A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

Federal Circuit Court Provides Clarity on Patent Preemption Post-Alice

By Seán Finan – Edited by Grace Truong

The decision of the Federal Circuit Court clarified the SS101 exceptions to patentability relating to preemption and abstract ideas. The decision has important implications for the application of the Alice test and for software patents.



By Alex Noonan – Edited by Filippo Raso

California Supreme Court to Determine if Courts Can Require Non-Party Content Hosts to Remove Defamatory Reviews


Half of American Adults are in Law Enforcement Facial Recognition Databases


Californian Residents Whose Data Were Exposed in Yahoo Data Breach to Bring Class Action Suit in California State Court




By June Nam – Edited by Ding Ding

The heirs of William Abbott and Lou Costello filed suit against the creators of a Broadway play, Hand to God for using—verbatim—a portion of the iconic comedy routine, Who’s on First?. The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment but rejected the reasoning of the district court, which dismissed allegations of copyright infringement. The Circuit Judge, Reena Raggi, held that the use of the routine in the play was not a fair use under the Copyright Act of 1976. However, the heirs did not have a valid copyright to allege any copyright infringement.



Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Wendy Chu – Edited by Kayla Haran

Delaware Supreme Court Dismisses a Case For Lack of Online Personal Jurisdiction

California District Court Dismisses Trademark Dilution Claim Because of Limited Recognition

eLaw Launches an On-Demand Lawyer Service for Court Appearances




Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Haydn Forrest – Edited by Henry Thomas

Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, v. Amazon.com, Inc. (Fed. Cir. Sep. 23, 2016)

Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, v. DirecTV, LLC (Fed. Cir. Sep. 23, 2016)

Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec Corp. (Fed. Cir. Sep. 30, 2016)

Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. Oct. 7, 2016)



Hacked By Over-X

By Mila Owen – Edited by Henry Thomas

In the wake of the release of the sixth round of section 1201 exemptions, both the DMCA and the rulemaking process of Library of Congress continue to draw criticisms and concern about practicality, overreaching, and abuse.

On October 27, 2015, the Library of Congress released its sixth round of official exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) Section 1201, which prohibits circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs). The DMCA, enacted in 1998, criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures that control access to copyrighted works (TPMs). Section 1201 makes it a copyright infringement to bypass a TPM, even if this entails no actual infringement of the copyright itself. The Library of Congress grants exemptions to §1201 every three years in a process known as the triennial review, where proponents of exemptions may seek renewal or expansion of exemptions or the granting of new exemptions in order to circumvent TPMs for non-infringing uses.

The IT Law Wiki provides a useful summary of the §1201 exception process.  Notably, in order for an exemption to be granted, the party advocating for the exemption has the burden to prove that the section otherwise interferes with noninfringing use.


Posted On Dec - 3 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Kayla Haran – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Court Finds Negative Claim Limitation Meets Written Description Requirements

In Inphi Corporation v. Netlist, Inc., 2015-1179 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 13, 2015), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that Netlist Inc.’s amended patent claims met the written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶1. Netlist amended and narrowed its claims on the patent at issue, introducing a negative claim limitation after the Board’s inter partes reexamination, which was initiated by Inphi Corporation. The Board had previously rejected several of Netlist’s claims as obvious in view of the prior art, but withdrew its rejections after Netlist’s amendment.

The Federal Circuit previously held in Santarus, Inc. v. Par Pharm., Inc., 694 F.3d 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2012) that negative claim limitations require an adequate description of a reason to exclude the relevant limitation, and Inphi argued that Netlist’s amendment failed to provide such reasons. The Board rejected this argument, finding in Netlist’s amended specifications implicit reasons for its exclusions. Inphi appealed the Board’s denial of Inphi’s request for rehearing. The Federal Circuit found that, contrary to Inphi’s arguments, Santarus did not create a heightened written description standard for negative claim limitations. The court affirmed the Board’s decision, holding that properly describing alternative features as Netlist did, even without articulating the advantages and disadvantages of those features, can properly constitute a reason for exclusion under the Santarus standard. For these reasons, the court upheld the Board’s finding that Netlist’s negative claim limitation properly met the written description requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶1.


Posted On Nov - 23 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Patrick Gallagher – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

TOR Project Head Alleges FBI Paid Carnegie Mellon for Hack in Connection with Silk Road 2.0 Investigation

Roger Dingledine, director of the TOR Project, a free online software that protects the anonymity of its users online, claims that the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon University $1 million to reveal the identities of its users as part of the FBI’s Silk Road 2.0 investigation. Silk Road 2.0 was formed as the successor to Silk Road, described by the FBI as a website “designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement.” Last year, Carnegie Mellon was scheduled to host a speech on how to break the TOR Project’s software at the Black Hat hacker conference; however, the talk was cancelled. Subsequently, an anonymous source provided federal investigators with the IP addresses of online users tied to Silk Road 2.0 raising suspicions that Carnegie Mellon acted as the anonymous source. Dingledine’s accusation further alleges that the hack by Carnegie Mellon was part of a much broader breach made in cooperation with law enforcement in which the institute hacked a large number of TOR Project users, then sifted through their profiles in order to determine which had committed crimes. This allegation, if true, may implicate legal issues regarding online privacy rights.

DOJ Decides Not to Support FCC in Efforts to Preempt States Laws Limiting Municipal Broadband Projects

On Monday, November 9, the Department of Justice announced that it will not support the Federal Communications Commission in its legal efforts to combat state laws that restrict community-based broadband projects. Community broadband projects allow municipalities to establish their own broadband services outside of the private market to ensure access to fast, affordable Internet service.  The current legal battle centers on a February vote by the FCC to “preempt state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories.” The FCC derived its authority for this action from Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which empowers the agency to utilize “measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment” in order to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans.” However, such authority is limited by considerations including public policy and necessity.

If upheld, the FCC’s decision could be expanded to apply to 17 other states where similar restrictions on local broadband projects exist. The FCC’s legal brief can be read here. Ars Technica provides further commentary.

D.C. Court of Appeals Permits Continuation of Bulk Domestic Phone Data Collection

Following a ruling Monday, November 10, by Judge Richard J. Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that blocked the bulk collection of domestic phone data by the NSA, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stayed the order on Tuesday. The decision was issued in response to an emergency motion to stay by the government, which cited national security concerns if the program were disrupted. The NSA is currently in the process of transitioning to an alternative method of phone data collection that relies on a 4th Amendment probable cause standard. The current surveillance program is set to expire on November 29.

Posted On Nov - 21 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

CybersecuritySenate passes Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

By Frederick Ding — Edited by Yunnan Jiang

S. 754 — Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015

The text of the bill is available here, and has been summarized by GovTrack.us.

On October 27, 2015, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) of 2015. CISA enables companies to share cyber threat indicators with each other and the federal government, and immunizes companies from liability for sharing under the act. The bill was originally introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on March 17, 2015, and was also sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The Intelligence Committee voted 14 to 1 to report the bill favorably, S. Rep. 114-32 (2015). Prior to its passage, the Senate rejected a number of proposed amendments that would have limited its scope. The act now heads to conference to be reconciled with the Protecting Cyber Networks Act, H.R. 1560, which the House passed on April 22, 2015.

According to the Intelligence Committee report, the purpose of the legislation is to protect private companies, critical infrastructure, and government systems from hostile cyberattacks by facilitating a “voluntary cybersecurity information sharing process that will encourage public and private sector entities to share cyber threat information, removing legal barriers and the threat of unnecessary litigation.” S. Rep. 114-32 at 2.

This legislation directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to operate as an entry point for entities to share “cyber threat indicators” with the federal government and to disseminate shared indicators with other agencies through an automated, real-time process. It also enables companies to share information with each other, and establishes reporting requirements for agencies that are involved in the information sharing. Controversially, CISA also provides liability protection, immunizing entities that share cybersecurity information with each other or the government.

A summary of the history surrounding the Senate bill is available at Congress.gov, including several failed amendments. CNN calls CISA a “historic” bill, quoting a former NSA employee who said that CISA “doesn’t do anything except help . . . defend our companies better,” but notes that “tech companies were suspicious of the bill.” The Guardian and Wired provide further commentary.


Posted On Nov - 18 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Senate Judiciary CommitteeBy Bhargav Srinivasan – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

In October, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) introduced pending legislation S. 1890 – “Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015” (the Bill) to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If passed, the Bill would provide a federal civil cause of action for the misappropriation of trade secrets related to a products and services used in interstate commerce.

The Bill serves two primary purposes: (1) to provide pathways to injunctive and monetary relief that would prevent loss of evidence and economic harm to victims; and (2) to create a uniform standard for misappropriation of trade secrets.

In a recent article, The Hill notes that the Senators had in mind cyber theft from Chinese competitors when drafting the Bill. In September 2015, the Obama administration reached an agreement with China President Xi Jinping that neither country would support economic espionage on private firms. However, beliefs that the agreement is toothless have led proponents of the Bill to argue for its importance in fighting cyber theft.


Posted On Nov - 18 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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