A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Supreme Court Holds That a Government Employer’s Search of an Employee’s Messages on a Work-Related Pager Was Reasonable and Not a Violation of the Fourth Amendment
By Andrew Segna – Edited by Helen He

Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332 (U.S. Jun. 17, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that the Petitioner City of Ontario’s (“Ontario”) search of the Respondent Jeff Quon’s text messages was unreasonable and, therefore, a violation of Quan’s reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court held that the search administered by the Petitioner was reasonable and did not violate the Respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights regarding government employers. To reach this conclusion, Justice Kennedy assumed that Quon did have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Under the standards outlined by the plurality and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in O’Connor v. Ortega, the Supreme Court held that the legitimacy of the City’s reasoning behind the search and the nonexcessive measures utilized demonstrated reasonableness. In so holding, Justice Kennedy recognized  this decision’s potential to determine the larger question surrounding employees’ expectation of privacy with regards to government employers and the rapid growth of information and communication technology today. Kennedy mentioned the changing privacy expectations of employees and arguments for and against increased privacy but asserted that he wanted to avoid the volatile and far-reaching consequence of addressing such an issue. Therefore, he concluded that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in this case in order to narrow the holding.

The New York Times has an overview of the Supreme Court’s decision. SCOTUSBlog analyzed the majority opinion and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in the case and their implications for the question of privacy in the realm of technology. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in favor of a narrow holding, elaborated upon its support for and concerns about the holding. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Illinois Establishes Standard for Identifying Anonymous Internet Commenters

Evan Brown at Internet Cases reports that the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District has set forth a standard for identifying an anonymous internet commenter in Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing Co., No. 3-08-0805 (Ill. App. 3d June 1, 2010). A couple from Illinois, unhappy with anonymous comments on a local newspaper website, sought to identify the commenters. Illinois Rules on Civil Proceedings Rule 224 allows a petitioner to file a petition to identify a person “responsible in damages.” The trial court followed the analysis of Dendrite International. Inc. v. Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) and Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), in denying the petition. The appellate court reversed and remanded, setting forth a new standard that requires a court to “insure that the petition: (1) is verified; (2) states with particularity facts that would establish a cause of action for defamation; (3) seeks only the identity of the potential defendant and no other information necessary to establish the cause of action of defamation; and (4) is subjected to a hearing at which the court determines that the petition sufficiently states a cause of action for defamation against the unnamed potential defendant.” Maxon, slip op. at 9. As Brown notes, this standard — unlike that of past cases — does not require the petitioner to attempt to identify the commenter.

FCC Votes to Proceed with Net Neutrality Regulations

Joelle Tessler for the Associated Press reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to accept public comments on three proposed broadband regulations. The regulations are part of the FCC’s latest attempt to establish oversight of broadband providers. The proposal would redefine broadband access as a telecommunications service, allowing the FCC greater regulatory control. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes to ensure that broadband providers treat network traffic equally, limiting their ability to selectively block traffic. JOLT Digest previously highlighted the objections of many members of Congress to the FCC’s attempts to regulate in the aftermath of Comcast Corp. v. FCC.

Napolitano Calls for Balance Between Civil Liberties and Security

Lolita C. Baldor for the Associated Press reports that in a recent speech, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties. Citing the recent homegrown, online terrorist recruitment efforts, Napolitano suggested that the law should allow the government to monitor these growing threats. Napolitano believes that by monitoring Internet communications the United States can better protect national security without necessarily “having a deleterious effect on individual rights.”

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Summary Judgment Entered Against Chuck DeVore on Copyright Claims
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Helen He

Henley v. DeVore, No. 8:09-cv-00481-JVS-RNB (C.D. Cal. Jun. 10, 2010)
Order

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a formal ruling on Musician Don Henley’s copyright and Lanham Act claims against California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Rejecting DeVore’s fair use defense, the court entered summary judgment in favor of Henley on all claims of copyright infringement. Henley’s false endorsement claim under the Lanham Act was dismissed. The court denied summary adjudication to both parties on the issue of whether the infringement was willful.

The court ruled that DeVore was not entitled to a fair use defense because his use of Henley’s work failed to meet the standards as established by Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 575 (1994). Specifically, the court held that DeVore’s use was more satirical than parodic, borrowed too heavily from the originals and had the potential effect of market substitution. In dismissing DeVore’s Lanham Act claim, the court cited the absence of authority for the theory that a performer could acquire a trademark in her or his own musical performance.

The Hollywood Reporter features a summary of an earlier tentative ruling. CrawDaddy! provides a detailed account of the events leading up to the dispute. BusinessWire gives a brief discussion of the ruling’s repercussions. (more…)

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

By Kassity Liu

Judge Orders Copyright Plaintiff to Justify Joining Thousands of Defendants in a Single Lawsuit

Ars Technica reports that Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the US Copyright Group to explain why joining thousands of anonymous “John Does” into one lawsuit is permissible under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The judge, after encountering one case that was filed against 4,577 anonymous P2P defendants, issued the order requiring the Group to “convince [her] within two weeks that jamming 4,577 people into a single lawsuit is a proper use of the court system.” In an amicus brief filed by the ACLU and EFF, the two organizations argued that this type of joinder is improper according to FRCP 20, which states that a plaintiff may only join a defendant in a lawsuit if the plaintiff is able to “assert . . . relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” If it permits this suit, the court runs the risk of denying a fair trial to a large number of defendants; however, forcing the plaintiff to pursue a case against each individual defendant may result in undue delay and expense.

Ninth Circuit Decision may Swallow the Protections Afforded by the First Sale Doctrine

Ben Sheffner reports in his blog that the Ninth Circuit recently posted the oral arguments given by the opposing parties in UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Augusto. The case will address the scope of the first sale doctrine, which places limitations on the control of copyright owners over the reselling or distribution of their products. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides an overview of the case. In 2007, Universal Music Group (UMG) sued Troy Augusto for reselling its promotional CDs, alleging that the reselling violated “its exclusive right to distribute its works under 17 USC § 106(3)” because these CDs were only licensed “for a limited purpose to a limited group.” The district court had relied upon an obscure postal statute that “characterize[d] unordered merchandise as a gift” (internal quotations omitted) to find that the reselling was protected by the first sale doctrine and thus did not violate U.S. copyright law. If the Ninth Circuit rules for UMG, then copyright owners would gain the power to limit the distribution of their products using limited license labels.

FTC to Launch Investigation in Apple’s Exclusionary Practices with its Mobile Operating System

Ars Technica reports that the FTC is investigating whether Apple’s decision to allow only certain third-party compilers to place software and data on its mobile operative system constitutes a violation of U.S. antitrust law. The investigation is still in its early stages and has not become public, but inside sources suggest that the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice settled their rumored debate over which agency would investigate Apple’s practices. Last month, Ars Technica reported on the discussions between the two agencies regarding “which one [would] launch the antitrust inquiry” that preceded the current FTC investigation. It is unknown which companies are behind the complaint to the FTC; both Adobe and Google are listed as potential parties.

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

Federal Circuit Holds that Solo’s Marking of Lids after Patent Expiration Did Not Violate False Marking Statute
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Pequignot v. Solo Cup Co., No. 2009-1547 (Fed. Cir. June 10, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On June 10, 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which had entered summary judgment in favor of Solo for “false marking” related to Solo’s practice of marking expired patents on its beverage cup lids.

The Federal Circuit held that a product embodying an expired patent is indeed an “unpatented article” under 35 U.S.C. § 292(a), but a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant intended to deceive the public in order to succeed under § 292. The court stated that a rebuttable presumption is created when a plaintiff shows that the defendant knowingly made false statements; a defendant may rebut this presumption if it shows by a preponderance of the evidence that it did not intend to deceive the public. The court also noted that the presumption is weaker in cases where the markings are for expired patents that once covered the marked products. Solo, which had relied on advice of counsel and weighed the high costs of removing the markings, was able to rebut Pequignot’s evidence that it intended to deceive. Finally, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s construction of “offense” under § 292, which was at odds with its decision in Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2009).

Dabney Carr at Virginia IP Law provides an overview of the case. Patently-O and Daily Herald provide background on the case and other cases that have recently been filed claiming violations of § 292. A chart of false marking cases and their status is available at Gray on Claims. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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3D Systems and Forml

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang 3D Systems, Inc., ...

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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

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San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

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EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

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California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...