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'To employers, Jobs would just seem like a jerk in bad clothing'

Plus: 'Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone'

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QuotW This was the week when Tim Cook issued an apology to every Apple-adoring fanboi in China about how lousy the firm's customer service and warranty policies in the country were.

The fruity chief was prompted by lots of state-controlled news outlet pressure, along with, presumably, the prickling of his conscience, to say in an open letter:

Over the past two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about Apple’s repair and warranty policy in China. We have made a profound reflection on these opinions, studied China’s “Three Guarantees” regulations together with government authorities, examined how we communicate about our repair policy, and checked our management practice for Apple’s authorized service providers. We are aware that insufficient communications during this process has led to the perception that Apple is arrogant and disregard, or pays little attention to, consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concern or misunderstanding arising therefrom.

While the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) was sure Chinese fanbois were all riled up about Apple's shoddy warranty repairs on broken mobes - so sure that it allegedly recruited Chinese celebrities to promote their broadcast and attack Apple on their social media accounts - the actual people reckon that there might be more important things to worry about than iPhones.

One online commenter said:

Everybody is eating cooking oil recycled from gutters, no problem! Everybody is drinking poisonous milk powder, no problem! We drink water filled with dead floating pigs, no problem! But when you change the back cover of iPhones for foreigners but not for us then that is not OK, that is far more serious than any of these problems.

Things weren't going too well for Apple in the legal world either this week, as its infamous bounce-back patent was ruled invalid in most of its claims by the US Patent and Trademark Office in a final decision. But that's OK; as Cupertino pointed out to the courts, final doesn't mean final exactly, it's more just sort of late-stage and there's still plenty it can do to stall persuade the powers-that-be to grant the patent.

The iDevice-maker said in a court response to Samsung:

Samsung states that the Office Action 'finally' rejects multiple claims of the ’381 patent, but the suggestion that the reexamination is finished and the USPTO has rendered a dispositive decision is incorrect.

A 'final' office action does not signal the end of reexamination at the USPTO, much less the end of consideration of the patentability of the claims under reexamination. Rather, 'finality' is primarily a procedural construct that limits the right to amend claims and introduce evidence as a matter of right in reexamination.

The long arm of the law was swatting at Facebook as well this week, as the social network failed to convince a judge to throw out a trademark infringement lawsuit over its use of the term "Timeline". The Book of Faces is being sued by Timelines Inc, which created a website in 2009 that records and shares historic events.

According to US District Judge John Darrah's decision, Facebook regularly uses the word "timeline" in a trademarky kind of way and he also wasn't too fond of the way chief Facebooker Mark Zuckerberg has talked about his competition. He said:

Genuine issues of material fact remain regarding defendant’s use of the term 'Timeline' in good faith, as evidence demonstrates that defendant was aware of plaintiff’s registered trademarks and defendant’s CEO commented that defendant 'wanted to punch anyone who tried to compete with [Facebook] in the face really hard'.

The judge was quoting Zuck before the f8 developer conference in September 2011, when he allegedly said that the social network was focused on two things:

[A]ll the stuff we want to do (products), and also wanting to punch anyone who tried to compete with us in the face really hard. You have to teach people who compete with you 'don't even fucking bother.'

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs' first boss, Atari cofounder Nolan Bushnell, has written a book about how to find, hire and handle "visionary" folks - who may have good ideas but can be, ahem, a mite difficult to deal with. He writes:

The truth is that very few companies would hire Steve, even today. Why? Because he was an outlier. To most potential employers, he'd just seem like a jerk in bad clothing.

Speaking further to the San Jose Mercury News, Bushnell added:

Steve was difficult but valuable. He was very often the smartest guy in the room, and he would let people know that.

Over at Google, the head of privacy has stepped down after three years on the job. If you're over your shock that such a job actually exists in the Chocolate Factory, you'll probably be unsurprised to discover that Alma Whitten is leaving just weeks after Anne Toth, who was poached by Whitten from Yahoo! in 2011 to head up privacy at Google+, left for personal reasons. After all, privacy at Google can't be an easy gig.

Toth said of Whitten:

She did a lot of good at Google. Could she have done more? I really don't know. Privacy can certainly be a thankless job as this shows. But I was glad to know Alma and glad to have gotten to work with her. I wish her the very best. I know Google is better for her having worked there.

And finally, Playboy has managed to come up with an iOS app unsmutty enough to get Apple's seal of approval. Cupertino takes a hard line against titillating apps as directed by Steve Jobs, who allegedly told a customer in an email back in 2010:

We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone. ®

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