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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Google Library Project Lawsuit Settles
By Tyler Lacey — Edited By Anna Lamut

Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc.
S.D.N.Y., No. 05 CV 8136
Settlement Agreement

On October 28, 2008, the Authors Guild, Association of American Publishers, and Google reached a settlement that, pending approval by the court, will end a lawsuit that began three years ago when the Authors Guild filed a class action against Google on behalf of more than eight thousand authors in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Authors Guild alleged that Google infringed many authors’ copyrights by scanning and indexing their works as part of Google’s Library Project in order to display parts of these works in search results on Google’s Book Search product.

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Posted On Oct - 30 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Appeals Court Rules Against Import Ban on Patent-Infringing Chips 
Slip Opinion

This Tuesday the Federal Circuit ruled against an International Trade Commission (“ITC”) ban on imports of cell phone chips that allegedly infringed on a rival’s patent. The chips, made by Qualcomm Inc., contained technology that the ITC had previously held infringed on a patent owned by Broadcom Corp. In its ruling the court stated that the ITC lacked authority to ban such imports.

Report by the Associated Press available here. Coverage by Reuters is available here.

From Across the Pond…

UK Considers Communications Data Bill
Speech

On Thursday, United Kingdom Home Secretary suggested legislation that would create a massive government database containing information on mobile phones and e-mail in order to combat terrorism.  Information collected would include the location and identity of the parties communicating, but not the content of the communications themselves.

BBC offers more coverage of the controversy surrounding the proposal, which critiques have called “Orwellian.”

UK Court Rejects Self-Incrimination Defense for Encryption Key
Slip Opinion

A UK court required defendants to offer the encryption key protecting a data disk that had been seized by police in a criminal investigation. Suspects were arrested for breaching an order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2005. The court rejected their argument that disclosure would violate the privilege against self-incrimination, stating in its holding that an encryption key is no different than a physical key.

LinuxWorld offers more coverage here.

Posted On Oct - 17 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Oregon State Appeals Court Finds Frozen Embryos ”Personal Property” in Divorce Proceeding 
By Anna Lamut – Edited by Stephanie Weiner 

Dahl v. Angle
Or. Ct. App., October 8, 2008, A133697
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals of the State of Oregon upheld the decision of the trial court to enforce a contract made between a now-divorced husband and wife regarding six frozen embryos resulting from the couple’s attempt to conceive in vitro. The contract provided that, in the event of a disagreement, the wife would have the right to decide what would happen to the embryos. Necessary to the Court of Appeals’ decision was a finding that the contractual right to determine the fate of frozen embryos is personal property.

While married, the parties had unsuccessfully tried to conceive a child via in vitro fertilization, a process that left six frozen embryos at the Oregon Health and Science University (“OHSU”). The parties executed an “Embryology Laboratory Specimen Storage Agreement” at the time that they underwent the procedure, which gave the wife, Dr. Laura Dahl, the “sole and exclusive right” to instruct OHSU to transfer or dispose of the embryos in the event that the parties were not able to agree. Dr. Dahl chose to have the embryos destroyed, while her ex-husband, Dr. Darrell Angle, denied having initialed or read the agreement. He claimed that “embryos are life” and did not want the embryos destroyed because “there’s no pain greater than having participated in the demise of your own child.”

The Associated Press and CBS provide overviews of the case. 

Andy Dworkin of the Oregonian provides commentary

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Posted On Oct - 16 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

President Bush Signs PRO-IP Act
S. 3325

On Monday, October 14, President Bush signed into law the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, also known as the PRO-IP Act, S. 3325. The PRO-IP Act steepens penalties for IP infringement and increases resources to the DOJ to coordinate state and federal efforts against counterfeiting and piracy.

Although opposed by the DOJ, the Act also provides for a “U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator” position within the Executive Office of the President, which commentators are referring to as a “Copyright Czar.” However, another controversial provision, which would have authorized the Attorney General to seek civil copyright infringement remedies for private copyright owners, was removed from the final bill.

5th Circuit Ruling May Endanger Patent Rocket Docketin the Eastern District of Texas
In Re: Volkswagen of America Inc.
5th Circuit, October 10, 2008, No. 07-40058
Slip opinion

In a 10-7 en banc decision, the Fifth Circuit issued a writ of mandamus ordering the transfer of a product liability case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The court held that the district court judge John Ward had abused his discretion when he denied a motion to transfer from the Eastern District, which had no connection to the parties, witnesses, or facts of the case, to the Northern District, which had extensive connections to the parties, witnesses, and facts of the case.  The dissent argued that the majority was misusing mandamus in violation of Supreme Court precedent, characterizing the district court judge’s order as nonappealable.

Commentators note the ramification of the court’s order on the common practice of filing patent suits in the notoriously plaintiff-friendly “rocket docket” Eastern District.  Under the majority’s reasoning, it may become easier for defendants to seek changes of venue.

German Courts Rule That Google Image Thumbnails Infringe on Copyright

Google has recently lost two copyright suits in Germany, where the courts have ruled that Google’s use of thumbnails of copyrighted images in its image search engine constitutes infringement.  Google plans to appeal.

These rulings stand in contrast to U.S. precedent, such as the Ninth Circuit’s holding, in Perfect 10 v. Amazon, that Google’s use of image thumbnails was a fair use.  Similarly, eBay has seen divergent international outcomes with respect to trademark infringement claims. The S.D.N.Y. ruling in Tiffany v. eBay held that eBay did not have to increase its efforts to police trademark infringers, while courts in Germany and France instead ruled in favor of luxury brands Rolex and Louis Vuitton.

Posted On Oct - 14 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Extends TRO Against RealDVD Until Nov. 17th
By Andrew Ungberg –- Edited by Jon Choate

RealNetworks, Inc. v. DVD Copy Control Ass’n
N.D. Cal., October 7, 2008, No. C 08 04548 HRL
Court Docket provided by Justia

On Tuesday, October 7th, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel announced she would not disturb a temporary restraining order in place against RealNetworks (“Real”), pending a preliminary injunction hearing in mid-November.  The order blocks Real from selling RealDVD, a software program that allows users to copy DVDs to a computer or portable hard drive and watch them later without the physical disk.

The DVD Copy Control Association (“CCA”), filed a motion ex parte for the order just hours after Real began selling the program.  The CCA claimed that RealDVD violates the Digital Copyright Millennium Act (“DMCA”) by circumventing DRM protections on DVDs, and that Real’s development of the program violates a licensing agreement the companies had signed.  With regards to the TRO, the CCA stated, “Real’s conduct is causing and unless restrained will continue to cause immediate and irreparable harm to [a number of Hollywood] Studios, including to their DVD rental and sale markets . . . .”

Real responded in opposition, claiming that any harm the Studios may suffer is “compensable or illusory.” Real argued that the widespread availability of illegal DVD pirating programs undercuts the CCA’s claims, and urged the court that a TRO would irreparably harm the company by depriving Real of positive publicity and other market advantages.  In the filing, Real maintained that its product conforms to the requirements of its license with CCA, and therefore does not violate the DMCA.

Tuesday’s hearing was the second regarding the restraining order.  According to Wired.com, Judge Patel originally put the order in place on Friday, October 3rd, warning both parties not to disclose details to the public.

CNET.com provides a summary of the hearing.  As result of Judge Patel’s concern that RealDVD may result in copyright violations, the software will remain unavailable pending further hearings in November.

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Posted On Oct - 14 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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