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May 2, 2013

Technology News Briefs — May 2, 2013

Facebook to Nab $2.8M in Damages from Typosquatters

Facebook has won out over the so-called ‘typosquatters’ it launched suit against in 2011 — gaining the right to more than 100 domains as well as $2.8 million in damages.

The U.S. District Court for Northern California ruled that the people and companies with domain names similar to Facebook “registered infringing domains and created landing pages in bad faith.”

Domains such as faceboko.com, facemook.com and facebobk.com were created in the hopes of confusing and profiting from Web users who make a typing error when trying to find Facebook, the judge said, adding that they violated the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

While the defendants with only a few domain names were ordered to pay between $5,000 and $20,000, those with large numbers of similar domains will have to shell out more money.

Defendant Michael Suggs must pay $705,000 while another defendant, Newgate, was ordered to pay $1.34 million.

“We are pleased with the court’s recommendation,” Facebook associate general counsel Craig Clark said in a statement. “We will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to enforce against those who attempt to take advantage of the people who use our service.”

Yahoo Nabs To-Do App Astrid

To-do list app Astrid is now part of the Yahoo family. The technology giant has acquired the app for an undisclosed sum.

Astrid will continue “to work as is” for the next three months, although it will no longer accept new premium subscriptions.

“When we set out to build Astrid, we sought to help as many people as possible become happier, healthier and more productive,” wrote CEO Jon Paris in a blog post. “We’re really excited to join the mobile team and continue this work with Yahoo’s goal of ‘making the world’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining.’

“We are grateful to the more than four million of you who have downloaded our apps, to those who have shared Astrid with friends, family and co-workers, and to all who encouraged us with your kind words along the way. You honored us in so many ways, and we won’t forget you.”

The purchase is part and parcel of CEO Marissa Mayer’s continued push to improve Yahoo’s mobile offerings. Mayer in recent months has also acquired popular news-reading app Summly (for nearly $30 million); Alike, a mobile app that recommends new places to visit based on users’ interests; Snip.it, a social platform for collecting, organizing and sharing articles, videos and images on the Web; and OnTheAir, a small startup specializing in broadcasting video chats or interviews to online audiences.

Amazon Kindle Update Offers Tools for Blind, Visually-Impaired Users

Amazon has updated its Kindle for iOS reading app with tools to better enable blind and visually-impaired users “to navigate their Kindle libraries, read and interact with their books.”

The read aloud feature, which uses Apple’s VoiceOver technology, is available for more than 1.8 million Kindle titles, according to a company press release. 

The tools also allow users to “seamlessly navigate” within their library or book, with consistent title, menu and button names. Users can easily go to a specific page within a book or sort books in the library by author or title.

Another feature allows for reading character-by-character, word-by-word, line-by-line, or continuously, as well as move forward or backward in the text.

Yet another feature enables users to add and delete notes, bookmarks, and highlights.

“With this update, we’re also making customer-favorite features—such as X-Ray, End Actions, sharing, highlighting and bookmarking—more accessible,” said Amazon Kindle vice-president Dorothy Nicholls.  “We look forward to continuing to develop and extend our accessibility features on Kindle Fire and our other Kindle apps.”

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