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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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Stephen Hawking™: Famed Physicist Seeks Trademark Protection For His Name

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Stephen Hawking is posed to leverage his physics fame as a brand name. The renowned theoretical physicist has filed an application to register his name as a trademark 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.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Jeanne Jeong

European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology Giants”

Snapchat Published Transparency Report Revealing Government Data Sharing

New Senate Cyberbill Measure to Protect Americans from Cybercrime

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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 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Chan v. Ellis, No. S14A1652, 2015 WL 1393410 (Ga. Mar. 27, 2015).

Opinion hosted by Justia.

The Georgia Supreme Court, in Chan v. Ellis, clarified the meaning of the word “contact” as it applies to Georgia’s stalking law, OCGA § 16-5-90 et seq., holding that the defendant’s publication of messages about the plaintiff on an online message board did not amount to prohibited contact under the statute. Chan, 2015 WL 1393410, at *1. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant, Matthew Chan, runs a website on which he and others criticize “copyright enforcement practices that they consider predatory.” Id. Chan and fellow commentators published on the website’s message board numerous posts about the plaintiff, a poet named Linda Ellis, criticizing Ellis’s aggressive pursuit of infringers of her poetry’s copyright. Id. The court described some of these posts as “mean-spirited, . . . distasteful and crude,” and some of the commentators threatened to publish personal information about Ellis and her family. Id. Ellis discovered the inflammatory comments, and filed a restraining order against Chan under the Georgia stalking law. Id.

JOLT Digest, in a prior post, details the procedural background of the case. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog and the Washington Post provide additional reporting and commentary on the case.

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

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

infringementJohnson v. Ryan, No. 31837-1-III (Wash. Ct. App. Mar. 9, 2015)

Opinion

The Washington State Court of Appeals rendered a decision in a case involving the interpretation of Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute in the context of a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference with business expectancy brought by the director of a performing arts theatre against a blogging ex-employee. The Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judgment which had dismissed the lawsuit under the anti-SLAPP statute.

The Washington State Court of Appeals held that the ex employee James Ryan’s blogging against Yvonne Johnson, the director of the theatre, was not for public concern and that Ryan was not entitled to assert the anti-SLAPP statute to dismiss Johnson’s claim. In so holding, the court narrowly interpreted the “public concern” requirement, and distinguished the Washington anti-SLAPP statute from California anti-SLAPP statute, which uses the phrase “public interest” rather than “public concern.” The anti-SLAPP statute allows a defendant to dismiss a plaintiff’s defamation claim and requires a plaintiff to pay $10,000 for damage if the defendant’s statement is “in connection with an issue of public concern.” RCW 4.24.525(d).  (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Anton Ziajka

1271084_10152203108461729_809245696_oCase C-362/14, Maximillian Schrems v. Data Prot. Comm’r (E.C.J. argued Mar. 24, 2015).

Written Observations of Applicant hosted by Europe Versus Facebook.

In Luxembourg on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) heard oral arguments in a case challenging the legality of cross-Atlantic transfers of European data to U.S. companies like Facebook. The complaint, brought by Austrian privacy activist Maximillian Schrems, alleges that the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement does not comply with EU Directive 95/46 (“the Directive”), which requires EU member states to ensure that data is being transferred to a country that provides an “adequate level of protection” for the data. Written Observations of Applicant at 8–9, Schrems (Nov. 10, 2014).

A copy of Schrems’ written submission to the ECJ is available here. The Register, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Ars Technica, and the Guardian provide reporting and commentary. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Anne Woodworth

UK Court Allows Safari Users to Sue Google over Privacy Settings

Google lost a bid in the UK Court of Appeals to stop Safari users from suing the company over bypassed privacy settings. The plaintiffs allege that Google used a workaround to get past privacy settings in the Safari browser, allowing them to gather search and personal information without user knowledge. Google argued that the plaintiffs suffered no financial harm but the court decided that the misuse of private information could be classified as a tort and that the claims merit a trial. 

FTC Responds to Allegations that it Ignored Staff Recommendations to Sue Google

The accidental release of an internal FTC staff memo recommending a lawsuit against Google has prompted recent criticism of the agency commissioners’ decision not to sue, including allegations that meetings between Google and government officials improperly influenced the agency choice not to act. The leaked memo was part of a 19-month investigation and many commenters have emphasized that it is only a small piece of the overall picture. The FTC responded to the criticism in a blog post, calling press allegations misleading, and stating that the Commission’s decision was in accord with FTC Bureau recommendations.

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Posted On Mar - 31 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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Mississippi Attorney

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction In ...

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Pass the Patented Pe

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Stephen Hawking™:

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi Application Stephen Hawking is ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Jeanne Jeong European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology ...