Television maker Vizio is one of the companies that fights back. It’s beaten no less than 16 “non-practicing entities,” and last week, the company released a statement showcasing its list of patent troll cases that ended in a key statistic: “$0 to plaintiff.” The list includes the usual bizarrely named shells, like “E-Contact Techs” and “Man Machine Interface,” as well as well-known patent holding companies like Walker Digital and Intellectual Ventures (whose patents were used by Pragmatus Telecom, one of the shells Vizio sent packing.)
Now, the company is trying to collect fees from one of its opponents, a company called Oplus Technologies. For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs’ firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail.
Vizio won its patent case against Oplus last year. After a skirmish over legal fees, US District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer published an opinion (PDF) detailing Oplus’ “overly aggressive” and “uncooperative” style of litigation that was “outside the bounds of professional behavior.”
“At each step of the case, Vizio’s credibility increased while Oplus gathered rope to hang itself,” she wrote. Yet Pfaelzer denied Vizio legal fees. Now, the Federal Circuit has ruled (PDF) that Pfaelzer needs to reconsider that decision.
“The course of this litigation was anything but ordinary,” wrote a panel of three appeals judges. “The court issued an opinion with numerous findings regarding Oplus’s litigation misconduct,” and the “egregious conduct” warranted giving Vizio a second shot at fees.
For Vizio, the company feels that it’s on the verge of getting vindication for a long-standing policy of not backing down to patent trolls.
Conflict of interest alert! My primary TV is a cheap 19″ Vizio Backlit LCD that actually has pretty good viewing angles for an LCD (but not nearly as good as an LED) and will do 1920×1080 as a monitor substitute in a pinch which is the same as my BenQ GW 2250 22″ though not nearly as nice (my other monitor is a Princton VF723 15″ 1280×1024).
Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.
Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.
You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.
“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
President Obama’s admission on Thursday that the CIA killed two innocent hostages in a US drone strike in Pakistan should definitively prove to the American public what the White House has been trying to hide from them for a while: the US government’s secretive use of drone strikes is a transparency nightmare and human rights catastrophe. It requires a full-scale, independent investigation.
The only thing surprising about the news that US drone strikes killed one American and one Italian civilian al-Qaida hostage – along with two alleged American members of al-Qaida who were supposedly not targeted – is that the US actually admitted it.
Secrecy, misdirection and lies have shielded much of the public from the realization that US drone strikes have killed countless civilians in the past decade. There is literally no public accountability – not in the courts nor in Congress – for the CIA and the military’s killings outside official war zones. It doesn’t matter who they kill, where, or under what circumstances.
Last week, a zombie went to New Hampshire and staked its claim to the Republican presidential nomination. Well, O.K., it was actually Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. But it’s pretty much the same thing.
You see, Mr. Christie gave a speech in which he tried to position himself as a tough-minded fiscal realist. In fact, however, his supposedly tough-minded policy idea was a classic zombie – an idea that should have died long ago in the face of evidence that undermines its basic premise, but somehow just keeps shambling along.
But let us not be too harsh on Mr. Christie. A deep attachment to long-refuted ideas seems to be required of all prominent Republicans. Whoever finally gets the nomination for 2016 will have multiple zombies as his running mates.
Start with Mr. Christie, who thought he was being smart and brave by proposing that we raise the age of eligibility for both Social Security and Medicare to 69. Doesn’t this make sense now that Americans are living longer?
The Presbyterian Church USA calls for reform of US tax code to address inequality
Nearly 1 in 5 Americans is now officially classified as poor. This fact naturally raises a question: Where are the religious leaders whose scriptures tell them that caring for their 60 million impoverished neighbors is their central moral duty?
I posed this question at a tax conference in New York City this week to one of the leaders in the small Christian movement focused on the role taxes play in creating inequality. She shrugged.
“The church always leads from behind,” she said.
But this may be beginning to change. The awful realities of worsening poverty in America amid overwhelming abundance at the top are becoming harder to ignore, especially those tasked with following Jesus’ teachings.
The pro-big business President Barack Obama and his corporate allies are starting their campaign to manipulate and pressure Congress to ram through the “pull-down-on-America” Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and foreign investment treaty between 12 nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam).
The first skirmish is a fast track bill to have Congress formally strip itself of its constitutional authority to regulate trade and surrender this historic responsibility to the White House and its corporate lobbies.
Lest you think the TPP is too commercially complex to bother about, think again. This mega-treaty is the latest corporate coup-d’état that sacrifices the American consumer, labor and environmental standards — inventively called “non-tariff trade barriers” — and much U.S. sovereignty to the supremacy of corporate commercial trade.
The Washington University Students Against Peabody Energy ruined my Earth Day. They sent me footage of a recent fact-finding trip to Saline County, Illinois, where some of my family members, friends and farmers are being blasted by nearby Peabody Energy strip-mining operations.
Regret to inform you: Coal blasting rages on in southern Illinois, along with cancer-linked mountaintop removal operations in central Appalachia, and mining across the West.
Let’s get the narrative right: Coal is not dying, it’s declining and shifting, and though mountaintop removal is on the ropes, the knockout still awaits federal action. US coal mining production in 2015 is still set for 926 million tons, down from 996 millions tons, and estimated to rebound to 941 millions tons in 2016, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Thanks to the Appalachian decline, the Illinois Basin mined 104.9 million tons in 2014, up 4.6%.
Religious freedom is under attack in Bobby Jindal’s America, where “radical liberals” and “the media elite” are bullying corporations into supporting marriage equality.
“If it’s not freedom for all,” Louisiana’s governor argued Thursday in the New York Times, “It’s not freedom at all.” With his proposed faith-based bill, the Marriage and Conscience Act, Jindal claims that he wants to ensure liberty for everyone.
But the legislation is not on the side of gay and lesbian couples. Instead, it would legally protect companies from doing business with them, because same-sex ceremonies violate “a sincerely held religious belief.” Without this law in place, Jindal warns of inevitable “discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses.”
Jindal must have missed the memo from his fellow conservatives that this is the year for pandering to gay voters, not shaming them — at least not to their faces. It’s time for the Republican Party to officially distance itself from the governor, who in his column managed to diminish and alienate two powerful, and wealthy, voting blocs: corporate America and LGBT constituents.
Since we were just talking about Homer, his other great work was The Odyssey which was considered by most to be as fictional as The Illiad until Schliemann discovered what he thought was Troy (and was, just not on the level he identified). It is certainly peopled with exotic locales and fantasical monsters which may or may not correspond to actual geography and now extinct creatures (yes on the first, no on the second for me).
One thing that is hard in this day of 100 hour wars, instant communication, and rapid transit to wrap your mind around is that someone could go off and fight a 10 year war and take 10 years to get home. To be fair, Troy was a seige with individual challenges and small unit skirmishes until Odysseus figured out a way to breach the walls. We’ve spent spent how long in Afghanistan now? And the Hundred Years War lasted, well, a hundred years more or less (this is not a trick question).
During his return Odysseus only spent 3 years wandering around (many sea voyages in the Age of Sail lasted as long or longer) and then another 7 as a captive of Calypso. I’ve met people who were locked up longer than that.
Anyway, the central tale of The Odyssey (after eliminating all the crypto-zoology and magic) is the return of Odysseus in disguise to find his wife besieged by many moochers and people looking to steal his stuff who he then proceeds to kill in a bloodbath of epic proportions.
It must be long, boring, and in an incomprehesible foreign language (even if that language is English).
The characters, especially the main ones, must be thoroughly unsympathetic and their activities horrid and callous.
Everyone must die, hopefully in an ironic and gruesome way.
Ballet is the same, but with more men in tights and without the superfluous singing.
Why, this is perfect! As for the wacky excuses? Well, what would you tell your significant other after 10 years, 7 of them spent shacking up with someone else, standing covered in gore in the living room among heaps of dead bodies?
Honey, I’m home?
Montaverdi is considered one of the revolutionaries of Baroque music. His L’Ofeo is just about the earliest recognizable Opera still regularly performed. It was written in 1607 as near as we can tell when he was about 40. Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria was written in 1640, 3 years before his death at the age of 76 and with L’incoronazione di Poppea (1642) is considered one of his 3 greatest works.
What distinguished Monteverdi from many other Opera composers of his generation was the lack of moral judgement (a hold over from the sacred music that was the money machine of the time) and humanity of his characters, something I think is captured by this contemporary performance in casual dress with period instruments and orchestration.
It little profits that an idle king, by this still hearth, among these barren crags, matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race, that hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees!
All times I have enjoyed greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those that loved me, and alone on shore, and when through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades vext the dim sea- I am become a name for always roaming with a hungry heart.
Much have I seen and known. Cities of men and manners, climates, councils, governments. Myself not least, but honored of them all.
And drunk delight of battle with my peers far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life.
Life piled on life were all too little, and of one to me scant remains, but every hour is saved from that eternal silence something more, a bringer of new things.
And vile it were for some three suns to store and hoard myself and this gray spirit yearning in desire to follow knowledge like a sinking star beyond the utmost bounds of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle, well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill this labour, by slow prudence to make mild a rugged people, and through soft degrees subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere of common duties, decent not to fail in offices of tenderness, and pay meet adoration to my household gods when I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port, the vessel puffs her sail.
There gloom the dark broad seas.
My mariners, souls that have toiled and wrought, and thought with me; that ever with a frolic welcome took the thunder and the sunshine, and opposed free hearts, free foreheads…
You and I are old.
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil.
Death closes all- but something ere the end, some work of noble note, may yet be done, not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks. The long day wanes. The slow moon climbs. The deep moans round with many voices.
Come, my friends! ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world, push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds! To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down. It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides, and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are-
One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered the pickax blow that inaugurated construction.
Artificial canals have been built on the Suez region, which connects the continents of Asia and Africa, since ancient times. Under the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, a channel connected the Bitter Lakes to the Red Sea, and a canal reached northward from Lake Timsah as far as the Nile River. These canals fell into disrepair or were intentionally destroyed for military reasons. As early as the 15th century, Europeans speculated about building a canal across the Suez, which would allow traders to sail from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea, rather than having to sail the great distance around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
The Suez Canal, when first built, was 164 km (102 mi) long and 8 m (26 ft) deep. After multiple enlargements, the canal is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep, and 205 metres (673 ft) wide as of 2010. It consists of the northern access channel of 22 km/14 mi, the canal itself of 162.25 km/100.82 mi and of the southern access channel of 9 km/5.6 mi.
It is single-lane with passing places in Ballah By-Pass and in the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through the canal. In general, the Canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. The current south of the lakes changes with the tide at Suez.
The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Under international treaty, it may be used “in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.”
In 1854 and 1856 Ferdinand de Lesseps obtained a concession from Sa’id Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan, to create a company to construct a canal open to ships of all nations. The company was to operate the canal for 99 years from its opening. De Lesseps had used his friendly relationship with Sa’id, which he had developed while he was a French diplomat during the 1830s. As stipulated in the concessions, Lesseps convened the International Commission for the piercing of the isthmus of Suez (Commission Internationale pour le percement de l’isthme des Suez) consisting of thirteen experts from seven countries, among them McClean, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, and again Negrelli, to examine the plans of Linant de Bellefonds and to advise on the feasibility of and on the best route for the canal. After surveys and analyses in Egypt and discussions in Paris on various aspects of the canal, where many of Negrelli’s ideas prevailed, the commission produced a final unanimous report in December 1856 containing a detailed description of the canal complete with plans and profiles. The Suez Canal Company (Compagnie Universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez) came into being on 15 December 1858 and work started on the shore of the future Port Said on April 25, 1859.
The excavation took some 10 years using forced labour (Corvée) of Egyptian workers during a certain period. Some sources estimate that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given period, that altogether more than 1.5 million people from various countries were employed, and that thousands of laborers died on the project.
The British government had opposed the project of the canal from the outset to its completion. As one of the diplomatic moves against the canal, it disapproved the use the slave labor of forced workers on the canal. The British Empire was the major global naval force and officially condemned the forced work and sent armed bedouins to start a revolt among workers. Involuntary labour on the project ceased, and the viceroy condemned the Corvée, halting the project.
Angered by the British opportunism, de Lesseps sent a letter to the British government remarking on the British lack of remorse a few years earlier when forced workers died in similar conditions building the British railway in Egypt.
Initially international opinion was skeptical and Suez Canal Company shares did not sell well overseas. Britain, the United States, Austria, and Russia did not buy any significant number of shares. All French shares were quickly sold in France