A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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State v. Earls
By Casey Clausen – Edited by Mary Grinman

State v. Earls, A-53-11 (N.J. July 18th 2013)
Slip Opinion

Photo By: LinuxbearCC BY 2.0

On July 18, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed an Appellate Division judgment, which had held that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in the location information transmitted by a cell phone, which can be used by police as a tracking device.

In a  unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court held that the New Jersey Constitution protects an individual’s privacy interest in the location of his or her cell phone, and that police must accordingly obtain a search warrant before accessing that information. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the Appellate Division to determine whether an exception to the warrant requirement might apply on the facts of the case.

The New York Times and Mashable describe the holding and provide context on the state of the law concerning police use of cell phone location data for surveillance purposes. Talking Points Memo discusses the practical impact of the holding, noting that the decision will only affect the present case and future cases. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2013 3 Comments READ FULL POST

1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com, Inc.
By Casey Holzapfel – Edited by Michelle Sohn

1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com, Inc., No. 11-4114, -4204, -4022 (10th Cir. July 16, 2013)
Slip opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held that the use of a competitor’s trademark as a keyword that activates sponsored links in Google’s search engine is not trademark infringement. 1-800 Contacts, Inc. v. Lens.com, Inc., No. 11-4114, -4204, -4022 (10th Cir. July 16, 2013). The court affirmed the lower court’s summary judgment to defendant Lens.com with respect to 1-800 Contacts’ claim that Lens.com was directly liable for misdirecting customers to click on links to Lens.com after searching for the phrase “1-800 Contacts.” Id. at 4.

JDSupra provides an overview of the opinion. Techdirt critiques in detail the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning. JOLT notes that U.S. trademark law does not accurately reflect the actual risk of customer confusion in keyword advertising. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

United States Marine, Inc. v. United States
By Jonathan Sapp – Edited by Elise Young

United States Marine Inc. v. United States, No. 12-1678 (Fed. Cir. July 15, 2013)
Slip opinion hosted at bloomberglaw.com

Photo By: Blatant WorldCC BY 2.0

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, thus transferring the defense contractor’s trade secrets claim to the Court of Federal Claims. In affirming the Fifth Circuit ruling, the court determined that the plaintiff’s case was predicated on a breach of contract — not torts — claim and thus relied on the Tucker Act, which provides the Court of Federal Claims with “exclusive jurisdiction over a claim ‘founded . . . upon any express or implied contract with the United States . . . .’” United States Marine Inc. v. United States (hereinafter “USM”), No. 12-1678 at 11 (Fed. Cir. July 15, 2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1491(a)(1)).

The Trade Secrets Vault provides an overview of the case. Bloomberg BNA provides a thorough analysis of the Federal Circuit’s rationale. PubKLaw criticized the Fifth Circuit decision and expressed concern over whether it would be affirmed, stating that it “runs counter to a long-standing body of law that allows even parties to a government contract to assert tort claims for misconduct that goes beyond their contractual relationship.” (more…)

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

By Simon Heimowitz

Icon-newsSeventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Copyright Infringement Suit Against Elton John

In Hobbs v. John, No. 12-3652  (7th Cir. July 17, 2013), the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ dismissal of a lawsuit brought against Sir Elton John, alleging that his hit song “Nikita” illegally borrowed numerous themes from “Natasha”, a song copyrighted by Guy Hobbs. Hobbs, slip op. at 15. Both songs describe a relationship between a westerner and a woman in Communist Russia. Id. at 2. In determining that there was no copyright infringement by Elton John, the court looked to “two well-established principles of copyright law.” Id. at 11. First, U.S. copyright law “does not protect general ideas, but only the particular expression of an idea.” Id. The court concluded that the expression of the themes in the two songs were not substantially similar. While both dealt with a romantic relationship during the Cold War, the court parsed the lyrics to determine that each song presented “different stories about impossible romances during the Cold War.” Id. at 12.  Secondly, “even at the level of particular expression, the Copyright Act does not protect ‘incidents, characters or settings which are as a practical matter indispensable, or at least standard, in the treatment of a given topic.’” Id. at 11 (citations omitted). A number of other similarities between the two songs, including the names of the songs, both being Russian and beginning with the letter “N” and ending with the letter “A,” were not enough to establish infringement. Id. at 14. “[T]he United States Copyright Office’s Registered Works Database reveals that numerous works share the titles ‘Natasha’ and ‘Nikita’” Id. (citation omitted). As such, the court considered the songs’ similarities “commonplace in love songs” and not “substantially similar” enough to warrant a finding of infringement. Id. at 15. Hollywood Reporter and Radio.com provide commentary on the case.

Marvel Exempt from Paying Royalties for Spiderman Web Blaster after Patent Expiration

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona’s summary judgment that Marvel was no longer required to pay royalties to Stephen Kimble for his patented Spiderman web (foam)-shooting toy, a design that Kimble claimed he had created and pitched to Marvel in 1990. Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises, Inc., No. 11-15605 at 23 (9th Cir. July 16, 2013). In 2001, after a district court had found that Marvel had not infringed Kimble’s patent but had breached their contract, the parties had agreed to a settlement. Id. at 5–6.  Disagreement between the two parties concerning royalties instigated the current suit, with Marvel claiming that since the patent had expired, the settlement agreement was no longer enforceable. Id. at 8. The circuit court determined that, based on Brulotte v. Thys Co., 379 U.S. 29 (1964), “a license for inseparable patent and non-patent rights involving royalty payments that extends beyond a patent term is unenforceable for the post-expiration period unless the agreement provides a discount for the non-patent rights from the patent-protected rate.” Id. at 16. In this case, the court found that no discount was provided, and thus Marvel was no longer required to pay royalty fees to Kimble for its Spiderman Web Blaster. Id. at 17. Patently-O describes the holding of the case and its implications, and azstarnet.com provides commentary.

Senator Leahy Suggests that the NIH “March-In” on Myriad’s Patent Rights

As reported by JDSupra, Senator Patrick Leahy wrote a letter earlier this month to the NIH, requesting that the agency exercise its right to “march-in” and demand that Myriad license its patented diagnostic testing kits. Letter from Patrick Leahy, Senator (D-VT), to Francis Collins, Director, NIH (July 12, 2013) (“Letter”). The Supreme Court recently ruled unpatentable Myriad’s claims to isolated DNA encoding the BRCA genes, mutations of which correlate strongly with the development of breast and ovarian cancer. Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 12-398 at 1 (569 U.S. ___ June 13, 2013). However, the court found patentable Myriad’s claims to complementary DNA (“cDNA”) encoding the same genes. Id. Under the Bayh-Dole Act, 35 U.S.C. § 203(a)(2) (2006), a federal agency may require a “small business firm or nonprofit organization” that received funding from the agency to license its patent rights if “action is necessary to alleviate health or safety needs which are not reasonably satisfied by the [patent] contractor, assignee, or their licensees . . . .” Myriad received federal funding in developing its diagnostic tests, which it now markets for between $3,000 and $4,000. In his letter, Senator Leahy expressed concern “that the health needs of the public are not reasonably satisfied by the patentee in this situation because . . . many women are not able to afford the testing,” Letter at 2, which would justify the NIH’s use of march-in rights to force Myriad to license the patents.

Posted On Jul - 24 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Microsoft Corp. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec.
By Katherine Walecka – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Complaint, Microsoft Corp. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., No. 1:13-cv-01063-RWR (D.D.C. July 12, 2013)
Complaint hosted by PriorSmart.com

Microsoft filed a complaint against Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), among others, alleging that CBP failed to implement a May 2012 International Trade Commission (“ITC”) exclusion order blocking the importation of Motorola cell phones and other mobile devices that were found to infringe Microsoft’s patent rights. Complaint, Microsoft Corp. v. Dep’t of Homeland Sec., No. 1:13-cv-01063-RWR at 2–3 (D.D.C. July 12, 2013).

Reuters provides a summary of the case. Bloomberg discusses the DHS’s possible motivations in the case. Wall St. Cheat Sheet has information about the business implications of the CBP’s policies. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 22 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Federal Circuit Flas

By Steven Wilfong Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Viviana Ruiz Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All ...

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Silk Road Founder Lo

By Travis West — Edited by Mengyi Wang Order, United States ...

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Trademark Infringeme

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys Brief for the ...

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Twitter goes to cour

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas Twitter, Inc. vs. ...