Welcome to the Tech & Telecom Weekly, an e-newsletter keeping you apprised of the latest developments in the telecommunications and high-tech industries.

FCC Policy

The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend the rules for granting interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers direct access to numbers. The Commission seeks comment on whether to adopt more stringent application requirements, such as additional anti-robocalling certifications and more detailed ownership information. It proposes that applicants with 10% or more foreign ownership be sent to the Executive Branch (Team Telecom) for further review. The Commission also seeks comment on whether to allow one-way VoIP providers direct access to numbers. Comments and Reply Comments are due 30 and 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, respectively. For more information, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.

Compliance Alerts

The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) will hold its monthly Lifeline webinar on August 11, 2021, at 3:00pm ET. This webinar will provide a high-level overview of the Lifeline application process to consumer advocates to assist their communities with the process. Registration can be found here. For more information about USAC and compliance, please contact Katherine Barker Marshall.

In the Courts

On August 6, 2021, Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas reversed a $308.5 Million jury verdict against Apple on the ground that the patent owned by plaintiff Personalized Media Communications (PMC) “is unenforceable for reason of prosecution laches.” Judge Gilstrap found that PMC delayed filing its patent for several years in order to drive up potential damages, which he called a “conscious and egregious misuse of the statutory patent system.” The technology at issue is software used in iTunes to decrypt movies, music, and apps. He ordered that PMC “shall take nothing” and that Apple as prevailing party “shall recover its costs from PMC.”  Personalized Media Commc’ns v. Apple, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-01366-JRG-RSP (E.D. Tex.).

Also on August 6, but in the Northern District of California, plaintiffs filed a motion for settlement approval in their lawsuit against Plaid, Inc., a fintech startup. Plaid has agreed to pay $58 Million to settle the putative class action alleging that it uses an interface that makes consumers believe they are interacting with a financial institution and thus “lulls users into a false sense of security.” This system masks the fact that Plaid, and not a bank, is collecting the users’ financial information. On April 30, 2021, Judge Donna Ryu dismissed much of the case but sustained claims under the California Anti-Phishing Act of 2005, Sections 1709 and 1710 of the California Civil Code (fraud and deceit), and for invasion of privacy in violation of the California constitution. Plaintiffs’ attorneys seek $14.5 Million in fees. In re Plaid Inc. Privacy Litig., No. 4:20-cv-03056-DMR (N.D. Cal.).

For more information about these cases, please contact Stephanie Joyce.

Note: This publication is distributed with the understanding that the author, publisher and distributor of this publication and/or any linked publication are not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters and, accordingly, assume no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Pursuant to applicable rules of professional conduct, portions of this publication may constitute Attorney Advertising.

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Marlene Laro

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