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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First Circuit Bans Webcast in Trial Court

By Debbie Rosenbaum* – Edited by Chris Kulawik
In Re: Sony BMG Music Entertainment Et Al., April 16, 2009, No. 09-1090
Opinion

On Thursday, April 16, The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, MA overturned a motion granted  by the district court which would have permitted the oral arguments in the case of Joel Tenenbaum vs. the Record Industry Association of America to be broadcast live over the Internet.

In a unanimous opinion by the First Circuit Court of Appeals authored by Judge Bruce Selya, the court ruled that the District of Massachusetts Local Rules, as well as policy statements by the First Circuit Judicial Council, and the United States Judicial Conference, all pointed toward one conclusion: no webcast would be permitted. The decision rested on two premises: 1) Judge Nancy Gertner lacked the authority to permit Internet broadcasts from her courtroom; and 2) the Judicial Council’s 1996 anti-camera resolution banned the use of recording devices in federal courtrooms unless they are used to preserve trial evidence. However, in so holding, the court noted that they were “reluctant to interfere with a district judge’s interpretation of a rule of her court, especially one that involves courtroom management.”

As explained by Copyrights & Campaigns, Judge Kermit Lipez filed a brief concurrence, agreeing with Judge Selya’s conclusion that the rules preclude the webcast, but arguing that there is no good policy reason to disallow it. Copyrights & Campaigns also argues, as does Recording Industry v. the People, that it is ironic that the court of appeals posted an audio recording of the oral argument on its website.

Ray Beckerman has consolidated all the legal documents associated with this portion of the case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 29 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

To Students’ Dismay, Plagiarism Detection Website Protected by “Fair Use”

By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Stephanie Weiner
A.V. v. iParadigms, L.L.C., April 16, 2009, No. 08-1424
Opinion

On April 16, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment ruling by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, holding that archiving of student works by commercial plagiarism detection website TurnItIn.com is a “fair use” under the Copyright Act, and therefore does not violate the students’ copyrights in their work. Additionally, Circuit Judge Traxler remanded the case to lower court to reconsider the defendant’s counterclaim for monetary damages under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030, based on one plaintiff’s unauthorized access to the site.

The case arose when the plaintiffs were forced by their high school teachers to electronically submit their written work and assent to an online agreement with TurnItIn.com. The website compares student papers to a database of other essays to find instances of plagiarism. At issue was whether the website, operated by defendant iParadigms L.L.C., violated the students’ copyright rights to their work when it archived them for future comparison with other student works.

David Kravets of Wired summarizes the opinion. Nate Anderson, writer for Ars Technica (and a former teacher), analyzes the case and its potential revolutionary effects on education. A recent magazine interview with John M. Barrie, CEO of iParadigms, expresses Barrie’s goals for plagiarism detection services. A 2007 news article discusses the original filing of the case.

(more…)

Posted On Apr - 25 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Founders of The Pirate Bay Internet Piracy Site Convicted, Sentenced to Prison

The New York Times reports that on April 17, a Swedish court convicted four men, including the three founders of The Pirate Bay website, on charges of promoting copyright infringement. The men were sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay the equivalent of $3.6 million in damages to the holders of the infringed copyrights. The Pirate Bay continues to provide links that allow users to download thousands of copyrighted songs, movies, and computer programs. John Kennedy, chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said that the copyright holders will continue their efforts to shut down the website.

Electronic Frontier Foundation Supports Block on Gambling Domain-Name Seizure

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in conjunction with the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, filed an amicus brief to the Kentucky Supreme Court on April 17. The brief supports the blocking of a Kentucky state court order, which requires domain name registrars outside of Kentucky to release control of over 100 domain names associated with gambling websites. A Kentucky court of appeals had previously blocked the trial court’s seizure order, ruling that Kentucky’s ban on “gambling devices” did not extend to internet domain names.

South Korean Blogger Acquitted on Charges of Spreading False Information

On April 20, a South Korean court acquitted Park Dae-sung on charges of purposely harming market sentiment. Reuters reports that Park had been accused of causing instability in the South Korean currency by spreading false information on his blog. Park had previously gained notoriety for posting accurate predictions of future economic troubles, including the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The court reasoned that even if Park did spread false information over the internet, he could not be convicted because he lacked the necessary intent to harm the public interest.

Posted On Apr - 23 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Equates Covenants Not to Sue for Patent Infringement with Unconditional Licenses

By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Evan Kubota
TransCore, LP v. Electronic Transaction Consultants Corp., No. 2008-1430, April 8, 2009
Opinion

On April 8, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment, which held that an unconditional “covenant not to sue” has the same effect as an unconditional “license” for purposes of patent exhaustion.

In 2000, TransCore settled a patent infringement action against Mark IV.  The settlement agreement required Mark IV to pay $4.5 million in exchange for TransCore signing an unconditional covenant not to sue and releasing all existing claims.

The suit here was initiated several years later.  TransCore sued Electronic Transaction Consultants (ETC) for patent infringement based on ETC’s use of a system sold by Mark IV.  Three of the allegedly infringed patents were subject to the covenant not to sue with Mark IV; the fourth patent was related but had not been issued when the covenant was signed.  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment against TransCore.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment on the grounds of patent exhaustion (with respect to the three patents listed in the covenant not to sue) and legal estoppel (with respect to the newly-issued patent).  The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 2109 (2008), compelled the conclusion that “an unconditional covenant not to sue authorizes sales by the covenantee for purposes of patent exhaustion.”

(more…)

Posted On Apr - 19 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds That Later-Developed Alternative Manufacturing Processes May Be “Patentably Distinct” from Their Related Products

By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Evan Kubota
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. v. Doll, April 10, 2009, No. 2008-1131
Opinion

On April 10th, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, holding that manufacturing processes developed after a product is patented may be “patentably distinct” from their related products.

In a non-unanimous opinion written by Circuit Judge Rader, the Federal Circuit held that “the relevant time frame for determining whether a product and process are ‘patentably distinct’ should be at the filing date of the [process] application.”  If there exists only one process to manufacture a product, the process cannot be patented separately from the product because the two are substantially co-extensive.  However, if multiple, materially different processes for making a product existed at the time of the product’s invention, then those processes are distinct from the product and can therefore be patented separately. See Manual of Patent Examining Procedure §806.05.  This decision now allows for processes discovered after the product’s invention to be considered “patentably distinct,” defeating any patent invalidity claim based on the double patent doctrine.  The double patent doctrine prevents a patentee from obtaining extra exclusivity time for a single invention by obtaining two patents for it. 

Peter Zura of the 271 Patent Blog summarizes the opinion. The Patent Prospector criticizes the decision arguing that the double patent issue was “resolved badly” and asserting that the court did not “[think] through the implications of its ruling.”  Patently-O provides a summary of the original district court opinion. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 18 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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