A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 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. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

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

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Indiana Supreme Court Considers Website Design Ownership

By Jad Mills – Edited by Ezra Pinsky
Conwell v. Gray Loon Outdoor Marketing Group Inc., May 19, 2009, No. 82S04-0806-CV-00309.
Slip Opinion

On May 19, 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the Vanderburgh Superior Court and Indiana Court of Appeals decisions ordering Piece of America (POA) to pay Gray Loon Outdoor Marketing hosting fees and website redesign charges and denying POA’s conversion claim for the loss of its original website. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Shepard held that POA contracted for the redesign, and although Gray Loon’s project design proposal specifically and unambiguously represented that POA “owned the work product,” this did not vest ownership in POA. The proposal gave POA only a non-exclusive license because it was not properly signed and carried insufficient weight and certainty to transfer the copyright.

Ex©lusive Rights and Eric Goldman each provide an overview of the case. Juliet Moringiello summarizes the case, but also criticizes the court for restricting the analysis to copyright law simply because the asset in question is intangible, when they should focus instead on whether the asset “can be exclusively controlled.”
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Posted On Jun - 9 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sarah Sorscher

Supreme Court to Consider Business Method Patents

Patently-O reports that the Supreme Court granted certiorari on Bilski v. Doll. The Court will address whether a patentable “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing. The Court will also consider whether this “machine-or-transformation” test, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, runs counter to the intent of Congress in enacting 35 U.S.C. § 273 establishing special rules for “method[s] of doing or conducting business. JOLT Digest covers the earlier en banc decision by the Federal Circuit here, and Patently-O offers a detailed summary of the earlier decision here.

Review of NASA Security Regulations Denied

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that on Thursday the Ninth Circuit declined to review en banc a privacy case involving employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a part of NASA. A three-judge panel of the appellate court had previously ruled that NASA’s mandatory background checks threatened workers’ constitutional right to privacy. The petition for rehearing generated a plethora of concurring and dissenting opinions, including an opinion by the appellate court concurring in the denial that referred to the background check as a “free-floating, wide-ranging inquiry with no standards, limits, or guarantee of non-disclosure to third parties.” Three opinions dissenting from the rehearing en banc are available here, here, and here. The JPL employees have also created a website voicing their opposition to the background checks.

Court Dismisses Eavesdropping Lawsuits

Wired reported on Wednesday’s decision by a judge for the Northern District of California to dismiss more than three dozen lawsuits aimed at telecommunication companies for assisting in a Bush administration eavesdropping program. The judge ruled that the companies were entitled to immunity based on legislation passed over the summer, which purports to immunize the telecommunications firms from liability. The Electronic Frontier Foundation plans to appeal the decision.

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

D.C. Circuit Upholds FCC Ban on Exclusive Contracts in Multi-Dwelling Units

By Andrew Jacobs – Edited by Ezra Pinsky
Nat’l Cable & Telecomm. Association v. Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n, May 26, 2009, No. 08-1016
Slip opinion

On May 26, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) ban on future and existing exclusivity agreements between cable companies and the owners of apartment buildings and multi-unit developments (“MUDs”). Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Tatel held that the ban was both “well within the bounds” of the FCC’s statutory authority and in full accordance with the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (“NCTA”), a cable industry group, opposed the regulation.

Matthew Lasar summarizes the case while pointing out that this decision is “a victory for telcos like AT&T and Verizon.” However, he notes that many “MDU-like dwellings,” such as time share units and school dorms, are not subject to the ban. The Blog of Legal Times and Blawgletter also provide summaries of the case.

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Posted On Jun - 5 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Aaron Dulles – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
Epistar Corp. v. International Trade Commission, May 22 2009, No. 2007-1427 (slip opinion) (hosted by PatentlyO)

On May 22, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded an ITC decision in Philips Lumileds Lighting Company (Lumileds)’s infringement action against Epistar and the United Epitaxy Company (UEC). The ITC had held that Epistar infringed Lumileds’s US Patent no. 5,008,718, concerning certain types of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and issued a Limited Exclusion Order that broadly excluded the importation of the LEDs and LED arrays, regardless of manufacturer. The Federal Circuit reversed and refined the ITC’s summary determination that Epistar was estopped from challenging the validity of the patent, affirmed the patent construction, vacated the Limited Exclusion Order, and remanded the case.

Business Wire emphasized the Federal Circuit’s application of its recent holding in Kyocera Wireless Corp. v. International Trade Commission, 545 F.3d 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2008), while LEDinside and EETimes focused on the court’s analysis of two settlement agreements at issue. AGIPNEWS highlighted the fact that Lumileds has apparently expressed confidence in its ability to succeed in any future contests. PatentlyO indicated that the Court could have relied on the policy statement in Lear, Inc. v. Adkins, Inc., 395 U.S. 653 (1969) that there is a “strong federal policy favoring the full and free use of ideas in the public domain.” (more…)

Posted On Jun - 1 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Brian Kozlowski

Lawsuit Against Brooks Brothers for Falsely Marketing Ties Dismissed

The 271 Patent Blog reports that on May 14, a district court granted Brooks Brothers’ motion to dismiss an action for false marketing. Pro se plaintiff Raymond Stauffer sued Brooks Brothers under section 292 of the Patent Act, which allows damages of “not more than $500″ for each false claim that unpatented items are protected by patent. Under the Act, damages are split between the plaintiff and the government. In Brooks Brothers’ case, the unpatented items were bow ties whose patents expired in 1956.  The district court granted the motion to dismiss based on a lack of “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical,” injury to the public from Brooks Brothers’ marketing claims.

Red Hat-Led Group Appeals Swiss Government’s Award of No-Bid Microsoft Contract

On May 21, Red Hat announced that a group of 18 technology companies filed an appeal with the Swiss Federal Administration Court. The appeal protests the Swiss government’s award of a three-year contract to Microsoft without a bidding process. eWeek explains that the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics may award contracts without a bidding process when there is no adequate alternative available. The Red Hat-led group protested the assertion that no alternatives existed, pointing to many competing open source companies, some already used by the Swiss government. PCWorld discusses the rising strength of alternatives to Microsoft software.

Massachusetts Court Holds that TOS Violations Don’t Establish Probable Cause

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that on May 21, the Massachusetts Supreme Court granted defendant Riccardo Calixte’s motion to quash a search warrant that allowed police to seize the Boston College student’s computers and other devices. The court found no probable cause for the warrant, noting that violating a website’s terms of service (“TOS”) is not “obtaining computer services by fraud.” LinuxJournal provides a triumphant, but one-sided account of the decision. The issue of TOS violations recently received widespread media coverage in the Lori Drew “cyber-bullying” case, where a jury found that TOS violations can support criminal charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

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