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Nokia sues Apple for infringing technology patents | Reuters

Nokia sues Apple for infringing technology patents | Reuters

Dec 22, 2016 00:16 IST

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Finland’s Nokia Corp (NOKIA.HE) said on Wednesday it had sued Apple Inc (AAPL.O), accusing the iPhone maker of violating 32 technology patents.Apple sued Acacia Research Corp (ACTG.O) and Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc [GEGGIM.UL] on Tuesday, accusing them of colluding with Nokia to extract and extort exorbitant revenues unfairly and anticompetitively from Apple.Nokia’s lawsuits, filed in courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich, Germany and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, cover patents for displays, user interfaces, software, antennas, chipsets and video coding.

“Since agreeing a license covering some patents from the Nokia Technologies portfolio in 2011, Apple has declined subsequent offers made by Nokia to license other of its patented inventions which are used by many of Apple’s products,” Nokia said in a statement.

Apple and Acacia did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 00:16 IST

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Cricket Scores

Apples cheaper for city, sour for Kashmir growers

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sweet apples have turned sour for the growers as prices of the fruit have crashed by 50 per cent in different markets of the country. Fruit growers say fear of war and unrest in Jammu and Kashmir have severely affected the trade of apples. Since the supply of apples started from Kashmir in the last week of September, the price has come down and traders fear that the trade will suffer the most in case a war breaks out.”We will not be able to sell even a single apple if war breaks out,” said Tausik Ahmad Abasi of Abasi Traders from Baramula in Jammu and Kashmir.Last week marked 100th day of the unrest in Kashmir, which has severely affected apple trade. “This is the peak season of apple supply from Kashmir. Traders fear that the fruits will sell at an all-time low price,” said Sanjay Pansare, former director of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), Vashi.The violence in Kashmir started after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8.”Ever since Wani was killed, trade in the state has been severely affected and buyers are not coming to the state as there is huge problem of entry and exit of trucks,” said Abasi adding they have brought down the price of the apple by over 50% to sell maximum quantity to at least make recovery of investment.Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with 23 lakh people associated with this sector. More than 3.37 lakh hectares are under the fruit cultivation in Jammu and Kashmir. Of which 2.18 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of this 65 per cent comprise the apple orchards.Fruit production in Jammu and Kashmir was recorded at 24.93 lakh metric tonnes in 2015-16. Of this the valley alone produced 22.12 lakh metric tonnes.Kashmir valley is one of the largest producers of apple in the country with production touching 19.21 lakh metric tonnes in 2015-16. The apple production in 2014-15 was recorded at 11.70 lakh metric tonnes given the devastating floods of September 2014.Due to price fall, in the last one fortnight, the APMC Vashi has been receiving around 40 trucks laden with apple from Kashmir. “We are receiving around 80 trucks apple of which 40 trucks are alone form Kashmir. The quantity is enough for Mumbai and its adjoining areas daily requirement,” said Pansare.Pansare said that premium quality apple from Kashmir is available at around Rs 550 to Rs 600 per carton while last year, in the same period, the price of the same quality apple was around Rs 1200 to Rs 1400 per carton.According to Bashir Ahmad Basheer, chairman of Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, fruit growers have suffered Rs 2,000 crore loss so far this year. “The losses are only going to mount,” he said.

Decoding the basics of economics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If I say that I experience diminishing marginal utility as I eat two or three blueberry cheesecakes, I am pretty sure people would label me as crazy, or a show off, but all I am trying to say is that as I eat more cheesecakes, the satisfaction that I get steadily reduces. Now, that doesn’t sound so tough, does it? But Alfred Marshall wanted to sound really smart when he formulated the law, so you know who is to blame. There are so many terms, which need simplification so that you and I can get an idea of what’s happening in the economic world as it impacts everyone of us.1. Inflation:If your parents gave Rs.100 as pocket money for a week, you could have 10 ice candies for Rs. 10 each (100/10=10). A few years later, your pocket money continues to be Rs.100 (sadly) but the ice candy now costs Rs. 20. You could have only five ice candies for the same amount. (100/20=5). This rise in prices is inflation. If inflation keeps rising, products become costlier as the value of money falls.2. Monetary policy: Taking the same example of pocket money worth Rs.100. A few years later when you can afford only five ice candies for Rs.100, your parents realise that inflation has set in, and they might increase your pocket money to Rs.160. Now you can have eight ice candies (160/20=8). Your parents being the financial authorities of the house increased your pocket money. Similarly, the monetary authority of the country increases or decreases the supply of money based on inflation, using the monetary policy.3. Fiscal policy: Every house has a budget. Income earned is spent on food, school, electricity, movies etc. If the household spends more than the budget then they will have to cut the spending for the next month, or in worst case borrow money.Similarly, every country has a budget for every year. If the government spends more than that, then the people will have to pay more to the government, which is done by increasing taxes. Fiscal policy helps government to control spending as well as making tax policies.4. Gross domestic product (GDP): Let’s consider an imaginary nation called Economia. Every year, the citizens of this country spend money on a number of things, which are basically consumer durables like T.V, washing machines, WiFi, eating in restaurants, watching movies in multiplexes, school and college fees, services like beauty salons, doctors, teachers, banking etc. The Economian government spends on education, health and national defense of the country; it also spends on infrastructure like roads and bridges, research projects etc. Industries and businesses expand to earn more profits. Production has to happen within Economia’s geographical boundaries. Economia sells a number of things like food, technology, oil, automobiles etc. to other countries. And let’s not forget an entire population of teachers, doctors, and other professionals who become the proverbial migratory birds (Exports). At the same time it also buys products like clothing, mobile phones etc. and brings services from other countries (Imports). Subtracting Economia’s imports from its exports, consumer spending, industry investment and government spending is the total output of Economia, which is measured by the GDP. GDP could be measured once in 3 months or once in a year. It is one of the important indicators for the growth of the economy.5. Types of market:a) Monopoly: During lunchtime in most schools, food options are limited to vada pav or pav bhaji from the school canteen, as students aren’t allowed outside the school premises. This makes the school canteen a monopoly producer as no one else is allowed to do so. Similarly Apple has monopoly over Mac operating system, or the Indian government has monopoly over the Indian Railways.b) Oligopoly: If you are in the mood for black fizz, you can either have Coke, Pepsi or a Thums Up, with hardly any other options. This is an oligopoly. There exist only a few producers, or sellers in the market. Google, Apple, and Microsoft hold an oligopoly market in the world of technology and innovation.c) Monopolistic competition: If you have planned to eat lunch or dinner at the mall, but can’t choose a restaurant as so many choices are available, you can blame it on the monopolistic competition among restaurants. A market with many sellers or producers is monopolistically competitive. The sellers compete by advertising their product to be unique. Cosmetics, cars, salons etc. fall under this competition.d) Perfect competition: It’s your birthday and you are pampering yourself with an ice-cream from Gelato, and the next day, at your friend’s birthday party, you eat an ice-cream from Natural’s, but what shocks you is that the flavour options and the taste of both the brands are exactly the same. No matter which ice-cream seller you try, all the ice creams taste the same (homogenous). There are no advertisements for any ice-cream as all sellers have the same flavour options. The prices of the differently flavoured ice-creams are also the same. This is an example of a perfectly competitive market where there are many buyers and sellers, the products sold are homogenous and there is no need for advertisement. Each seller has information about the other sellers. This market does not exist in the real world, as it’s close to impossible to make homogenous products, and have the same price in the market.The question is why would economists make concepts so complicated when it can be explained in a simple, lucid manner. It can also cause ambiguity in understanding concepts, an error that can have implications at a global level.

Samsung phone recall portends Android turf war | Reuters

By Julia Love and Deborah M. Todd

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s abandonment of the Galaxy Note 7 after reports of the phones catching fire will likely touch off a turf war among Android smartphone manufacturers, analysts said, presenting them a rare opportunity to gain share but with less room for archrival Apple Inc.Consumers tend to commit to their choice between Apple’s iOS operating system for smartphones and Google’s Android, leaving Samsung’s fellow Android manufacturers such as LG Electronics and Alphabet Inc’s Google in prime position to strike. Both have newly released phones.A hardware problem is unlikely to change a customer’s preference for software systems, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “Samsung has the premium end of the smartphone market pretty much sewn up on the Android side,” he said. “This creates a slightly bigger opening.”Nevertheless, in San Francisco, prime Apple territory, some consumers were switching to the home team, and Apple stock has risen on expectations of a broader move.”Some people might have already been thinking about making the switch and now here’s their chance,” said Robin Williams, a sales associate at Sprint store on Van Ness St in San Francisco, describing some customers moving to Apple.

Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research said Apple would benefit, “but I don’t think they are going to get all of it because Apple has a single product.”Samsung announced the recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September following numerous reports of the phones catching fire. On Tuesday, the South Korean tech giant that has long dominated the premium market pulled the plug on the $882 device in what could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history.The news is a boon for Google, which last week announced a new line of Pixel smartphones, plunging the company into the hardware market that it has previously left to manufacturers such as Samsung. Samsung’s retreat will prompt consumers to take a closer look at Google’s phones.

And despite the reputational damage, Samsung will remain competitive for premium smartphone sales, analysts said. LG’s V20 smartphone will not arrive in the United States until the end of the month. Google’s Pixel phones do not ship until Oct. 20, and will only be available in the United States at Verizon.”The Pixel has limited distribution,” Tuong Nguyen, a research analyst at Gartner who saw Android companies aside from Google gaining the most from Samsung’s woes.For consumers seeking immediate replacements for the Galaxy Note 7, it may be easiest to go with another Samsung phone, said O’Donnell. “You can’t write off Samsung,” he said.

And Apple may have room to shine, especially before new Android phones arrive.At a T-Mobile store in San Francisco, salesperson Omar Arreola said some Samsung customers were so upset with the company that they switched to the iPhone 7. “They trust the brand,” he said. Brian Green, whose Note 7 caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight last week, also said he replaced his device with an iPhone. He raced to purchase the Note 7 after its release, but he said he is unlikely to be an early adopter again. “Next time I think I’ll wait and get it once it’s been around the block a few times,” he said. (Additional reporting by Rory Carroll and Malathi Nayak; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Samsung scraps Galaxy Note 7 over fire concerns | Reuters

By Se Young Lee
| SEOUL

SEOUL Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) scrapped its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone on Tuesday less than two months after its launch, dealing a huge blow to its reputation and outlook after failing to resolve safety concerns. Samsung announced the recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September following numerous reports of the phones catching fire and on Tuesday it finally pulled the plug on the $882 device in what could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history.The decision to scrap the Note 7 came after fresh reports of fires in replacement devices prompted new warnings from regulators, phone carriers and airlines.”(We) have decided to halt production and sales of the Galaxy Note 7 in order to consider our consumers’ safety first and foremost,” the South Korean firm said in a filing to the Seoul stock exchange.Samsung said earlier it asked all global carriers to stop sales of the Note 7s and the exchange of original devices for replacements, while it worked with regulators to investigate the problem. The company is offering to exchange Note 7s for other products or refund them. Samsung’s decision to pull Note 7s off the shelves not only raises fresh doubts about the firm’s quality control but could result in huge financial and reputational costs.Analysts say a permanent end to Note 7 sales could cost Samsung up to $17 billion and tarnish its other phone products in the minds of consumers and carriers. Investors wiped nearly $20 billion off Samsung Electronics’ market value on Tuesday as its shares closed down 8 percent, their biggest daily percentage decline since 2008. “This is the first time that I have seen a product recall go this badly wrong,” financial analyst Richard Windsor said in a note to clients. “When it comes to the damage that it will do to Samsung’s brand, we are in uncharted territory”.The premium device, launched in August, was supposed to compete with Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) latest iPhone for supremacy in the smartphone market. Well received by critics, its first problem was a shortage as pre-orders overwhelmed supply.But within days of the launch images of charred Note 7s began appearing on social media, in the first sign that something was seriously amiss with the gadget.

FILLING THE VOID
Samsung, the world’s top maker of smartphones had nearly twice the global market share of Apple at mid-year, having shipped 77.6 million phones in the second quarter alone, said Neil Mawston, an analyst at research firm Strategy Analytics.The South Korean company was counting on the Note 7 to replace its previous flagship model, the Note 5, which had sold around 15 million units over the four quarters ended in June, according to Strategy Analytics data. Instead, Samsung will be forced to count on existing models such as its Galaxy S7 edge, which has a slightly smaller screen but is also slightly less expensive.The void left by the demise of Samsung’s flagship phone leaves the door open to rivals like Apple, which last month introduced its latest iPhone 7 line and Google (GOOGL.O), which is set to launch its new Pixel phone later this month.

However, the most likely beneficiaries are other high-volume Asia-based makers of premium-priced phones based on Google’s Android operating system, Mawston said.”The gap is likely to be filled by rivals including Apple and Google Pixel, although probably Oppo, Vivo, LG Electronics (066570.KS) and Sony (6758.T) stand to benefit the most,” Mawston said.Oppo and Vivo are distinct smartphone brands owned by privately held Chinese electronics giant BBK Electronic corp., while the other rivals are classic global rivals of Samsung.CAUSE UNKNOWN
The South Korean firm did not comment on whether it had identified the cause of the fires in the replacement devices, although officials in Seoul said it was looking at several possibilities including the batteries.

“It is more difficult to analyze the cause of the accidents this time because of various patterns of the accidents,” an official with the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, which met with Samsung and experts on Monday, told Reuters. China’s quality watchdog said Samsung would recall all 190,984 Note 7s sold in the mainland. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Samsung was making the right decision by halting sales and exchanges of the device.”No one should have to be concerned their phone will endanger them, their family or their property,” CPSC Chairman Elliott Kaye said in a statement. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and South Korea’s transport ministry added their voices to concerns from the aviation industry, saying no Note 7s should be used or charged inside airplanes.Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N), the largest U.S. wireless carrier, said it may shift marketing away from the Note 7 heading into the critical holiday selling season.”We have the new iPhone, we’re about to launch the new Google Pixel, which is exclusive to us. We’ve got great phones from Motorola as well,” Verizon spokeswoman Kelly Crummey said. “I think you’ll see our marketing focused on those devices because there is certainty on those at this time.” (Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt, Deborah Todd in New York, Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Alexandra Hudson)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

GSAT-18 launch delayed by 24 hours due to unfavourable weather condition

Chennai: The liftoff of Ariane 5 rocket with Indian satellite GSAT-18 has been postponed to 6 October due to unfavourable weather conditions, said Arianespace.

According to the French company Arianespace, the rocket launch has been delayed by 24 hours.

The rocket is expected to liftoff between 2 am and 3.15 am from Kourou (French Guiana) on 6 October.

The launch of the Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou (French Guiana) was scheduled to take place between 2 a.m. and 3.15 a.m. (India Time) on Wednesday.

GSAT-18 Spacecraft undergoing test at ISITE Bengaluru. ISRO websiteGSAT-18 Spacecraft undergoing test at ISITE Bengaluru. ISRO website

GSAT-18 Spacecraft undergoing test at ISITE Bengaluru. ISRO website

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), GSAT-18 is the country’s latest communication satellite with 48 transponders that receive and transmit communication signals.

The 3,404 kg satellite will provide services in normal C-band, upper extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum.

The satellite carries Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.

Its designed in-orbit operational life is about 15 years.

For Arianespace, this will be its eighth launch mission this year.

Apart from the Indian communication satellite, the Ariane 5 rocket will be carrying Australian Sky Muster II satellite.

According to Arianespace, GSAT-18 will be the 20th satellite from ISRO to be launched by it.

Since the launch of the Apple experimental satellite on Flight L03 in 1981, Arianespace has orbited 19 Indian satellites, winning 86 per cent of the geostationary orbit launch contracts that the country has opened to non-Indian launch systems.

Built by ISRO, GSAT 18 will provide telecommunications services for India, strengthening ISRO’s current fleet of 14 operational telecom satellites.

This Ariane 5 flight will be the 280th mission by the Arianespace launcher family.

CBI finalises chargesheet against Virbhadra Singh; Rs 10 crore DA allegedly found

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CBI has finalised its chargesheet in the disproportionate assets case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his family members after its probe found that Rs 10 crore of ill-gotten assets were allegedly amassed during his stint as the Union Minister. CBI, which had registered an FIR last year to probe allegations that Singh had allegedly amassed over Rs six crore of disproportionate assets, has concluded that the figure is around Rs 10 crore, the agency sources claimed on Monday.The agency had initiated an inquiry alleging that as Union Minister during 2009-2012 (UPA rule), Singh had accumulated disproportionate assets worth Rs 6.03 crore (approx) in his family members’ name, CBI had said. The allegations have been strongly refuted by Singh.The findings of an year-long probe, which is almost complete, alleges that a complex web of investments, unsecured loans, property and share purchase besides false claims of agriculture income were used to camouflage the assets which were disproportionate to known sources of his income, CBI sources said. They said the agency will soon move Delhi High Court seeking permission to file the charge sheet in the matter.A detailed forensic analysis of documents and cyber forensic analysis of the computers of Singh’s associates shows an alleged conspiracy in which money was purportedly routed through a complex web of shell companies into real estate investments as well, the sources claimed. The FIR had named Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh, LIC agent Anand Chauhan and Chunni Lal Chauhan. The allegations have been refuted by Singh.In a statement, the CBI spokesperson had said it was further alleged that Singh had invested his unaccounted income in LIC policies in his name and in the name of his wife and other family members through a private person by showing the same as agricultural income.The CBI claimed an MoU was signed between Singh and Chauhan on June 15, 2008 for maintenance of an apple orchard for three years. Chauhan had deposited Rs 5 crore (approx) in his own bank account and debited the same through cheques for purchasing various LIC policies in their names, CBI had alleged in FIR. CBI now claims that Singh’s wife Pratibha had given the money in cash to Chauhan to be invested in 11 LIC policies. Over eight policies worth Rs 4.4 crore matured from which a property was purchased in Greater Kailash worth over Rs five crore, the sources said.Another associate of Singh, V Chandrasekhar, had provided Rs 80 lakh in the property purchase, CBI has now alleged. The probe has found that the MoU was back dated through forgery in the stamp paper after they came to know about CBI probe into their assets, the sources claimed. They said the investigations show that stamp papers which were used in the MoU were not even printed in 2008 besides the forensic analysis of stamp register shows that name of Anand Chauhan was inserted by overwriting on the stamp purchase register.It was alleged in the FIR that Singh attempted to legitimise the same as agricultural income by filing revised Income Tax Returns in 2012 showing an increment from Rs 45 lakh, claimed in the ITRs of 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12, to Rs 5.1 core in the revised Returns as earned from sale of apples from Srikhand Orchards to United Apple Associates, Pawanoo. The probe has now found that the purported claims of Rs 5.1 crore being agriculture income from the sale of apples grown in Srikhand Orchard in Palampur was also false, the CBI sources alleged.The agency got the orchard examined by experts of Indian Agriculture Research Institute who in their report said it could not have produced apples worth Rs 5 crore which were mentioned in the revised income tax returns of Singh, the sources claimed.The IARI in its report said that 75 per cent of the trees in the orchard could not have started production in 2008. It also said that 1700 plants were planted within five to six years and the orchard could not have produced apples worth Rs 5.1 crore as claimed in the ITRs of Singh, the sources said. The forensic examinations of computers seized from United Apple Associates that accounts were allegedly tampered in 2013-14 to show the backdated payments of the apples, they said, adding that that examination also showed that payments were made for transport vehicles which were either two-wheeler or non-existent.The sources claimed that probe has found that Pratibha was an active participant in the routing of allegedly illicit assets. It is alleged in the probe that she allegedly gave Rs 98 lakh in cash to businessman V Chandrasekhar for showing investment in his company Tarini Infrastructure. It is alleged that the businessman got prepared demand drafts from three shell companies for showing purchase of shares worth Rs 98 lakh by them in his company.Another element is purchase of a farm house worth Rs 1.2 crore by the son of the chief minister in Dera Mandi area here in 2011. To facilitate the purchase, Rs 90 lakh were allegedly transferred from Chandrasekhar to Singh while Rs 30 lakh were allegedly routed through a shell company, the sources said. The agency has found that the farm house which Vikramaditya Singh was claiming to be mere agriculture land with boundary was was actually a furnished farm house with a swimming pool and out house, they said. The sources also claimed that in her statement the woman who sold it in in 2008 to one Picheshwar Gade, from whom Singh had purchased in the property in 2011, had claimed that she had sold it for Rs 3.90 crore. They said it shows that property was undervalued for at least Rs 2.7 crore to hide alleged disproportionate assets as property price was reduced by same amount for deal which took place three years later. The sources said they have also found that Rs 3.90 crore were transferred from Chandrasekhar to Singh as “unsecured loan” for the repair of ancestral palace but the immediately investments were made in Fixed Deposits, immovable properties.They said when asked about source of Rs 3.90 crore, Chandrasekhar had claimed that he earned through chilli and grain trade but these claims have allegedly found to be false. It has emerged in the probe sale receipts were actually created on his own computers. Besides, the persons whom he claimed he entered in business reportedly refused to acknowledge any such business dealing with him.

PMLA case: More people called to join probe in Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh’s case, says ED

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More people have been summoned to join the investigation in a money laundering case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) told a special court on Monday. Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar was informed by the agency that the probe is still going on in the case, after which court allowed the ED’s plea and extended accused Anand Chauhan’s judicial custody till September 3.Advocate N K Matta, appearing for the agency, told the court that ED has summoned four more people to join the probe and presence of Chauhan, who is currently in judicial custody, was required in the matter. However, the advocate did not disclose the names of the people called to join the probe.Chauhan was arrested from Chandigarh on July 9 under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as he was allegedly not cooperating with investigating officer of the case. ED had claimed in the court that during Chauhan’s interrogation, it was revealed that as an LIC agent, he had entered into a modus operandi to launder disproportionate assets by investing in LIC policies. The agency had submitted that Singh, “while serving as Union minister, invested huge amount in purchasing LIC policies in his own name and his family members through Chauhan.””Further, Virbhadra Singh, while functioning as Union minister during the period from May 28, 2009, to June 26, 2012, acquired assets, disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of Rs 6,03,70,782 and further tried to justify the same in the form of agricultural income. Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh, Chauhan, with whom Virbhadra Singh has signed the alleged MoU for managing his apple orchard and Chunni Lal Chauhan, proprietor of M/s Universal Apple Associates, who purportedly showed purchase of apple of Shrikhand Orchard, have facilitated in justifying the disproportionate assets of Virbhadra Singh and thereby abetted the offence,” the ED had alleged.

dna Morning Must Reads: Exclusive on Kumble-Laxman business partnership; 7th Pay Commission; and more

1. Exclusive: Laxman selected Kumble as coach while being shareholder in his firm Documents reveal that VVS Laxman, who was part of the committee that selected Anil Kumble as Team India’s coach, is the second biggest shareholder in Kumble’s company Tenvic Sports Education Private Ltd. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Member who blocked India’s entry into NSG must be held accountable, says USA week after India failed to get entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) due to China-led opposition, the US today said one country can break consensus in the atomic trading bloc and insisted that such member should be held accountable. Read more here3. 7th Pay Commission will drain exchequer of Rs 1 lakh crore but boost private consumption demand and economic activityIt may be one of the lowest pay hikes for the Central government staff and pensioners in the last few decades, but the overall 23.55% increment in their salaries, allowances and pensions resulting from the clearance of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday would cost the government a whopping Rs 1.02 lakh crore. Read more here4. Apple is being sued for $10 billion for stealing the iPhone’s designAn American by the name of Thomas S Ross filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc two days ago, claiming the company copied designs for his (Electronic reading Device) for their iPhone. Read more here5. Parineeti Chopra-Sushant Singh Rajput’s doosra?It will most likely be a busy year for Parineeti Chopra, who will sign four films this year, which includes director Homi Adajania’s next, starring Sushant Singh Rajput. The two actors were last seen together in 2013’s Shuddh Desi Romance. Read more here

India opens the door for Apple retail with new FDI rules | Reuters

MUMBAI Apple Inc (AAPL.O) could open its first stores in India and might eventually start manufacturing in the country under new foreign investment rules for retailers outlined on Monday.

The new rules exempt foreign retailers for three years from a requirement to source 30 percent of the goods sold in company-owned stores locally.

That would allow Apple, which currently sells its iPhones, iMacs and iPads through resellers, to set up its own shops in India, ending months of uncertainty for the California-based company that had first applied for store licenses in January.

India is the world’s fastest growing large smartphone market with sales expected to rise over 25 percent this year.

For Apple, which has less than a two percent share in the smartphone market in the country, gaining a bigger footprint in India is crucial at a time when growth in China and the U.S. has stalled.

The announcement was part of a sweeping reform of rules on foreign direct investment, which also opened up the defence and civil aviation sectors to full foreign ownership.

The retail rule changes are also likely to help Swedish furniture-retailer IKEA [IKEA.UL], which is setting up stores in Hyderabad and Mumbai, to expand operations.

Apple had sought to get around the sourcing rules by citing a clause that exempted retailers of “cutting edge” technology from the requirements, however sources had told Reuters that some government officials had quibbled over whether Apple products met that criteria.

The new directive paves the way for Apple to resubmit its application and rapidly start retail stores in India. It can also seek an additional exemption for five years if it convinces the government its products meet the “cutting edge” criteria.

Analysts said opening the door for Apple retail could also lead to Apple looking favorably on India as a manufacturing destination.

“The government hopes that if they can show them that is the market where consumers are Apple will be more willing to start manufacturing operations here,” said Neil Shah, an analyst at Counterpoint Research.

India has been lobbying Apple and its partner Foxconn (2354.TW) to begin manufacturing in the country as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s agenda to bring in foreign manufacturers to India to create millions of jobs.

The announcement comes a month after Apple boss Tim Cook met Modi to discuss Apple’s plans for retail and manufacturing in India as part of his first-ever trip to the country.

(Reporting by Himank Sharma, additional reporting by Manoj Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Euan Rocha)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Days after RBI chief Rajan steps down, India eases foreign investment rules | Reuters

NEW DELHI India announced on Monday sweeping reforms to rules on foreign direct investment, clearing the way for Apple to open stores in the country and announcing easier terms for investors in sectors ranging from civil aviation to pharmaceuticals.

The move comes two days after central bank governor Raghuram Rajan, a darling of financial markets but under pressure from political opponents at home, announced he would not seek another term, a surprise move that raised concerns about whether reforms he set in motion would stall.

“These changes are fairly significant, particularly if you look at them in the context of what happened over the weekend with Governor Rajan’s decision to step down,” said Shilan Shah, India economist at Capital Economics in Singapore.

“It might be the government’s way to illustrate its commitment to reforms and mitigate any investor fallout.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the changes to foreign direct investment (FDI) rules, tweeting they would make India “the most open economy in the world for FDI” and provide a “major impetus to employment and job creation”.

Modi, 65, has pitched to global business to come and “Make in India” since winning power two years ago. His government has touted a 29 percent rise in FDI to $40 billion in the fiscal year to March as proof the policies are gaining traction.

Yet, with India ranking 130th in the World Bank’s latest Ease of Doing Business index, multinationals remain cautious amid lingering concerns about bureaucratic red tape and unpredictable tax officials.

The last time Modi loosened FDI rules was after his nationalist party suffered a heavy defeat in a state election last autumn.

Some companies welcomed the news, but others and industry analysts said changes in several industries appeared limited and the headline-grabbing announcement was more about seeking to wrest back control of the economic narrative.

For example, while the new rules allow 100 percent FDI in civil aviation, investment by foreign airlines in domestic carriers remains capped at 49 percent.

Another new rule allows foreign companies to invest up to 74 percent in ‘brownfield’, or existing, pharmaceuticals projects without government approval. But previous rules allowed 100 percent foreign ownership if government approval was obtained, and analysts doubted the change would have a big impact.

BENEFICIARIES

The new rules, however, do offer relief for single-brand retailers such as Apple and furniture giant IKEA that are finding it tough to meet India’s requirement for them to sell at least 30 percent locally sourced goods.

CEO Tim Cook visited India last month on a mission to expand Apple’s presence in the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, at a time when sales in the United States and China have slowed.

Under the relaxed norms, Apple would have three years to meet the sourcing rules with an extension of another five years if its products are judged “state-of-art” and “cutting edge”.

The new regime also seeks to attract defence contractors hitherto reluctant to transfer technology to India. They would be able to own local operations outright, with government approval, up from a cap of 49 percent previously – although again some industry sources said this did not mark a big change.

Saab, the Swedish defence and aerospace company that recently re-pitched its Gripen fighter jet to the Indian Air Force, welcomed the announcement.

“We think this is a very good move and this decision by the government only encourages us to start our business in India,” said Robert Hewson, Saab’s Asia-Pacific head of communications.

(Additional reporting by Aditi Shah, Rupam Jain; Writing by Douglas Busvine and Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Mark Potter)

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Has the Modi govt’s big bang FDI reforms announcement shut his critics?

New Delhi: Did the Modi government time liberalisation of FDI caps across crucial sectors to lessen the impact of some other developments over the weekend? Namely, has the decision of the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan to call it quits in September and not accept a second term played the part in today’s crucial FDI-related announcement? Analysts had been issuing dire warnings of a complete bloodbath in the equity and currency markets this morning, the first trading day after the Rajan bombshell. But some sensible decisions by the equity market players and then the FDI announcement queered the pitch. It is all about timing, surely.

Prime minister Narendra ModiPrime minister Narendra Modi

Prime minister Narendra Modi

That the government was keen to ease FDI caps across some sectors was known for some time but there was not even a whisper in the corridors of power about the wide sweep this reform would take. With one fell swoop, the Modi government seems to have shut up critics who carped on the lack of big bang reforms. This is as big a bang as it gets.

The Civil Aviation industry was one of the most surprised with the government’s largesse, since just last week it had seen the unveiling of the Civil Aviation Policy which quietly removed any reference to a hike in FDI caps for airlines, something that was very much a part of the policy draft. Sources in the know said there had been enough indications that FDI would be liberalised but the government did not want it to become part of the civil aviation policy document.

Though Prime Minister Modi held a crucial meeting of his top ministers this morning where the FDI decisions were taken, no one really had an inkling about the issues the ministers had deliberated upon. Commerce Minister Nirmala Seetharaman was running late for a pre-scheduled interaction with journalists at the Indian Women’s Press Corps this afternoon. When asked what held her up, the minister said that the Prime Minister was holding a meeting.

“He seeks views on different subjects” she said almost in a whisper when pressed further. When asked specifically about her reaction to governor Rajan’s exit and then her views on government planning to relax sourcing norms for Apple, she wisely parried. Seetharaman had just finished her interaction when the FDI announcement was made through a government press release.

Among the most significant changes to the FDI regime announced today is a relaxation in sourcing norms for single brand stores, which means Apple can breathe easy. Niti Ayong CEO Amitabh Kant said in a chat with CNBC-TV18 that Apple now will not have to comply with local sourcing norms for three years and then five more years, giving it an 8-year window. He said the phone maker need not apply afresh and its existing application will be considered for allowing relaxed local sourcing norms.

Here are the FDI announcements and their possible implications:

1) Single brand retail: Relaxed local sourcing norms up to three years and a relaxed sourcing regime for another five years for entities undertaking Single Brand Retail Trading of products having ‘state-of-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ technology. Apple suits this definition to the T, therefore making it the biggest beneficiary of this liberalisation. Kant said that there was a clear definition of what comprised ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘cutting edge’ as a committee of Niti Ayog officials had specified these parameters. This should encourage local sourcing of high tech stuff in India.

2) Defence: Presently 49 percent FDI participation in the equity of a defence company under automatic route is allowed; FDI above 49% is permitted through government approval on case to case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern and ‘state-of-the-art’ technology in the country. But now, foreign investment beyond 49 percent has been permitted through government approval route, in cases resulting in access to modern technology and the condition of access to ‘state-of-the-art’ technology has been done away with. This should encourage local defence manufacturing and increased supplies of locally manufactured goods to the government. Since the government still retains control over FDI beyond 49 percent by approval, it means local manufacturers of defence equipment need not worry, their interests would be protected as well.

3) Civil Aviation: 100 percent FDI under automatic route permitted in brownfield airport projects. For airlines, 100 percent FDI allowed now with FDI up to 49 percent permitted under the automatic route and beyond 49 percent through government approval. However, foreign airlines would continue to be allowed to invest in capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air-transport services up to 49 percent of their paid up capital only.

On the face of it, it seems the government had left foreign airlines drooling over the prospect of owning Indian carriers but it is possible that by teaming up with sovereign funds or other investment arms of their own countries, foreign airlines are able to buy up a substantial chunk of an Indian airline or even an entire airline. If this happens, existing Indian airlines will have a chance to sell out in case the promoters want an exit, while it could also lead to powerful global airlines arriving in India to either setup an airline from scratch or buy out/partner an existing airline.

4) Pharma: Already, 100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in greenfield pharma and up to 100 percent under government approval in brownfield pharma companies. Now, up to 74% under the automatic route will be allowed in brownfield pharmaceuticals. This could increase investments in India’s pharma sector.

FDI caps have also been eased in food products made in India, broadcasting carriage services, private security agencies and animal husbandry sectors. The official release said measures undertaken by the government till now have resulted in increased FDI inflows at $55.46 billion in 2015-16 from $36.04 billion during 2013-14. This is the highest ever FDI inflow for a particular financial year. Will the latest move, liberalising the caps in nine sectors in all, raise this figure substantially for FY17? This remains to be seen.

India discussing Apple’s request for FDI rules waiver, Nirmala Sitharaman says | Reuters

NEW DELHI The Indian government on Monday said it was discussing Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) foreign direct investment application that seeks a waiver from a local sourcing rule.

Nirmala Sitharaman, commerce and industry minister in the cabinet, told reporters her ministry would discuss the issue with the finance ministry.

The finance ministry’s foreign investment promotion board (FIPB), which clears foreign direct investment applications, has asked the iPhone maker to sell at least 30 percent locally sourced goods if it wished to open shops in India.

Apple hopes to expand its retail presence in India, one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets, at a time when sales in the United States and China have slowed.

India last year exempted foreign retailers selling “state of the art” or “cutting edge technology” from the sourcing rule, which states that 30 percent of the value of goods sold in a shop should be made in India.

A panel set up by Sitharaman’s ministry had favoured waiving the sourcing requirement for the U.S.-based phone-maker.

But a government official, with direct knowledge of the FIPB decision, said Apple’s request was turned down as it failed to provide any material “on record” to back it.

“We took a line that we wouldn’t mind waiving off the local sourcing norm for Apple’s high-end products,” said Sitharaman.

“(The) finance ministry has taken a different line. We will talk to them.”

The FIPB decision is a setback for Apple, whose chief executive Tim Cook met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about a week ago. The trip was supposed to set the stage for the U.S.-based company’s expansion in India.

Sitharaman said she was not in favour of relaxing rules for Apple to sell refurbished second-hand phones in India.

(Writing by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Douglas Busvine, Robert Birsel)

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Cook reaches milestone as England win to clinch series | Reuters

DURHAM, England Alastair Cook became the first Englishman to reach 10,000 test runs before leading his team to an emphatic nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second test on Monday to wrap up the series.

Cook scored 47 not out as England eased to their target of 79 after Dinesh Chandimal made a fine century to lift Sri Lanka to 475 in their second innings on the fourth day.

Having been bowled out for 101 first time round, however, the tourists only delayed the inevitable and England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series with a day to spare.

“It’s a very special moment for me, but the game is not about personal milestones, it’s about winning games and scoring runs to do that,” Cook said.

“But it’s a real special day and it’s great that my family are here to see me do it.”

Sri Lanka had resumed on 309 for five and England’s only success in the morning session was the dismissal of Milinda Siriwardana for 35, well caught by Alex Hales at third slip off James Anderson to end a sixth-wicket partnership of 92.

Anderson found the inside edge of Chandimal’s bat when the right-hander was on 69 but wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow spilled a simple chance and the 26-year-old took full advantage, reaching his sixth test hundred with a thick outside edge for four off Chris Woakes.

He received excellent support from Rangana Herath in a seventh-wicket stand of 116, Herath making a breezy 61 before he was trapped lbw by Anderson, the England fast bowler’s 450th test victim.

Anderson bowled Shaminda Eranga for one to complete another five-wicket haul and Stuart Broad ended Chandimal’s defiant knock on 126 with a clever slower ball that clipped the top of his off stump.

Suranga Lakmal was the last man out, skying a catch to Broad off Woakes.

Cook, needing five runs to get to 10,000, clipped Nuwan Pradeep to the mid-wicket boundary to reach the milestone before raising his bat to all corners of a sparsely-populated ground.

Hales was bowled by spinner Siriwardana for 11 but Cook calmly completed the job with Nick Compton, who finished unbeaten on 22 as he battles to retain his place at number three in the order.

“Broad and Anderson are world-class bowlers and you’ve got to show a lot of skill to handle them,” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said.

“It’s just the Sri Lankan fight that we’ve lost in the past couple of weeks and we’re looking to bring back. There were lots of positives in the last couple of days, Chandimal and Herath showed a lot of character.”

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Tony Jimenez and Ken Ferris)

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Apple CEO Tim Cook meets Modi, launches updated version of PM’s mobile app

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday met Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook and launched an updated version of the ‘Narendra Modi mobile app’.”I am delighted to share that Mr. Tim Cook launched an updated version of the ‘Narendra modi mobile app’. Thank you Mr. Cook. This updated version contains a new volunteering network on the App,” the Prime Minister tweeted.Calling on the citizens to take at look at the new features called ‘my network’ in the app, he said that it empowers people to contribute on ‘lively and enriching forums’ where they can share their ideas and deliberate with others.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tim Cook, who landed in India this week, said the company would establish a Design and Development Accelerator in Bengaluru, the home of India’s startup scene. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday lauded Apple CEO Tim Cook’s long-term commitment to India and called for working in collaboration for growth and business opportunities.”Since he has made a public statement that his commitment to India is going to be of 1000 years, I also take this opportunity publicly to compliment the CEO of Apple (Tim Cook) who is in India for his public commitment for the attachment with India.”We need to work together for growth manufacturing investment and value addition,” Prasad said at an Assocham event.(With ANI inputs)

Apple opens development centre in Hyderabad for maps

Hyderabad:  Tech giant Apple on Thursday announced the opening of a new office in Hyderabad that will focus on development of Maps for Apple products like iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. This investment will accelerate Maps development and create up to 4,000 jobs.

Apple CEO Tim Cook. ReutersApple CEO Tim Cook. Reuters

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Reuters

“Apple is focused on making the best products and services in the world and we are thrilled to open this new office in Hyderabad which will focus on Maps development,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO, who is visiting India.

“The talent here in the local area is incredible and we are looking forward to expanding our relationships and introducing more universities and partners to our platforms as we scale our operations,” he added.

On Wednesday, Apple revealed plans for an iOS app design and development facility in Bengaluru.

Apple has been continually updating and adding new features to Maps, including 3D views, the Flyover feature and tools to help customers find convenient places to shop, eat and explore nearby areas.

With iOS 9 Apple added Transit, offering a combination of trains, subways, buses and walking, which is already available for more than 300 cities around the world.

The new facility, located on the Waverock campus here, will provide a world-class, LEED-certified home for the expanding Maps team.

“We are honoured Apple chose Hyderabad as a home for its Maps development office,” said Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

“This will create thousands of jobs here and is a testament to our proactive approach, quality infrastructure and the excellent talent base we have in the region.”

“Apple is one of the most innovative companies in the world and we are very proud they chose us to partner with for this important project,” said RMSI CEO Anup Jindal.

“We are experts in geospatial data and we will be hiring thousands of people from the local area to support this effort.”

Across India, Apple supports over 640,000 iOS app developer jobs and other positions related to the iOS ecosystem.

Apple loses China trademark case for iPhone on leather goods | Reuters

BEIJING Apple Inc has lost a battle for the use of the “iPhone” trademark on leather goods in China after a Beijing court ruled against the world’s biggest technology company in favour of a local firm, state media reported.

The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court said Xintong Tiandi can continue to use the phrase “iPhone” on its leather goods, according to the Legal Daily, the official newspaper of China’s Justice Ministry.

In a statement, Apple said it was disappointed with the ruling. “We intend to request a retrial with the Supreme People’s Court and will continue to vigorously protect our trademark rights,” the company said.

The U.S. tech company has repeatedly found itself tangled in intellectual property disputes in China where the sheer number of companies means trademarks are often taken by little-known players.

Some enterprising firms are quick to snap up trademarks that are known overseas but not registered locally, in the hope of a pay-off down the line.

In 2002, Apple applied for the “iPhone” trademark for computer hardware and software in China, but that was only approved in 2013.

Xintong Tiandi created its trademark for leather goods in 2007, the first year Apple’s iPhone went on sale. The U.S. firm has been disputing the Chinese firm’s intellectual property rights since 2012.

The Beijing court dismissed Apple’s appeal, saying the U.S. firm could not prove the “iPhone” brand was well-known in China before 2009, when it first started selling the handsets on the mainland.

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to end a protracted legal dispute over the iPad trademark in China, which had hampered some sales and delayed the introduction of a new iPad in the country.

Apple has been facing tougher times in Greater China – its second-largest market.

Last week, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn said he had sold his entire stake in the firm. He cited risks to the stock because of the economic slowdown in the People’s Republic and worries about how the country could become more prohibitive in doing business.

(Reporting by Paul Carsten; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Hong Kong and Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Ryan Woo and Alistair Bell)

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Amid talk of ‘peak iPhone’, Apple’s prospects hinge on next model | Reuters

Ask Siri if iPhone 7 will be the answer to Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) problems, and you’re told that a visit to Apple’s website should answer that question “and more”.

If only it was that easy.

Apple’s shares closed down 6.3 percent at $97.82 on Wednesday, wiping off about $36 billion in market value, a day after the company reported its first-ever fall in smartphone sales, arousing talk of “peak iPhone”.

For many analysts, the company’s immediate future rests with iPhone 7, which Apple is expected to launch in September.

“If iPhone 7 doesn’t surprise with meaningful new useful features, we worry that consumers won’t upgrade,” Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a note to clients.

“And unfortunately, nothing that we’ve seen about iPhone 7 thus far strikes us as particularly innovative,” said Schachter, who cut his price target to $112 from $117 while maintaining his “outperform” rating on the stock.

The iPhone 7 is expected to sport a new look with features such as waterproofing, wireless headphones and force touch as the home button.

But many wonder if that will be enough to entice users to dump their existing iPhones or switch from the Android-based phones that have come to dominate the smartphone market.

Goldman Sachs removed Apple from its conviction list after Apple’s results and said it expected the company’s shares to remain weak until the market gets more comfortable with the prospects for iPhone 7.

Goldman was among at least 16 brokerages that cut price outlooks on Apple’s stock, cutting its target to $136 from $155 while retaining a “buy” rating.

Of the 46 analysts covering the stock, 36 rate it “buy” or “strong buy” or the equivalent. The median price target is $121, according to Reuters data.

Apple usually launches new iPhones in September and sells the most devices in the December quarter.

Unit sales typically drop over the next few quarters, picking up after the next iPhone launch.

NEARLY $200 BILLION WIPED OUT

Along with the weaker-than-expected iPhone sales, Apple reported its first drop in revenue in a decade. Sales in China, the company’s most important market after the United States, fell 26 percent.

Apple also forecast another disappointing quarter for sales.

The bad news overshadowed strong results from the company’s growing service business and an increase in share buybacks.

As of Wednesday’s close, nearly $200 billion has been wiped off the value of the world’s most valuable listed company over the past year – almost the equivalent of the market cap of Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), the world’s biggest retailer. The stock last closed below $100 in February.

Apple’s disappointing results fit a recent pattern for tech companies. Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Google parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) came up short of expectations.

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster said that while there were few bright spots in Apple’s report, he believed Apple’s shares would rebound in 2016 as iPhone sales start to grow again in the fourth quarter.

Still, there was a bigger question about the iPhone’s longer-term growth and other factors that can drive revenue, he wrote. “That question remains unanswered after the March report.”

(Reporting by Tenzin Pema and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Subrat Patnaik; Editing by Ted Kerr and Robin Paxton)

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U.S. drops New York fight with Apple after gaining access to iPhone | Reuters

NEW YORK The U.S. Justice Department on Friday dropped its effort to force Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to help unlock an iPhone in a drug case in New York after someone provided authorities the passcode to access the device.

In a letter filed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, prosecutors said that investigators late on Thursday used that passcode to access the iPhone at issue, and as a result “no longer needs Apple’s assistance.”

The letter marked a sudden end to a closely watched case, in which the Justice Department had been appealing a ruling by a federal magistrate judge holding that he could not force Apple to assist authorities.

The case gained further significance after prosecutors in March dropped a similar effort to force Apple to help access an iPhone used by one of the shooters in December’s San Bernardino killings, after a third party provided a way to crack it.

Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the cases have “never been about setting a court precedent; they are about law enforcement’s ability and need to access evidence on devices pursuant to lawful court orders and search warrants.”

An Apple spokesman declined comment. Previously, the company had argued in court that prosecutors had not provided any evidence to bolster their claim that they had exhausted other methods to get data from the phone. Apple said it was not even clear that they had asked the suspect and his associates.

Though officials said the passcode had just come to light, the development marks the second time the federal government has dropped a contentious fight over the extent of its power over private companies after Apple pressed it to say what methods it had tried.

Prosecutors had been challenging a Feb. 29 ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge James Orenstein holding he did not have the authority to order Apple to disable the security of an iPhone seized in a drug probe.

The case predated the government effort to force Apple to help access the phone of Rizwan Farook, one of the two killers in the San Bernardino massacre, which left 14 people dead and 22 wounded.

While the Justice Department dropped that bid after a third party provided a way to access the San Bernardino phone – apparently for more than $1 million – it continued appealing Orenstein’s ruling.

FBI Director James Comey has said that the method used on the San Bernardino iPhone 5c would not work on other models, including the iPhone 5s, the type in the Brooklyn case.

The phone belonged to Jun Feng, who has pleaded guilty to participation in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy, which prosecutors are continuing to investigate.

Unlike the phone used in San Bernardino, Feng’s phone had an older operating system, iOS 7, which is not protected under the same encryption technology, which is why Apple could access it.

Apple has some 70 times before the Brooklyn case emerged helped authorities access data on iPhones, according to court filings.

The company changed its stance last year after the New York magistrate invited them to argue whether the Justice Department was stretching the more than 200-year-old and very general All Writs Act, which compels help executing warrants, to include more active assistance.

Apple said prosecutors were going too far, especially since Congress had more recently limited what communications providers could be compelled to do.

Magistrate Orenstein agreed. Though prosecutors have continued to push for mandated cooperation, in many cases under seal, Apple has been objecting and appealing.

The New York case has drawn less attention than the one in California, but the fact that a ruling favorable to Apple has been allowed to stand gives it more significance going forward.

While the FBI is continuing to fight in other courts, more attention has turned to a draft bill by leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee that would force all manner of companies to turn over unencrypted data when served with a court order.

The majority of the technology industry bitterly opposes the measure, arguing that requiring back doors would make all communication more vulnerable to hackers and that U.S. citizens and companies would simply get their encryption from providers in other countries.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York and Joseph Menn in San Francisco; additional reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Govt scraps planned pension changes after violent protests | Reuters

BENGALURU/NEW DELHI Indian government on Tuesday scrapped a controversial proposal restricting when workers could withdraw pension savings after thousands of protesters clashed with police in the information technology hub of Bengaluru.

Police fired tear gas to control the crowds as garment workers angry about the planned changes blocked roads in the southern city for a second day.

The government had proposed changes in February to how employees can withdraw savings from the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) before they retire, but decided on Tuesday to axe the plan, Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal told Reuters.

“We were already thinking about it (withdrawing the proposal) in the morning,” he said. “There’s no point continuing when the workers don’t want it, why should we come in?”

Earlier on Tuesday, television footage showed smoke pouring from burnt-out buses and a smashed police vehicle, and police detained about 100 people, Bengaluru police commissioner N. S. Megharikh said, adding that the situation was now under control.

The decision to scrap the proposal marks Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government’s second U-turn on changes to the pension fund.

In March, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley withdrew a plan to tax EPF withdrawals after an outcry from salaried, mostly middle class, workers.

About 36 million of the country’s 1.3 billion people contribute to the EPF.

The protests in Bengaluru against the restrictions began on Monday in the city after about 200,000 garment workers, mostly women, took to the streets.

Jayaram K. Ramaiah, an official at the Garment and Textile Workers Union, said garment workers earning a monthly salary of 6,500 rupees ($98) depended on access to their pensions.

“Not just garment workers, all workers in the unorganised sector will be affected by this rule,” he said before the government announced its decision. “What about the poor people who use it for important purposes like marriage or education?”

Ramaiah blamed “anti-social elements” for attacking police with stones and said 20 of his members were injured when police charged protesters with batons.

($1 = 66.4240 Indian rupees)

(Writing by Tommy Wilkes and Neha Dasgupta; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ken Ferris)

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Mac ransomware caught before large number of computers infected | Reuters

The first known ransomware attack on Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) Mac computers, which was discovered over the weekend, was downloaded more than 6,000 times before the threat was contained, according to a developer whose product was tainted with the malicious software.

Hackers infected Macs with the “KeRanger” ransomware through a tainted copy of Transmission, a popular programme for transferring data through the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing network.

So-called ransomware is a type of malicious software that restricts access to a computer system in some way and demands the user pay a ransom to the malware operators to remove the restriction.

KeRanger, which locks data on Macs so users cannot access it, was downloaded about 6,500 times before Apple and developers were able to thwart the threat, said John Clay, a representative for the open-source Transmission project.

That is small compared to the number of ransomware attacks on computers running Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Windows operating system. Cyber security firm Symantec Corp (SYMC.O) observed some 8.8 million attacks in 2014 alone.

Still, cyber security experts said they expect to see more attacks on Macs as the KeRanger hackers and other groups look for new ways to infect Mac computers.

“It’s a small number but these things always start small and ramp up huge,” said Fidelis Cybersecurity threat systems manager John Bambenek. “There’s a lot of Mac users out there and a lot of money to be made.”

Symantec, which sells anti-virus software for Macs, warned on its blog that “Mac users should not be complacent.” The post offered tips on protecting against ransomware. (symc.ly/1puolix)

The Transmission project provided few details about how the attack was launched.

“The normal disk image (was) replaced by the compromised one” after the project’s main server was hacked, said Clay.

He added that “security on the server has since been increased” and that the group was in “frequent contact” with Apple as well as Palo Alto Networks, which discovered the ransomware on Friday and immediately notified Apple and Transmission.

An Apple representative said the company quickly took steps over the weekend to prevent further infections by revoking a digital certificate that enabled the rogue software to install on Macs.

Transmission responded by removing the malicious 2.90 version of its software from its website (www.transmissionbt.com). On Sunday, it released version 2.92, which its website says automatically removes the ransomware from infected Macs.

Forbes earlier reported on the number of KeRanger downloads, citing Clay.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Bill Rigby)

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Apple shares fall most in two years in wake of earnings report | Reuters

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares fell more than 6.5 percent on Wednesday, the biggest percentage drop in two years, after the company reported its slowest-ever rise in iPhone shipments and forecast that quarterly sales for the current period would post the first drop in 13 years.

At least 16 analysts cut their price targets on the stock. The median price target is $135, according to Reuters data.

“Cook & Co have a few tough quarters ahead until we get to the buildup around iPhone 7 later this year, which is what bulls are focussed on to turn this ship back into growth waters,” FBR & Co analyst Daniel Ives said.

Shares fell to $93.42, knocking off more than $36 billion from Apple’s market value of about $554 billion. While currently the most valuable publicly traded U.S. tech company, the decline put it closer to Alphabet Inc(GOOGL.O), which ended the day worth roughly $486.5 billion.

The March quarter is likely to be the weakest this year in terms of iPhone sales. But analysts said long-term value investors could view the depressed stock price as a buying opportunity.

“We are looking for March to mark the trough in year-on-year iPhone unit growth, which should provide an attractive entry point into the stock,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note.

Tepid demand for the latest iPhones, which succeeded blockbuster sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, led Apple to sell 74.8 million iPhones in the first quarter. One analyst estimated, based on the revenue estimates Apple provided, that it will sell 50 million to 52 million units in the March quarter.

Apple usually launches new iPhones in September and sells the most devices in the December quarter. Unit sales typically drop over the next few quarters, picking up after the next iPhone launch.

Apple said the average selling price for iPhones rose to a record $691 in the holiday quarter.

This indicated that despite a saturated smartphone market, consumers were keen to buy the newer and more expensive iPhone versions – good news for the iPhone 7 cycle, Pacific Crest Securities analysts said.

The iPhone 7 is expected to sport a new look with features such as waterproofing and wireless headphones, according to media reports.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, Tenzin Pema and Tripti Kalro in Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh, Stephen R. Trousdale and David Gregorio)

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Apple shares slip, to stay muted until iPhone 7 rings in growth | Reuters

Apple Inc shares fell as much as 6 percent on Wednesday after the company reported its slowest-ever rise in iPhone shipments, with an uptick likely only after the expected launch of iPhone 7 in September.

The March quarter is likely to be the weakest this year in terms of iPhone sales. Apple on Tuesday forecast its first quarterly revenue drop in 13 years.

Shares fell to $94.04, knocking off more than $20 billion from Apple’s market value of about $554 billion.

But analysts said the depressed stock price could create a buying opportunity for long-term value seekers.

“We are looking for March to mark the trough in year-on-year iPhone unit growth, which should provide an attractive entry point into the stock,” Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note.

Tepid demand for the latest iPhones – that succeeded blockbuster sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – led Apple to sell 74.8 million iPhones in the first quarter. It expects to sell 50-52 million units in the March quarter.

Apple usually launches new iPhones in September and sells most devices in the December quarter. Unit sales typically drop over the next few quarters, picking up after the next iPhone launch.

At least 13 analysts cut their price targets on the stock. FBN was the most bearish, cutting its target by $30 to $120.

The median price target is $142.29, according to Reuters data. At this price, analysts expect Apple to gain $200 billion in value over the next 12 months.

“Cook & Co have a few tough quarters ahead until we get to the buildup around iPhone 7 later this year, which is what bulls are focused on to turn this ship back into growth waters,” FBR & Co analyst Daniel Ives said.

Apple said the average selling price for iPhones rose to a record $691 in the holiday quarter.

This indicated that despite a saturated smartphone market, consumers were keen to buy the newer and more expensive iPhone versions – good news for the iPhone 7 cycle, Pacific Crest Securities analysts said.

The iPhone 7 is expected to sport a new look with features such as waterproofing, wireless headphones and force touch as home button.

Up to Tuesday’s close, Apple’s stock had lost a quarter of its value since April 28, when it hit a record high of $134.54. In contrast, shares of Alphabet Inc rose 10 percent.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, Tenzin Pema and Tripti Kalro in Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh)

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