• Google Gets Supreme Court Hearing in Oracle Copyright Clash
    Bloomberg

    Google Gets Supreme Court Hearing in Oracle Copyright Clash

    (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Alphabet Inc.’s Google in a multibillion-dollar clash that has divided Silicon Valley, agreeing to decide whether the company improperly used copyrighted programming code owned by Oracle Corp. in the Android operating system.The justices said they’ll review a federal appeals court’s conclusion that Google violated Oracle’s copyrights. Oracle says it’s entitled to at least $8.8 billion in damages.The case, which the court will resolve by July, promises to reshape the U.S. legal protections for software code, particularly the interfaces that let programs and devices communicate with one another. Google contends the appeals court ruling would make it harder to use interfaces to develop new applications.The ruling “has upended the computer industry’s longstanding expectation that developers are free to use software interfaces to build new computer programs,” Google argued.The appeals court decision reversed a jury finding that Google’s copying was a legitimate “fair use” of Oracle’s Java programming language.“There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said in a 3-0 ruling.At issue are pre-written directions known as application program interfaces, or APIs, which provide instructions for such functions as connecting to the internet or accessing certain types of files. By using those shortcuts, programmers don’t have to write code from scratch for every function in their software, or change it for every type of device.Oracle says the Java APIs are freely available to those who want to build applications that run on computers and mobile devices. But the company says it requires a license to use the shortcuts for a competing platform or to embed them in an electronic device.“We are confident the Supreme Court will preserve long established copyright protections for original software and reject Google’s continuing efforts to avoid responsibility for copying Oracle’s innovations,” said Deborah Hellinger, an Oracle spokeswoman. “In the end, a finding that Google infringed Oracle’s original works will promote, not stifle, future innovation.”Oracle says Google was facing an existential threat because its search engine -- the source of its advertising revenue -- wasn’t being used on smartphones. Google bought the Android mobile operating system in 2005 and copied Java code to attract developers but refused to take a license, Oracle contends.‘Incalculable’ Harm“Naturally, it inflicted incalculable market harm on Oracle,” Oracle told the Supreme Court. “This is the epitome of copyright infringement, whether the work is a news report, a manual, or computer software.”Android generated $42 billion for Google between 2007 and 2016, according to Oracle court filings. Google said it welcomed the court’s decision to review the case.“We hope that the court reaffirms the importance of software interoperability in American competitiveness,” said Google’s chief legal officer, Kent Walker. “Developers should be able to create applications across platforms and not be locked into one company’s software.”At the Supreme Court, Google argues that software interfaces are categorically ineligible for copyright protection. Google also contends that the Federal Circuit restricted the “fair use” defense to copyright infringement so much as to make it impossible for a developer to reuse an interface in a new application.“What Oracle is seeking here is nothing less than complete control over a community of developers that have invested in learning the free and open Java language,” Google argued.The Trump administration is backing Oracle at the Supreme Court and urged the justices to reject the appeal. Microsoft Corp., Mozilla Corp. and Red Hat Inc. are among the companies that urged the Supreme Court to give Google a hearing.The appeal encompasses two decisions by the Federal Circuit in the six-year-long battle. The first is a 2014 decision that the programming language can be copyrighted, and the second is a 2018 ruling that overturned the jury’s verdict of “fair use.” The Supreme Court had previously rejected Google’s petition over the 2014 decision.If Oracle wins, the case will go back to a federal jury in California, where the only issue will be how much Google should pay in damages. Should Google win on either question, that would end the case.The case is Google v. Oracle America, 18-956.(Updates with company comments beginning in ninth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Naomi Nix.To contact the reporters on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net;Susan Decker in Washington at sdecker1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Wasserman, Jon MorganFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Low-Volatility and Quality ETFs: What Investors Need to Know
    Zacks

    Low-Volatility and Quality ETFs: What Investors Need to Know

    We discuss why investors have been rushing into low-volatility and quality funds this year.

  • SoftBank's Second Vision Fund Is Starting Life a Lot Smaller Than the First
    Bloomberg

    SoftBank's Second Vision Fund Is Starting Life a Lot Smaller Than the First

    (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. has quietly completed an initial money-raising push for its second technology fund, at a fraction of its targeted $108 billion.The Japanese company has raised roughly $2 billion for the second Vision Fund so it can start backing startups, according to two people familiar with the matter. This stage of the fund-raising process is known as a first close, and SoftBank will continue gathering commitments. A Vision Fund spokesman declined to comment.SoftBank said in July that its second Vision Fund would be even larger than the first, which broke records in 2017 by raising almost $100 billion. This time around, SoftBank has said it is taking more control, committing $38 billion of its own capital and replacing Saudi Arabia, which was the largest investor in the first fund.So far, it is unclear whether there are any outside investors in the second fund. The original Vision Fund was announced in October 2016, but took another seven months for its first major closing with $93 billion in commitments.Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., which contributed $45 billion and $15 billion, respectively, to the first fund, are reconsidering how much to put into the new fund, Bloomberg News previously reported.Talks with Saudi Arabia are still ongoing, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. Mubadala recently told Bloomberg News it had yet to decide on whether it would invest.SoftBank has said the second fund is also expected to collect money from Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Foxconn Technology Group and the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan.WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc., two of the largest investments made by SoftBank and the first Vision Fund, have performed poorly this year. That’s prompted some soul-searching at the Japanese company. “There was a problem with my own judgment, that’s something I have to reflect on,” SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said.(Updates with background on WeWork and Uber in penultimate paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Gillian Tan in New York at gtan129@bloomberg.net;Giles Turner in London at gturner35@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • 3 Semiconductor Stocks to Buy After Strong Earnings on 2020 Chip Growth
    Zacks

    3 Semiconductor Stocks to Buy After Strong Earnings on 2020 Chip Growth

    We searched for semiconductor stocks utilizing our Zacks Stock Screener that investors might want to consider buying ahead of what could be a strong year for chip companies in 2020...

  • Twitter’s Political Ad Ban Will Exempt Some ‘Issue’ Ads
    Bloomberg

    Twitter’s Political Ad Ban Will Exempt Some ‘Issue’ Ads

    (Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. is making some exceptions to its recent ban on all political advertising, announcing Friday that it will allow “cause-based” ads for some economic, environmental or social issues.There will still be certain restrictions for those promotions, also known as issue ads. Groups that promote content about a cause -- climate change, for example -- can’t link to a specific candidate’s landing page, promote the ad on behalf of a candidate or mention a particular piece of legislation. Such ads also won’t be able to target people using specific identifiers, like email addresses or zip codes.Candidates, elected officials and political parties will be banned from buying any ads at all, including ones about issues or causes.The point, Twitter said, is to allow advertisers to encourage discussion around certain subjects, but not directly influence elections.“While advertising should not be used to drive political, legislative or regulatory outcomes,” Twitter General Counsel Vijaya Gadde said on a conference call with reporters, the company believes “that there is certain cause-based advertising that can facilitate public conversations about important topics.”Twitter’s policy comes amid a presidential campaign in full swing less than a year before the election and runs counter to rules Facebook Inc. has established for its social network. Facebook does allow political advertising but doesn’t fact-check those ads the way it does with non-political ads. That policy has generated intense pushback from some candidates, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.Twitter won’t fact-check cause-based ads either. “One of the benefits of Twitter being a primarily public platform is that you can absolutely be called [out] and held accountable for what you say,” explained Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety. Advertisers will still need to follow the company’s existing ad guidelines, which prohibit things like hateful or sexual content.Twitter unveiled its new political ad rules to better prepare advertisers and the media before it plans to ban all political ads on Nov. 22. Still, the policy is complicated and bound to draw criticism. It could be challenging, for example, to determine when an advertiser crosses the line from promoting a topic for the sake of discussion, to pushing for some kind of political or regulatory outcome. “We tried to make this policy as clear and straightforward as possible, but there are going to be some areas that are going to be more subjective,” Harvey said.“When we find ourselves in those types of situations, we’ll be sure to be transparent about how and why a decision was made,” Gadde said. “But I want to be open that we’re also prepared that we’re going to make some mistakes.”Harvey said Twitter doesn’t expect this political ad ban will impact business in the short term, saying the company is “not anticipating any change to Q4 guidance.” Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal said last month that Twitter made just $3 million in political advertising revenue around the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at kwagner71@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Watch for Sparks as Jet Engines Hit Their Limits
    Bloomberg

    Watch for Sparks as Jet Engines Hit Their Limits

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Earlier this week, my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Chris Bryant examined the ongoing troubles for advanced jet engines used on today’s commercial airliners. These engines now seem to be reaching their technical limits, and as Bryant says, we may be asking too much of the technology.That’s not great news for the companies making those turbines, or for those flying the aircraft. It’s also not the best news for the climate, given the trajectory of emissions from air travel and air freight. Carbon dioxide emissions from commercial aviation made up 2.4% of global emissions in 2018 and, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation, have grown 32% in just five years.The geography of those emissions is highly concentrated. Three markets — the U.S., the European Union and China — account for more than half of all emissions; the top 10 emitters contribute more than 70% of the global total.There’s something hopeful, actually, in that geographical distribution. High concentration means that tackling emissions in just three markets can have an outsized impact, and standards set in those large markets are easy for others to follow. There’s another aspect to the distribution of aviation emissions that’s worth examining: emissions by type of aircraft. Bryant writes of problems with engines on both widebody and narrowbody aircraft: the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Trent 1000 engines used on the widebody Boeing Co. 787, and United Technologies Corp. subsidiary Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan used on the narrowbody Airbus SE A320neo. While widebody aircraft make up one-third of global emissions, narrowbody and regional passenger plans are almost half. If the turbines used to propel the largest and longest-range of aircraft are approaching technical limits but almost half of emissions are from shorter-range and smaller aircraft, then there’s space to innovate, for emissions’ sake, at the short and small end. And that space looks electric and hybrid. Next month, Vancouver-based Harbour Air will fly its first electric seaplane, a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver prototype retrofitted with a propulsion system from Seattle-based electric aviation company MagniX. It’s a first look at what electric commercial flight could be, and as it draws upon a sophisticated, global and continually improving network of battery makers while the cost of batteries continues to decrease, it has room to grow. “Because of airborne mobility development, this technology is unstoppable, and it’s getting more practical as every day goes by,” says Greg McDougall, Harbour Air’s CEO. “The brainpower and money involved is snowballing, and there’s no doubt we can roll out what we’re doing to other small airlines.” It’s an infectious enthusiasm, but it just might take to the air elsewhere, too. Weekend readingThe Qantas Group plans to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, Formula 1 plans to reach that milestone by 2030. Ferrari says its new Roma coupe is inspired by the postwar Eternal City. It’s a bit of a step up from the Vespas and Topolinos of the film “Roman Holiday.” The European Investment Bank will not consider new financing of unabated fossil fuels, including natural gas, after 2021. Sweden’s Riksbank is selling bonds issued by the Canadian province of Alberta and the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia due to those areas’ large climate impacts. How Australia’s big businesses saw the climate turning point coming. The world’s biggest gun has helped solve a long-standing space mystery: the risk that orbiting microdebris poses to satellites. Weather-tech startup Understory is selling Hail Safe, an insurance product that protects auto dealers from hailstorm damages. Think tank Macro Polo’s deep dive into the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) supply chain in East Asia. Adidas has abandoned its robot factory experiment. Open-source code will survive the apocalypse in an Arctic cave. Silicon Valley’s Singularity University is cutting staff, and its CEO is stepping down.  Elon Musk’s keep-it-in-the-family deal for SolarCity has become the top threat to Tesla Inc.’s future. The new dot-com bubble is here: It’s called online advertising. Designer Iris van Herpen’s work is inspired by the Large Hadron Collider. A fascinating look at how American brands became indelibly Japanese.  In data journalism, technology still matters less than people. The coming age of generative biology. Get Sparklines delivered to your inbox. Sign up here. And subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You’ll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, the Bloomberg Open and the Bloomberg Close.To contact the author of this story: Nathaniel Bullard at nbullard@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nathaniel Bullard is a BloombergNEF energy analyst, covering technology and business model innovation and system-wide resource transitions.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.