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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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By Sheri Pan – Edited by Anton Ziajka

1271084_10152203108461729_809245696_oCase C-362/14, Maximillian Schrems v. Data Prot. Comm’r (E.C.J. argued Mar. 24, 2015).

Written Observations of Applicant hosted by Europe Versus Facebook.

In Luxembourg on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) heard oral arguments in a case challenging the legality of cross-Atlantic transfers of European data to U.S. companies like Facebook. The complaint, brought by Austrian privacy activist Maximillian Schrems, alleges that the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor agreement does not comply with EU Directive 95/46 (“the Directive”), which requires EU member states to ensure that data is being transferred to a country that provides an “adequate level of protection” for the data. Written Observations of Applicant at 8–9, Schrems (Nov. 10, 2014).

A copy of Schrems’ written submission to the ECJ is available here. The Register, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Ars Technica, and the Guardian provide reporting and commentary. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Anne Woodworth

UK Court Allows Safari Users to Sue Google over Privacy Settings

Google lost a bid in the UK Court of Appeals to stop Safari users from suing the company over bypassed privacy settings. The plaintiffs allege that Google used a workaround to get past privacy settings in the Safari browser, allowing them to gather search and personal information without user knowledge. Google argued that the plaintiffs suffered no financial harm but the court decided that the misuse of private information could be classified as a tort and that the claims merit a trial. 

FTC Responds to Allegations that it Ignored Staff Recommendations to Sue Google

The accidental release of an internal FTC staff memo recommending a lawsuit against Google has prompted recent criticism of the agency commissioners’ decision not to sue, including allegations that meetings between Google and government officials improperly influenced the agency choice not to act. The leaked memo was part of a 19-month investigation and many commenters have emphasized that it is only a small piece of the overall picture. The FTC responded to the criticism in a blog post, calling press allegations misleading, and stating that the Commission’s decision was in accord with FTC Bureau recommendations.

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Posted On Mar - 31 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys – Yaping Zhang

Order: Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2015) (denial of rehearing en banc)

Concurring opinion (October 22, 2014)

On March 23, 2015, Federal Circuit issued an order concerning the interpretation of willful patent infringement in Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. Halo initiated the patent infringement proceedings and invoked section 35 U.S.C. § 284 which allows the court to increase the damages up to three times the amount found or assessed if the infringement is found willful or in bad faith.

The defendant, Pulse, argued that the patent was obvious and that they did not infringe the Halo’s patent.  However, the jury found for the plaintiff and also that “it was highly probable that Pulse’s infringement was willful.” Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Electronics., Inc., No. 2:07-cv-00331-PMP-PAL, 2013 BL 219401  (D. Nev. August 6, 2013). The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court judgment and left a $1.5 million jury award for infringement to patent holder Halo Electronics Inc. intact. It also affirmed the decision not to enhance the award for willfulness under 35 U.S.C. § 284.

Halo v Pulse is a stepping stone in recent trends in patent law to reduce situations in which the alleged patent infringer must face treble damages. In one of the recent cases In re Seagate Tech., the Federal Circuit introduced a two-prong test: (1) the patentee has to show, by clear and convincing evidence, “that the infringer acted despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent.” If this objective requirement is met, (2) the patentee must then prove alleged infringer’s “subjective recklessness”, i.e., that the objectively defined risk was either known or should have been known to the alleged infringer. In re Seagate Tech., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 31 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang
600px-NetNeutrality_logo.svg_THE FCC 15-24 REPORT AND ORDER ON REMAND, DECLARATORY RULING, AND ORDER

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This allows the FCC to oversee potential discriminatory practices with regard to internet traffic. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

In addition to prohibiting blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of Internet traffic, the 313-page document details regulations and exceptions of protecting and promoting open internet. The FCC also reserves the power to decide many critical questions on a case-by-case basis. The release of the rules is appreciated by advocates for listening to Internet users and acting to protect the Internet from unfair discrimination by mobile and wireline ISPs. Moreover, according to a publication by Electronic Frontier Foundation, the FCC is credited for having adopted a positive approach with proper legal authority, bright-line protection, and forborn from the provisions that not necessarily protect net neutrality. Three Democratic commissioners who voted for the order expressed that: “today, broadband Internet access service is fundamentally understood by customers as a transmission platform through which consumers can access third-party content, applications, and services of their choosing”. Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, said: “We have created a playing field where there are known rules, and the FCC will sit there as a referee and will throw the flag.”

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 23 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

13399-surveillance_newsAdministration Discussion Draft: Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

The draft bill is intended to act as a baseline privacy law to control all kinds of personal information and address critical privacy issues presented by the ever-increasing collection and use of private information. The proposed new framework is meant to fill in the gaps between existing privacy legislation, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Video Privacy Protection Act, which is scattered over different sectors and has inconsistent standards. President Obama previously introduced a framework of consumer privacy law in 2012.

At its core, the draft bill requires industries to develop their own “codes of conduct” on the handling of consumer information and charges the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and state attorneys general with enforcement The draft bill adopts a wide definition of covered entities, including any entity that “collects, creates, processes, retains, uses, or discloses personal data in or affecting interstate commerce.” Its definition of “personal data” is similarly broad, and includes most non-public data that can be linked to a specific individual or device. However, critics such as the New York Times editorial board express concerns about the broad range of exceptions not covered by the draft bill. These exceptions include de-identified data, deleted data, employee business information, and information used or disclosed to respond to cybersecurity threats. Several entities are also exempt as well, including businesses that have fewer than 5 employees or that process Personal Data from fewer than 10,000 individuals or devices each year. Businesses would also not be liable for violations in the first 18 months they create or process personal data.  (more…)

Posted On Mar - 23 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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