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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:00 am

Patent fees for iPhones lead to suit

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NEW YORK – An escalating battle between Apple and Qualcomm over money and patent rights is drawing in Taiwanese contractors that assemble Apple's iPhones.

Apple claims that Qualcomm is overcharging for patent-related license fees on iPhone sales, a point Qualcomm disputes. Last month, Apple Inc. began refusing to pay royalties until the courts determine how much it owes, a process that could take several years.

According to a federal lawsuit Qualcomm filed Wednesday, Apple has also instructed its contractors to withhold those payments and has agreed to indemnify them for damages from any lawsuits. Qualcomm has separate licensing agreements with the contractors. Qualcomm's lawsuit says those contractors are still paying royalties for non-Apple products.

Vision-based Lens next for Google

Google has provided a look at its latest digital offerings, with a heavy focus on its efforts to extend artificial intelligence features into more of its apps and services.

At the company's annual conference for computer programmers Wednesday, CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled Google Lens, a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you are looking at.

It will first be available as part of Google's voice-controlled digital assistant and Photos app. In the real world, that means you could, for instance, point your phone camera at a restaurant and get reviews for it. Pinterest has a similar tool, also called Lens, that lets people point their cameras at real-world items and find out where to buy them, or find similar things online.

Another tool in Google Photos will prompt you to share photos you take with people you know.

On shipping, Target faces big adversaries

Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon are engaged in a game of shipping tag, each trying to adjust their free threshold and other shipping strategies to a level that can lure shoppers away from one of the other.

Minneapolis-based Target has the furthest to go as it tries to put itself in better competition with Amazon, the undisputed online leader, and Wal-Mart, which has been buying online startups to beef up its own operations.

Target has announced plans to put more money into both online operations and stores, and it saw it online sales rise 22 percent for the first quarter. That was a slowdown from 34 percent in the fourth quarter.

With shoppers overall less and less willing to wait for their items to arrive, figuring out a shipping strategy that will encourage people to buy more and also drive shoppers to its stores will be a key element for Target.

VW execs probed for market misdeeds

German prosecutors said Wednesday they're investigating whether Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller and two others, including Mueller's predecessor, manipulated markets by not releasing information about VW's diesel cheating soon enough.

The probe relates to Mueller and the others' roles as executives in 2015 at Stuttgart-based Porsche Automobil Holding SE, the holding company that controls Volkswagen.

Prosecutors in a statement confirmed media reports that Germany's Federal Financial Supervisory Authority filed a complaint in 2016 asking prosecutors to investigate executives from the holding company.