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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Federal Circuit Equates Covenants Not to Sue for Patent Infringement with Unconditional Licenses

By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Evan Kubota
TransCore, LP v. Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp., No. 2008-1430, April 8, 2009
Opinion

On April 8, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment, which held that an unconditional “covenant not to sue” has the same effect as an unconditional “license” for purposes of patent exhaustion.

In 2000, TransCore settled a patent infringement action against Mark IV.  The settlement agreement required Mark IV to pay $4.5 million in exchange for TransCore signing an unconditional covenant not to sue and releasing all existing claims.

The suit here was initiated several years later.  TransCore sued Electronic Transaction Consultants (ETC) for patent infringement based on ETC’s use of a system sold by Mark IV.  Three of the allegedly infringed patents were subject to the covenant not to sue with Mark IV; the fourth patent was related but had not been issued when the covenant was signed.  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment against TransCore.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the grounds of patent exhaustion (with respect to the three patents listed in the covenant not to sue) and legal estoppel (with respect to the newly-issued patent).  The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 2109 (2008), compelled the conclusion that “an unconditional covenant not to sue authorizes sales by the covenantee for purposes of patent exhaustion.”

(more…)

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

Federal Circuit Holds That Later-Developed Alternative Manufacturing Processes May Be “Patentably Distinct” from Their Related Products

By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Evan Kubota
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. v. Doll, April 10, 2009, No. 2008-1131
Opinion

On April 10th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, holding that manufacturing processes developed after a product is patented may be “patentably distinct” from their related products.

In a non-unanimous opinion written by Circuit Judge Rader, the Federal Circuit held that “the relevant time frame for determining whether a product and process are ‘patentably distinct’ should be at the filing date of the [process] application.”  If there exists only one process to manufacture a product, the process cannot be patented separately from the product because the two are substantially co-extensive.  However, if multiple, materially different processes for making a product existed at the time of the product’s invention, then those processes are distinct from the product and can therefore be patented separately. See Manual of Patent Examining Procedure §806.05.  This decision now allows for processes discovered after the product’s invention to be considered “patentably distinct,” defeating any patent invalidity claim based on the double patent doctrine.  The double patent doctrine prevents a patentee from obtaining extra exclusivity time for a single invention by obtaining two patents for it. 

Peter Zura of the 271 Patent Blog summarizes the opinion. The Patent Prospector criticizes the decision arguing that the double patent issue was “resolved badly” and asserting that the court did not “[think] through the implications of its ruling.”  Patently-O provides a summary of the original district court opinion. (more…)

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

By Caity Ross

British Web Tracking Tool Violates European Union Privacy Laws

This Tuesday, the European Union issued a legal warning against Britain for not applying EU data privacy rules to Phorm, a new advertising technology that tracks the Web movements of internet users. BT, Britain’s largest service provider, used Phorm without its customers’ consent during 2006 and 2007. As reported in the New York Times, the European telecommunications commissioner stated that the “European privacy rules are crystal clear: a person’s information can only be used with their prior consent.” The Associated Press describes further actions the European Commission may take if Britain does not adequately enforce European privacy laws.

Proposed Bill Would Remove Sales Tax “Loophole” for Online Purchases

CNET News reports that a congressional bill expected to be introduced early next week “would rewrite the ground rules for mail order and Internet sales.” Under existing law, consumers are responsible for reporting and paying the amount owed for online and mail order purchases under their home state’s sales tax. According to CNET, “California’s Board of Equalization estimates the state lost $1.34 billion in 2003 because residents aren’t paying use taxes–and attributes $208 million of that to online purchases.” The proposed bill could incorporate the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, which encourages states to simplify their sales tax codes in order to help online retailers collect sales taxes more easily.

Swedish Anti-File Sharing Law Decreases Traffic, Increases Legal Downloads

Enforcement of Sweden’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) law began on April 1, 2009. The Local notes that the law resulted in a 30% decrease in online traffic, as well as a doubling of legal music downloads. T3 reports that the in response to the IPRED enforcement, The Pirate Bay plans to offer a Virtual Private Network service that will make internet users more anonymous.

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Upholds First Amendment Challenge to the URAA
By Caitlyn Ross – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Golan v. Holder
D. of Colorado, April 3, 2009, No. 01-cv-01854-LTB
Memorandum Opinion (hosted by the Stanford Fair Use Project)

On April 3rd, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, upholding the First Amendment challenge to Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), codified in 17 U.S.C. §104A. The case was on remand from Golan v. Gonzales (10th Cir.), which instructed the District Court to evaluate the First Amendment implications of restoration.  Judge Lewis T. Babcock held that §104A, which restored copyright in certain foreign works that had previously fallen into the public domain, cannot survive First Amendment scrutiny.

The URAA restored the US copyrights of foreign authors whose works entered the public domain for any reason other than the expiration of a copyright term in the work’s country of origin. The Tenth Circuit determined that the law “altered the traditional contours of copyright protection” by restoring copyrights in works of foreign origin that were previously in the public domain in the United States and therefore the law was subject to First Amendment scrutiny. The court held that once the works entered the public domain, the plaintiffs acquired a vested interest in the speech. On remand, the District Court – which had previously upheld § 104A – held that this provision of the URAA violates the First Amendment insofar as it suppresses parties’ rights to continue using works they had exploited when those works were in the public domain.

According to Anthony Falzone of the Stanford Fair Use Project, which is litigating the dispute, this is “the first time a court has held any part of the Copyright Act violates the First Amendment.” The Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides an overview of the case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Trademark Infringement Suit Against Google
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Rescuecom v. Google
Second Circuit, April 3, 2009, 06-4881-cv
Opinion
(hosted by EFF)

On April 3, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court for the Northern District of New York’s dismissal of a trademark infringement suit against Google by Rescuecom, Corp., a computer repair firm.

At issue was Google’s AdWords program, which allows advertisers to purchase ads based on the appearance of another (often competing) company’s name in search terms, thus allowing the purchaser’s ads to appear in the search results alongside links to the searched-for company. Also in dispute was Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool, which recommends potential keywords to advertisers for use in the AdWords program. The key issue was whether Google’s use of Rescuecom’s trademark in both programs constitutes a “use in commerce” under § 1127 of the Lanham Act.

Ars Technica explains that, having distinguished away precedent, the court determined that Google was appropriating trademarked terms. Google’s claim – that it was only using these terms internally as part of its ad-placing algorithm – was dismissed as disingenuous because its Keyword Suggestion Tool was specifically suggesting trademarks to potential ad buyers. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog notes that this may add some clarity to the jumbled law on the use of keywords. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 11 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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