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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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Federal Circuit Reverses and Remands District Court Ruling in Obviousness-type Double Patenting Case
By Kassity Liu – Edited by Joey Seiler

Boehringer Ingelheim Int’l. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc., No. 2009-1032 (Fed. Cir. 2010).
Opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the District Court for the District of Delaware, which had ruled that U.S. Patent No. 4,866,812, owned by the appellant Boehringer, was invalid because Boehringer’s terminal disclaimer did not overcome obviousness-type double patenting with respect to an earlier expired patent, and because the safe harbor provision of § 121 of the Patent Act does not protect the current patent.

The District Court had ruled that the terminal disclaimer filed by Boehringer on the last day of the trial was inoperative because it was filed after the original patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,843,086, had expired. The court also concluded that the safe harbor provision of § 121 did not apply to the ‘812 patent because it was not filed as a result of any restrictions in the ‘086 patent but rather due to a restriction in another patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,731,374. On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with the District Court on the issue of the terminal disclaimer, but found that the safe harbor provision did apply.

271 Patent Blog and Patently-O Blog provide brief overviews of the case. Patent Docs gives a more detailed analysis of the case as well as a short summary of the dissenting opinion. IPWatchdog talks about the practical nature of the decision and criticizes the dissent’s narrow interpretation of the safe harbor provision. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 31 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Harry Zhou

Harvard Law Professor Criticizes Google Book Settlement

On January 26, TechCrunch reported that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor and “free-culture advocate,” criticized Google’s settlement with the Authors Guild as a “path to insanity.” Lessig writes that the settlement extended the copyright law’s regulation on physical copies into the digital world, resulting in “a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed.” According to Lessig, providing copyright protection at the level of pages instead of at the level of books could make accessing digital books a complicated and “legally regulated event.” To prevent this outcome, Lessig argues that the “solution is a re-crafting of [the] law” that would favor protection of a work as a whole rather than protection of its constituent parts.

FCC Continues Probe of Wireless Carriers’ Early Termination Fees

MocoNews reported on January 26 that the Federal Communications Commission formalized its inquiries into how wireless carriers handle early termination fees by sending letters to Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The FCC states that the letters are intended to gather “facts and data on the consumer experience with wireless early termination fees.” Google, while not a carrier, charges an “Equipment Recovery Fee in connection with its offering of the Nexus One to customers who agree to a two-year contract with T-Mobile.” Industry trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association responded to the FCC’s inquiry by emphasizing that the fees “are part of the rate and rate structure that allows wireless carriers to, among other things, subsidize phone purchases.”

Chinese Search Engine Cleared of Music Piracy Charges

Wired.com reported on January 26 that Baidu, the leading search engine in China, was cleared of music piracy charges. Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner filed suit in a Beijing Court in early 2008, accusing Baidu of providing links directly to a large number of allegedly infringing song tracks hosted by third-party websites. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry expressed disappointment over the court’s ruling, stating that “the verdicts do not reflect the reality that both operators have built their music search businesses on the basis of facilitating mass copyright infringement, to the detriment of artists, producers and all those involved in China’s legitimate music market.”

Posted On Jan - 30 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Reduces $1.92 Million File-Sharing Jury Award to $54,000
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Joey Seiler

Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, No. 06-1497 (D. Minn. Jan. 22, 2010)
Order

In June 2009 a jury returned a verdict against Defendant Jamie Thomas-Rasset after finding that she willfully infringed the copyrights of twenty-four songs by making them available through a file-sharing program.  The jury awarded Plaintiffs statutory damages of $80,000 for each willful infringement, resulting in a total verdict of $1.92 million.  On January 22, 2010, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis for the District of Minnesota remitted the jury award by 97% to $54,000 ($2,250 per song), three times the statutory minimum, noting that even this reduced award remains “significant and harsh” and finding that it sufficiently serves both the deterrent and the compensatory purposes of statutory damages.

JOLT Digest previously covered the Thomas-Rasset case.  ArsTechnica and Wired report on Judge Davis’ order.  Copyrights and Campaigns comments on the decision and provides continuing coverage of the updates in the case. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB’s Refusal of South Carolina Baseball Logo Registration
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Davis Doherty

Univ. of S. Carolina v. Univ. of S. Cal., No. 2009-1064 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 19, 2010).
Slip Opinion

In a nonprecedential ruling, the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“TTAB”) refusing the appellant’s (“South Carolina’s”) registration of its Carolina Baseball Logo mark and granting summary judgment against the appellant on its counterclaim for cancellation of a trademark registration held by the appellee (“Southern California”).

Despite the absence of evidence of actual confusion, the TTAB held that consumer confusion of goods marketed by the two schools was likely due to similarities in channels of trade and conditions of purchase. Furthermore, the TTAB held that South Carolina lacked standing to bring the counterclaim. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB’s conclusion of likely confusion, but ruled that South Carolina had standing as to the counterclaim. But the Federal Circuit upheld the TTAB’s grant of summary judgment on the counterclaim, finding that South Carolina failed to establish any genuine issue of fact.

Patently-O provides a thorough analysis of the opinion. The TTABlog features an overview of the decision and provides a link to the mp3 recording of the oral argument. The Los Angeles Times blog reports the reaction of an attorney representing the University of Southern California in its coverage of the matter. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Vacates Lower Court Ruling in Elevator Patent Case
By: Helen (Ye) He – edited by Davis Doherty

Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co., No. 2009-1146 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 15, 2010)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit vacated the District Court for the Southern District of New York’s grant of summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of Defendant Otis Elevator.  The Federal Circuit concluded that the district court constructed Schindler Elevator’s patent claims too narrowly by construing the terms “hands-free,” “information transmitter” and “recognition device” “to exclude any ‘personal action’ by an elevator user other than ‘walking into the monitored area’.”  The case was remanded in light of the Federal Circuit’s broadened claim construction.

Gray on Claims provides an overview of this case.  717 Madison Place comments on the case and raises some questions. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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