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Apple, Microsoft among firms earning tax-free interest from US -- report

Four of the largest US-based technology companies hold a huge amount of US Treasury debt and use it to earn tax-free interest, a new report claims.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Cisco Systems collectively hold $124 billion in US Treasury debt overseas, the UK's Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported Wednesday. The debt is kept offshore so the companies can earn interest on the treasuries without worrying about paying taxes.

That some of the largest technology companies in the world are holding so much interest-bearing debt and not having to pay taxes might not resonate well with individuals looking down the … Read more

How much is the Internet of everything worth? Cisco says $19 trillion

BARCELONA, Spain -- Are you curious why everyone is talking about the Internet of everything? Cisco CEO John Chambers gives 19 trillion really good reasons.

Chambers believes the Internet of everything, also known as the Internet of things, will create $19 trillion (yes, that's with a "t") in economic benefit and value over the next decade.

The Internet of things is the concept that any device that could use an Internet connection should get one, allowing it to talk with other devices on the network. It's widely believed to be the next catalyst for innovation in … Read more

Samsung inks patent cross-licensing pact with Cisco

Samsung on Wednesday announced its latest patent-licensing deal, with the Korean electronics giant reaching a pact with networking maker Cisco.

The agreement marks the third deal that Samsung has announced in the past couple weeks. It also reached deals with Google and Ericsson, both to settle litigation and to prevent future issues.

Like the previous pacts, Samsung provided little information. In the case of Cisco, the cross-licensing deal will cover the two companies' existing patents and new patents over the next 10 years.

The deal should benefit both companies, but it could particularly boost Samsung's efforts in the connected … Read more

Google, Cisco sign deal to avoid future patent squabbles

Google and Cisco have formed a new agreement to ward off potential patent trolls.

The agreement gives each company a license to the other's patent portfolio and covers a wide range of products and technologies, Cisco said in a news release on Tuesday. The deal was set up as a countermeasure to the act of "patent privateering," which transfers patents to so-called patent assertion firms.

Some holders of patented products try to avoid legal battles by signing deals with patent assertion firms that file lawsuits in their own names, The Wall Street Journal explained. These assertion firms … Read more

Microsoft's Skype purchase survives Cisco challenge

Microsoft's takeover of Skype has gotten another official thumb's up from the courts.

In a ruling reached Wednesday, the European Union's General Court upheld the decision to grant Microsoft's $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in 2011, Reuters has reported.

Networking giant Cisco Systems had challenged that decision, arguing that the merger as approved was anticompetitive. Cisco found fault with the European Commission for failing to get any concessions from Microsoft before approving the deal.

But the judges rejected that argument.

"Microsoft's acquisition of Skype is compatible with the internal market," the judges … Read more

Tech sector hiring more women, data shows... or is it?

Though women's battle for equal pay rages on (thanks Batgirl; see the video below), a new government study suggests tech companies are seeing past gender bias and hiring more women than men.

According to Dice.com, which reported on data out this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 60,000 new jobs in the tech industry, 60 percent of the positions went to women.

"Companies have been focusing on getting more women into technology for a long time," Shravan Goli, president of Dice, said. "This year those efforts appear to be paying off … Read more

Cisco, Mozilla open things up for real-time online video

Tapping into one of the biggest trends in information technology this year, Cisco will be open sourcing its H.264 codec for high-definition, online video.

The codec will be available to download for free as a binary module for use with the open-source project WebRTC. Cisco noted that it will not pass on its MPEG LA licensing costs for this module.

Mozilla already has signed up as one of the first supporters of Cisco's new strategy here by adding support for the OpenH.264 binary modules to Firefox.

Cisco and Mozilla reps declared that the free and open distribution … Read more

Smart homes to learn common language

The appliances have listened. Or, more specifically, the makers of appliances have listened. Not willing to see the nascent smart-home appliance industry get bogged down in differing sets of details, four firms have decided to focus on their similarities. ABB, Bosch, Cisco, and LG intend to develop an open architecture for data exchange. In other words, smart appliances will learn to play nice.

The companies have created a consortium dedicating to achieving this goal and have signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect. What comes next is anybody's guess, but that's kind of the point. By creating … Read more

Facebook, Cisco partner to power Wi-Fi check-in at stores

Facebook just "friended" Cisco Systems.

The two companies are partnering up to provide restaurants, hotels, retailers, and other public locations with an integrated Wi-Fi check-in experience that ties into the Facebook network. Such a service would allow retailers to get more data on its customers, allowing for better targeted advice, advertising, or discounts.

The initiative is called "Cisco Connected Mobile Experience with Facebook Wi-Fi," a long-winded name for a bundle of services and router equipment that's being tested by several businesses, including two restaurants in the Bonefish Grill chain.

The partnership is the latest in … Read more

Why Facebook is giving out free Wi-Fi for check-ins

Would you check in on Facebook in exchange for free Wi-Fi at a hotel, restaurant, or retailer? That's the pitch Facebook has cooked up to hook its social network into companies big and small.

Facebook and Cisco are jointly announcing Wednesday that they've partnered to bring the social Wi-Fi option to more businesses after a small but fruitful pilot of the system in around 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses. For the average restaurant diner, airport goer, or superstore shopper, the arrangement should mean they'll soon find Facebook Wi-Fi at more of the places they visit regularly.… Read more