A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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On August 14, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Draft Guidelines on the direct de novo classification process, a means of accelerating the approval of new types of medical devices posing only low to moderate health risks.[1]  The FDA created de novo classification in 1997, but after the process failed to achieve its purpose of expediting approval, the FDA introduced an alternative de novo process called “direct” de novo.

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Insuring Patents

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jennifer Chung and Ariel Simms

Despite its increasing availability, patent insurance—providing defensive protection against claims of patent infringement and funding offensive actions against patent infringers—continues to be uncommon. This Note aims to provide an overview of the patent insurance landscape.

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Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 Seeks to Establish Federal Cause of Action for Trade Secrets Misappropriation

By Suyoung Jang – Edited by Mila Owen

Following the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval in January of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, the Committee has released Senate Report 114-220 supporting the bill. The bill seeks to protect trade secret owners by creating a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Evan Tallmadge – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Linked Inheritability Between Two Regions of DNA is an Unpatentable Law of Nature

HP Setback in Challenging the Validity of MPHJ’s Distributed Virtual Copying Patent

CardPool Fails to Escape an Invalidity Judgment But Can Still Pursue Amended Claims

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Amicus Brief by EFF and ACLU Urging Illinois State Sex Offender Laws Declared Unconstitutional under First Amendment

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Mila Owen

With the Illinois Supreme Court gearing up to determine the constitutionality of the state’s sex offender registration statute, two advocacy non-profits have filed amicus briefs in support of striking the law down.

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pic01By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

United States v. Ulbricht, No. 14-CR-68 (KBF)(S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2014) Slip Opinion

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins has continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.” No. 14-CR-68 (KBF)(S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2014) at 50.

The criminal case was filed against Ross Ulbricht, founder and administrator of the website Silk Road which gained notoriety as the eBay of illegal goods and services. Id. at 12. Ulbricht was indicted by a Grand Jury in the Southern District of New York on February 4, 2014 on four counts, including conspiring to traffic drugs, engaging in computer hacking, and laundering money. Id. at 1. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss all four counts, which the court denied in its entirety. Id.

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Posted On Jul - 28 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

American Broadcasting Cos. V. Aereo, Inc. 134 S.Ct. 2498 (Supreme Court of the United States, June 25, 2014) Slip Opinion

aereo_antenna_array1

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc (“Aereo”).  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 (“Act”) for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business.  Aereo has made a request to the U.S. Copyright Office to be classified as a cable company under Section 111, but has not yet been successful. Additionally, Aero has reached out to the public, asking them to protest the decision, the Washington Post Reports.

The New York Times provides an overview of the case.  SCOTUS Blog criticizes that the majority’s ad hoc approach in deciding that Aereo was “substantially similar” to cable companies without grappling the text of the statute.

Aereo is a start-up company based in New York that provided its subscribers live and time-shifted streams of TV Shows on internet-connected devices.  Its subscribers would pay $8 to $12 a month to rent Aereo’s dime-size antennas that captured TV signals when the subscribers requested to view a specific TV show.  While Aereo argued that its service was a new way of viewing TV programs, broadcasters argued that Aereo was stealing their programs and violating copyright laws.

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Posted On Jul - 23 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

HL Bill 37 – Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”)

Full text of DRIP

The House of Lords passed the bill without a vote on July 17, 2014.

The House of Commons passed the bill by 498 votes to 31 on July 15, 2014.

On July 17, 2014, the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) became law of the land after the House of Lords passed it without a vote. This legislation grants the government power to mandate all companies, both operating in the UK and abroad, to retain customer metadata for 12 months, so long as the companies provide telecommunications services to UK customers. DRIP also changes the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (“RIPA”) to expand the UK government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage, including iCloud and Google Drive. Grounds for interception include national security and preventing or detecting serious crime. Prime Minister David Cameron introduced the bill on July 10, 2014 as an “emergency” law with an accelerated time frame. Parliament had a week to examine the bill, with a one-day debate in the House of Commons and two days in the House of Lords. According to the BBC, the purpose of the legislation is to replace legislation that became invalid when the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in April that blanket data retention breaches the right to privacy.

A summary of the bill and its history is available on the BBC and Human Rights Watch. NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden compared DRIP to the ‘Protect America Act of 2007’ introduced by former-President George W. Bush. Wired UK summarizes academics’ criticism of the bill. David Allen Green warns citizens of the danger of passing DRIP. The Guardian describes the harm in a more sarcastic and memorable way.

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Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kyle Pietari Edited by Insue Kim

infringementVirtualAgility, Inc., v. Salesforce.com, Inc., et al., No. 2014-1232 (Fed. Cir. July 10, 2014)

Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which denied a joint motion raised by Salesforce.com and other defendants (“Defendants”) to stay VirtualAgility’s (“VA”) patent infringement suit until the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) could complete a post-grant review of the validity of VA’s patent under the Transitional Program for Covered Business Method Patents (CBM). This was the Federal Circuit’s first encounter with an interlocutory appeal from a district court’s ruling on a motion to stay infringement proceedings concurrent with the CBM review process, made possible by the America Invents Act (AIA), 125 Stat. 284 § 18(b)(2).

Reviewing the district court’s application of four factors that the AIA expressly requires courts to consider, the Federal Circuit held that the stay pending CBM review was improperly denied. VirtualAgility, slip op. at 5. Though § 18(b)(2) states that the Federal Circuit’s standard of review “may be de novo,” the court declined to address the question of when to apply a de novo standard, holding that the district court’s decision would be reversed even under the abuse of discretion standard that VA had argued for. Id. at 5. In so holding, the Federal Circuit sent a message that although a court denying a stay of infringement proceedings could be given deference on appeal, it should not expect to.

National Law Review provides a thorough analysis of the case. PatentlyO discusses the interplay between courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  

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Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

Fox Broadcasting Company, et al. v. Dish Network LLC, et al., No. 13-56818 (9th Cir. 2014) Slip Opinion hosted by DocumentCloud

On July 4, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox Broadcasting Company’s (“Fox”) motion for a preliminary injunction against Dish Network’s (“Dish”), “Dish Anywhere,” and “Hopper Transfers” services.  Fox argued that the technologies, which enable Dish subscribers to stream programming from portable devices as well as cache them for offline viewing on iPads, would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative.  It noted that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm, even though the services had been available for several years.  The court also rejected Fox’s argument that it would lose advertising revenue, “in light of the evidence that advertisers are adapting to the changing landscape of television consumption.” Fox Broadcasting, slip op. at 4. Lastly, the court ruled that a preliminary injunction was not necessary because Fox had failed to demonstrate that allowing the services to continue operating prior to trial would induce other companies to follow Dish’s lead. It also added that any harm which did result could be adequately remedied with monetary damages.

Fox, in mounting the challenge, relied on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in American Broadcasting Company v. Aereo for support.  In Aereo, the Court ruled that Aereo violated copyright laws by providing broadcast programming to subscribers online.  Fox, in a letter to the court, argued, “Dish . . . engages in virtually identical conduct when it streams Fox’s programming to Dish subscribers over the internet [and] has repeatedly raised the same defenses as Aereo which have now been rejected by the Supreme Court.”

Jason Buckweitz, a researcher at Columbia Business School, however, noted that the Aereo case differs from the dispute at hand because Aereo had offered broadcasting content without paying for a license.  Dish, by contrast, pays retransmission fees to distribute Fox’s programming.  Under the Cable Act of 1992, broadcasters have the right to charge retransmission consent fees for redistribution of their content, 47 U.S.C. § 325, and they typically earn hundreds of millions of dollars per month from retransmission arrangements with cable companies.

Several commentators, including Mr. Buckweitz and Techdirt, warned that Fox’s reference to Aereo was only the beginning of broadcasters using the case to obtain more favorable deals with distributors.  More perniciously, they argued, Aereo could hamper innovation by threatening businesses whose services challenge the traditional avenues of content distribution.

Dish lauded the ruling and framed it as a victory for consumer choice.  Fox had previously lost a challenge to two other Dish services before the Ninth Circuit in 2013.

Sheri Pan is a 2L at Harvard Law School interested in the intersection of technology and public interest law.

Posted On Jul - 22 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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