The Apps Law Blog https://www.appslawblog.com iPhone, mobile, Facebook and other software apps, and the law. Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:56:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.1 Client shout out for Groovebug! https://www.appslawblog.com/client-shout-out-for-groovebug/ https://www.appslawblog.com/client-shout-out-for-groovebug/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:52:46 +0000 Joel Rothman https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=971 The AppsLawBlog and its attorneys at Arnstein & Lehr, LLP represent the company behind an exciting new iPad app soon to be released called Groovebug.  You can check out a video

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The AppsLawBlog and its attorneys at Arnstein & Lehr, LLP represent the company behind an exciting new iPad app soon to be released called Groovebug.  You can check out a video about the app below.
Groovebug is the iPad companion to your music library.  It scans your music, pulls relevant content from the cloud, and slips it beneath your fingertips in an interactive magazine format.  To read the press release, click here.
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New Smartphone App to Track Hourly Wages https://www.appslawblog.com/new-smartphone-app-to-track-hourly-wages/ https://www.appslawblog.com/new-smartphone-app-to-track-hourly-wages/#comments Fri, 27 May 2011 16:29:45 +0000 Joel Rothman https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=969 Art Schofield, Esq. over at the Florida Labor and Employment Law Blog reports on a new app to track hourly wages for hourly workers.  For more information, click here.

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Art Schofield, Esq. over at the Florida Labor and Employment Law Blog reports on a new app to track hourly wages for hourly workers.  For more information, click here.

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Apple Sues Amazon.com for use of “App Store” https://www.appslawblog.com/apple-sues-amazon-com-for-use-of-app-store/ https://www.appslawblog.com/apple-sues-amazon-com-for-use-of-app-store/#comments Wed, 06 Apr 2011 13:00:23 +0000 matt https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=965 Apple has once again become involved in a lawsuit regarding the use of the term “App Store” and its trademark off the term. Apple Inc. has sued Amazon.com Inc accusing the online retailer of trademark infringement and unfair competition due…

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Apple has once again become involved in a lawsuit regarding the use of the term “App Store” and its trademark off the term. Apple Inc. has sued Amazon.com Inc accusing the online retailer of trademark infringement and unfair competition due to its use of Apple’s “App Store” trademark to sell software applications for mobile devices. The suit, which was filed on March 18 in northern California, asked for a judge’s order to prevent the company from using the “App Store” name and for unspecified damages.

 

Apple spokesperson Kristin Huguet said the suit was brought to keep people from getting confused saying, “We’ve asked Amazon not to copy the app store name, because it will confuse and mislead consumers.”

 

In the complaint, Apple claims that Amazon has “unlawfully used the App Store mark to solicit software developers throughout the United States and its unlawful use includes, but is not limited to, such use at web pages accessed through the developer.amazon.com URL.” Apple also claims that at three separate times they have communicated with Amazon and demanded that Amazon cease its use of the App Store mark but has not been provided with a substantive response to any of their communications.

 

According to a Bloomberg article, Apple said in the suit it applied to register App Store as a trademark in the U.S., and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the application. In its application Apple described “app store” as “services featuring computer software provided via the internet and other computer and electronic communication networks.”

 

With Apps becoming a large part of the online sales market, Amazon, which is one of the largest online retailers, entered into the market earlier this year with a storefront called the “Appstore” that sells Android applications. According to a CNET.com, Amazon gets either 70% of the sale price or 20% of the list price.

 

While this suit is still in its beginning stages it will be interesting to see how this suit plays out in concert with the litigation already occurring between Microsoft and Apple. Back in January of this year Microsoft filed a motion opposing the trademark application of Apple saying that it was too generic. Microsoft claimed that the term “app store” is “generic for retail store services featuring apps and unregistrable for ancillary services such as searching for and downloading apps from such stores.”
For more on the case against Amazon, see Apple Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), 11-1327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. To see an online version of the suit click here.

 

 

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Disney Sued Over Potential Privacy Infringement https://www.appslawblog.com/disney-sued-over-potential-privacy-infringemnt/ https://www.appslawblog.com/disney-sued-over-potential-privacy-infringemnt/#comments Thu, 24 Feb 2011 23:23:45 +0000 matt https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=958 A class action lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. was filed in federal court yesterday in Santa Ana, Ca. The suit alleges that Disney’s company-issued employee badges violates state law regarding privacy rights because the bar code on the badge…

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A class action lawsuit against the Walt Disney Co. was filed in federal court yesterday in Santa Ana, Ca. The suit alleges that Disney’s company-issued employee badges violates state law regarding privacy rights because the bar code on the badge contains the employees’ social security number and leaves workers vulnerable to identity theft.

The main concern of the plaintiffs is apparently the ease with which the badges can be swiped using smartphone applications. One of the employees found this problem when he scanned the bar code of his badge over one of his phone apps and up popped his social security information. After testing it on other employees he found that as long as anyone had this app, specifically identity thieves, they could access social security numbers which are used to infiltrate people’s financial information.

The attorney for the plaintiffs is asking for Disney to stop this practice, destroy the current badges and replace them with badges that don’t contain personal information. He is also asking for compensation for any employees that may have already been a victim of identity theft due to this practice.

According to a Bloomberg article, Walt Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said that the company is working to modify its computer systems “to address ever-changing technologies, including third-party cell phone apps.”

With social security numbers being a key to identity theft, and with the ease with which people can gain access to the employees’ personal information by simply using a smartphone application, it would seem like Disney will have to do something about this matter.

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Unregulated Social Media Plays Large Role in the Middle East Upheaval https://www.appslawblog.com/unregulated-social-media-plays-large-role-in-the-middle-east-upheaval/ https://www.appslawblog.com/unregulated-social-media-plays-large-role-in-the-middle-east-upheaval/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 23:08:38 +0000 matt https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=955 With the upheaval that is occurring in the Middle East and North Africa, the role of social media has come into the spotlight due to its role in the current situation and the regions’ history of strong government influence over the control of media.

Social media has provided an opportunity for many activists, most of them young people, to express their views and promote their activism to a larger audience, over 17 million in the MENA region, than was ever possible before. Protestors are using sites such as Twitter and Facebook to help organize and get the word out about their cause. In an article for Triple Helix Online, Anna Collins explains the role of social media in this region by stating, “the vast social networking platforms provided by venues like Facebook allow users to mobilize so discretely and in such substantial numbers that they have a better chance at successfully transforming their dictatorial governance structures than those employing more customary means of protest.”

Many of the countries in this region are used to the governments having the final say on which tv stations, newspapers and radio stations were allowed to operate and what topics they were allowed to discuss. However, with the explosion of social media within the last five years, many of the laws that the government instituted to help them achieve this control have become outdated.

In order to keep up with the emergence of social media, governments around the Middle East and North Africa region have begun to seek ways in which to gain some control over the issue. Qatar, Syria and Yemen have all been working over the past few months to pass laws that will help curb the freedom that these outlets present for their citizens.

Additionally, with the freedom of speech of this regions’ citizens in jeopardy, the social media sites have not kept quiet about the restrictions of their websites. Last week when the Egyptian government shut down the internet, Google, Twitter and Facebook all criticized the decision. Facebook came out with a statement that said, “Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said. Moreover, Google and Twitter created an avenue for Egyption users to circumvent to internet shutdown by allowing them to post messages through phone calls.

Even though social media has had a large part in bringing social activists together, Collins warns that it is unlikely to be successful in the long run. “Given the impersonal nature of Facebook and the extensive authority available to autocratic rulers, however, it is more likely that not only will Facebook-style campaigns fail to achieve desired results, they will also make it more difficult for advocacy groups to coalesce over the long term.”

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New Legal Apps Highlight https://www.appslawblog.com/new-legal-apps-highlight/ https://www.appslawblog.com/new-legal-apps-highlight/#comments Thu, 06 Jan 2011 21:27:54 +0000 matt https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=947 With the popularity of Apps spreading across all types of professional fields, the legal profession has taken advantage of the opportunity to create Apps that make life easier for not only lawyers, but law students as well. Recently two particular…

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With the popularity of Apps spreading across all types of professional fields, the legal profession has taken advantage of the opportunity to create Apps that make life easier for not only lawyers, but law students as well. Recently two particular legal Apps have made the news, one for its innovation and one for its exorbitant price.

Esq. Apps, a company that creates mobile apps for lawyers, recently announced its newest App called iPleading. It describes iPleading as the “first mobile legal template generator designed to follow customs of the legal professions and the rules of State and Federal Courts.”

iPleading allows all legal professionals to easily create litigation documents on their iPhone, iTouch, or iPad. Esq. Apps also claims that the App works great for busy attorneys as it bypasses time-consuming problems with formatting Microsoft Word for use in litigation. The app is available at the App Store for $3.99.

Studying for the Bar Exam reminds most people of long hours of studying with columns of books stacked around them. But studying for the Bar just hit the App world. BarMax, a bar prep study course previously available for the iPhone, is now starting to roll out its full content available for the iPad by making its California edition available this week. But it doesn’t come cheap with a price tag of $999.

The App offers customers two months of lecture material, thousands of pages of documentation in electronic format, sample MBE questions, sample essay exams and flash cards. The new version for the iPad takes advantage of the larger screen by offering an outline layout of course content, a redesigned multiple choice selection and the ability to highlight text, add notes and bookmark pages.

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Apple Sued in Lawsuit Over Apps Sale of Private Data https://www.appslawblog.com/apple-being-sued-over-apps-sale-of-private-data/ https://www.appslawblog.com/apple-being-sued-over-apps-sale-of-private-data/#comments Thu, 30 Dec 2010 23:13:29 +0000 matt https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=945 Apple has been named in a class action lawsuit alleging that iPhones and iPads produce devices, such as a Unique Device Identifier (UDID), which allows advertisers to track what applications users download, how frequently they use them and…

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Apple has been named in a class action lawsuit alleging that iPhones and iPads produce devices, such as a Unique Device Identifier (UDID), which allows advertisers to track what applications users download, how frequently they use them and for how long.

The suit also claims that some Apps are selling the personal information that they receive from customers to advertisers. This includes sensitive information such as the user’s location, age, gender, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation and political affiliations.

This suit comes on the heels of a recent Wall Street Journal investigation that showed how smartphone Apps are sharing personal data. The WSJ examined 101 popular smartphone Apps and found that 56 of them transmitted the phones UDID to other companies without the users’ awareness or consent . Forty-seven Apps transmitted the phone’s location in some way and five Apps sent age, gender and other personal details to outsiders .

The fact that the UDID number is the most shared piece of information is the most discerning fact. A UDID is a number unique to each person’s phone that can be used to track all of the user’s activity without giving them the option to shut it off. Think of it as the “cookie” on your computer web browsers. On computers these can usually be turned off or at least limited in some way so that your data is not released to random companies.

Because the UDID is specific to a person’s phone, and can’t be changed or blocked by the user, the complaint alleges that the release of this information to an outside company includes violations of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Act, plus California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act .

Two of the Apps sharing the most information include TextPlus 4, a popular iPhone App for text messaging, and Pandora, a popular music App. TextPlus sent the UDID number to eight ad companies and the phone’s zip code, along with the user’s age and gender, to two of them. Pandora sent its user’s location data to seven of ad trackers, their UDID to three trackers and demographic data to two. As such, Pandora has been named a co-defendant in this suit.

According to the study, Apple says that iPhone Apps “cannot transmit data about a user without obtaining the user’s prior permission and providing the user with access to information about how and where the data will be used.” However, many of the Apps tested by WSJ appeared to violate that rule, by sending a user’s location to ad networks, without informing users. The study found that 45 of the 101 Apps tested didn’t provide privacy policies on their websites or inside the Apps at the time of testing.

The suit was filed by Jonathon Lalo in the US District Court of the Northern District of California. In addition to Apple and Pandora the suit names Dictionary.com, Backflip, and The Weather Channel as co-defendants. Lalo’s lawyers are seeking class-action status for any Apple customers who downloaded an application on their iPhone or iPad between December 1, 2008 and December 20, 2010 .

To read the complaint, click here.

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Facebook widget: Bad medicine for Novartis https://www.appslawblog.com/facebook-widget-bad-medicine-for-novartis/ https://www.appslawblog.com/facebook-widget-bad-medicine-for-novartis/#comments Thu, 12 Aug 2010 02:30:55 +0000 hotto https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=935 Facebook widgets are being blamed for computer viruses, personal data theft and now health dangers. The Food & Drug Administration told Novartis in an August 2010 letter that its widget for the leukemia drug Tasigna violated…

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Facebook widgets are being blamed for computer viruses, personal data theft and now health dangers. The Food & Drug Administration told Novartis in an August 2010 letter that its widget for the leukemia drug Tasigna violated FDA advertising rules in part because the widget lacked information about potential health dangers. In response, the drug maker pulled the widget, which allowed Facebook users to share their experiences with the drug.

At first blush, it appears that terrestrial rules do apply to the virtual world, no matter what new media marketing gurus say. At the most basic level, the FDA said in its letter that Novartis ran afoul of agency rules:

The shared content is misleading because it makes representations about the efficacy of Tasigna but fails to communicate any risk information associated with the use of this drug. In addition, the shared content inadequately communicates Tasigna’s FDA-approved indication and implies superiority over other products.

At a higher level, the FDA said that the widget needed to be approved, though that raises several questions. While Novartis might resolve issues regarding risks and claims with proper disclaimer language embedded in the widget, it would be more difficult, given the unstructured nature of social media, to control comments that run off its pages. Again, the FDA letter:

FDA regulations require companies to submit specimens of any labeling or advertising devised for promotion of a drug product approved under Subpart H regulations at least 30 days prior to the intended time of initial dissemination per 21 CFR 314.550. Moreover, FDA regulations require companies to submit specimens of any labeling or advertising devised for promotion of the drug product at the time of initial dissemination of the labeling and at the time of initial publication of the advertisement for a prescription drug product.

At the highest level, how could Novartis submit in its application user comments — not yet written — that might be construed as testimonials? The drug maker could control comments on its Facebook page for Tasigna, but how would the company remove violations that appear on users’ pages as a result of a widget? And what can Novartis do about the community page for Tasigna, whose creator is unknown?

The FDA is struggling with the same questions and will likely continue to do so as long as innovations in communications outpace efforts to control speech about products. For now, the only answer may be to hire a lawyer who understands how old-world rules and new-world anarchy can be made to co-exist.

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To share or not to share? Legal privacy concerns abound https://www.appslawblog.com/to-share-or-not-to-share-legal-privacy-concerns-abound/ https://www.appslawblog.com/to-share-or-not-to-share-legal-privacy-concerns-abound/#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 20:15:30 +0000 hotto https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=907

The odds are pretty good that if you’re a big consumer of mobile apps, the private information on your phone has been collected and sent somewhere without your knowledge.

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That’s a scary thought for consumers and a tantalizing one for attorneys in the small but growing arena of apps security. San Francisco-based Lookout says in its Apps Genome project report that 1 in 3 free iPhone apps and 3 in 10 free apps on Android access the location of the phone user. The report also says that 14% of iPhone apps extract personal information, as do 8% of Android apps.

Permission may be written into the user agreement, but is it prominent enough? And what assurances do apps makers give that the information will be both protected from hackers and not shared without the user’s permission?

We already have read horror stories about how corporations such as Monster, Second Life and Hell’s Pizza have had their customer databases hacked. While we may feel better that Apple vets its apps, Android apps come from an unrestricted market.

An iPhone has been breached, and so it’s a matter of time before snoopers find their way into the databases of legitimate apps makers and operators. The people who gave permission — and especially the people who did not — may have cause for action. How large could damages be? How well insured or solvent are some apps makers whose software contains flaws? And is there any third-party liability from companies that sell tools for building faulty apps?

Small, inconsequential breaches will likely not produce large damage claims, but could set import precedents for manufacturers, software developers, systems managers and data warehousers. Watch for the full report from Lookout and keep an eye on the dockets.

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When bad guys sell in app stores, who’s liable? https://www.appslawblog.com/when-bad-guys-sell-in-app-stores-whos-liable/ https://www.appslawblog.com/when-bad-guys-sell-in-app-stores-whos-liable/#comments Fri, 04 Jun 2010 18:12:44 +0000 hotto https://www.appslawblog.com/?p=903 The explosion in smart phone apps and growing number of users has created an opportunity for criminals to write apps that steal IDs, bank accounts and the like. When they succeed in getting unsuspecting users to download their malicious software,…

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The explosion in smart phone apps and growing number of users has created an opportunity for criminals to write apps that steal IDs, bank accounts and the like. When they succeed in getting unsuspecting users to download their malicious software, who should pay the damages?

We are definitely seeing an increase in criminal activity.

The question is arising in articles such as the ominously headlined article, “Dark Side Arises for Phone Apps”, in the Wall Street Journal on June 4. While Apple and Blackberry vet their apps, Google acknowledges that it checks for problems only when notified. An assistant director of the FBI’s cyber investigations division told the Journal, “We are definitely seeing an increase in criminal activity.”

Who is responsible for damages from a malicious app that steals private information? Who is liable when software turns a mobile phone into a spamming machine or distributor of malware?

The technology is so new that there are few cases and even fewer precedents. If an online store for apps vets them before putting them on the virtual shelf, is there an implied liability for not taking proper care? What about Google, which operates a bazaar for apps?

Roel Schouwenberg, a senior malware researcher at Kaspersky Lab Americas, says that marketers and others could be blamed for those problem. In an interview with MobileMarketingWatch, he said he expects Google Wave, iPhone and Android could sustain heavy cyber-attacks throughout 2010. The victims, whether they be individuals or businesses, will look for legal help in recovering from losses.

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