A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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Tenth Circuit Rejects First Amendment Challenge to U.S. Copyright Law
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Gary Pong

Golan v. Holder, Nos. 09-1234 & 09-1261 (10th Cir., June 21, 2010)
Slip Opinion

Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), codified in 17 U.S.C. § 104A, restored the U.S. copyrights of foreign authors who had lost copyright protection for failing to comply with certain formalities required by U.S. law.  Plaintiffs challenged Section 514 as a violation of the First Amendment.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado upheld plaintiff’s First Amendment challenge by granting their motion for summary judgment. Because the works of these foreign authors had become part of the public domain, the district court reasoned that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting public use of the works by reinstating copyright protection.

Reversing the lower court, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the URAA does not violate the right to freedom of expression that is protected by the First Amendment. In so holding, the court reasoned that Section 514 of the URAA was narrowly tailored to advance the government’s interest in protecting American copyright holders’ interests abroad. The court deferred to Congress because the legislative body is better equipped to amass data and make important decisions about U.S. copyright law. In addition, the court recognized that the foreign policy implications of the URAA warranted special deference.

For a complete description of the district court’s decision that was handed down in April 2009, see JOLT Digest. Techdirt provides criticism of the recent Tenth Circuit decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 1 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sharona Hakimi

The White House Endorses FCC Plan and Calls for More Broadband Spectrum

Reuters and CNet report that on June 28, President Obama signed a Presidential Memo endorsing the FCC’s goal to free up 500 megahertz of wireless broadband over the next ten years. The memo estimates that the flow of wireless data used in the next five years will increase to as much as 45 times the total bandwidth used in 2009. The memo calls on government agencies to work with the FCC to identify spectrum that could be repurposed or sold, determine the best purposes for the licenses, and explore new ways the spectrum could be used for public safety or deficit reduction. Television broadcasters have resisted previous plans to reclaim their spectrum, but the new White House proposal would instead offer a share of the profits to those that voluntarily share unused spectrum.

Google to Cease Rerouting China Users to Uncensored Portal

Wired and Ars Technica report that on June 29, Google announced plans to stop automatically redirecting Google China users to an uncensored portal in Hong Kong. The announcement came in anticipation of an upcoming renewal deadline for Google’s Internet Conent Provider license in China. In order to keep operating in the Chinese market, Google determined that it needed to accommodate the requests of Beijing officials. Instead of automatically rerouting users to google.hk.com, the new Google China page offers a non-functioning search box: clicking almost anywhere on the page will reroute a user to the Hong Kong site. Although the Hong Kong Google search is uncensored, Chinese firewalls still prevent users from accessing some websites, and access to the website can be periodically unstable.

New Documents in Dell Suit Reveal Knowledge of Faulty Computers

According the New York Times, new documents were recently unsealed in a three-year-old civil case against Dell regarding millions of faulty computers with components that leaked chemicals and caused electrical malfunctions. Dell shipped close to 12 million defective desktop computers to business and government customers between May 2003 to July 2005. Internal memos and other documents unearthed during discovery have recently revealed  that Dell was aware of the flaws and made concerted efforts to conceal the problems from the public. Dell has recently been the subject of an SEC investigation, as well as an external audit that revealed manipulation of financial reports.

Posted On Jul - 1 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Determination of Patentable Subject Matter Not Limited to Machine-or-Transformation Test; Some Business Method Patents Survive
By Davis Doherty – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Bilski v. Kappos, No. 08-964 (U.S. June 28, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed an en banc ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which held that the petitioners’ claimed invention, a commodities risk-hedging method, was unpatentable. At the same time, a 4-1-4 split on the broader issue of patentable subject matter resulted in a narrow opinion that  leaves open the possibility that some business method patents may be appropriate.

In an opinion penned by Justice Kennedy, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, and in part by Justice Scalia, the Supreme Court held the petitioners’ claimed invention was unpatentable under the Patent Act because it was an abstract idea. See 35 U.S.C. § 101 (2006). While the Court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s en banc ruling, its decision overturned the appellate court’s holding that a “process” is patent eligible under § 101 only if: “(1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing.” In re Bilski, 545 F. 3d 943, 954 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc opinion). The Court noted that while this “machine-or-transformation” test may be a useful indicator of patentability in most cases, the text of the Patent Act is incompatible with the use of the test as an exclusive standard. Justice Stevens wrote a concurrence, joined only by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, that would have struck down business method patents as categorically patent-ineligible subject matter.

Briefs and relevant court documents are available at SCOTUSwiki. SCOTUSblog provides an overview of the case. Inventive Step criticizes the decision for its failure to provide guidance on patent eligibility. Patently-O provides analysis regarding the import of the Court’s concurring opinions.

(more…)

Posted On Jun - 29 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Holds That a Government Employer’s Search of an Employee’s Messages on a Work-Related Pager Was Reasonable and Not a Violation of the Fourth Amendment
By Andrew Segna – Edited by Helen He

Ontario v. Quon, No. 08-1332 (U.S. Jun. 17, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Supreme Court reversed a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that the Petitioner City of Ontario’s (“Ontario”) search of the Respondent Jeff Quon’s text messages was unreasonable and, therefore, a violation of Quan’s reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court held that the search administered by the Petitioner was reasonable and did not violate the Respondent’s Fourth Amendment rights regarding government employers. To reach this conclusion, Justice Kennedy assumed that Quon did have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Under the standards outlined by the plurality and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in O’Connor v. Ortega, the Supreme Court held that the legitimacy of the City’s reasoning behind the search and the nonexcessive measures utilized demonstrated reasonableness. In so holding, Justice Kennedy recognized  this decision’s potential to determine the larger question surrounding employees’ expectation of privacy with regards to government employers and the rapid growth of information and communication technology today. Kennedy mentioned the changing privacy expectations of employees and arguments for and against increased privacy but asserted that he wanted to avoid the volatile and far-reaching consequence of addressing such an issue. Therefore, he concluded that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in this case in order to narrow the holding.

The New York Times has an overview of the Supreme Court’s decision. SCOTUSBlog analyzed the majority opinion and Justice Scalia’s concurrence in the case and their implications for the question of privacy in the realm of technology. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in favor of a narrow holding, elaborated upon its support for and concerns about the holding. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Illinois Establishes Standard for Identifying Anonymous Internet Commenters

Evan Brown at Internet Cases reports that the Appellate Court of Illinois, Third District has set forth a standard for identifying an anonymous internet commenter in Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing Co., No. 3-08-0805 (Ill. App. 3d June 1, 2010). A couple from Illinois, unhappy with anonymous comments on a local newspaper website, sought to identify the commenters. Illinois Rules on Civil Proceedings Rule 224 allows a petitioner to file a petition to identify a person “responsible in damages.” The trial court followed the analysis of Dendrite International. Inc. v. Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001) and Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), in denying the petition. The appellate court reversed and remanded, setting forth a new standard that requires a court to “insure that the petition: (1) is verified; (2) states with particularity facts that would establish a cause of action for defamation; (3) seeks only the identity of the potential defendant and no other information necessary to establish the cause of action of defamation; and (4) is subjected to a hearing at which the court determines that the petition sufficiently states a cause of action for defamation against the unnamed potential defendant.” Maxon, slip op. at 9. As Brown notes, this standard — unlike that of past cases — does not require the petitioner to attempt to identify the commenter.

FCC Votes to Proceed with Net Neutrality Regulations

Joelle Tessler for the Associated Press reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to accept public comments on three proposed broadband regulations. The regulations are part of the FCC’s latest attempt to establish oversight of broadband providers. The proposal would redefine broadband access as a telecommunications service, allowing the FCC greater regulatory control. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hopes to ensure that broadband providers treat network traffic equally, limiting their ability to selectively block traffic. JOLT Digest previously highlighted the objections of many members of Congress to the FCC’s attempts to regulate in the aftermath of Comcast Corp. v. FCC.

Napolitano Calls for Balance Between Civil Liberties and Security

Lolita C. Baldor for the Associated Press reports that in a recent speech, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the balance between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties. Citing the recent homegrown, online terrorist recruitment efforts, Napolitano suggested that the law should allow the government to monitor these growing threats. Napolitano believes that by monitoring Internet communications the United States can better protect national security without necessarily “having a deleterious effect on individual rights.”

Posted On Jun - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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