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 Michelle Berger

Chief Judge of Federal Circuit to Hang Up His Robes

As Patently-O reports, Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals announced on November 20 that he will be retiring from the bench on May 31, 2010. Judge Randall Rader will replace him as chief judge at that time. Throughout his tenure, Michel has been outspoken on patent issue and the role of the court in shaping patent policy. Although he will no longer be able to influence patent law from the bench, some have suggested that Michel may still play an important policy role by attempting to influence patent legislation.

Bell Siblings Squabble Over 3G Ads

On November 18, a judge in the Northern District of Georgia denied AT&T’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Verizon from showing its 3G comparison ads, CNET News reports. AT&T sued Verizon earlier in November over the ads, claiming that, while the advertisements accurately depict AT&T’s relatively sparse 3G coverage, the ads mislead consumers by implying that AT&T doesn’t provide cellular or data coverage in those areas. Verizon has responded that its ads are clearly about 3G service and has modified the ads slightly to highlight the 3G comparison. Despite the unfavorable ruling, AT&T intends to continue the suit against Verizon. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog ponders whether AT&T’s suit may be multiplying the damage done by the Verizon’s ad, as the lawsuit and the media coverage surrounding it have drawn increased attention to the difference in 3G coverage between AT&T and Verizon.

Lexis and Westlaw to Go the Way of Yahoo and AskJeeves?

Google announced new functionality for its Google Scholar project on November 17, adding support for users to search case law and legal journals. Despite the possibility of Google moving into their turf, Lexis and Westlaw appear unphased, explaining that the services are not really competing since Google doesn’t offer headnotes, summaries, cite checking, or the same level of search sophistication. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog acknowledges these shortcomings, but warns that “one underestimates the capabilities of Google at his or her own peril.”

Posted On Nov - 24 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court extends application of Bilski and invalidates patents
By Kate Wevers – Edited by Amanda Rice

H&R Block Tax Servs., Inc. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc., No. 6:08-cv-37 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 10, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patently O)

Magistrate Judge Love, sitting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, found several of H&R Block’s financial instrument patents invalid, and recommended that Jackson Hewitt’s motion for summary judgment be granted-in-part.

The court applied the machine-or-transformation test from In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008), cert. granted 77 U.S.L.W. 3656 (U.S. Jun. 1, 2009) (No. 08-964), to H&R Block’s computerized systems patents as well as to its methods patents. In so doing, the court extended Bilski beyond process patents. Only one of the patents survived the machine-or-transformation test and the remaining patents were held invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The original complaint is available here. Patent Storm has a helpful explanation of one of the patents. Patently O and the 271 Patent Blog both provide brief summaries of the case. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 23 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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.
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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
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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