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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Photo By: C DCC BY 2.0

Last weekend, Los Angeles residents stood in line to taste free coffee at a new coffee shop in town: “Dumb Starbucks.” The stunt was later discovered to have been orchestrated by Comedy Central comedian Nathan Fielder, Quartz reports. Although short-lived—the shop was shut down by the Los Angeles Health Department for operating without a health permit— Dumb Starbucks drew considerable attention and raised an array of legal issues.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Dumb Starbucks opened on Friday, February 7. The shop was identical to a real Starbucks shop except that the word “dumb” affixed to everything in sight. The shop offered, for free, items including “Dumb Vanilla Blonde Roast,” “Dumb Chai Tea Latte,” and “Dumb Caramel Macchiato” in sizes “Dumb Venti,” “Dumb Grande,” and “Dumb Tall.” The CDs sitting on a shelf by the cash register included “Dumb Jazz Standards,” “Dumb Norah Jones Duets”, and “A Dumb Taste of Cuba.” The “dumb” theme also extended to its logo, with “dumb” inserted into the outer ring of the Starbucks logo, reports Time. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 15 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Aditya Gupta – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Professors’ Letter In Support of Patent Reform Legislation (Nov. 25, 2013), letter hosted by PatentlyO.com
Statement from the Higher Education Community on H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act (Nov. 8, 2013), statement hosted by
Statement from the Higher Education Community on Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 3309 (Nov. 19, 2013), statement hosted by aamc.org

Photo By: Kate Ter HaarCC BY 2.0

The Innovation Act, a legislation that received bipartisan support in the House Judiciary Committee and more recently the House of Representatives, has also received support from a group of sixty professors teaching intellectual property law at universities across the United States. The professors have addressed a letter to Congress expressing strong support for the patent reform legislation, citing the “abusive practices” adopted by patent trolls and the negative impact of such practices on small companies and large manufacturers. In contrast, a group of six major education organizations have issued two statements, dated November 8 and 19, 2013 raising concerns over the draft of the Innovation Act and claiming that, in its current form, the provisions of the Act raise a “specter of unintended problems.”

PatentlyO reports the letter by the law professors stating that the professors’ case has merit but contains certain broad – brush statements and is overtly in favor of large corporate entities. Timothy Lee of The Washington Post is surprised by the stance taken by the university organizations, though he suggests that the unintended effects of the legislation may be beneficial, since they could rein in aggressive patent licensing efforts by universities. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 18 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Automattic Inc. & Hotham v. Steiner
Automattic Inc. & Retraction Watch, LLC v. Chatwal
By Travis West – Edited by Natalie Kim

Complaint, Automattic Inc. & Oliver Hotham v. Nick Steiner (N.D. Cal. filed Nov. 21, 2013)
Complaint, Automattic Inc. & Retraction Watch, LLC v. Narendra Chatwal (N.D. Cal. filed Nov. 21, 2013)
Hotham Complaint, Retraction Watch Complaint hosted by Automattic

Hacked By Over-XAutomattic, the owner of WordPress.com and a major developer of the WordPress software, has sued two parties for using the notice-and-takedown provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to stifle criticism. Automattic alleges that the two parties abused the provision and are seeking damages under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) for misrepresentation. Automattic is one of the largest blog hosting companies, and its decision to go after parties that use fraudulent copyright takedown notices could mark a shift in how content hosts handle DMCA takedown requests.

Automattic explains why it chose to sue over these two incidents. Ars Technica provides additional coverage of the lawsuit, including some problems Automattic would face in collecting from the defendants if it succeeded. Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), and TechCrunch praise Automattic for taking a stand against the use of the DMCA to censor critics. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 6 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

GoldieBlox, Inc. v. Island Def Jam Music Group
By Elise Young – Edited by Alex Shank

Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, GoldieBlox, Inc. v. Island Def Jam Music Group, A Div. of UMG Recordings, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-05428 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2013)
Complaint hosted by Scribd

Photo By: ricaroseCC BY 2.0

Over the last few weeks, hip-hop group the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox, a start-up company in the business of developing engineering toys for girls, started down the path towards copyright litigation over use of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” in a GoldieBlox advertisement. On November 21, after the Beastie Boys’ legal counsel threatened suit, GoldieBlox filed for declaratory judgment that its use of the song was fair use. Complaint, at 2–3. The Beastie Boys responded with an open letter emphasizing the group’s consistent refusal to allow use of their songs in advertising. On November 27, GoldieBlox removed the advertisement and promised to drop the suit if the Beastie Boys’ legal team similarly backed down. GigaOM provides an overview of the fight and some legal analysis on the fair use issue. Forbes examines GoldieBlox’s change in strategy. Mashable discusses how the disagreement benefits GoldieBlox’s PR. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 5 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Elise Young – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

European Proposal on Protection of Trade Secrets

European Commission, Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of Undisclosed Know-How and Business Information (Trade Secrets) Against their Unlawful Acquisition, Use and Disclosure  (Nov. 28, 2013)
Proposed Directive

Photo By: Thomas QuineCC BY 2.0

On November 28th, the European Commission issued a proposed directive for greater and more uniform protection of trade secrets throughout the European Union. The goal of the proposal is to increase innovation by providing better protection for EU businesses’ trade secrets. Proposed Directive at 2. The Commission identified the currently irregular protection and enforcement of trade secrets within the EU as a significant factor inhibiting cross-border research and development and general innovation. Id. at 3. The proposal is one part of the EU’s “Innovation Union” and IP strategies, adopted in May 2011. Id.

The proposal and other documents related to the directive can be found here. The Commission additionally released a memorandum summarizing trade secret law, the directive, and the reason for its proposal. The New York Times and Bloomberg provide further commentary on the proposed directive. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 4 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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