A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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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

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
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...