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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Written By: Charles Colman
Acting Assistant Professor at NYU School of Law

Edited By: Elise Young

“For this most inadequate proof [of consumer recognition], applicant asks us to give it the exclusive right to use red and blue bands on men’s white, ribbed socks — that we cannot do.”

In re Izod, Ltd., 296 F.2d 771, 778 (C.C.P.A. 1961)

 

Summary

 

On September 30, 2013, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board[1] issued a troubling decision in In re Bottega Veneta Int’l S.a.r.l.[2] Viewed in a broader context, the decision reflects the Board’s growing reluctance to apply the doctrine of “aesthetic functionality”[3] in ex parte prosecution proceedings to bar the issuance of potentially anticompetitive trade-dress[4] registrations. The TTAB gives its imprimatur to the dubious “trade dress” at issue in Bottega Veneta through procedural moves whose novelty and import could easily go unacknowledged — specifically, (1) the Board’s declaration of its intention to resolve “doubts” as to aesthetic functionality in favor of applicants, and (2) the Board’s disposal of concerns about product-design monopolization through reliance on supposedly limiting conditions agreed to by the applicant, but which the federal courts will not observe or enforce. As such, In re Bottega Veneta — despite its technical status as a mere “non-precedential” decision by an agency whose determination can theoretically be revisited by the federal courts — will improperly hinder marketplace competition and restrict creative freedom among designers. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By James Grace

Hershey_Cross_SectionHershey’s Opposes Mars’ Attempt to Register a Snickers’ Cross-Section as a Design Mark

The Trademark Blog reported that Hershey’s has filed a Notice of Opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concerning Mars’ application to register a design mark for “a cross-section of a candy bar showing layers within the candy, namely, a middle light brown layer containing several tan colored peanut shapes and a bottom tan layer, all surrounded by a brown layer.” U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 85441471 (filed Oct. 6, 2011). As one of four grounds of opposition, Hershey’s alleges that the design mark is functional, since the configuration of ingredients is the result of a commonly used  “layering” process for manufacturing candy bars that is efficient and cost effective. Notice of Opposition, ¶¶ 13-17, 23-29.

Medtronic v. Boston Scientific – Oral Argument

On November 5, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in the case of Medtronic v. Boston Scientific, No. 12-1128 (U.S. Nov. 5, 2013). Medtronic, a medical device manufacturer, licensed patents from Boston Scientific and subsequently sought declaratory judgment that it did not infringe Boston Scientific’s patents and was therefore not obligated to pay royalties. In a typical patent infringement suit, the patent holder bears the burden of proving infringement, and this burden does not shift in a declaratory judgment action.  However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Court recently held that where a licensee is seeking a declaration of non-infringement, the licensee should bear the burden of proving non-infringement because the patentee is not in a position to counterclaim for infringement. Medtronic v. Boston Scientific, 695 F.3d 1266 (Fed. Cir. 2012), slip op. at 12. Medtronic appealed to the Supreme Court. PatentlyO and SCOTUSblog provide a summary of the issues raised in oral argument before the Court.

Proposed Tweak to Law Would Pull Shield From Generic-Drug Makers

On November 8, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a press release outlining a proposed rule aimed at speeding up the dissemination of safety information concerning generic drugs. Under the current rules, generic drug manufactures must wait for approval by the FDA and the corresponding brand name manufacturer before updating product labeling to reflect new safety information.  The proposed rule would provide generic manufacturers with the same ability as brand name manufactures to update product labeling based on newly acquired safety information prior to review by the FDA. The Wall Street Journal discusses how the proposed rules relate to the recent of case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. , Inc. v. Bartlett , No. 12–142 (U.S. 2013), in which the Supreme Court overturned a $21 million judgment to a woman for injuries allegedly caused by a generic drug.

Posted On Nov - 10 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Elise Young

November 1, 2013 Notice from NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) recently announced that it has begun formal review of its standards development process for approving cryptographic algorithms. The notice appears to be a reaction to recent reports in the New York Times regarding the National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) back door access to encrypted data through an NIST-approved cryptographic algorithm. The article suggests that the NSA inserted back door access into the algorithm, one that many companies use to encrypt data sent over the Web.

The New York Times, in an article and blog post, and the Guardian cover the alleged back door access. Ars Technica, Matthew Green, and Wired provide commentary. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Christopher A. Crawford

Icon-newsDOJ Notifies Defendant: Evidence Gained From Warrantless Wiretaps

The New York Times reported that for the first time, in a notice filed on Friday, October 26, federal prosecutors told a criminal defendant that evidence against him was gathered using warrantless wiretaps. U.S. v. Muhtorov, No 1:12-cr-00033-JLK-01 (D. Colo. Jan. 12, 2012) (hosted by the Lawfare Blog). The Feds’ move will likely prompt the defendant, Jamshid Muhtorov, to challenge the warantless wiretap as unconstitutional, possibly leading to review by the Supreme Court. In arguments before the Supreme Court last year, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said that prosecutors would notify defendants if they were facing evidence gathered using such warrantless taps, only to discover later that defendants had not, in fact, been notified. An inter-departmental debate ensued, resulting in the decision to tee-up the Supreme Court’s review of the wiretapping process as delineated in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978. 50 U.S.C. § 1881(a) (2006).

New Smartphone Patent War Begins

A company named “Rockstar,” jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, and other tech giants, filed eight patent infringement lawsuits against Google in the Eastern District of Texas on last Thursday. Rockstar Consortium v. Google Inc., No. 2:13-cv-00893-JRG-RSP (E.D. Tex Oct. 31, 2013).  Rockstar, a so-called “patent privateer,” is essentially a holding company for more than 6,000 patents that were purchased for $4.5 billion dollars by Google’s rivals in 2011 with the intent to sue the search giant. Google has called such privateers “patent trolls.” Ars Technica has characterized Rockstar’s lawsuits as the opening salvo in a “nuclear” patent war which will be fought over key 4G cellular patents—a thinly veiled attack on Google’s Android phones.

FTC Asks For Comments Regarding Regulation Of The “Internet of Things”

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has solicited comments regarding “the internet of things,” a catch-all term for the new wave of technologies, such as smart utility meters or GPS built into our cars, that promise to link every aspect of our lives to the Internet in the name of convenience, safety, and efficiency. Some industry groups have called for self-regulation, as was successful with the world wide web, but others, like the Electronic Privacy Information Center, note that this newer technology will allow people to be physically tracked in real time across many networks and thus that the security concerns are entirely different. For instance, the same smart meters used to manage more efficiently our homes’ heating and cooling might also tell someone that we are currently at home. In September, the FTC signaled its desire to acknowledge such concerns when it settled with TRENDnet, a surveillance camera maker, requiring it to substantially improve its system security. TRENDnet, Inc., F.T.C. No. 122 3090 (Sept. 4, 2013). The FTC staff will meet on November 19th to discuss the comments and how to move forward with new regulations. GigaOM covers this matter in greater detail.

Posted On Nov - 5 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc.
By Corey Omer — Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc., No. 4:13-cv-00442-BLW (D. Idaho Oct. 15, 2013).

Court Order, hosted by DocumentCloud

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho issued a rare ex parte temporary restraining order (“TRO”) against a software developer, Corey Thuen, his company and 10 Does, enjoining them from releasing software code as open source and ordering that Thuen’s computer be seized and its contents copied. Battelle Energy Alliance LLC v. Southfork Sec. Inc., No. 4:13-cv-00442-BLW (D. Idaho Oct. 15, 2013) (“Battelle Energy”).

What made this case one of the “very few circumstances justifying the issuance of an ex parte TRO”? Reno Air Racing Ass’n, Inc. v. McCord, 452 F.3d 1126, 1131 (9th Cir. 2006). The determinative consideration for the court was that Thuen is a self-described “hacker”. His company, Southfork — which is in the business of testing system security for its clients by “hacking” their systems and exposing weaknesses — states on its website, “[w]e like hacking things and we don’t want to stop.” Battelle Energy at 4. Judge Lynn Winmill reasoned that because Thuen was a “hacker” — and therefore had “the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal [his] role in that act” — the ex parte seizure order was justified. Id. at 12.

The Complaint, Court Order, and Thuen’s Declaration provide an overview of the case. Tim Cushing of TechDirt criticizes the complaint, and the resulting decision, as submitting to two government propagated fallacies: first, that “open source is dangerous,” and, second, that all “hackers are bad”. ComputerWorld and TechNewsWorld also feature thorough analyses of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 4 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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