Technologist: October 2012 Archives
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

October 2012 Archives

Know Where the Time Goes With Harvest App

Most attorneys use hourly billing so you're probably used to dividing your time into 6-minute segments so you can bill the appropriate tenth of an hour to clients.

You can of course pay big money for software that will help keep track of your hours. But Harvest's app will let you do that at a much lower cost and do a lot more. The app isn't just a time keeper. It can also keep track of expenses for different clients.

For lawyers who are often on the go, it's easy to miss out on billable time when you're away from your desk. But with this app that's no longer a problem.

Five Ways to Charge Your Devices on the Go

Professionals everywhere are finding themselves tethered to their devices as more information is kept on smart phones and tablets; lawyers are no different. That also means we're all desperate to charge those devices to keep from losing contact.

If you're in your office all day it's no problem to keep your laptop, phone, and tablet at full power. But if you're a litigator or work at a small or solo firm the days you're at the desk all day are likely few and far between.

There are options to keep your batteries full when you're in and out of meetings and courtrooms. Find the one that works for you.

Paul Ceglia Arrested Over Facebook Ownership Scheme

Paul Ceglia famously sued Facebook over what he claimed was a 50% ownership stake in the company. But the tables have now turned, after Ceglia was arrested Friday on suspicion of fraud.

Back in 2010, Ceglia made headlines when he filed a suit against Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, claiming that he owned half of the social media company. As evidence, Ceglia pointed to a contract from 2003 between himself and Zuckerberg which claimed to show Ceglia invested $1,000 in the original stages of Facebook.

Ceglia's case began to unravel when several law firms dropped his case. Then he was fined for delaying the trial. But now he's likely to get a much harsher punishment.

TrialDirector App for iPad is Great for Presenting Evidence

Trial presentations using computers are fairly common now but wouldn't it be easier if you could use an iPad instead of dragging around your laptop and get the same functionality?

Enter the TrialDirector app for iPad released at the beginning of October. Maybe you already have the TrialDirector app for your iPhone or the desktop version of the software? If that's true and you don't already have the app for iPad, whatare you waiting for?

If you haven't used TrialDirector before but you find yourself considered computer-directed presentations in court, then you might want to consider this an early birthday present from all of us at FindLaw.

Apple Class Action Filed Over Locking iPhone to ATT Network

Two iPhone owners have filed a putative class action lawsuit against Apple to have their phones unlocked.

The lawsuit was filed in Northern California and the plaintiffs charge the iPhone maker with violating antitrust laws by locking the iPhones to voice and data contracts with AT&T Mobility only, reports CNET.

When the iPhone first came out, Apple had signed a five-year exclusivity agreement with AT&T. So iPhone owners could only use the phones on AT&T networks and could not move to a different carrier. The plaintiffs say that this exclusivity agreement was essentially monopolistic as it forced them to stick with AT&T even if there were better or cheaper alternatives available.

'Porn Pirate' Lawsuits a Lucrative Niche for Porn Copyright Attorney

Lawyers who sue people en masse for pirating pornography are often demonized as 'copyright trolls' but at least one of those people is satisfied with his chosen legal career.

Meet John Steele, who is often on the filing end of lawsuits alleging copyright infringement of porn films. While the Internet may hate him, he's got a full caseload and business doesn't look like it's slowing. He's even proud of his accomplishments.

Steele partners with big porn companies to go after the people who are illegally downloading copyrighted movies. In that sense what he does is not unlike other copyright lawyers who go after infringers. It's his methods that make it unique.

Apple Ordered to Make Public Apology to Samsung

Apple and Samsung are engaged in a global war over intellectual property and patent infringement associated with smartphones and tablets. In the European campaign, Apple looks to have lost its battle, and has now been forced to make a public apology to Samsung.

Britain's Court of Appeal upheld a lower court's ruling that despite some similarities, Samsung did not infringe upon Apple's designs with its Galaxy tablet. In a backhanded victory, the court basically said Samsung could not have copied Apple because the Samsung product was simply "not as cool," reports Reuters.

The British court's ruling is valid throughout Europe and is expected to end the legal dispute in that region.

Congress.gov Now Has Legislative Info for Your iPhone

The Law Library of Congress has debuted a new Congress website -- Congress.gov -- that will provide free public access to legislative information.

The new site is slated to replace the THOMAS system, which was the official database for legislative information since 1995, reports iPhone J.D.

Congress.gov is expected to be major step up from the previous system as it allows users to search across all content in the system at once. In addition, the website will be compatible with virtually any mobile device. So if what was lacking on your morning commute was the ability to read bills and laws on your iPhone or iPad, Congress.gov is the website for you.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

All sorts of businesses and organizations are potentially vulnerable to hackers. Educational institutions are no exception, as highlighted by a recent example involving Northwest Florida State College.

One or more hackers accessed a folder on the school's main server from May through September, according to a memo from the College's President to all employees. The folder contained multiple files.

By working between the files, the hacker(s) apparently managed to assemble sufficient information to steal the identities of 50 employees, CNET reports. Names, social security numbers, dates of birth and direct deposit account numbers were accessed. Apparently, data relating to addresses, phone numbers, and college email addresses also was compromised.

But there is more.

Digital estate planning is a relatively new concept, and can include a client's websites, email accounts, and the contents of his computers. But what about eBooks, iTunes music files, and other downloaded purchases?

Some downloads can be treated as ordinary assets, if a client obtains the right of ownership with his purchase.

But that's where dealing with iTunes and eBook purchases can get tricky, MarketWatch points out.

Employers Can Hijack Your LinkedIn Account, Court Rules

'Keep your passwords to yourself' is the moral of a ruling this week on whether an employer can be liable for taking over your LinkedIn account.

Linda Eagle gave her LinkedIn password to a coworker while she still employed at Edcomm so that she could get some help managing the account. But Eagle was later fired from that job.

After she was dismissed Eagle's coworker changed the password on her LinkedIn account and the company changed the name and photo on the account to match the person replacing Eagle. She sued the company for hacking into her account but the court's ruling was unsympathetic.

Be a Slimy Defense Lawyer - Without the Shame!

If you've ever fantasized about what it was like to be a blatantly unethical defense lawyer, Devil's Attorney may be the game for you.

Devil's Attorney recently launched on Google Play, and puts players in the shoes of criminal defense attorney Max McMann, reports Android Central.

In the game, McMann can pick up a variety of cases like defending a restaurant that sells hot dogs of questionable origin and male strippers impersonating police officers.

Once you pick a case, you get to go to court and defend the case just as if you were a real lawyer, sort of.

Top 3 Docket Apps to Simplify Your Calendar

When lawmakers and government officials write the requirements for the number of days permitted between court procedures, it's almost certain they don't consider how confusing it is to work that out on a calendar.

But other people have caught on to it given the variety of docketing and calendaring apps available for your smartphone. The question now: which one is the best?

It depends on your jurisdiction and how you like to handle your scheduling, but we're pretty sure at least one of these apps will work for you.

Ride-Sharing Apps Get Cease-and-Desist from California

Ride-sharing services and their mobile apps have become popular in bigger cities where getting a cab can be difficult. They provide an alternative to public transportation or taxis.

But now the companies have been hit with a cease-and-desist from the California Public Utilities Commission.

The state claims the service is essentially a taxi and should be licensed and permitted like other transportation. 

The startups, including Lyft, Sidecar, and Tickengo, don't agree.

Evernote Update Makes App Even More Useful for Lawyers

Evernote just got a little cooler. An update to the cross-platform note-taking darling brings some useful new functionality to lawyers.

We've talked the app's great features before. The new Android version seems to have been designed with Ice Cream Sandwich in mind. Evernote's developers have made some changes to the program's aesthetics and abilities that mesh well with the mobile OS.

So what can Evernote's latest revision do for attorneys?

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

I believe that I have the world's greatest commute. I board the ferry at Larkspur Landing in Marin County, California and travel thirty minutes across the water to the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco.

Friday morning was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, the sky was crystal clear with the moon still hanging high, and the water was sparkling.

From the ferry ride, there were gorgeous views of Mount Tamalpais, Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, San Francisco, as well as Berkeley and a bit of Oakland.

So, naturally the other ferry riders were taking in the sights and marveling at the views, right? Wrong!

Technology is wonderful and technology is good. However, it can take us away from the real world around us.

How Does Your Legal Website Look on Mobile Devices?

If you use your smartphone to browse websites you know how frustrating it can be to visit a site that is not mobile compatible. It's clunky and hard to read and there's a good chance you'll leave and never come back.

Your website is likely a big part of how clients find out about your services. It's important to make sure they're getting the same service whether they're searching on their laptop or their mobile phone.

So, is your website mobile compatible? There's an easy way to find out and FindLaw can help.

Schools Can't Get Students' Facebook Passwords, Judge Rules

Students should rejoice since U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ruled in September that schools cannot force students to turn over their Facebook passwords.

The brouhaha over Facebook passwords has been in the media for a while since employers starting asking applicants to turn over their passwords. Courts and legislatures have tried to respond to that issue but this recent ruling was an affirmation of students' rights.

In the decision, Davis affirmed that students do have first amendment rights and new technologies don't change that.

Samsung Wants Apple Verdict Thrown Out, Claims Foreman Lied

Samsung has made no secret of its disappointment with the infamous Apple v. Samsung verdict but its new strategy is to challenge the jury foreman's impartiality.

The company's latest filings accuse Velvin Hogan of lying to get on the jury and impermissibly tainting the results. Hogan served as the foreman in the case which concluded in August.

It's not a particularly robust claim against Hogan and he denies lying during the initial interview of jurors. Still, Samsung is arguing it's enough to get the verdict thrown out.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

It is amazing that in this day and age we still see students hauling around backpacks full of heavy school textbooks. This is true not only for college and high schools students, but also for much younger students in middle school and elementary school.

With the technology available such that many voluminous books can be loaded electronically onto an electronic book reader, a laptop, an iPad, or even a PDA, there seems no reason why kids should have to shoulder the heavy weight of books.

The electronic book readers allow for searching, highlighting, taking notes, and other features.

California Approves Self-Driving Cars on the Road

California is the newest state to allow self-driving cars to drive on public streets for the purpose of testing.

State residents will now have to watch out both for reckless drivers and reckless cars without drivers. But the cars won't be completely rider-less. The law only allows for self-driving cars when a human passenger is along for the ride.

California isn't the first state to allow self-driving cars but the measure is far from common. Proponents claim the cars will promote safety.

The World is Going Toward Apple. Will Law Firms Ever Go Mac?

Will law firms ever migrate toward Mac computers? The whole world is going iPhone, iBook, and iPad and yet firms seem stuck on Blackberries, Dells, and just scratch their heads to the concept of iPads.

Law firms were never the most technologically advanced places to work for. When I started as an associate, one thing I was told was to never type. That was the job of secretaries and I was handed a dictating device. That was in 2004.

It took me twice as long to dictate a memo. And oftentimes, I resorted to typing it myself anyway, after spending the time to dictate. Clearly, a time waster.

And with the marriage to Windows, Pentium Processors, and Blackberries, law firms continue to insist on wasting the time of their associates and even partners.