A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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By Ken Winterbottom – Edited by Husam El-Qoulaq

Photo By: DouglasCC BY 2.0

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies passed a bill last week enshrining citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression online. The groundbreaking bill, known as the Marco Civil da Internet, has been called an “Internet Bill of Rights.” The Brazilian Senate will vote on the proposed legislation this month, according to Index on Censorship.

The bill as passed represents a victory for tech juggernauts Google and Facebook, who successfully lobbied for dropping the provision that would have required them to store data collected from Brazilian citizens on servers within Brazilian territory. President Dilma Rousseff, who had been committed to the local storage requirement in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, dropped the provision to secure passage of the rest of the bill, Bloomberg reports. Foreign companies storing and managing data on Brazilian citizens are still required to “respect Brazilian law,” but commentators have noted that this provision may be unenforceable in practice for jurisdictional reasons. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 6 - 2014 6 Comments READ FULL POST

By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Sheri Pan

Photo By: photosteve101CC BY 2.0

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2013)
Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

EMI was awarded $41 million last week following a jury trial that found Michael Robertson, the CEO of MP3tunes, a now defunct cloud music storage service, guilty of copyright infringement. The verdict followed a 2013 order issued by the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York that altered several previous rulings in an earlier order issued by the same court in October 2011. Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 2011) at *1, Slip Opinion hosted by beckermanlegal.com. The court vacated summary judgment rulings on claims by plaintiff Capitol Records, since acquired by EMI, against MP3tunes for contributory infringement liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and red-flag knowledge of infringement Id. at *3–4. The court vacated the 2011 rulings after the Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19 (2d. Cir. 2012) decision by the Second Circuit, which overturned part of an earlier decision central to the 2011 order. The court also denied an inducement cause of action for lack of evidence, as well as a motion for reconsideration on whether MP3Tunes infringed on EMI-owned cover art by displaying it on the service. Capitol Records at *5–6.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the order that preceded the damages trial. Reuters provides a brief overview of the order, as well as the history and arguments of the underlying case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 5 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paul Klein – Edited by Geng Chen

Energy Recovery, Inc. v. Hauge, No. 2013-1515 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2014)
Slip Opinion

On March 20, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and vacated a ruling by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that had found Leif J. Hauge in contempt of a court order enforcing a previous settlement agreement (the “2001 Order”) and that had enjoined him from manufacturing and selling any pressure exchangers in competition with his former employer, Energy Recovery, Inc. (“ERI”). See Energy Recovery, Inc., slip op. at 2, 4.

The Federal Circuit held that “Mr. Hauge did not violate any provision of the 2001 Order . . . .” Id. at 12. Judge Wallach, writing for the panel, found that “[t]he Agreement only required Mr. Hauge to transfer ownership of the pre-Agreement pressure exchanger intellectual property . . . .” Id. at 8. Even if Hague was using his former employer’s manufacturing processes and the knowledge of its employees to create a pressure exchanger in a manner that infringed ERI’s patents or violated trade secrecy laws, these issues were not before the court. See id. at 9, 11. As “[n]othing in the 2001 Order expressly preclude[d] Mr. Hauge from using any manufacturing process,” the court did not find that Hague’s actions constituted a failure to assign “all other intellectual property and other rights relating to pressure exchanger technology predating [the] Order” to ERI. Id. at 8.

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt provides an overview of the case and notes that “[w]hat is most interesting in the case is the fact that the [Federal] Circuit didn’t examine more closely the relationship between ‘all other intellectual property and other rights’ and the trade secrets involved in ERI’s manufacturing processes.” PatentlyO agrees with the Federal Circuit’s treatment of intellectual property as “the rights over that technology,” rather than “the technology itself,” and warns that the latter definition would “lead[] to chaos, confusion, and erroneous views about the law[].” (more…)

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

By Kim Meyer – Edited by Andrew Spore

Photo By: Rob BoudonCC BY 2.0

Apple is in talks with Comcast to enter an agreement that would allow Apple’s set-top television streaming boxes to bypass congestion on the Internet, the Wall Street Journal reports. The agreement, which is presently only in its early stages, would grant Apple “special treatment on Comcast’s cables” and has raised net neutrality concerns.

Apple has been developing the next generation of its set-top box with an eye toward integrating gaming capabilities, a router, and a “TV tuner component” that will allow users to control their existing cable boxes and TV stations through their Apple TV boxes, The Verge reported in January. The boxes would effectively replace the traditional cable set-top box, allowing users to stream live and on-demand programming.

The potential agreement between Apple and Comcast would separate traffic to and from Apple’s set-top boxes from public Internet traffic on the “last mile” — those cables that connect to customers’ homes. This would allow users to avoid the “clogging” problem “that occurs when too many users in the same area try to access too much bandwidth at the same time,” the Wall Street Journal explains. The Verge reports that Apple was engaged in similar talks with Time Warner Cable before Time Warner agreed to merge with Comcast. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 2 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

Icon-newsMicrosoft changes its policy for accessing user data in investigating leaks

Microsoft announced its new policy in a press release on March 28: “Effective immediately, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property from Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves. Instead, we will refer the matter to law enforcement if further action is required.” The policy change followed criticism of Microsoft’s 2012 trade secret theft investigation in which Microsoft accessed a user’s private Hotmail email without a warrant.

Microsoft’s initial response to the controversy was to guarantee the privacy safeguards of its own internal investigation. The new change to the company’s privacy policy was in part influenced by the understanding that Microsoft’s internal policy should mirror its position on government investigations. Microsoft advocates “that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities.” Ars Technica and the Electronic Frontier Foundation comment on and commend the policy change.

Supreme Court affirms Static Control’s standing in its false advertising suit against Lexmark

A unanimous Supreme Court affirmed the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s holding that Static Control Components, Inc. (“Static Control”) has standing to sue Lexmark International, Inc. (“Lexmark”) for false advertising under the Lanham Act. Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., No. 12-873 (U.S. March 25, 2014), slip op. hosted by Legal Information Institute.

Lexmark sold toner cartridges with a microchip that prevented re-use of the cartridges by non-Lexmark manufacturers. Lexmark, slip op. at 2. Static Control developed a different microchip which circumvented Lexmark’s chip and allowed re-manufacturers to refill the cartridges. Id. “In 2002, [Lexmark] sued Static Control, alleging that Static Control’s microchips violated both the Copyright Act of 1976 . . . and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” Id. Additionally, Lexmark sent letters to all of Static Control’s customers, stating that Static Control was violating copyright law and that the customers had to return the cartridges. Id. at 3. Static Control responded with counterclaims, which included false advertising allegations under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act. Id. at 2. Lexmark challenged Static Control’s standing to pursue the false advertising claims. Id. at 4–5. The Supreme Court ruled for Static Control by applying the “zone of interests” test combined with a proximate cause analysis, rejecting Lexmark’s proposed “direct-competitor” test for whether a party has standing to bring a false advertising suit under the Lanham Act. Id. at 10.

SCOTUSblog describes this ruling as “reject[ing] out of hand everything that either the parties or the courts of appeals have said with regard to the topic at hand, and most of what the Court itself previously has said.” Ars Technica commented that this decision is “a somewhat unusual ruling considering that the conservative-leaning court isn’t often inclined to open the door to more lawsuits.”

Consumers receive e-book conspiracy settlement payout while Apple’s litigation continues

On March 25, consumers received Amazon account credits for Kindle e-book purchases made between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Ars Technica reports that e-book buyers from Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple will also receive account credits, and Sony e-book consumers will receive checks. The settlement is the result of a civil antitrust lawsuit alleging that five book publishers and Apple colluded to raise the prices of e-books. The publishers, which include Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins, settled for $166 million, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Apple did not to settle and was found to be “facilitating and executing [a] conspiracy.” United States v. Apple, No. 1:12-cv-2826 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y. July 10, 2013). According to Ars Technica, Apple is appealing the decision at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In addition, Apple may face a class-action lawsuit from a group of consumers not included in the original suit, reports Reuters. The consumers allege that Apple violated antitrust law by conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices, and the class seeks more than $800 million in damages. Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Opposition to Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss, In Re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, No. 11-md-02293 (DLC) (S.D.N.Y. March 30, 2012) hosted by Hagens Berman. The plaintiffs’ class was certified on March 28.

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