A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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By Chinh Vo

Republican Senators Draft Bill in Opposition to FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations Plans

CNET reports that a group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, is sponsoring a new bill designed to thwart the FCC’s plans to regulate broadband providers. The bill, dubbed the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act, would allow the FCC to impose requirements on the broadband industry only if marketplace competition is inadequate, giving the agency authority similar to the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce antitrust. As JOLT has previously reported, many members of Congress have expressed concern over the FCC’s attempt to impose Net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, following the decision in Comcast Corp. v. FCC limiting the agency’s jurisdiction over broadband services.

Lawyers Drop Suit Against Scribd Featuring Novel Application of Copyright Act

Wired reports that lawyers have dropped a copyright infringement lawsuit against document-sharing website Scribd. The case, filed last September by children’s writer Elaine Scott after one of her books appeared on Scribd, had been closely watched because Scott’s lawyers sought a novel application of the Copyright Act. In addition to attacking the site for failing to block the unauthorized upload, Scott’s lawyers claimed Scribd’s copying and insertion of her copyrighted work into its filtering system — to prevent future unauthorized uploads — was itself a violation of the Copyright Act. Many university sites, social networks, and user-generated content sites employ similar filtering methods that compare uploaded materials to a database of copyrighted works.

Cell Phone Group Files Suit to Block San Francisco Radiation Ordinance

PCWorld reports that CTIA, an international group representing the wireless telecommunications industry, has sued the city of San Francisco in an attempt to block a recently-enacted ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to post how much radiation their devices emit. The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, argues that the city exceeded its authority by passing regulations related to an issue already addressed by the FCC. According to CTIA, the ordinance conflicts with federal law because the heightened labeling requirements undermine the FCC’s determination that all FCC-compliant cell phones are safe. The suit also alleges that the city ordinance violates the Communications Act by imposing a condition for entry to the wireless market — a power the Act limits to the federal government.

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Argues for Less Stringent Test for Protecting Anonymous Online Commercial Speech
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Janet Freilich

In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, No. 09-71265 (9th Cir. July 12, 2010)
Opinion

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied writs of mandamus appealing the District Court of Nevada’s order to disclose the identities of anonymous online posters. Although the Circuit Court denied the writs of mandamus for procedural reasons, the decision provides a discussion of Free Speech protection of commercial speech posted on the Internet.

Judge McKeown held that the District Court committed no clear error in ordering the release of the identities of three anonymous online speakers. In discussing the various tests for protecting anonymous speech, she stated that the District Court applied too stringent a standard for commercial speech by relying on the test announced in Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), which involved political speech. The court noted that the First Amendment affords less protection to commercial speech, and thus the balancing test between discovery and Free Speech should be based on “the nature of the speech,” with commercial speech subject to less stringent protection. In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, at *9920. In the discussion, the court noted the likelihood of an increasing number of cases involving anonymous online commercial speech and the lack of appellate decisions involving such discovery disputes.

The Internet Cases blog provides an overview of the decision and points out the significance of the case as the third federal circuit court case to address the issue of online anonymity. Citizen Media Law Project provides a more extensive overview and questions whether the Ninth Circuit’s definition of commercial speech will reduce free speech protection for “legitimate consumer criticism.” (more…)

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Use of Trademark in Domain Names Found to Be Nominative Fair Use
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Anthony Kammer

Toyota Motor Sales v. Tabari, No. 07-55344 (9th Cir. Jul. 8, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On July 8, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded an injunction against Farzad and Lisa Tabari by the United States District Court for the Central District of California in a trademark infringement claim brought by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (“Toyota”).  The Ninth Circuit stated that on remand the injuction must be modified to permit some use of Toyota’s “Lexus” trademark in Internet domain names.

Led by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, the majority concluded that Tabari’s use of the string “lexus” in domain names “buy-a-lexus.com” and “buyorleaselexus.com,” under which Tabari operated an automobile brokerage, was nominative fair use, a defense that shielded Tabari from Toyota’s claim of trademark infringement.  The nominative fair use doctrine is a defense that gives individuals to right to use another’s trademark to refer to the trademarked good itself. The majority reasoned that Tabari’s truthful communications regarding the nature of the Lexus product fell into the protective scope of the nominative fair use doctrine.

Seattle Trademark Lawyer features excerpts from the opinion. The E-Commerce and Tech Law Blog summarizes potential impacts of the decision. An in-depth analysis of the opinion is available at Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law BlogRebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log offers comments on the opinion. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 22 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Distinguishes Provisional Applications from Foreign Filings for Prior Art Priority under 102(e)
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Anthony Kammer

In re Giacomini, No. 2009-1400 (Fed. Cir. July 7, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On July 7, 2010, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) rejection of claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 09/725,737 as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e), the so-called “secret prior art” provision.  The Federal Circuit’s ruling expanded the scope of 102(e) such that prior art U.S. patents and applications under § 102(e) are now to have an effective filing date as of the filing date of the qualifying provisional application.

The Federal Circuit held as a matter of statutory interpretation, that under § 102(e) the effective filing date for patent priority is the filing date of the provisional application, so long as the provisional application contains a written description of the claimed invention.  Thus secret and confidential provisional applications will receive patent priority for a claimed invention against any later filings.  The court based its decision on §§ 111(b) and 119(e), emphasizing that the patent system rewards the person who is first to invent.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. Matt Osenga at Inventive Step provides an analysis of possible implications of the decision. The Patent Prospector discusses the decision and notes that Americans will continue to receive priority over foreign patent applications. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 21 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Reality Porn Producers Claim Fair Use in Suit against Record Labels

Ars Technica reports that Warner Bros. Records and ten other record music labels have filed suit against porn companies RK Netmedia and RealityKings.com. The record labels allege copyright infringement for the use of their unlicensed songs in hundreds of hardcore pornographic videos. They are seeking the maximum statutory penalty of $150,000 per video. RK Netmedia says it will defend the suit under the fair use doctrine. They argue that because they shoot their films in reality show style, their equipment captures music played in the background of the nightclubs and venues where they shoot. The complaint is available here.

ACLU Challenges Constitutionality of Massachusetts Law Protecting Minors on the Internet

On July 12, 2010, an updated Massachusetts law went into effect which will extend existing laws to protect minors from obscene materials on the Internet. Citizen Media Law Project and Ars Technica report on the ACLU’s challenge to the law. The “harmful to minors” law has been expanded to cover many online communications, such as electronic mail, instant messaging, and text messaging. The ACLU argues that the updated law will have a chilling effect on Internet communications, affecting even constitutionally protected communications between adults. The law, which was previously restricted to physical locations such as shops within Massachusetts, now has the effect of reaching outside of the state. The ACLU seeks to have the updated language removed from the law.

Louisiana is Latest to Enact Anti-Cyber-Bullying Statute

Lowering the Bar and Citizen Media Law Project report on the latest cyber-bullying statute enacted in Louisiana. The law makes illegal the “transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written, or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment, or intimidate a person under the age of 18.” Violators could face a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and three years in jail. The Media Coalition opposed the law on constitutional grounds prior to its enactment because of its vague language. Much of the language remained unchanged, so its constitutionality continues to be a concern for some.

Posted On Jul - 20 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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