College Claims Samsung Swiped ‘Smart Pause’

Samsung Galaxy S4 by Janitors, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   Samsung Galaxy S4,  Janitors 

February 3, 2014
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – The bestselling Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 smartphones’ Smart Pause feature that pauses video when a user looks away violates three patents, a Canadian university claims in court.
Queen’s University at Kingston and its patent licensee, PARTEQ Research and Development Innovations, sued Samsung Electronics and Samsung Telecommunications America in Beaumont Federal Court.
The Ontario-based school claims the Korean electronics manufacturer was explicit in its interest in commercializing attentive-user interfaces research by Dr. Roeland Vertegaal in November 2003. PARTEQ and Samsung singned a confidentiality agreement one month later, the university says.
Vertegaal is a professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the school and directs the Human Media Laboratory at its School of Computing.
Queen’s University claims Samsung employees attended technical demonstrations and presentations related to the school’s patents and the parties discussed issues regarding PARTEQ’s ownership of the intellectual property rights.
The claims that says in January 2004, Vertegaal submitted to Samsung a proposal for “an attentive home theater system that could pause video content and perform other functions by processing a user’s eye-contact cues.”
“The proposal also enumerated mobile applications of the patented technology,” the complaint states.
The school says the defendants responded that the project was not appropriate for its new innovation team and instead offered a one-year collaboration with Vertegaal to develop the attentive home theater application.
“However, Samsung later reversed course and informed Dr. Vertegaal and PARTEQ that Samsung and SAIT [Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology] were not interested in pursuing the project,” the complaint states.
It continues: “In March 2013, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S4 smartphone, which featured what Samsung calls ‘SmartPause technology.’ In or about October 2013, Samsung included this technology in its Galaxy Note 3 device.”
That violates the patents, the school says. It says Samsung has not bought or purchased the rights to its intellectual property.
Samsung states on its Internet home page that the Smart Pause feature is built on the Smart Stay feature on the Galaxy S3 smartphone. Samsung says Smart Pause stops video when a user looks away and resumes playing when the user looks back at the screen.
Samsung declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday.
The school seeks actual and punitive damages for patent infringement.
It is represented by David Peterson with Susman Godfrey in Houston.

From Courthouse News.

Dallas County: Center of Death Sentences

Death Chamber, Oklahoma by joshrushing, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   Death Chamber, Oklahoma,  joshrushing 

December 23, 2013
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas County’s reputation as a criminal justice reformer is belied by its disproportionately high number of death sentences, death penalty critics say.
In a new report , the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty says Dallas County is the state’s most active death penalty jurisdiction. Dallas County has accounted for 20 percent of death penalty sentences in the state since 2008, according to “Texas Death Penalty Developments in 2013: The Year in Review.”
“While most of Texas is moving away from the death penalty, Dallas County has emerged as a major outlier in its pursuit of the ultimate punishment, particularly for defendants of color,” Kristin Houlé, executive director of the TCADP, said in a statement. “These troubling patterns directly counter Dallas’s reputation as a leader in criminal justice reform.”
Dallas County has handed down nearly twice as many death sentences in the past six years as Harris County (Houston) has. Death sentences statewide have declined by more than 75 percent in the past decade – less than 10 a year for past five years.
Despite the decline, Texas conducted 42 percent of the executions in the country this year – twice as many as any other state. Texas has executed 269 people under Gov. Rick Perry – more than any other governor in U.S. history.
Half of all new death sentences in the state are imposed on blacks, TCADP says.
“In Dallas County, this pattern is even more pronounced – of the 11 men sentenced to death there since 2008, 8 are African-American and 2 are Hispanic,” the TCADP said in a statement. “All three of Dallas County’s new death sentences in 2013 were imposed on African-American men.”
Seven inmates scheduled for execution this year have received reprieves, either stays or withdrawal of execution dates. Four other condemned inmates were granted date changes but were executed this year.
Based in Austin, TCADP is a grassroots anti-death penalty advocacy group, according to its website.

From Courthouse News.

NFL Star Sentenced, Jailed for Crash That Killed His Friend

January 24, 2014
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – An irked judge ordered a 180-day sentence for former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent on Friday after jurors declined to imprison him for the drunken car crash that killed his teammate and best friend.
Jerry Brown Jr., a member of the Cowboys practice squad, died on Dec. 8, 2012, after the car Brent was driving crashed, rolled over and caught fire. Irving police arrested Brent at the scene.
Prosecutors said Brent’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He had previously played with Brown at the University of Illinois.
A Dallas County jury deliberated for two days and could have sentenced Brent to up to 20 years in prison for intoxication manslaughter. In addition to handing down a sentence of 10 years probation, the jury ordered Brent to pay a $10,000 fine.
Unhappy with that sentence, District Judge Robert Burns III tacked on 180 days in jail – the maximum he was allowed to under law.
After reading the verdict, Burns was highly critical of Brent, telling him his “actions bring shame to the city of Dallas,” WFAA reported.
“Sadly, Mr. Brent, you’re not the first Dallas Cowboy to kill someone with a motor vehicle,” Burns said. “But, I sure hope you’re the last. And sadly, you’re not the first Dallas Cowboy to be convicted of a felony in this past year’s time, but I hope you’re the last for a long time.”
Burns told Brent he “chose the path of irresponsibility,” citing an earlier DWI that was discussed during the two week-long trial.
“No driver’s license, no insurance – you shouldn’t have even been driving a car to begin with,” Burns said. “Not to mention the fact that you’re driving while intoxicated. You chugged a bunch of alcohol, weren’t wearing your seat belt … didn’t make sure your passenger had a seat belt on.”
Prosecutors had previously accused Brent of tampering with an alcohol-monitoring device while he was released on bond and awaiting trial.
They also tried to have his bond revoked before trial, relying on positive marijuana metabolite test results in May.
Stacy Jackson – Brown’s mother – is credited with sparing Brent a long prison sentence. Shortly after her son’s death, she publicly forgave Brent and repeated those sentiments when testifying on Brent’s behalf during sentencing.
In October 2013, she sued the Dallas nightclub that purportedly served Brent alcohol before the deadly crash.
Brent faces up to an additional 10 years in jail if he violates the terms of his probation.

From Courthouse News.

Nightclub Blamed in Dallas Cowboy’s Death

November 8, 2013
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – The family of former Dallas Cowboy linebacker Jerry Brown Jr. sued a nightclub that served teammate Josh Brent alcohol before a car crash that killed Brown.
Jerry Brown Sr. Beamers Private Club dba Privae Lounge, Bavarian Management, ADRCC LLC and Sharouz Ferdows, in Dallas County Court.
Stacy Jackson, of Illinois, filed a similar lawsuit against the club on Oct. 29.
Brown Jr. died on Dec. 8, 2012, when the car he and Brent were in crashed, rolled and caught fire.
Irving police arrested Brent at the scene and the 25-year-old nose tackle was later indicted for intoxication manslaughter.
Prosecutors claim Brent’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. They say that at the time of his arrest, Brent did not have a valid Texas driver’s license and his Illinois license was suspended and expired.
He had played with Brown at the University of Illinois. Brent’s trial is scheduled for January.
The defendants decided that Brown Jr.’s life “was worth less than the price of so many bottles of alcohol,” the new lawsuit states.
“By defendants’ own admission, the alcohol flowed freely at Privae that night. One Privae employee boasted on Twitter that ’12 Cowboys are in theeee [sic] building,’ and that those ‘fools are buying Ace on top of Ace!!!!,'” according to the complaint.
Ace refers “Ace of Spaces” Champagne.
Brown claims that after his son and Brent left the club, Brent drove his Mercedes into a curb, resulting in the car flipping and catching fire.
“Brent is 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and weighs roughly 320 pounds,” the complaint states. “So he must have consumed many of Privae’s drinks to become that inebriated.”
Brown Sr. claims the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission concluded there was “sufficient evidence” the club sold alcohol Brent after he was drunk and “conducted practices that caused Privae patrons to consume an excessive amount of alcohol.”
“The obviousness of Brent’s intoxication was manifest from the volume of drinks that defendants served – and bragged about serving – to Brent, and from the physical clues Brent exhibited,” the complaint states. “Indeed, only shortly after leaving Privae, Brent exhibited to police multiple signs of intoxication, such as his inability to pass field sobriety tests and his reeking of alcohol.”
Beamers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Brown Sr. seeks damages for wrongful death, negligence and violations of the Texas Dram Shop Act.
He is represented by E. Leon Carter with Carter Stafford in Dallas.

From Courthouse News.

Pot Use May Cost Cowboy His Manslaughter Bond

Cowboys by jonathan_moreau, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   Cowboys,  jonathan_moreau 

June 10, 2013
By David Lee
DALLAS (CN) – Dallas Cowboys football player Josh Brent tested positive for marijuana while awaiting trial for the alcohol-related crash that killed his teammate, prosecutors said, urging a judge to revoke bond.
Jerry Brown Jr., a member of the Cowboys practice squad, died on Dec. 8, 2012, after the car he and Brent were in crashed, rolled over and caught fire. Irving police arrested Brent at the scene and the 24-year-old nose tackle was later indicted for intoxication manslaughter.
Prosecutors say Brent’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. He had previously played with Brown at the University of Illinois.
Noting that Brent tested positive for marijuana metabolites on May 24, Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris asked Judge Fred Tinsley on Thursday to revoke Brent’s $100,000 bond and issue a warrant for his arrest.
Prosecutors say Brent had ingested the marijuana within 30 days of the test date, and that the findings do not indicate second-hand exposure.
“Given the defendant’s prior alcohol-related contacts and the severity of the charge in this case, it is the state’s belief that the defendant continues to pose a threat to the community,” Harris wrote. “It is respectfully requested that this court hold the defendant’s bond insufficient and issue a bench warrant without bond for the defendant’s arrest.”
The positive drug test occurred one day after prosecutors claimed Brent tampered with an alcohol monitoring device he is required to wear as a condition of his bond.
At the time of Brent’s arrest, he did not have a valid Texas driver’s license and his Illinois license was suspended and expired, prosecutors claim.
Brent faces up to 20 years in state prison if convicted.

From Courthouse News.

School District Not Liable for Nazi-Jew ‘Role Playing’ Lesson

April 1, 2014
By David Lee
NEW ORLEANS (CN) – A Texas school district is not liable after a bizarre Holocaust role-playing lesson ended with students playing Jews suffering injuries while taking orders from ersatz Nazis, the 5th Circuit ruled.
Andrew Yara, of Ochiltree County, sued the Perryton Independent School District in May 2012. Perryton is approximately 120 miles northeast of Amarillo.
Yara claimed that students wearing red ribbons “must do everything school faculty or other students tell them to, including picking up other students’ trash, being taken outside and sprayed with water hoses, bear-crawling across the hot track, carrying other students’ books, and even carrying other students,” the complaint alleged.
“Engaging in this exercise was compulsory, with it constituting 60% of a major test grade for students in their World History Class, and any student who did not do everything they were told were receive a failing grade.”
Yara said he was seriously injured when a classmate jumped onto his back while he was carrying another student. He said the school showed “deliberate indifference” to his constitutional right to human dignity by “subjecting him to a process that was designed to expose him to unwarranted shame, indignity, and virtually certain injury.”
“That this was supposed to be an educational experience does not excuse the cruelty, inhumanity, or injury that occurred,” the lawsuit alleged.
A federal judge later granted the school district summary judgment, however, finding no evidence that the school had adopted a policy that was the “moving force” behind the alleged violations.
The court refused to rule on whether Yara had alleged valid constitutional violations.
A three-judge panel with the 5th Circuit affirmed Monday, shooting down Yara’s claim that the school board failed to train or supervise school staff.
Ultimately, there is a lack of evidence showing that the board was even aware of Red Ribbon Day, according to the ruling.
“Further, the board could not have made a deliberate choice to disregard constitutional violations stemming from its failure to train or supervise because no violation had occurred in the first two years of the program,” the unsigned opinion states. “There was no pattern of constitutional violations such that the Board would have been more than grossly negligent for failing to train or supervise the high school staff.”
The New Orleans-based panel agreed that the two-day per year program was neither common nor well-settled enough of a custom to fairly represented district policy.
It would not have been reasonable for the board to predict Yara’s injuries based on the nature of the activity, the court found.
“Even if knowledge of Red Ribbon Day could be imputed to the [Perryton ISD] board, we agree with the district court that Perryton could not have acted with deliberate indifference to constitutional violations because there is no evidence that the type of constitutional violations alleged by the Yaras had ever occurred,” the judges wrote. “Despite the Yaras’ attempts to explain the potentially harmful effects of what they call an unsound pedagogy, it is undisputed that no Perryton High School student ever previously suffered physical harm as a result of Red Ribbon Day events.”

From Courthouse News.

Texas Man Must Pony Up $40.7M for Bitcoin Scam

September 19, 2014
By David Lee
SHERMAN, Texas (CN) – A Texas man must pay over $40.4 million for running a massive Ponzi scheme based on a Bitcoin operation he ran out of his home, a federal judge ruled.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Trendon T. Shavers, 31, of McKinney, and Bitcoin Savings & Trust in July 2013 for securities fraud and disgorgement.
It alleged he raised over 700,000 bitcoins from investors, promising up to seven percent interest every week based on BTCST’s claimed market arbitrage activity.
The SEC claimed Shavers’ fraudulent activities began in November 2011, when he posted a “Looking for Lenders” ad on the online Bitcoin Forum, offering one percent daily interest for “loans” of 50 bitcoins or more. The agency cited a dozen more of Shavers’ posts in which he claimed that business was great and that the “risk is almost 0.”
When the scheme collapsed in August 2012, Shavers made preferential redemptions to friends and longtime investors, the SEC claimed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Amos L. Mazzant granted the SEC’s motion for summary judgment on Thursday, concluding investors lost over 265,000 bitcoins valued at $149 million at current exchange rates.
He did not believe Shaver’s claims that he loaned 202,000 bitcoins to an borrower who ran off with the funds.
“Shavers’ claims concerning the lending activity he supposedly undertook for BTCST are not possible based on the record evidence in this action,” the 25-page opinion states. “First, the identified sources of bitcoins obtained by Shavers do not include such borrowers; second, the amounts of bitcoins received by Shavers from unidentified sources fall far short of the amounts necessary to support the principal or interest payments Shavers claimed to be receiving from BTCST’s borrowers, or the rates of return Shavers otherwise claimed to be earning for BTCST investors; and, third, Shavers did not have nearly enough bitcoins in July 2012 to make a 202,000 bitcoin loan.”
The evidence shows Shavers “knowingly and intentionally operated BTCST as a sham and Ponzi scheme,” Mazzant wrote.
“In reality, Shavers, on the whole, either used new bitcoins received from BTCST investors to pay purported returns and withdrawals on outstanding BTCST investments, or diverted BTCST investors’ bitcoins for his personal use,” the opinion states. “Shavers admits he commingled BTCST investors’ bitcoins with his personal bitcoins and bitcoins from his GPUMAX activity as a “reserve fund” in his “main operating wallet” for BTCST.
Shavers admitted that he used the “reserve fund” – in classic Ponzi scheme fashion – to honor withdrawal requests from BTCST investors whenever he failed to generate sufficient returns from BTCST’s purported investment activities to do so. He also admitted that following his July 2, 2012, announcement that the rates of return for BTCST investments would be reduced, he received a ‘wave’ of withdrawal requests that wiped out the ‘reserve fund,’ even as he still owed bitcoins to BTCST investors.”
Shavers admitted he had no proof that the lending activities he engaged in generated returns, nor any proof he made the 202,000 bitcoin loan, Mazzant noted.
Two weeks after the SEC sued Shavers, Mazzant ruled against Shavers’ argument that the court had no subject matter jurisdiction because bitcoins are virtual currency, not actual money.
“It is clear that Bitcoin can be used as money,” Mazzant wrote at the time. “It can be used to purchase goods or services, and as Shavers stated, used to pay for individual living expenses. The only limitation of Bitcoin is that it is limited to those places that accept it as currency. However, it can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, and Yuan. Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money, and investors wishing to invest in BTCST provided an investment of money.”
In April, Texas banking regulators issued regulations for virtual currencies, including Bitcoin, and their virtual exchanges. Texas Banking Commissioner Charles G. Cooper issued a supervisory memorandum that concluded the virtual currents are not money. He said they lack intrinsic value because they are not centralized, backed by a commodity or convertible by law.
Cooper concluded that since they are not money, cryptocurrencies themselves do not trigger licensing requirements under the Texas Money Services Act. He said the exchange of cryptocurrency between two parties for sovereign currency is therefore not a money transaction.
Neither is the exchange of one cryptocurrency for another or the transfer of cryptocurrency by itself.
“However, some common business activities relating to cryptocurrency that involve the receipt of government-issued currency can trigger the licensing requirements of the act,” the commissions said in a statement at the time.
Cooper said the exchange of cryptocurrency for sovereign currency through a third-party exchange like bankruptcy Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox is “generally” a money transmission because Gox is an escrow like intermediary.

From Courthouse News.