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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Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. v. Fung
By Sam Callahan – Edited by Jennifer Wong

Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. v. Fung, No. CV-06-05578SVW(JCx) (C.D. Cal. Filed Sept. 26, 2006)
Proposed Settlement (hosted by Wired)

Gary Fung, operator of the popular file-sharing website isoHunt.com, has agreed to pay $110 million in damages and will permanently shut down his site in order to settle a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by six major film studios. Stipulation and Proposed Settlement, Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. v. Fung, No. 2:06-cv-05578SVW(JCx) (C.D. Cal Oct. 17, 2013). The settlement comes after more than seven years of litigation with the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”), which represents the studios—Columbia Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, and Disney among others.

Claiming more than 44 million users and indexing over 13 million active BitTorrent files, isoHunt was the fourth most popular website of its kind. Other file-sharing sites operated by Fung, including the popular TorrentBox.com, will also shut down as a result of the settlement.

Prior to the recent settlement, two federal courts had ruled against Fung in the lawsuit, first brought in 2006. The United States District Court for the Central District of California found Fung liable for copyright infringement in 2009, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the relevant parts of that holding in March. Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc. v. Fung, 710 F.3d 1020 (9th Cir. 2013).

The settlement was announced in an official statement from the MPAA. Wired and CNET also report on the recent settlement. A Washington Post blog comments favorably on the outcome, while Techdirt criticizes the settlement’s “bogus” damages value. Patently-O discusses the Ninth Circuit decision preceding the settlement. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 25 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Intellect Wireless, Inc. v. HTC Corp.
By Mary Schnoor – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Intellect Wireless, Inc. v. HTC Corp., No. 12-1658 (Fed. Cir. October 9, 2013)
Slip opinion

On October 9th, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment that two patents owned by Intellect Wireless, Inc. (“Intellect”) are unenforceable due to inequitable conduct. Intellect Wireless, Inc. v. HTC Corp., No. 12-1658, 1 (Fed. Cir. October 9, 2013). Intellect had claimed that HTC Corp., the Taiwanese smartphone maker, infringed patents covering technology allowing a wireless device to receive and display caller identification information. Id.

The Federal Circuit unanimously upheld the lower court’s decision, which found that Daniel Henderson, the founder of Intellect and inventor of the patents in question, intentionally submitted false statements as part of his Rule 131 declaration to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) and that his actions satisfied the Therasense standard for inequitable conduct. Id. at 3. During the prosecution of the patents, Henderson made false statements to the USPTO, claiming that he had actually reduced his invention to practice and that he had demonstrated it at a meeting in 1993. Id. at 4. Although Henderson’s attorney attempted to cure this misconduct by submitting revised declarations, the court’s opinion emphasized that such efforts to cure misconduct will be unsuccessful unless they explicitly acknowledge the false declaration’s existence to the USPTO and clearly state what was false and what the actual facts are. Id. at 5-6.

IPFrontline explains the court’s ruling and the lessons it provides for patent attorneys seeking to correct false declarations.  PharmaPatents also reviews the ruling, and PatentlyO provides a brief summary. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 22 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mengyi Wang

Protecting Dwindling Elephant Populations in Kenya: Google Earth, Drones, and Legislation

The lucrative ivory trade continues to fuel elephant poaching, spurring the alarming decline in Kenya’s elephant population. To halt the decline, conservationists working near Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve have been tracking and redirecting elephants, Bloomberg reports. The conservationists have equipped 15 elephants with GPS devices to track their locations via Google Earth. When the elephants have strayed near poaching areas or human conflict, drones frighten them toward safe places using unpleasant sounds. Kenya has also proposed legislation penalizing the slaughter of elephants with fines of as much as 10 million Kenyan shillings ($117,000) and 15-year sentences.

California Governor Vetoes State Electronic Privacy Bill

Last Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 467 (“SB 467”), which would have required state law enforcement agencies to obtain a search warrant before accessing the contents of electronic communications and to notify a user within three days of receiving those contents. Brown, in his veto message, questioned the wisdom of imposing “new notice requirements that go beyond those required by federal law and could impede ongoing criminal investigations.” Electronic Frontier Foundation, a sponsor of the bill, disagrees. It argues that the 27-year-old federal Stored Communications Act, which allows police to access without a warrant the contents of electronic communications that have been stored on a server for more than 180 days, is “woefully outdated.” It also explains that SB 467 would have incorporated the delayed notice provisions in federal law in order to avoid hindering criminal investigations. The Hill and Electronic Frontier Foundation discuss the factual and legal background of the legislation in more detail.

SeaChange Prevails in ARRIS Patent Dispute

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously affirmed a lower court’s rejection of ARRIS Group, Inc.’s (“ARRIS”) (formerly nCUBE Corporation) allegations that SeaChange International Inc. (“SeaChange”) was in contempt of a 2006 permanent injunction enjoining SeaChange from selling products that infringe ARRIS’s media server patent. nCUBE Corp.  v. Seachange Int’l Inc., No. 13-1066 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 10, 2013). The litigation dates back to 2001, when nCUBE Corporation, the owner of U.S. Patent No. 5,805,804 (“the ‘804 patent”), commenced a patent infringement suit against SeaChange for its Interactive Television (“ITV”). Id. at 2-3. Following an adverse jury verdict in 2002, SeaChange released a redesigned version of its ITV that it believed to be non-infringing. Id. at 3. In 2009, ARRIS filed a motion for contempt in a federal district court and alleged that the minor changes in SeaChange’s new ITV system did not bring it outside of the scope of the ’804 patent. Id. The Federal Circuit concluded that the lower court did not err in finding that ARRIS failed to show that SeaChange’s new ITV was “not more than colorably different” from the infringing ITV, TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., 646 F.3d 869, 882-83 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (en banc), and affirmed the denial of ARRIS’s motion. nCUBE, No. 13-1066 at 10. Multichannel and MarketWatch feature summaries of the litigation history and Seagate’s reaction to the decision.

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

United States v. Moalin
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Elise Young

United States v. Moalin, 10-CR-4246 (JM) (S.D. Cal. filed Oct. 22, 2010)
Defendants’ Joint Motion for a New Trial and Prosecution’s Response and Opposition hosted by Ars Technica

Photo By: jeffschulerCC BY 2.0

Basaaly Moalin, a Somali immigrant who earlier this year was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group al-Shabaab, filed a motion for a new trial last month. Moalin based his motion upon facts that surfaced during congressional hearings held in response to Edward Snowden’s release of information about the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance programs. Joint Motion for a New Trial at 1, Moalin (“Motion”). The government filed its response and opposition on September 30.

U-T San Diego reports on Moalin’s conviction and motion for a new trial. Slate and Ars Technica provide analysis of the case and its potential implications. The Washington Post reports on the FBI and NSA’s disclosures about the NSA’s surveillance of Moalin. JOLT Digest has previously reported on the surveillance leaks and related litigation. (more…)

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

Delfi AS v. Estonia
By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Elise Young

Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013)
Judgment

Photo By: Eugene RegisCC BY 2.0

The European Court of Human Rights  (“ECHR”) upheld Estonian court rulings that Delfi, an online news portal in Estonia, was liable for defamatory comments posted by its users. Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, ¶¶7, 94, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013). Delfi was fined 5,000 kroons (approximately $426) in damages. Id. at ¶23. The ECHR affirmed the finding that Delfi could be held liable as a “publisher” of the work, id. at ¶50, and held that the decisions represented a “justified and proportionate” restriction on Delfi’s freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“Convention”). Id. at ¶94. In so holding, the ECHR noted that Delfi was “expected to exercise a degree of caution” in monitoring comments on predictably controversial articles. Id. at ¶86. The ECHR further held that it was both practical and reasonable to hold Delfi liable, as the actual authors of the comments were anonymous and Delfi derived a commercial benefit from allowing its users to comment. Id. at ¶¶91, 93. The decision, however, may still be appealed.

Index, Forbes, and the International Business Times, strongly criticize the case, arguing that the decision departs from the traditional approach to liability for anonymous comments, and that the result could have far-reaching implications for Internet liability and the freedom of anonymity. Inforrm’s Blog features a thorough and critical analysis of the Court’s decision. The ECHR’s press release may be found here. (more…)

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