A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Albert Chen – Edited by Andrew Spore

S.B. 962, 2014 Leg., Reg. Sess. (Cal. 2014)
Bill

On February 6, 2014, California State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill 962. The bill would mandate that all smartphones sold in California must be equipped with a “kill switch,” allowing consumers to disable a lost or stolen phone. S.B. 962 at 1. The bill aims to deter phone thefts, which account for one in three robberies in the United States. Id. at 2. California State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said she will carry the bill, if it clears the Senate, reports SFGate.

According to Mashable, if the bill passes, California would lead the nation in requiring anti-theft technology for smart phones. Ars Technica speculates that, due to California’s size, this may lead to a de facto standard nationwide.

(more…)

Posted On Feb - 18 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Photo By: C DCC BY 2.0

Last weekend, Los Angeles residents stood in line to taste free coffee at a new coffee shop in town: “Dumb Starbucks.” The stunt was later discovered to have been orchestrated by Comedy Central comedian Nathan Fielder, Quartz reports. Although short-lived—the shop was shut down by the Los Angeles Health Department for operating without a health permit— Dumb Starbucks drew considerable attention and raised an array of legal issues.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Dumb Starbucks opened on Friday, February 7. The shop was identical to a real Starbucks shop except that the word “dumb” affixed to everything in sight. The shop offered, for free, items including “Dumb Vanilla Blonde Roast,” “Dumb Chai Tea Latte,” and “Dumb Caramel Macchiato” in sizes “Dumb Venti,” “Dumb Grande,” and “Dumb Tall.” The CDs sitting on a shelf by the cash register included “Dumb Jazz Standards,” “Dumb Norah Jones Duets”, and “A Dumb Taste of Cuba.” The “dumb” theme also extended to its logo, with “dumb” inserted into the outer ring of the Starbucks logo, reports Time. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 15 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Aditya Gupta – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Professors’ Letter In Support of Patent Reform Legislation (Nov. 25, 2013), letter hosted by PatentlyO.com
Statement from the Higher Education Community on H.R. 3309, The Innovation Act (Nov. 8, 2013), statement hosted by
Statement from the Higher Education Community on Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 3309 (Nov. 19, 2013), statement hosted by aamc.org

Photo By: Kate Ter HaarCC BY 2.0

The Innovation Act, a legislation that received bipartisan support in the House Judiciary Committee and more recently the House of Representatives, has also received support from a group of sixty professors teaching intellectual property law at universities across the United States. The professors have addressed a letter to Congress expressing strong support for the patent reform legislation, citing the “abusive practices” adopted by patent trolls and the negative impact of such practices on small companies and large manufacturers. In contrast, a group of six major education organizations have issued two statements, dated November 8 and 19, 2013 raising concerns over the draft of the Innovation Act and claiming that, in its current form, the provisions of the Act raise a “specter of unintended problems.”

PatentlyO reports the letter by the law professors stating that the professors’ case has merit but contains certain broad – brush statements and is overtly in favor of large corporate entities. Timothy Lee of The Washington Post is surprised by the stance taken by the university organizations, though he suggests that the unintended effects of the legislation may be beneficial, since they could rein in aggressive patent licensing efforts by universities. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 18 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Automattic Inc. & Hotham v. Steiner
Automattic Inc. & Retraction Watch, LLC v. Chatwal
By Travis West – Edited by Natalie Kim

Complaint, Automattic Inc. & Oliver Hotham v. Nick Steiner (N.D. Cal. filed Nov. 21, 2013)
Complaint, Automattic Inc. & Retraction Watch, LLC v. Narendra Chatwal (N.D. Cal. filed Nov. 21, 2013)
Hotham Complaint, Retraction Watch Complaint hosted by Automattic

Hacked By Over-XAutomattic, the owner of WordPress.com and a major developer of the WordPress software, has sued two parties for using the notice-and-takedown provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to stifle criticism. Automattic alleges that the two parties abused the provision and are seeking damages under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) for misrepresentation. Automattic is one of the largest blog hosting companies, and its decision to go after parties that use fraudulent copyright takedown notices could mark a shift in how content hosts handle DMCA takedown requests.

Automattic explains why it chose to sue over these two incidents. Ars Technica provides additional coverage of the lawsuit, including some problems Automattic would face in collecting from the defendants if it succeeded. Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), and TechCrunch praise Automattic for taking a stand against the use of the DMCA to censor critics. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 6 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

GoldieBlox, Inc. v. Island Def Jam Music Group
By Elise Young – Edited by Alex Shank

Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, GoldieBlox, Inc. v. Island Def Jam Music Group, A Div. of UMG Recordings, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-05428 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2013)
Complaint hosted by Scribd

Photo By: ricaroseCC BY 2.0

Over the last few weeks, hip-hop group the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox, a start-up company in the business of developing engineering toys for girls, started down the path towards copyright litigation over use of the Beastie Boys’ song “Girls” in a GoldieBlox advertisement. On November 21, after the Beastie Boys’ legal counsel threatened suit, GoldieBlox filed for declaratory judgment that its use of the song was fair use. Complaint, at 2–3. The Beastie Boys responded with an open letter emphasizing the group’s consistent refusal to allow use of their songs in advertising. On November 27, GoldieBlox removed the advertisement and promised to drop the suit if the Beastie Boys’ legal team similarly backed down. GigaOM provides an overview of the fight and some legal analysis on the fair use issue. Forbes examines GoldieBlox’s change in strategy. Mashable discusses how the disagreement benefits GoldieBlox’s PR. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 5 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang According to a ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit ...

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Spain Passes a “Go

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long Amendments to the ...