A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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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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