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 Jyoti Uppuluri

Spanish Law Won’t Allow Website Takedowns Without Court Order

On December 4, Slashdot reported that Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced the Spanish Government would not take down websites without judicial authorization, contrary to language in a draft of Spain’s Sustainable Economy Act. The Prime Minister’s statement came as a response to a widely published online manifesto issued on December 2 by “a group of journalists, bloggers, professionals, and creators” opposed to the draft, which restricted “expression, information and access” to the Internet. Minister of Culture Ángeles González Sinde met with Internet experts and authors of the manifesto prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement, but continued fears about the draft law prompted the next day’s statement from the highest level of government.

EFF and Samuelson Clinic Sue Government Agencies over Social Networking FOIA Requests

Ars Technica reported on December 2 that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Berkeley’s Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic filed suit in the Northern District of California against six governmental departments. The lawsuit comes after the failure of these governmental groups to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding their use of social media in pursuing investigations. Ars Technica notes that the EFF and Samuelson Clinic hope that the requests will “clarify the policy and highlight any potential for illegal overreach by the government.”

Sprint Responded to Millions of Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Information

Ed Felten at Freedom to Tinker directs readers to a post by Chris Soghoian, which discusses the Sprint Manager of Electronic Surveillance Paul Taylor’s statement that the company has provided customer GPS information to law enforcement officials over eight million times in the course of a year. Soghoian notes that this statement and other data support the conclusion that “[t]he vast majority of the government’s access to individuals’ private data is not reported.”

Posted On Dec - 8 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Patent Case in a Year Ordered Transferred from E.D. Texas
By Stephanie Weiner – Edited by Jad Mills

In re Hoffman-La Roche Inc., et al., No. 911 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2009)
Slip Opinion

On December 2, 2009, a Federal Circuit panel granted Hoffman-La Roche’s petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to transfer a patent infringement suit brought by Novartis to the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The Federal Circuit found that district court “clearly abused its discretion” in denying petitioners’ motion to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).  This is the second case within the year that the Federal Circuit has ordered transferred out of the Eastern District of Texas on mandamus.  See In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

Legal Pad says there was “no earthly reason” for the case to be in the Eastern District of Texas.  Harness, Dickey & Pierce’s legal blog points out that this may portend an easier road for defendants seeking to transfer venue from the Eastern District of Texas, a district considered to be very plaintiff-friendly.  Patently-O summarizes the case. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 7 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms: Spam Patent is Obvious
By Gary Pong – Edited by Jad Mills

Perfect Web Technologies, Inc. v. InfoUSA, Inc., No. 2009-1105 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2009).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the Southern District of Florida’s decision granting summary judgment to invalidate plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 6,631,400 (“‘400 patent”) due to the obvious nature of the asserted claims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

The Federal Circuit held that the ‘400 patent failed the KSR test for obviousness. The patent specification sets out a series of steps for delivering a prescribed quantity of e-mails to targeted recipients. In so holding, the court noted that the claim was so simple and obvious that “ordinary skill in the relevant art required only a high school education and limited marketing and computer experience.” Furthermore, such a case would not require expert opinion and may rely on the common sense available to the person of ordinary skill.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. The Patent Prospector features a thorough analysis of the judicial opinion. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Eric Engle

Prosecutors Drop Controversial “Cyberbullying” Case: Possible Appeal?

On November 20, Wired reported that the federal prosecutors in the Lori Drew cyberbullying case did not plan to appeal Drew’s acquittal. The trial judge reversed Drew’s criminal conviction by a jury, holding that criminal penalties for violating a website’s terms of service would be unconstitutional. Although Drew won’t have to further defend against criminal charges for her alleged harassment of a teenage girl who later committed suicide, she might still be liable for civil penalties if the teenage girl’s family decides to sue.

UK Possibly Increasing Standards for Libel Jurisdiction

Britain has long had plaintiff-friendly libel laws relative to the United States and other common-law countries. As a result, plaintiffs will often seek to bring their libel cases in the UK, even if another country might be more closely connected to the facts of the case. However, the availability of Britain as a forum for libel claims may be narrowing – Citizen Media Law Blog reports that a recent High Court decision dismissed a libel claim concerning a posting on a South African magazine’s website, reasoning that the country’s ties to the case were insufficient when only “about [four] visits might have been made by one or more visitors based in the UK.” Although the holding is not permanent British law unless either Parliament or the British Supreme Court endorses it, the decision may signal tougher jurisdictional requirements for British libel claims.

Woman Fighting Insurer After Facebook Posting Leads to Denial of Benefits

CBC News reports that a Quebec woman has had insurance benefits for depression cancelled after publishing vacation photos. The insurance agent claimed that photos of her enjoying her vacation were evidence that she wasn’t depressed. The woman is planning to challenge the denial, and her lawyer has described the Facebook investigation as inappropriate. In response to criticisms about Facebook postings as evidence of mental condition, the insurer stated: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

ACLU Launches dotRights.org

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society reports that the ACLU of Northern California has launched an online educational resource on privacy and free speech in the internet. The site includes a retro-style video, Facebook quiz, and the chance for developers and legal activists to get involved.

Posted On Nov - 29 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms Muscle Supplement Patent Invalid as Anticipated by Prior Art Advertisement
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Miriam Weiler

Iovate Health Sciences, Inc. v. Bio-Engineered Supplements & Nutrition, Inc., No. 2009-1018 (Fed. Cir. November 19, 2009).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas decision invalidating Iovate Health Sciences’ U.S. Patent 6,100,287 (“’287”) as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).

The Federal Circuit held that the advertisement for Iovate’s protein supplement published in Flex magazine rendered the patent obvious and invalid. The court found that the advertisement was an anticipatory printed publication that disclosed the ‘287 patent claim limitations.  With the knowledge provided in the ad, the court noted, one skilled in the art could practice an embodiment of the invention.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. The National Law Journal provides brief comments from each party’s counsel. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 28 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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