February 4, 2016 Last Updated 12:47 pm

Texas jury dings Apple $625M for violating patents on tech used in FaceTime; mall owner backtracks on Amazon store plans

Morning Brief: Big magazine publishers race to build out new networks that target millennial women, combining existing magazine brands and acquiring new digital properties, hoping to attract digital ad dollars

An East Texas jury dinged Apple for $625 million in damages for violating four patents now owned by a patent troll, Nevada-based VirnetX.

FaceTime iPhone Apple“We are thankful for the jurors’ hard work and attention in this case, and for reaching a just verdict,” said Dallas trial lawyer Jason Cassidy. “The jury saw what we have been saying all along: Apple has been infringing VirnetX’s patented technology for years.”

In 2012, another jury had awarded VirnetX $368 million, but the award was later vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which sent the case back to the district court. Now, this Texas jury again ruled that Apple had violated patents used in its FaceTime and iMessage services. Apple’s appeal basically led to double the judgement.

“Our employees independently designed this technology over many years, and we received patents to protect this intellectual property,” Apple said in a a statement released following the judgement. “Cases like this simply reinforce the desperate need for patent reform.”

D.B. Hebbard

The rumor that Amazon was opening 300 to 400 bookstores lasted less than 24 hours before being retracted by the original source, but that was more than enough time for the tech blogosphere to pen a double dozen stories on, around, and about the rumor.

Here are the several best stories I found:

To start, Longform weighed in this morning with an oblique commentary on yesterday’s rumor. It published its own linkpost titled The Longform Guide to Journalism Hoaxes, Pranks and Lies which rounded up seven old stories on journalistic hoaxes, frauds, and outright fabrications.

Re/code also weighed in with a tangential post that is rather light on the details but also hints that Amazon that Amazon has b&m plans beyond bookstores.

PW has the one most interesting story of the bunch; they found Amazon job openings in San Diego for booksellers, suggesting that Amazon has at least one store in the works.

Edit: The Atlantic has a rundown on five reasons Amazon might (emphasis on might) be considering building hundreds of physical locations.

The Dallas Morning News sought out the opinion of Half-Priced Books, the third-largest bookstore chain in the US. VP Kathy Doyle Thomas felt vindicated by the rumor, saying that “We’ve known for 44 years that people like to browse and shop bookstores”.

And last but not least Rich Bellis, formerly of DBW, writes over at Fast Company that “Amazon’s Rumored ‘Bookstores’ Probably Won’t Be What You Think”.

P.S. Even though this rumor proved to be false, it did shake loose a few new leaks which said that Amazon might be planning to open a dozen stores in the next couple years. That detail came from independent reports by Shelf Awareness and the NYTimes, and is based on confidential sources, but it is still more plausible than yesterday’s rumor.

Nate Hoffelder

The big magazine publishers are scrambling to see who can create a large enough audience that can attract digital advertising that targets younger women.

Meredith, which has owned the larger legacy women’s magazines, last year bought SHAPE and Fit Pregnancy and their CEO said yesterday that they had five potential new deals in the works (though some of them are likely related to the company’s local broadcast station business).

 Zooey Deschanel magazines Time IncTime Inc. yesterday unveiled Motto, a subdomain of Time magazine’s website, which hopes to target millennial women. Last October the company acquired the young women’s website HelloGiggles which will be combined with PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly to create a new network.

Time also last year acquired xoJane.com and xoVain.com, a pair of millennial women-focused websites run by Say Media.

Condé Nast has now created a new ad sales network called Condé Nast Aurora, which looks to combine the audiences of Glamour and Self into a 14 million network targeting the same demographic – millennial women.

“Condé Nast Aurora is organized around a distinct mindset and provides our partners with the unique opportunity to connect with millions of inspired women through the language of endless possibilities,” said Connie Anne Phillips, publisher and chief revenue officer of Glamour and Self.

In reality, Condé Nast’s effort does not involve anything new, no new acquisitions, but simply slaps a new name on the combination of the digital audience of existing properties.

Hearst years ago created what it calls its Hearst’s Young Women’s Group, made up of Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Redbook. Last year Hearst said it has signed a deal with Girls creator Lena Dunham to monetize her newsletter Lenny Letter.

The race is on, but the question is whether simply creating these collections of audiences will in the new digital ad dollars they are designed to attract.

D.B. Hebbard

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