Yahoo Delaying the Inevitable

Some things in life are inevitable, like death, taxes...and a screaming match in the Yahoo boardroom.

As Peter Varhol reported yesterday in his Redmond Report, Yahoo has postponed the showdown at the Icahn Corral. By putting off its annual meeting -- and the ensuing head-bashing that it will invariably include -- Yahoo seems to be giving itself more time to get its act together, with or without Microsoft as a partner.

It's the second time Yahoo has pushed back its annual meeting, which -- what with everything that's going on in Sunnyvale these days -- is sure to be a smackdown. In a filing with the SEC in which it announced the postponement, Yahoo stated it needs additional time to prepare materials it plans to file for the looming proxy battle. That battle will be waged with Team Icahn, as Carl Icahn has put together his own dream team he hopes will be able to wrangle control of Yahoo. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting?

In other Yahoo news, proof that it's unwise to nip at the beleaguered company just because it might be too distracted to pay attention these days: Yahoo has filed suit against a group of spammers that uses the time-honored tradition of trying to dupe people out of their hard-earned coin by making them think they've won a lottery. In this case, the defendants are unnamed and unknown, yet they're using Yahoo's name in their bogus solicitations.

"The unauthorized use of Yahoo's trademarks is misleading, fraudulent and has actually confused, misled and deceived the public," said Joe Siino, senior vice president of Yahoo global intellectual property and business strategy, in a prepared statement earlier this week.

Yahoo has filed suit to get these anonymous slime balls to cease and desist, and for an unspecified amount of damages. I'm sure Yahoo will be able to get them to stop, but any damage award could be sketchy.

What do you think of Yahoo's predicaments? Do you think there's any sane modicum of partnership to be found with Microsoft? With Google? With anyone else? Shoot me a spam-free note at llow@redmondmag.com.

Windows You Can Touch
Seems like the next iteration of Windows will be configured for touch screen input. Earlier this week at the "D6: All Things Digital" conference put on by the Wall Street Journal in Carlsbad, Calif., Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer showed off parts of the now under-development Windows 7, currently scheduled for release in 2009.

During the demo, the Microsoft reps showed touch screen-appropriate applications like scrolling around a map and manipulating photos. Microsoft execs extolled the touch screen as the new interface of choice. "Today, almost all the interaction is keyboard/mouse," said Bill Gates at the event. "Over years to come, the role of speech, vision, ink -- all of those -- will be huge."

Have you ever used touch screen applications? Do you think a touch screen could ever replace a keyboard or mouse? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

Google Blasts Suit
It's a clash of the titans, a battle of the heavyweights: traditional media versus digital media. Google has lashed back at Viacom, which had filed a $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube (which is owned by Google).

In its response to the suit, filed in the U.S. District court in New York, Google's army of attorneys said the suit threatens the manner in which people use the Web to share information and has led to an "explosion" of copyright infringement suits.

In the original lawsuit filed last year, Viacom sought damages for unauthorized clips posted on YouTube from MTV, Comedy Central and several of its other networks. Viacom further stated it had pinpointed more than 150,000 unauthorized clips taken directly from copyrighted programs like "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "South Park."

Google said in its response papers filed last week that YouTube "goes far beyond its legal obligations in assisting content owners to protect their works." It also said that YouTube adheres to the provision of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Now it's in the hands of the U.S. attorneys. This one isn't likely to be over soon.

Vitriolic lawsuits like this show that the Web hasn't entirely lost its "wild west" panache. What do you think about lawsuits of this nature? Where should the line in the sand be drawn on copyright issues? Is it OK to send sneak peeks, or is that infringement? Let me know where you stand at llow@redmondmag.com.

And don't forget to check for more news and headlines, including more details on the stories presented here, on our breaking news Web site RedmondReport.com.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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