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 Tyler Lacey

Comcast Claims It Would Accept Net Neutrality if Rules are “Clear”

Ars Technica reports that on January 11, Comcast’s executive vice president David Cohen has issued a blog post declaring that it “is time to move on, and for the FCC to decide, in a clear and reasoned way, whether and what rules are needed to ‘preserve an open Internet.’” Cohen claims that the FCC’s 2008 sanctions of Comcast are invalid because they were not based on any “applicable federal law,” and notes that the issue is not “a fight about net neutrality.” Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson argues in response that Comcast’s portrayal of the circumstances leading to the sanctioning order has been “disingenuous” and that much of the confusion surrounding the FCC rulemaking “has been emanating from Comcast HQ.”

Canadian Government Misrepresents Websites as Phishing Attempts to Have Them Taken Down Without a Court Order

On January 11, the Toronto Star reported that the Canadian government wrote to an ISP asking that websites operated by activist group Yes Men be taken down. Yes Men had been operating two websites that “looked official” but satirized the Canadian government’s position on climate issues. According to the article, Canadian law requires a court order before an ISP must take down a website, but allows for an exception if a website is engaged in phishing activity. The Toronto Star’s Michael Geist argues that “officials used both the persuasive power of an official government request combined with inaccurate claims that the sites were engaged in phishing to escalate the issue,” ultimately persuading the ISP to take down the sites. Geist concludes that the government’s “phishing claim effectively substituted one hoax for another and, in the process, undermined the trust in a global system designed to guard against identity theft.”

Amendments Tabled to Clarify UK Proposal Authorizizing Officials to Amend Copyright Law Without Legislation

On January 13, the BBC reported that the United Kingdom government has tabled amendments to its forthcoming Digital Economy Bill. Section 17 of the bill is particularly controversial because it “would have allowed ministers to amend existing laws on online piracy without the need for further legislation.” The proposed amendments do not remove this section, but according to a spokesman for the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), they will “clarify the breadth and scope of the clause and further reinforce the transparency of the process and the scrutiny of Parliament.” BIS argues that the bill “will drive the UK’s vital creative and digital sectors to bolster future growth and jobs.”

Posted On Jan - 15 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Rules Against PTO’s Interpretation of Patent Term Adjustments
By Gary Pong – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

Wyeth and Elan Pharma Int’l Ltd. v. Kappos, No. 2009-1120 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 7, 2010).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court for the District of Columbia, which had granted summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and held that they were “entitled to extended patent term adjustments under 35 U.S.C. § 154(b) due to the Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO’s”) delay in prosecuting their patent applications.”

In promulgating 37 C.F.R. § 1.703(f), the PTO had interpreted § 154(b) as limiting the length of patent term adjustments to the greater of the statutory delay periods, without the possibility of ever combining the two.  The Federal Circuit concluded that this reading was “contrary to the plain language of the statute,” and declined to afford Chevron deference to the agency’s interpretation, holding that the PTO “does not have authority to issue substantive rules, only procedural regulations regarding the conduct of proceedings before the agency.”

Patent Docs provides an overview of the case.  In another article, Patent Docs also provides insight into the PTO’s future course of action.  Patent Prospector features a thorough analysis of the judicial opinion. (more…)

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

The Digest is celebrating our two-year anniversary! Since January 2007 we have grown from a dedicated group of five to a staff of more than twenty-five; this past year we’ve worked to bring our readers a greater quantity and variety of content, including the reintroduction of Flash Digest and Digest Comments. We hope to continue to be a valuable source of law and technology news.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage this year  - Stay Tuned!

The Digest Staff

Posted On Jan - 10 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
By Dr.Jur. Eric Engle LLM[i]
Editorial Policy

An internet fraudster, a repeat offender, has recently been charged[ii] with “fraud and related activity in connection with computers[iii] in connection with a financial crime – fraudulent currency trading through phishing.[iv] The defendant obtained the passwords to another person’s internet account and then used that person’s account to trade foreign currency. Interestingly, the indictment[v] uniquely charges the fraudster with a computer crime. The fact pattern, however, raises the interesting question of whether the defendant could have been charged under the Securities and Exchange Acts of 1933[vi] and/or 1934[vii].

The threshold question is whether trading in foreign currency is trading in “a security” and, if so, under what circumstances. The Securities and Exchange Acts define “security” broadly.[viii] Though cash itself is not a security,[ix] Ponzi schemes have been found to be a “security”[x] in the context of currency trading. Furthermore, foreign currency options are a security.[xi] The SEC has charged currency fraud under Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act) and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder.[xii] Is there a theory which can bring currency trading into the Securities and Exchange Acts? (more…)

Posted On Jan - 7 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu JD ’12
Edited by Joey Seiler

Editorial Policy

On October 6, 2009, Eolas Technologies Inc., a research and development company specializing in web solutions, filed a federal lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas against 23 prominent companies in the software and Internet industry. Eolas claims that these companies are infringing two of its patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,838,906 (’906 Patent) and U.S. Patent No. 7,599,985 (’985 Patent). These two patents cover technology that enables websites to act as platforms for fully integrated embedded applications. The ’906 Patent was granted in November 1998. It defines a system that would allow Internet users to access and execute an embedded program. The ’985 Patent, which was granted on the same day that the company filed its present lawsuit, extends the reach of the older patent to AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) applications.

The present suit is not Eolas’ first. In a previous patent infringement suit, Eolas targeted Microsoft, claiming that the company had infringed its ‘906 Patent. Eolas alleged that its invention, which was first demonstrated at a SIGWEB meeting in 1994, was the “first instance where interactive applications were embedded in Webpages.”[1] The district court sided with Eolas, and the jury awarded Eolas $521 million in damages.[2] Microsoft appealed this decision, but after unsuccessful attempts at moving the case to the Supreme Court and invalidating the patent, the software giant chose to settle with Eolas. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 3 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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