One case focuses on how much responsibility technology companies have for the actions of customers who. Peer-to-peer file swapping is the heart of the issue, but the court is addressing a delicate legal balance between copyright interests and technological progress that has lasted for two decades. Despite the lack of judicial resolution, some entrepreneurs are pushing ahead with plans to for commerce.
The other major case pits the Federal Communications Commission against a small Internet service provider called Brand X, which couldfor years to come. Though the details of the case are seemingly arcane, the issue could influence how quickly high-speed Internet services come online across the country, what features they will have and how much they will cost--particularly in regions where cable is the only broadband choice for consumers.
Decisions on these cases could come as early as Monday.
No stranger to the courtroom, Apple Computer found itself on the receiving end of a suit when a Vermont company alleged that the. Contois Music & Technology filed suit last week, alleging that Apple's actions are "irreparably" damaging Contois.
The company seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction, as well as unspecified damages, according to the lawsuit. Contois is also charging that Apple's patent infringement is willful, and is asking the court to take this into account in calculating damages by tripling the amount it would otherwise award.
Meanwhile, PC manufacturer Dell is involved in a lawsuit with national implications thatthe company was promised by North Carolina lawmakers. Lawyers for the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law filed a 69-page complaint on behalf of seven small-business owners in the Forsythe County area who say Dell is getting grossly unfair tax advantages to build its 527,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the city of Winston-Salem.
The complaint claims Dell's package deal violates the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause, which says Congress (and by extension, the states) cannot make laws that favor commerce in one state over commerce in another. The suit asks for an injunction preventing Dell from receiving any further tax incentives and asks that the company be required to pay back the funds it has received so far.