A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Sharona Hakimi

WTO Finds China’s Media Laws Violate International Trade Laws

On August 12, Ars Technica and the New York Times reported that the World Trade Organization ruled against China in a complaint by the United States regarding China’s limitation on imports of songs, movies, and books. The Chinese laws constituting trade violations require that many forms of imported media must be distributed by a single, state-owned company. The laws also limit foreign ownership of Chinese media companies and allow domestic companies to bypass trade censors. Ron Kirk, the US trade representative at the WTO conference in Geneva, said that the “decision promises to level the playing field for American companies working to distribute high-quality entertainment products in China so that legitimate American products can get to market and beat out the pirates.”

Hollywood Group Secures Preliminary Injunction against DVD Copying Software

On August 11, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel issued a preliminary injunction against RealNetworks, barring the company from selling its RealDVD copying software until a jury can decide the issue, CNET News reports. She stated that RealNetworks cannot use fair use as a defense under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the company’s license with the DVD Copy Control Association, but noted that “[i]t may well be fair use for an individual consumer to store a backup copy of a personally owned DVD on that individual’s computer.” While the decision is seen as a major victory for the Motion Picture Association of America, the Electronic Frontier Foundations views it as a setback for innovators and consumers.

David Kappos Sworn in as New Director of USPTO

Patently-O reports that on August 13, David Kappos was sworn as Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Kappos addressed USPTO employees at the ceremony, pledging to work on “reducing the backlog of unexamined patent applications, cutting pendency dramatically, working off the mounting appeals backlog, [and] improving re-exam processing.” He also projected his goals to secure more stable financial backing or the USPTO, hoping there will be no need to utilize the Office’s new authority to use trademark funds to pay for patent operations. A video of Kappos’s swearing in ceremony is available on the blog Anticipate This!

Posted On Aug - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Bayer Schering Pharma v. Barr Labs

By Aaron Dulles – Edited by Evelyn Breithaupt
Bayer Schering Pharma AG and Bayer Healthcare Pharm., Inc. v. Barr Labs., Inc., No. 2008-1282 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 5, 2009)
Slip Opinion

On August 5, 2009, a Federal Circuit panel affirmed the decision of the District of New Jersey, which had found Bayer’s U.S. Patent No. 6,787,531 (“’531 Patent”) invalid because of obviousness. The ’531 Patent concerns a formulation of the well-known contraceptive drug drospirenone. The patent previously protected Bayer’s formulation of a daily oral contraceptive product, marketed as the drug Yasmin. When Barr Labs sought approval from the FDA to market a generic version of Yasmin, Bayer filed a patent infringement suit. The district court found that under KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007), the formulation of drospirenone in the Yasmin product was obvious. The sole issue of appeal was obviousness, and by a 2-1 vote the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision.

Passino PLLC suggests that the majority’s application of the In re O’Farrell, 853 F.2d 894 (Fed. Cir. 1988) standards was too rigid, and thus appeared to go against warnings in KSR concerning rigid application of tests. Patent Docs agreed, asserting that the judges both at the trial and appellate levels disregarded important evidence and emphasizing that the “common sense” of obviousness is that of the practitioner, not the judge. AboutLawSuits.com noted the ruling, but focused on known potential negative side effects of the drospirenone-based contraceptives such as Yasmin. (more…)

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

By Stephanie Weiner – Edited by Evelyn Breithaupt

On July 31, a Boston federal jury ordered physics Ph.D student Joel Tenenbaum to pay $675,000 in damages to various recording companies for willfully infringing 30 songs by downloading them over KaZaA — an award of $22,500 per song. It was only the second file-sharing case to go to verdict in the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) anti-downloading litigation campaign, along with that of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, though thousands are settled or pending.

Each day of the trial was thoroughly covered by Ben Sheffner, guest reporting at Arstechnica. JoelFightsBack — Tenenbaum’s defense team’s blog — provides extensive information about the case, including firsthand accounts from Tenenbaum himself. Ray Beckerman argues that the most salient legal issues remain unresolved, and that the plaintiffs ought to have been held to higher evidentiary standards in order to establish infringement and entitlement to statutory damages higher than the minimum available.

Defending Tenenbaum was Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, whose unusual litigation tactics have been much blogged about since he took the case in September 2008.

(more…)

Posted On Aug - 12 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Andrew Jacobs

Marine Corps Bans Social Networking Sites

In a directive issued Monday, the U.S. Marine Corps banned the use of social networking sites on its Marine Corps Enterprise Network, Wired and InformationWeek report. Characterizing these sites — including Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter — as “a proven haven for malicious actors and content,” the Corps hopes the ban will protect the network from cyberattacks and keep adversaries from acquiring user-generated information leaks. The directive does not limit Marines’ access to social networking sites on non-military networks, and a follow-up press statement encouraged the use of social media by Marines on their own ISPs.

Senate Hears Debate on Radio Performance Rights

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard debate Tuesday on the proposed Performance Rights Act, which would compel terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties recording artists, Ars Technica reports. Under current copyright law, webcasters and satellite radio stations pay royalties to both a song’s writer and its performer, while terrestrial stations are only obliged to pay songwriters. The debate pits two powerful interest groups, among others, against each other: the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) staunchly opposes the bill, while the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has voiced its strong support.

FTC Takes New View of Online Privacy

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times report new FTC consumer protection head David Vladeck plans to shift the agency’s approach to online privacy protection. In a New York Times interview, Vladeck states he hopes to address the “notice and consent” framework that he considers “no longer sufficient” online, as it has resulted in privacy disclosures that are rarely read or understood. He also plans to consider not only economic harm, but also the “dignity interest” that arises in online information collection. Though no new rulemaking is yet planned, updated FTC privacy guidelines are expected next summer.

Posted On Aug - 8 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Blogger’s Use of Unaltered Copyrighted Photos Deemed Legal Fair Use

By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Amanda Rice
Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. v. Delsman, No. C 09-1468 SBA, July 17, 2009

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted the defendant blogger’s motion to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit following its determination that the blogger’s use of unaltered copyrighted photos is fair use and therefore not violative of copyright laws. The court held that Delsman’s use of two photographs of Sedgwick’s upper management, although unaltered, was fair use because Delsman’s use of the photographs was transformative insomuch as the images were used for a critical purpose, rather than Sedgwick’s original promotional purpose. Also important to the court’s fair use analysis was the fact that Delsman’s use of the images did not affect the commercial market for the original images in a legally important manner, since no market existed for the images anyway.

Eric Goldman has posted a summary of the order on his Technology and Marketing blog. Loeb & Loeb provides a thorough description and analysis of the order. Eugene Volokh notes that the court’s “fair use analysis strikes [him] as quite right” on his blog, “The Volokh Conspiracy.” (more…)

Posted On Aug - 2 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Henry Thomas Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract ...

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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Federal Circuit Flas

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Spain Passes a “Go

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long Amendments to the ...