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Today's Tech: Apple patent dramas, more Java woe, and hand-stretching Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The UK's retail sector has been experiencing a hard run of luck lately, with high street stalwarts Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster all going into administration in quick succession. Dixons, however, appears to be bucking the trend, reporting that its sales actually grew by 8 per cent during the Christmas period. The company is touting the improved sales of tablets as the reason for its success - though the recent capitulation of rival Comet could also have something to do with it.

Apple's legal drama is seemingly never-ending, with today bringing more news about two disputes the Cupertino-based company is currently engaged in. First, a US court ordered Apple and Amazon to begin settlement talks over their "app store" dispute. The disagreement, in which the online retailer is accused of infringing on Apple's "App Store" trademark, will be aired out this spring, in an attempt to reach a settlement without going to trial. Meanwhile, Apple was handed a loss by a Dutch court, which sided with Samsung in an ongoing patent infringement case. The court ruled that three of Samsung's Galaxy Tabs do not in fact copy Apple's controversial 'rounded edges' design patent.

Oracle is enduring a torrid week in the security world, with its Java platform being exposed in a succession of hacking incidents. At the beginning of the week, Oracle issued a new fix for a critical flaw that was found in Java Update 10 and earlier versions of Java 7 - a threat deemed so serious that the US Department of Homeland Security's computer emergency team (US-CERT) recommended users completely disable Java in their web browsers, even after the patch was released. Java was then identified as providing security holes that were exposed by the Red October cyber-spies, and now, another vulnerability has been discovered via a hacking forum, where a member has been selling exploits for $5,000 each. Follow the link to read more on the tale.

On a lighter note, reports reaching us today indicate that the next instalment of Samsung's popular smartphone-cum-tablet Galaxy Note line is set to sport a gargantuan 6.3in display. We're still not sure if we're sold on the idea of a smartphone over 6in - any bigger and these hybrid gadgets will soon be able to double as boogie boards - but speculation that Samsung will further upsize the next Galaxy Note shouldn't really come as a surprise. After all, we tipped it in our "Tech in 2013: the future of mobile" feature.