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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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Popular Samsung Phones under Investigation for Patent Infringement

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

The US International Trade Commission has instituted an investigation of patent infringement involving some of Samsung’s most popular smartphones. ITC will have to decide whether it is in the public interest to ban a major producer from selling its phones in the US.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Kathleen McGuinness

Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function

Judgment of damages sufficient to render plaintiff a prevailing party for fee awards

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Google Faces Potential Lawsuit in Connection with Celebrity Photo Leaks

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Celebrities impacted by the theft and distribution of personal images stored on Apple’s iCloud service may soon head to court seeking damages from Google for continued copyright infringement and privacy violations. Google is accused of failing to remove the private pictures pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and threatened with a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages that could reach over $100,000,000 unless the offending content is promptly taken down.

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By Brian Kozlowski

Lawsuit Against Brooks Brothers for Falsely Marketing Ties Dismissed

The 271 Patent Blog reports that on May 14, a district court granted Brooks Brothers’ motion to dismiss an action for false marketing. Pro se plaintiff Raymond Stauffer sued Brooks Brothers under section 292 of the Patent Act, which allows damages of “not more than $500″ for each false claim that unpatented items are protected by patent. Under the Act, damages are split between the plaintiff and the government. In Brooks Brothers’ case, the unpatented items were bow ties whose patents expired in 1956.  The district court granted the motion to dismiss based on a lack of “actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical,” injury to the public from Brooks Brothers’ marketing claims.

Red Hat-Led Group Appeals Swiss Government’s Award of No-Bid Microsoft Contract

On May 21, Red Hat announced that a group of 18 technology companies filed an appeal with the Swiss Federal Administration Court. The appeal protests the Swiss government’s award of a three-year contract to Microsoft without a bidding process. eWeek explains that the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics may award contracts without a bidding process when there is no adequate alternative available. The Red Hat-led group protested the assertion that no alternatives existed, pointing to many competing open source companies, some already used by the Swiss government. PCWorld discusses the rising strength of alternatives to Microsoft software.

Massachusetts Court Holds that TOS Violations Don’t Establish Probable Cause

The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports that on May 21, the Massachusetts Supreme Court granted defendant Riccardo Calixte’s motion to quash a search warrant that allowed police to seize the Boston College student’s computers and other devices. The court found no probable cause for the warrant, noting that violating a website’s terms of service (“TOS”) is not “obtaining computer services by fraud.” LinuxJournal provides a triumphant, but one-sided account of the decision. The issue of TOS violations recently received widespread media coverage in the Lori Drew “cyber-bullying” case, where a jury found that TOS violations can support criminal charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Posted On May - 31 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Resolves Split Regarding Product-by-Process Claims

By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
Abbott Laboratories v. Sandoz, Inc., May 18, 2009, No. 07-1400, -1406
Opinion (hosted by Patently-O)

On May 18th the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, reconciled a long-standing conflict between two lines of cases determining the scope of product-by-process claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Atlantic Thermoplastics Co. v. Faytex Corp. rule that infringement of a product-by-process claim requires actually using those claimed process steps to make the product, and overruled the more inclusive Scripps Clinic & Research Foundation v. Genentech, Inc. rule, which defined product-by-process claims as limited solely by the end product.

Peter Zura of the 271 Patent Blog summarizes the opinion and provides excerpts that outline past relevant Supreme Court decisions. Kevin E. Noonan of Patent Docs provides an overview of the case and particularly emphasizes Judge Newman’s dissenting opinion. The Patent Prospector provides an in-depth summary and long excerpts from the decision. (more…)

Posted On May - 30 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, vol. 22.2

The Digest Staff is thrilled to announce that the newest volume of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, volume 22.2 is now available online, featuring:

Exclusion and Exclusive Use in Patent Law
Adam Mossoff

The conventional wisdom is that the definition of patents as property has been long settled: unlike land and chattels, which secure the traditional “bundle” of rights, patents secure only a negative right to exclude. Professor Mossoff, after exploring early case law and the historical development of patent law, finds that for much of its history a patent was defined by Congress and courts in the same conceptual terms as property in land and chattels. The Article concludes by showing how this conceptual break is affecting the current debates over patent doctrine.

Brand Spillovers
Eric Goldman
Professor Goldman’s article focuses on comparing the economic effects and legal treatment of “brand spillovers” in the online world and the physical world. Brand spillovers occur when consumer interest in a trademark increases the profits of third parties who do not own the trademark. Although online brand spillovers have been the source of heated debate and numerous lawsuits, similar brand spillovers in the physical world (for example, the placing of generic products next to branded products in grocery store aisles) have been permitted by trademark law. Professor Goldman argues that online brand spillovers, like their offline counterparts, should be permitted because such spillovers help to reduce consumer search costs.

Patent Law Uniformity?
Lee Petherbridge

Professor Petherbridge provides an empirical response to a recent article in the Northwestern University Law Review by Professors Nard and Duffy that argued in favor of dismantling the Federal Circuit because its creation has resulted in a lack of diversity in patent jurisprudence, which in turn has seriously suppressed the development of the law. Professor Petherbridge shows that across a number of variables the evidence does not support the Nard and Duffy conclusion that there is a lack of diversity in Federal Circuit patent jurisprudence.

Regulating Search
Viva R. Moffat

As search engines become increasingly powerful gatekeepers of the Internet, academics have begun to debate whether regulation directed at search engines is necessary. Professor Moffat evaluates the initial scholarship and finds that the current debate over search-engine regulation is bipolar, with commentators either advocating a market-based approach or full agency regulation. Professor Moffat proposes a compromise focused on encouraging the federal judiciary to develop a common law to handle those disputes that are unique to search engines.

Data Mining and Antitrust
Douglas M. Kochelek

This Note explores how antitrust law should deal with the rise of data mining, focusing specifically on the potential for price discrimination by online entities.

Protecting Privacy Through a Responsible Decryption Policy
Andrew J. Ungberg

This Note argues that absolute Fifth Amendment protections for computer passwords and encryption keys will ultimately do more harm than good to the cause of privacy by encouraging the government to adopt increasingly more invasive surveillance techniques in order to enforce the law.

Posted On May - 29 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Considers Internet Service Provider’s Liability for Fake Profiles

By Ezra Pinsky – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich
Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., May 7, 2009, No. 05-36189.
Slip Opinion

On May 7th, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part a district court’s 12(b)(6) dismissal of a complaint which had sought to impose negligence liability on Yahoo for hosting a fraudulent personals profile created by the plaintiff’s ex-boyfriend, despite plaintiff’s requests that it be removed and Yahoo’s assurances that it would be.  The district court dismissed the claim, holding that Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act immunized Yahoo from liability.  Writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge O’Scannlain affirmed in part, upholding the district court’s finding that Section 230(c)(1) protects Yahoo from negligence liability for third-party tortious material hosted on its website.  However, the court reversed in part and remanded, holding that Section 230(c)(1) does not protect Yahoo from a promissory estoppel claim if they promised to remove such content but failed to follow through.

Marc Randazza of the Citizen Media Law Project and Daniel Solove of Concurring Opinions provide overviews of the decision.  Eric Goldman of the Technology and Marketing Law Blog criticizes the opinion for being “filled with gratuitous and dangerous dicta, sloppy reasoning and sloppy language.” (more…)

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

Content by Vera Ranieri

Google Sued for Use of Trademarked Terms in Adwords Program

class action was filed against Google on May 11, 2009 in federal court in Texas challenging its use of trademarked terms in its adwords program. The New York Times covered the case and surrounding issues. Ars Technica analyzes Google’s new AdWords policy.

ACLU Challenges Constitutionality of Gene Patents

The ACLU filed suit in the Southern District of New York challenging the patenting of genes and genetic tests as unconstitutional. The New York Times reported on the suit and the ACLU’s plaintiff. Patently-O provides further analysis and links to the ACLU blog and the complaint.

Posted On May - 23 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Trademark Infringeme

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys Brief for the ...

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Twitter goes to cour

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas Twitter, Inc. vs. ...

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Popular Samsung Phon

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi The US International ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Kathleen McGuinness Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function The United ...

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Google Faces Potenti

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang Demand Letter to ...