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 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 Comments Off 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 Comments Off 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 Comments Off 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 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys – Yaping Zhang

Order: Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2015) (denial of rehearing en banc)

Concurring opinion (October 22, 2014)

On March 23, 2015, Federal Circuit issued an order concerning the interpretation of willful patent infringement in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. Halo initiated the patent infringement proceedings and invoked section 35 U.S.C. § 284 which allows the court to increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed if the infringement is found willful or in bad faith.

The defendant, Pulse, argued that the patent was obvious and that they did not infringe the Halo’s patent.  However, the jury found for the plaintiff and also that “it was highly probable that Pulse’s infringement was willful.” Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Electronics., Inc., No. 2:07-cv-00331-PMP-PAL, 2013 BL 219401  (D. Nev. August 6, 2013). The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court judgment and left a $1.5 million jury award for infringement to patent holder Halo Electronics Inc. intact. It also affirmed the decision not to enhance the award for willfulness under 35 U.S.C. § 284.

Halo v Pulse is a stepping stone in recent trends in patent law to reduce situations in which the alleged patent infringer must face treble damages. In one of the recent cases In re Seagate Tech., the Federal Circuit introduced a two-prong test: (1) the patentee has to show, by clear and convincing evidence, “that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent.” If this objective requirement is met, (2) the patentee must then prove alleged infringer’s “subjective recklessness”, i.e., that the objectively defined risk was either known or should have been known to the alleged infringer. In re Seagate Tech., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 31 - 2015 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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