A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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Seventh Circuit Clarifies Online Service Liability for Illegal Advertisements

By Michelle Yang — Edited by Wen Bu

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc.
Seventh Circuit, March 14, 2008, No. 07-1101
Slip Opinion

On March 14, the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for Craigslist, holding that the online bulletin board did not violate the Fair Housing Act by providing “an electronic meeting place” that hosted, among many other things, illegally discriminatory housing advertisements. The opinion by Chief Judge Easterbrook clarified the potential liability of an online service: as Craigslist was not a “speaker” of the illegal information, it was not liable as a publisher.

Eric Goldman
of Technology and Marketing Law Blog analyzes Judge Easterbrook’s reasoning as part of 47 USC 230 Week.
Howard Bashman of How Appealing provides additional links, as well as coverage on the en banc rehearing of a similar case, Fair Housing Council v. Roommates.com, before the Ninth Circuit.
Randy Picker of the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog sees the ruling as yet another reason newspapers are dying in the competition against less-strictly-regulated online competitors.
In 2001, Joel Michael Schwarz contributed a JOLT article about liability for third party postings in the context of practicing law over the Internet.

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Posted On Mar - 19 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

House Passes Version of Controversial Wiretapping Legislation Without Telecom Immunity

By Andrew Ungberg — Edited by Wen Bu

H.R. 3773 – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008
Full Text of House Bill
Full Text of Corresponding Senate Bill
CRS Summary of House Bill
GovTrack Summary (including House vote details)

On Friday, March 14, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3773, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008. The House bill, which passed 213-193, would set new rules for governmental “eavesdropping” on phone calls and emails within the United States. Originally introduced in October 2007 by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and several other House Democrats, the bill aims to resolve issues associated with the wiretapping program the Administration created in the wake of September 11, 2001. The House version of the bill would establish restraints for future government action, as well as the procedures for challenging those actions in court.

Unlike the Senate version of the bill, S. 2248, which the Senate passed in February, the House version does not grant immunity from civil liability to telecommunications companies accused of illegally cooperating with government surveillance.

Some other highlights of the bill:

  • Government must seek approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before conducting surveillance.
  • Intelligence agencies are forbidden from reverse-targeting American citizens through surveillance of foreigners.
  • A “Commission on Warrantless Electronic Surveillance Activities” will be established to investigate government surveillance since September 11, 2001.

The Associated Press and OMB Watch report on the passage of the House bill.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) explained more of the process behind the House bill’s passage.
Hugh D’Andrade of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in response to the debate on the FISA amendments, excerpted several opinion pieces on “how surveillance hurts free speech.”

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Posted On Mar - 19 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Sixth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of § 1983 Claim Arising from Publication of SSN on County Website

By Evan Kubota — Edited by David Lawson

Lambert v. Hartman et al.
Sixth Circuit, February 25, 2007, No. 07-3154
Slip Opinion
District Court Order

On February 25, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissing a § 1983 claim brought against the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and Board of City Commissioners by a victim of identity theft, after the clerk published the victim’s Social Security number and other identifying information on a publicly accessible website. The court held that potential financial harm alone was insufficient to implicate the “fundamental liberty interest” necessary to trigger a right to informational privacy.

Online commentary on the appellate decision has been light, despite its potentially serious implications.
The Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society elucidated the district court opinion.
The circuit court cited Helen L. Gilbert‘s interesting Chicago Law Review Comment on informational privacy.

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Posted On Feb - 27 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

En Banc Hearing of the Federal Communications Commission on Broadband Network Management Practices
Ames Courtroom, Harvard Law School, February 25, 2007
Full video recording (RealPlayer format)
Full audio recording (RealPlayer format)
Statements of FCC Chairman Martin and Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell

On February 25, Harvard Law School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society hosted an unusual en banc hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) at Harvard Law School. FCC held the hearing in response to a Petition for Rulemaking filed by Vuze, Inc., a peer-to-peer video distribution company, objecting to the network management practices of Comcast Corp., a large U.S. Internet service provider. JOLT Digest’s Debbie Rosenbaum recently covered Comcast’s filing in response to the Vuze petition.

The Ames Courtroom reached capacity well before the hearing began, and multiple JOLT Digest staff members were unable to gain access to the hearing. Other media outlets and commentators have, however, extensively reported on the proceedings. A selection of news articles and commentary follows.

Chris Kanaracus of IDG News Service reported extensively on the hearing.
Stephen Labaton of the New York Times and Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post reported on the hearing.
Mark Jewell of the AP reported on accusations that Comcast paid unaffiliated individuals to arrive early, occupy seats in the Ames Courtroom, and applaud after Comcast-friendly testimony.
Matthew Lasar of Ars Technica reports on the hearing from a technical perspective.
The Berkman Center has a roundup of additional links.
Richard Koman of Sci-Tech Today evaluated the testimony of Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
Josh Stearns of Save the Internet and Sam Gustin of Conde Nast Portfolio commented on the “astroturfing” allegations.
Finally, Boston entrepreneur Christopher Herot offered detailed commentary on all portions of the proceedings.

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds that Automatic Assignment of Employee Rights May Foreclose Certain Defenses

By Sarah Sorscher — Edited by David Lawson

DDB Technologies, L.L.C. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P.
Federal Circuit, February 13, 2008, No. 2007-1211
Slip Opinion

On February 13, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part and remanded for further discovery a decision of the District Court for the Western District of Texas related to employee assignment of patent rights.

The court affirmed the district court’s holding that appellant DDB Technologies could not assert statute of limitations and equitable defenses against patent claims by Schlumberger Technology Corporation — a former employer of DDB’s co-founder, inventor David Barstow — because Barstow’s employment agreement with the company automatically assigned the patent rights in question to Schlumberger, and Texas law foreclosed those defenses for automatically assigned patent rights.

The Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction (and resulting denial of jurisdictional discovery). The district court held that DDB failed to join either Schlumberger or Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLB), which it held were both necessary parties because they were co-owners of the patents. While holding that DDB was not yet entitled to a jury trial on the merits, because the facts of the case were insufficiently intertwined with the jurisdictional issue, the Federal Circuit remanded for further discovery on the jurisdictional question alone.

Dennis Crouch of Patently-O sees the decision as a major victory for employers, and warns employees to explicitly protect their rights.
Gary Odom at Patent Prospector dissects the opinion, also seeing severe dangers ahead for inventive employees.

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Posted On Feb - 17 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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