A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/digest/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joltimg.pngWritten by: Michelle Sohn Edited by: Olga Slobodyanyuk Emulsion: A mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (nonmixable or unblendable). -Wikipedia  I.               UberX D.C. as Case Study in the Local Sharing Economy If states are laboratories of democracy, then cities are the experiments. A new experiment has bubbled up in cities across the world, reaching a boiling point. The experiment? The local sharing economy. In May, amidst accusations that many of its users were violating New York’s ... Read More...
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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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By Dr.Jur. Eric Engle LLM[i]
Editorial Policy

An internet fraudster, a repeat offender, has recently been charged[ii] with “fraud and related activity in connection with computers[iii] in connection with a financial crime – fraudulent currency trading through phishing.[iv] The defendant obtained the passwords to another person’s internet account and then used that person’s account to trade foreign currency. Interestingly, the indictment[v] uniquely charges the fraudster with a computer crime. The fact pattern, however, raises the interesting question of whether the defendant could have been charged under the Securities and Exchange Acts of 1933[vi] and/or 1934[vii].

The threshold question is whether trading in foreign currency is trading in “a security” and, if so, under what circumstances. The Securities and Exchange Acts define “security” broadly.[viii] Though cash itself is not a security,[ix] Ponzi schemes have been found to be a “security”[x] in the context of currency trading. Furthermore, foreign currency options are a security.[xi] The SEC has charged currency fraud under Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.[xii] Is there a theory which can bring currency trading into the Securities and Exchange Acts? (more…)

Posted On Jan - 7 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu JD ’12
Edited by Joey Seiler

Editorial Policy

On October 6, 2009, Eolas Technologies Inc., a research and development company specializing in web solutions, filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against 23 prominent companies in the software and Internet industry. Eolas claims that these companies are infringing two of its patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906 (’906 Patent) and U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985 (’985 Patent). These two patents cover technology that enables websites to act as platforms for fully integrated embedded applications. The ’906 Patent was granted in November 1998. It defines a system that would allow Internet users to access and execute an embedded program. The ’985 Patent, which was granted on the same day that the company filed its present lawsuit, extends the reach of the older patent to AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications.

The present suit is not Eolas’ first. In a previous patent infringement suit, Eolas targeted Microsoft, claiming that the company had infringed its ‘906 Patent. Eolas alleged that its invention, which was first demonstrated at a SIGWEB meeting in 1994, was the “first instance where interactive applications were embedded in Webpages.”[1] The district court sided with Eolas, and the jury awarded Eolas $521 million in damages.[2] Microsoft appealed this decision, but after unsuccessful attempts at moving the case to the Supreme Court and invalidating the patent, the software giant chose to settle with Eolas. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 3 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Dr. Jur. Eric Engle, LLM[i]
Edited by Gary Pong
Editorial Policy

New technologies have made types of searches possible which could never have been envisioned when the Fourth Amendment was proposed to prohibit unreasonable search and seizure. With remote listening, infrared imaging, and, now, wireless technologies, it is possible to detect movements of people within buildings with no discernible physical impact on the surveilled person’s life.[ii] Are remote searches reasonable? Do they require a warrant?[iii] In my opinion, courts should treat these sorts of remote detection techniques (“surveillance”) as searches subject to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of reasonableness.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly guaranties that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment was incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment to apply directly to the states, even though many protections against search and seizure at state common law were more extensive than the Fourth Amendment.[iv] The general rule is that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unwarranted searches does not apply where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.[v] That leads to the question of when a person has reason to believe that he or she is “in private” as opposed to “in public”. This will depend both on the facts of the case and on social reality.[vi] For example, different cultures within the United States have different senses of what is “public” and what is “private”, and those senses are constantly evolving.[vii] However, one bright line stands out: searches of homes without warrants are presumptively unreasonable because “[a]t the very core [of the Fourth Amendment] stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.” [viii] (more…)

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

By Andrew Segna, JD ‘12
Edited by Lee Welling
Editorial Policy

Video games have evolved from a niche hobby to an important mainstream form of entertainment and artistic expression in the United States. A May 2009 Ars Technica article stated that Americans are more likely to spend time playing video games then going to see a movie. Video games can now be considered a peer of music, movies, and television. As in these other industries, there has been a recent movement outside of big-budget and high-profile games. Small development teams with limited resources have begun producing unique games that push the boundaries of gameplay and story-telling. Current independent developers grew up on the personal computer (PC) and are familiar with its open nature, meaning that with the PC developers can have unfettered control over their products’ creation and distribution.

This open nature is not without flaws, such as piracy. In response to these flaws, developers have begun moving to other platforms, most importantly the Xbox 360 and the iPhone. The popularity of these devices and their ease of use present an enormous opportunity for independent developers. The evolution of these platforms, however, also presents a significant impediment to the growth of independent games. The flawed free and restrictive natures of the Xbox 360 and the iPhone threaten the financial success of independent games. In contrast, Microsoft’s control over the Xbox 360 and Apple’s control over the iPhone enables these two platform holders to achieve their own goals. The interests of the platform holder and independent developers often do not align, which negatively impacts the latter entity. Independent developers are so intent on producing profitable games that they focus on surviving on the platform instead of changing its structure for the betterment of their peers. In order to overcome the harms of these platforms, this Comment will argue that a legal aid organization should guide independent developers in overcoming Microsoft’s and Apple’s status as repeat players in their respective platforms. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 22 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Alissa Del Riego*
Edited by Miriam Weiler
Editorial Policy

The FTC’s new Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“the guidelines”), regulating blog postings that endorse products, take effect December 1, 2009. These guidelines represent the first time since 1980 that the FTC has updated its policies to adapt to new social media and the ever-growing presence of advertisement on the Internet. The guidelines seek to provide consumers with enough information to allow them to distinguish between an online reviewer’s personal opinion about a product and a reviewer’s opinion whose objectivity may be questionable. The guidelines require bloggers to disclose any material relationship they might have with a company whose product they are endorsing online. Failure to disclose could result in disciplinary action (probably a fine) not only for the blogger, but also for the advertiser or manufacturer whose product the blogger is rating. Though the guidelines also address celebrity endorsements, this Comment will focus on the guidelines’ effect on blogging and other online social media.

The guidelines have received a lukewarm reception. Though some commentators have noted that the regulations are long overdue, bloggers and advertisers alike have voiced concerns and objections. This Comment evaluates the new guidelines by acknowledging their necessity, exploring their reach to determine whether they have gone beyond optimal regulation, and finally concluding that they have not.  Part I establishes consumers’ need for additional information when reading cyber reviews. By examining the language of the relevant guidelines and the illustrative examples provided by the FTC, Part II explores the guidelines, their breadth, and the parties affected. Part III analyzes the leading arguments against the guidelines and identifies additional arguments touching upon their regulatory efficiency. Part IV concludes, finding the guidelines a necessary and benign constraint given the lack of information available to online consumers. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 19 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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