A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Apple Ordered to Pay $533M for Patent Infringement

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

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A Computer Programmer for Megaupload Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement Charges

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jenny Choi

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Andrus Nomm, a computer programmer for Megaupload.com, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for copyright infringement. Kim Dotcom, a founder of the Megaupload website and a key target of this criminal prosecution and two consecutive civil lawsuits, reacted strongly to the news and sought political recourse with regard to his behaviors.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Anne Woodworth

Report Claims Facebook Privacy Policy in Violation of EU Law

FCC Preempts State Laws Limiting City-Provided Internet Service

Aereo Files Repayment Plan Following Bankruptcy Auction

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief  

By Amanda Liverzani

PTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patents

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

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Alleged mastermind behind the undercover trading platform Silk Road convicted in Manhattan court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, the person allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

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By Davis Doherty

GoDaddy Follows Google out of China

On March 25, the Washington Post reported that GoDaddy.com would cease registering Chinese domain names in response to intrusive new regulations. The leading Internet registrar’s decision was spurred by concerns that the rules, requiring registrants to provide extensive personal information and photos, would strengthen China’s ability to censor its citizens. CNET reports that GoDaddy has also been the subject of an increasing number of cyber attacks based in China. Reuters provides analysis connecting GoDaddy’s move to Google’s decision to relocate its search services to Hong Kong.

The “Hot News” Doctrine — Not Dead Yet

The Citizen Media Law Project (“CMLP”) blog reports that a recent decision in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, Barclays Capital Inc. v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com, 06 Civ. 4908 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2010), may revive the flagging “hot news” doctrine. That doctrine, based on unfair competition laws, provides some protection against copying of time-sensitive facts that are uncopyrightable. TheFlyOnTheWall.com fell afoul of the rule by including the plaintiffs’ stock recommendations in real time on its financial newsfeed, and under the court’s ruling must now delay publication of that information by several hours. CMLP discusses the possibility that the court’s reasoning may apply to news aggregators, but ultimately argues that the ruling will not apply to such websites.

Not-So-Trusted Authorities?

On March 24, computer security specialists released a research paper suggesting that Certificate Authorities (“CAs”) may be assisting government efforts to spy on encrypted communications. The Electronic Frontier Foundation analyzes the report and extensively discusses CAs — a collection of over 100 companies and governments who provide electronic certificates for secure websites such as Gmail and Bank of America. These certificates verify that no third party is impersonating either end of the communication in a “man-in-the-middle” attack, an approach that would bypass the encryption normally protecting the user’s data against interception. Since web browsers only check whether a certificate issuer is on the trusted list, one CA could provide false certificates that would enable attacks at any secure site.

Wired’s Threat Level reports that Arizona company Packet Forensics manufactures hardware to automate this sort of attack, suggesting that false certificates may indeed be available. Commentators are also concerned that some CAs may be particularly vulnerable to governmental pressure to issue forged certificates, which could then be used to spy on dissidents or steal intellectual property.

Posted On Mar - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Reaffirms Separate Written Description and Enablement Requirements for Patents
By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Jad Mills

Ariad Pharm., Inc. v. Eli Lilly & Co., Appeal 2008-1248 (Fed. Cir., Mar. 22, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”), in a 9-2 en banc decision, affirmed a panel decision holding Ariad’s patent claims invalid for lack of written description. In so holding, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed that the first paragraph of 35 U.S.C. § 112 (“§ 112”) contains  two separate requirements: written description and enablement.

The patent, which related to “the regulation of gene expression by the transcription factor NF-κB,” encompassed a genus of substances. In holding the patent invalid for lack of written description, the court agreed that the ”doctrine disadvantages universities to the extent that basic research cannot be patented,” because of the difficulty of providing a written description for a complete invention embodying basic research, but noted that this is the law’s “intention”.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. Inventive Step argues that § 112 is “not a model of clarity” and that the court errs when it “seems to argue that the statute is not ambiguous and that its interpretation is clear from the language.” Chris Holman, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who filed an amicus brief arguing against separate requirements, criticized the decision by noting that “any positive policy aspects of [written description] can be better accomplished using the enablement requirement, and that the courts have failed to articulate any coherent standard for compliance with [written description] beyond the requirements of enablement.” Holman believes that the court retained the separate written description requirement because “it has developed into a useful tool for invalidating clearly objectionable patent claims precisely because it lacks any coherent standard.” (more…)

Posted On Mar - 26 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu

Third Circuit Dismisses “Sexting” Charges Against Minor

On March 18, the WSJ Law Blog reported that the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit dismissed charges against a teenage girl for distributing sexually explicit images of herself. The court had originally stated that they would address whether the First Amendment protects minors from sending these types of images of themselves through their cells phones, but the court refused to consider this issue in the case. Instead, the three-judge panel concluded that the prosecutor could not charge her for appearing in a sexually explicit photo without evidence that she had helped to distribute it. The court’s ruling appears to protect minors from liability for “sexting,” the act of “sending or posting sexually suggestive text messages and images . . . via cellular telephones or over the internet,” so long as there is “no evidence as to whether that person possessed or transmitted the photo.” The case name is Miller v. Mitchell, No. 09-2144 (3d. Cir. Mar. 17, 2010).

California Appeals Court Holds Threatening Online Speech is not Protected

On March 18, Wired reported that a California appeals court held that hateful and threatening online speech was not protected by the First Amendment. The father of the student who was targeted by the online postings had sued six students and their parents after hearing from the police that the threatening comments posted to his son’s website were protected forms of speech and could not be criminally prosecuted. One of the defendant students claimed that he had made the comments jokingly and did not seriously intend them to be harmful. However, the appellate court refused to accept this defense and instead upheld a lower court’s finding that the defendant had failed to “demonstrate that the posted message is free speech.” The majority judges felt that the defendant’s posting was “a serious expression of intent to inflict bodily harm” both because the posting contained a clear threat and the defendant student spent ample time writing it. The case name is D.C. v. R.R., No. BC332406 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Mar. 15, 2010).

Science Journalist fights libel suit in effort to campaign for British libel law reform

On March 15, the Citizen Media Law Project reported that science journalist Simon Singh has given up his Guardian column to fight a libel lawsuit that the British Chiropractic Association (“BCA”) brought against him for writing an article that denounced some of the BCA’s medical claims. Singh plans on using his case to campaign for British libel law reform, which currently places the entire burden of proving the truth of an allegedly libelous statement on the defendant. The lawsuit, which has been ongoing for two years, has garnered a significant amount of public attention and generated some talks of reform within the British Parliament. Last May, an English court had ruled that Singh would have to prove that the BCA was being “consciously dishonest” when it made the medical claims that Singh had called “bogus” in his article. Singh has appealed this ruling and foresees that his case could “easily continue for another two years.”

Posted On Mar - 22 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

Public Battle Between Google and China Continues

On March 12, Wired reported that the friction between Google and China over the censorship of search results and issues of cybersecurity is ongoing as Google keeps pushing for greater Internet freedom for users. China’s Minister of Information and Technology, Li Yizhong, told the press “Google has made its case, both publicly and privately,” and explained “[i]f you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, stated that he hopes that talks with the Chinese government will yield a result soon.

Netflix Cancels Prize Contest Over Privacy Concerns

On March 12, Ars Technica reported that Netflix has cancelled its second Netflix Prize contest in order settle a lawsuit and alleviate concerns by the Federal Trade Commission. In December, a user sued Netflix, alleging that the data provided by the company to contest participants was insufficiently anonymized. According to Ars Technica, the suit claims that Netflix “violated fair-trade laws and a federal privacy law designed to protect video rental records.” Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, stated that company has “reached an understanding with the FTC and ha[s] settled the lawsuit with plaintiffs,” noting that the agreement “involves certain parameters for how [the company] use[s] Netflix data in any future research programs.”

More Freedom for Social Media Services to Operate in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan

On March 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has announced “key amendments” regarding export controls on social media software. The new rules clarify that the export of certain personal communication services and software over the Internet, including “instant messaging, chat and email, [and] social networking,” is now permitted in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan. Prior to these amendments, OFAC’s regulations had been a source of legal ambiguity for companies such as Google and Microsoft, causing them to block some personal communication services in these nations.

Posted On Mar - 16 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

TiVo Wins Five Year Battle Over Patent Infringement with EchoStar
By Katy Yang – Edited by Kassity Liu

TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., No. 2009-1374 (E.D. Tex., March 4, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which had found EchoStar in contempt of a permanent injunction order that was issued by the court in an earlier judgment in which two types of EchoStar receivers were found to infringe on TiVo’s time-shift technology patent. The order had required EchoStar “to stop making, using, offering to sell, and selling the receivers”  and “to disable the DVR functionality in existing receivers, with the exception of select receivers that had already been placed with its subscribers.”

The Federal Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding contempt proceedings for adjudicating the continued infringement of EchoStar’s redesigned receivers, nor did it commit clear error in finding continued infringement by these receivers. It also held that the district court’s injunction was clear enough to provide reasonable notice of the order to disable the DVR function in all infringing receivers, and upheld the provision of the injunction requiring EchoStar to notify the court of additional redesign attempts and to seek approval before executing a design-around.

Bloomberg and the Associated Press provide overviews of the case.  Gordon Patent Cases summarizes some of the legal issues in the decision, and Beta News provides a detailed comparison of the majority and dissenting opinions. (more…)

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