Feb 27, 2015

EoT: Whips, Chains and a Bite of Apple

Eyes on Texas, a roundup of news, columns and features about the state, from media around the world.

No whips or chains were involved, but an independent Texas publisher of the e-book version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” slapped around a former colleague in court for duping her out of royalties.

Jennifer Lynn Pedroza of Arlington was part of the small independent publisher of e-books that originally published the “Fifty Shades” trilogy in 2011, according to Reuters. She recently won a lawsuit against Amanda Hayward for signing for a contract with Random House that cut Pedroza out of millions in royalties. Random House went on to sell 100 million copies of the trilogy worldwide.

The amount of the award is yet to be determined, but according to court papers Pedroza was seeking over $1 million – perhaps enough to make a red room of her own.


Apple is facing a $533 million bite after a federal jury in Tyler ruled in favor of a company that patents ideas but has yet to make a product.

The company, Smartflash LLC, sought $852 million. Apple claimed it owed $4.5 million at most, according to Bloomberg.

“Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

The Texas-based brand’s only business has been “licensing seven patents issued between 2008 and 2012,” Bloomberg reported.

If the verdict holds, it will be a big payday for Smartflash founder Patrick Racz, who at one point was offered just $200,000 for one of his patents.

Smartflash has filed similar suits against Google, Samsung and Amazon, but its only courtroom victory so far is against Apple.


U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz thinks it’s time for U.S. astronauts to stop hitching rides to the International Space Station with the Russians.

Since NASA ended Space Shuttle flights in 2011, its astronauts have relied on Russia to get to the orbiting space station. Cruz backs a multibillion-dollar NASA plan to use private companies to provide transportation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Cruz said the money would be well spent because Russian president Vladimir Putin may “decide to use access to space as a weapon.”

“It is imperative that Americans have the ability” to transport both crews and cargo into low-Earth orbit without relying on Russia, Cruz told a congressional hearing.

Cruz chairs the subcommittee that oversees NASA.

By Darby Kendall