Archive for Kevin Shalvey

Clubhouse reaches undisclosed settlement with the owner of a sports-networking site, which sued the audio app for trademark infringement

A finger taps the Clubhouse app icon on a bright iPhone screen
The Clubhouse app.
  • Clubhouse said it settled a trademark case brought by the owners of TheClubhouse.
  • Clubhouse owner Alpha Exploration Co. had a Monday deadline to file a response to the May lawsuit.
  • The companies reached an amicable resolution, a lawyer for TheClubhouse said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Clubhouse reached an undisclosed settlement with SBS Consulting Group, which had sued over its trademark "TheClubhouse."

Lawyers representing both companies filed a joint notice in federal court in Arizona saying they'd reached a settlement agreement. SBS Consulting said in a Tuesday filing it had dismissed its complaint, the filing said.

SBS Consulting in May filed a lawsuit that said Alpha Exploration Co., Clubhouse's parent company, had infringed on its federal trademark. The deadline for Clubhouse's response to the lawsuit had been extended to Monday, August 9.

A lawyer for SBS Consulting, James P. Muraff, of McDonald Hopkins in Chicago, said via email that the settlement was an amicable resolution. Under the settlement terms, the parties were unable to discuss details.

SBS Consulting said in its Tuesday filing that the parties had agreed to bear their own lawyers' fees and costs.

SBS Consulting's website "TheClubhouse" is a networking site for sports business professionals. The company said in its May filing that the buzzy audio app Clubhouse had infringed on that name.

"It is interesting that Clubhouse, a company valued at $4 billion, has no registered trademark and appears not to have even applied for registration in the US," Christine Haight Farley, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, told Insider at the time.

Insider reached out to Clubhouse for comment.

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Apple exec defends the company’s much-criticized plan to scan iPhones for child abuse images, saying the feature has been misunderstood

A cloudy sky behind a brightly lit Apple logo in a Manhattan store
An Apple Store in Manhattan.

Apple's Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, said the company's plan to scan iPhone users' photos for child sexual abuse material has been "widely misunderstood."

"We wish that this had come out a little more clearly for everyone, because we feel very positive and strongly about what we're doing, and we can see that it's been widely misunderstood," Federighi said in a video interview with The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern published on Friday.

Apple earlier this month announced a feature that would create digital hashes of images as they're uploaded from iPhones to iCloud accounts. Those hashes would be compared to databases of known child sexual abuse material held by anti-abuse organizations, Apple said.

"Before an image is stored in iCloud Photos, an on-device matching process is performed for that image against the known CSAM hashes," the summary said.

Critics of the plan said it was a misstep for a company that's long made privacy a selling point. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last Thursday called the hashing-and-matching update a privacy "backdoor," which could be expanded or exploited. Some Apple employees were worried the feature could be exploited by governments, Reuters reported.

Apple SVP Craig Federighi raises his hand as he speaks on stage in front of a black background
Federighi on stage in 2019.

"I think in no way is this a backdoor," Federighi said in the Journal interview. "I don't understand - I really don't understand that characterization."

The CSAM feature was one of two photo-scanning updates the company announced. The other would scan children's incoming iMessage photos for nudity, alerting parents when children under 12 years old viewed pornographic content.

"I do believe the sound-bite that got out early was, 'Oh my god, Apple is scanning my phone for images.' This is not what is happening," Federighi told the Journal via video. "This is about images stored in the cloud."

Eva Galperin, EFF's director of cybersecurity, said via Twitter that the rollout had not been misunderstood by privacy experts.

"I'd like to take this moment to make it clear to poor Craig that no, I don't misunderstand Apple's plans to check photos in iCloud against NCMEC's database of CSAM," Galperin said.

"It's well-meaning but it's also creating a mechanism that Apple will be forced to use for other things," she added.

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Elon Musk’s official Tesla salary dropped to zero in 2020 – but he hasn’t accepted his paychecks in years anyway

Tesla CEO Elon Musk points a finger upward while wearing a black bandana around his neck
Elon Musk in Germany on Friday.
  • Tesla cut CEO Elon Musk's salary to zero for 2020.
  • In 2019, the company said it eliminated altogether the earning and accrual of his base salary.
  • Musk's official salary was listed as $23,760 in 2019 and $56,380 in 2018.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn't receive a paycheck from the electric-vehicle maker in 2020.

Musk's 2020 salary dropped to zero, according to an update filed with the SEC on Friday.

His salary in 2019 had been $23,760. In 2018, it was $56,380.

"However, he has never accepted his salary," the company said. "Commencing in May 2019 at Mr. Musk's request, we eliminated altogether the earning and accrual of this base salary."

Under his 2018 compensation agreement, Musk's total compensation package is stock-based. His options vest based on his ability to push the company to hit certain operating metrics.

The 10-year agreement included 16 operational milestones. If Tesla hits 12 of those milestones, and the company's market cap hits $650 billion, Musk's shares will vest on schedule, according to the company.

Tesla had hit six of those milestones as of Friday, the company said.

The company's market cap surged past $650 billion in 2020. It was $704.81 billion as of Friday's close.

In 2019, Musk paid cash for vested options that were valued at $30.5 million, but didn't sell any of the shares bought in that transaction, according to Friday's filing. The filing didn't list a vested-option purchase for 2020.

Under the 2018 agreement, Musk's exercise price was $70.01 per share, SEC filings said. Tesla stock ended the week at $716.70 per share.

"Only time I sell Tesla stock is when my stock options are expiring & I have no choice," Musk said on Twitter in June.

Bloomberg last week estimated Musk's total 2020 compensation to be $6.7 billion, the highest of any US chief executive.

Musk has often said he's earmarked his Tesla stock to help humans reach Mars. When asked about his 2018 compensation plan in November, he said he "didn't expect the stock to rise so much so soon."

"The reason for the stock options is that they're needed to help pay for humanity to get to Mars in 10 to 20 years," he said on Twitter.

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Mask mandates are not unconstitutional, the DOJ says in a blistering 157-page rebuttal to a man who sued the CDC and 7 airlines

Frequent flyer Lucas Wall standing at Brown Station, Antarctica, in a red snowsuit
Lucas Wall at Brown Station, Antarctica.
  • DOJ attorneys defended federal mask mandates against a lawsuit calling them unconstitutional.
  • Lucas Wall sued the CDC, President Joe Biden, and other government agencies in June.
  • Wall's claims were meritless, DOJ attorneys said in a Monday filing.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The US government has defended the legality of its mask mandates, filing a point-by-point rebuttal against a complaint in Florida that said such mandates were unconstitutional.

This week's filing appeared to be the first time the government laid out a lengthy legal defense against claims that mask mandates put in place during the pandemic were illegal.

The filing included 88 pages of rebuttals and another 70 pages of exhibits. It was filed by high-level government officials, including Brian M. Boynton, acting assistant attorney general.

Lucas Wall, a frequent flyer who said he cannot wear a mask because of a medical condition, in June sued the CDC, President Joe Biden, and a handful of other federal agencies. He also sued seven airlines.

Wall said he was stranded at his mother's home in The Villages, Florida, during the pandemic because he couldn't board a plane without a mask.

"At the outset, Plaintiff's constitutional right to interstate travel is not threatened here, for the simple reason that he is free to leave Florida at any time - by land, air, or sea," federal lawyers wrote in their response.

The blue-and-white CDC sign in front of the agency's Atlanta headquarters at sunset
Wall issued a lawsuit against the CDC in June.

Wall's complaint had charged the government with 21 violations of the Constitution, laws, and regulations. In phone conversations before the government's filing, Wall and senior government lawyers agreed to dismiss five complaints.

The government on Monday laid out its case against the remaining 16 charges. It said some of the claims weren't in the federal court's jurisdiction. It said other claims were "meritless" and should be dismissed.

"For those who seek to use our nation's public-transportation systems during a global pandemic, Congress has entrusted those judgments to the medical experts at the CDC - not to Mr. Wall, and, respectfully, not to the courts," the government lawyers wrote.

Mask mandates were just part of the government's day-to-day responsibilities as it tried to stop COVID-19 from spreading, the filing said. The mandate "easily clears that low bar," it said.

The lawsuits Wall brought in federal court in Orlando also said the mandates discriminated against people who couldn't wear masks because of medical conditions. Wall previously attempted to take his case directly to the Supreme Court, saying he would have to forfeit upcoming trips because he couldn't wear a mask.

The government on Monday argued that Wall was free to make his own medical decisions. But he and other travelers didn't have a right to place "others at risk of communicable diseases while traveling in interstate commerce."

"And there is no constitutional right 'to not have a policy imposed on [him],' that he thinks is harmful - that is one of the basic tradeoffs of living in a society, with a government that is authorized to make policy choices that individual citizens may not support," the lawyers said.

Wall, who is representing himself, said he expects to file an about 50-page response to the government within a few days. A federal judge would then decide whether to hear oral arguments.

"One of the key issues here is that Congress has not passed any of these mandates into law," Wall said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "The CDC is making these up and citing authority in previous laws that just doesn't exist."

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company is considering building huge tunnels in the Texan cities of Austin and San Antonio, reports say

The Boring Company founder Elon Musk talks into a microphone in front of a tunnel lit in blue
The Boring Company founder Elon Musk in 2018.

Elon Musk's The Boring Company has been in talks with officials in San Antonio and Austin about digging local tunnels, The San Antonio Express-News reported on Friday.

San Antonio city agencies have discussed digging a 10-mile loop between the city's downtown and San Antonio International Airport, among other routes, the report said, citing unnamed sources. It was unclear what the path for the Austin tunnel would be.

A new tunnel in Texas would mark the latest in a handful of high-profile municipal partnerships for the company, which was founded in 2016.

The company's Las Vegas underground transport opened in June. The 1.7-mile loop under the Las Vegas Convention Center has three stops. The company said it cost about $47 million to build. Las Vegas city councilors also approved an expansion into downtown, with plans to connect to McCarran International Airport.

And the company last month submitted plans to officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a tunnel expected to cost at least $30 million. Musk's company had courted local officials in Florida for months.

In San Antonio, discussions were said to have been ongoing for at least two months.

Insider has reached out to the company for comment.

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Elon Musk speaks out about Tesla’s $1.5 million payment to settle a battery-charging lawsuit, saying ‘if we are wrong, we are wrong. In this case, we were.’

Tesla CEO Elon Musk in a white shirt and tie exits the backseat of a white Tesla
Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
  • Elon Musk used Twitter to discuss a recent Tesla settlement focused on battery capacity.
  • Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle claims it cut battery capacity to 1,743 vehicles in 2019.
  • "If we are wrong, we are wrong," Musk said on Friday. "In this case, we were."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the electric-vehicle maker been wrong to lower the maximum charging capacity for some vehicles.

"If we are wrong, we are wrong," he said on Twitter on Friday. "In this case, we were."

Tesla agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle claims it had reduced the charging capacity on some vehicles in 2019, according to a settlement agreement filed in US District Court in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The agreement included payments of $625 each to the owners of 1,743 Model S vehicles that temporarily had their maximum charging capacity reduced.

In another Friday tweet Musk expanded on his company's thinking about lawsuits and other claims.

"Tesla policy is never to give in to false claims, even if we would lose, and never to fight true claims, even if we would win," he said.

The settlement agreement would bring to a close a class-action lawsuit filed in August 2019 by David Rasmussen, who said a software update reduced the range and charging speed of his Model S.

The lawsuit said the company released the update in May 2019, limiting battery charging on some vehicles by about 10%. After three months of a 10% reduction, it was lowered to 7% for seven months, the lawsuit said. Software updates in May 2020 restored much of the charging capacity, court filings said.

The settlement would provide "many times" the $175 estimated loss per vehicle, according to court filings.

A hearing on the settlement agreement was scheduled for December 9 with Judge Beth Labson Freeman.

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WhatsApp’s CEO says national security officials of US allies were among those targeted with malware

A hand holds a mobile phone displaying the green-and-white WhatsApp logo
WhatsApp's CEO has spoken out about Pegasus malware.
  • WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart told The Guardian that officials of US allies were malware targets.
  • WhatsApp sued NSO Group in 2019, saying the Israeli company sent malware to 1,400 devices.
  • "There is no such thing as an encryption backdoor for just the good guys," Cathcart said.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart said senior government officials of US allies, including some in national-security roles, were targets of Pegasus phone malware in 2019.

Cathcart's statements, which were featured in an interview by The Guardian on Sunday, followed reports last week from the Pegasus Project, a consortium that included The Guardian, The Washington Post, and Amnesty International.

The reports said an Israeli company sold access to military-grade spyware, which was used to hack the phones of journalists, activists, and government officials.

NSO Group, the company behind the Pegasus software, denied the phone numbers leaked to the consortium were Pegasus targets.

WhatsApp sued NSO Group in October 2019, saying about 1,400 mobile devices running the app were targeted by the company's surveillance software.

According to the complaint, NSO Group had gained access to WhatsApp's servers to target "attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and other senior foreign government officials." The lawsuit is ongoing.

"The reporting matches what we saw in the attack we defeated two years ago, it is very consistent with what we were loud about then," Cathcart told The Guardian.

There were more than 50,000 phone numbers on a leaked list of potential Pegasus targets, although it was unclear how many had actually been targeted, Forbidden Stories said. The list included numbers for French president Emmanuel Macron, Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, Amnesty International said.

NSO Group said the consortium's reports were inaccurate, denying the numbers on the list were targets or potential targets of Pegasus. It said it would no longer reply to media questions about the software.

"The numbers in the list are not related to NSO group," the company said in a statement on Wednesday under the headline Enough is Enough. "Any claim that a name in the list is necessarily related to a Pegasus target or Pegasus potential target is erroneous and false."

The Pegasus software was designed to "covertly collect information about your target's relationships, location, phone calls, plans and activities - whenever and wherever they are," according to a product description included as an exhibit in WhatsApp's 2019 lawsuit.

The software tracked GPS locations, monitored voice and VoIP calls, and collected other information, the description said. It also "[l]eaves no trace on the device."

The software was reportedly sold to governments.

"There is no such thing as an encryption backdoor for just the good guys," Cathcart said on Twitter last week. "A backdoor would be abused. And a backdoor would be a gift to hackers, criminals, spyware companies, and hostile governments, with dangerous consequences for safety and security."

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Incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s newest stock award tops $200 million. This is how his Amazon holdings compare to Jeff Bezos’.

Andy Jassy Jeff Bezos
Andrew Jassy and Jeff Bezos.
  • Amazon has granted incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy 61,000 shares.
  • The grant, worth about $214 million at Friday's close, will vest over 10 years.
  • Jassy on July 5 will take the helm of the company as CEO Jeff Bezos steps down.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's newest stock award totaled more than $214 million, a high-dollar payout that would vest over 10 years, but still paled in comparison with founder Jeff Bezos' company holdings.

Amazon on Friday filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing Jassy's newest award of 61,000 shares. Amazon stock ended the week at $3,510.98 per share, placing Jassy's new grant just above $214 million.

Jassy's total Amazon holdings before the award were worth about $270 million, according to an Insider analysis of his SEC filings.

He owned about 0.02% of Amazon stock, according to FactSet data reported by CNBC on Friday.

Bezos, who plans to step down as chief executive on July 5, holds about 10.3% of the company and more than 50 million shares, according to Markets Insider.

Bezos' Amazon stake totaled about $170 billion in May. He sold about $10 billion in stock in 2020.

Wall Street analysts' average price target for Amazon's stock was $4,241.33, about 21% above Friday's close, according to Yahoo Finance.

The stock ticked up 2% in after-hours trading on Friday.

Jassy sold about 460,000 Amazon shares over the last 15 years, according to Insider's analysis. If he hadn't sold those shares, his holdings would have been worth about $1.8 billion in February, it said.

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Incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s newest stock award tops $200 million. This is how his Amazon holdings compare to Jeff Bezos’.

Andy Jassy Jeff Bezos
Andrew Jassy and Jeff Bezos.
  • Amazon has granted incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy 61,000 shares.
  • The grant, worth about $214 million at Friday's close, will vest over 10 years.
  • Jassy on July 5 will take the helm of the company as CEO Jeff Bezos steps down.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's newest stock award totaled more than $214 million, a high-dollar payout that would vest over 10 years, but still paled in comparison with founder Jeff Bezos' company holdings.

Amazon on Friday filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing Jassy's newest award of 61,000 shares. Amazon stock ended the week at $3,510.98 per share, placing Jassy's new grant just above $214 million.

Jassy's total Amazon holdings before the award were worth about $270 million, according to an Insider analysis of his SEC filings.

He owned about 0.02% of Amazon stock, according to FactSet data reported by CNBC on Friday.

Bezos, who plans to step down as chief executive on July 5, holds about 10.3% of the company and more than 50 million shares, according to Markets Insider.

Bezos' Amazon stake totaled about $170 billion in May. He sold about $10 billion in stock in 2020.

Wall Street analysts' average price target for Amazon's stock was $4,241.33, about 21% above Friday's close, according to Yahoo Finance.

The stock ticked up 2% in after-hours trading on Friday.

Jassy sold about 460,000 Amazon shares over the last 15 years, according to Insider's analysis. If he hadn't sold those shares, his holdings would have been worth about $1.8 billion in February, it said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

San Diego’s mayor joins other lawmakers in pleading to end COVID restrictions at the US-Mexico border, which they say are hurting the local economy

A man with a bike and a woman with a mask walk in front of San Ysidro port of entry
San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego.
  • Southern California lawmakers called for Homeland Security to end pandemic border restrictions.
  • Last Sunday it extended COVID-19 restrictions through July 21.
  • San Diego's mayor said he saw no reason to continue restrictions when COVID cases were plummeting.

A group of southern California lawmakers, including San Diego's mayor, called for an end to pandemic restrictions along the border with Mexico as part of an effort to boost the local economy.

"As the rate of COVID-19 cases continue to plummet, and other restrictions have been lifted, I see no reason to continue selective restrictions that impact our cross-border community," San Diego mayor Todd Gloria said in a press release.

The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. The Dept. of Homeland Security last Sunday extended through July 21 those restrictions for all land or ferry crossings into the US.

San Diego's San Ysidro district, which touches the border, saw retail sales drop to $250 million in the 12 months ending in March, according to the local chamber of commerce. That was down from nearly $900 million in the same year-earlier period, the chamber's Juan Miguel Hornedo told San Diego Red.

About 200 businesses in San Ysidro closed last year, he said.

"Over the last year, we've lost 1,900 jobs. Those are 1,900 families that counted on their jobs to feed their children that no longer have that option," the chamber's Jason Wells told San Diego's KGTV last week.

Non-essential travel to Canada and Mexico will continue to be restricted, while "ensuring access for essential trade & travel," Homeland Security said on Twitter. But the department also said it had seen "positive developments" that might lead to easing restrictions.

"I welcome this note of hope but every day legal border crossings are limited is extremely harmful to San Diego's economy and the small businesses that power it," Gloria responded.

San Diego supervisor Nora Vargas said: "Any delay only exacerbates the impacts of the pandemic."

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