A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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European Court of Justice Invalidates Data Retention Directive
By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

In a preliminary ruling requested by courts in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice found that Directive 2006/24/EC was invalid. The Grand Chamber recognized the legitimacy of retaining telecommunications data as a means to combat serious crime and terrorism, but it ultimately held that the far-reaching scope of the Directive disproportionately affected individual privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
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, after 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.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

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

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

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.

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UMG v. Veoh
by Pio Szamel ­– Edited by Jacob Rogers

UMG Recordings, Inc. v Veoh Networks, Inc., Nos. 09–55902, 09–56777, 10–55732 (9th Cir. Mar. 14, 2013)
Slip opinion

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, which had granted summary judgment finding that the streaming-video host Veoh was protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and dismissed additional infringement claims against Veoh’s investors.

On March 14, the Ninth Circuit handed down a much-delayed opinion in UMG v Veoh, rejecting Universal Music Group’s contentions that the streaming-video host Veoh was not protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provision for online hosting providers, 17 U.S.C. §512(c). While UMG had argued that Veoh was outside the scope of the DMCA because it went beyond simple “storage at the direction of a user” by transcoding videos into common streaming formats and facilitating access to them, the court found that enabling access in this way is an essential part of web-hosting. UMG at 24-25. It also affirmed that the safe-harbor exception for actual or red-flag knowledge of infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1)(A), requires knowledge of specific infringing or likely infringing content, not just suspicious categories of content. Id. at 31-34.  Finally it found that Veoh did not have the “right and ability to control” infringing activity, as required by another exception to the safe harbor provisions, 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1)(B), rejecting Viacom’s contention that this exception should be interpreted in line with the common law definition of vicarious liability. Id. at 40, 42.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had filed an amicus brief in support of Veoh, hails the decision as a victory for hosts of user-generated content, while TechCrunch provides a primer on the state of DMCA safe-harbor law in its wake. The Copyright Alliance, a content industry trade group, argues that the 9th Circuit opinion still leaves open a few possible lines of attack against hosting providers. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By Sarah Jeong – Edited by Alex Shank

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 11-697 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2013)
Slip opinion

 

The Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted work lawfully made abroad, reversing the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The case involved the resale in the United States of approximately 600 copies of textbooks that originally had been bought in Thailand at relatively inexpensive prices. On remand, the Supreme Court ordered that the Second Circuit conduct further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion.

The unauthorized importation of copyrighted material is barred by § 602 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. § 602), and John Wiley & Sons’ (“Wiley”) right to distribute is protected by § 106(3). However, the first sale doctrine of § 109(a) extinguishes the copyright owner’s interest in a particular copy after the first sale to a consumer. At issue in Kirtsaeng was whether § 109(a) applies to goods of “foreign manufacture”—more specifically, whether the phrase “lawfully made under this title” applied to goods like the Asian editions of the Wiley textbooks. In holding that the first sale doctrine also extends to these goods, the Supreme Court removed the geographical limitations to the first sale doctrine placed by the Ninth Circuit in Omega S. A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2008). Furthermore, the holding undercuts distributors’ attempts to divide regional markets and practice economically efficient price discrimination.

The Los Angeles Times provides an overview of the case. Professor James Grimmelmann of New York Law School discusses the case in Publishers Weekly, calling the issues in the case “significant.” Ars Technica also comments on the decision, celebrating it as a “vindication” of the first sale doctrine. JOLT Digest previously reported on the Second Circuit’s holding in favor of Wiley, affirming the decision of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. JOLT Digest also previously commented on the future of the first sale doctrine after Quality King, a case heavily relied on by the Supreme Court in Kirtsaeng. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 30 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

BASF v. Makhteshim Agan
By David LeRay – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

BASF Agro B.V., Arnhem (NL), Wadenswil Branch v. Makhteshim Agan of North America, Inc., No. 2012-1206 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2013)
Slip opinion

BASF Agro B.V. (“BASF”), the world’s largest chemical manufacturer, suffered a setback in its patent litigation against Makhteshim Agan of North America (“Makhteshim”), the world’s largest generic agrochemical maker.The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Middle District of North Carolina’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement for the defendants. The suit focuses on patents covering BASF’s termite-killing pesticide, Termidor, which is the United States’ top-selling pesticide. BASF commenced litigation in 2010 after Makhteshim began selling a competing product, Taurus SC.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court’s claim construction, which was largely based on the doctrine of prosecution disclaimer, as applied to BASF’s actions during patent prosecution. Under that claim construction, the issue of non-infringement was easily decided as a matter of law; thus, summary judgment of non-infringement for the defendants was appropriate. Specifically, the court found that BASF had disclaimed so-called “barrier” techniques of pesticide application—which aim to surround buildings with a complete polygon of pesticide—in favor of deploying pesticide at discrete locations around the building boundary. Since Makhteshim’s products use the polygonal barrier method, they did not infringe BASF’s patents.

Bloomberg gives a brief overview of the case and discusses the relevant pesticides. Croplife provides commentary from business leaders on both sides of the case. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 29 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Alex Shank – Edited by Michael Hoven
Editorial Policy

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) introduced substantial changes to the U.S. patent system, among them the transition to the first-inventor-to-file priority system. Parties whose patent applications have been rejected by a PTO examiner and the newly formed Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“PTAB”) also have a new venue in which to appeal their rejections—the District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia (“EDVA”). Patent litigators, enticed by the “Rocket Docket” EDVA and its recently relaxed evidentiary standards, may spur a spike in granted patents, compounding the defects of already over-patented system. However, other AIA reforms, including expanded post-grant review and the opening of PTO satellite offices, as well as PTO appeals of EDVA decisions, will likely temper the spike. Ultimately, opening the EDVA may figure most prominently in heightening the scrutiny of potentially cursory PTO examiner decisions.

As described by Damon W. D. Wright and Matthew R. Farley at IPFrontline, the availability of the EDVA may inspire prospective patentees to refrain from bringing appeals directly to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) and instead to seek review in the EDVA. Prior to the enactment of the AIA, parties seeking review of patents rejected by the PTO could bring a civil suit to obtain a patent—commonly called a “Section 145 action”—but only in the District Court of the District of Columbia. Most applicants avoided the relatively sluggish DC District Court and appealed directly to the CAFC. The “Rocket Docket” EDVA’s reputation for efficiently processing suits may reverse this practice. As Wright and Farley note, the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Kappos v. Hyatt, 132 S.Ct. 1690 (2012), further enhances the appeal of a Section 145 action. In Kappos, the Supreme Court held that district courts hearing patent appeals can admit new evidence, bound only by the standards published in the Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure, and, if new evidence is admitted, the court must apply a de novo standard of review to both new and previously admitted evidence. In contrast, the CAFC examines only the evidence contained in the PTO record and does so with a deferential standard of review. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 25 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michelle Sohn

Flash DigestNorthern District of California Court Strikes Down National Security Letter Statute

On Friday, the District Court for the Northern District of California struck down 18 U.S.C. § 2709 due to its failure to meet First Amendment standards, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”). The statute is known as one of the “National Security Letter” (“NSL”) statutes, which allows the FBI to issue requests for subscriber information from Internet service providers, telephone companies, and others. The ruling was a response to the EFF’s 2011 petition challenging the constitutionality of the 2709(c) “gag” provision, which prohibits companies from disclosing that they have received an NSL as well as the judicial review provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3511 (b). District Court Judge Susan Illston’s decision to bar NSLs differs from a prior ruling on the issue from the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit, in Doe v. Mukasey, approved NSLs as long as the FBI took voluntary measures to protect against abuse. Unlike the Second Circuit, Judge Illston’s decision held that since the gag provision was meant to work in concert with the rest of the statute, the power granted to the FBI to compel subscriber information from providers also be struck down. The District Court’s decision is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Social Media Added Fuel to the Fire in Stuebenville Rape Case

Two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year old girl were convicted Sunday, reports USA Today. The case was largely driven by and followed in social media. Throughout the trial, texts and videos from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were used to incriminate the accused. The episode even got the attention of hacktivist group, Anonymous, which made public a private video of students joking about the incident. On Monday, two Ohio girls were arrested after making threats against the victim on Facebook and Twitter.

Presidential Commission Concludes Anthrax Vaccine Testing on Children Unethical without Further Research

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released a report Tuesday warning against a government proposal to test anthrax vaccines on children without conducting more preliminary research, NPR reports.  The proposal for testing is rooted in two major concerns: first, the likelihood that anthrax would be the weapon of choice in a bioterrorist attack, and second, the uncertainty that the vaccine would work effectively in children. To date, the anthrax vaccine has been given to more than one million adults in the military, but the vaccine’s effects on children are not known. The Commission’s report concluded that more research would have to show that testing would pose no more than a minimal risk to children. The report also suggests testing on animals and young adults first. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that charged the Commission with evaluating the proposal, will have the final say in whether to go ahead with the experiment.

Posted On Mar - 24 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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Mozilla Announces Re

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Supreme Court Weighs

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