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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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TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp.
By Emma Winer – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp. et al, No. 13-07874 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 5, 2013)
Complaint hosted by Scribd.com.

TufAmerica filed a complaint accusing rap artist Jay Z of infringing the company’s copyright in the song “Hook & Sling Part 1.” According to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Jay Z allegedly used a portion, or “sample,” of “Hook and Sling Part 1” in his hit song “Run This Town” without proper authorization from TufAmerica. Complaint, TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp., No. 13-07874 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 5, 2013), at 1. The lawsuit names Warner Bros. Music and Jay Z’s label, Roc-A-Fella Records, as co-defendants. TufAmerica has filed a number of similar lawsuits against artists such as the Beastie Boys and Kanye West for sampling songs from catalogs that the company had purchased, Rolling Stone reports.

“Hook & Sling Part 1” was originally released in 1969 by Eddie Bo, a now deceased American pianist. TufAmerica bought the song in 1996, including exclusive rights to “release, sublicense, advertise, assign, exploit and sell…” the master recordings, as well as “the performances and compositions embodied therein.” Id. at 3. TufAmerica recorded its copyright with the United States Copyright Office on May 25, 2000. Id. at 4. The company alleges that samples of “Hook & Sling” appear dozens of times in “Run This Town,” which was released in Jay Z’s albums “The Blue Print 3” and “The Hits Collection Volume One.” Id.

The Guardian and Rolling Stone provide an overview of the facts of the lawsuit. The New York Times and Slate have analyzed the rise of so-called “sample trolls,” which profit from buying copyrights to songs in music catalogs and then suing artists who sample the songs without proper licensing. Gigaom and The Atlantic suggest that the rise of such lawsuits could have detrimental creative consequences in the music industry. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 20 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Garmin International, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC

By James Grace – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness
Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC, IPR2012-00001 (P.T.A.B. 2013)

Slip Opinion hosted by PatentlyO

Photo By: Kenny LouieCC BY 2.0

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”), in its first inter partes review under 35 U.S.C. 311, held in favor of the petitioner, a GPS technology developer, Garmin. Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC, IPR2012-00001 (P.T.A.B. 2013) at 49 (“Decision”). PTAB cancelled three claims of Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC’s (“Cuozzo’s”) U.S. Patent No. 6,778,074 (“the ’074 patent”), “Speed limit indicator and method for displaying speed and the relevant speed limit,” finding them invalid on grounds of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103. Id. PTAB also denied Cuozzo’s Motion to Amend the ’074 patent to substitute the three impugned claims. Id.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case and speculates how PTAB’s decision may threaten Cuozzo’s ongoing infringement action against Garmin and Chrysler in the District Court of New Jersey. Complaint, Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC v. Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al., No. 2:12-cv-03623 (D.N.J. June 15, 2012). (more…)

Posted On Nov - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Photo By: Robert ScobleCC BY 2.0

Earlier this month, Mike Hearn of Google’s Security Department posted online that Google has successfully encrypted the data traffic between its servers. This undoes the National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) work in creating the surveillance program “MUSCULAR,” which taps into the connections between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers.

On October 30, the Washington Post released another wave of information attributed to Edward Snowden that described how the NSA had “broken into” the communication links between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers under a program codenamed MUSCULAR. The NSA is reported to operate this program jointly with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters. The tapping of these communication fibers gives the NSA access to millions of users’ data, including both metadata and content, regardless of whether or not they were suspected terrorists or criminals.

RT quotes Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond as being “outraged” over the program, explaining that they have “long been concerned” about this kind of activity, and have been slowly extending encryption across Google’s myriad of services in an attempt to protect its users. Drummond’s statement was made in response to the Washington Post report of October 30 and continues, “[w]e are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data form our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

According to Ars Technica, Google has had a full-encryption initiative for over a year, but accelerated the initiative in June after Snowden leaked the news of the NSA and FBI’s joint “PRISM” program. Under this program, the NSA could gain front-door access to users’ data by demanding data related to certain keywords or search terms. This program was previously covered by the Digest. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 18 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc.
By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Jennifer Wong

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch)
Opinion

Photo By: Brian BurgerCC BY 2.0

The England and Wales High Court of Justice, Chancery Division held that infringement of Scrabble’s trademarked name did not occur when Zynga titled its games “Scramble” and “Scramble with Friends.” J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga, Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch) at 147. It also held that the word “Scramble” was used to refer to games of that type and therefore did not infringe on Mattel’s trademark of that word. Id. at 158–59. However, the court also expressed concern that the “Scramble” logo created a likelihood of confusion because of its design. Id. at 142.

The court relied largely on Mattel’s previous actions to prove that the company itself did not seem to acknowledge confusion or infringement in a timely fashion to defeat Mattel’s trademark infringement claims. Id. at 46. Beyond its official holding, the court also noted that Zynga’s “Scramble” logo could potentially be misleading to consumers. Id. at 145. In the “Scramble” logo, the “m” is placed on its side such that it resembles the Scrabble name,. Id. at 142.

BBC News and PC Mag provide brief descriptions of the case and the reactions of the parties.  World IP Review gives a fuller description of the judge’s reasoning. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 13 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Charles Colman
Acting Assistant Professor at NYU School of Law

Edited By: Elise Young

“For this most inadequate proof [of consumer recognition], applicant asks us to give it the exclusive right to use red and blue bands on men’s white, ribbed socks — that we cannot do.”

In re Izod, Ltd., 296 F.2d 771, 778 (C.C.P.A. 1961)

 

Summary

 

On September 30, 2013, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board[1] issued a troubling decision in In re Bottega Veneta Int’l S.a.r.l.[2] Viewed in a broader context, the decision reflects the Board’s growing reluctance to apply the doctrine of “aesthetic functionality”[3] in ex parte prosecution proceedings to bar the issuance of potentially anticompetitive trade-dress[4] registrations. The TTAB gives its imprimatur to the dubious “trade dress” at issue in Bottega Veneta through procedural moves whose novelty and import could easily go unacknowledged — specifically, (1) the Board’s declaration of its intention to resolve “doubts” as to aesthetic functionality in favor of applicants, and (2) the Board’s disposal of concerns about product-design monopolization through reliance on supposedly limiting conditions agreed to by the applicant, but which the federal courts will not observe or enforce. As such, In re Bottega Veneta — despite its technical status as a mere “non-precedential” decision by an agency whose determination can theoretically be revisited by the federal courts — will improperly hinder marketplace competition and restrict creative freedom among designers. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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