A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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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.

(more…)

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

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
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...