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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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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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By Tyler Lacey

Bank Programmer Pleads Guilty to ATM Hacking

On April 13, 2010, Wired reported that Bank of America employee Rodney Reed Cavelry pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized computer access, after installing software on more than 100 ATMs that allowed him to steal more than $304,000 over a seven-month period last year. Bank of America identified Caverly’s theft internally, and was able to recover at least $167,000 in cooperation with the United States Secret Service. Bank of America had employed Cavelry since 2007 to write “application software and troubleshooting programs.” Cavelry will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced this summer.

Canadian Regulator Warns Against Foreign Ownership of Telecommunications Companies

On April 13, 2010, The Toronto Star reported that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) warned against allowing majority foreign ownership of Canadian telecommunications companies. Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC’s chairman, argued that a proposed law allowing additional foreign investment in telecommunications companies would create a “branch plant communications industry” in Canada. Complicating the matter is the fact that Canada’s leading telecommunications companies are also broadcasting companies, which are subjected to additional cultural regulations on minimum levels of Canadian content. von Finckenstein believes that “there is no way to separate telecoms from broadcasters,” and that the best strategy is to “to create uniform rules that would apply to both industries, and to keep control firmly in Canadian hands.”

Italian Judge Explains Rationale for Guilty Verdicts in Illegal Video Case

On April 13 CNET reported on Italian Judge Oscar Magi’s 111 page explanation for the guilty verdict that he entered against three Google employees on February 24. Judge Magi believed that “commercial exploitation” was Google’s motive for allowing a video, depicting an autistic teenager being harassed and attacked, to remain online for two months. In response, Google argued that the “conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built” and indicated that it would appeal the verdicts.

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

UK Passes Controversial Digital Economy Bill

The Guardian and the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that on April 8, the U.K. Parliament passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill in a late-night “wash-up” session after just two hours of debate. Two provisions of the bill in particular raised concerns among the citizenry and telecommunications companies in the U.K. The Guardian reports that the bill contains a broad-ranging clause allowing the Secretary of State for Business to block a site that “has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” EFF notes that the bill also includes a provision allowing for the disconnection of the “Internet connection of any household in the U.K. with an IP address alleged to have engaged in copyright infringement.”

30-Year Computer Ban for Sex Offender Overturned by DC Court of Appeals

Wired reported that on April 2, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated a 30-year computer ban imposed on a sex-offender as a condition of his supervised release. The Court stated that the immutable ban on computer use was “substantively unreasonable” and “aggressively interferes with the goal of rehabilitation,” including obtaining employment. Citizen Media Law Project argues that while the overturning of the ban was a good outcome, the reasoning of the court is troublesome due to its implication that a computer ban providing for a shorter duration and probation officer approved waivers would be acceptable.

Spy Network Targeting Indian Government Uncovered

Ars Technica reported that the researchers who previously uncovered GhostNet, a spy network targeting Tibetan exiles, have recently uncovered a separate network targeting the Indian government, among other entities. This network has been traced back to a hacking community in Chengdu, China. The majority of machines attacked by the network are associated with India, including “Indian embassies and consulates,” as well as commercial groups like the Times of India and the New Delhi rail station. The spy network obtained “everything from information on missile systems being developed by India to a list of visas issued by Indian embassies.”

Posted On Apr - 12 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

D.C. Circuit Denies FCC Jurisdiction to Mandate Net Neutrality
By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Jad Mills

Comcast Corp. v FCC, No. 08-1291 (D.C. Cir., Apr. 6, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated an order issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which had asserted jurisdiction over Comcast’s network management policies and had ordered Comcast to cease discriminating against peer-to-peer network traffic.

The D.C. Circuit held that the FCC does not have ancillary jurisdiction over Comcast’s Internet service under the language of the Communications Act of 1934, which grants the FCC the power to “perform any and all acts, make such rules and regulations, and issue such orders, not inconsistent with [the Act], as may be necessary in the execution of its functions.” 47 U.S.C. § 154(i). The Court did not find a sufficient statutory basis in the FCC’s mandate to provide “rapid, efficient” communications services to authorize it to regulate the behavior of Internet service providers.

Internet Evolution describes the Court as having “managed to completely destroy the very foundation upon which the FCC has based its net neutrality rules” and questions the necessity of any internet regulation at all. The Wall Street Journal argues that this decision “deal[s] a blow to big Web commerce companies and other proponents of ‘net neutrality.’” However, Wired reports that the FCC remains optimistic that it can still achieve its goal of “preserving an open internet” because the “court in no way disagreed with the importance of preserving a free and open internet [n]or did it close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.” Comcast responded to the Court’s decision by declaring that it “remains committed to the FCC’s existing open Internet principles, and . . . will continue to work constructively with this FCC as it determines how best to increase broadband adoption and preserve an open and vibrant Internet.” (more…)

Posted On Apr - 11 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Tiffany’s Trademark Infringement Claim Against eBay
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Jad Mills

Tiffany Inc. v. eBay Inc., Case No. 08-3947 (2d Cir., Apr. 1, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On April 1, the Second Circuit largely affirmed the holdings of the district court in the Southern District of New York. The court concluded that despite the evidence that eBay had general knowledge that some of its customers had used its website to sell counterfeit Tiffany merchandise, eBay itself could not be held liable for direct or contributory trademark infringement or for trademark dilution. It remanded the case, however, to determine whether eBay could be held liable for false advertising.

Eric Goldman, who had previously commented on the district court opinion, provides a summary of the Second Circuit’s decision.  Larry Downes for the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society views the decision “a matter of economic necessity,” arguing that placing the burden on online marketplaces rather than on manufacturers “would effectively mean the end of eBay and sites like it.” Rebecca Tushnet comments on the opinion, focusing on the false advertising holding. Ron Coleman of the Likelihood of Confusion blog provides some additional commentary and criticism.

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Posted On Apr - 9 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Panel Criticizes Bilski Machine-or-Transformation Test
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Ryan Ward
Editorial Policy

On Thursday, April 1st, JOLT hosted a panel discussion at Harvard Law School on the impact of In Re Bilski, a 2008 en banc decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit holding that the machine-or-transformation test is the proper method for determining patent-eligible subject matter. Digest previously covered the Bilski decision here. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in November 2009.

The three panelists, Don Steinberg, Professor Kevin Collins of the University of Indiana Maurer School of Law, and Professor Michael Meurur of Boston University School of Law, examined the Bilski holding from different litigation and economic perspectives, and wagered predictions on the forthcoming Supreme Court decision. The panelists agreed that the Bilski machine-or-transformation test rightly excludes software and business method patents, but fails as a useful test. They went on to agree that the Supreme Court will likely strike down the Bilski patent, but is unlikely to provide a concrete new test for courts to follow.

(more…)

Posted On Apr - 6 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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Whack-a-troll Legisl

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