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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Court Rules That Software License Transfers Ownership
By Kate Wevers – Edited by Anthony Kammer

Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., No. C07-1189RAJ (W.D. Wash., Sept. 30, 2009)
Opinion

On September 30, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted, in part, Vernor’s motion for summary judgment against Autodesk.After Autodesk became aware of Vernor’s attempts to sell copies of its copyrighted software, AutoCAD, on eBay, it invoked the takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, causing Vernor to be barred from selling anything on eBay for a month. Vernor sued, seeking, among other remedies, declaratory judgment that these sales were not in violation of copyright. In granting summary judgment for Vernor, the Court held that a customer who had acquired AutoCAD packages pursuant to Autodesk’s software license agreement (“License”) became an owner of the physical copies of the software with the right to resell the AutoCAD packages under the first sale doctrine (17 USC § 109(a)).

The Court also accepted that the owner was protected from claims of contributory copyright infringement by 17 USC § 117. The Court had previously considered very similar issues in the context of Autodesk’s earlier motion to dismiss. See Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., 555 F. Supp. 2d 1164 (W.D. Wash. 2008)).

A selection of briefs and relevant court documents are available here. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides a useful overview and analysis of the case. The outcome was heralded as pro-consumer by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but Blog Nauseum suggests that the decision is not much of a win for consumers. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Stanford University Patent Infringement Case Is Dismissed and University Learns Lesson in Drafting Assignment Agreements
By Adrienne Baker – Edited by Anthony Kammer

Bd. of Trs. v. Roche Molecular Sys., Inc., 2008-1509, -1510 (CAFC Sept. 30, 2009) Opinion

On September 30, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded with instructions the District Court for the Northern District of California decision. The lower court’s decision held several Stanford University patents invalid for obviousness, dismissed Roche’s counterclaim for judgment on ownership, and declined to consider Roche’s affirmative defense based on ownership.  The CAFC vacated the lower court’s decision that Stanford’s patents were invalid and ruled that the University did not have standing to sue, because of contract language indicating that the patent rights belong to an outside corporation. Additionally, the CAFC affirmed the lower court’s decision that Roche’s counterclaim for judgment on ownership was barred due to a four-year statute of limitations.  However, unlike the lower court, the CAFC held that statute of limitations does not preclude a party from raising affirmative defenses.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case.  Inside Higher Ed expressed surprise that the case turns on the language of Stanford’s assignment agreement and not on other substantive issues, such as the interplay with federal Bayh-Dole Act and the bona fide purchaser arguments. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Massive Patent Verdict Overturned
By Jia Ryu – Edited by Stephanie Young

Uniloc v. Microsoft, No. 03-440 S (D. R.I. Sept. 29, 2009)
Opinion

The United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island vacated one of the largest patent verdicts in history, in which a jury held that Microsoft’s “Product Activation System” (“PA”) infringed on Uniloc’s patented “System for Software Registration” (the “‘216 patent”). In holding that Microsoft did not infringe as a matter of law, the District Court found that Uniloc had not shown the presence of each element of the patent claim or its substantial equivalent in the accused device as required by Lemelson v. United States, 752 F.2d 1538 (Fed. Cir. 1985). The Court, while noting that the jury’s finding deserved deference, expressed its “firm belief” that the jury failed to grasp the complex issues in the case and lacked a legally sufficient basis for the finding.

The Microsoft Blog provides an overview of the case. Betanews provides a thorough analysis of the main legal issues. Evidence Prof Blog provides a look at the admissibility of expert damages testimony.  Current Events in IP Law questions the jurors’ ability to understand the issues. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 9 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michelle Berger

Congressional Bills: Heading Down the Series of Tubes Near You?

On October 2, The Washington Post reported that the recent proposed health care legislation has re-sparked debate over openness and online information availability in Congress.  A group of 180 members of Congress have signed a petition to require that all bills be placed online for at least 72 hours before voting.  Advocates say this would allow greater government transparency and give legislators time to actually read the bills before voting.  Opponents maintain that 72 hours online won’t make the bills more accessible to citizens or legislators due to the dense legalese, and they also point out that many bills are already posted online 48 hours in advance.

Don’t lol – Cyberbullying is No Joke in Congress

On September 30, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony concerning two bills aimed at combating cyberbullying. One bill, the Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act, would criminalize cyberbullying, while the other, the Adolescent Web Awareness Requires Education (“AWARE”) Act would provide funding to schools to teach children about cybercrime, including awareness about cyberbullying.  Ars Technica explains that experts at the hearing expressed concerns that the language of the Megan Meier Act would create free speech concerns and be hard to police, though they generally agreed that the AWARE Act took steps in the right direction to combat cyberbullying conduct.

No Pictures Please: Cameras Prohibited in Seventh Circuit Courtrooms

The Wall Street Journal Blog details the order issued by Judge Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit on September 28th, censuring an Illinois district court judge for allowing the filming of a trial in his courtroom.  Easterbrook explained that the allowance violated policies established by both the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit, with little elaboration.  The Illinois judge responded apologetically, explaining that he thought he could make an exception to the policies due to the public interest at issue in the case.

By Michelle Berger

Congressional Bills: Heading Down the Series of Tubes Near You?

The Washington Post reports that the recent proposed health care legislation has re-sparked debate over openness and online information availability in Congress. A group of 180 members of Congress have signed a petition to require that all bills be placed online for at least 72 hours before voting. Advocates say this would allow greater government transparency and give legislators time to actually read the bills before voting. Opponents maintain that 72 hours online won’t make the bills more accessible to citizens or legislators due to the dense legalese, and they also point out that many bills are already posted online 48 hours in advance.

Don’t lol – Cyberbullying is No Joke in Congress

On September 30, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony concerning two bills aimed at combating cyberbullying. One bill, the Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act, would criminalize cyberbullying, while the other, the Adolescent Web Awareness Requires Education (“AWARE”) Act would provide funding to schools to teach children about cybercrime, including awareness about cyberbullying. Ars Technica explains that experts at the hearing expressed concerns that the language of the Megan Meier Act would create free speech concerns and be hard to police, though they generally agreed that the AWARE Act took steps in the right direction to combat cyberbullying conduct.

No Pictures Please: Cameras Prohibited in Seventh Circuit Courtrooms

The Wall Street Journal Blog details the order issued by Judge Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit on September 28th, censuring an Illinois district court judge for allowing the filming of a trial in his courtroom. Easterbrook explained that the allowance violated policies established by both the Judicial Conference of the United States and the Judicial Conference of the Seventh Circuit, with little elaboration. The Illinois judge responded apologetically, explaining that he thought he could make an exception to the policies due to the public interest at issue in the case.

Posted On Oct - 8 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Public Accessibility Prior to Patent
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Caity Ross

In re Lister, No. 2009-1060 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 22, 2009)
Slip Op.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, siding with Dr. Lister, vacated and remanded the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences decision, which had affirmed an examiner’s rejection of Dr. Lister’s patent application under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).

The Federal Circuit held that the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences erred in affirming the patent examiner’s rejection under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b). In so holding, the court determined that “persons interested and ordinarily skilled in the subject matter or art exercising reasonable diligence” could have located the disputed reference by using either the Westlaw or Dialog commercial databases, which permit keyword searches of reference titles. The court found that this provided sufficient support for a finding of public accessibility under § 102(b).  However, the court also found insufficient evidence that the reference “was in fact included in either Westlaw or Dialog prior to the critical date” of one year before application for patent, as required under § 102(b).

Patentcastle, Patently-O, and Patent Prospector provide overviews of the case, including some historical background. (more…)

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