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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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To Students’ Dismay, Plagiarism Detection Website Protected by “Fair Use”

By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
A.V. v. iParadigms, L.L.C., April 16, 2009, No. 08-1424
Opinion

On April 16, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment ruling by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, holding that archiving of student works by commercial plagiarism detection website TurnItIn.com is a “fair use” under the Copyright Act, and therefore does not violate the students’ copyrights in their work. Additionally, Circuit Judge Traxler remanded the case to lower court to reconsider the defendant’s counterclaim for monetary damages under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030, based on one plaintiff’s unauthorized access to the site.

The case arose when the plaintiffs were forced by their high school teachers to electronically submit their written work and assent to an online agreement with TurnItIn.com. The website compares student papers to a database of other essays to find instances of plagiarism. At issue was whether the website, operated by defendant iParadigms L.L.C., violated the students’ copyright rights to their work when it archived them for future comparison with other student works.

David Kravets of Wired summarizes the opinion. Nate Anderson, writer for Ars Technica (and a former teacher), analyzes the case and its potential revolutionary effects on education. A recent magazine interview with John M. Barrie, CEO of iParadigms, expresses Barrie’s goals for plagiarism detection services. A 2007 news article discusses the original filing of the case.

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Posted On Apr - 25 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Founders of The Pirate Bay Internet Piracy Site Convicted, Sentenced to Prison

The New York Times reports that on April 17, a Swedish court convicted four men, including the three founders of The Pirate Bay website, on charges of promoting copyright infringement. The men were sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay the equivalent of $3.6 million in damages to the holders of the infringed copyrights. The Pirate Bay continues to provide links that allow users to download thousands of copyrighted songs, movies, and computer programs. John Kennedy, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said that the copyright holders will continue their efforts to shut down the website.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Supports Block on Gambling Domain-Name Seizure

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in conjunction with the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, filed an amicus brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court on April 17. The brief supports the blocking of a Kentucky state court order, which requires domain name registrars outside of Kentucky to release control of over 100 domain names associated with gambling websites. A Kentucky court of appeals had previously blocked the trial court’s seizure order, ruling that Kentucky’s ban on “gambling devices” did not extend to internet domain names.

South Korean Blogger Acquitted on Charges of Spreading False Information

On April 20, a South Korean court acquitted Park Dae-sung on charges of purposely harming market sentiment. Reuters reports that Park had been accused of causing instability in the South Korean currency by spreading false information on his blog. Park had previously gained notoriety for posting accurate predictions of future economic troubles, including the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The court reasoned that even if Park did spread false information over the internet, he could not be convicted because he lacked the necessary intent to harm the public interest.

Posted On Apr - 23 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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.”

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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
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By Olga Slobodyanyuk ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain ...

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