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 Tyler Lacey

Federal Prosecutors Launch New Attack Against Online Gamblers in the United States

On June 9, the New York Times reported that federal prosecutors asked four American banks to freeze accounts containing money believed to be used for distributing winnings to online poker players. Wells Fargo, one of the contacted banks, received a court order requiring that the funds be frozen. Professor I. Nelson Rose of Whittier Law School described the move as “surprising” and as a “gamble” by the prosecutors. Professor Rose also said that it is unclear what laws apply to the seizure of individuals’ money.

Canadian Government Decides Not to Regulate Internet Video and Audio Broadcasts

Canadian radio and television broadcasters are required by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to broadcast a minimum amount of Canadian content. On June 9, Ars Technica reported that the CRTC issued a report saying that although internet audio and video do count as “broadcasting” for the purposes of their regulatory schemes, they will retain a regulatory exemption from providing Canadian content. The CRTC’s decision, while currently supported by major providers of online audio and video such as Google, leaves open the possibility that the CRTC will impose future regulations.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Urges Court to Hold Email Protected Under the Fourth Amendment

On June 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief in the Sixth Circuit’s ongoing case Warshak v. United States. The brief argues that the Justice Department violated Warshak’s Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy in his email. The EFF reports that “the government acquired over 27,000 emails spanning over six months from Warshak’s email provider, all without probable cause.” The basis of EFF’s position is that email should receive the same protection against unlawful search and seizure as is given to phone calls, postal mail, and private papers kept at home.

Court Abused Discretion by Failing to Apply eBay Factors

On June 9, Patently-O reported that the Federal Circuit remanded a patent dispute case back to the district court because it failed to consider the eBay factors in its refusal to grant a permanent injunction to the patent holder. In the eBay case, the Supreme Court required a patentee seeking injunctive relief to “demonstrate (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction.”

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

Indiana Supreme Court Considers Website Design Ownership

By Jad Mills – Edited by Ezra Pinsky
Conwell v. Gray Loon Outdoor Marketing Group Inc., May 19, 2009, No. 82S04-0806-CV-00309.
Slip Opinion

On May 19, 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the Vanderburgh Superior Court and Indiana Court of Appeals decisions ordering Piece of America (POA) to pay Gray Loon Outdoor Marketing hosting fees and website redesign charges and denying POA’s conversion claim for the loss of its original website. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Shepard held that POA contracted for the redesign, and although Gray Loon’s project design proposal specifically and unambiguously represented that POA “owned the work product,” this did not vest ownership in POA. The proposal gave POA only a non-exclusive license because it was not properly signed and carried insufficient weight and certainty to transfer the copyright.

Ex©lusive Rights and Eric Goldman each provide an overview of the case. Juliet Moringiello summarizes the case, but also criticizes the court for restricting the analysis to copyright law simply because the asset in question is intangible, when they should focus instead on whether the asset “can be exclusively controlled.”
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Posted On Jun - 9 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sarah Sorscher

Supreme Court to Consider Business Method Patents

Patently-O reports that the Supreme Court granted certiorari on Bilski v. Doll. The Court will address whether a patentable “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing. The Court will also consider whether this “machine-or-transformation” test, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, runs counter to the intent of Congress in enacting 35 U.S.C. § 273 establishing special rules for “method[s] of doing or conducting business. JOLT Digest covers the earlier en banc decision by the Federal Circuit here, and Patently-O offers a detailed summary of the earlier decision here.

Review of NASA Security Regulations Denied

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that on Thursday the Ninth Circuit declined to review en banc a privacy case involving employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a part of NASA. A three-judge panel of the appellate court had previously ruled that NASA’s mandatory background checks threatened workers’ constitutional right to privacy. The petition for rehearing generated a plethora of concurring and dissenting opinions, including an opinion by the appellate court concurring in the denial that referred to the background check as a “free-floating, wide-ranging inquiry with no standards, limits, or guarantee of non-disclosure to third parties.” Three opinions dissenting from the rehearing en banc are available here, here, and here. The JPL employees have also created a website voicing their opposition to the background checks.

Court Dismisses Eavesdropping Lawsuits

Wired reported on Wednesday’s decision by a judge for the Northern District of California to dismiss more than three dozen lawsuits aimed at telecommunication companies for assisting in a Bush administration eavesdropping program. The judge ruled that the companies were entitled to immunity based on legislation passed over the summer, which purports to immunize the telecommunications firms from liability. The Electronic Frontier Foundation plans to appeal the decision.

Posted On Jun - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

D.C. Circuit Upholds FCC Ban on Exclusive Contracts in Multi-Dwelling Units

By Andrew Jacobs – Edited by Ezra Pinsky
Nat’l Cable & Telecomm. Association v. Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n, May 26, 2009, No. 08-1016
Slip opinion

On May 26, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) ban on future and existing exclusivity agreements between cable companies and the owners of apartment buildings and multi-unit developments (“MUDs”). Writing for a unanimous court, Judge Tatel held that the ban was both “well within the bounds” of the FCC’s statutory authority and in full accordance with the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (“NCTA”), a cable industry group, opposed the regulation.

Matthew Lasar summarizes the case while pointing out that this decision is “a victory for telcos like AT&T and Verizon.” However, he notes that many “MDU-like dwellings,” such as time share units and school dorms, are not subject to the ban. The Blog of Legal Times and Blawgletter also provide summaries of the case.

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Posted On Jun - 5 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Aaron Dulles – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
Epistar Corp. v. International Trade Commission, May 22 2009, No. 2007-1427 (slip opinion) (hosted by PatentlyO)

On May 22, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded an ITC decision in Philips Lumileds Lighting Company (Lumileds)’s infringement action against Epistar and the United Epitaxy Company (UEC). The ITC had held that Epistar infringed Lumileds’s US Patent no. 5,008,718, concerning certain types of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and issued a Limited Exclusion Order that broadly excluded the importation of the LEDs and LED arrays, regardless of manufacturer. The Federal Circuit reversed and refined the ITC’s summary determination that Epistar was estopped from challenging the validity of the patent, affirmed the patent construction, vacated the Limited Exclusion Order, and remanded the case.

Business Wire emphasized the Federal Circuit’s application of its recent holding in Kyocera Wireless Corp. v. International Trade Commission, 545 F.3d 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2008), while LEDinside and EETimes focused on the court’s analysis of two settlement agreements at issue. AGIPNEWS highlighted the fact that Lumileds has apparently expressed confidence in its ability to succeed in any future contests. PatentlyO indicated that the Court could have relied on the policy statement in Lear, Inc. v. Adkins, Inc., 395 U.S. 653 (1969) that there is a “strong federal policy favoring the full and free use of ideas in the public domain.” (more…)

Posted On Jun - 1 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang According to a ...

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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

By Ken Winterbottom Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit ...

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Spain Passes a “Go

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