A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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By Natalie Ram
Editorial Policy

A full version of this article, published in the Fall 2009 issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, is available here.

Today, more than 300 million tissue samples from more than 178 million individuals are stored in the United States, and this number has been growing by more than 20 million samples every year. Through genetic analysis, researchers hope to identify disease-related and other genes and to measure the frequency of such genes’ occurrence across large populations. This kind of research requires population-wide bio-repositories of samples available for study.

Yet, individuals providing tissue for research may hesitate to do so if they fear that their interests will not be respected. Tissue providers may have concerns that their cells and genetic material — materials with which they may strongly self-identify — will be used for research they find morally repugnant or about which they were not informed. Unanticipated disclosure of genetic information may negatively impact the ability of unwitting tissue providers and their close genetic relatives to obtain insurance coverage or appropriate medical treatment. Tissue providers may also have strong interests concerning the commercialization of their cells and genetic material, especially if they are not permitted to share in the profits. And tissue providers have a further interest in the progress of science and medicine.

Researchers and society both also have strong interests in how tissue is used. Scientific research using human cells can be (and has been) immensely beneficial. Inappropriate or onerous restrictions on human tissue research may negatively impact the progress of science and medicine—a concern about a tragedy of the anticommons clearly articulated by several courts that have presided over disputes about the ownership and control of human tissues used in research. Moreover, permitting tissue providers to commercialize their cells may divert tissue from worthwhile research, diminish the necessary incentives for research funders to invest in research and development, or undermine societal dignitary interests.

Failing to mediate tensions between tissue providers, researchers, and society may cause individuals to avoid research participation. The solution is not, however, to compel such participation by dispensing with consent altogether and generally conscripting tissue left over from, for example, blood draws or biopsies. Indeed, doing so might cause individuals concerned about the future use of their genetic material to forego routine medical care in order to prevent their cells from being so conscripted. Rather, the interests of tissue providers, of researchers, and of broader society each demand respect and protection. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 4 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

First Circuit Holds That Artists Have Moral Rights In Unfinished Works
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Alissa Del Riego

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation v. Büchel, No. 08-2199 (1st Cir. Jan. 27, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On January 27, the First Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the Museum of Contemporary Art, holding that artists have moral rights in unfinished artworks.

The First Circuit decided a number of complex issues related to the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”), holding that VARA’s protection of an artist’s moral rights extends to unfinished creations that are “works of art” within the meaning of the Copyright Act.  In so holding, the court reasoned that “moral rights protect the personality and creative energy that an artist contributes to his or her work,” and “[t]hat convergence between artist and artwork does not await the final brushstroke or the placement of the last element in a complex installation.”

The court also ruled that the district judge in the lower court improperly granted the Museum of Contemporary Art summary judgment for one of Büchel’s integrity claims under VARA and his Copyright Act claim finding that there were “material disputes of fact” that should be decided by a jury about whether the museum distorted Mr. Büchel’s installation by showing it to several people after making changes in it without his approval.  However, the First Circuit ruled that Büchel’s right-of-attribution claim was moot because VARA provides only injunctive relief to protect the right of attribution and his installation no longer exists.

The New York Times and the Copyright Litigation Blog both provide an overview of the case.  The Boston Globe provides a good news story that includes the facts going back to the initial dispute. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 2 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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
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Federal Circuit Flas

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