Overnight Tech: Supreme Court digs into patent damages

Overnight Tech: Supreme Court digs into patent damages

LEDE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday will debate when judges can award inflated payouts in patent infringement cases.

The pair of cases up for oral arguments are being closely watched by the technology industry, which relies heavily on patents and is frequently involved in litigation. The case does not deal directly with the kind of patent litigation reform being debated in Congress.

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The underlying law is unclear about which cases warrant increased patent damages, and the lower courts have come up with their own test. But petitioners say that test is too rigid and courts should be allowed to conduct a broader case-by-case review. The Obama administration has filed a brief supporting that position.

Everyone from Google, Facebook and Yahoo to Verizon and other wireless industry trade groups have filed briefs arguing the other side. They don't want the court to throw away a framework that has been in place for a decade.

MAJORITY WANTS APPLE TO UNLOCK: Fifty-one percent of people in the United States believe Apple should "unlock" the San Bernardino terror suspect's iPhone, according to a new Pew Research poll. Thirty-eight percent think Apple should not unlock the phone, while 11 percent do not know. Democratic leaning independents are least likely to say Apple should help unlock the phone.

INTERNET USAGE AROUND THE WORLD: A median of 54 percent of people in 21 emerging countries surveyed by Pew Research reported using the Internet or owning a smartphone. That is up about 9 percentage points in two years. In advanced economic countries like the United States, the median adoption rate is 87 percent.

DELAURO SAYS BETTER CHECKS NEEDED AT UBER: Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) highlighted her position, in the aftermath of a shooting spree allegedly perpetrated by an Uber driver, that ride-hailing companies need to beef up their background checks. "With rapidly expanding operations, companies like Uber have a responsibility to conduct comprehensive screenings and background checks on all employees," she said in a statement. "Though the sharing economy continues to provide a number of benefits for consumers around the country, companies must do everything they can to ensure that consumers are safe when using their services."

DeLauro led a letter sent by six House Democrats last year to Uber, Lyft and now-defunct Sidecar about background checks. Her statement on Thursday was in response to a question from The Hill about her reaction to a shooting in Kalamazoo, Mich., allegedly carried out by an Uber driver named Jason Dalton. Uber has said that its background checks couldn't have predicted Dalton's alleged behavior because he did not have a criminal record.

UBER GIVES MORE DETAILS ON DRIVER: Uber convened members of its safety team on a Monday call with reporters to address questions about Dalton. They said that he had an overall rating of 4.73 out of a possible five. He started driving in late January and, according to The Guardian, had delivered more than 100 rides to passengers since then.

COMPANY SAYS U.S. PANIC BUTTON UNLIKELY: The Washington Post has a good rundown of the company's limited interest in installing a panic button in the app for customers in the United States. The company has rolled out the feature in India -- where riders can alert Uber, the police and their loved ones if they are in an emergency situation while riding with one of the company's drivers. "In the U.S., 911 is the panic button," said Joe Sullivan, the company's chief security officer. More on the call in our story below.

ZUCK ON WHAT THEY'VE LEARNED FROM INDIA: In a Mobile World Congress keynote today, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions on the company's collision with regulators in India over the net neutrality implications of its Free Basics service. "I think what we've learned here is that every country is different," he said. He added that the company would pursue other initiatives in the country aimed at connecting underserved populations.

 

ON TAP:

At 4:30 p.m., Secretary of Commerce Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerDeVos should ‘persist’ despite liberal opposition Indiana teachers hold sit-in to demand Young recuse himself from DeVos vote Overnight Tech: Trump team eyes FCC overhaul | AT&T chief says no plans to spin off CNN in merger | Commerce pick heads to hearing MORE will appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to discuss the Commerce Department's budget request.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Officials with Uber defended its background check system on Monday, after a weekend shooting spree allegedly perpetrated by a driver for the service claimed the lives of six people.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday publicly voiced support for Apple in the fierce debate over whether the tech giant should be forced to help authorities break into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Drone users are facing the possibility of fines up to $27,500 and even jail time if they have not registered their devices with the federal government.

A group of Democratic senators is pushing legislation that would make it easier to convict people who make violent threats online.

Nevada GOP presidential caucus officials will report the results of Tuesday night's contests using pictures snapped on their smartphones -- a marked contrast to the Microsoft-built app that was used to deliver results in Iowa.

 

Please send tips and comments to David McCabe, dmccabe@thehill.com and Mario Trujillo, mtrujillo@thehill.com

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