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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By Corey Omer – Edited by Kim Meyer

Federal Communications Commission, Statement on Critical Information Needs Study (Feb. 28, 2014)
FCC Statement

Photo By: JasonParisCC BY 2.0

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has reversed course on a plan to ask media owners, news directors, and reporters invasive questions about editorial judgment and journalistic practices. A field study of the survey was scheduled to begin in South Carolina this spring, but on February 28, 2014, the agency issued a two-sentence statement laying the study to rest.

The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (“CIN Study”)—officially aimed at identifying “barriers that may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace”—came under intense scrutiny from members of the news media and lawmakers after it was criticized by Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in a February 10, 2014 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Pai suggested that the impugned survey was an attempt by the agency to “thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country,” “wade into office politics,” and “meddle[] in news coverage.”

Among others, the Wall Street Journal, AdWeek, and Fox News have all reported on the FCC’s recent decision to cancel the CIN Study. Fox News also suggested possible ties between the study and billionaire investor George Soros. (more…)

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

By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Elise Young

Ring & Pinion Service Inc. v. ARB Corporation Ltd., No. 2013-1238 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 19, 2014)
Slip Opinion

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s grant of summary judgment, finding that Ring & Pinion Service Inc.’s (“R&P”) Ziplocker product did not infringe ARB Corporation Ltd.’s (“ARB”) U.S. Patent No. 5,591,098 (“the ’098 patent”). Ring & Pinion Service Inc., slip op. at 2.

In a unanimous opinion, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court that the foreseeability of a cylinder equivalent at the time the patent was filed did not limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents. The doctrine of equivalents accommodates future changes in technology, thus allowing for the continued relevance of a patent despite changes in language or concepts. At issue in this case was whether foreseeability at the time the patent was filed prevented the application of the doctrine of equivalents, and therefore might support a finding a non-infringement. In addition to finding that foreseeability did not limit the doctrine, the court determined that, the district court improperly applied the doctrine of claim vitiation in finding non-infringement. Id. at 8–9.

Patently-O summarizes the decision and comments on the underlying policy rationales. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mark Verstraete – Edited by Michael Shammas

Photo By: Nate GriggCC BY 2.0

On February 12, 2014, Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill that would require data brokers—companies that collect and sell consumer information to third parties—to be more transparent about their practices. The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, S. __, 113th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2014) (“DATA Act“), represents an attempt to empower consumers to regain some control over their personal information.

In reality, the transparency and control offered by the DATA Act is limited. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Zoe Bedell – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Brief for Appellants, Fraley v. Facebook, Inc., o. 13-16918 (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014)
Schachter Objector Appeal hosted by Citizen.org

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In 2011, a group of Facebook users filed a class action lawsuit against the company seeking relief from Facebook’s practice of using the names and images of its users in sponsor advertisements without those users’ consent. On February 13, objectors to the proposed settlement in Fraley v. Facebook, led by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, appealed the district court’s decision, arguing that the approved settlement violated the law of multiple states in allowing Facebook to use images of minors without their parents’ consent.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the lawsuit, settlement, and appeal. The Washington Post’s analysis provides perspective on the legal issues involved. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 26 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer

Icon-newsFacebook Acquires WhatsApp for $19 Billion

In a bold deal that Rob Lever at ABS-CBNnews.com has praised as a “savvy strategic move” and Peter Schiff at Business Insider has decried as evidence of “how dysfunctional and distorted our economy is,” Facebook acquired the instant messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash, stocks, and restricted stock units, totaling approximately 9.2% of Facebook’s net worth.

Posterity will tell whether the acquisition was brilliant or moronic but, in the mean time, Information Week provides some numbers to consider:

  • As of December 2013, WhatsApp boasted 450 million users, 72% of which are active daily.
  • Facebook is estimated to have paid $345 million per WhatsApp employee (there are only 55) or $42 per user.
  • The messaging app is presently growing at a rate of 1 million users a day. Since its founding five years ago, WhatsApp has gained users faster than any other social media site in history, including Facebook. To put this in perspective, since you started reading this post 350 new users joined WhatsApp.

Winkdex: The Bitcoin Price Index

The Winklevoss brothers, famous for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook, have released a financial index—known as the Winkdex—providing a regularly updated price for Bitcoin. The shortage of stabilizing governance mechanisms and transparency tools applicable to the volatile cryptocurrency has led some, like Jeff John Roberts at GigaOm to welcome the index. Others, including Paul Vigna at the Wall Street Journal, question whether there is a real need for the Winkdex.

Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times speculates that rollout of the index indicates that the brothers’ proposed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, is moving closer to regulatory approval. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently reviewing the fund, the first of its kind. Release of the index is also consistent with Bitcoin’s shift into the mainstream—GigaOm reports that Bitcoin ATMs will be arriving in certain U.S. cities this month.

The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has promised to issue a new set of rules aimed at keeping the web free and open, one month after the United States Court of the Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the agency’s prior net neutrality rules for illegally treating Internet service providers (ISPs) as regulated utilities. Verizon v. Fed. Commc’ns. Comm’n., No. 11-1355 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 14, 2014), hosted by Scribd.

Although the FCC has decided to not reclassify broadband as a public utility, the agency remains committed to deterring ISPs from charging companies (such as Amazon or Netflix) to stream their content through an Internet “express lane.” As reported by The New York Times, those championing net neutrality contend that such preferential treatment would harm smaller companies and prevent new players from competing with large and established content providers.

Relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996) the new rules would, among other things, significantly expand the “Open Internet rules” and provide for greater case-by-case enforcement. The FCC will also closely consider preempting state laws that prevent cities and towns from offering broadband service to residents.

Posted On Feb - 24 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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