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Top Stories of the Week - August 6, 2011

Major tech companies engaged in mobile computing war for patents

The mobile computing boom has turned into a courthouse war of the titans, as big tech companies are increasingly engaged in high-dollar legal disputes over lucrative patents for the software that makes smartphones and tablets so popular across the globe.

Industry insiders say they've never seen so many claims and counterclaims between major tech companies: Google threw a spotlight on the issue last week when it accused Apple, Microsoft and Oracle of using patents as weapons in an organized campaign to "strangle" Google's popular Android software. But other competitors, such as Nokia and Apple, have also feuded over patents in court.

Visa plans to create the digital wallet and dominate mobile payments

It’s no secret that credit card companies are shelling out huge amount of money and aggressively forming partnerships and deals to start cashing in on the mobile and digital payments innovations currently taking place. American Express, which recently released its own digital payments product Serve, has been particularly aggressive on the partnerships front, striking recent deals with both Foursquare and Facebook.

Mastercard has bet on NFC with a partnership with Google for Google Wallet and bought online payments gateway DataCash for $520 million last fall. And Visa has made a number of major moves in the mobile and digital payments space lately; including making an investment in disruptive startup Square, buying virtual goods payments platform PlaySpan for US$190 million, and acquiring mobile payments company Fundamo for US$110 million.

Android gets IPTV, connected TV

Though we knew it was only a matter of time, the first Android-based IPTV solution has hit the streets, aiming to integrate the flexibility of Android app integration with connected TVs.

NetUP has launched a client for IPTV Middleware, NetUP.tv for Android, which includes a graphical user interface that includes in-stream pause and rewind options, TV on Demand, an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and all the Android features, like Web browsing, social networking, gaming and thousands of applications such as YouTube, Skype, Google Maps and others. The application can be launched on any Android-based IP set-top box.

Jury orders Verizon to pay US$115M to ActiveVideo in patent dispute

Verizon was ordered by a federal jury to pay US$115 million in damages to interactive television technology provider ActiveVideo Networks for infringing on four of the California-based company's patents.

Following the decision, which came after a three week trial and two days of jury deliberation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, ActiveVideo said the company also would seek an injunction against Verizon and its FiOS TV service.

Android virus records VoIP calls in secret

A recently discovered virus spreading among Android phones reportedly records users’ phone calls without their knowledge. Discovered by CA Technologies security researcher Dinesh Venkatesan, the malware automatically records outbound calls users make from their cell phones. As a specialist in mobile threats, Venkatesan tested the software “in a controlled environment with two mobile emulators running along with simulated Internet services,” according to his personal blog.

He also noted that he has seen a remarkable uptake in the proliferation of malware targeting mobile platforms. He stated, “As it is already widely acknowledged that this year is the year of mobile malware, we advise the smartphone users to be more logical and exercise the basic security principles while surfing and installing any applications.”