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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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Federal Circuit Distinguishes Provisional Applications from Foreign Filings for Prior Art Priority under 102(e)
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Anthony Kammer

In re Giacomini, No. 2009-1400 (Fed. Cir. July 7, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On July 7, 2010, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) rejection of claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 09/725,737 as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e), the so-called “secret prior art” provision.  The Federal Circuit’s ruling expanded the scope of 102(e) such that prior art U.S. patents and applications under § 102(e) are now to have an effective filing date as of the filing date of the qualifying provisional application.

The Federal Circuit held as a matter of statutory interpretation, that under § 102(e) the effective filing date for patent priority is the filing date of the provisional application, so long as the provisional application contains a written description of the claimed invention.  Thus secret and confidential provisional applications will receive patent priority for a claimed invention against any later filings.  The court based its decision on §§ 111(b) and 119(e), emphasizing that the patent system rewards the person who is first to invent.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. Matt Osenga at Inventive Step provides an analysis of possible implications of the decision. The Patent Prospector discusses the decision and notes that Americans will continue to receive priority over foreign patent applications. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 21 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Reality Porn Producers Claim Fair Use in Suit against Record Labels

Ars Technica reports that Warner Bros. Records and ten other record music labels have filed suit against porn companies RK Netmedia and RealityKings.com. The record labels allege copyright infringement for the use of their unlicensed songs in hundreds of hardcore pornographic videos. They are seeking the maximum statutory penalty of $150,000 per video. RK Netmedia says it will defend the suit under the fair use doctrine. They argue that because they shoot their films in reality show style, their equipment captures music played in the background of the nightclubs and venues where they shoot. The complaint is available here.

ACLU Challenges Constitutionality of Massachusetts Law Protecting Minors on the Internet

On July 12, 2010, an updated Massachusetts law went into effect which will extend existing laws to protect minors from obscene materials on the Internet. Citizen Media Law Project and Ars Technica report on the ACLU’s challenge to the law. The “harmful to minors” law has been expanded to cover many online communications, such as electronic mail, instant messaging, and text messaging. The ACLU argues that the updated law will have a chilling effect on Internet communications, affecting even constitutionally protected communications between adults. The law, which was previously restricted to physical locations such as shops within Massachusetts, now has the effect of reaching outside of the state. The ACLU seeks to have the updated language removed from the law.

Louisiana is Latest to Enact Anti-Cyber-Bullying Statute

Lowering the Bar and Citizen Media Law Project report on the latest cyber-bullying statute enacted in Louisiana. The law makes illegal the “transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written, or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment, or intimidate a person under the age of 18.” Violators could face a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and three years in jail. The Media Coalition opposed the law on constitutional grounds prior to its enactment because of its vague language. Much of the language remained unchanged, so its constitutionality continues to be a concern for some.

Posted On Jul - 20 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District of Massachusetts reduces jury-awarded damages by 90 percent in copyright infringement lawsuit
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Jad Mills

Sony BMG Music Entertainment et. al. v. Tenenbaum, No. 07cv11446-NG (D. Mass. July 9, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a decision by Judge Nancy Gertner, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts reduced the damages awarded by a jury to members of the recording industry in a copyright infringement lawsuit. After finding defendant Joel Tenenbaum guilty of illegally downloading copyrighted music, the jury awarded statutory damages of $22,500 per song, $675,000 total for 30 songs. Judge Gertner held that the damages award should be reduced to $2,250 per song or $67,500 total. In so holding, Judge Gertner maintained that the jury’s award was far greater than necessary to serve the government’s interest in deterring copyright infringement and compensating copyright owners whose rights have been infringed. She argued that Congress never intended the extraordinary damages provisions of copyright law to apply to situations where a defendant did not receive pecuniary benefit from his infringing activities.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation commends the court’s decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Use of Common Words in Trademarks Can Still Dilute
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Jad Mills

Visa Int’l Serv. Ass’n v. JSL Corp., No. 08-15206 (9th Cir. Jun. 28, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On June 28, 2010, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada’s grant of summary judgment for Visa International Service Association (“VISA”) on its trademark dilution claim against JSL Corporation (“JSL”).

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski delivered the opinion, holding that JSL’s “eVisa” mark had diluted VISA’s “Visa” mark under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(2)(B) (2006). The court found that JSL’s “eVisa” brand had created a situation in which two different products, namely VISA credit cards and JSL’s eVisa.com, competed for association with the word “Visa.” The court explained that although the word visa has a common meaning, the Visa mark can still be diluted by a junior user who is not using the word according to that common meaning. And since Orr did not dispute that the “Visa” mark was famous and distinctive before JSL started to use “eVisa,” the court upheld summary judgment.

Reuters provides a summary of the opinion. Seattle Trademark Lawyer briefly analyzes the court’s rationale. Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 13 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Chinh Vo

NTP Sues Major Smartphone Makers for Infringing Wireless Email Patents

Ars Technica reports that patent holding company NTP has brought suits against Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, and Motorola, claiming the smartphone makers are infringing eight patents for “delivery of electronic mail over wireless communications systems.” NTP brought a similar suit in 2001 against Blackberry manufacturer RIM, which settled for $612.5 million after several years of litigation. The New York Times notes that NTP may not enjoy a similar payday this time around “because technology and product designs change quickly and recent smartphone e-mail systems may well have been designed with an eye toward avoiding NTP’s patents.” Which specific claims will be relevant to this round of litigation is still unclear, as NTP is currently appealing the USPTO’s invalidation of a significant number of its patents.

New Law Requires Colleges to Fight Online Piracy or Risk Losing Federal Funding

The Huffington Post reports that colleges now risk losing federal funding if they do not take adequate steps to fight digital piracy on campus. This month a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 went into effect, requiring any institution receiving federal student aid to have plans “to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network.” The regulations allow schools flexibility in their approaches to fighting piracy, so long as they employ at least one technology-based deterrent. Colleges must also educate their network users on digital piracy and offer legal alternatives “to the extent practicable.”

NSA To Implement Program to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government is launching an extensive new program for monitoring the networks of utilities and other critical infrastructure, utilizing physical sensors to identify unusual activity indicating possible cyber attacks. Dubbed “Perfect Citizen,” the surveillance program will be administered by the National Security Agency in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, and implemented with the help of defense contractor Raytheon Corp. for $100 million. The project will focus primarily on older computer controls built without Internet security measures. While many industry and government officials feel the project is long overdue, others express concern about the NSA’s intrusion into domestic affairs. Wired explains the increasing government and public concern over cybersecurity leading up to the announcement of this program.

Posted On Jul - 10 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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