The latest technology news in WRALTechWire’s Bulldog Bulletin roundup:
- Apple To Consider More Women for Board
Apple, facing behind-the-scenes pressure from some shareholders to add more female directors and executives, has taken a step to address the criticism and diversify its board.
The world’s most valuable company recently added language to its corporate charter vowing to diversify its board. The move follows objections from shareholders Trillium Asset Management LLC and the Sustainability Group, who said they’re disappointed that the iPhone maker has only one woman on its eight-member board, and one incoming female member of the executive team that reports to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
The shareholders met with Apple representatives several times in the past few months and said they would bring the issue to a vote at a Feb. 28 shareholder meeting. They said they backed off after Apple tweaked its corporate charter, in which the company said it promised to consider women and minorities as board candidates, without making any specific commitments.
“There is a general problem with diversity at the highest echelon of Apple,” said Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Boston-based Trillium, which manages $1.3 billion. “It’s all white men.”
The new language shows how scrutiny of Apple’s diversity practices has now ramped up after other Silicon Valley companies faced questions over their male-dominated leadership ranks. Social-networking companies Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. were criticized leading up to their initial public offerings for not having any female directors.
- SchoolDude Launches School Tech Survey
Cary-based SchoolDude is working with the National Business Officers Association (NBOA) to launch a survey of independent schools in order to create a technology benchmark. It’s the first such survey of independent schools, says SchoolDude, which works with education institutions to better improve use of technology.
The survey will focus on technology staffing, budget, priorities and challenges among independent schools as well as technology trends. Results will be announced in March.
“The technology needs of independent schools are growing more and more complex every day. It’s critical for business officers, technology directors and other independent school leaders to identify the best technological resources to support their school’s mission within their financial resources. NBOA is pleased to partner with SchoolDude to help provide schools with much needed data to help inform these decision-making processes,” said Jeff Shields, President and CEO of NBOA.
- BlackBerry Sues Seacrest
BlackBerry has sued a company begun by entertainer Ryan Seacrest for trademark and patent infringement.
The suit, filed Jan. 3 in federal court in San Francisco, alleges that Typo Products LLC of Los Angeles infringes one design patent and two utility patents as well as the trade dress for BlackBerry mobile devices. Trade dress is covered under U.S. trademark law.
The target of the suit is Typo’s keyboard-case product into which a smartphone is inserted. The Typo case contains a keyboard that, reviewers say, “turns an iPhone into a BlackBerry,” according to court papers.
BlackBerry said Typo had “many design options” for the keyboard on its product that wouldn’t infringe the same combination of elements of the Canadian company’s patents and trade dress.
The Typo product is aimed at supplanting BlackBerry within its customer base, BlackBerry said in its pleadings. The company claims to be injured by Typo’s actions, and asked the court to order the California company to halt its alleged infringement. It also seeks awards of money damages, profit Typo derived from its alleged infringement, and a tripling of any damages award in order to punish the keyboard company for its actions.
BlackBerry also asked the court to order the seizure and destruction of all allegedly infringing products and promotional materials, and for attorney fees and litigation costs.
- Court Backs NSA Surveillance
A secretive U.S. spy court has ruled again that the National Security Agency can keep collecting every American’s telephone records every day, in the midst of dueling decisions in two other federal courts about whether the surveillance program is constitutional.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Friday renewed the NSA phone collection program, said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Such periodic requests are somewhat formulaic but required since the program started in 2006.
The latest approval was the first since two conflicting court decisions about whether the program is lawful and since a presidential advisory panel recommended that the NSA no longer be allowed to collect and store the phone records and search them without obtaining separate court approval for each search.
In a statement, Turner said that 15 judges on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 occasions over the past seven years have approved the NSA’s collection of U.S. phone records as lawful.
Also Friday, government lawyers turned to U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to block one federal judge’s decision that threatens the NSA phone records program.