The iPhone X

By: Nicholas P. Fedorka

The internet is buzzing about Apple’s new release of its iPhone X, the latest version of Apple’s hottest product. Announced earlier this week, it’s thinner, faster, and has a better screen than the previous model, or at least that is what Apple is saying. Yet, Apple seems to follow a trend of reducing core features rather than advancing them. For instance, the new iPhone will no longer have two critical features: a headphone jack and TouchID. Everyone knew that the headphone jack was on borrowed time, especially with apples Bluetooth earbuds being such a hot hit. But, it will be interesting to see how consumers adapt to the new facial recognition feature. It will be doubly interesting to see the legal ramifications that come from this new feature.

Cites:

Matt Burns, I don’t want the iPhone X and I can’t be alone TechCrunch, https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/13/i-dont-want-the-new-iphone-x-and-i-cant-be-alone/.

The iPhone X’s Controversial New Feature

By: Melissa Goldstein

In honor of the iPhone’s tenth anniversary, Apple will be releasing the iPhone X. One of its new features, known as FaceID or facial recognition, allows users to unlock their phones just by staring into the camera. The iPhone creates a 3D map of a person’s face by using sensors, the front camera, and a dot projector. Every time people use their face to open their phone, 30,000 infrared dots are projected onto their face. The map of the user’s face becomes more and more detailed with every use.

Three-dimensional facial recognition sounds very high tech and exciting, but it is sparking some controversy in the legal world. Law enforcement is concerned that FaceID will make it harder for them to collect important data in crime investigations. On the other side, some consumers are concerned that law enforcement will use this feature to take advantage of a citizen’s Fifth Amendment rights.

An article in Washington’s Top News discusses that investigators in Maryland’s digital forensic labs are already bogged down and backed up with all of the evidence they have to sort through on iPhones. Law enforcement is concerned that the facial recognition technology could impose a delay on unlocking an iPhone in the first place. The iPhone’s older models, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, are already nearly impossible to crack. Essentially, there is a big concern that the longer it takes to unlock an iPhone, the longer it could take to catch dangerous criminals.

On the flip side, consumers have their own worries that facial recognition could lead to law enforcement taking advantage of them. A law professor at the University of Oregon, Carrie Leonetti, says that FaceID and the current TouchID have less of a constitutional protection than older methods. When the only method of security was a four-digit passcode a person could rely on his or her Fifth Amendment privilege and simply not say the passcode. However, Jim Dempsey, ?executive director at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law & Technology, believes that police officers will still need a search warrant to make an iPhone owner unlock the phone using the FaceID feature. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to search cellphones without a warrant. Dempsey believes that this ruling from Riley v. California will also apply to the FaceID feature.

Apple’s FaceID technology does however include ways to prevent the phone owners face from unlocking the phone. When pressing the power button five times in a row, the phone will go into “SOS mode” and FaceID will be disabled. Also, the facial recognition will only unlock the phone if the user’s eyes are open and staring into the camera. It will be interesting to see how this new feature affects the legal world once the new iPhone is released in November.

Rubik’s Cube: The Battle for America’s Classic Toy

By: Elle Nanstein

In 1974, Erno Rubik, a Professor of Architecture in Budapest, Hungary, created a six-sided, colorfully decorated cube puzzle in an effort to provide new and exciting ways to present information to his students. Though it took over a month for Erno to work out the solution to his puzzle, he was able to use the Cube’s first model to explain the science behind spatial relationships. As its creator, Erno envisioned the Cube as “an object of art, a mobile sculpture symbolizing stark contrasts of the human condition: bewildering problems and triumphant intelligence; simplicity and complexity; stability and dynamism; order and chaos.”

After presenting his prototype to his students and friends, Erno began to realize the potential of his Cube and sought to begin the manufacturing and distribution process under the name “Magic Cube.” Due to Hungary’s involvement in the Communist regime, Erno knew that the only way for the Cube to obtain worldwide recognition was to get his invention out of the country. This was accomplished partly by a Hungarian entrepreneur who took the cube to the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1979, where Tom Kremer, a toy specialist for Ideal Toy Company, agreed to sell it to the rest of the world. However, Ideal Toy’s executives thought that the designation “Magic Cube” had overtones of witchcraft and decided to rebrand the product, eventually settling on the iconic name, “Rubik’s Cube.”

Since its launch in 1980, an estimated 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold and it is approximated that one in seven people alive have played with a Rubik’s Cube. According to its official website, “the beauty of the Rubik’s Cube is that when you look at a scrambled one, you know exactly what you need to do without instruction. Yet without instruction it is almost impossible to solve, making it one of the most infuriating and engaging inventions ever conceived.”

Unfortunately, the international success of the Rubik’s Cube has put the product at risk for trademark infringement. On August 28, 2017, Rubik’s Brand Limited filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Duncan Toys Co., its parent company Flaumbeau, Inc., and the retailer Toys “R” Us in an effort to halt sales of Duncan’s “Quick  Cube,” an alleged knockoff (pictured left). According to the complaint, Duncan’s cube “mimics the features and overall appearance” of the Rubik’s Cube, mainly differing in its colors and “slight rounding” of the corners. The company is also seeking to hold Toys “R” Us liable for selling Duncan’s cubes.

Rubik’s Brand Limited asserts that “as a result of Defendants’ use of a spurious version of Plaintiff’s federally registered Rubik’s Design Mark, consumers who expect to receive Plaintiff’s Rubik’s Cube puzzle, for which Plaintiff has developed a national and international reputation, will be disappointed when using Defendants’ imitation twist puzzle cube. This will cause irreparable harm to Plaintiff’s reputation and the goodwill which is symbolized by the Rubik’s Design Mark.” Rubik’s Brand Limited hopes to recover alleged illegal profits and triple damages, and seeks an order permitting the destruction of the unauthorized cubes. Whether the company will be able to maintain exclusive rights to the cubed puzzle remains uncertain at this time.

Cites:

The History of the Rubik’s Cube, Rubiks.com, https://www.rubiks.com/about/the-history-of-the-rubiks-cube (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).

Complaint, Rubik’s Brand Ltd. v. Flambeau, Inc., Duncan Toys Co., Toys “R” Us, Inc., WL 3724670 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) (No. 1:17-cv-06559).

New Rubik’s 3×3 Cube, Rubiks.com, https://www.rubiks.com/store/cubes/new-rubiks-3×3-cube (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).

Quick Cube 3×3, Yo-Yo.com, https://www.yo-yo.com/Quick-Cubes/Quick-Cube-3-x-3-3901QC (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).