A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

In Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., 2014-1724 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 1, 2015), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed the bank defendants’ interlocutory appeal for want of jurisdiction. Intellectual Ventures, a known patent troll, filed the suit against J.P. Morgan Chase and several other financial institutions in 2013, alleging infringement of five patents. The defendants, who are represented by renowned law and technology scholar Mark Lemley, filed a motion to stay the case pending the outcome of several CBM review petitions they intended to file. The district court denied the motion, citing, among other things, the plaintiff’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial. In a 2-1 decision, the Federal Circuit dismissed the defendants’ appeal, which was premised solely upon a grant of jurisdiction in §18 of the America Invents Act, a provision which the court said “must be construed narrowly”. Because the Patent Trial and Appeal Board had not yet acted on the defendants’ CBM review petitions, there was not yet a “proceeding” for the purposes of §18, and thus, the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The majority found support for this position in the legislative history of the America Invents Act, as well as through an interpretative analogy to the meaning of “proceeding” in 35 U.S.C. §325.

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Posted On Apr - 13 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

 

Photo By: darkuncleCC BY 2.0

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, Case Number G 002/13 (Mar. 25, 2015)

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 (“EBA”) 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.” Decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal, Case Number G 002/13 (Mar. 25, 2015) at 68.

The European Patent Office’s Technical Board of Appeals referred the question of Article 53(b) scope to the EBA in connection with two cases, “Tomato II” and “Broccoli II.” The patent at issue in Tomato II, European patent No. 1 211 926, concerns “a method for breeding tomatoes having reduced water content, and the product of the method.” Id. at 4. Broccoli II involves European patent No. 1 069 819, which was directed at broccoli produced through “a method for selective increase of the anticarcinogenic glucosinates in brassica species.” Id. at 12. 

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Posted On Apr - 13 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Application

Stephen Hawking is posed to leverage his physics fame into a brand name. The renowned theoretical physicist has filed an application seeking trademark protection of his name with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office. The trademark, if approved, will give Hawking greater control over how his name is used in connection with certain goods and services including charitable endeavors, scientific research, and medical devices.

Hawking, the director of research at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and author of popular-science books including the 1988 bestseller A Brief History of Time, has enjoyed increased popularity in recent years following appearances on The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Big Bang Theory, as well as the release of the 2014 critically-acclaimed biographical film The Theory of Everything.

The University of Cambridge declined to comment on the rationale behind Hawking’s trademark application, stating: “It’s a personal matter for Stephen Hawking, it is not a university issue, but he has taken measures to protect his name and the success it has bought.” Toby McDonald and Jonathan Leake, “It’s the Big Brand Theory as Cox and Hawking Trademark Names,” The Sunday Times, Mar. 29, 2015. Some however, have suggested that Hawking’s decision was motivated by a desire to stop exploitation of his name through unauthorized or inappropriate products. See Thomas Burrows, “Big Brand Theory for Professors Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking who Trademark Own Names To Turn Themselves Into Brands,” Daily Mail, Mar. 29, 2015.

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Posted On Apr - 8 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jeanne Jeong

European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology Giants”

European Union officials have taken steps to increase pressure on U.S. technology companies including Facebook, Apple, and Google, on a range of matters including privacy and competition. European watchdogs in France, Spain, and Italy have escalated scrutiny of Facebook’s privacy controls, following the footsteps of Dutch, Belgian, and German officials.  Privacy watchdogs in those countries have joined a group looking into the company’s access to and use of personal information from its millions of users in Europe.  In connection with Apple’s plans to market a subscription-based music streaming service, European competition officials sent questionnaires to record labels for information into agreements with Apple.  Officials are concerned whether Apple, using its clout in the music industry, may attempt to persuade labels to use its service over others.  The recent surge of privacy and competition investigations suggests a trend toward more aggressive stances on these issues in Europe.

Snapchat Published Transparency Report Revealing Government Data Sharing

On April 2, 2015, Snapchat published its first-ever transparency report, revealing its sharing of data with the government.  During the reporting period of November 2014 and February 2015, Snapchat received 375 criminal legal requests for user information by U.S. law enforcement, and produced at least some data in 92% of those requests.  The majority of the requests came in the form of search warrants and subpoenas.  The report shows during the same period, Snapchat received a total of 28 requests for such information from government entities outside the United States.

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Posted On Apr - 6 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Katherine Kwong

Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015

Link to the Full Text of the Bill

On March 26th, 2015, the Australian Senate passed the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2015. This legislation requires Internet service providers (“ISPs”) and telecommunication providers to encrypt and retain user metadata for two years. On October 30th, 2014, the bill was introduced to the House of Representatives, while it was first introduced to the Senate on March 24th, 2015. According to Yahoo News, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull jointly stated that the purpose of the Bill is to ensure national security and provide law enforcement agencies adequate access to the information they need.

A summary of the history surrounding the bill is available here. The Wall Street Journal, ArsTechnica, CNET, and Mashable all describe controversies about the bill. 

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Posted On Apr - 6 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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