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Marketing Lessons from How Apple became the Dad’s brand and the kid’s choice 

Ah the good old days. Aged in my twenties, I must have looked like a prat lugging my arm-breaking Apple computer – simply to demonstrate I was so out (from the conventional crowd) that I was ‘in’.

Everything about Apple was different. Especially its marketing. In 1984 the brand ‘disrupted’ the American Superbowl showcasing an ad predicting armies of former independent thinkers who had turned into insipid automatons, eyes fixed and living in a dystopian ‘ Big Brother society.

As a brand, Apple encourages people to feel left behind in the peer admiration stakes.

It exploits ‘group-think’ consumer Athazagoraphobia by marketing tech which regularly redefines looks, style, power, or a combination of all three.

It clearly works. Apple is consistently cited as the richest, most influential personal tech brand of all times. According to Forbes magazine in 2023, Apple’s brand value was $145.3 billion. (Within its metrics, Forbes takes into account price-to-earnings ratios and the importance of brand within its sector).

Over four decades Apple has established itself as a grand master in the dark arts of temptation and conjuring up coveted products. Apple devotees rack up credit card payments not just for practical reasons, but perceived value based on the magician’s refrain, what you get is not all that you see. (The mind sees clearer than eyes).

Forty years of (mostly) beguiling products (Don’t mention the ‘E-Mac’)

That marketing refrain has been core for Apple; especially in the face of tough competition. For example, Samsung which has long produced components for Apple. (Some argue Samsung’s range is at as least as good, or even better than the iPhone portfolio). Then there’s the annual new kid on the block. Most recently, Huawei, which brand positions itself as an affordable, unlocked solutions provider in the US. As well as of course the ever-exasperated Microsoft.

Apple dominates a consumer tech industry where brand matters – Well that was at least until the first financial quarter of its big fortieth anniversary.

In May 2023, Apple’s 13-year run of quarterly growth fell to earth with a thump. The tech giant reported revenue down by 13%. (A share price cut of some 30% from its all-time peak only twelve months earlier).

At one point, Google’s ‘Alphabet’ Stock overtook Apple with shares touching a record high of $810.35 a piece. (Google became a division of the newly formed Alphabet in 2023).

Google came second in one of Forbe’s global brand surveys. Its brand value was $82.6 billion, representing a rise of 26 percent over 2023. (Apple’s brand value increased by only six per cent.) Microsoft came third and Facebook came fifth.

The rise and rise and dip of Apple

Before long bloggers were flaming away about lower than expected iPhone sales. Numbers were put down to cellphones becoming essential, rather than exciting. Blame was also laid at the door of Android’s wider reach. Then there was the less than ground-breaking style of the Apple Watch (generation one).

Initially Apple Music delivered a lack-lustre performance. Addressing this, in May 2023, Apple redesigned the software’s interface, adding 3D touch support for previews, enhanced content search bug fixes and better searching for lyrics. The brand was also rumoured to be looking at launching group, rather than one-off streaming ‘radio channels’ under its Beats (headphones) brand).

Endless bickering surrounded markets in China and India. In the former’s case there was even a Chinese leather goods brand taking Apple to court over the trade name ‘iPhone’).

Apple saw India as a good market to sell officially reconditioned iPhones. However, India’s government was insulted by the presumption that its people should have ‘cast-offs.”

Battles were fraught, fierce and endless…

Yet, despite it all, as we approach the much heralded Apple WWDC event in June 2023, it is interesting to note that Apple has managed to not simply to keep consumers within in its ecosystem, but traverse generations.

A Spring 2023 survey by Piper Jaffray, revealed seventy five per cent of American teens expect their next cell to be an iPhone. Fifty per cent said their next tablet would be an iPad, with a further 13% going for the iPad Mini.

“The chance to make a memory is the essence of brand marketing,”


Part of Apple’s success is its instinct to understand what makes people feel good. The brand has autos and even more intuitive apps for data dependent support in areas such as health in its sights. It is continuing work on its Xcode development tool for building IOS software, and Swift – Apple’s development language. There are also rumours of further integration of apps with operation system features. This includes Imessage (used by a billion people) blending with Siri voice recognition, as well as deeper integration of other platforms with social media.

June 2023 WWDC invitation

As I write this, ‘old skool’ style invitations are being sent from Apple for its WWDC June 2023. As with previous events, coincidental (in terms of timing) leaks of new iPhones have been doing the rounds. There are also rumours of more powerful laptops in the offing. (Such rumour mongering has long been part of Apple’s ‘hoopla’ a few weeks before events).

Whatever the future holds, knowing Apple as I have for several decades now, I confidential predict that consumers will continue to follow the brand as it eventually reaches its ‘big five-O’ and beyond; not out of duress, but through brilliant brand marketing which makes memories out of microchips.

Happy birthday Apple.

(This one’s for you Steve).

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Rise Of The Helpful Machines

The world’s most sophisticated robots don’t assemble trucks or cruise around Mars. They’re designed to support our surging population of elderly and disabled citizens. Meet 10 of the most promising senior-friendly ‘bots.


A Forklift For Humans Birthplace Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Japan Occupation Helps patients who are too weak to walk, sit, or stand on their own Why We Need It The number of Americans over age 65 will reach 71 million by 2030. RIBA (Robot for Interactive Body Assistance) is the only robot with arms designed to carry those people around. How It Works A powerful motor, plus 454 sensors embedded in RIBA’s arms, helps the robot lift and move people weighing up to 135 pounds. (Inventor Toshiharu Mukai and his colleagues aim to increase its strength next year when they test it in nursing homes in Japan.) For a comfortable ride, squishy skin made of urethane foam covers RIBA’s metallic frame. The robotic orderly can also recognize faces and voices and responds to commands such as, “RIBA, please help me off the couch.” On The Job By Next year


The Only Wheelchair with Robotic Arms Birthplace University of Pittsburgh Occupation Nurse: transports and feeds patients with spinal-cord injuries Why We Need It Today 4.3 million Americans rely on wheelchairs, yet few of those chairs are ideal for people with debilitating physical impairments, such as those of a quadriplegic. How It Works After Rory A. Cooper was partially paralyzed during a bicycle accident, he learned firsthand the limitations of conventional wheelchairs. Although he still had the use of his arms, many other paralyzed people he met did not. So he set out to build them a better chair. His Personal Mobility and Manipulation Appliance (PerMMA) features two robotic arms programmed to help users easily perform everyday tasks like cooking, dressing and shopping. Users can control the robotic arms from a touchpad, microphone or joystick, depending on their abilities. For now, each arm can support six pounds, but Cooper is designing a new arm strong enough to hold 150 pounds, pull a turkey out of the oven, or pick up a pot of spaghetti off the stove, he says. On The Job By 2023


A Plainspoken Personal Assistant for Grandma Birthplace Robosoft, France Occupation Personal assistant: reminds seniors to take their meds and calls for help if needed Why We Need It It’s a simple ‘bot for the tech-challenged How It Works Kompaï’s chief feature is its senior-friendly interface and congenial personality. Tell the Web-enabled robot you’re not feeling well, and it thoughtfully asks, a€œWhere does it hurt?a€ and then e-mails your symptoms to your doctor. Kompaï can record a grocery list, set up videoconferences with doctors, and call 911. Around the house, it avoids stairways and knows when it’s time to roll itself to its charging dock. Although it operates primarily by voice control, the robot also has a touchscreen with simple icons. Arms are optional. Robosoft CEO Vincent DupourquÃ(C) is marketing an open-source version, called RobuBox-KompaÃ, to developers, who can design their own software for the ‘bot. On The Job By Next year



A Robotic a€œTouch Therapista€ Soothes Anxiety Birthplace University of British Columbia Occupation Child Therapist Why We Need It An estimated 13 percent of kids aged 9 to 17 experience some kind of an anxiety disorder. How It Works This furry, touch-sensitive robo-bunny helps children with stress and anxiety disorders a€œtame their worry dragons,a€ says inventor Karon MacLean of the University of British Columbia. Sensors worn on the patient’s body measure signs of stress such as increased heart rate and sweaty fingertips. The Tamer wiggles to help patients recognize these changesa€”a critical step in controlling their anxiety. Pressure sensors and accelerometers inside the robot also let it respond to touch. For instance, Tamer stiffens its ears when jabbed but then softens them and begins to purr as the patient gently pets it. a€œNo one else is using touchable, emotionally expressive robots in anxiety therapy,a€ says MacLean, who began testing the robot this summer with kids who have anxiety disorders. She ultimately hopes to build an at-home version for around-the-clock comfort. On The Job By 2014


A Legally Blind Robotic Guinea Pig for Testing Artificial Eyes Birthplace California Institute of Technology Occupation Simulates the visual experience of a blind person outfitted with a retinal implant Why We Need It Most vision implants are still too crude to test on humans. How It Works Cyclops, a $20,000, four-wheeled rover, is the world’s first stand-in for the visually impaired, allowing researchers to test and refine image-processing software for prosthetic eyes on a robot instead of a person. Mounted to Cyclops’s head is a remote-controlled camera that can pivot to capture the same view as a patient with that particular prosthesis would. If the robot can’t tell the difference between a stairwell and a fireplace, researchers will know they need to refine their algorithms. On The Job By This year


A Fully Immersive Rehab Robot Birthplace University of British Columbia Occupation Rehabilitator Why We Need It Today’s physical-therapy equipment for balance requires stroke victims to have enough strength to stand on their own, but that puts them at risk of more falls and injuries. How It Works The RISER (Robot for Interactive Sensory Engagement and Rehabilitation) is the only rehab system that can simulate a wide range of unstable situations while fully supporting a patient’s body weight to help him regain his sense of balance after a stroke. Supported by a back brace, a patient stands on a Wii-board-like platform that can move in six directions. Virtual-reality goggles work in sync with the platform to guide users through different simulated activities, such as riding up an escalator or windsurfing. Patients can gradually attempt more-challenging balancing acts to speed up their recovery. The platform is also a powerful research tool in the quest to better understand the neurobiology of balance. When a patient stands on the platform and experiences a recording of his previous ride, electrodes attached to his scalp give scientists insight into how different brain regions are responding to the experience On The Job By 2023

Raven 2

A Robo-Surgeon that Does the Work of Two Doctors Birthplace University of Washington and University of California at Santa Cruz Occupation Remotely operated surgeon Why We Need It Wounded soldiers, disaster victims and people who live in rural areas are rarely within reach of top-notch surgeons and medical centers. As inventor Jacob Rosen puts it, a€œThere’s a doctor who’s done the surgery once in his lifetime standing next to you, or an expert halfway around the world. Who do you choose?a€ How It Works The Raven surgical system is the first to allow two surgeons to remotely operate together on a patient. One surgeon could sit at a console in, say, Los Angeles, watching on a computer screen as the robotic arm she’s manipulating with a joystick deftly slices into a patient lying on an operating table in North Dakota. Meanwhile, another surgeon at a console in New York wields the second set of robot arms. Rosen, a computer engineer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, designed software that allows surgeons to seamlessly operate the four arms without colliding them. On The Job By 2013


The Slinkiest Surgical Tool Birthplace Cardiorobotics and Carnegie Mellon University Occupation Surgical assistant: conducts minimally invasive heart surgery Why We Need It Heart surgery means slicing the chest, breaking the sternum, and splaying the ribs; recovery can take months. How It Works Carnegie Mellon University engineer Howie Choset’s snake-shaped surgeon is only a centimeter long and weighs less than three ounces, yet it’s packed with motors and joints that give it 102 degrees of freedom, letting it deftly wrap itself around organs and worm through intestines, bronchial tubes and other pathways used during endoscopic surgery. Its unprecedented flexibility, along with a tiny camera head, makes it easy to steer remotely using a joystick. a€œMake a quarter-inch turn one way, move an inch, make a quarter-inch turn another way, and boom!a€”you’re behind the heart,a€ says Choset, the co-founder of Cardiorobotics, Inc. In February the robot performed a diagnostic procedure on a patient who otherwise would have required a surgeon to split her breastbone, which would have tacked months onto recovery. On The Job By 2012


The Richard Simmons of Robots Birthplace National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan Occupation Workout instructor Why We Need It Exercise can help senior citizens live longer, healthier lives, but their growing ranks will soon outnumber qualified fitness instructors. How It Works This two-foot-tall robot looks more like a miniature snowman than a personal trainer, but its 26 joints make it almost as flexible as a yogi. Taizo helps lead simple movement classes in Japan, mostly from a chair for the convenience of its seated students. Among its repertoire of 30 exercises, Taizo can stretch its arms wide and bend down to touch its toes. And although the robot is in great shape, it’s not tirelessa€”after two straight hours of exercise, its batteries need recharging. Special motors allow the little guy to perform slow, methodical motions that are easy to imitate and help followers avoid muscle strain. Next month, developer General Robotix begins selling the robot’s $10,000 frame to scientists for research. On The Job By Next year

Facebook Facial Recognition: Its Quiet Rise And Dangerous Future

Features You Didn’t Know You Had

As it stands, Facebook’s current feature uses facial recognition technology to pick out faces in your photos. Once you’ve uploaded your album, Facebook will take you to a new screen where you can enter the name of each person below their face. Sometimes (depending on your privacy settings and the clarity of the photo), Facebook will go a step further: If a face matches one you previously tagged in another album, Facebook may suggest that person’s name for you. Facebook quietly added the feature to the Privacy Settings, allowing users to disable the peppy-sounding ‘Suggest photos of me to friends’ option. Most Facebook users probably don’t know that the extra privacy setting is there.

Facial recognition in a social networking context is not particularly new. Third-party app builders have been offering face detection on Facebook since chúng tôi entered the scene in 2009 with its Photo Finder app, which scanned thousands of photos to find images in which the user appears but isn’t tagged. But the difference between third-party apps and Facebook’s new recognition feature is that the former have always required participants to actively opt in to the feature, whereas at Facebook the feature is turned on by default and requires the user first to learn that it’s in use, and then to expressly opt out. Even then, Facebook’s servers don’t lose the information they’ve acquired for associating your face with your name. They just comply with your request not to use it for the time being.

Some might argue that the facial recognition tagging feature actually gives users more privacy by increasing their chances of being tagged, and in that way discovering where their image is appearing and how it’s being used. But for some, the worry is less about how friends might use your photos and more about how Facebook could use your information–and give others access to it. Even if you choose to disable the ‘Suggest photos of me to friends’ option, Facebook will still have the technical ability to connect your name with your image. And even when Facebook doesn’t suggest the name of your friend, picking out a face and asking you to tag it is essentially the same thing as offering the name of your friend, except that it enlists you as a participant in the process. “Facebook is being really clever about it […] they’re not assigning names with it, but the minute you assign a name to it you’ve completed the recognition,” says Marisol MacGregor, head of marketing at Viewdle, a company that specializes in making lightweight facial recognition technology.

Safe Now, But What’s Coming?

In the hands of smaller developers like Viewdle and Fotobounce, which keep little if any personal information on their company’s servers, face recognition could be minimally worrisome. But in the hands of Facebook, which sits on a monster database filled with dense detail about the personal lives of more than 500 million people, the technology has the potential to be creepy.

Of course, as far as we know, the company is not going any farther with its current technology than suggesting that you tag people you are already friends with in newly uploaded photos. But could Facebook ever identify people you’re not friends with and suggest that you become friends with them? “Absolutely, it would be easy to do. All that data would be on that server farm. Technically, it’s totally possible to expand that,” says Applied Recognition’s Ganong.

It’s not hard to imagine Facebook’s “Suggest photos of me to friends” privacy setting becoming “Suggest photos of me to friends of friends” and then “Suggest photos of me to others”–essentially allowing you to take photos of strangers on the street and request a friendship. No other company except Google could realistically offer a feature that tells you the name of a complete stranger you’d seen in the park or at a concert. In 2008 the company offered face recognition on Picasa, Google’s photo-sharing site, but it recently removed face-finding tech from its Google Goggles app until privacy issues could be resolved. It turns out that algorithmically finding faces is cool, but sharing faces can get scary.

Misidentification is another problem. Gil Hirsch, CEO of chúng tôi says that his company set up a very high threshold of recognition to confirm face matches on its Photo finder app. “We don’t want to send you a message saying ‘Hey Megan we found a photo of you’ and it’s not really you,” he explained. But that threshold of recognition will be different with every system, Facebook’s included. Nevertheless, better and faster algorithms are slowly whittling down the likelihood of erroneous identifications. Compared to being accurately identified to a stranger, misidentification may register as a lesser concern. Tien of EFF notes, “If Facebook misidentifies someone, the consequences are not the same as when a police video-camera misidentifies you as a suspect.” True, unless a misidentification implicates you in dubious activities. The imagination reels.

Women Rise Founder Maliha Abidi On Art, Education, And Web3

The woman’s outline is of Madam Noor Jehan, an award-winning singer and actress who made waves as the first female Pakistani film director, inspiring countless generations of women. Abidi partially eclipses Jehan in the frame, which seems fitting because although she is in the early stage of her career as an artist-activist, they share a dogged prolificacy.

In the last fifteen months, the Pakistani-American polymath and founder of Women Rise NFTs has taken the Web3 community by storm. Her collection of 10,000 portraits depict imagined women imbued with a sense of power and purpose. Although fictionalized, they’re meant to stir the imaginations of a younger generation of women. Like much of her oeuvre, the Women Rise portraits share a similar aesthetic ilk: a lively color palette, minimal shading, and graphic lines. But Women Rise is about much more than art; the collection aims to raise funds and awareness for charities such as Malala Fund and The Girl Effect. 

Since its launch in November 2023, Women Rise has ambitiously expanded from an extension of Abidi’s artistic practice to a more socially engaged platform that partners with other organizations — such as Qissa and CAMFED — which encourage women’s agency, equality, and education. What seems self-evident is, like the audience, she is hoping to inspire, Abidi reminds herself through the work what can be dreamt can also be made manifest.

We sat down with Abidi to discuss art as a vehicle for education, the importance of representation, and the need for more women in STEM.

Women Rise NFT #8496

nft now: Social justice is a huge part of your practice as an artist, author, and founder of Women Rise. What issues do you find most important?

Maliha Abidi: When it comes to causes that are close to my heart, girls’ education is, I think, at the top. Well, I tend to talk about women’s rights and girls’ education. Then connected to girls’ education, there are several other topics like mental health.

nft now: Do you find it challenging to focus on so many issues with their particular challenges?

MA: Yeah, they’re individually very big topics, but for me, they are still connected. For example, if you’re talking about women’s rights, you have to touch on girls’ education because there are 130 million girls are currently out of school. If you’re talking about girls’ education, you have to talk about the impact of period poverty. If we’re talking about that, then you need to also factor in how childbearing age plays a part in all of this. I’m not an expert on these topics, but I’m getting educated as I go. I want to use my art as a vehicle for learning and spreading what I’ve learned.

nft now: When I look at Women Rise, I see portraits of women standing in their strength and embodying a wide range of identities. What does the idea of representation mean to you?

MA: What I heard was that you should become a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer. But in Pakistan, these careers are not high-paying jobs like they are in the U.S. If a girl is being encouraged to be a doctor, it’s so she can get a good marriage proposal. In Pakistan, it’s a phenomenon called the “doctor-bride phenomenon.” Your in-laws want a relationship to take place because you’re a doctor, and that makes you more desirable, but when you get married, you’re not allowed to practice your profession because your role has changed to mother. 

That’s why I created my books — because I was seeing so many of these incredible women who are also in sports and art and educators and activists. And yes, there are doctors, but on their terms. Representation can open up that conversation within your family as well. I can say, ‘look at this amazing Pakistani woman who is a woman in sports.’ So it’s an internal dialogue as much as it’s an external one.

Women Rise NFT #3259 Women Rise NFT #4596 Women Rise NFT #6620

nft now: As you said, if you’re brought up with a dominant cultural narrative, a young woman may not even know what’s possible. As soon as you hear a story, whether it’s through art, cinema, or pop culture, that material has the potential to open up doors in a person’s imagination. What has opened up in your imagination since the inception of Women Rise?

MA: When Women Rise first launched, I remember there weren’t a lot of women-led [NFT] projects or projects representing women. I remember only a few women founders were paving the way. But I think at the time, it was also about just taking up space. There aren’t a lot of communities with people coming from my background taking up space in the crypto finance business. I wanted to create a project like Women Rise with a Pakistani team but then have a community that’s truly global [allowing us to] represent women’s rights on many different stages and different platforms.

nft now: One of your goals for Women Rise has been to encourage young women to go into STEM fields. Could you tell me about your journey into neuroscience and the challenges that you’ve faced?

MA: I’m currently not doing neuroscience anymore because each space is really demanding. Balancing art and my studies were always difficult. I was a broke student, but then I wanted to create this book, and I wanted to find time to create art too.

Somehow, I was working on the weekends at an art store to qualify for the employee discount so that I could buy the art supplies and for the book, my artwork, and train tickets so that I could then go to university five days a week. Around the same time, I opened up this side business selling chocolate-covered strawberries […] around campus. It’s always been very difficult balancing everything. 

When it comes to STEM, we need more women in those fields. How is it that less than three percent of women are getting VC funding? How is it that that number is even less for women of color?

We need to encourage women and girls from a very young age and create environments that are nurturing. When it comes to STEM, it’s one of the most difficult places to survive, and the women who have paved the way need, like, we need to constantly celebrate them. Through that celebration, we are, in a way, planting seeds so that more women can come into this space. But it’s not just the responsibility of women and girls to do that, it’s the responsibility of everybody.

Lifestyle And The Quality Of Life

A healthy person has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance within himself. Maintenance of the body to prevent illness and diseases. Physical balance is when a person can perform all the activities in his daily life without facing any difficulties. It includes strength, stamina, and flexibility of the body. The mental aspect is the most important part of a person’s overall health. It may affect the person’s thinking, behavior, and perspective positively or negatively. Most of the time, the physical aspect of health highly depends upon the mental one. Spiritual balance is when a person finds hope and meaning in his life. With time becomes humbler and seeks out peace within himself. Hence to maintain a perfect balance physically, spiritually, and mentally one must have a healthy lifestyle. The daily routine of a person is the biggest reason for his well-being. It contributes to having a better environment, longevity, and quality in their lives.

A Change for Good

Lifestyle means how people live their life. The quality of life depends upon factors like age, environment, genetics, and society. For a 60-year-old person walking is a good exercise concerning their age but for a 20-year-old person running and swimming will be more favorable for his age. The foundation of tomorrow’s health completely depends on today’s lifestyle, and it is both a short and long-term investment. Hobbies, sleeping habits, eating habits, and other choices contribute to their quality of life. To lead a joyful life, one must be able to include and exclude many good and bad habits. In the end, it comes to the choice of the people to improve their lifestyle, for which they have to sacrifice many things and change themselves for good.

Signs of a Bad Lifestyle

Many people do not take their lives and health seriously. They end up stuck in many situations that distract them from living a good quality of life. Situations like workload, stress, lack of clarity, and judging by others. The signs that display a bad quality of life: Lack of energy, lack of presence at the moment, sadness and depression, always craving for more, and being physically unfit.

Improving the Quality of Life

Small changes in the routine and including positive habits slowly help to make a greater change with time. The goals are small and achievable by the person setting them up; hence, a person must set up a short-term goal. Many such steps are creating a difference in lifestyle, which are getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, 60 -90 minutes of exercising and physical activities, change in eating habits, maintaining ideal body weight, avoiding smoking and consumption of alcohol, having an optimistic perception toward life and people, involving in family and friends, spiritual and self-improving practices and managing time wisely. Applying such practices may result in a gradual change in one’s lifestyle.

Failing in Lifestyle Change

Every process has a real and practical approach. Many people wish to change their way of living but cannot do so as they do not plan and have an impractical approach. The right way to begin the process is to know one capability. People expect results very fast, and they fail to control them. Sometimes it is found that people often make wrong decisions that lead to a lack of focus of the person. The desired attempt must be real, achievable, and time-bound. The person who appreciates the journey will go further than a person who appreciates the destination. Hence a person must enjoy every small goal he has achieved for the ultimate one. They often have high hopes for their trial. People seeking change must set it on time and keep track of every small success. Consistency plays a major role in achieving goals. If one wishes to go faster, he must go alone; if he wishes to go farther, he must have people along with him.


People must be able to identify their bad habits and change them for good. It is the way how they live their lives that decide the quality of it. Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health depends on everyday work. A man can achieve completeness if he makes small things right .hence having a good quality of life is necessary. People often do what they want instead of what they should. They must take complete responsibility for their lives. People must go towards the ultimate goal step by dividing it into many shorter ones. Instead of waiting for the saturation point for the betterment of their routine, one must always start it as soon as possible.

Apple And Samsung Spar Over ‘Massive Disclosure’ Of Leaked License Contracts

Apple and Samsung Electronics exchanged heated words in court Tuesday over allegations that Samsung’s lawyers leaked details of confidential Apple licensing agreements to Samsung executives.

Apple asked the court to impose “severe sanctions” against Samsung for the disclosures, which it says allowed the South Korean firm to gain unfair leverage in negotiations with Apple and other companies.

William Lee, an attorney for Apple, said there had been a “massive disclosure of highly confidential information” by one of Samsung’s outside law firms.

“What we’ve discovered is remarkable in scope and remarkable in the extent of the violations,” he told Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose.

Samsung’s lawyers shared the information, including terms of an Apple license contract with Nokia, with more than 200 people, according to Lee, including 90 Samsung employes and attorneys at 19 different law firms, some of which are involved in lawsuits against Apple.

“It talks about Apple’s negotiating strategy, it talks about how they view licenses. That information is now in the head of every single Samsung licensing executive. We need to come up with a remedy that will address that,” Lee said.

“We’re deeply sorry about what happened,” John Quinn, a partner with Quinn Emanuel, told the judge. “It shouldn’t have happened. But these folks are exploiting it to make the most out of it.”

The dispute has become an unexpected sideshow in a worldwide legal battle in which Apple accuses Samsung of infringing its patents and trademarks for the iPhone and iPad.

Companies keep terms of their licensing deals strictly confidential for competitive reasons. That’s especially true for Apple and Samsung, who as Lee told the court Tuesday are currently trying to negotiate an end to their worldwide legal dispute.

For now, Apple and Nokia, which has joined Apple for this part of the case, want the court to force Samsung to comply with its order to provide them information about the extent of the leaks, which they say it has failed to do.

It’s not known what sanctions or remedies Apple will seek, and Lee declined to speculate when asked outside the courtroom Tuesday. Court documents show that Apple has also complained to the U.S. International Trade Commission about the leak, according to Florian Mueller at the FOSS Patents blog, who calls the affair “Patentgate.”

For now, Apple and Nokia, which has joined Apple for this part of the case, want the court to force Samsung to comply with its order to provide them information about the extent of the leaks, which they say it has failed to do. Quinn Emanuel has essentially been investigating itself, an attorney for Nokia told the judge. “It has completely, utterly failed,” he said.

Grewal wasn’t ready to decide on the matter Tuesday. “I am not yet satisfied that sanctions are warranted in this matter,” he said. But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility either, and said he would review more documents before making his decision.

Apple provided the information to Quinn Emanuel during the discovery phase of a lawsuit in California in which Apple was awarded damages of US$1 billion against Samsung. Both parties provide such information to help calculate the damages they might be entitled to, but it’s covered by a protective court order and only outside lawyers are supposed to see it

But Quinn Emanuel acknowledges posting to an FTP server a version of the damages report that hadn’t been sufficiently redacted, or blacked out. From there, it was accessed by Samsung employees who emailed it around the company.

Things that make you say hmmmmm

The leak came to light in June during a license negotiation between Samsung and Nokia. According to testimony from Nokia’s chief intellectual property officer, a Samsung executive told him at the meeting that he knew the terms of Nokia’s licensing contract with Apple.

The Samsung executive told Nokia that Apple had produced the agreement in its litigation with Samsung, and that Samsung’s outside counsel then shared it with Samsung employees.

In written testimony this week, the Samsung executive now says he only “pretended” to have seen the contract, Lee said in court Tuesday. He also denies saying he received any information from Samsung’s law firm.

Grewal said he would have to make a “credibility determination” based on the testimony from the Nokia and Samsung executives—or basically decide who he believes.

Quinn suggested there may have been a miscommunication at the meeting, saying neither the Samsung or Nokia officials present spoke English as a first language. “Scandinavian people, in my experience, are pretty good at English, but none were native English speakers,” he said.

But what happened at the June negotiation is only part of Apple’s beef. Apple and Nokia both accuse Samsung of failing to comply with a court order to conduct discovery and provide them with emails and testimony to determine how widely Apple’s information was shared and how it was used.

Samsung appointed an e-discovery firm, Stroz Friedberg, to investigate the matter independently, but Samsung has “hijacked” the company and it is clearly working for Samsung, said an attorney for Nokia, Randall Allen of Alston & Bird.

Apple’s attorney complained that most of the emails Samsung provided it with are blacked out, and Allen said Nokia hasn’t received any information at all. “We still don’t have answers to the most basic questions,” Allen said.

He blasted Samsung for having the “temerity” to suggest it wanted to engage in its own “offensive discovery.”

“Offensive is an understatement,” the Nokia attorney said. “They don’t get it at all—they don’t get what their obligations are, they don’t get what their responsibilities are.”

Apple’s attorney, Lee, told the judge: “We came asking for judicial intervention because we didn’t feel the fox could supervise the hen house on its own.”

Quinn protested that Samsung was required to redact the documents because of the very protective order it broke in disseminating Apple’s information in the first place. It couldn’t prepare its witnesses for the same reason, he said.

Quinn said his firm acted properly when it discovered the document on the FTP server. It was discovered in 13 hours and the recipient was told to delete it without looking at it, he said. Unfortunately, Quinn said, the document was redacted improperly a second time and distributed again.

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