A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Observing Mauna Kea’s Conflict

Written by: Aaron Frumkin

Edited by: Anton Ziajka

Believing the machinery desecrates their sacred summit and the scarce natural resources it shelters, native Hawaiians have opposed telescope development on Mauna Kea. While it seems that their beleaguered resistance to telescope development will fail yet again with the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), this Note attempts to articulate their best arguments in hopes of properly framing the social costs associated with the great scientific and technological gains that TMT will surely provide.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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The Digest Staff is thrilled to announce that the newest volume of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, volume 23, is now available online, featuring:

Timothy Holbrook, “Equivalency and Patent Law’s Possession Paradox
This paper explores the paradox of the doctrine of equivalents — that the patentee is afforded protection for that which she did not possess — and offers two possible means of reconciling it: first, that patentees should only be protected under the doctrine of equivalents for changes in technology that arise from outside their field of technology (the status quo); and second, that patentees should be protected by the doctrine of equivalents if the patent’s disclosure would enable the asserted equivalent at the time of infringement, thus allowing the patent’s disclosure to grow over time.  This paper advocates that the second approach offers a better fit with the doctrine as traditionally understood.

Oren Bar-Gill & Rebecca Stone, “Mobile Misperceptions
This Article studies three central design features of cell-phone service contracts, arguing that rational-choice explanations of these contractual features fall short and that they are better understood as a rational market response to the imperfect rationality of cell-phone users. After verifying the theoretical claims empirically, this Article finds that the identified consumer mistakes and providers’ responses to these mistakes generate substantial welfare costs.  As a solution, this Article proposes mandated disclosure of use-pattern information, including average-use and, more importantly, individual-use information that, by directly targeting the identified consumer mistakes, can enhance efficiency and increase consumer surplus in the cellular service market.

Natalie Ram, “Assigning Rights and Protecting Interests
This Article proposes a new model for adjudicating disputes between individuals providing tissue for research and researchers accessing that tissue.  Drawing on intellectual property doctrines, this Article advocates the creation of “informational property,” a property right to one’s own genetic information. Guided by a framework of the interests of tissue providers, researchers, and society in the control and use of human tissue in research, this Article advocates an informational property approach modeled on Creative Commons licensing and reinforced by enhanced privacy protections in tort.

Kevin Werbach, “Higher Standards: Regulation in the Network Age
This Article proposes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) remake itself as a standards organization, making its mission to catalyze the adoption of open standards that promote its regulatory objectives.  This Article then explains how a standards-based approach offers a better solution to the network issues faced by the FCC, such as network management practices of broadband access providers and unlicensed wireless devices adjacent to broadcast television frequencies.

Jon Darrow, [“The Neglected Dimension of Patent Law's PHOSITA Standard”] (Student Note)
Modern invention bears little resemblance to inventive activities of the nineteenth century.  Today, invention typically involves teams of highly-trained specialists provided with funding and equipment, who devote months or years to developing an invention. As a result, when judges look at a patent from the perspective of a “person having ordinary skill in the art,” the “art” they consider is the art of innovation.  This is a shift from early patent jurisprudence, however, which considered patents from the perspective of practitioners. The change has resulted in the withholding of patents on deserving inventions.  By restoring the traditional meaning to the word “art,” patent law can appropriately motivate socially valuable inventions that are currently being neglected.

Chris Johnson, [“Leveraging Technology to Deliver Legal Services”] (Student Note)
This paper examines technological solutions and tech-enabled business models for the delivery of legal services to those with limited incomes and specific needs. In particular, it considers several existing websites as case studies, and then proceeds to discuss the potential future commoditization of legal services and the coming transformation in the legal profession.

Sarah Sorscher, [“A Longer Monopoly For Biologics?: Considering the Implications of Data Exclusivity as a Tool for Innovation Policy”] (Student Note)
Analyzing the Access to Life Saving Medicines Act, currently under consideration by Congress, explaining how it will create a regulatory pathway for follow-on biologics that will likely include an extended period of data exclusivity for innovator brands and exploring the conflicts between and overlap of patent protection and data exclusivity protection, focusing especially on the impact of these new protections on the market for follow-on biologics.

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

Third Circuit Panels Rule Differently on MySpace Parody Cases
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Alissa Del Riego

Layshock v. Hermitage School District, No. 07-4465 (3d Cir. Feb. 4, 2010)
Slip Opinion

Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District, No. 08-4138 (3d Cir. Feb. 4, 2010)
Slip Opinion

Two different Third Circuit panels handed down seemingly contradictory decisions last week after considering whether offensive parody profiles of school principals created by students using MySpace outside of school were protected by the First Amendment.

In Layshock v. Hermitage School District, a unanimous, three-judge panel upheld the district court’s decision in favor of the student, holding that the offensive MySpace profile he created in the principal’s name was protected free speech under the First Amendment. The court based its decision on the fact that the student had created the profile off school grounds and had not substantially disrupted the school with his behavior.

By a vote of 2-1, a different three-judge panel upheld a district court’s decision against the plaintiff student in Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District. The court in Snyder held that the student’s vulgar parody profile of the principal was not protected free speech under the Constitution, and therefore the School District had a right to suspend the student. The court emphasized that the suspension was appropriate because the school had well-founded reason to believe that the student’s parody profile would cause substantial disruption.

Law.com provides a summary and analysis of the two cases. Litigation & Trial discusses why the panels came to opposite conclusions. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 6 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Australian State Backpedals on Anonymous Online Political Speech Ban

On February 2, Ars Technica reported that following a harsh public reaction, South Australia’s Attorney General Michael Atkinson has pledged to repeal a recently enacted law that banned anonymous online political speech. The new law is particularly controversial because it applies specifically to bloggers and online commentators, but not to online newspapers or magazines. Atkinson noted that “the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all [Members of Parliament] and all political parties is unduly restrictive” and promised to make efforts to repeal the law. Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson concluded the article with the thought that while the vow to repeal the law was a “victory for people power,” the dangers inherent in anonymous speech should not be ignored.

United States Patent and Trademark Office to Receive Budget Increases

On February 1, Reuters reported that President Obama’s new budget proposal includes a 23% increase in the operating budget of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in 2011 as compared to 2010. The proposal also includes a 15% increase in statutory patent application fees and an allowance for the PTO to invest all of its fee revenues internally rather than turning over a portion of them as it had done in the past. The budget proposal urges the PTO to invest its increased budget and fee allowance in efforts to “improve the speed and quality of patent examinations.” According to the article, the PTO currently takes an average of 34.6 months to fully review a patent application and is hampered by an “antiquated” computer system and high staff turnover.

British Online Surveillance Website Stalled While Under Review

On January 28, the BBC reported that the Internet Eyes website has been restricted from offering surveillance camera feeds pending an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO is a United Kingdom government agency that takes responsibility for “uphold[ing] information rights in the public interest” and “promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.” Internet Eyes’ business model is to pay interested citizens to spot and report crime that they spot in surveillance camera feeds on the Internet Eyes website. The ICO is reportedly reviewing Internet Eyes’ compliance with the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act by verifying that the footage is used appropriately and that the citizen observers are properly trained. Internet Eyes has promised to comply with any demands issued by the ICO as a result of the investigation.

Posted On Feb - 4 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Natalie Ram
Editorial Policy

A full version of this article, published in the Fall 2009 issue of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, is available here.

Today, more than 300 million tissue samples from more than 178 million individuals are stored in the United States, and this number has been growing by more than 20 million samples every year. Through genetic analysis, researchers hope to identify disease-related and other genes and to measure the frequency of such genes’ occurrence across large populations. This kind of research requires population-wide bio-repositories of samples available for study.

Yet, individuals providing tissue for research may hesitate to do so if they fear that their interests will not be respected. Tissue providers may have concerns that their cells and genetic material — materials with which they may strongly self-identify — will be used for research they find morally repugnant or about which they were not informed. Unanticipated disclosure of genetic information may negatively impact the ability of unwitting tissue providers and their close genetic relatives to obtain insurance coverage or appropriate medical treatment. Tissue providers may also have strong interests concerning the commercialization of their cells and genetic material, especially if they are not permitted to share in the profits. And tissue providers have a further interest in the progress of science and medicine.

Researchers and society both also have strong interests in how tissue is used. Scientific research using human cells can be (and has been) immensely beneficial. Inappropriate or onerous restrictions on human tissue research may negatively impact the progress of science and medicine—a concern about a tragedy of the anticommons clearly articulated by several courts that have presided over disputes about the ownership and control of human tissues used in research. Moreover, permitting tissue providers to commercialize their cells may divert tissue from worthwhile research, diminish the necessary incentives for research funders to invest in research and development, or undermine societal dignitary interests.

Failing to mediate tensions between tissue providers, researchers, and society may cause individuals to avoid research participation. The solution is not, however, to compel such participation by dispensing with consent altogether and generally conscripting tissue left over from, for example, blood draws or biopsies. Indeed, doing so might cause individuals concerned about the future use of their genetic material to forego routine medical care in order to prevent their cells from being so conscripted. Rather, the interests of tissue providers, of researchers, and of broader society each demand respect and protection. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 4 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

First Circuit Holds That Artists Have Moral Rights In Unfinished Works
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Alissa Del Riego

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation v. Büchel, No. 08-2199 (1st Cir. Jan. 27, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On January 27, the First Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the Museum of Contemporary Art, holding that artists have moral rights in unfinished artworks.

The First Circuit decided a number of complex issues related to the Visual Artists Rights Act (“VARA”), holding that VARA’s protection of an artist’s moral rights extends to unfinished creations that are “works of art” within the meaning of the Copyright Act.  In so holding, the court reasoned that “moral rights protect the personality and creative energy that an artist contributes to his or her work,” and “[t]hat convergence between artist and artwork does not await the final brushstroke or the placement of the last element in a complex installation.”

The court also ruled that the district judge in the lower court improperly granted the Museum of Contemporary Art summary judgment for one of Büchel’s integrity claims under VARA and his Copyright Act claim finding that there were “material disputes of fact” that should be decided by a jury about whether the museum distorted Mr. Büchel’s installation by showing it to several people after making changes in it without his approval.  However, the First Circuit ruled that Büchel’s right-of-attribution claim was moot because VARA provides only injunctive relief to protect the right of attribution and his installation no longer exists.

The New York Times and the Copyright Litigation Blog both provide an overview of the case.  The Boston Globe provides a good news story that includes the facts going back to the initial dispute. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 2 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Photo By: Jeff Ruane - CC BY 2.0

Observing Mauna Kea'

Written by: Aaron Frumkin Edited by: Anton Ziajka I.     Introduction Perched quietly atop ...

Unknown

Federal Circuit Flas

By Cristina Carapezza Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit The Federal Circuit ...

Unknown

Government Agents In

By Sheri Pan - Edited by Jens Frankenreiter United States v. ...

Photo By: Robert Scoble - CC BY 2.0

Mississippi Attorney

[caption id="attachment_3907" align="alignleft" width="150"] Photo By: Robert Scoble - CC ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction In ...