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US, China to Hold Regular Cybersecurity Chats

Increasingly testy rhetoric and increasingly legitimate concerns have prompted the United States and China to announce that they will hold regular high-level talks on standards of cyberbehavior.

The announcement precedes a meeting between President Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping. That powwow will take place Friday in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with subsequent diplomatic talks to follow.

The Obama administration has publicly called out China for hacking U.S. government and corporate computers. Accusations from the U.S. government — as well as from private security firms, which have also ID’d China as a hacking superpower — have prompted denials, with China claiming that it has been the victim of cyberattacks carried out by the U.S.

Experts speculate that information gleaned from state-sponsored hacking has allowed China to save years, perhaps even decades, on military research.

[Source: The New York Times]

Dutch SC Hands Samsung a Win in Apple Patent Case

The Netherlands Supreme Court has ruled that Samsung has not infringed Apple’s design rights in a case centering on Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1.

The Supreme Court ruled that the devices are different enough to be distinguishable by an uninformed user.

The ruling applies to the entire European Union, so Apple cannot seek to make this particular patent claim elsewhere in the 27-nation bloc. Apple has raised similar tablet-related concerns in other courts in the past, including in the United Kingdom.

[Source: The Register]

Irish City Mulls Life Without Apple

Cork, a city in southern Ireland, would face “a very different situation if Apple wasn’t here,” according to the mayor, John Buttimer.

Apple is a large employer in Ireland, where the jobless rate has been at 14 percent for the past four years. However, Apple is facing increasing pressure stateside about its use of Ireland as a “tax haven.”

U.S. companies — Apple and Google among them — employ more than 100,000 people in Ireland, where the main corporate tax rate is 12.5 percent, the lowest in Western Europe. France, for instance, has a rate of 33 percent, while the UK — which has long been irked by U.S. companies’ use of Ireland to skirt taxes — has a rate of 23 percent.

Apple set up shop in Ireland in 1980, creating Apple Operations International. The unit does not employ anyone and has no physical address in Cork. Even so, Apple employs people in online sales, manufacturing and technical support, and is, according to city documents, the biggest private employer in Cork.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Amazon Workers in Germany Still Striking

For the third time in three weeks, workers at’s Germany operations engaged in a strike.

The first day of Amazon/Germany striking took place on May 14, with another conducted last week and again Monday.

The “Verdi” union is demanding that workers’ pay meet requirements for “mail order and retail” firms. Amazon, meanwhile, is insisting that it is a logistics firm, not mail order and retail, and therefore is already paying a fair amount.

The union has different demands for different cities. In Leipzig, where hundreds of employees have conducted strikes, Verdi wants pay bumped from 9.30 euros (about US$12.15) to 10.66 euros (about $13.80) per hour, while in Bad Hersfeld, another striking locale, they are seeking a 9.83 euro to 12.18 euro hike.

Amazon has about 9,000 employees in Germany.

[Source: Reuters]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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