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Google Appeals Ruling that Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong– Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as application programming interfaces (APIs). Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ariane Moss

Microsoft Tax Banned in Italy

California Responds to Data Breaches by Strengthening Privacy Laws

EU Court Rules Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement

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Google Appeals Ruling That Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as APIs. Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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UN Report Finds Government Mass Surveillance Violates Privacy

By Olga Slobodyanyuk – Edited by Jesse Goodwin

The UN Report from the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights found that government Internet mass surveillance violates Article 17 of the ICCPR by impinging individuals’ privacy.

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Functional Claim Elements Must Be Backed by Sufficient Structural Guidance

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The Federal Circuit found that patent claim terms that offer no guidance to structure and are solely functional are means-plus-function terms and indefinite under § 112(f).

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Conviction in Lori Drew MySpace Case Thrown Out

By Vera Ranieri – Edited by Amanda Rice
United States v. Drew, No. CR 08-0582-GW (C.D. Cal. Aug. 28, 2009)
Opinion

On August 28, 2009, Judge Wu of the Central District of California released a written opinion outlining his reasons for granting Lori Drew’s FRCP 29(c) motion for a post-verdict acquittal, a decision he had initially announced in early July. Judge Wu’s decision overturned the jury’s conviction of Lori Drew for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) by breaching the MySpace Terms of Service (“ToS”).

Ars Technica and Wired summarize the case. Eric Goldman provides a thoughtful analysis of the case, characterizing it as “a good jurisprudential development” while criticizing its lack of clarity. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 4 - 2009 2 Comments READ FULL POST


By Ian B. Brooks

Paris Hilton Obtains Small Victory in Ninth Circuit

WSJ Blogs reports that the Ninth Circuit gave Paris Hilton the green light on August 31 to proceed in her lawsuit against Hallmark for its use of her image and the phrase “That’s Hot” in a birthday greeting card. The court made note of the similarities between the card and Hilton’s appearance on the television show “The Simple Life.” In support of Hilton, the court stated that she “has at least some probability of prevailing on the merits before a trier of fact.” The case name is Hilton v. Hallmark Cards.

Cable Companies No Longer Capped at 30% Market Share

The Washington Post reports that on August 28, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Comcast v. FCC invalidated an FCC rule that capped the market share of cable companies at 30%. The FCC supported the rule because it believed that cable companies with market share larger than 30% would harm consumers. The court rejected the FCC’s rule in part because it failed to show how consumers would be harmed by the large cable companies in the current market, given the competition between cable, satellite, and fiber optic providers.

Texas Links DNA to Criminal Records

WSJ Blogs reports that on September 1, a new law took effect in Texas will link DNA evidence to sexual assault suspects’ criminal records. The link will be maintained regardless of whether the statute of limitations has passed or the suspect has been tried. The law’s supporters want to ensure harsher penalties to these suspects should they face legal troubles in the future, as the record would be available to parole boards and prosecutors. Critics of the law, including the ACLU, fear the potential abuse of due process rights.

Florida Bar Wants Access to Certain Applicant Facebook Profiles

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners will now be requesting access to the Facebook profiles of certain applicants on a case-by-case basis. The Board has identified a number of categories of applicants that it will require access from, including persons with a history of certain types of legal experience or substance abuse. The Citizen Media Law Project notes many of the privacy concerns related to the Bar’s decision.

Posted On Sep - 4 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

D.C. Appeals Court Sets New Standard for Unmasking Anonymous Online Speakers

By Anthony Kammer – Edited by Evelyn Breithaupt
Solers, Inc. v. Doe, No. 07-CV-159 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 13, 2009)
Opinion

On August 13, 2009, the D.C. Court of Appeals remanded Solers, Inc.’s case against an anonymous speaker and provided the lower court with a new standard for determining when an anonymous speaker’s identity may be revealed.

The Volokh Conspiracy notes that although the court limits its decision to defamation claims, the court’s logic would apply to many other forms of anonymous speech. The Citizen Media Law Project points out that this case is factually distinct from many online defamation suits because the comments at issue were not posted on a blog or other public platform. Newsroomlawblog covers the recent decision and has earlier reported that there is a growing trend for courts to protect anonymous speakers unless the plaintiff meets some elevated standard. Ars Technica and Exclusive Rights provide additional commentary.

(more…)

Posted On Aug - 31 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Overturns Earlier Decision and Holds No Liability for Exporting Components of Method Patents

By Evan Kubota – Edited by Sarah Sorscher
Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. v. St. Jude Medical, Inc., 2007-1296, -1347 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 19, 2009)
Slip Opinion

On August 19, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, held that 35 U.S.C. § 271(f), a statute providing for liability for exporting components of patented inventions, does not apply to method patents. The ruling overturned the Federal Circuit’s prior panel decision in Union Carbide Corp. v. Shell Oil Co., 425 F.3d 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2006). A Federal Circuit panel also reversed the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana’s grant of summary judgment on the issue of invalidity, restored the jury’s finding of infringement, and remanded the case for determination of damages.

Section 271(f) imposes infringement liability upon anyone who “supplies or causes to be supplied in or from the United States” components of a patented invention and induces their combination in a manner that would infringe the patent if it occurred within the United States.  It was intended to close the loophole created by a Supreme Court decision, Deepsouth Packing Co., v. Laitram Corp., 406 U.S. 518 (1972), that had rejected infringement liability where unassembled parts of a patented shrimp deveining machine were shipped abroad.  In 2007, the Supreme Court had expressly declined to answer the question of whether a method or process patent “qualifies as a patented invention” under section 271(f).  Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp., 550 U.S. 437 (2007).

Patently-O, Patent Prospector, and Conflict of Laws.net summarize the decision.  The AmLaw Litigation Daily provides an overview of the stakes for U.S. business interests, and a brief comment from a lawyer for one of the amici. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 27 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court of Appeals Vacates Obviousness Jury Verdict

By Stephanie Weiner – Edited by Evelyn Breithaupt
Callaway Golf Co. v. Acushnet Co., 2009-1076 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 14, 2009)
Slip Opinion

On August 14, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court for the District of Delaware’s order of summary judgment for the plaintiff on anticipation and vacated its entry of a jury verdict that a dependent claim was invalid for obviousness, but that the independent claim from which it stemmed was non-obvious. The Federal Circuit determined that the obviousness judgment was based upon irreconcilably inconsistent jury verdicts. This case raises the controversial issue of whether juries are appropriate in patent validity cases.

IP Watchdog notes that while the Federal Circuit decision itself is not surprising, it is rare to see a decision out of the District of Delaware that is so “
obviously flawed.” The Patent Prospector examines some of the evidentiary issues raised on appeal.  The Wall Street Journal Law Blog gives some useful background of the case. (more…)

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