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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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Popular Samsung Phones under Investigation for Patent Infringement

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

The US International Trade Commission has instituted an investigation of patent infringement involving some of Samsung’s most popular smartphones. ITC will have to decide whether it is in the public interest to ban a major producer from selling its phones in the US.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Kathleen McGuinness

Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function

Judgment of damages sufficient to render plaintiff a prevailing party for fee awards

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Google Faces Potential Lawsuit in Connection with Celebrity Photo Leaks

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Celebrities impacted by the theft and distribution of personal images stored on Apple’s iCloud service may soon head to court seeking damages from Google for continued copyright infringement and privacy violations. Google is accused of failing to remove the private pictures pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and threatened with a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages that could reach over $100,000,000 unless the offending content is promptly taken down.

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By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Digitech Image Technologies, LLC v. Electronics For Imaging, Inc., 2013-1600, -1601, -1602, -1603, -1604, -1605, -1606, -1607, -1608, -1609, -1610, -1611, -1612, -1613, -1614, -1615,  -1616, -1617, -1618 (Fed. Cir. July 11, 2014) 

Slip Opinion

In Digitech Image Technologies, LLC v. Electronics For Imaging, Inc., the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the patentability of abstract ideas in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. ___, No. 13-298 (June 19, 2014) to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. Digitech Image Technologies (“Digitech”) filed infringement suits against 32 defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleging infringement of a patent “directed to the generation and use of an ‘improved device profile’ that describes spatial and color properties of a device within a digital image processing system.” 2013-1600, -1601, -1602, -1603, -1604, -1605, -1606, -1607, -1608, -1609, -1610, -1611, -1612, -1613, -1614, -1615,  -1616, -1617, -1618 (Fed. Cir. July 11, 2014). Slip op. at 56. Several defendants filed for summary judgment on the basis that the asserted claims of the Patent-in-SuitU.S. Patent No. 6,128,415 (“the ‘415 patent”)were invalid under Section 101. Id. at 6. The district court granted the motions, finding that the claims were subject matter ineligible. Id.

The ‘415 patent claims a “device profile” and a method for creating an improved device profile for use in digital imaging. Id. at 4. A digital image is typically captured by a “source device,” like a digital camera, and then transferred to an “output device,” like a monitor or printer. Id at 5. In the transfer process the image is distorted because of the differences in information, such as color ranges, stored by the source device and readable by the output device. Id. The ‘415 patent proposed a “device independent solution” to the distortion issue through the generation of device profiles containing information about both source and output devices. Id. Unlike prior art which only described device profiles covering color ranges, the ‘415 patent discloses device profiles consisting of color ranges and spatial properties. Id. at 56.

On appeal, Digitech argued that the district court erred in finding that the device profile claim was “directed to a collection of data that lacks tangible or physical properties” and that the method claims “encompass an abstract idea.” Id. at 6. The Federal Circuit rejected both arguments by Digitech, affirming the district court’s decision in an opinion authored by Circuit Judge Reyna. Id. at 7.

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Posted On Aug - 5 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

On July 25, 2014, the House passed bill S517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. This legislation was designed to make it legal for consumers to circumvent copy protection mechanisms for cell phone software when changing service providers—a practice known as “unlocking,” which had been illegal under the recommendation of the Library of Congress in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

The new bill was originally introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy [D-VT] on March 11, 2013, and it has not been amended since its introduction. The House originally passed a version of the bill that included controversial language which would still outlaw unlocking in bulks. After consumer group backlash, however, the Senate passed a version without the controversial language, and the House agreed to approve this version. The new bill essentially aims to increase consumer choice, allowing consumers to unlock their phones freely, as long as their device is fully paid for. Now that President Obama has signed the bill into law, it is now easier for cell phone users to change their phone service provider without having to purchase a new device.

A summary of the history surrounding the bill is available here. The Washington Post discusses the future implications of its passage. PC, Ars Technica, and the National Journal provide additional commentary.

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Posted On Aug - 5 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In the Matter of a Warrant for All Content and Other Information Associated with the Email Account xxxxxxx@gmail.com Maintained at Premises Controlled by Google, Inc., Case 1:14-mj-00309-UA (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 18, 2014) Memorandum Opinion

A Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge granted the government’s application for a search warrant in a money laundering investigation to obtain emails and other information from a suspect’s Gmail account, conflicting with the opinions of several other judges.

The SDNY magistrate judge addressed the conflicting opinions, disagreeing with the central issues in both a DC District Court and a District of Kansas opinion. The magistrate concluded that these courts too narrowly interpreted the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement, and also that the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment does not require the court to place protocol on how the government conducts its search. In granting the warrant, the magistrate opened the door for government search and seizure of massive amounts of email information, spurring a controversial debate over privacy concerns.

IT World, Reuters, and Tech Times provide an overview of the case. Slate criticizes the decision, stating that the magistrate “furthered an alarming trend” with the decision. Tech Law discusses reactions to the ruling.

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Posted On Aug - 5 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, No. 12‐4547‐cv (2d Circuit, June 10, 2014)

Slip opinion

booksIn a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes. In so holding, the Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s opinion.

The Guardian, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Bloomberg BNA overviewed the case. The district court opinion can be found here.

The fair use doctrine, set out in the Copyright Act of 1976 as a limitation on authors’ exclusive rights over their works, allows the public to draw upon copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder in certain circumstances. 17 U.S.C.A. § 107

Several research universities made digital copies of books in their collections and created a repository for the books called HathiTrust Digital Library (“HDL”) in 2008. They also founded HathiTrust to operate it. The HDL provides a full-text book database that allows users to search for page numbers where specific text can be found, and permits member libraries to provide patrons with certified print disabilities access to the full text of copyrighted works. HathiTrust currently has 80 members and the HDL contains over ten million books. Twenty authors and authors’ associations sued HathiTrust for copyright infringement.

The court first decided that three authors’ associations plaintiffs, including Authors Guild, Inc., do not have standing as a matter of U.S. law because the Copyright Act of 1976 does not allow third parties to bring suits. The remaining four authors’ associations’ standing came from foreign law that confers upon them exclusive rights to enforce copyrights of their foreign members. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

European Union Court of Justice Holds that Individuals Browsing Websites are not in Violation of Copyright Law
By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Yixuan Long

Case C‑360/13, Pub. Relations Consultants Ass’n v. Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd. (E.C.R., June 5, 2014)

Slip opinion

Hacked By Over-XThe Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) affirmed the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which had held that webpage browsers do not need license to view copyrighted materials online. The court concluded that the on-screen and cached copies meet the criteria for exemption from reproduction laws laid out in Articles 5(1) and 5(5) of the Directive 2001/29, art. 5, 2001 O.J. (L 167/10) 16, 17 (EC) (hereinafter “Directive”), finding both types to be: temporary, created in the context of the technological process of viewing webpages, contributing to the efficiency of browsing, and transient and/or incidental in nature. The court also concluded that these reproduction acts do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of rightholders and do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the reproduced works.

With this holding, the CJEU issued a crucial decision for European Union law, balancing the rights of copyright holders and the rights of individuals to browse authorized content without being liable for infringement.

The Guardian and PCWorld provide overviews of the case. Ars Technica offers a critical perspective on the decision, claiming that the real issue was much narrower than the CJEU portrayed with its decision.  (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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