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 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

By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

H.R. 3309 - Innovation Act

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The perceived “patent troll” problem has plagued the U.S. patent system for years. To curb abusive patent litigation, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), with a bipartisan coalition, introduced the “Innovation Act” in the House of Representatives on Oct 23, 2013. The patent reform bill contains a number of provisions that seek to change the landscape of patent procurement, ownership, and enforcement, Patently-O reports.

Patently-O, Info World, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) provide an overview of the legislation and comment on its significance. The American Intellectual Property Law Association has summarized each section of the bill. Patent Docs and The Software Alliance voice concerns. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 3 - 2013 5 Comments READ FULL POST

Ibormeith IP, LLC v Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
By Aditya Gupta – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Ibormeith IP, LLC v. Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC, No. 13- 1007 (Fed. Cir. October 22, 2013)
Slip opinion

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, which had held on summary judgment that certain means-plus-function claims of Ibormeith IP, LLC’s (“Ibormeith”) US Patent No. 6,313,749 (“the ’749 Patent”) – “Sleepiness Detection for Vehicle Driver or Machine Operator” – were invalid for indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. § 112. Ibormeith IP, slip op. at 2.

The Federal Circuit held that the claim element “computational means” expressed a means for performing a specified function and thus was subject to the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112(f), which governs such means-plus-function elements. Id. at 2-3. According to the court, the ‘749 Patent failed to comply with 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) because it failed to adequately define the structure for the “computational means” limitation in the specification. Id. at 7. In so holding, the court noted that Ibormeith’s arguments regarding the breadth of its disclosure, for the purpose of infringement, must also be held against it as “binding admissions” for the purposes of a 35 USC §112(f) inquiry into claim validity. Id. at 10-11.

PatentlyO summarizes the case’s facts and holding and comments on the ramifications of the decision with respect to litigation strategy. iPFrontline briefly explains the decision and the lessons it provides for practitioners. (more…)

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

ACLU v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice
By Amy Zhang – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

ACLU v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice (S.D.N.Y. filed Oct. 17, 2013)
Complaint

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Two weeks ago, the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation filed a complaint against the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) seeking immediate processing and release of DOJ records that the ACLU had requested pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) in late March of this year. Complaint, ACLU v. DOJ (S.D.N.Y. filed Oct. 17, 2013).

The ACLU requested information related to the use of evidence derived from surveillance authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 (“FAA”).  Its complaint alleged that the DOJ had failed to process and release the requested information. In addition to the release of the requested documents, the ACLU is seeking a waiver of search, review, and reproduction fees on the grounds that disclosure of the requested records is “in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).

Ars Technica provides background information on the lawsuit. JOLT Digest and Wired provide summaries of Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, No.  11–1025 (U.S. Feb. 26, 2013), which provides the backdrop for the ACLU’s current suit. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 29 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

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

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