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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine First Amendment Right on the Internet
By Yixuan Long – Edited by Emma Winer

Chan v. Ellis, A14A0014, (Court of Appeals of Georgia, July 02, 2014)

Transfer order (hosted by Scribd)

Photo By: André Natta - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: André NattaCC BY 2.0

The Georgia Court of Appeals ordered that the appeal in Ellis v. Chan be transferred to the Georgia Supreme Court on July 02, 2014. Chan, an interactive website owner, had appealed the trial court’s permanent protective order in August of 2013. The protective order commanded him to take down more than 2000 posts on his website that mentioned Ellis, and forbade him from approaching within 1000 yards of Ellis. The Court of Appeals decided that the case “raised significant and novel constitutional issues addressing the interplay of the First Amendment and the wide dissemination of information made possible by the internet,” which are “of first impression in Georgia, and there is very little if any directly applicable law in other jurisdictions.” Order, Chan v. Ellis, A14A0014, (Court of Appeals of Georgia, July 02, 2014) (transferring appeal to Georgia Supreme Court).

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case, and features an interview with Matthew Chan. Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a thorough legal analysis of the decision. Related documents, including appellate briefs, can be found on Scribd.

Linda Ellis is the author of a popular inspirational poem. As Ars Technica reports, she actively searches for people who use her poem without permission and sends out settlement letters to these entities demanding thousands of dollars in damages. Matthew Chan runs Extortion Letter Info (ELI), an interactive website for discussing aggressive copyright enforcement efforts; such aggressive actors have been colloquially termed “copyright trolls”. In 2012, he began criticizing Ellis’ “trolling” practice on ELI, and the discussion soon became heated. Some users allegedly posted threats to Ellis on the website’s message board, as well as Ellis’ home address.  (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 3 Comments READ FULL POST

Icon-newsBy Kellen Wittkop

Appeal of a contempt order for violation of patent injunction agreement dismissed for lack of jurisdiction

In Arlington Industries, Inc. v. Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., 13-1357 (Fed. Cir. July 17, 2014), the United States Court of Apeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed the contempt appeal by Bridgeport Fittings, Inc. (“Bridgeport”) of the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s decision finding the electrical company in contempt of a previously-issued injunction.  Arlington at 2.  Arlington Industries (“Arlington”) manufactured and sold electrical connectors under U.S. Patent No. 6,335,488, and the company brought suit against Bridgeport’s line of electrical connectors for infringement of Arlington’s U.S. Patent Nos. 5,266,050 and 5,171,164. Id. at 3. In April 2004, Bridgeport signed a settlement agreement conceding infringement and agreeing to be “permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing. . .” its line of connectors. Id. Almost eight years later, Bridgeport redesigned its connectors and began selling them, and Arlington filed a motion for contempt to find Bridgeport in violation of the injunction.  Id. at 3–4. The district court found Bridgeport in violation of the injunction but did not order sanctions, and the Federal Circuit dismissed the claim for lack of jurisdiction since sanctions were not entered until the record had been fixed for the appeal.  Id. at 12–13. Justia provides a summary of the opinion.

Federal Circuit affirms summary judgment of Apple’s noninfringement on GBT’s CDMA patents

In Golden Bridge Technology, Inc., v. Apple Inc., 13-1496 (Fed. Cir. July 14, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the District of Delaware’s grant of summary judgment, finding that Apple Inc. (“Apple”) did not infringe on patents held by Golden Bridge Technology (“GBT”) improving the Code Division Multiple Access (“CDMA”) systems—wireless cellular network technology that allows communication between mobile stations and base stations using signals called “preambles.” Golden Bridge at 2.  GBT patented an improvement to the CDMA systems that allows mobile stations to transmit preambles at increasing power levels until they receive an acknowledgment signal from the base station, decreasing the likelihood of signal interference between mobile stations.  Id. at 2–3.  GBT had previously asserted its right to U.S. Patent No. 6,574,267 in Texas, where the Eastern District of Texas held that a preamble is “a signal used for communicating with the base station that is spread before transmission,” and granted summary judgment of anticipation that was subsequently affirmed by the Federal Circuit. Id. at 3. When GBT brought new claims against Apple, the Federal Circuit found that GBT’s failure to rescind or retract the construction of “preamble” during the previous prosecution constitutes a “clear and unmistakable disclaimer of the broader claim scope.” Id. at 8. Accordingly, the Federal Circuit held that the district court properly granted summary judgment of noninfringement. The Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society offers an analysis of the decision.

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Align Technology, Inc. v. International Trade Commission, No. 2013-1240, -1363 (Fed. Cir. July 18, 2014)

Slip Opinion

invisalign-bracesThe United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. Slip op. at 2. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review. Id. at 12.

The case arises out of two related proceedings. Align Technology, Inc. (“Align”) conceived of, developed, and marketed Invisalign System – dental aligners that treat teeth misalignment. Id. at 3. It owns patents that cover various methods and orthodontic treatment plans using digital data sets to create custom-designed aligners. Id. Align’s founder and former Chief Executive Office left the company and founded OrthoClear, Inc., OrthoClear Holdings, Inc., and OrthoClear Pakistan Pvt, Ltd. (collectively, “OrthoClear”) that manufactured and sold dental aligners. Id. at 3-4. Align then complained to the ITC that OrthoClear violated 19 U.S.C. § 1337 by “importing, selling for importation, or selling within the United States after importation aligners” that misappropriated Align’s trade secrets and infringed twelve of Align’s patents. Id. at 4. In August 2006, the parties reached a settlement, and the ITC entered a Consent Order that banned the importation of the infringing products and those “in violation” of the trade secrets. Id.

In 2012, Align accused OrthoClear and its affiliated parties (“Intervenors”) of violating the Consent Order and filed a new complaint with the ITC for an enforcement proceeding under 19 C.F.R. § 210.75 (“the enforcement proceeding”). Id. at 5-6. The ITC issued a Notice of Institution (“the Notice”) that recommended the ALJ to consider whether the Consent Order extended to the accused products and to issue that decision using an initial determination. Id. at 7.  Intervenors motioned to terminate the enforcement proceeding, contending that the Consent Order did not encompass the accused conduct. Id. The ALJ disagreed and denied the motion through an order, instead of the recommended initial determination. Id. at 8. Upon Intervenors’s request, the ITC determined that the order was in fact an “initial determination”—thus reviewable—pursuant to its Notice and ultimately reversed the ALJ’s finding. Id. at 9.  (more…)

Posted On Jul - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Photo By: mkhmarketing - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: mkhmarketingCC BY 2.0

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study to test emotional contagion through an experiment on Facebook users.   The published study was titled “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks” and was conducted by Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guilory, and Jeffrey T. Hancock.  The experiment took place for one week (January 11-18, 2012) and roughly 155,000 participants were randomly selected based on their User ID.  To test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions, Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts.

While ARS Technica defended Facebook’s experiment, most news articles criticized it for violating users’ privacy without their informed consent.  More can be found in the Independent, InformationWeek, Forbes, Washington Post and Atlantic.  The published results of the experiment can be found here.

According to the study, when users saw more negative posts on their News Feeds, by Facebook reducing positive posts, they were more likely to post negative statuses.  When they saw more positive posts on their News Feeds, they were more likely post positive statuses.  Finally, when Facebook reduced both positive and negative posts in some users’ News Feeds, the users reduced the amount of words used in their posts.    (more…)

Posted On Jul - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Edward Snowden recently leaked new information about the infamous NSA global surveillance scandal. In an interview with the Guardian, Snowden’s choice of media outlet since the original disclosures last summer, the controversial whistleblower denied allegations that he was a Russian spy and remarked that if he ended up detained in Guantanamo Bay, he could “live with that.” Snowden also revealed, however, that NSA employees routinely abused their positions by sharing intercepted nude photographs around the office. These racy images “are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions,” Snowden says.

Although the NSA has declined to comment as to the veracity of these allegations, an NSA spokesperson stressed that the agency has a zero tolerance policy for violations of professional standards, Ars Technica reports. That being said, reports of employee misuse of the government surveillance system are not new: In 2005, an NSA staff member was caught using surveillance data to spy on his ex-girlfriend on his very first day on the job.

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Ultra Records filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accusing popular YouTube personality Michelle Phan of using its songs in her videos without a license. Phan, a makeup guru who became a media sensation thanks to her tutorial videos, in which she uses cosmetics to make herself look like celebrities and film characters, is alleged to have illegally used Ultra’s music despite having been informed that she did not have permission to do so. The plaintiffs have alleged several dozen instances of copyright infringement, and is seeking $150,000 in damages for each one.

Kaskade, one of Ultra’s artists whose songs Phan has used in several videos, some of which are enumerated in the complaint, has spoken out in support of the YouTube star. “Copyright law is a dinosaur,” the musician said, expressing his disapproval over the suit but conceding that he was incapable of stopping it from going forward.

A spokesperson for Phan said the lawsuit was meritless, claiming that Ultra had agreed to allow her to use its music and that Phan intended to countersue.

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

This summer, the Silicon Valley Bank released its fifth annual Innovation Economy Outlook survey, which presents findings on trends in technology and entrepreneurship. The study had a generally optimistic tenor, finding, for example, that 65% of U.S. companies met or exceeded their 2013 revenue goals, and that business conditions are expected to improve in 2014.

In the area of gender diversity, however, the industry is lagging: Less than 50% of tech companies have women serving in leadership positions. This statistic places the U.S. behind Europe and Asia in terms of female representation, though a Forbes commentator noted that this does not necessarily mean that U.S. companies are less empowering or diversity-friendly.

The results of the survey only confirmed estimates based on existing data from top companies—only 37% of Yahoo employees, 31% of Facebook employees, and 30% of Google employees are female, according to the respective tech giants’ internal demographic statistics. The paucity of women in science, engineering, and technology-related fields is by no means a new discovery, and has been the subject of much commentary, even spurning attempts by leading companies to close the ‘gender gap.’

Yet while the disparity persists, there are signs that the situation may be improving. Last Winter, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that tech firms are now hiring more women than men, though whether this trend will continue remains to be seen.

Posted On Jul - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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