A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Harry Zhou

Harvard Law Professor Criticizes Google Book Settlement

On January 26, TechCrunch reported that Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor and “free-culture advocate,” criticized Google’s settlement with the Authors Guild as a “path to insanity.” Lessig writes that the settlement extended the copyright law’s regulation on physical copies into the digital world, resulting in “a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed.” According to Lessig, providing copyright protection at the level of pages instead of at the level of books could make accessing digital books a complicated and “legally regulated event.” To prevent this outcome, Lessig argues that the “solution is a re-crafting of [the] law” that would favor protection of a work as a whole rather than protection of its constituent parts.

FCC Continues Probe of Wireless Carriers’ Early Termination Fees

MocoNews reported on January 26 that the Federal Communications Commission formalized its inquiries into how wireless carriers handle early termination fees by sending letters to Google, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The FCC states that the letters are intended to gather “facts and data on the consumer experience with wireless early termination fees.” Google, while not a carrier, charges an “Equipment Recovery Fee in connection with its offering of the Nexus One to customers who agree to a two-year contract with T-Mobile.” Industry trade group CTIA-The Wireless Association responded to the FCC’s inquiry by emphasizing that the fees “are part of the rate and rate structure that allows wireless carriers to, among other things, subsidize phone purchases.”

Chinese Search Engine Cleared of Music Piracy Charges

Wired.com reported on January 26 that Baidu, the leading search engine in China, was cleared of music piracy charges. Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner filed suit in a Beijing Court in early 2008, accusing Baidu of providing links directly to a large number of allegedly infringing song tracks hosted by third-party websites. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry expressed disappointment over the court’s ruling, stating that “the verdicts do not reflect the reality that both operators have built their music search businesses on the basis of facilitating mass copyright infringement, to the detriment of artists, producers and all those involved in China’s legitimate music market.”

Posted On Jan - 30 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Reduces $1.92 Million File-Sharing Jury Award to $54,000
By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Joey Seiler

Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas-Rasset, No. 06-1497 (D. Minn. Jan. 22, 2010)
Order

In June 2009 a jury returned a verdict against Defendant Jamie Thomas-Rasset after finding that she willfully infringed the copyrights of twenty-four songs by making them available through a file-sharing program.  The jury awarded Plaintiffs statutory damages of $80,000 for each willful infringement, resulting in a total verdict of $1.92 million.  On January 22, 2010, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis for the District of Minnesota remitted the jury award by 97% to $54,000 ($2,250 per song), three times the statutory minimum, noting that even this reduced award remains “significant and harsh” and finding that it sufficiently serves both the deterrent and the compensatory purposes of statutory damages.

JOLT Digest previously covered the Thomas-Rasset case.  ArsTechnica and Wired report on Judge Davis’ order.  Copyrights and Campaigns comments on the decision and provides continuing coverage of the updates in the case. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms TTAB’s Refusal of South Carolina Baseball Logo Registration
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Davis Doherty

Univ. of S. Carolina v. Univ. of S. Cal., No. 2009-1064 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 19, 2010).
Slip Opinion

In a nonprecedential ruling, the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“TTAB”) refusing the appellant’s (“South Carolina’s”) registration of its Carolina Baseball Logo mark and granting summary judgment against the appellant on its counterclaim for cancellation of a trademark registration held by the appellee (“Southern California”).

Despite the absence of evidence of actual confusion, the TTAB held that consumer confusion of goods marketed by the two schools was likely due to similarities in channels of trade and conditions of purchase. Furthermore, the TTAB held that South Carolina lacked standing to bring the counterclaim. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the TTAB’s conclusion of likely confusion, but ruled that South Carolina had standing as to the counterclaim. But the Federal Circuit upheld the TTAB’s grant of summary judgment on the counterclaim, finding that South Carolina failed to establish any genuine issue of fact.

Patently-O provides a thorough analysis of the opinion. The TTABlog features an overview of the decision and provides a link to the mp3 recording of the oral argument. The Los Angeles Times blog reports the reaction of an attorney representing the University of Southern California in its coverage of the matter. (more…)

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

Federal Circuit Vacates Lower Court Ruling in Elevator Patent Case
By: Helen (Ye) He – edited by Davis Doherty

Schindler Elevator Corp. v. Otis Elevator Co., No. 2009-1146 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 15, 2010)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit vacated the District Court for the Southern District of New York’s grant of summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of Defendant Otis Elevator.  The Federal Circuit concluded that the district court constructed Schindler Elevator’s patent claims too narrowly by construing the terms “hands-free,” “information transmitter” and “recognition device” “to exclude any ‘personal action’ by an elevator user other than ‘walking into the monitored area’.”  The case was remanded in light of the Federal Circuit’s broadened claim construction.

Gray on Claims provides an overview of this case.  717 Madison Place comments on the case and raises some questions. (more…)

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

Supreme Court Issues a Stay to Prevent Broadcasting of Proposition 8 Case
By Andrew Segna – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

Hollingsworth v. Perry (on application for stay), Case No. 09A648 (U.S., Jan. 13, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Supreme Court granted a stay of the order issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for a broadcast of the California lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to define a valid marriage as only between a man and woman.  The District Court issued this order following an amendment to a local rule of the District Court that had forbidden broadcasting of trials outside of the courthouse.  The court had planned to stream the trial live in federal courts in several other cities and to post it on YouTube as part of a pilot program to test broadcasting of court proceedings.  Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order allowing for real-time broadcasting to five federal courthouses, but did not address broadcasting the trial online due to technical difficulties encountered by the District Court staff.  In a per curiam decision, the Supreme Court held that the revision of the local district rule did not follow procedures designated by federal law, found that applicants would suffer irreparable harm if the live broadcast occurred, and granted a stay of the order.

DC Dicta has an overview of the Supreme Court’s decision.  SCOTUSblog provides an analysis of the opinion and what it means for the future broadcasting of this challenge to Proposition 8.  An editorial in the New York Times criticizes the effect this decision will have on public discussion regarding this case. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 18 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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