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 Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a grant of a motion to dismiss in Ultramercial, Inc. and Ultramercial, LLC v. Hulu, LLC and Wildtangent, Inc., 2010-1544 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 14, 2014), on the grounds that the patent at issue did not claim patent-eligible subject matter. In 2010, Ultramercial sued YouTube, Hulu, and Wildtangent for infringement of its patent on a method of distributing products over the internet whereby an advertiser pays for a consumer’s right to view copyrighted material on the condition that the consumer watch a paid advertisement. Wildtangent responded with a motion to dismiss, arguing that the subject of the patent was too abstract a concept and therefore not eligible for protection.

On two prior occasions, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s grant of the motion to dismiss, and in both cases the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and remanded. The most recent remand was ordered in light of the 2014 decision in Alice Corp. v.CLS Bank International, in which the Supreme Court stressed that merely requiring computer implementation does not make an abstract idea patentable. Now, after examining the case for the third time, the Federal Circuit at last affirmed the district court’s decision. Patently-O provides analysis and suggests that the decision represents “a strong signal from the Federal Circuit that the court is now understanding what the Supreme Court meant in [Alice Corp. and its predecessors].”

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s judgment of noninfringement in Williamson v. Citric Online, LLC et al., 2013-1130 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 5, 2014). The plaintiff, Richard Williamson, sued Citrix Online, LLC and seven other corporate defendants — including Microsoft and Adobe — for infringement of his patent for a method of virtually connecting a presenter to a geographically remote audience. (The court described it as a “‘virtual classroom’ environment.”) The district court interpreted the terms of Williamson’s patent such that its constituent claims were unenforcably indefinite, or in any event, had not been infringed in this case.

In a 2-1 decision, the Federal Circuit remanded the case for a further determination of whether Williamson’s patent had been infringed. The majority determined that “the [defendants] have failed to overcome the strong presumption” that 35 U.S.C. § 112 does not apply absent language expressly referencing “means . . . for performing a specified function.”  The dissenting judge, however, took the position that § 112 could be triggered by other generic language, and that the word “module” in Williamson’s patent was sufficient to trigger it. The Los Angeles Intellectual Property Law Association provides commentary on this disagreement.

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit formally reprimanded Weil Gotshal partner Edward Reines in In Re Reines, 14-MA004 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 5, 2014). The case arose from a scandal which prompted Randall Rader, the former Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, to resign in May. Judge Rader wrote a letter to Reines praising his performance in an oral argument and expressing that he was “really proud to be [Reines’] friend.” Reines evidently circulated the letter to prospective clients, which the Federal Circuit found to be in violation of the American Bar Association’s rules of professional conduct.

In a per curiam opinion, eleven Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judges chastised Reines, rejecting his First Amendment challenge and “conclud[ing] that a public reprimand is the appropriate discipline.” The Recorder, Technethics, and Above the Law provide further commentary on the case and its aftermath.

Posted On Nov - 19 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Amendments to the Intellectual Property Law (B.O.E. 1996) and the Code of Civil Procedure (L.E. Civ. 2000) (Spain).

GOOGLE_APTHDVR_1268416fOn November 4, 2014, Spain amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure. The new text includes a provision levying fees on aggregators, like Google News, that collect snippets of other webpages. This practice is often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. In addition, the Spanish law allows sanctions of up to $758,000 for websites that link to copyright infringing content. Spain is at least the third European government fining search aggregators to support their traditional print publishing industries, following Germany and Belgium. Germany stopped its “Google tax” earlier this year. Belgium gave up in 2011(more…)

Posted On Nov - 18 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Sabreena Khalid

Azure Networks, LLC v. CSR PLC, 2013-1459 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 6, 2014).

Slip Opinion.

radio-wireless-tower-clip-art_resizedOn November 6th, the Federal Circuit issued its decision in Azure Networks, LLC v. CSR PLC. Plaintiffs Azure Networks, LLC (Azure) and Tri-County Excelsior Foundation (Tri-County) sued CSR PLC and its co-defendants for alleged infringement of Tri-County’s patent – U.S. Patent No. 7,756,129 (“the ’129 patent”) – describing a network for wireless communications between a central “hub” and several devices in close proximity. Slip op. at 3. The appeal involved two major issues.

The first issue was with regard to standing to sue; the defendants had successfully moved to dismiss Tri-County for lack of standing in the district court, arguing that Tri-County had effectively assigned Azure the patent in suit. The Federal Circuit decided the issue de novo, and upheld the dismissal.

The issue of standing turned on the assignment and licensing of the patent: The ’129 patent was acquired by Azure, a Texas limited liability company. Azure partnered with Tri-County, a Texas non-profit organization, to join in patent enforcement activities. Azure donated the ’129 patent to Tri-County in 2010; a few weeks later, Tri-County and Azure entered into a licensing agreement which granted Azure the exclusive, worldwide, transferrable right to practice the ’129 patent, as well as the “full right to enforce or and/or sublicense” the ’129 patent” and various other rights. Id. At 6. Azure’s enforcement rights included the right to reach settlements without Tri-County’s consent. Id. At 7. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 18 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Viviana Ruiz

Russia’s Intellectual Property Court affirms denial of Ford’s trademark application

Ford Motor Company’s (“FMC”) application to protect its company name and blue oval logo was rejected by Russia’s IP Office and affirmed by Russia’s Intellectual Property Court. Even though “FORD” was ranked as the 44th most valuable global brand last year by Forbes Magazine, the company failed to comply with Russia’s procedural requirements to obtain the requested protection. FMC failed to provide evidence of the company’s extensive use of the logo in Russia. FMC tried to prove extensive use through documentation of its joint venture with Russia’s car maker Sollers; however, since the documentation was provided by Ford Sollers Limited, it could not serve as evidence for FMC’s extensive use of its marks in Russia. The IP Office also held that the evidence provided did not show “consistent” use of the mark to qualify for well-known trademark protection. While this rejection may seem like a political move by Russia to challenge the enforcement of American company’s intellectual property rights, it may very well be true that FMC simply failed to comply with the requirements established by Russia’s IP Office. Nonetheless, FMC can reapply to obtain the well-known status of its marks.

Contrary to its advertising efforts, Red Bull does not give you wings

Red Bull GmbH (“Red Bull”) agreed to pay $13 million dollars to settle two class action law suits  Benjamin Careathers v. Red Bull North America Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-00369, and David Wolf et al. v. Red Bull GmbH, Case No. 1:13-cv-08008, both in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Benjamin Careathers, the plaintiff in one of the suits, argued that he did not grow wings and that his mental and physical development was not enhanced even after ten years of drinking Red Bull. $6.5 million dollars from the settlement will go into a fund that will be paid out to consumers who have been drinking Red Bull since 2002. Consumers do not need to prove purchase in order to get a $10 cash refund or get, in the alternative, $15 worth of Red Bull products. But since over 2 million people have requested for a refund, it is likely that consumers will receive much less than $10. A hearing has been schedule for May 1, 2015 to decide whether the settlement will be approved by Court. Consumers will receive their refund or products within 150 days of the settlement’s approval. Red Bull authorities have expressed that they reached a settlement in order to avoid further litigation, denying claims of liability.

Federal Court rules that food flavors are not trademarkable

In New York Pizzeria, Inc. v. Syal, 3:13-CV-335 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 20, 2014), Federal Court ruled that “food flavors” are not trademarkable given their functional purpose. Russo’s New York Pizzeria sued Gina’s Italian Kitchen for taste infringement, claiming trademark rights in the taste of their food. The court ruled that it is not possible to grant trademark protection to food flavors due to the “functionality” of flavors.

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Ken Winterbottom – Edited by Yixuan Long

Virginia v. Baust, No. CR14-1439 (Va. Cir. Oct. 28, 2014) Slip Opinion hosted by Scribd.

smartphone-fingerprintA Virginia state trial court held that a suspect “cannot be compelled [by the police] to produce his passcode to access his smartphone but he can be compelled to produce his fingerprint to do the same.” Id. at 4. The analysis turned on whether a passcode or a fingerprint is “testimonial communication.” Id. at 2.

Judge Frucci ruled that phone passwords were entitled to protection under the Fifth Amendment’s promise that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Id. He stressed that the password existed only in the defendant’s mind, and thus compelling the defendant to provide a passcode constituted a testimonial communication. The Fifth Amendment protects against such compulsion.

On the other hand, Judge Frucci concluded that smartphone fingerprint protection did not qualify for the Fifth Amendment privilege. He noted that producing a fingerprint did not require the communication of knowledge, but was rather analogous to being ordered to produce a DNA sample or a key, which is constitutionally permissible. Judge Frucci also cited a 1967 Supreme Court case, United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218 (1967), for the proposition that the Fifth Amendment “offers no protection against compulsion to submit to fingerprinting.” Baust, No. CR14-1439, at 3 (Va. Cir. Oct. 28, 2014).

Although some commentators were unsurprised by the decision, others worried about its privacy implications. The Virginian-Pilot and The Hill provide further commentary. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 12 - 2014 Add Comments 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 ...

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EU Unitary Patent Sy

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

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California Sex Offen

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

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Congress Fails to Pa

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