A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Kayla Haran – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Court Finds Negative Claim Limitation Meets Written Description Requirements

International Trade Commission’s Expansion of its Jurisdiction to Include Electronic Transmissions of Digital Data Ruled Improper

Court Holds That Patent Trial and Appeal Board Did Not Deny Procedural Rights in Review



Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Patrick Gallagher – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

TOR Project Head Alleges FBI Paid Carnegie Mellon for Hack in Connection with Silk Road 2.0 Investigation

DOJ Decides Not to Support FCC in Efforts to Preempt States Laws Limiting Municipal Broadband Projects

D.C. Court of Appeals Permits Continuation of Bulk Domestic Phone Data Collection



Senate passes Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

By Frederick Ding — Edited by Yunnan Jiang

On October 27, 2015, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which enables companies to share cyber threat indicators with each other and the federal government, and immunizes them from liability for sharing under the act. Tech companies and journalists have vocally expressed opposition to the act, which may enable companies to share users’ personal information.



Senators push bill protecting interstate trade secrets amidst concerns over trolling

By Bhargav Srinivasan – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Senate Judiciary Committee is deliberating a bill to provide US companies with extra legal protections for trade secrets for products or services used in interstate commerce. However, some legal scholars believe the bill creates strong potential for companies to engage in “trade secret trolling” by falsely accusing rivals of stealing trade secrets in order to stall their business. The ensuing debate now weighs the intent of the bill with the potential for legal bullying.



Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Keke Wu – Edited by Yunnan Jiang

Federal Circuit Rejects-in-part the District Court’s Claim Construction

No Jurisdiction to Claim Reputational Harm after Settlement

Federal Circuit Affirms-in-part PTAB in Belden vs. Berk-Tek


By Lan Du – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

hp-a-fcc-wireless-100340081-origOn February 26, along with the decision in favor of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted to preempt the North Carolina and Tennessee state laws preventing the expansion of community broadband networks.  The vote was split 3-2 along party lines, with the Chairman Tom Wheeler joined by fellow Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

The FCC order came in response to petitions filed by two municipal broadband networks: the City of Wilson, North Carolina and the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Both operated broadband networks providing Gigabit-per-second broadband, voice, and video service.  Under Tennessee laws, municipal electric systems like EPB are not allowed to provide internet and cable services out of its electrical system footprints.  A 2011 North Carolina law similarly prevents the City of Wilson from expanding its gigabit fiber network, prohibiting its deployment to any areas in which residents currently have Internet service of at least 786kbps, a speed threshold that falls woefully short of any practical online use and is far below the FCC’s newly revised broadband definition.

In overturning these states laws, the FCC relied on the Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of broadband to all Americans by using “measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.”  The FCC concluded that the subjected provisions of the Tennessee and North Carolina laws erected such barriers, conflicting with the federal regulation provided by Section 706. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 10 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Yunnan Jiang

UnknownOn March 2, 2015, 51 scholars, in the field of economics and law, submitted a letter to the United States Congress, petitioning for effective legislative reform to reduce patent litigation cost. In the letter, they argue that the substantial patent litigation costs have tended overall to reduce R&D, venture capital investment, and firm startups. They also attach 37 publications on patent litigation and its economic impacts, countering the view by lobbyists and others who claim that there is little empirical evidence to assess the performance of the American patent system. In particular, the scholars express their concern over “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), popularly known as patent trolls, estimating that PAEs litigation has been costing tens of billions of dollars per year since 2007, and has curtailed venture capital investment and firms’ R&D spending.

The letter can be found here. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 10 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By: Cristina Carapezza

UnknownFederal Circuit Tackles Common Service Mark Question

For the first time, the Federal Circuit addressed a common question in trademark law of what constitutes use in commerce of a service mark. The Federal Circuit ruled in Couture v. Playdom, Inc., No. 2014-1480 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015), that advertising or offering of a service alone is not enough to prove use in commerce. The services offered in connection with the mark must actually be provided before a registration can be granted.  David Couture filed an application in 2008 to register the service mark PLAYDOM claiming actual use, and the mark was registered in January 2009.  In February 2009, Playdom Inc., a company acquired by the Walt Disney Company, filed an application to register the identical mark. Noting that Couture did not acquire his first customer and actually perform any of the services he applied for until 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed cancellation of Couture’s registration.



Federal Circuit Vacates $101 Million Damages Award in Medtronic Patent Case

The Federal Circuit vacated a $101 million damage award to Medtronic Plc and ordered a new trial to determine damages. The three-judge appellate panel in Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc. v. Nuvasive, Inc., No. 2013-1576 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015) affirmed that NuVasive Inc.’s oversized spinal implants and products for minimally invasive spinal surgeries infringed on patents owned by Warsaw Orthopedic Inc., a unit of medical technology company Medtronic Plc. The Federal Circuit said that Warsaw is entitled to royalty sufficient to compensate for the value of the patented technology but was not entitled to recover damages for lost profits and ongoing royalties. The appellate court also upheld that Warsaw infringed one of NuVasive’s patents.



USDA Not Liable for $10 Million to Subcontractor Building Wireless Broadband Networks

The Federal Circuit affirmed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not liable for $10 million, the balance owed to construction subcontractor G4S Technology LLC after prime contractor Open Range Communications Inc. went bankrupt. The USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) agreed to loan Open Range $267 million to finance construction of wireless broadband networks in 540 markets. Open Range told RUS that it would use third-party vendors, but the loan agreement did not provide for direct payment from RUS to third-party vendors. GS4 alleged that the loan agreement’s provision that Open Range maintain a pledged deposit account (PDA) established the government’s intent to ensure subcontractors were paid. However, the Federal Circuit in G4S Technology LLC, v. United States, No. 2014-5078 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 6, 2015), found that the PDA was required to assist the government in reviewing and approving project costs rather than to serve as a mechanism to guarantee that subcontractors were paid.



Posted On Mar - 8 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Slip opinion

Jury verdict available here

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

Procedural history reveals that initially Smartflash sought $852 million compensation. This sum was calculated based on the percentage of sales of Apple devices (iPads, iPods and Macs) which enabled iTunes customers to access and download songs, videos and games. Apple contended that the maximum value of those patents was worth not more than 4.5 million.

During the trial, Apple’s lawyers challenged all issues of the case. Namely, it was argued that patents were invalid, that Smartflash waited unduly long to file a case and that it did not have ultimate control over the patents. More generally, Apple submitted that plaintiff’s claim for $852 in damages was deemed to be “excessive and unsupportable.” Yet, a jury in Texas federal court sided with Smartflash holding that Apple did not “respect” its patents and failed to demonstrate that the patents at stake were invalid.


Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jenny Choi

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Andrus Nomm, a computer programmer from Estonia who worked for Megaupload.com from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012, pleaded guilty in connection with his involvement with Megaupload and associated piracy websites. He is sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for conspiring to commit felony copyright infringement. In court papers, Nomm agreed that Mega Conspiracy’s conduct caused more than $400 million loss to copyright holders and that the group gained at least $175 million in proceeds. He also admitted that he was aware of the stored copyright-infringing content on the websites and that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites.

Megaupload.com was a file-sharing company established in Hong Kong by Kim Dotcom in 2005 and soon became one of the world’s largest piracy hubs. At one point, it accounted for 4% of all the Internet traffic and had more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users, and 50 million daily visitors. According to The Guardian, Megaupload made a huge profit by paying people to upload pirated materials and facilitating unsanctioned exchanges of music and movies. On January 19, 2012, the DOJ shut down Megaupload and prosecuted the Mega group, after intense lobbying by the movie and music industries. Afterwards, according to another statement published by The Guardian, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America brought civil lawsuits targeting Dotcom.


Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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