Boeing to pay $200 million to settle charges over ‘misleading’ crash statements

Boeing has agreed to pay $200 million to settle charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agency found that Boeing made "materially misleading public statements" related to crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft. The company's former CEO Dennis Muilenburg will also pay $1 million to settle charges. The SEC alleged that Boeing and Muilenburg violated the antifraud provisions of federal securities laws. They neither admitted to nor denied the agency's findings.

The SEC alleged that, after the first crash in October 2018, which caused the death of 189 people, Boeing and Muilenburg were aware that the anti-stall Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) posed an ongoing safety concern. However, the company told the public that the 737 Max was “as safe as any airplane that has ever flown the skies.” 

After a second crash in March 2019, in which 157 people died, the company and Muilenburg claimed "there were no slips or gaps in the certification process with respect to MCAS, despite being aware of contrary information," the SEC said in a statement. Following the crashes, all 737 Max planes were grounded for over 18 months.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of life brought about by these two airplane crashes," SEC Chair Gary Gensler said. "In times of crisis and tragedy, it is especially important that public companies and executives provide full, fair and truthful disclosures to the markets. The Boeing Company and its former CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, failed in this most basic obligation. They misled investors by providing assurances about the safety of the 737 Max, despite knowing about serious safety concerns."

The settlement "fully resolves the SEC’s previously disclosed inquiry into matters relating to the 737 Max accidents," Boeing told CNN. “Today’s settlement is part of the company’s broader effort to responsibly resolve outstanding legal matters related to the 737 Max accidents in a manner that serves the best interests of our shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders."

Boeing previously reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Department of Justice to avoid criminal charges. Last year, a grand jury indicted Boeing's former chief technical pilot, Mark A. Forkner, on fraud charges. Forkner, the only Boeing employee who has faced a criminal indictment in relation to the crashes, was accused of deceiving the FAA's Aircraft Evaluation Group during evaluation and certification of the 737 Max. Following a four-day trial earlier this year, a jury found Forkner not guilty.

Meta ordered to pay $175 million in patent infringement case

Meta is facing a hefty bill after losing a patent infringement lawsuit. A federal judge in Texas has ordered the company to pay Voxer, the developer of app called Walkie Talkie, nearly $175 million as an ongoing royalty. Voxer accused Meta of infringing its patents and incorporating that tech in Instagram Live and Facebook Live.

In 2006, Tom Katis, the founder of Voxer, started working on a way to resolve communications problems he faced while serving in the US Army in Afghanistan, as TechCrunch notes. Katis and his team developed tech that allows for live voice and video transmissions, which led to Voxer debuting the Walkie Talkie app in 2011.

According to the lawsuit, soon after Voxer released the app, Meta (then known as Facebook) approached the company about a collaboration. Voxer is said to have revealed its proprietary technology as well as its patent portfolio to Meta, but the two sides didn't reach an agreement. Voxer claims that even though Meta didn't have live video or voice services back then, it identified the Walkie Talkie developer as a competitor and shut down access to Facebook features such as the "Find Friends" tool.

Meta debuted Facebook Live in 2015. Katis claims to have had a chance meeting with a Facebook Live product manager in early 2016 to discuss the alleged infringements of Voxer's patents in that product, but Meta declined to reach a deal with the company. The latter released Instagram Live later that year. "Both products incorporate Voxer’s technologies and infringe its patents," Voxer claimed in the lawsuit.

Meta denied Voxer's claims in a statement to TechCrunch. It plans to fight the ruling. “We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” a spokesperson said. “We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”

Meta ordered to pay $175 million in patent infringement case

Meta is facing a hefty bill after losing a patent infringement lawsuit. A federal judge in Texas has ordered the company to pay Voxer, the developer of app called Walkie Talkie, nearly $175 million as an ongoing royalty. Voxer accused Meta of infringing its patents and incorporating that tech in Instagram Live and Facebook Live.

In 2006, Tom Katis, the founder of Voxer, started working on a way to resolve communications problems he faced while serving in the US Army in Afghanistan, as TechCrunch notes. Katis and his team developed tech that allows for live voice and video transmissions, which led to Voxer debuting the Walkie Talkie app in 2011.

According to the lawsuit, soon after Voxer released the app, Meta (then known as Facebook) approached the company about a collaboration. Voxer is said to have revealed its proprietary technology as well as its patent portfolio to Meta, but the two sides didn't reach an agreement. Voxer claims that even though Meta didn't have live video or voice services back then, it identified the Walkie Talkie developer as a competitor and shut down access to Facebook features such as the "Find Friends" tool.

Meta debuted Facebook Live in 2015. Katis claims to have had a chance meeting with a Facebook Live product manager in early 2016 to discuss the alleged infringements of Voxer's patents in that product, but Meta declined to reach a deal with the company. The latter released Instagram Live later that year. "Both products incorporate Voxer’s technologies and infringe its patents," Voxer claimed in the lawsuit.

Meta denied Voxer's claims in a statement to TechCrunch. It plans to fight the ruling. “We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” a spokesperson said. “We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”

‘Destiny 2’ cheat maker AimJunkies claims Bungie hacked them

Destiny 2 developer Bungie has been on a legal spree recently: It sued one user over cheating and threats against its employees, as well as a YouTuber who issued nearly 100 false DMCA claims against other creators. But after suing the cheat developer AimJunkies last year, Bungie is now facing a countersuit. AimJunkies claims the developer illegally hacked an associate's computer, reports TorrentFreak (via Kotaku). Additionally, they allege Bungie also violated the DMCA by breaking through that machine's security.  

Bungie's current Limited Software License Agreement (LSLA) gives the company's BattleEye software permission to scan computers for anti-cheat tools, but that wasn't true back in 2019, when the alleged hack began. According to AimJunkie's counter-suit, Bungie accessed a computer owned by its associate James May several times throughout 2019 and 2021. It goes on to allege that Bungie used information from those hacks to gather information about other potential suspects. 

Phoenix Digital, the company behind AimJunkies, didn't stop there. It also claims the Bungie violated its Terms of Service by buying AimJunkies' software and reverse-engineering its source code. If this all sounds a bit ironic, that's because Bungie accused the company of similar tactics in its original suit. James May and Phoenix Digital are demanding damages, as well as an end to any future hacks and DMCA breaches. We've asked Bungie for comment, and will update if we hear back.

‘Destiny 2’ cheat maker AimJunkies claims Bungie hacked them

Destiny 2 developer Bungie has been on a legal spree recently: It sued one user over cheating and threats against its employees, as well as a YouTuber who issued nearly 100 false DMCA claims against other creators. But after suing the cheat developer AimJunkies last year, Bungie is now facing a countersuit. AimJunkies claims the developer illegally hacked an associate's computer, reports TorrentFreak (via Kotaku). Additionally, they allege Bungie also violated the DMCA by breaking through that machine's security.  

Bungie's current Limited Software License Agreement (LSLA) gives the company's BattleEye software permission to scan computers for anti-cheat tools, but that wasn't true back in 2019, when the alleged hack began. According to AimJunkie's counter-suit, Bungie accessed a computer owned by its associate James May several times throughout 2019 and 2021. It goes on to allege that Bungie used information from those hacks to gather information about other potential suspects. 

Phoenix Digital, the company behind AimJunkies, didn't stop there. It also claims the Bungie violated its Terms of Service by buying AimJunkies' software and reverse-engineering its source code. If this all sounds a bit ironic, that's because Bungie accused the company of similar tactics in its original suit. James May and Phoenix Digital are demanding damages, as well as an end to any future hacks and DMCA breaches. We've asked Bungie for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Florida asks Supreme Court to decide fight over social media regulation

Florida is calling on the US' highest court to settle the dispute over social media speech regulation. The Washington Postnotes the state's attorney general has petitioned the Supreme Court to determine whether or not states are violating First Amendment free speech rights by requiring that social media platforms host speech they would otherwise block, and whether they can require explanations when platforms remove posts.

In making its case, Florida argued that the court needed to address contradictory rulings. While a 5th Circuit of Appeals court upheld a Texas law allowing users to sue social networks for alleged censorship, an 11th Circuit of Appeals court ruled that Florida was violating the First Amendment with key parts of a law preventing internet firms from banning politicians.

The backers of the Florida and Texas laws have argued that the measures are necessary to combat alleged censorship of conservative views on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Legislators have contended that social networks are common carriers, like phone providers, and thus are required to carry all speech that isn't otherwise illegal. The companies, meanwhile, believe laws like these are unconstitutional and would force them to host hate speech, hostile governments' propaganda and spam. They say the constitutional amendment is meant to protect against government censorship, and that private outlets have the right to decide what they host.

It's not clear how the Supreme Court will rule. While conservative judges dominate the legislative body, the court granted an emergency request that put the Texas law on hold before it was upheld in the 5th Circuit last week. The higher court hasn't yet issued a definitive ruling on the matter, and a decision in favor of Florida could also help more liberal-leaning states with their own proposed bills requiring greater transparency for hate speech and threats.

Florida asks Supreme Court to decide fight over social media regulation

Florida is calling on the US' highest court to settle the dispute over social media speech regulation. The Washington Postnotes the state's attorney general has petitioned the Supreme Court to determine whether or not states are violating First Amendment free speech rights by requiring that social media platforms host speech they would otherwise block, and whether they can require explanations when platforms remove posts.

In making its case, Florida argued that the court needed to address contradictory rulings. While a 5th Circuit of Appeals court upheld a Texas law allowing users to sue social networks for alleged censorship, an 11th Circuit of Appeals court ruled that Florida was violating the First Amendment with key parts of a law preventing internet firms from banning politicians.

The backers of the Florida and Texas laws have argued that the measures are necessary to combat alleged censorship of conservative views on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Legislators have contended that social networks are common carriers, like phone providers, and thus are required to carry all speech that isn't otherwise illegal. The companies, meanwhile, believe laws like these are unconstitutional and would force them to host hate speech, hostile governments' propaganda and spam. They say the constitutional amendment is meant to protect against government censorship, and that private outlets have the right to decide what they host.

It's not clear how the Supreme Court will rule. While conservative judges dominate the legislative body, the court granted an emergency request that put the Texas law on hold before it was upheld in the 5th Circuit last week. The higher court hasn't yet issued a definitive ruling on the matter, and a decision in favor of Florida could also help more liberal-leaning states with their own proposed bills requiring greater transparency for hate speech and threats.

Justice Department officials want to take part in Epic v. Apple appeal

The Department of Justice has asked a US federal judge to participate in the upcoming appeals case between Epic and Apple, according to court documents seen by Reuters. The companies will return to court next month to argue over the outcome of their 2020 antitrust case.

The Justice Department filed a brief to enter the case at the start of the year. The agency said it was concerned that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers had improperly interpreted US antitrust law. In 2019, reports surfaced that the DOJ was preparing to launch a probe of Apple’s business practices. A decision to uphold the company's win over Epic could limit the DOJ’s ability to sue it for antitrust violations.

"The United States believes that its participation at oral argument would be helpful to the court, especially in explaining how the errors (in antitrust law interpretation) could significantly harm antitrust enforcement beyond the specific context of this case," the Justice Department wrote on Friday.

The agency has asked for 10 minutes of the court’s time. Neither side is against the Justice Department’s involvement, though Apple has requested that the DOJ’s argument time count against Epic’s total time allotment or that the court extends the proceedings.

Justice Department officials want to take part in Epic v. Apple appeal

The Department of Justice has asked a US federal judge to participate in the upcoming appeals case between Epic and Apple, according to court documents seen by Reuters. The companies will return to court next month to argue over the outcome of their 2020 antitrust case.

The Justice Department filed a brief to enter the case at the start of the year. The agency said it was concerned that Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers had improperly interpreted US antitrust law. In 2019, reports surfaced that the DOJ was preparing to launch a probe of Apple’s business practices. A decision to uphold the company's win over Epic could limit the DOJ’s ability to sue it for antitrust violations.

"The United States believes that its participation at oral argument would be helpful to the court, especially in explaining how the errors (in antitrust law interpretation) could significantly harm antitrust enforcement beyond the specific context of this case," the Justice Department wrote on Friday.

The agency has asked for 10 minutes of the court’s time. Neither side is against the Justice Department’s involvement, though Apple has requested that the DOJ’s argument time count against Epic’s total time allotment or that the court extends the proceedings.

California sues Amazon for preventing third-party sellers offering cheaper prices elsewhere

Amazon still can't avoid lawsuits over third-party prices. The New York Timesreports California has filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing Amazon of violating both the Cartwright Act and state competition law through its pricing rules. The internet giant is stifling competition by preventing sellers from offering lower prices on other sites, according to Attorney General Rob Bonta. If they defy Amazon, they risk losing buy buttons, prominent listings or even basic access to Amazon's marketplace.

If successful, the lawsuit would bar any contracts deemed anti-competitive and notify sellers that they're free to reduce prices elsewhere. Amazon would also have to pay damages, return "ill-gotten gains" and appoint a court-approved overseer.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said California had the situation "exactly backwards." Third-parties still have control over prices, Amazon claimed, and inclusion in the "Buy Box" space supposedly shows that a deal is truly competitive. It further contended that the suit would raise prices. You can read the full statement below.

The case is similar to a District of Columbia lawsuit. The region's Superior Court dismissed that case in March citing a lack of evidence, but Attorney General Karl Racine is appealing the decision.

Amazon is facing increasing government scrutiny of its practices. The Federal Trade Commission has been investigating issues ranging from major acquisitions through to withheld driver tips, while EU pressure prompted Amazon to revise its seller program and improve third parties' chances of competing with direct sales. The tech firm has balked at these moves, and went so far as to both demand the FTC chair's recusal as well as fight agency requests to interview executives. Don't expect either side to back down any time soon, in other words.

"Similar to the D.C. Attorney General—whose complaint was dismissed by the courts—the California Attorney General has it exactly backwards. Sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store. Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law. We hope that the California court will reach the same conclusion as the D.C. court and dismiss this lawsuit promptly."