A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Nintendo Wins Summary Judgment Based on Doctrine of Prosecution History Estoppel

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Stacy Ruegilin

On July 17, 2015, the Northern District Court of California granted a summary judgment motion in Nintendo’s favor in a patent suit, construing disputed term in accordance with Nintendo’s interpretation and finding that the patent had not been infringed. The court based its decision on prosecution history estoppel, highlighting differences between the processes of obtaining and enforcing a patent.

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District Court Holds that Internet-Based Television Provider, FilmOn X is Entitled to a Compulsory License

By Anne Woodworth – Edited by Henry Thomas

The U.S. District court for the Central District of California ruled that an online streaming service that rebroadcasted network television fit the definition of a cable company, and was entitled to compulsory licensing under § 111 of the Copyright Act.  The order relied on the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, which held that internet streaming was fundamentally the same as cable. The ruling conflicts with a Second Circuit case decided on similar facts, and is immediately appealable.

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Data Breach Victims, Rejoice: Seventh Circuit Finds that Threat of Injury is Sufficient for Article III Standing in Data Breach Class Actions

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ariane Moss

Last Monday, the Seventh Circuit Courto of Appeals ruled that victims of a data breach had standing to pursue a class action even when they had not suffered direct financial harm as a result of the breach or when they had already been compensated for financial harm resulting from the breach. The opinion reversed a contrary district court decision, which the Seventh Circuit said had incorrectly read the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA.

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How Far Can Law Enforcement Go When Gathering Email Evidence? Former Gov. Scott Walker Employee Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari

By Kasey Wang – Edited by Ariane Moss

Kelly Rindfleisch is serving a six-month sentence for misconduct in public office while working for then-County Executive Scott Walker. Rindfleisch appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the government violated her Fourth Amendment rights while searching her emails for evidence for a different case.

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Russia’s “Right To Be Forgotten” and China’s Right To Be Protected: New Privacy and Security Legislation

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

The legislatures in Russia and China took steps this month to tighten regulations over Internet companies with access to user data. In Russia, President Vladmir Putin signed a law ensuring a “right to be forgotten” reminiscent of the European Court of Justice’s right to be forgotten ruling of May 2014. And in China, the National People’s Congress released a draft cybersecurity bill that would formalize and strengthen the State’s long-standing regulation of websites and network operators.

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Supreme Court Holds That a Government Employer’s Search of an Employee’s Messages on a Work-Related Pager Was Reasonable and Not a Violation of the Fourth Amendment
By Andrew Segna – Edited by Helen He

Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332 (U.S. Jun. 17, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that the Petitioner City of Ontario’s (“Ontario”) search of the Respondent Jeff Quon’s text messages was unreasonable and, therefore, a violation of Quan’s reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court held that the search administered by the Petitioner was reasonable and did not violate the Respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights regarding government employers. To reach this conclusion, Justice Kennedy assumed that Quon did have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Under the standards outlined by the plurality and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in O’Connor v. Ortega, the Supreme Court held that the legitimacy of the City’s reasoning behind the search and the nonexcessive measures utilized demonstrated reasonableness. In so holding, Justice Kennedy recognized  this decision’s potential to determine the larger question surrounding employees’ expectation of privacy with regards to government employers and the rapid growth of information and communication technology today. Kennedy mentioned the changing privacy expectations of employees and arguments for and against increased privacy but asserted that he wanted to avoid the volatile and far-reaching consequence of addressing such an issue. Therefore, he concluded that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in this case in order to narrow the holding.

The New York Times has an overview of the Supreme Court’s decision. SCOTUSBlog analyzed the majority opinion and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in the case and their implications for the question of privacy in the realm of technology. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in favor of a narrow holding, elaborated upon its support for and concerns about the holding. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Illinois Establishes Standard for Identifying Anonymous Internet Commenters

Evan Brown at Internet Cases reports that the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District has set forth a standard for identifying an anonymous internet commenter in Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing Co., No. 3-08-0805 (Ill. App. 3d June 1, 2010). A couple from Illinois, unhappy with anonymous comments on a local newspaper website, sought to identify the commenters. Illinois Rules on Civil Proceedings Rule 224 allows a petitioner to file a petition to identify a person “responsible in damages.” The trial court followed the analysis of Dendrite International. Inc. v. Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) and Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), in denying the petition. The appellate court reversed and remanded, setting forth a new standard that requires a court to “insure that the petition: (1) is verified; (2) states with particularity facts that would establish a cause of action for defamation; (3) seeks only the identity of the potential defendant and no other information necessary to establish the cause of action of defamation; and (4) is subjected to a hearing at which the court determines that the petition sufficiently states a cause of action for defamation against the unnamed potential defendant.” Maxon, slip op. at 9. As Brown notes, this standard — unlike that of past cases — does not require the petitioner to attempt to identify the commenter.

FCC Votes to Proceed with Net Neutrality Regulations

Joelle Tessler for the Associated Press reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to accept public comments on three proposed broadband regulations. The regulations are part of the FCC’s latest attempt to establish oversight of broadband providers. The proposal would redefine broadband access as a telecommunications service, allowing the FCC greater regulatory control. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes to ensure that broadband providers treat network traffic equally, limiting their ability to selectively block traffic. JOLT Digest previously highlighted the objections of many members of Congress to the FCC’s attempts to regulate in the aftermath of Comcast Corp. v. FCC.

Napolitano Calls for Balance Between Civil Liberties and Security

Lolita C. Baldor for the Associated Press reports that in a recent speech, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties. Citing the recent homegrown, online terrorist recruitment efforts, Napolitano suggested that the law should allow the government to monitor these growing threats. Napolitano believes that by monitoring Internet communications the United States can better protect national security without necessarily “having a deleterious effect on individual rights.”

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Summary Judgment Entered Against Chuck DeVore on Copyright Claims
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Helen He

Henley v. DeVore, No. 8:09-cv-00481-JVS-RNB (C.D. Cal. Jun. 10, 2010)
Order

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued a formal ruling on Musician Don Henley’s copyright and Lanham Act claims against California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Rejecting DeVore’s fair use defense, the court entered summary judgment in favor of Henley on all claims of copyright infringement. Henley’s false endorsement claim under the Lanham Act was dismissed. The court denied summary adjudication to both parties on the issue of whether the infringement was willful.

The court ruled that DeVore was not entitled to a fair use defense because his use of Henley’s work failed to meet the standards as established by Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., 510 U.S. 569, 575 (1994). Specifically, the court held that DeVore’s use was more satirical than parodic, borrowed too heavily from the originals and had the potential effect of market substitution. In dismissing DeVore’s Lanham Act claim, the court cited the absence of authority for the theory that a performer could acquire a trademark in her or his own musical performance.

The Hollywood Reporter features a summary of an earlier tentative ruling. CrawDaddy! provides a detailed account of the events leading up to the dispute. BusinessWire gives a brief discussion of the ruling’s repercussions. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 20 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu

Judge Orders Copyright Plaintiff to Justify Joining Thousands of Defendants in a Single Lawsuit

Ars Technica reports that Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer ordered the US Copyright Group to explain why joining thousands of anonymous “John Does” into one lawsuit is permissible under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). The judge, after encountering one case that was filed against 4,577 anonymous P2P defendants, issued the order requiring the Group to “convince [her] within two weeks that jamming 4,577 people into a single lawsuit is a proper use of the court system.” In an amicus brief filed by the ACLU and EFF, the two organizations argued that this type of joinder is improper according to FRCP 20, which states that a plaintiff may only join a defendant in a lawsuit if the plaintiff is able to “assert . . . relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences.” If it permits this suit, the court runs the risk of denying a fair trial to a large number of defendants; however, forcing the plaintiff to pursue a case against each individual defendant may result in undue delay and expense.

Ninth Circuit Decision may Swallow the Protections Afforded by the First Sale Doctrine

Ben Sheffner reports in his blog that the Ninth Circuit recently posted the oral arguments given by the opposing parties in UMG Recordings, Inc. v. Augusto. The case will address the scope of the first sale doctrine, which places limitations on the control of copyright owners over the reselling or distribution of their products. The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides an overview of the case. In 2007, Universal Music Group (UMG) sued Troy Augusto for reselling its promotional CDs, alleging that the reselling violated “its exclusive right to distribute its works under 17 USC § 106(3)” because these CDs were only licensed “for a limited purpose to a limited group.” The district court had relied upon an obscure postal statute that “characterize[d] unordered merchandise as a gift” (internal quotations omitted) to find that the reselling was protected by the first sale doctrine and thus did not violate U.S. copyright law. If the Ninth Circuit rules for UMG, then copyright owners would gain the power to limit the distribution of their products using limited license labels.

FTC to Launch Investigation in Apple’s Exclusionary Practices with its Mobile Operating System

Ars Technica reports that the FTC is investigating whether Apple’s decision to allow only certain third-party compilers to place software and data on its mobile operative system constitutes a violation of U.S. antitrust law. The investigation is still in its early stages and has not become public, but inside sources suggest that the FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice settled their rumored debate over which agency would investigate Apple’s practices. Last month, Ars Technica reported on the discussions between the two agencies regarding “which one [would] launch the antitrust inquiry” that preceded the current FTC investigation. It is unknown which companies are behind the complaint to the FTC; both Adobe and Google are listed as potential parties.

Posted On Jun - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds that Solo’s Marking of Lids after Patent Expiration Did Not Violate False Marking Statute
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Pequignot v. Solo Cup Co., No. 2009-1547 (Fed. Cir. June 10, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On June 10, 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which had entered summary judgment in favor of Solo for “false marking” related to Solo’s practice of marking expired patents on its beverage cup lids.

The Federal Circuit held that a product embodying an expired patent is indeed an “unpatented article” under 35 U.S.C. § 292(a), but a plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant intended to deceive the public in order to succeed under § 292. The court stated that a rebuttable presumption is created when a plaintiff shows that the defendant knowingly made false statements; a defendant may rebut this presumption if it shows by a preponderance of the evidence that it did not intend to deceive the public. The court also noted that the presumption is weaker in cases where the markings are for expired patents that once covered the marked products. Solo, which had relied on advice of counsel and weighed the high costs of removing the markings, was able to rebut Pequignot’s evidence that it intended to deceive. Finally, the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s construction of “offense” under § 292, which was at odds with its decision in Forest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2009).

Dabney Carr at Virginia IP Law provides an overview of the case. Patently-O and Daily Herald provide background on the case and other cases that have recently been filed claiming violations of § 292. A chart of false marking cases and their status is available at Gray on Claims. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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