A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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European Court of Justice Invalidates Data Retention Directive
By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

In a preliminary ruling requested by courts in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice found that Directive 2006/24/EC was invalid. The Grand Chamber recognized the legitimacy of retaining telecommunications data as a means to combat serious crime and terrorism, but it ultimately held that the far-reaching scope of the Directive disproportionately affected individual privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned, after pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting.

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Federal Circuit Affirms: Spam Patent is Obvious
By Gary Pong – Edited by Jad Mills

Perfect Web Technologies, Inc. v. InfoUSA, Inc., No. 2009-1105 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2009).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the Southern District of Florida’s decision granting summary judgment to invalidate plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 6,631,400 (“‘400 patent”) due to the obvious nature of the asserted claims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

The Federal Circuit held that the ‘400 patent failed the KSR test for obviousness. The patent specification sets out a series of steps for delivering a prescribed quantity of e-mails to targeted recipients. In so holding, the court noted that the claim was so simple and obvious that “ordinary skill in the relevant art required only a high school education and limited marketing and computer experience.” Furthermore, such a case would not require expert opinion and may rely on the common sense available to the person of ordinary skill.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. The Patent Prospector features a thorough analysis of the judicial opinion. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Eric Engle

Prosecutors Drop Controversial “Cyberbullying” Case: Possible Appeal?

On November 20, Wired reported that the federal prosecutors in the Lori Drew cyberbullying case did not plan to appeal Drew’s acquittal. The trial judge reversed Drew’s criminal conviction by a jury, holding that criminal penalties for violating a website’s terms of service would be unconstitutional. Although Drew won’t have to further defend against criminal charges for her alleged harassment of a teenage girl who later committed suicide, she might still be liable for civil penalties if the teenage girl’s family decides to sue.

UK Possibly Increasing Standards for Libel Jurisdiction

Britain has long had plaintiff-friendly libel laws relative to the United States and other common-law countries. As a result, plaintiffs will often seek to bring their libel cases in the UK, even if another country might be more closely connected to the facts of the case. However, the availability of Britain as a forum for libel claims may be narrowing – Citizen Media Law Blog reports that a recent High Court decision dismissed a libel claim concerning a posting on a South African magazine’s website, reasoning that the country’s ties to the case were insufficient when only “about [four] visits might have been made by one or more visitors based in the UK.” Although the holding is not permanent British law unless either Parliament or the British Supreme Court endorses it, the decision may signal tougher jurisdictional requirements for British libel claims.

Woman Fighting Insurer After Facebook Posting Leads to Denial of Benefits

CBC News reports that a Quebec woman has had insurance benefits for depression cancelled after publishing vacation photos. The insurance agent claimed that photos of her enjoying her vacation were evidence that she wasn’t depressed. The woman is planning to challenge the denial, and her lawyer has described the Facebook investigation as inappropriate. In response to criticisms about Facebook postings as evidence of mental condition, the insurer stated: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

ACLU Launches dotRights.org

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society reports that the ACLU of Northern California has launched an online educational resource on privacy and free speech in the internet. The site includes a retro-style video, Facebook quiz, and the chance for developers and legal activists to get involved.

Posted On Nov - 29 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms Muscle Supplement Patent Invalid as Anticipated by Prior Art Advertisement
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Miriam Weiler

Iovate Health Sciences, Inc. v. Bio-Engineered Supplements & Nutrition, Inc., No. 2009-1018 (Fed. Cir. November 19, 2009).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas decision invalidating Iovate Health Sciences’ U.S. Patent 6,100,287 (“’287”) as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).

The Federal Circuit held that the advertisement for Iovate’s protein supplement published in Flex magazine rendered the patent obvious and invalid. The court found that the advertisement was an anticipatory printed publication that disclosed the ‘287 patent claim limitations.  With the knowledge provided in the ad, the court noted, one skilled in the art could practice an embodiment of the invention.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. The National Law Journal provides brief comments from each party’s counsel. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 28 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michelle Berger

Chief Judge of Federal Circuit to Hang Up His Robes

As Patently-O reports, Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals announced on November 20 that he will be retiring from the bench on May 31, 2010. Judge Randall Rader will replace him as chief judge at that time. Throughout his tenure, Michel has been outspoken on patent issue and the role of the court in shaping patent policy. Although he will no longer be able to influence patent law from the bench, some have suggested that Michel may still play an important policy role by attempting to influence patent legislation.

Bell Siblings Squabble Over 3G Ads

On November 18, a judge in the Northern District of Georgia denied AT&T’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Verizon from showing its 3G comparison ads, CNET News reports. AT&T sued Verizon earlier in November over the ads, claiming that, while the advertisements accurately depict AT&T’s relatively sparse 3G coverage, the ads mislead consumers by implying that AT&T doesn’t provide cellular or data coverage in those areas. Verizon has responded that its ads are clearly about 3G service and has modified the ads slightly to highlight the 3G comparison. Despite the unfavorable ruling, AT&T intends to continue the suit against Verizon. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog ponders whether AT&T’s suit may be multiplying the damage done by the Verizon’s ad, as the lawsuit and the media coverage surrounding it have drawn increased attention to the difference in 3G coverage between AT&T and Verizon.

Lexis and Westlaw to Go the Way of Yahoo and AskJeeves?

Google announced new functionality for its Google Scholar project on November 17, adding support for users to search case law and legal journals. Despite the possibility of Google moving into their turf, Lexis and Westlaw appear unphased, explaining that the services are not really competing since Google doesn’t offer headnotes, summaries, cite checking, or the same level of search sophistication. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog acknowledges these shortcomings, but warns that “one underestimates the capabilities of Google at his or her own peril.”

Posted On Nov - 24 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court extends application of Bilski and invalidates patents
By Kate Wevers – Edited by Amanda Rice

H&R Block Tax Servs., Inc. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc., No. 6:08-cv-37 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 10, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patently O)

Magistrate Judge Love, sitting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, found several of H&R Block’s financial instrument patents invalid, and recommended that Jackson Hewitt’s motion for summary judgment be granted-in-part.

The court applied the machine-or-transformation test from In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008), cert. granted 77 U.S.L.W. 3656 (U.S. Jun. 1, 2009) (No. 08-964), to H&R Block’s computerized systems patents as well as to its methods patents. In so doing, the court extended Bilski beyond process patents. Only one of the patents survived the machine-or-transformation test and the remaining patents were held invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The original complaint is available here. Patent Storm has a helpful explanation of one of the patents. Patently O and the 271 Patent Blog both provide brief summaries of the case. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 23 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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Mozilla Announces Re

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Flash Digest: News I

By Emma Winer Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue The ...

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Supreme Court Weighs

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