A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review.

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Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.”

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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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Ninth Circuit Remands Cybersquatting Case
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Amanda Rice

Lahoti v. Vericheck Inc., No. 08-35001 (9th Cir., Nov. 16, 2009)
Opinion

On November 16th, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court’s finding that the mark “VeriCheck” was an inherently distinctive, legally protectable mark was based in part on erroneous legal reasoning and in part on valid reasoning. Accordingly, it vacated the lower court’s award of summary judgment in favor of the defendant and remanded. However, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that the counterclaim defendant acted in bad faith. The court noted that it is proper for a court to consider the fact that the PTO has allowed others to register the mark at issue without requiring a showing of secondary meaning as weighing in favor of a finding of inherent distinctiveness.

The Ninth Circuit held that because the district court did not rely exclusively on the proper legal standard, its finding that Disputed Mark was distinctive must be vacated — even if there may have also existed proper legal grounds for finding the mark distinctive. The court also held that Lahoti acted at least “partially in bad faith” by gambling that the district court would agree with his interpretation of trademark law. He knew or should have known that he would risk cybersquatting liability if his gamble failed.

BNA and Michael Atkins, a Seattle trademark lawyer, provide relevant overviews of the case. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 21 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Intel and AMD announce $1.25 billion settlement

By Abby Lauer – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown

On Thursday, Intel announced that it will pay $1.25 billion to Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to settle AMD’s antitrust complaints in the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea. According to the terms of the settlement, Intel agreed to refrain from engaging in tactics involving computer manufacturers that would exclude AMD from the microprocessor market. The companies also resolved to drop their patent dispute and enter into a five-year cross licensing agreement.

The NY Times provides an overview of the settlement and other information about Intel and AMD. Ars Technica provides strategic analysis; the WSJ Law Blog provides opinions of antitrust experts and PCWorld provides additional commentary.
(more…)

Posted On Nov - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

No Permission Needed to Copyright a Derivative Work

By Adrienne Baker – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown
Schrock v. Learning Curve Int’l, No. 08-1296 (7th Cir. Sep. 9, 2009)
Opinion

On November 5, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded a decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had ruled that copyright for a derivative work requires permission from the underlying copyright holder to be valid. The district court’s ruling was based on reasoning in Gracen v. Bradford Exchange, 698 F.2d 300 (7th Cir. 1983). The Seventh Circuit instead held that a valid copyright in a derivative work is created by “operation of law” and not by authority of the copyright owner in the underlying work, unless a contract dictates otherwise. Additionally, the court held that there is no heightened standard of originality for copyright protection in a derivative work.

The Exclusive Rights Blog provides an overview of the case. Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log criticizes the circuit court for not explicitly overturning Gracen and asserts photographs of copyrighted material should not be treated as derivative works. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Convicted Murderer Demands that Wikipedia Remove His Name from Victim’s Article

On November 11, Wired reported that a convicted murderer in Germany has issued a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Wikipedia remove his name from his victim’s Wikipedia article. Wolfgang Werle murdered Bavarian actor Walter Sadlmayr in 1990, and was released on parole in 2007. The letter demands legal fees and compensation for “emotional suffering” caused by the publication of Werle’s name in connection with the murder since his release. German media have already stopped using Werle’s name. Since Wikipedia is an American organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the issue as “an apparent conflict between the U.S. First Amendment — which protects truthful speech — and German law — which seeks to protect the name and likenesses of private persons from unwanted publicity.”

Senator Criticizes Verizon’s Increased Cancellation Fees as “Anti-Competitive”

On November 10, Ars Technica reported that United States Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to Verizon, criticizing the company’s announced increase in early cancellation fees for cell phone contracts. Verizon recently announced that, beginning November 15, the fee for cancelling a subsidized smartphone contract would double from a maximum of $175 to $350. Senator Klobuchar, who is a proponent of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act, called the increase “anti-consumer and anti-competitive.” Senator Klobuchar also wrote a letter to the FCC, asking for an investigation into the competitive and economic impact of the decision on consumers. Verizon noted that consumers can avoid the early termination fees by purchasing smartphones without Verizon subsidies.

United Kingdom Proposes Mandatory Surveillance of Social Networks, Chat Rooms, and Video Games

On November 9, the BBC reported the United Kingdom government has proposed that communication service providers retain records from a variety of new sources including social networks, chat rooms and online games. The move is designed to monitor the parties to and date of each online communication, but not the “actual contents of what was said.” Specific legislation has not yet been introduced, but the proposal includes compensation for the communications providers that must implement the technically challenging requirements. The government has insisted that most concerns about the proposal have only to do with the “detail of what would be done with the information.”

Posted On Nov - 14 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Constitutional Challenge to Gene Patents Survives Motion to Dismiss

By Davis Doherty – Edited by Jad Mills
Assn. for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. USPTO, et al., Case no. 09-CV-4514 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patent Baristas)

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claim that patents on a human gene violate the First Amendment and Article I of the Constitution for jurisdictional issues, lack of standing, and failure to state a claim.

District Judge Sweet found that the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims challenging the validity of Myriad Genetics’ gene patents provided subject matter jurisdiction and standing to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office because of the lack of available statutory remedies.  The plaintiffs claim that Myriad’s patents are inappropriate because they cover “products of nature”, and seek invalidation of the patents under the Constitution of the United States. Judge Sweet held that these claims met the stricter pleading standards recently announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009).  In so holding, the court noted the “novel circumstances presented by this action against the USPTO”: The Patent and Trade Office is generally immune from suit due to the availability of statutory remedies for claims arising from patents. Such remedies do not provide for constitutional claims.

Ars Technica provides a brief overview of the case.  The ACLU, who represents the plaintiffs, writes in support of the decision.  Patent Baristas put forward a more skeptical view of the plaintiffs’ prospects. Patent Docs features a longer analysis of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 10 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

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Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...

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Aereo Struggles as S

Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law By ...