty

August 1, 2015

I am no specialist in the arcane art of legal eagle spotting. I did notice some references to a dust up between an outfit called Speedtrack and licensees of Endeca’s ageing search technology.

The Speedtrack outfit seems to have rights to an invention called “Method for Accessing Computer Files and Data, Using Linked Categories Assigned to Each Data File Record on Entry of the Data File Record.” This is explained brilliantly in US5544360, filed in February 1995.

Here’s a diagram showing how the user can click on categories to locate information. No typing required.


Compare this to Endeca’s invention, “Hierarchical Data Driven Navigation System and Method for Information Retrieval.” This is US7062483, filed in 2001. You may also find US7035864 and US7325201 interesting as well.


Federal Circuit Reaffirms Kessler Doctrine As A Patent Infringement Defense For Customers” explains that the Speedtrack infringement case pivots on the Kessler doctrine. Here’s the explanation from the article:

First, unlike res judicata, which is a defense that is personal to the parties in a prior litigation, the Kessler Doctrine “attaches to the [accused] product itself” and precludes a patentee from reasserting the same patent against the same (or “essentially the same”) product in a subsequent action.

Then noted:

Second, the Federal Circuit ruled that the Kessler doctrine may be raised by customers as well as the product manufacturer or supplier.

What I found fascinating was this infringement related statement attributed to the presiding legal eagle:

Third, the Federal Circuit held that the Kessler doctrine applied to Speedtrack’s claim even though the Endeca software allegedly infringed only when combined with the customer’s own computer hardware.

I recall that Endeca’s faceted navigation burst upon the scene in the late 1990s. Who knew that Jerzy Lewak (co founder of Speedtrack), Slawek Grzechnik, and Jon Matousek seemed to be trying to figure out a way around the problem of keyword search before Endeca?

I wonder if Oracle were surprised too. I have a hunch Speedtrack was.

Stephen E Arnold, August 1, 2015

Words to Note: HP Autonomy Disastrous Deal

July 21, 2015

I tucked this into my “Quotes” file. The source is Courthouse News Service and a story named “Pensioners Get $100M for HP’s Takeover Flop.” I lingered for a moment on the word “flop” but plunged into the write with modest expectations.

Here’s the sentence that I highlighted with my Japanese style wide tip Sharpie:

A federal judge tentatively approved a $100 million settlement between a Dutch pension fund and Hewlett-Packard over its disastrous $10.3 billion purchase of Autonomy Corp.

The word “flop” was interesting but the use of the word “disastrous” is a reminder of what happens when MBAs catch spreadsheet fever and buy search-centric companies.

I also highlighted this statement:

HP ended up taking an $8.8 billion hit on the botched acquisition and blamed former Autonomy executives for misrepresenting its revenue projections two years before the deal.

What happens when spreadsheet fever mingles with sales oriented folks suffering from drinking too much of their own Kool-Aid? Answer: An opportunity to spend quality time with attorneys. Definitely a summer bummer.

Stephen E Arnold, July 21, 2015

Amazon: Its Search Warrants Watching

July 7, 2015

I read “Amazon Must Face Trademark Lawsuit over Search Results.” The write up reports that “the online retailer’s search results can cause confusion for potential customers.” The product in quest is a watch from a “high end watchmaker Multi Time Machine.”

My own experience with Amazon search results is that, on the whole, the system outputs “close” results. Close as in horseshoes. My annoyance grows each time I click on a title only to learn that it is not available. Grrr. How tough is it to allow me to NOT out results which I do not want to view? There are other issues as well. These range from the do it yourself approach to content processing for Amazon’s “enterprise search” on AWS to the baffling listing of results which are Amazon’s, in Amazon’s warehouse, available from an Amazon partner, or listed by a now unemployed middle school teacher after the product did not move at a recent garage sale.

The write up points out:

Amazon displays MTM Special Ops in the search field and immediately below the search field, along with similar watches manufactured by MTM’s competitors for sale. MTM alleged this could cause customers to buy from one of those competitors, rather than encouraging the shopper to look for MTM watches elsewhere.

But everyone loves Amazon, the click throughs (which are not used to fund Beyond Search, thank you), and the wonky lovable founder. I am convinced he is the world’s smartest man. I mean who could even think of being more intelligent?

I suppose my dull average intelligence, like Multi Time’s, is just not able to understand the relevance of Amazon’s search and retrieval system.

Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2015

Excitement Ahead: Google and Oracle Get Another Jolt of Java

May 27, 2015

Let’s assume that Fortune is spot on. Let’s assume that Department of Justice lawyers have figured out the issues related to application programming interfaces. Let’s assume that copyright is the operative claim. Let’s assume that no one writes, “Assume. Ass-u-me.”

Navigate to “Let Oracle Own APIs, Justice Dept Tells Top Court in Surprise Filing.” Surprises are a good thing, right?

The all-time-champ of business is Fortune. I circled this passage:

The issue before the court is when, if at all, API’s can be protected by copyright. The outcome has serious repercussions not just for Google, but the entire software industry, since API’s act as a sort of lingua franca that allow different computer programs to deliver instructions to each other. In the case of Oracle and Google, the dispute turns on the search giant’s use of certain Java API’s for its Android software. Java is a programming language that was developed by Oracle’s predecessor, Sun Microsystems, and is widely used by software developers.

Quick question? When Java was in the Google mix, how many former Sun engineers were employed at Google? How many were working on the caffeinated project?

I then noted:

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, a respected Silicon Valley judge, initially sided with Google in 2012 after teaching himself Java for the trial. He found that the API’s were functional, and fell on the wrong side of copyright law’s “idea/expression dichotomy” and merger doctrine – these are rules that prevents copyright law from becoming too broad, and covering everyday things like menus and simple instructions.

Even the dinosaur bones on the Google campus smiled.

But then the legal worm did its thing:

Last year, however, the U.S. Federal Circuit appeals court overturned that finding, and likened the Java API’s to Charles Dickens and other literary works.

And now another twitch:

In its filing on Tuesday, the Obama Administration’s top lawyer sided with the Federal Circuit. It also repeated that court’s argument that the case should be decided by determining if Google had a “fair use” right to use the API’s

What’s next?

You know the answer: More lawyering.

Google now has an opportunity to spend more quality time with various officials in Washington, DC. The stakes are high because a couple of big companies are about to help explain copyright. Publishers, like Fortune, should be really excited.

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2015

HP Autonomy: MicroTechnologies Joins the Legal Fray

May 19, 2015

I read “MicroTech Sues HP, Claims to Be Caught in Middle of Autonomy Legal Battle.” I am going to have create a wall of index cards to keep track of who is suing whom in the dust up about Hewlett Packard’s purchase of Autonomy.

According to the write up:

MicroTechnologies LLC is suing Hewett-Packard for $16.6 million in unpaid invoices that the technology giant claims were for deals that never actually existed.

The article explains:

For two transactions totaling $16.5 million, Autonomy took the payments from MicroTech but never delivered the license keys, according to the complaint. Neither deal ever closed, the lawsuit states, but Autonomy kept the payments from MicroTech. One of the two customers was the Vatican Library in Italy, and the other was HP itself — prior to its 2011 acquisition of Autonomy for $11 billion.

I will make a note card run to Dollar General at noon. Lots of litigants to track.

Stephen E Arnold, May 19, 2015

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