A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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By Michelle Berger

Chief Judge of Federal Circuit to Hang Up His Robes

As Patently-O reports, Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals announced on November 20 that he will be retiring from the bench on May 31, 2010. Judge Randall Rader will replace him as chief judge at that time. Throughout his tenure, Michel has been outspoken on patent issue and the role of the court in shaping patent policy. Although he will no longer be able to influence patent law from the bench, some have suggested that Michel may still play an important policy role by attempting to influence patent legislation.

Bell Siblings Squabble Over 3G Ads

On November 18, a judge in the Northern District of Georgia denied AT&T’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Verizon from showing its 3G comparison ads, CNET News reports. AT&T sued Verizon earlier in November over the ads, claiming that, while the advertisements accurately depict AT&T’s relatively sparse 3G coverage, the ads mislead consumers by implying that AT&T doesn’t provide cellular or data coverage in those areas. Verizon has responded that its ads are clearly about 3G service and has modified the ads slightly to highlight the 3G comparison. Despite the unfavorable ruling, AT&T intends to continue the suit against Verizon. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog ponders whether AT&T’s suit may be multiplying the damage done by the Verizon’s ad, as the lawsuit and the media coverage surrounding it have drawn increased attention to the difference in 3G coverage between AT&T and Verizon.

Lexis and Westlaw to Go the Way of Yahoo and AskJeeves?

Google announced new functionality for its Google Scholar project on November 17, adding support for users to search case law and legal journals. Despite the possibility of Google moving into their turf, Lexis and Westlaw appear unphased, explaining that the services are not really competing since Google doesn’t offer headnotes, summaries, cite checking, or the same level of search sophistication. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog acknowledges these shortcomings, but warns that “one underestimates the capabilities of Google at his or her own peril.”

Posted On Nov - 24 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court extends application of Bilski and invalidates patents
By Kate Wevers – Edited by Amanda Rice

H&R Block Tax Servs., Inc. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc., No. 6:08-cv-37 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 10, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patently O)

Magistrate Judge Love, sitting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, found several of H&R Block’s financial instrument patents invalid, and recommended that Jackson Hewitt’s motion for summary judgment be granted-in-part.

The court applied the machine-or-transformation test from In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008), cert. granted 77 U.S.L.W. 3656 (U.S. Jun. 1, 2009) (No. 08-964), to H&R Block’s computerized systems patents as well as to its methods patents. In so doing, the court extended Bilski beyond process patents. Only one of the patents survived the machine-or-transformation test and the remaining patents were held invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

The original complaint is available here. Patent Storm has a helpful explanation of one of the patents. Patently O and the 271 Patent Blog both provide brief summaries of the case. (more…)

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

Ninth Circuit Remands Cybersquatting Case
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Amanda Rice

Lahoti v. Vericheck Inc., No. 08-35001 (9th Cir., Nov. 16, 2009)
Opinion

On November 16th, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court’s finding that the mark “VeriCheck” was an inherently distinctive, legally protectable mark was based in part on erroneous legal reasoning and in part on valid reasoning. Accordingly, it vacated the lower court’s award of summary judgment in favor of the defendant and remanded. However, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that the counterclaim defendant acted in bad faith. The court noted that it is proper for a court to consider the fact that the PTO has allowed others to register the mark at issue without requiring a showing of secondary meaning as weighing in favor of a finding of inherent distinctiveness.

The Ninth Circuit held that because the district court did not rely exclusively on the proper legal standard, its finding that Disputed Mark was distinctive must be vacated — even if there may have also existed proper legal grounds for finding the mark distinctive. The court also held that Lahoti acted at least “partially in bad faith” by gambling that the district court would agree with his interpretation of trademark law. He knew or should have known that he would risk cybersquatting liability if his gamble failed.

BNA and Michael Atkins, a Seattle trademark lawyer, provide relevant overviews of the case. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 21 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Intel and AMD announce $1.25 billion settlement

By Abby Lauer – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown

On Thursday, Intel announced that it will pay $1.25 billion to Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to settle AMD’s antitrust complaints in the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea. According to the terms of the settlement, Intel agreed to refrain from engaging in tactics involving computer manufacturers that would exclude AMD from the microprocessor market. The companies also resolved to drop their patent dispute and enter into a five-year cross licensing agreement.

The NY Times provides an overview of the settlement and other information about Intel and AMD. Ars Technica provides strategic analysis; the WSJ Law Blog provides opinions of antitrust experts and PCWorld provides additional commentary.
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Posted On Nov - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

No Permission Needed to Copyright a Derivative Work

By Adrienne Baker – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown
Schrock v. Learning Curve Int’l, No. 08-1296 (7th Cir. Sep. 9, 2009)
Opinion

On November 5, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded a decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had ruled that copyright for a derivative work requires permission from the underlying copyright holder to be valid. The district court’s ruling was based on reasoning in Gracen v. Bradford Exchange, 698 F.2d 300 (7th Cir. 1983). The Seventh Circuit instead held that a valid copyright in a derivative work is created by “operation of law” and not by authority of the copyright owner in the underlying work, unless a contract dictates otherwise. Additionally, the court held that there is no heightened standard of originality for copyright protection in a derivative work.

The Exclusive Rights Blog provides an overview of the case. Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log criticizes the circuit court for not explicitly overturning Gracen and asserts photographs of copyrighted material should not be treated as derivative works. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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