A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

American Broadcasting Cos. V. Aereo, Inc. 134 S.Ct. 2498 (Supreme Court of the United States, June 25, 2014) Slip Opinion

aereo_antenna_array1

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc (“Aereo”).  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 (“Act”) for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business.  Aereo has made a request to the U.S. Copyright Office to be classified as a cable company under Section 111, but has not yet been successful. Additionally, Aero has reached out to the public, asking them to protest the decision, the Washington Post Reports.

The New York Times provides an overview of the case.  SCOTUS Blog criticizes that the majority’s ad hoc approach in deciding that Aereo was “substantially similar” to cable companies without grappling the text of the statute.

Aereo is a start-up company based in New York that provided its subscribers live and time-shifted streams of TV Shows on internet-connected devices.  Its subscribers would pay $8 to $12 a month to rent Aereo’s dime-size antennas that captured TV signals when the subscribers requested to view a specific TV show.  While Aereo argued that its service was a new way of viewing TV programs, broadcasters argued that Aereo was stealing their programs and violating copyright laws.

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Posted On Jul - 23 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

HL Bill 37 – Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”)

Full text of DRIP

The House of Lords passed the bill without a vote on July 17, 2014.

The House of Commons passed the bill by 498 votes to 31 on July 15, 2014.

On July 17, 2014, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) became law of the land after the House of Lords passed it without a vote. This legislation grants the government power to mandate all companies, both operating in the UK and abroad, to retain customer metadata for 12 months, so long as the companies provide telecommunications services to UK customers. DRIP also changes the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (“RIPA”) to expand the UK government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage, including iCloud and Google Drive. Grounds for interception include national security and preventing or detecting serious crime. Prime Minister David Cameron introduced the bill on July 10, 2014 as an “emergency” law with an accelerated time frame. Parliament had a week to examine the bill, with a one-day debate in the House of Commons and two days in the House of Lords. According to the BBC, the purpose of the legislation is to replace legislation that became invalid when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in April that blanket data retention breaches the right to privacy.

A summary of the bill and its history is available on the BBC and Human Rights Watch. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden compared DRIP to the ‘Protect America Act of 2007’ introduced by former-President George W. Bush. Wired UK summarizes academics’ criticism of the bill. David Allen Green warns citizens of the danger of passing DRIP. The Guardian describes the harm in a more sarcastic and memorable way.

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Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kyle Pietari Edited by Insue Kim

infringementVirtualAgility, Inc., v. Salesforce.com, Inc., et al., No. 2014-1232 (Fed. Cir. July 10, 2014)

Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which denied a joint motion raised by Salesforce.com and other defendants (“Defendants”) to stay VirtualAgility’s (“VA”) patent infringement suit until the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) could complete a post-grant review of the validity of VA’s patent under the Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents (CBM). This was the Federal Circuit’s first encounter with an interlocutory appeal from a district court’s ruling on a motion to stay infringement proceedings concurrent with the CBM review process, made possible by the America Invents Act (AIA), 125 Stat. 284 § 18(b)(2).

Reviewing the district court’s application of four factors that the AIA expressly requires courts to consider, the Federal Circuit held that the stay pending CBM review was improperly denied. VirtualAgility, slip op. at 5. Though § 18(b)(2) states that the Federal Circuit’s standard of review “may be de novo,” the court declined to address the question of when to apply a de novo standard, holding that the district court’s decision would be reversed even under the abuse of discretion standard that VA had argued for. Id. at 5. In so holding, the Federal Circuit sent a message that although a court denying a stay of infringement proceedings could be given deference on appeal, it should not expect to.

National Law Review provides a thorough analysis of the case. PatentlyO discusses the interplay between courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  

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Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

Fox Broadcasting Company, et al. v. Dish Network LLC, et al., No. 13-56818 (9th Cir. 2014) Slip Opinion hosted by DocumentCloud

On July 4, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox Broadcasting Company’s (“Fox”) motion for a preliminary injunction against Dish Network’s (“Dish”), “Dish Anywhere,” and “Hopper Transfers” services.  Fox argued that the technologies, which enable Dish subscribers to stream programming from portable devices as well as cache them for offline viewing on iPads, would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative.  It noted that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm, even though the services had been available for several years.  The court also rejected Fox’s argument that it would lose advertising revenue, “in light of the evidence that advertisers are adapting to the changing landscape of television consumption.” Fox Broadcasting, slip op. at 4. Lastly, the court ruled that a preliminary injunction was not necessary because Fox had failed to demonstrate that allowing the services to continue operating prior to trial would induce other companies to follow Dish’s lead. It also added that any harm which did result could be adequately remedied with monetary damages.

Fox, in mounting the challenge, relied on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in American Broadcasting Company v. Aereo for support.  In Aereo, the Court ruled that Aereo violated copyright laws by providing broadcast programming to subscribers online.  Fox, in a letter to the court, argued, “Dish . . . engages in virtually identical conduct when it streams Fox’s programming to Dish subscribers over the internet [and] has repeatedly raised the same defenses as Aereo which have now been rejected by the Supreme Court.”

Jason Buckweitz, a researcher at Columbia Business School, however, noted that the Aereo case differs from the dispute at hand because Aereo had offered broadcasting content without paying for a license.  Dish, by contrast, pays retransmission fees to distribute Fox’s programming.  Under the Cable Act of 1992, broadcasters have the right to charge retransmission consent fees for redistribution of their content, 47 U.S.C. § 325, and they typically earn hundreds of millions of dollars per month from retransmission arrangements with cable companies.

Several commentators, including Mr. Buckweitz and Techdirt, warned that Fox’s reference to Aereo was only the beginning of broadcasters using the case to obtain more favorable deals with distributors.  More perniciously, they argued, Aereo could hamper innovation by threatening businesses whose services challenge the traditional avenues of content distribution.

Dish lauded the ruling and framed it as a victory for consumer choice.  Fox had previously lost a challenge to two other Dish services before the Ninth Circuit in 2013.

Sheri Pan is a 2L at Harvard Law School interested in the intersection of technology and public interest law.

Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Icon-newsBy Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

The U.S. Senate has unanimously voted to legalize the unlocking of cell phones, passing a bill that will now allow consumers to more easily move from one wireless carrier to another. The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act not only permits consumers to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or civil penalties, but also urges the Librarian of Congress to “consider whether other wireless devices, like tablets, should be eligible for unlocking.” Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, the author of the bill, states that the Act will “promote[] competition in the wireless phone marketplace” by allowing consumers to “use their existing cell phones on the wireless carrier of their choice.” Joe Mullin of Ars Technica provides further background information on the legal history of cellphone unlocking.

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

In an exhaustive 133-page white paper released by the American Bar Association entitled A Call For Action in Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Legislation, the ABA has discouraged its more than 400,000 members from lodging lawsuits against those who engage in illegal online file sharing. The authors explain that “while it is technically possible for trademark and copyright owners to proceed with civil litigation against the consuming public who . . . engage in illegal file sharing, campaigns like this have been expensive, do not yield significant financial returns, and can cause a public relations problem for the plaintiff.” The ABA makes sure to point out the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America’s previously futile litigation campaigns against illegal file sharing. Eric Blattberg of VentureBeat notes that, as an alternative to legal action, the ABA proposes the “content industry spend its time educating the public on the negative impact of stealing content, like damage to the U.S. economy.”

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

The Guardian has obtained an internal report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation that details some of the agency’s concerns with autonomous cars. The report, written by agents in the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence, states that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands,” such as firing a weapon at pursuant law enforcement as the car drives him or her away, or “taking one’s eyes off the road.” The report also discusses the possibility that driverless car technology may be used for “dual-use applications” or as “more of a potential lethal weapon.” This presumably reflects worries that hackers could access the cars’ systems remotely, or, as the Guardian notes, that “terrorists might program explosive-packed cars to become self-driving bombs.” Josh Wolford of WebProNews provides commentary.

Posted On Jul - 21 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Whack-a-troll Legisl

Written by: Asher Lowenstein Edited by: Yaping Zhang In May 2014, another ...

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3D Systems and Forml

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang 3D Systems, Inc., ...

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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

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San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...