A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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Maryland’s Highest Court Adopts Dendrite Standard for Unmasking Anonymous Forum Posters in Defamation Actions
By Evan Kubota –- Edited by Miriam Weiler

Independent Newspapers, Inc. v. Brodie
Court of Appeals of Maryland, February 27, 2009, No. 63
Opinion

On February 27th, the Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed a lower court’s order compelling discovery of the identities of five anonymous Internet forum posters in a defamation action. The court had granted certiorari on its own initiative.  While the court’s holding required it to consider only a pleading issue, it went on to offer guidance to lower courts in future cases involving anonymous Internet speakers in a defamation action.  In doing so, the court adopted the standard from Dendrite International, Inc. v. John Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001).

Nixon Peabody’s Digital Media/Internet Law Blog offers analysis of the opinion, concluding that the Dendrite test is “emerging as the leading test across jurisdictions in anonymous Internet speaker cases.”  Ars Technica compares this case to other unsuccessful attempts to uncover the identities of anonymous Internet posters. The Washington Post quotes Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer for the consumer advocacy group that argued the case for Independent Newspapers, who characterizes the opinion as reaffirming the First Amendment right to speak anonymously.

Citizens for Greater Centreville links to the oral arguments and appellate brief in the case.

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Posted On Mar - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Eli Lilly Granted Stay Extension, Prevents Teva’s Generic Alternative Until March 9th
By Brian Kozlowski – Edited by Anna Lamut

Eli Lilly & Co. v. Teva Pharma
Federal Circuit, February 24, 2009, No. 2009-1071
Opinion

On February 24th, the Federal Circuit affirmed two to one an order by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana extending the 30-month statutory stay on FDA approval of Teva Pharmaceuticals‘ generic version of Eli Lilly‘s postmenopausal osteoporosis drug, Evista®. The stay was extended until March 9, 2009, when trial was set to begin for Lilly’s suit against Teva, in which Lilly alleged that Teva infringed four method patents.  Teva filed for and received an expedited appeal.  Judge Rader, writing for the two-judge majority with Chief Judge Michel, found that Teva “fail[ed] to ‘reasonably cooperate’” in expediting the lawsuit by altering its product last minute and because of multiple delays in producing critical discovery. Controversially, the court based its decision also on allowing Eli Lilly the time to prepare, rather then solely on the factors mandated by the statute.

Patent Docs offers a description of the case’s history, and Patently-O provides a summary of the case.

Patent Baristas notes the importance of even a short stay: Evista accounted for $1.075 billion in sales in 2008, meaning that a two-week extension could mean revenues of $41 million.

Patent Hawk’s Patent Prospector notes surprise at Judge Prost’s dissent, stating that “[f]or a court that regularly takes liberties interpreting the law, Prost strikes a pose as a religious constructionist to statute.”
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Posted On Mar - 2 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Public Trials Should Be Made Available Via Internet
By: Debbie Rosenbaum*
Editorial Policy

File-Sharing Cases in Courts Around the World
In February, the four men behind the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay went to trial in Stockholm, Sweden.  They stand accused of helping millions of Internet users illegally download protected movies, music, and computer games. The defendants – Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, and Carl Lundström – face up to two years in prison and a fine of 1.2 million kronor (US $143,529) if convicted of being accessories and conspiracy to break Swedish copyright law.  The case has made headlines not only because of the substantive legal issues, but also because Defendant Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, has called for the court’s proceedings to be as open as possible. The Swedish court granted Sunde’s motion to allow coverage of the proceedings without much resistance, and SVT, a public broadcaster in Sweden, has provided streaming audio webcasts webcasts of trial.

A similar situation is unfolding in the United States in a high-profile case involving issues very similar to those of The Pirate Bay case, although here there has been significant resistance for the defendant’s calls to open the proceedings to the public.  Joel Tenenbaum is one of the tens of thousands of defendants being sued by the RIAA for allegedly violating their members’ copyrights by distributing files through P2P file sharing software. However, unlike the vast majority of the defendants in these cases, he chose to litigate rather than settle his case rather than settle, with the help of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson and a team of his students. With Professor Nesson’s assistance, Tenenebaum filed a motion similar to Sunde’s, requesting his trial be broadcast live via the Internet. Tenenbaum’s motion asked the Court to exercise its discretion under the Court’s local rules to allow Internet access to the courtroom by authorizing the Courtroom View Network (“CVN“) to provide audio visual coverage of the proceedings in this case over the Internet.

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Posted On Feb - 28 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Video Game Act Terminated by the Ninth Circuit
By Brittany Blueitt- Edited by Anna Lamut

Video Software Dealers Assoc. v. Schwarzenegger
February 20, 2009, Case No. 07-16620
Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, enjoining the enforcement of an Act that imposed a mandatory labeling requirement for all “violent” video games and prohibited the sale of such games to minors. 

The Ninth Circuit held that the Act posed a presumptively invalid content-based restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Ninth Circuit also held that the Act’s labeling requirement constituted unconstitutionally compelled speech because it did not require disclosure of purely factual information, but required the carrying of the State’s opinion as to the nature of the video game.  In so holding, the Court noted that “minors are entitled to a significant measure of First Amendment protection, and only in relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances may government bar public dissemination of protected materials to them.”

Briefs are available here. 

The Wall Street Journal highlights that the state, in defending the law, argued that violence and sex should be governed by analogous prohibitions: the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, and so it should also be able to limit the sale of ultra-violent video games.

Ars Technica notes that should this case reach the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that the Court will discover anything that the court of appeals failed to notice. 

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Posted On Feb - 28 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Pennsylvania District Court Dismisses Boring v. Google, Inc.
By Aaron Dulles – Edited by Jay Gill

Boring v. Google, Inc.
Western District of Pennsylvania, February 17, 2009, No. 08-694
District Court Memorandum Opinion

A magistrate judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania dismissed all claims by Aaron and Christine Boring against Google for photographs taken of the Borings’ house and pool for use in the Street View feature of Google Maps. The Borings had filed suit in April 2008 after discovering pictures of their house on Google’s Street View. They noticed that the pictures were taken from their unpaved driveway, which had allegedly been marked with signs reading “Private Road” and “No Trespassing.”

Law.com cites EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston as stating that Google might, in some cases, be held liable for the actions of their Street View photographers. Calling the lawsuit silly, blogger Eric Goldman was nonetheless concerned that the magistrate judge appeared to punish the Borings for bringing increased attention to themselves by filing suit publicly. InformationWeek discussed the judge’s reasoning, reporting that the Borings had not used Google’s own opt-out procedure before filing suit. PlexLex notes that a side effect of the lawsuit is that news agencies’ use of the photos of the Borings’ property has been rendered more permissible as fair use of copyrighted material.

The Pittsburgh Metblogs raises the question of why Google is under fire in light of the amount of publicly available information on the Allegheny County website, and CNET News notes that Google has been under criticized for their Street View photography before.

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Posted On Feb - 25 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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