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

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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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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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

Dear Digest Readers,

The Digest will be taking a short break in the coming weeks as our Staff Writers prepare for final exams. We will be back shortly in mid-May with the same quality and coverage you’ve come to expect.

In the meantime, you can now follow JOLT Digest on twitter! We will tweet each time we put up a new post and link to content that may be of interest to our readers. We invite you to follow us at @JOLTdigest!

We look forward to a great summer of law & technology news! Stay tuned!

- The Digest Staff

Posted On May - 2 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Wiki Operator Seeks Right to Host Discussions About Circumvention of iPhone’s DRM System

Wired reports that on April 27, BluWiki operator OdioWorks filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit against Apple in order to “clarify the rights of the parties.” Last November, Apple threatened OdioWorks with legal action over a thread discussing how to use unapproved software on both the iPod and iPhone. Apple claimed that the content was “designed to circumvent Apple’s FairPlay digital rights management system” in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. OdioWorks initially complied with Apple’s takedown demands, but is now being supported by Keker Van Nest and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in its lawsuit.

Ontario to Propose New Legislation Banning Ticketmaster from Reselling Tickets Through Its Subsidiaries

On April 29, The Toronto Star reported that Ontario’s Attorney General Chris Bentley plans to introduce a bill that would outlaw ticket sales companies such as Ticketmaster from reselling their tickets on subsidiary websites. Although ticket scalping is already illegal in Ontario, Bentley says the proposal is in response to complaints from customers upset with Ticketmaster’s practice of reselling tickets at prices above face value on its subsidiary TicketsNow. Ticketmaster had previously agreed to voluntary limitations on its use of TicketsNow in the United States.

European Union Votes to Extend Music Copyright by 20 Years

The European Parliament voted on April 23 to extend the length of musical copyright protection from 50 years to 70 years. If the proposal is approved by the European Council, artists will be able to continue receiving royalties for up to 70 years after the first release of their songs. Ars Technica reports that several groups have criticized the extension because most of the new royalties will go to record labels rather than the original performers of the songs.

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