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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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Icon-newsBy Kellen Wittkop

Dismissal of Suit for Violation of False Marketing Affirmed Due to Lack of Standing after Elimination of qui tam Provision

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers Group, Inc., 13-1180 (Fed. Cir. July 10, 2014) affirmed the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York’s decision to dismiss the suit for lack of standing, holding that after elimination of the qui tam provision of the false-marketing statute by the America Invents Act (“AIA”), the pro se plaintiff-appellant no longer had standing in the pending litigation.  Stauffer at 14.  The AIA “made three significant changes to the false-marketing statute that affected Mr. Stauffer’s claim,” the most influential of which was the elimination of the statute’s qui tam provision making it so that “only a ‘person who has suffered a competitive injury’ may bring a claim.”  Id. at 3 (citing AIA § 16(b)(2)).  Mr. Stauffer argued that, first, the retroactive application of the AIA amendments constituted a mass pardon which Congress could not grant, and, second, that the retroactive amendments violated the common-law principle of prohibiting use of a pardon to negate theaction once it has begun, id. at 7, but the Federal Circuit disagreed on both points, id. at 11–12.  Milbank provides an in-depth discussion of the case.

Summary Judgment Affirmed for Subject Matter Ineligibility of Claims for Infringement of “Device Profile” Generation and Use

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Digitech Technologies v. Electronics for Imaging, Inc., 13-1600 (Fed. Cir. July 11, 2014) affirmed the United States District Court for the Central District of California’s grant of summary judgment to several defendants, concluding that the device profile in the ’415 patent does not fall within any category of eligible subject matter.  Digitech Technologies at 7.  The patent at issue (U.S. Patent #6,128,415) covers “the generation and use of an ‘improved device profile’ that describes spatial and color properties of a devise within a digital image processing system.”  Id. at 5.  Consistent with the findings of the District Court, the Federal Circuit held that under 35 U.S.C. § 101, a device profile did not fall within any eligible categories of subject matter because it was not tangible or physical.  Id. at 7.  Additionally, the Federal Circuit applied the recent Supreme Court ruling in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. ___, No. 13-298 (June 19, 2014), which concluded that fundamental concepts are by themselves ineligible abstract ideas. Id. at 10.  Law360 provides coverage of the case.

Posted On Jul - 15 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Icon-newsBy Olga Slobodyanyuk

BP Fails to Trademark the Color Green in Australia

British Petroleum (“BP”) lost its 22-year-old legal battle in Australia to trademark the dark green shade that dominates its logo, reports The Guardian. The governmental agency that administers intellectual property rights, IP Australia, found that BP did not show “convincing evidence” that the fuel company was linked in consumers’ minds with the green shade known as Pantone 348C. According to Corporate Council, despite the failure in Australia, BP has trademarked the color in the UK and Europe, and has protected its use in marketing fuel and service stations in the U.S.

The FTC Sues Amazon over Children’s Purchases in Apps

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com, alleging that the online retailer allowed children to make purchases within apps and online games without their parents’ permission, reports Forbes. The FTC is seeking refunds for consumers for all such purchases, as well as changes to Amazon’s in-app commerce policies, according to The Washington Post. In a public letter to the FTC, Amazon responded that it has consistently improved it’s in-app buying services and has been promptly responding to customer concerns. Forbes reports that Amazon keeps 30% of in-app purchase revenue and keeps all sales final and non-refundable. FTC has investigated similar problems with Apple and had a multimillion dollar settlement with the company earlier this year.

Leaked Code Reveals that NSA is Targeting Users of Privacy Services

An analysis of leaked code used to conduct internet surveillance reveals that users who visit privacy and anonymity websites are targeted by the NSA, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The code, a tool called Xkeyscore, “fingerprints,” or marks for further investigation, users who access privacy services such as Tor, Tails, HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, and Linux Journal, a monthly magazine about the open-source operating system (which the NSA labeled as an “extremist forum” for advocating for privacy services use), reports Wired. Privacy services are used by journals, human rights advocates, and political dissidents, among others. According to the general deputy council of the EFF, visiting privacy websites and reading Linux Journal are protected First Amendment activities, essential to freedom of expression, which cannot be targeted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Posted On Jul - 15 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The PCLOB’s Recommendations for a More Reasonable Surveillance Program
By Max Kwon – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

Report

Security CameraOn July 2, 2014, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (“PCLOB”) issued a report analyzing the legal and policy implications of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA”). Section 702 was introduced by Congress through the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 and allows the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to “jointly authorize surveillance targeting persons who are not U.S. persons, and who are reasonably believed to be located outside the United State, with the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers, in order to acquire foreign intelligence information.”  Report at 6. The PCLOB concluded that “the core Section 702 program is clearly authorized by Congress, reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and an extremely valuable and effective intelligence tool,” Id. at 15, but noted that “the applicable rules potentially allow a great deal of private information about U.S. persons to be acquired by the government.” Id. at 11. In order to “ensure that the program remains tied to its constitutionally legitimate core,” the PCLOB outlined a set of ten policy proposals aimed at increasing accountability, transparency, and efficacy of the surveillance program. Id. at 9.

Pursuant to Section 702, the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence can make annual certifications that identify categories of information to be collected without specifying the particular non-U.S. persons who will be targeted. Id. Although Section 702 requires the government to develop targeting and “minimization” procedures in order minimize “incidental” or “inadvertent” surveillance of U.S. persons, the PCLOB stated that “certain features of the [Section 702] program implicate privacy concerns” regarding the scope and usage of U.S. person communications that are collected. Id. at 6–10.

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Posted On Jul - 14 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Max Kwon – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin
USPTO Memo on Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. V. CLS Bank International, et al. (June 25, 2014).

Memorandum.

IdeaIn response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to invalidate four software patents in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l et al., No. 13-298 (783 U.S. ____ June 19, 2014) (“Alice”), Andrew H. Hirshfeld, Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), issued a memorandum to the Patent Examining Corps “to provide preliminary instructions…relating to subject matter eligibility of claims involving abstract ideas, particularly computer-implemented abstract ideas, under 35 U.S.C. § 101.”

In the memorandum, Hirshfeld stated that in accordance with Alice, the USPTO will now require “all claims directed to laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas for subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101” to be analyzed under the framework outlined in  Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories Inc., 566 U.S. ____ (2012) (“Mayo”). Id. at 1.

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Posted On Jul - 7 - 2014 2 Comments READ FULL POST

Supreme Court: Police Officers Need a Warrant to Search an Arrestee’s Cell Phone
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin
Riley v. California, 573 U.S. __ (2014)

Slip Opinion

On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court decided that police officers “must generally secure a warrant before conducting . . . a search of the information on a cell phone” seized from an individual who has been arrested. Slip op., at 10. Writing for a unanimous Court, Chief Justice Roberts balanced, on the one hand, “the degree to which [the search] intrudes upon an individual’s privacy and, on the other, the degree to which it is needed for the promotion of legitimate governmental interests.” Id. at 9.

The Court found only minimal governmental interest, noting that, unlike physical objects on an arrestee, “digital data stored on a cell phone cannot itself be used as a weapon to harm an arresting officer or to effectuate the arrestee’s escape.” Id. at 10. The Court acknowledged governmental concerns that digital evidence may be lost through remote wiping or data encryption, but found these concerns insufficiently compelling. See id. at 12–15.

On the other side of the equation, the Court found that the information contained on a cell phone is both quantitatively greater and qualitatively more sensitive than physical records likely to be present on an individual’s person at the time of his arrest. Id. at 17–21. A search of such digital information “would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house,” the Court concluded. Id. at 20. See the Washington Post and New York Times for further reporting on the decision.

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Posted On Jul - 7 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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