A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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California Superior Court Enters Judgement in Anti-SLAPP Suit
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Steven Primeaux

MagicJack, LP v. Happy Mutants LLC, Case No. CIV 091108 (Sup. Ct. Cal. Marin County, Jan. 5, 2010)
Opinion (hosted by Boing Boing)

On January 5, 2010, the Superior Court of California for the County of Marin entered judgment against plaintiff MagicJack, reiterating its May 2009 holding that MagicJack had not established a probability of prevailing on its claims against Boing Boing and ruling that Boing Boing was entitled to legal fees and costs resulting from MagicJack’s lawsuit. In May, Boing Boing had moved to strike MagicJack’s claims under California’s anti-SLAPP (“strategic lawsuit against public participation”) rule. In its May 2009 holding against MagicJack, the court first noted that MagicJack’s claims targeted protected speech activity because Boing Boing’s statements “involve consumer information affecting a large number of persons.” The court then observed that posting on the Boing Boing site “provides information about [MagicJack's] product not only to the ‘substantial’ number of people who have already purchased the device, but also to other consumers who might be considering purchasing such a device.”

The court’s judgment is available here. The May 2009 ruling is available here. Gizmodo provides an overview of the case. Boing Boing also provides a full account of the events along with hosting all legal documents. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Board of Patent Appeals affirms rejection of Pfizer’s broadest patent claim to Viagra
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Ex parte Pfizer, Inc., Appeal 2009-004106 (B.P.A.I. Feb. 12, 2010).
Slip Opinion

On February 12, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirmed a Patent Examiner’s rejection of claim 24 of Pfizer’s patent on the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra.

The Board held that claim 24 of the patent was anticipated in the prior art by descriptions of the herb Yin Yang Huo (Horny Goat Weed). In addition, the Board invalidated the claim based on the judicially created doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting, a doctrine that seeks to prevent unjustified extension of the right to exclude that is limited by the twenty-year patent term. In holding as it did, the Board rejected some of the Examiner’s reasoning but agreed with his ultimate decision to invalidate the claim.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. BusinessWeek discusses the impact of the decision on Pfizer and its competitors Eli Lilly & Co. and Bayer AG, the makers of ED drugs Cialis and Levitra respectively. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

School Punishment of Online Speech: Evans v. Bayer
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Evans v. Bayer, No. 08-61952-CIV-GARBER (S.D. Fla. February 12, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief to prevent Bayer from maintaining records of the suspension and to compel him to revoke the suspension nunc pro tunc. The court held that it cannot compel someone in her personal capacity to take official action. Nonetheless, the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for nominal damages, holding that the action was “off-campus activity” and protected by the First Amendment.

A NY Times article provides a general overview of the case. Wired and CNN also provide summaries of the case with limited legal analysis. Jon Katz writes in approval of the opinion emphasizing the frequent underprotection of First Amendment rights in schools. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Joey Seiler

Google Buzz Gets Privacy Groups Talking—and Filing Complaints

When Google launched Buzz, its new social media function, on February 9, the Internet giant moved into Facebook territory by sharing information and connecting social groups. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s complaint to the FTC, Google may have also moved into Facebook territory by violating users’ privacy. (PaidContent covered EPIC’s FTC complaint against Facebook when the company changed its privacy settings in December 2009.) The New York Times provides an overview of the many problems that arose when Buzz made it possible to see a user’s most emailed contacts, including privacy issues for minors and displaying confidential contacts of lawyers and journalists. Ars Technica reports on Google’s efforts to bring Buzz back in line with users’ privacy expectations.

Schools Spy on Kids with Laptops, then Stop in Response to Suit

Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township, PA, has been using the webcams in school-issued laptops to surreptitiously monitor students at home, alleges a complaint filed against Lower Merion School District on February 11. BoingBoing reports that the issue came to light when a student was allegedly disciplined for “improper behavior in his home.” According to Ars Technica, the school says that the technology was only used for the purpose of stopping theft. The school has since disabled the remote access feature entirely.

In Tenenbaum, Defendant Files Reply Brief to Reduce Jury Verdict; Plaintiff Drops Sanctions Against Nesson

Last July, a Boston Federal jury handed down an award of $675,000 against Joel Tenenbaum for infringing copyright in 30 songs by sharing them over Kazaa. Copyrights and Campaigns reports that Tenenbaum filed a reply brief to support his motion to reduce the verdict on February 18. Tenenbaum argues the actual damages are at most $21, based on the 70 cents labels would have received from Apple for an iTunes sale for each of the 30 songs. However, this method of calculation was explicitly rejected in the remittitur in the similar case against Jamie Thomas-Rasset, previously covered by JOLT.

Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, has made a practice of posting recorded depositions and telephone conversations regarding the case to his blog. JOLT previously covered the RIAA’s reactions as it asked the court to have Nesson pull the recordings. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for February 23, but Copyrights and Campaigns reports that the RIAA has withdrawn its motion for sanctions.

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu

India’s Stringent Patentability Standards Cause Corporate Dissatisfaction

On February 12, the WSJ Law Blog reported that India’s standards for patentability may be leading to a lack of significant patent protection for important pharmaceutical drugs. Before 2005, India offered patent protection to processes for making pharmaceutical drugs, but no protection to the products themselves. After the patent system was extended to cover the products, a large number of multinational drug companies began to market their products in India. However, as time passed, many companies became dissatisfied as they found that the new laws were not as protective as the U.S. and Europe. The WSJ post notes several examples of inadequate protection, including the recent Deli High Court’s refusal to ban a competitor’s copy of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexovar. However, one executive of an Indian generic drug manufacturer favors India’s high standard for patentability, claiming that “[t]he U.S. would grant a patent to a piece of toilet paper.”

FBI Challenges Probable Cause Standard for Cell-Phone Data

On February 11, the WSJ Law Blog reported that Third Circuit panel in Philadelphia was set to hear an appeal on February 12 of a lower court decision denying the government’s request to access cell phone records without probable cause. Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that the FBI has increasingly been obtaining cell-phone records for criminal investigations without a showing of probable cause. Advocacy organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU support the probable cause standard, and argue that Fourth Amendment requires the government to “show that it has good reason to think such tracking will turn up evidence of a crime” before it can pull private cell-phone data. However, the government believes that the Fourth Amendment does not protect cell-phone data which they consider to be “routine business records.”

P2P File-Swapper Thomas-Rasset Set to Face Third Jury Trial

On February 9, Ars Technica reported that Jammie Thomas-Rasset is set to face a third trial on the issue of damages. In her last trial, a jury returned a $1.92 million verdict against Thomas-Rasset, which the judge reduced to $54,000 on remittitur. The RIAA refused to accept the new award out of concern that the judgment would effectively cap statutory damages for individuals who illegally download and upload music to $2,250 per song. The new trial comes as a surprise to many, since the amount of damages is the only issue at stake, and the judge has already held that anything over $54,000 would be excessive.

Posted On Feb - 15 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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