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 Rita Resende Soares

Federal Circuit Renews Apple’s Hope For Injunction Against Samsung

Icon-newsLast Monday, a unanimous United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated a denial of injunctive relief to Apple against Samsung for the infringement of Apple’s utility patents over rubber-banding, pinch-to-zoom API and tap-to-zoom-and-navigate. Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 13-1129 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 18, 2013), slip op. at 2. The district court abused its discretion in determining whether a “causal nexus” existed between Samsung’s infringement and Apple’s alleged irreparable harm, a nexus that may be satisfied by some connection between the patented features and the demand for Samsung’s products and that may be found by viewing patents in the aggregate. Id. at 19-21. The court also erred in concluding that the “inadequacy of legal remedies” prong weighed in Samsung’s favor because of Apple’s past licensing behavior and Samsung’ ability to pay any monetary judgment. Id. at 29-30. Following the Federal Circuit’s guidance, the district court on remand will likely grant an injunction to Apple with respect to the infringement of its utility patents. The Federal Circuit, however, affirmed the district court’s denial of Apple’s request for a permanent injunction with respect to its design patents and trade dress. Patentlyo and the Wall Street Journal provide a helpful overview of the case.

Google And Microsoft Strengthen Their Commitment Against Child Abuse

Google announced the introduction of new algorithms to prevent online searches for child abuse imagery, with the help of Microsoft picture detection technology. Google had previously avoided censoring its search results directly, developing instead open databases to which abusive imagery could be added by law enforcement agencies. This week, however, in an op-ed in Britain’s Daily Mail, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that they had “fine tuned Google Search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material,” effectively cleaning up over 100,000 queries possibly related to the sexual abuse of children. To avoid false positives generated by the algorithm, Google employees review the images before blocking them, distinguishing between “innocent pictures of kids at bathtime and genuine abuse.” Google is also developing technology that facilitates the identification of children being abused in YouTube videos, taking into account the growing tendency of pedophiles to film their crimes. The impact of these changes is expected to extend beyond the UK very soon, with implementation in more than 150 languages. Further coverage can be found at Ars Technica and The Verge.

Supreme Court Rejects Petition To Halt NSA Surveillance Of Domestic Telephone Calls

The Supreme Court has refused a petition for a writ of mandamus by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (“EPIC”) to review the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) order requiring Verizon to hand over all local telephonic metadata to the National Security Agency (“NSA”). EPIC claimed that the FISC had exceeded its statutory jurisdiction, as the wholesale handover of such data “[could not] plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation.” Petition for a Writ of Mandamus and Prohibition, or a Writ of Certiorari, In re Electronic Privacy Information Center (filed July 8, 2013), at 3. EPIC further contended that no other court was open to hear a challenge to the FISC order. Scotusblog and Ars Technica offer an additional summary of EPIC’s contentions. Considering the Court’s refusal to consider the challenge without further comment, Wired estimates as highly unlikely the possibility of a judicial resolution to constitutional challenges of the NSA’s metadata collection programs in the near future.

Posted On Nov - 21 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp.
By Emma Winer – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp. et al, No. 13-07874 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 5, 2013)
Complaint hosted by Scribd.com.

TufAmerica filed a complaint accusing rap artist Jay Z of infringing the company’s copyright in the song “Hook & Sling Part 1.” According to the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Jay Z allegedly used a portion, or “sample,” of “Hook and Sling Part 1” in his hit song “Run This Town” without proper authorization from TufAmerica. Complaint, TufAmerica, Inc. v. WB Music Corp., No. 13-07874 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 5, 2013), at 1. The lawsuit names Warner Bros. Music and Jay Z’s label, Roc-A-Fella Records, as co-defendants. TufAmerica has filed a number of similar lawsuits against artists such as the Beastie Boys and Kanye West for sampling songs from catalogs that the company had purchased, Rolling Stone reports.

“Hook & Sling Part 1” was originally released in 1969 by Eddie Bo, a now deceased American pianist. TufAmerica bought the song in 1996, including exclusive rights to “release, sublicense, advertise, assign, exploit and sell…” the master recordings, as well as “the performances and compositions embodied therein.” Id. at 3. TufAmerica recorded its copyright with the United States Copyright Office on May 25, 2000. Id. at 4. The company alleges that samples of “Hook & Sling” appear dozens of times in “Run This Town,” which was released in Jay Z’s albums “The Blue Print 3” and “The Hits Collection Volume One.” Id.

The Guardian and Rolling Stone provide an overview of the facts of the lawsuit. The New York Times and Slate have analyzed the rise of so-called “sample trolls,” which profit from buying copyrights to songs in music catalogs and then suing artists who sample the songs without proper licensing. Gigaom and The Atlantic suggest that the rise of such lawsuits could have detrimental creative consequences in the music industry. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 20 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Garmin International, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC

By James Grace – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness
Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC, IPR2012-00001 (P.T.A.B. 2013)

Slip Opinion hosted by PatentlyO

Photo By: Kenny LouieCC BY 2.0

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”), in its first inter partes review under 35 U.S.C. 311, held in favor of the petitioner, a GPS technology developer, Garmin. Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al. v. Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC, IPR2012-00001 (P.T.A.B. 2013) at 49 (“Decision”). PTAB cancelled three claims of Cuozzo Speed Technologies LLC’s (“Cuozzo’s”) U.S. Patent No. 6,778,074 (“the ’074 patent”), “Speed limit indicator and method for displaying speed and the relevant speed limit,” finding them invalid on grounds of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103. Id. PTAB also denied Cuozzo’s Motion to Amend the ’074 patent to substitute the three impugned claims. Id.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case and speculates how PTAB’s decision may threaten Cuozzo’s ongoing infringement action against Garmin and Chrysler in the District Court of New Jersey. Complaint, Cuozzo Speed Techs. LLC v. Garmin Int’l, Inc. et al., No. 2:12-cv-03623 (D.N.J. June 15, 2012). (more…)

Posted On Nov - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Photo By: Robert ScobleCC BY 2.0

Earlier this month, Mike Hearn of Google’s Security Department posted online that Google has successfully encrypted the data traffic between its servers. This undoes the National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) work in creating the surveillance program “MUSCULAR,” which taps into the connections between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers.

On October 30, the Washington Post released another wave of information attributed to Edward Snowden that described how the NSA had “broken into” the communication links between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers under a program codenamed MUSCULAR. The NSA is reported to operate this program jointly with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters. The tapping of these communication fibers gives the NSA access to millions of users’ data, including both metadata and content, regardless of whether or not they were suspected terrorists or criminals.

RT quotes Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond as being “outraged” over the program, explaining that they have “long been concerned” about this kind of activity, and have been slowly extending encryption across Google’s myriad of services in an attempt to protect its users. Drummond’s statement was made in response to the Washington Post report of October 30 and continues, “[w]e are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data form our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

According to Ars Technica, Google has had a full-encryption initiative for over a year, but accelerated the initiative in June after Snowden leaked the news of the NSA and FBI’s joint “PRISM” program. Under this program, the NSA could gain front-door access to users’ data by demanding data related to certain keywords or search terms. This program was previously covered by the Digest. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 18 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc.
By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Jennifer Wong

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch)
Opinion

Photo By: Brian BurgerCC BY 2.0

The England and Wales High Court of Justice, Chancery Division held that infringement of Scrabble’s trademarked name did not occur when Zynga titled its games “Scramble” and “Scramble with Friends.” J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga, Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch) at 147. It also held that the word “Scramble” was used to refer to games of that type and therefore did not infringe on Mattel’s trademark of that word. Id. at 158–59. However, the court also expressed concern that the “Scramble” logo created a likelihood of confusion because of its design. Id. at 142.

The court relied largely on Mattel’s previous actions to prove that the company itself did not seem to acknowledge confusion or infringement in a timely fashion to defeat Mattel’s trademark infringement claims. Id. at 46. Beyond its official holding, the court also noted that Zynga’s “Scramble” logo could potentially be misleading to consumers. Id. at 145. In the “Scramble” logo, the “m” is placed on its side such that it resembles the Scrabble name,. Id. at 142.

BBC News and PC Mag provide brief descriptions of the case and the reactions of the parties.  World IP Review gives a fuller description of the judge’s reasoning. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 13 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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