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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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Federal Circuit Finds Infringement Even After Product No Longer Meets Claim Limitations At Final Sale

By Ezra Pinsky – Edited by Sarah Sorscher
Gemtron Corp. v. Saint-Gobain Corp., No. 2009-1001 (Fed. Cir. July 20, 2009).
Slip Opinion

On July 20th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court (Western District of Michigan) decision to grant a permanent injunction against Saint-Gobain because their refrigerator shelves infringed on Gemtron’s patent. The district court held that the patent encompasses shelves that are “relatively resilient” and flexible “when glass is being inserted into the frame” and not only “in the finished product.” It therefore covered several types of Saint-Gobains shelves and the court granted a partial summary judgment of infringement against those particular models.  In an ensuing trial, a jury found that several other Saint-Gobains models infringed on the patent as well. The court then entered judgment in favor of Gemtron and granted a permanent injunction against further infringement. Writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge Linn affirmed both the lower court’s grant of summary judgment and its permanent injunction.

Patent law blogs PatentlyO, The Patent Prospector, and Gray on Claims summarize the court’s opinion and reasoning.  Barry Barnett at Blawgletter examines the question of how Saint-Gobain could have infringed the U.S. patent when the shelves met the claim limitations only during their assembly in Mexico. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 26 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sharona Hakimi

Amazon Threatened with Class Action for Remotely Deleting Orwell E-books on Kindles

On July 20, MediaPost News reported that the law firm KamberEdelson is readying a class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers against Amazon for removing George Orwell books on owners’ Kindles. Amazon remotely deleted the e-books from users after discovering that the company that added them to the online catalog did not have rights to the books. Amazon did issue refunds to the owners, but representatives of KamberEdelson argue that the action infringes on consumer’s property rights and violates Amazon’s user agreement. On Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow discusses the problems that remote deletion poses to Digital Rights Media as a whole.

British Judge Rules that Google is Not Liable for Defamatory Search Results

On July 20, the New York Times reported that a High Court judge in Britain ruled that Google cannot be held liable for defamatory material appearing in its search results. The case arose when Metropolitan International Schools, which runs Internet-based training courses, sued Google over negative comments posted on a third party web site that appeared as text blurbs in Google search results. The judge held that Google “has merely, by the provision of its search service, played the role of a facilitator.” While this decision is consistent with America and other European countries’ libel laws, this case is seen as a significant win for search engines because of England’s reputation as being sympathetic to libel claimants.

USPTO Places Its “Peer-to-Patent” Pilot Program on Hold

In 2007, the United States Patent and Trade Office partnered with New York Law School’s Center for Patent Innovation to create an online collaborative patent review program. After two years, the program has been suspended in order to evaluate its effectiveness, InformationWeek reports. The Center for Patent Innovation also cited the poor economy as a reason for the suspension. Hoping to decrease the backlog in the USPTO, the pilot program encouraged patent applicants to volunteer their submissions to undergo peer review. Peer-to-Patent issued its second anniversary report this July and announced it will stop accepting new applicants. Despite the hiatus, there is hope that the program will be re-launched in the future as David Kappos, Obama’s nominee for director of USPTO, has indicated his support of the program, calling it “the Patent Office of the 21st century.”

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

Class Action Complaint Alleges Facebook Click Fraud

By Brian Kozlowski – Edited by Jad Mills
RootZoo, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 5:09-cv-03043-HRL (N.D Cal. July 7, 2009)

In a federal court complaint filed in the Northern District of California on July 7th, sports discussion board and social networking site RootZoo alleged that Facebook charged them for advertising referrals that never occurred and that Facebook failed to “properly guard” against click fraud, the practice of third-party individuals or computer programs repeatedly clicking on the advertisement to inflate the number of referrals.

RootZoo’s complaint accuses Facebook of both breach of the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” in their advertising contract and unfair business practices. RootZoo was one of many advertisers who paid Facebook for each click referring a Facebook user to their site. RootZoo claims that Facebook consistently charged them for more outgoing referrals than the RootZoo servers logged as incoming during the period they advertised on Facebook. According to the complaint, when RootZoo submitted server log documentation to Facebook and asked to be refunded for the discrepancy, Facebook refused to provide any refund and would not release any documentation to back up their refusal. The complaint contrasted Facebook’s unwillingness to release data with the more transparent practices of Yahoo! and Google. RootZoo’s filing came only weeks after TechCrunch wrote a series of well-publicized articles on Facebook click fraud prompted by outraged advertiser posts on the marketing discussion board WickedFire. Following the TechCrunch articles, Facebook representatives claimed to have “developed a series of sophisticated systems” to detect click fraud and to have refunded any advertisers that were affected. However, RootZoo is seeking class action status and an unspecified amount of damages..

MediaPost and The Register offer overviews of the filing and a response from Facebook, while TechCrunch summarizes some of the preceding controversy and WickedFire discussion board postings.

(more…)

Posted On Jul - 19 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds Yellow Bean Patent Obvious and Invalid

By Dmitriy Tishyevich – Edited by Jad Mills
In re POD-NERS, L.L.C., July 10, 2009, No. 2008-1492 (nonprecedential)
Slip Opinion

On July 10, 2009 in a per curium decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (“Board”) decision invalidating the patent claims for a yellow bean of Mexican origin. The court held that the applicant failed to rebut the examiner’s prima facie determination that all of the claims were obvious.

Patent law blogs PatentlyO and The Patent Prospector summarize the opinion. The ETC Group and the Central Advisory Service on Intellectual Property provide background information about the history of the patent and some reactions to the decision.

(more…)

Posted On Jul - 19 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Andrew Jacobs

Cyberattack on U.S. and South Korean Governments Stymies Investigators

Law enforcement officials are still investigating the cyberattacks that hobbled some U.S. and South Korean government websites for five days beginning July 4, the New York Times reports. The distributed denial of service attack caused 50,000 to 65,000 infected computers to jam websites of government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Secret Service with an extraordinary amount of traffic. Although independent and government investigations have led to computers in Miami, Florida, and the U.K., some experts think finding the ultimate source of the “amateurish” attack may prove to be impossible.

Microsoft Convinces Court IP Addresses Are Not Personally Identifiable Information

MediaPost News reports that in a recent class action case against Microsoft, a federal district court in Seattle held that IP addresses do not count as “personally identifiable information” (PII), a term regularly used in user agreements and online privacy policies. The June 23 opinion granted Microsoft’s motion for summary judgment on charges that it had violated its user agreement by collecting IP addresses during automatic software updates. Judge Richard Jones held that in order to be PII, a piece of data must directly identify “a person,” rather than “a computer,” as an IP address does. The decision is in tension with recent E.U. regulatory findings and a 2008 opinion from the New Jersey Supreme Court, according to MediaPost.

New Zealand Takes Second Swing at “Three Strikes”

On July 14, New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development introduced a revised version of its “three strikes” copyright provision aimed at curbing online infringement, Ars Technica and Billboard report. The original bill, which provided for the termination of internet service provider subscribers’ accounts as a penalty for repeat copyright infringement, was scrapped in March after public outcry and industry disagreement. The new version addresses due process concerns by allowing alleged infringers to respond to notices of infringement and to have their cases mediated before trial. Termination of infringers’ internet accounts remains a possible penalty under the revised law.

Posted On Jul - 18 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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