A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Observing Mauna Kea’s Conflict

Written by: Aaron Frumkin

Edited by: Anton Ziajka

Believing the machinery desecrates their sacred summit and the scarce natural resources it shelters, native Hawaiians have opposed telescope development on Mauna Kea. While it seems that their beleaguered resistance to telescope development will fail yet again with the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), this Note attempts to articulate their best arguments in hopes of properly framing the social costs associated with the great scientific and technological gains that TMT will surely provide.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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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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By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned. The resignation followed pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Emma Winer

Icon-newsThird Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

The United States Court of the Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated the conviction and sentence of Andrew “weev” Auernheimer on Friday. United States v. Auernheimer, No. 13-1816 (3d Cir. Apr. 11, 2014), slip opinion hosted by Tor Ekeland. Mr. Auernheimer was convicted in 2012 under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act  (“CFAA”) for disclosing the personal email addresses of 140,000 iPad owners to Gawker. Auernheimer, slip op. at 3, 6. Mr. Auernheimer and a co-conspirator obtained the email addresses of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, among others, by exploiting a security flaw in the AT&T website, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Rather than addressing the issue of whether Auernheimer’s conduct constituted hacking under the CFAA, the Third Circuit panel reversed and vacated the conviction on venue grounds. Id. at 1. Mr. Auernheimer had been tried in New Jersey, the residence of 4,500 of the email address owners, rather than in Arkansas, where he resides. Id. at 6-7. The Court held that this was an improper venue for the trial, as Mr. Auernheimer had not specifically targeted New Jersey and none of the “essential conduct elements” of the crime took place in New Jersey. Id. at 10. The decision stressed the importance of maintaining constitutional protections regarding the forum in which a defendant is tried, even as the rise of the Internet complicates questions of where a crime takes place. The court stated that “as we progress technologically, we must remain mindful that cybercrimes do not happen in some metaphysical location that justifies disregarding constitutional limits on venue.” Id. at 22. According to ArsTechnica, the Justice Department will review its remaining options in the prosecution of Mr. Auernheimer. Orin Kerr, attorney for Mr. Auernheimer, provided additional commentary in The Washington Post.

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

A new deal struck by French labor unions and employers limits the use of work email after the end of the work day, affecting approximately 250,000 workers in the consulting, technology and polling sectors, The New York Times reports. Although French law limits the workweek to 35 hours, the rise of technological innovations such as smart phones has put increasing pressure on employees in certain fields to be available and responsive during nighttime hours. The new agreement protects the legally mandated 11 hours of rest time for workers under French law. Under the agreement, different companies can develop their own policies to fulfill the requirement. Ars Technica notes that the German company Volkswagen previously established a similar measure, requiring the shut down of Blackberry servers during after-work hours in order to protect the leisure time of workers.

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

Google announced that a limited sale of Google Glass, a new wearable computer, will take place on April 15, 2014. The device, which resembles a pair of glasses, performs many of the functions of a smart phone, allowing owners to take photos, check email, and use navigational tools. So far, the technology has been available only to those invited to be early users. The one-day sale will make the technology available to the broader public, Ars Technica reports. The devices will be sold for $1,500 through the Google Glass website. As reported by The New York Times, the device has already been the source of controversy, with some lawmakers raising privacy concerns regarding the devices’ ability to covertly record people in public places. The Guardian, CNN , JOLT Digest and others have analyzed the potential privacy issues.

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

Photo By: Yuri SamoilovCC BY 2.0

Transcript of Oral Argument, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l (No. 13-298)
Transcript of Oral Argument

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting. The en banc Federal Circuit ruled that the method at issue was not eligible for a patent, but a majority could not agree on a standard for this decision. CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp., 717 F.3d 1269 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

In the course of the arguments, Justice Breyer identified a “Scylla and Charybdis” the Court will have to navigate: if it is too easy to obtain a patent that simply claims “tak[ing] an idea that’s abstract and implement[ing] it on a computer,” there is a risk that “instead of having competition on price, service and better production methods, we’ll have competition on who has the best patent lawyer.” Transcript of Oral Argument at 16. On the other hand, if the bar for patent eligibility is set too high, “you rule out real inventions with computers.” Id. Commentators, like Adam Liptak of the New York Times, agree that the Supreme Court will likely rule for CLS Bank International (“CLS”) but narrowly, thus avoiding the potential invalidation of the majority of software patents and the approach urged by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli. Id. at 44–45.

SCOTUSblog and PatentlyO analyze the oral arguments, and Patent Docs offers a review of the briefs on both sides. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 10 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer

Icon-newsApple v. Samsung — Round 2

Last week in San Jose, California, lawyers for Apple and Samsung squared off as the second major trial between the two mobile technology giants took off. Apple seeks roughly $2 billion in damages — $40 per allegedly infringing Samsung device sold in the United States — for violation of five of its mobile software patents. Samsung claims that Apple violated two of its own patents. The last time Apple and Samsung sparred over patents, Apple secured a decisive victory, and Samsung was ordered to pay $930 million in damages. The damages order can be found here.

Brian X. Chen of the New York Times notes that many of the patented features at issue have become “mainstays on mobile devices”: unified search, slide-to-unlock, remote video transmission, and data tapping among others.

Professor Mark P. McKenna of Notre Dame has also highlighted that “Google’s been lurking in the background of all these cases because of the Android system. . . . Several people have described the initial battle between Samsung and Apple as really one between Apple and Google.” Indeed, some of the contested features were put on the Samsung devices by Google through its Android operating system, rather than by Samsung itself. Google’s Android operating system—the main competitor to Apple’s iOS—runs on more than a billion devices worldwide, and an Apple victory against Samsung could require Google to make changes to several important Android features.

Block v. eBay — Misinterpreting Terms of Service

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a plaintiff’s stretched reading of eBay’s user agreement in Block v. Ebay, Inc., No. 12-16527 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2014). The court unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling that neither of the contested provisions constitutes a promise by eBay.

The plaintiff attacked eBay’s “Automatic Bidding System”—which incrementally increases a user’s bid in response to other users’ bids until the user’s specified maximum bid is reached—as a violation of two user agreement terms. Block, slip op. at 3. First, eBay’s User Agreement states that eBay is “not involved in the actual transaction between buyers and sellers.” Id. at 5. Second, the agreement provides that “[n]o agency . . . relationship is intended or created by this Agreement.” Id. at 4.

Eric Goldman suggests that “[w]hile this case reached a good result, it offers a good cautionary tale for contract drafters–especially lawyers drafting contracts for successful online businesses whose bank accounts are like honeypots to plaintiffs’ lawyers with an insatiable appetite for someone else’s cash.”

GrubHub Goes Public

Late last Thursday, online food ordering company GrubHub (owner of food-delivery services Seamless.com and Menupages.com; NYSE: GRUB) priced its initial public offering of 7.4 million shares at $26 per share. On Friday, the shares soared, finishing the day with a 31% gain and leaving the company valued at $2.7 billion.

With 3.4 million “Active Diners” and over 28,000 affiliated restaurants paying GrubHub a commission each time a customer places an order through one of its websites, GrubHub appears to be booming. Yet not everyone is confident that GrubHub’s operating and financial conditions justify its present market valuation. Forbes’ Peter Cohan, for instance, suggests resisting “tak[ing] a bite of GrubHub’s IPO.”

Tweet Away, Turkey

Last Wednesday, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s ban on Twitter violated the right to free expression, and it demanded that citizens’ access to the website be restored. Prime Minister Erdogan’s office responded on Thursday by lifting the ban, which, Gul Tuysuz and Laura Smith-Spark of CNN report “began hours after Erdogan threatened to ‘eradicate’ Twitter at a campaign rally on March 20, blaming social media for fueling anti-government rhetoric.”

On Friday, a court in Ankara also lifted a total ban on YouTube, which was imposed less than a week after the Twitter ban. The court nevertheless decided to continue to block 15 specific YouTube links. It remains unclear when access to the video streaming website will in fact be restored.

Posted On Apr - 7 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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
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Photo By: Jeff Ruane - CC BY 2.0

Observing Mauna Kea'

Written by: Aaron Frumkin Edited by: Anton Ziajka I.     Introduction Perched quietly atop ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Cristina Carapezza Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit The Federal Circuit ...

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Government Agents In

By Sheri Pan - Edited by Jens Frankenreiter United States v. ...

Photo By: Robert Scoble - CC BY 2.0

Mississippi Attorney

[caption id="attachment_3907" align="alignleft" width="150"] Photo By: Robert Scoble - CC ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

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