Yelling at Your Smartphone Could Get You Fired!

Schrage describes how adaptive bots enable devices to learn from each encounter they have with humans, including negative ones, such as cursing at Siri or slamming a smartphone down when it reports about one restaurant, though the user was searching for a different eating place. Faced with repeated interactions like this, the bot is likely to be adversely affected by the bad behavior, and will fail to perform as intended. As companies leverage more of this technology to enhance worker productivity and customer interactions, employee abuse of bots will frustrate the company’s efforts and investment. That can lead to reduced profits and employee discipline.

Employees are seeing some of this already with the use of telematics in company vehicles. Telematics and related technologies provide employers with a much more detailed view of their employees’ use of company vehicles including location, movement, status and behavior of the vehicle and the employees. That detailed view results from the extensive and real time reports employers receive concerning employees’ use of company vehicles. Employers can see, for example, when their employees are speeding, braking too abruptly, or swerving to strongly. With some applications, employers also can continually record the activity and conversations inside the vehicle, including when vehicle sensors indicate there has been an accident. It is not hard to see that increased use of these technologies can result in more employee discipline, but also make employees drive more carefully.

Just as employers can generate records of nearly all aspects of the use of their vehicles by employees, there surely are records being maintained about the manner in which individuals interact with Siri and similar applications. While those records likely are currently being held and examined by the providers of the technology, that may soon change as organizations want to collect this data for their own purposes. Employers having such information could be significant.

As Mr. Schrage argues, making the most of new AI and machine learning technologies requires that the users of those technologies be good actors. In short, workers will need to be “good” people when interacting with machines that learn, otherwise, it will be more difficult for the machines to perform as intended. Perhaps this will have a positive impact on the bottom line as well as human interactions generally. But it also will raise interesting challenges for human resource professionals as they likely will need to develop and enforce policies designed to improve interactions between human employees and company machines.

We’ll have to see. But in the meantime, be nice to Siri!

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2016

Pokémon Go in the Workplace: Oh Look There’s a Pikachu!

Did you know that the world is now inhabited by creatures called Pokémon?  (Or maybe they’ve always been there?)  Some run across the plains; others fly through the skies; and some live in the mountains….and some, yes, some, are located right in your workplace.

Through the magic of downloading Pokémon Go to your smartphone, you too can see these creatures and catch them for some apparently critical scientific testing.

Workplace, Pokémon GoEmployers not familiar with Pikachu, Charizard, and Lucario can rest assured – your employees are.  In less than one week,Pokémon Go became the most downloaded smartphone videogame ever, and employers are clamoring for advice on how to deal with a workforce that already seems sufficiently and consistently distracted.

While employers may be used to seeing brief levels of high distraction during community events like March Madness, uncertainly surrounds this new obsession.  And an obsession it seems to be: sometimes when you look around Manhattan, you think you are in the least threatening version of the Walking Dead.  We even heard that someone just opened the first ever Pokémon-friendly hotel in Australia!  And this may only be the beginning as “augmented reality”-based gaming technology will likely improve in the coming years.

So what should employers do in response?

The first thing we’d say is to keep some perspective.  Before you do anything else, make a judgment call over whether you think the Pokémon Go craze will be short-lived – just a temporary blip on the employee-distraction radar, and if you think it will be, consider whether your planned reaction would really amount to an overreaction.  Remember: everyone could not get enough of Angry Birds, Words with Friends, and Candy Crush.  Is this just more of that?  If so, perhaps a quick and friendly preemptive reminder to employees that working time does not mean training your Bulbasaur to fight a Charmelon.  But if you think this is something different; something more serious, then a stronger communication/directive or an outright workplace ban may be in order.

The second thing we’d say is to consider converting this into an employee engagement opportunity.  Determine whether embracing this latest fad rather than suppressing it will pay morale boosting dividends.  There may be tremendous team-building and social engagement opportunities available, given the game’s team-based format.  Further (and we never thought we’d write something like the following, but), consider whether incentivizing your employees to search for imaginary monsters is an effective employee wellness activity.  (See: a more creative version of paying someone to walk 10,000 steps a day.)

Driving, Pokémon GoThird, remind employees to play safely. This picture says it all.  People are playing Pokémon Go while driving, and two men even fell off a 90-foot cliff in San Diego searching for Pokémon! The humorous and not-so-humorous Pokémon-related accident examples grow by the day. There have even been reports of employees leaning out of windows to get better reception and chasing Pokémon critters and nearly falling downstairs.  And problems can and often will arise when employees encroach on another employee’s work space or enter dangerous workplace areas while playing.  Employers therefore, should consider prohibiting their employees from playing the game on company premises or at least restrict it to certain areas and to certain times.

And the risk of an accident becomes even greater when employees operate company vehicles.  Employers should remind employees that while the game creates an augmented reality, they live in plain old regular reality, so if they see an ultra-rare Articuno Pokemon in the center lane of the 405, ignore it and keep driving.  At the same time, it’s not just the game-playing employee who creates the danger; often times, it is the game-playing civilian.  So tell employees, like your delivery drivers, to be on the lookout for individuals not paying attention to their surroundings as they cross streets even if it seems ridiculously obvious that they should know this already.

Pokémon Go, Work, Lastly, remind employees about your electronic use policies’ application toPokémon Go (or scramble to put some in place)!  Within certain parameters, employers have widespread discretion to monitor employees’ internet use on employer-provided computers and devices, to track employees’ data usage on the company’s purchased bandwidth, and to block certain websites and traffic patterns.  And this is no different when it comes to using employer-provided mobile devices where employees play Pokémon Go, or when employees are playing Pokémon Go in workplaces on work time.  Employers therefore, should seize this opportunity to review existing acceptable use policies to ensure that the risks posed by this “phenomenon” are specifically addressed – and if your company does not have an electronic use or acceptable use policy, this is absolutely the time to get one in place.  Some of the more immediate risks (beyond the loss of productivity) that should be addressed, include the following:

  • If using company-owned devices, a download of this app or any related app should be prohibited.  Some of the Pokémon Go-related applications have been proven to contain malware and depending what is on the device, this may be creating a potential data leak (or even data breach) situation.

  • Depending on where employees might be wandering, they are recording what they see while playing Pokémon Go, and could create privacy issues or even create data breaches that may be reportable.

  • Registration using a company-provided email address should be prohibited.  Collection of email addresses ofPokémon Go players have been reported to have been used in “phishing” involving the game and could put company information at risk.


In an age where technological innovation can negatively affect productivity by making it easier for employees to indulge in frivolous distractions (not to mention impact the overall quality of the labor pool when employers mistakenly hire candidates who have merely wandered into an interview in pursuit of an Ivysaur), employers can sometimes overlook the benefits of a tech-savvy workforce and the technology they have at their disposal. While employers should take steps to limit the employee distraction, safety, data breach and privacy-related concerns associated with Pokémon Go, they should also recognize the potential employee engagement opportunity that this novel game presents.

©1994-2016 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

The Smart Phone Patent Saga Continues: Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al.

In a case involving suits, countersuits and multiple appeals by the two giants of the mobile phone space, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a jury’s finding of infringement, voiding the accompanying award to Apple of more than $119 million. Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., et al., Case Nos. 015-1171, -1195, -1994 (Fed. Cir., Feb. 26, 2016) (Dyk, J).

In this case’s third appeal, the Federal Circuit was asked to deal with “the core infringement and invalidity issues with respect to the asserted patents.” At issue were five patents asserted by Apple against Samsung (four of which a jury found to be infringed) and two patents asserted by Samsung against Apple (one of which the same jury found to be infringed).

After the district court entered judgment on the jury verdict ($120 million to Apple and $160,000 to Samsung), both sides appealed.

The Apple Patents

With regard to the Apple “click structure” patent, the Federal Circuit found that no reasonable jury could have concluded that the accused Samsung devices included the claimed “analyzer server,” and reversed the judgment of infringement. Before trial, neither party sought construction of “analyzer server,” agreeing that it should be given its ordinary meaning. On the last scheduled day of the trial, the Federal Circuit construed this term (in the Motorola case) as “a server routine separate from a client that receives data having structures from the client.” The district court adopted this construction and permitted the parties to recall their expert witnesses to provide testimony under this construction. However, the Federal Circuit concluded that Apple failed to present sufficient testimony that the accused software library programs in the Samsung phones ran separately from the programs they served (i.e., the Browser and Messenger applications), as required by the Federal Circuit’s construction. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of non-infringement.

Apple also asserted its “slide to unlock” patent, whereby a user can slide a moving image across the screen with a finger in order to unlock the phone, and its “auto correct” patent, whereby a phone automatically corrects typing errors. At the district court, Samsung sought JMOL that both of these patents were invalid as obvious. The Federal Circuit agreed.

For the “slide to unlock” patent, Apple did not dispute that the prior art combination disclosed all of the claimed features. Rather, Apple argued that the jury could have reasonably found that one of the references taught away from using the “slider toggle” feature, and that a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to combine these references, since the slide toggle reference describes a wall-mounted touch-screen device, not a mobile phone. The Federal Circuit  disagreed, concluding that “[t]he fact that [the prior art reference] notes that users did not prefer the particular design of the slider toggle is not evidence of teaching away.” The Federal Circuit reasoned that a motivation to use the teachings of a particular prior art reference need not be supported by a finding that the feature is the “preferred, or the most desirable” option.

The Federal Circuit also concluded that no reasonable jury could find that the reference is not analogous art since it concerned user interfaces for touch-screen devices, noting that the asserted patent and the reference both disclose essentially the same structure: a touch-screen device with software that allows the user to slide his or her finger across the screen to change interface states.

The Federal Circuit also dismissed Apple’s secondary considerations argument, noting that although Apple identified the unsolved problem as the lack of an “intuitive” method of unlocking a touch-screen portable device, it provided no evidence showing that the asserted need was recognized in the industry. With respect to industry praise, the Court noted that evidence of approval by Apple fans—who may or may not have been skilled in the art—is not legally sufficient.

With respect to copying, the Federal Circuit noted the only evidence of copying went to an unlock mechanism using a fixed starting and ending point for the slide—a feature disclosed in the prior art. Finally, with respect to commercial success, the Federal Circuit reasoned that Apple’s evidence was not sufficient to show a “nexus” between the patented feature and the commercial success of the iPhone. Accordingly, the evidence of secondary considerations was insufficient as a matter of law to overcome the prima facie obviousness case.

Apple also asserted its “universal search” patent that permits a user to search for results from both the phone and the internet based on a single search term. On appeal, the issue was whether the search feature on the Samsung phones “locates” information on the internet. The district court found that Samsung devices do not search the internet, but rather blend data previously retrieved from a Google server and a local database. Apple argued that the plain meaning of the claim covered search information previously downloaded from the internet, a construction the  district court denied. The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court’s denial.

The Samsung Patents

Samsung asserted a patent directed to capturing, compressing and transmitting videos. In its claim construction order, the district court construed “means for transmission”—a means-plus-function claim limitation—to require software in addition to hardware. Samsung argued that the district court erred in its construction because the specification did not “require any software for transmission, and including such software [in addition to hardware] as necessary structure was error.” The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that the term “transmission” implies communication from one unit to another, and the specification explains that software is necessary to enable such communication. The Federal Circuit noted that software is necessary because hardware alone does nothing without software instructions telling it what to do, and affirmed the district court’s construction of the term and the judgment of non-infringement.

As for Samsung’s patent directed to a camera system for compressing, decompressing and organizing digital files, the jury found that Apple had infringed, and the district court denied Apple’s post-trial motion for JMOL of non-infringement. Apple argued that no reasonable jury could have found that the Apple products met the “compressor” and “decompressor” limitations of the claim because these limitations require components that compress or decompress both still images and videos, and its products use separate and distinct components to compress and decompress still images and videos. The Federal Circuit rejected this argument, finding that Samsung presented testimony that identified a single Apple design chip with circuitry that performs compressing/decompressing methods for both images and videos.

Practice Note: Assuming this decision resolves the utility patent fight, the only remaining battle shifts to the Supreme Court of the United States, which has now agreed to hear Samsung’s appeal on the issue of damages in connection with design patent infringement. See CertAlert in this issue of IP Update.

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© 2016 McDermott Will & Emery

Smartphone Wars – Supreme Court Awakens: Samsung Files Petition for Certiorari in New Hope to Harmonize Design Patent Law

On Monday, in the latest episode of the smartphone wars, Samsung filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Smartphone Wars

Samsung is appealing a Federal Circuit decision that upheld a $399 million judgment against Samsung for infringing three of Apple’s design patents. Samsung argues that the decision, if left unchecked by the Supreme Court, could dramatically increase the value of design patents. While the Supreme Court is the ultimate power in patent jurisprudence, it was a long time ago that it last considered a design patent case; more than 120 years ago according to Samsung. Samsung’s petition presents two fundamental questions concerning design patents:

1. Where a design patent includes unprotected non-ornamental features, should a district court be required to limit that patent to its protected ornamental scope?

2. Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?

With respect to the first question – whether a district court should be required to limit the protection of a design patent to only ornamental features – Samsung argues that the Federal Circuit’s decision conflicts with both Section 171 of the Patent Act and with the Supreme Court’s precedent requiring judicial construction of patent claims.

According to Samsung, the Federal Circuit refusal “to cabin design patents to their protected ornamental scope” conflicts with Section 171 and allows infringement to be “found based on the use of nonornamental attributes.” Thus, argues Samsung, the Federal Circuit broadened the protectable scope of design patents, which are limited to “any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” under section 171. Samsung argues the Federal Circuit’s ruling also creates tension with other areas of intellectual property law that routinely enforce limitations to protectable scope, such as copyright doctrine of “filtration” and trademark law’s doctrine of functionality.

Samsung also maintains that the ruling is contrary to Supreme Court precedents in the analogous context of utility patents, which recognize that district courts have a duty to construe patent claims and eliminate unprotected features. In Samsung’s view, similar to a Markman hearing, a district court should instruct a jury to identify non-ornamental features of a design patent and exclude them from the infringement analysis.

Turning to the second question – whether damages should be limited to the profits attributable to the infringing component – Samsung argues that the Federal Circuit’s decision conflicts with Section 289 of the Patent Act and the basic principles of causation and equity.

Samsung urges that “the Federal Circuit’s holding as a matter of law that an infringer of a design patent is liable for all of the profits it made from its entire product, no matter how little the design contributed to the product’s value or sales” be corrected. Samsung argues that the Federal Circuit’s conclusion that the article of manufacture is the entire smartphone, and not specific subcomponents, is wrong based on a natural reading and purpose of Section 289 of the Patent Act, contemporary extrinsic evidence regarding the definition of “articles of manufacture,” and non-controlling case law (see note below).

According to Samsung, the Federal Circuit’s “interpretation of Section 289 also flies in the face of well-settled tort principles of causation” and “ignores that disgorgement of the defendant’s profits is a classic equitable remedy for which the accepted measure of recovery generally is ‘the net profit attributable to the underlying wrong.’” “The cardinal principle of damages in Anglo-American law is that of compensation for the injury caused to plaintiff by defendant’s breach of duty,” This is the backdrop in which Section 289 was adopted. “Where disgorgement is available in patent cases, it has [] been ‘given in accordance with the principles governing equity jurisdiction, not to inflict punishment but to prevent an unjust enrichment by allowing injured complainants to claim ‘that which … is theirs, and nothing beyond this.’”

Samsung claims that certiorari should be granted because the Federal Circuit’s decision dramatically increases the value of design patents relative to other forms of intellectual property. Without correction, design patents will have whatever scope juries choose to give them, and a design-patent holder will be entitled to the infringer’s profits on the entire product even if the patented design applies only to a part of the product, and contributes to only a minor faction of the overall value. The Federal Circuit’s decision allows design patent owners to obtain the infringer’s total profits – a remedy not available under utility-patent law. Samsung contends that such leverage “poses a real danger for companies everywhere,” that it will lead to an “explosion of design patent assertions and lawsuits.”

Will the Supreme Court agree with Samsung that the Federal Circuit has caused a great disturbance in design patent jurisprudence? Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

Bush & Lane Piano Co. v. Becker Bros., 222 F. 902, 904 (2d Cir. 1915), (allowed an award of infringer’s profits from the patented design of a piano case but not from the sale of the entire piano, holding that “recovery should be confined to the subject of the patent.”); Young v. Grand Rapids Refrigerator Co., 268 F. 966 (6th Cir. 1920), (Affirmed the denial of all profits from the sale of refrigerators where the infringed patent related only to the design of the refrigerator’s door latch, explaining that it was not even “seriously contended” that the patentee could recover all profits from sales of refrigerators containing that latch.)

©1994-2015 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

Apple-Samsung Trade Dress Case Demonstrates Potential Value of Design Patents

A jury awarded Apple more than $1 billion in damages after finding that smartphones sold by Samsung diluted Apple’s trade dress and infringed Apple’s design and utility patents. After a partial retrial limited to determining the appropriate amount of damages, Apple still arose victorious with a $930 million award. Samsung moved for judgment as a matter of law and for a new trial. The district court denied those motions, and Samsung appealed. On May 18, 2015, the Federal Circuit upheld the jury’s verdict of design and utility patent infringement, but reversed the finding of trade dress dilution.

Trade Dress Claims

At issue on appeal was whether Apple’s purported registered and unregistered trade dress associated with its iPhone 3G and 3GS products is functional. Because trademark law gives the trademark owner a “perpetual monopoly,” a design that is functional cannot serve as protectable trade dress. Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Ltd., No. 14-1335, slip op. at 7 (Fed. Cir. May 18, 2015). The standard is even higher when the owner claims trade dress protection over the configuration of a product, as opposed to product packaging or other forms of trade dress. Slip op. at 8. In fact, the court noted that Apple had not cited a single Ninth Circuit case finding trade dress of a product configuration to be non-functional. Id.

Apple claimed the following elements as its unregistered trade dress:

  • a rectangular product with four evenly rounded corners;
  • a flat, clear surface covering the front of the product;
  • a display screen under the clear surface;
  • substantial black borders above and below the display screen and narrower black borders on either side of the screen; and
  • when the device is on, a row of small dots on the display screen, a matrix of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners within the display screen, and an unchanging bottom dock of colorful square icons with evenly rounded corners set off from the display’s other icons.

Slip op. at 9. “In general terms, a product feature is functional if it is essential to the use or purpose of the article or if it affects the cost or quality of the article.” Id. (quoting Inwood Labs., Inc. v. Ives Labs., Inc., 456 U.S. 844, 850 n.10 (1982)). Because this case came to the Federal Circuit on appeal from a district court sitting in the Ninth Circuit, the Federal Circuit applied the Ninth Circuit’s Disc Golf test for determining whether a design is functional. Under that test, courts consider whether: (1) the design yields a utilitarian advantage; (2) alternative designs are available; (3) advertising touts the utilitarian advantages of the design; and (4) the particular design results from a comparatively simple or inexpensive method of manufacture. Slip op. at 10. Because this purported trade dress was not registered, Apple had the burden to prove its validity, which required Apple to show that the product features at issue “serve[] no purpose other than identification.” Id. (citing Disc Golf Assoc., Inc. v. Champion Discs, 158 F.3d 1002, 1007 (9th Cir. 1998)). The court of appeals applied those factors and found extensive evidence supporting Samsung’s claim that the alleged trade dress was functional. Slip op. at 12–14.

In addition to the unregistered product configuration discussed above, Apple also asserted a claim based on US Registration 3,470,983, which covered the design details in each of the 16 icons on the iPhone’s home screen framed by the iPhone’s rounded-rectangular shape with silver edges and a black background. Slip op. at 15. Although Apple enjoyed an evidentiary presumption of validity for its registered trade dress, the court again looked to the Disc Golffactors and found that Samsung met its burden of overcoming that presumption and proving the trade dress was functional and the registration invalid. Slip op. at 16. Because the court held Apple’s purported trade dress was functional, it vacated the jury’s verdict on Apple’s claims for trade dress dilution and remanded that portion of the case for further proceedings. Slip op. at 17.

Design Patent Claims

Apple fared better on its design patent claims. Here, Apple asserted three design patents directed to the “front face” (D’677 patent), “beveled front edge” (D’087 patent) and “graphical user interface (GUI)” (D’305 patent) of its iPhone products.

design patent claims - apple samsung

Samsung challenged the court’s claim construction and jury instructions for failing to “ignore[]” functional elements of the designs from the claim scope, such as rectangular form and rounded corners. Slip op. at 20. The court disagreed, finding that Samsung’s proposed rule to eliminate entire elements from the scope of design claims was unsupported by precedent. Id. Rather, the court found that both the claim construction and jury instructions properly focused the infringement analysis on the overall appearance of the claimed design. Id. at 21.

This victory was financially significant for Apple, as the court found they were entitled to Samsung’s entire profits on its infringing smartphones as damages. Like the district court, the court of appeals found that 35 U.S.C. § 289 explicitly authorizes the award of total profit from the article of manufacture bearing the patented design, rather than an apportionment of damages based only on the infringing aspects of the device (i.e., external features and not internal hardware/software). The court of appeals interpreted Samsung’s argument as imposing an “apportionment” requirement on Apple—a requirement the Federal Circuit previously rejected in Nike, Inc. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 138 F.3d 1437, 1441 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Thus, Apple maintains a claim to at least a significant portion of the $930 million damages award in the case.

Summary and Takeaways

Ultimately, after holding that Apple’s purported trade dress covering elements of the iPhone’s overall shape, black-bordered display screen, and matrix of colorful square icons was invalid, the district court upheld the jury’s verdict that Samsung’s devices infringed Apple’s design patents relating to the iPhone’s overall shape, display screen, and matrix of colorful square icons. The image depicted in Apple’s now-invalid trade dress registration is below on the left. Figures from two of its still-valid design patents are on the right. Although the overlap in what was claimed in these different forms of intellectual property is readily apparent, Apple lost on one set of claims and prevailed on the other.

design patent apple samsung iphone

It remains to be seen how damages associated with the design patent claims differ from damages associated with the now-invalid trade dress claims. But this much is clear: the Federal Circuit has given a reason for companies to reevaluate the role of design patents in their intellectual property portfolios. The time and expense associated with obtaining design patents will not suit all products, but for the right product, they can provide a valuable method of recovery in litigation involving similar product designs.

Criminal Defendant Required to Provide Smartphone Fingerprint, but Not Passcode

Covington BUrling Law Firm

A Virginia state judge ruled last week that law enforcement may require a criminal defendant to provide his fingerprint — but not his passcode — to unlock a smartphone that might contain evidence that would be used against him at trial.

In Commonwealth v. Baust, the police sought access to the smartphone of David Charles Baust, who was indicted in connection an alleged assault. The victim alleged that a video of the assault was stored on Baust’s phone.

Police officers obtained a warrant for the phone and other evidence from Baust’s home. Because the officers were unable to unlock Baust’s phone, the government filed a motion to compel Baust to produce either his passcode or fingerprint to unlock the phone.

Because the government had obtained a lawfully executed search warrant, Baust could not challenge the government’s request on Fourth Amendment grounds. Instead, Baust argued that the request violates the Fifth Amendment, which provides that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Courts have long held that this privilege protects a criminal defendant from being forced to provide the government with “evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature.”

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Steven C. Frucci rejected the government’s request to compel Baust to provide his passcode, holding that providing his passcode would be testimonial because it would force Baust to “disclose the contents of his own mind.” This conclusion is in line with a 2010 ruling by a Michigan federal court that forcing the defendant to produce a passcode is “the extortion of information from the accused.”

But Judge Frucci allowed the government to compel Baust to provide his fingerprint. He concluded that the fingerprint, “like a key . . . does not require Defendant to communicate any knowledge at all.”

California’s New Kill-Switch Law Targets Smartphone Thieves

Morgan Lewis

California legislators recently signed Senate Bill 962 into law, which requires manufacturers to install kill-switches on smartphones sold in California that are made on or after July 1, 2015. A kill-switch allows a smartphone owner to remotely disable the device via a wireless command, which renders the device inoperable to unauthorized users. This new law was passed on August 25 to deter smartphone theft in California.

Although manufacturers must include the kill-switch on smartphones, consumers will have the option to disable it as long as the consumer is informed that the function is designed to protect him or her from unauthorized use of the phone.