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 Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

91ea09a6535666e18ca3c56f731f67ef_400x400Following scandals earlier this month revolving around the use of personal user information, the 30 billion dollar tech giant, Uber, hired Harriet Pearson, former chief privacy officer at IBM, to “conduct an in-depth review and assessment of [the] existing data privacy program.” USA Today.

The public relations fiasco was sparked by one of the company’s senior executives suggesting that the company invest in opposition research targeted at critics, particularly at one journalist denouncing the company’s allegedly mysoginistic practices. BuzzFeed and ars technica provide further commentary and details.  The executive has since apologized for his statements. At the same time, the company took another blow when revelations surfaced that its New York general manager was accessing the Uber travel data of another journalist without her permission. Slate provides further details. Further, reports of the company using a “God view” tool to track customers’ location at a launch party resulted in a harsh letter from Senator Al Franken questioning Uber’s privacy policy.

Uber’s recent hire of Pearson is part of the company’s attempt to regain consumer trust in its business and privacy policies. According to BuzzFeed and Slate, the company has explicitly distanced itself from the acts of both officers, stating that it does not conduct any kind of opposition research on journalists, and that it restricts all employees’ access to driver or user data except for “a limited set of legitimate business purposes”.

The story brings attention to the larger and more pertinent issue of the handling and usage of personal user information by tech companies in the sharing economy. Uber’s privacy policy states that the app can gather and use users’ geo-location data for a variety of purposes, including “internal business purposes”. S. 1(b) Uber Privacy Policy. The privacy policy, however, does not define what these purposes are. So far, the company has reportedly used it for purposes such as tracking 30 of its most “notable users” to display an activity map at a launch party. It is reported that these users did not know their location coordinates were being used in such a way. Ars technica. Uber has also tracked a journalist’s location as she arrived at the Uber headquarters in New York, unbeknownst to her. Slate.  (more…)

Posted On Dec - 17 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

S. Louis Martin vs. Google Inc., No. CGC-14-539972 (Cal. Sup. Ct. Nov. 13, 2014)

Order hosted by Ars Technica

A San Francisco court on November 13, 2014 dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search engine and third-party advertisement service as constitutionally protected free speech. The plaintiff, a website owner, had based its lawsuit on allegations that Google violated antitrust laws by treating the website unfavorably in its search results, and by withdrawing advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court granted Google’s motion to apply California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows a court to efficiently dismiss lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

Ars Technica, Law360, and The Guardian provide an overview of the court proceedings. Slate welcomes the decision as acknowledging Google’s role as a media platform “curat[ing] information and present[ing] it to readers in a unique, customized order.”


Posted On Dec - 9 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Advocate General’s Opinion in Case C-146/13 Spain v Parliament and Council and C-147/13 Spain v Council.

Press release No.152/2014: November 18, 2014

European union concept, digital illustration.In an opinion released by the Advocate General (“Opinion”) of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“Court”), it has been urged that Spain’s challenges to two implementing regulations of the Unitary Patent System be dismissed. The Court is still deliberating on the challenges and the Opinion though not binding is likely to be of persuasive value.

In 2012, member states of the European Union (EU) agreed to create a unitary patent system, consisting grant of a Unitary Patent and establishing a Unified Patent Court, which would guarantee supranational protection for inventions in 25 countries across Europe. This system would co-exist with national patents and with classical European patents for states that do not participate in the scheme, such as Spain, Italy, etc. More information on the structure and functioning of the system is available on the website of the European Patent Office (EPO).

On December 17, 2012, Regulation (EU) No. 1257/2012 was adopted, which laid down the procedural framework to implement enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection; and Regulation (EU) No. 1260/2012 was adopted to create a framework with regard to translation arrangements.

In March, 2013 Spain challenged these regulations in cases C-146/13 and C-147/13 principally on the ground that the power delegated to the EPO for administering the unitary patent system was improper in view of the genesis of the EPO which functions by virtue of the European Patent Convention (EPC), while the unitary system is formulated under the aegis of legal system of the European Union. Spain also alleges that decisions of the EPO not being subject to judicial review will cause prejudice and further that limiting choice of language to English, French and German was discriminatory against states having different official languages.


Posted On Dec - 3 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

Doe v. Harris, No. 13-15263, 2014 WL 6435507 (9th Cir. 2014).

Slip opinion.

computer-typing1The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of Proposition 35, the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous holding, a three-judge panel found that, although California “has long required registered sex offenders to report identifying information,” requiring that they provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers,” slip op. at 5–6, within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech. In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiffs were not “prisoners, parolees, or probationers,” and enjoyed full First Amendment protections. Id. at 13–14.

The Los Angeles Times and American Civil Liberties Union provide an overview of the case and analysis of the law.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), the CASE Act’s requirements provide that all sex offenders, irrespective of the level of their offense, must notify in writing law enforcement a list of all Internet user names and Internet service providers. Plaintiffs filed suit against the CASE Act the day of its passage, representing a class of registered sex offenders who used the Internet as a platform for anonymous advocacy for sex offender rights.  Slip op. at 7–8. After moving for a preliminary injunction, the official proponents of the CASE Act, Chris Kelly and Daphne Phung, intervened. Id. at 8. The district court, concluding that the Act was content neutral, applied intermediate scrutiny, and found that it was not “narrowly tailored [enough] to serve the government’s important interest in combating … human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” and produced a “chilling effect” on speech Id. at 9.  (more…)

Posted On Dec - 3 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

USA FREEDOM Act (2013-2014)

U.S. Bill

On October 29th, 2013, the 113th Congress introduced the USA FREEDOM Act. On November 18th, 2014, a vote for cloture failed in the Senate and the bill was effectively dead.

The bill was designed to amend the Patriot Act, especially Section 215, which has been used to justify broad collection of phone “metadata.” The government’s collection of metadata (information about whom a call was placed to, but not the content of the call) came to the attention of the American public at large after the Snowden leaks revealed the practice. The Freedom Act would allow phone companies to keep control over their own metadata, and delete it at their discretion – typically after eighteen months. The federal government could still access and analyze certain metadata, but only after obtaining court approval. A somewhat watered-down version of the bill had already been approved by the House.

Introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the bill was met with broad support. President Obama, technology companies such as Google and Microsoft, and civil liberties groups like the ACLU were on board. Even the director of the NSA lent his support to the bill. However, this backing was not enough to overcome a Senate filibuster; a motion for cloture fell two votes short of the sixty needed.

The 58-42 vote mostly followed party lines. Only four Republicans voted for the bill, and only a single Democrat voted against. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) explained his hesitation toward the bill by raising the specter of an ISIL cell inside America. With America’s current metadata collection policy, “[w]e can disrupt that cell, before they can carry out a horrifying attack,” argued Rubio. Senator Leahy labeled such rhetoric as “scare tactics.”

Interestingly, more libertarian elements of the Republican Party voted against cloture as well, though for a different reason. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) cast his no vote because he felt that the act didn’t go far enough. The Freedom Act would extend, albeit in modified form, the Patriot Act for another three years. Paul opposes the Patriot Act, which is set to expire in June of 2015.

The Verge suggested that this impending deadline will result in congressional action, boldly claiming that “Congress will need to act by next June.” However, the New York Times offered a more reserved view, noting the myriad viewpoints and difficulties in obtaining broader congressional support.

Lawfare, in a detailed analysis of the Patriot Act sunset provision, raised a different hypothesis. The sunset provision allows ongoing investigations-those started before the June 1st expiry date of the Patriot Act-to continue using the tools made available by Section 215 of that act. Since virtually the entirety of the metadata corpus can be collected during a given investigation, all it would take is a single open investigation to allow the government access to the metadata. If this analysis is correct, the June 1st deadline is barely a deadline at all and “the government’s negotiating hand seems a lot stronger because its timeframe is potentially a lot longer.”

Still, even the Lawfare article concedes that the government will likely need to pass a bill in the near future. While the exact nature of an extension to the Patriot Act cannot be determined, it is all but certain that the 114th congress will be in charge of determining it.

Posted On Dec - 1 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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