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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Anne Woodworth

UK Court Allows Safari Users to Sue Google over Privacy Settings

FTC Responds to Allegations that it Ignored Staff Recommendations to Sue Google

Citigroup Report Criticizes Law Firms for not Reporting Hacking

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Federal Circuit Rejects En Banc Review of Infringement Willfulness Standard

By Paulius Jurcys – Yaping Zhang

The Federal Circuit rejected a motion for en banc review of a patent infringement case evaluating the willfulness standard and whether the standard should be changed in order to meet the interpretation provided by the Supreme Court in the Octane decision.

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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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By Ariane Moss

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Apple over MacBook Pro GPU Issues

Owners of 15-inch and 17-inch 2011 Series MacBook Pro might finally get compensated for their GPU-related malfunctions. The law firm of Whitfield, Bryson & Mason filed a complaint in a California federal court against Apple on behalf of California and Florida residents who purchased the 2011 MacBook Pro with AMD graphics, although they are considering extending this suit beyond the jurisdictions of California and Florida. The complaint describes the problem as “graphics becoming distorted, followed by software shutdowns, system freezes and, eventually, total system failure” and alleges that Apple has failed to reimburse customers who were forced to pay for repairs costing between $350 to $600 to fix. The complaint also accuses Apple of ignoring customers who have complained including those who attempted to directly contact CEO Tim Cook.

Spain Enacts “Google Tax” Anti-Piracy Law

Spain passed a new copyright law requiring Google to pay newspaper publishers for using their news content or face a fine of up to 600,000 euro. Spain will also require removal of all copyright infringing material from websites if the websites themselves don’t profit from the infringement. European publishers accuse search firms of using their copyrighted material to build news services without doing any original reporting, whereas Google defends itself by claiming that it directs billions of views to newspapers’ websites every month. Germany recently passed a similar law which resulted in Google’s completely removing affected newspapers from their site, but publishers eventually requested to be relisted after suffering from huge traffic drops. The law passed with heavy resistance from the opposing party who regard the legislation as a misguided effort.

Virginia Police Can Demand Fingerprint Passcodes

A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled that requiring a suspect to unlock a phone with a fingerprint is not unconstitutional, although requiring a password to unlock is unconstitutional. This case involves a man charged with assaulting his girlfriend and prosecutors who believed his phone contained video of the conflict. Although the judge agreed with the defense counsel which argued that passcodes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, he decided fingerprints are more similar to providing DNA which the law permits and less like a password which requires the defendant to divulge knowledge. The court pointed out the legal difference between a person’s knowledgeprotected under the Fifth Amendmentand identity.

Posted On Nov - 4 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Henry Thomas

Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act, 12 Del. C. §§ 5001 – 5007 (2014).

Delaware Code

On August 12, 2014, the General Assembly of the State of Delaware adopted the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act sponsored by Rep. Darryl Scott (D-Dover). The Act takes effect on January 1, 2015 and aims to solve the problem of what happens to online accounts after the account holder passes away. The State of Delaware has become one of very few jurisdictions to adopt special rules for this matter.

The Act allows a fiduciary to “have the same access as the [deceased] account holder” within 30 days of making a written request to the account “custodian.”  In a departure from other statutes, the Act assumes that fiduciaries “have the lawful consent of the account holder” even when the account holder has not explicitly provided for this privilege. 12 Del. C. § 5005.

The Act was prepared by attorneys from the Delaware State Bar Association who were cooperating with colleagues from the Uniform Law Commission. The new Delaware Act is largely based on the principles of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“UFADAA”) adopted by the Uniform Law Commission in its July 2014 session.

One of the notable features of the Delaware Act is that it adopts a relatively broad notion of fiduciaries covering personal representatives appointed by will, guardians, trustees, and agents. 12 Del. C. § 5002(9). Though the Act only applies to estates governed by Delaware law, its effects may be far-reaching; digital assets will be subject to the law even if the tech companies (or the deceased herself) are not residents of Delaware.

The proliferation of various digital communication media facilitated much discussion on whether third parties (such as spouses, children or estate managers) should be given access to the deceased person’s online accounts, and, if so, who should be authorized to get access and how should they be allowed to dispose the digital assets in those accounts. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 4 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Google Appeals Ruling that Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong– Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Google Inc. v. Oracle Am., Inc., No. 14–410 (U.S. October 6, 2014)

Petition hosted by The American Lawyer.

how-to-draw-an-android-android-phone_1_000000008746_5On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to a software “system or method of operation,” such as an application programming interface (API). Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Google Inc. v. Oracle Am., Inc., No. 14-410 (U.S. October 6, 2014).

Google and Oracle have been embroiled in a legal battle since 2010, when Oracle filed suit alleging that Google’s use of Java method headers and class names in the Android operating system infringed upon Oracle’s copyrights. Oracle Am., Inc. v. Google Inc. 872 F.Supp.2d 974, 975 (N.D. Cal. 2012). Hosted by Casetext.com. Oracle claimed that Google “has replicated the structure, sequence and organization of the overall code” of 37 Java API packages. Id.

The trial court ruled in 2012 that Oracle’s Java API was “a system or method of operation under Section 102(b) of the Copyright Act” that therefore could not be copyrighted.  Id. at 977. The court’s rationale was that the duplicated Java method headers under contention could not be copyrighted because they needed to be duplicated to ensure interoperability. Id. at 976. Java’s class names were likewise ruled ineligible for copyright because “copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.” Id. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Ariane Moss

Microsoft Tax Banned in Italy

In a case filed by Marco Pieraccioli against Hewlett Packard, the Italian Supreme Court ruled that Italian residents don’t have to pay for a pre-installed operating system if they don’t want it when purchasing a new computer. Until this decision, users in Italy had to pay for the Windows OS installed on their computer regardless of whether they wanted or intended to use the system. Now Italian residents are entitled to a refund in instances of unwanted pre-installed software. The court’s argument rests on the principle that there are two contracts: one for the purchase of the computer, and one for the use of pre-installed software. While the computer purchase contract is valid, the user licensing agreement for the unwanted software is void.

California Responds to Data Breaches by Strengthening Privacy Laws

California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1710 into law which expands the requirements for businesses that have suffered data breaches. In light of high profile breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, for example, the California legislature sought to strengthen privacy laws in efforts to protect consumers whose personally identifiable information was compromised by unintentional information disclosure.  The Bill further requires that any business engaged in maintaining personal information fulfill a reasonable security requirement even if the business does not own or license the data.

EU Court Rules Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that embedding copyrighted videos is not copyright infringement even if the source video was uploaded without permission. This verdict will shield from liability Internet users who embed copyrighted videos from other websites. The rule comes from the German case BestWater International GmbH v. Michael Mebes, Stefan Potsch, where BestWater International sued two employees for embedding one of its promotional videos on the employees’ personal websites without permission. Under European law, embedding a video does not violate the creator’s copyright claims as long as the file is not altered or communicated to a new public.

Posted On Oct - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Olga Slobodyanyuk  Edited by Jesse Goodwin

The UN Report from the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights found that government Internet mass surveillance violates Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) by impinging on individuals’ privacy. The report found that mass surveillance programs such as NSA’s Prism and GCHQ’s Temporapose a direct and ongoing challenge to an established norm of international law.”

The entire report can be found here.

Article 17 of the ICCPR states that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home and correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.”

The Special Rapporteur, Ben Emmerson, differentiated between targeted and mass surveillance. Targeted surveillance “depend[s] upon the existence of prior suspicion of the targeted individual or organization,” while mass surveillance allows the “communications of literally every Internet user [to be] potentially open for inspection by intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the States concerned.” The report concluded that mass surveillance “amounts to a systematic interference with the right to respect for the privacy of communications, and requires a correspondingly compelling justification.”

The report stated that the broad justification for mass surveillance—that it can aid counter terrorism violations—is neither reasonable nor lawful. According to Emmerson, “the very essence of the right to the privacy of communication is that infringements must be exceptional, and justified on a case-by-case basis.” (more…)

Posted On Oct - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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