A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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California Superior Court Enters Judgement in Anti-SLAPP Suit
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Steven Primeaux

MagicJack, LP v. Happy Mutants LLC, Case No. CIV 091108 (Sup. Ct. Cal. Marin County, Jan. 5, 2010)
Opinion (hosted by Boing Boing)

On January 5, 2010, the Superior Court of California for the County of Marin entered judgment against plaintiff MagicJack, reiterating its May 2009 holding that MagicJack had not established a probability of prevailing on its claims against Boing Boing and ruling that Boing Boing was entitled to legal fees and costs resulting from MagicJack’s lawsuit. In May, Boing Boing had moved to strike MagicJack’s claims under California’s anti-SLAPP (“strategic lawsuit against public participation”) rule. In its May 2009 holding against MagicJack, the court first noted that MagicJack’s claims targeted protected speech activity because Boing Boing’s statements “involve consumer information affecting a large number of persons.” The court then observed that posting on the Boing Boing site “provides information about [MagicJack's] product not only to the ‘substantial’ number of people who have already purchased the device, but also to other consumers who might be considering purchasing such a device.”

The court’s judgment is available here. The May 2009 ruling is available here. Gizmodo provides an overview of the case. Boing Boing also provides a full account of the events along with hosting all legal documents. (more…)

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

Board of Patent Appeals affirms rejection of Pfizer’s broadest patent claim to Viagra
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Ex parte Pfizer, Inc., Appeal 2009-004106 (B.P.A.I. Feb. 12, 2010).
Slip Opinion

On February 12, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirmed a Patent Examiner’s rejection of claim 24 of Pfizer’s patent on the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra.

The Board held that claim 24 of the patent was anticipated in the prior art by descriptions of the herb Yin Yang Huo (Horny Goat Weed). In addition, the Board invalidated the claim based on the judicially created doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting, a doctrine that seeks to prevent unjustified extension of the right to exclude that is limited by the twenty-year patent term. In holding as it did, the Board rejected some of the Examiner’s reasoning but agreed with his ultimate decision to invalidate the claim.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. BusinessWeek discusses the impact of the decision on Pfizer and its competitors Eli Lilly & Co. and Bayer AG, the makers of ED drugs Cialis and Levitra respectively. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

School Punishment of Online Speech: Evans v. Bayer
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Evans v. Bayer, No. 08-61952-CIV-GARBER (S.D. Fla. February 12, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief to prevent Bayer from maintaining records of the suspension and to compel him to revoke the suspension nunc pro tunc. The court held that it cannot compel someone in her personal capacity to take official action. Nonetheless, the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for nominal damages, holding that the action was “off-campus activity” and protected by the First Amendment.

A NY Times article provides a general overview of the case. Wired and CNN also provide summaries of the case with limited legal analysis. Jon Katz writes in approval of the opinion emphasizing the frequent underprotection of First Amendment rights in schools. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Joey Seiler

Google Buzz Gets Privacy Groups Talking—and Filing Complaints

When Google launched Buzz, its new social media function, on February 9, the Internet giant moved into Facebook territory by sharing information and connecting social groups. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s complaint to the FTC, Google may have also moved into Facebook territory by violating users’ privacy. (PaidContent covered EPIC’s FTC complaint against Facebook when the company changed its privacy settings in December 2009.) The New York Times provides an overview of the many problems that arose when Buzz made it possible to see a user’s most emailed contacts, including privacy issues for minors and displaying confidential contacts of lawyers and journalists. Ars Technica reports on Google’s efforts to bring Buzz back in line with users’ privacy expectations.

Schools Spy on Kids with Laptops, then Stop in Response to Suit

Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township, PA, has been using the webcams in school-issued laptops to surreptitiously monitor students at home, alleges a complaint filed against Lower Merion School District on February 11. BoingBoing reports that the issue came to light when a student was allegedly disciplined for “improper behavior in his home.” According to Ars Technica, the school says that the technology was only used for the purpose of stopping theft. The school has since disabled the remote access feature entirely.

In Tenenbaum, Defendant Files Reply Brief to Reduce Jury Verdict; Plaintiff Drops Sanctions Against Nesson

Last July, a Boston Federal jury handed down an award of $675,000 against Joel Tenenbaum for infringing copyright in 30 songs by sharing them over Kazaa. Copyrights and Campaigns reports that Tenenbaum filed a reply brief to support his motion to reduce the verdict on February 18. Tenenbaum argues the actual damages are at most $21, based on the 70 cents labels would have received from Apple for an iTunes sale for each of the 30 songs. However, this method of calculation was explicitly rejected in the remittitur in the similar case against Jamie Thomas-Rasset, previously covered by JOLT.

Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, has made a practice of posting recorded depositions and telephone conversations regarding the case to his blog. JOLT previously covered the RIAA’s reactions as it asked the court to have Nesson pull the recordings. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for February 23, but Copyrights and Campaigns reports that the RIAA has withdrawn its motion for sanctions.

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

By Kassity Liu

India’s Stringent Patentability Standards Cause Corporate Dissatisfaction

On February 12, the WSJ Law Blog reported that India’s standards for patentability may be leading to a lack of significant patent protection for important pharmaceutical drugs. Before 2005, India offered patent protection to processes for making pharmaceutical drugs, but no protection to the products themselves. After the patent system was extended to cover the products, a large number of multinational drug companies began to market their products in India. However, as time passed, many companies became dissatisfied as they found that the new laws were not as protective as the U.S. and Europe. The WSJ post notes several examples of inadequate protection, including the recent Deli High Court’s refusal to ban a competitor’s copy of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexovar. However, one executive of an Indian generic drug manufacturer favors India’s high standard for patentability, claiming that “[t]he U.S. would grant a patent to a piece of toilet paper.”

FBI Challenges Probable Cause Standard for Cell-Phone Data

On February 11, the WSJ Law Blog reported that Third Circuit panel in Philadelphia was set to hear an appeal on February 12 of a lower court decision denying the government’s request to access cell phone records without probable cause. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that the FBI has increasingly been obtaining cell-phone records for criminal investigations without a showing of probable cause. Advocacy organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU support the probable cause standard, and argue that Fourth Amendment requires the government to “show that it has good reason to think such tracking will turn up evidence of a crime” before it can pull private cell-phone data. However, the government believes that the Fourth Amendment does not protect cell-phone data which they consider to be “routine business records.”

P2P File-Swapper Thomas-Rasset Set to Face Third Jury Trial

On February 9, Ars Technica reported that Jammie Thomas-Rasset is set to face a third trial on the issue of damages. In her last trial, a jury returned a $1.92 million verdict against Thomas-Rasset, which the judge reduced to $54,000 on remittitur. The RIAA refused to accept the new award out of concern that the judgment would effectively cap statutory damages for individuals who illegally download and upload music to $2,250 per song. The new trial comes as a surprise to many, since the amount of damages is the only issue at stake, and the judge has already held that anything over $54,000 would be excessive.

Posted On Feb - 15 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

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By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

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EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

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