A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

Federal Circuit Court Provides Clarity on Patent Preemption Post-Alice

By Seán Finan – Edited by Grace Truong

The decision of the Federal Circuit Court clarified the SS101 exceptions to patentability relating to preemption and abstract ideas. The decision has important implications for the application of the Alice test and for software patents.



By Alex Noonan – Edited by Filippo Raso

California Supreme Court to Determine if Courts Can Require Non-Party Content Hosts to Remove Defamatory Reviews


Half of American Adults are in Law Enforcement Facial Recognition Databases


Californian Residents Whose Data Were Exposed in Yahoo Data Breach to Bring Class Action Suit in California State Court




By June Nam – Edited by Ding Ding

The heirs of William Abbott and Lou Costello filed suit against the creators of a Broadway play, Hand to God for using—verbatim—a portion of the iconic comedy routine, Who’s on First?. The Second Circuit affirmed the judgment but rejected the reasoning of the district court, which dismissed allegations of copyright infringement. The Circuit Judge, Reena Raggi, held that the use of the routine in the play was not a fair use under the Copyright Act of 1976. However, the heirs did not have a valid copyright to allege any copyright infringement.



Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Wendy Chu – Edited by Kayla Haran

Delaware Supreme Court Dismisses a Case For Lack of Online Personal Jurisdiction

California District Court Dismisses Trademark Dilution Claim Because of Limited Recognition

eLaw Launches an On-Demand Lawyer Service for Court Appearances




Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Haydn Forrest – Edited by Henry Thomas

Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, v. Amazon.com, Inc. (Fed. Cir. Sep. 23, 2016)

Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC, v. DirecTV, LLC (Fed. Cir. Sep. 23, 2016)

Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec Corp. (Fed. Cir. Sep. 30, 2016)

Apple v. Samsung (Fed. Cir. Oct. 7, 2016)



ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Align Technology, Inc. v. International Trade Commission, No. 2013-1240, -1363 (Fed. Cir. July 18, 2014)

Slip Opinion

invisalign-bracesThe United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. Slip op. at 2. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review. Id. at 12.

The case arises out of two related proceedings. Align Technology, Inc. (“Align”) conceived of, developed, and marketed Invisalign System – dental aligners that treat teeth misalignment. Id. at 3. It owns patents that cover various methods and orthodontic treatment plans using digital data sets to create custom-designed aligners. Id. Align’s founder and former Chief Executive Office left the company and founded OrthoClear, Inc., OrthoClear Holdings, Inc., and OrthoClear Pakistan Pvt, Ltd. (collectively, “OrthoClear”) that manufactured and sold dental aligners. Id. at 3-4. Align then complained to the ITC that OrthoClear violated 19 U.S.C. § 1337 by “importing, selling for importation, or selling within the United States after importation aligners” that misappropriated Align’s trade secrets and infringed twelve of Align’s patents. Id. at 4. In August 2006, the parties reached a settlement, and the ITC entered a Consent Order that banned the importation of the infringing products and those “in violation” of the trade secrets. Id.

In 2012, Align accused OrthoClear and its affiliated parties (“Intervenors”) of violating the Consent Order and filed a new complaint with the ITC for an enforcement proceeding under 19 C.F.R. § 210.75 (“the enforcement proceeding”). Id. at 5-6. The ITC issued a Notice of Institution (“the Notice”) that recommended the ALJ to consider whether the Consent Order extended to the accused products and to issue that decision using an initial determination. Id. at 7.  Intervenors motioned to terminate the enforcement proceeding, contending that the Consent Order did not encompass the accused conduct. Id. The ALJ disagreed and denied the motion through an order, instead of the recommended initial determination. Id. at 8. Upon Intervenors’s request, the ITC determined that the order was in fact an “initial determination”—thus reviewable—pursuant to its Notice and ultimately reversed the ALJ’s finding. Id. at 9.  (more…)

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

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Photo By: mkhmarketing - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: mkhmarketingCC BY 2.0

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study to test emotional contagion through an experiment on Facebook users.   The published study was titled “Experimental Evidence of Massive-Scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks” and was conducted by Adam D. I. Kramer, Jamie E. Guilory, and Jeffrey T. Hancock.  The experiment took place for one week (January 11-18, 2012) and roughly 155,000 participants were randomly selected based on their User ID.  To test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions, Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts.

While ARS Technica defended Facebook’s experiment, most news articles criticized it for violating users’ privacy without their informed consent.  More can be found in the Independent, InformationWeek, Forbes, Washington Post and Atlantic.  The published results of the experiment can be found here.

According to the study, when users saw more negative posts on their News Feeds, by Facebook reducing positive posts, they were more likely to post negative statuses.  When they saw more positive posts on their News Feeds, they were more likely post positive statuses.  Finally, when Facebook reduced both positive and negative posts in some users’ News Feeds, the users reduced the amount of words used in their posts.    (more…)

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

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Edward Snowden recently leaked new information about the infamous NSA global surveillance scandal. In an interview with the Guardian, Snowden’s choice of media outlet since the original disclosures last summer, the controversial whistleblower denied allegations that he was a Russian spy and remarked that if he ended up detained in Guantanamo Bay, he could “live with that.” Snowden also revealed, however, that NSA employees routinely abused their positions by sharing intercepted nude photographs around the office. These racy images “are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions,” Snowden says.

Although the NSA has declined to comment as to the veracity of these allegations, an NSA spokesperson stressed that the agency has a zero tolerance policy for violations of professional standards, Ars Technica reports. That being said, reports of employee misuse of the government surveillance system are not new: In 2005, an NSA staff member was caught using surveillance data to spy on his ex-girlfriend on his very first day on the job.

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Ultra Records filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accusing popular YouTube personality Michelle Phan of using its songs in her videos without a license. Phan, a makeup guru who became a media sensation thanks to her tutorial videos, in which she uses cosmetics to make herself look like celebrities and film characters, is alleged to have illegally used Ultra’s music despite having been informed that she did not have permission to do so. The plaintiffs have alleged several dozen instances of copyright infringement, and is seeking $150,000 in damages for each one.

Kaskade, one of Ultra’s artists whose songs Phan has used in several videos, some of which are enumerated in the complaint, has spoken out in support of the YouTube star. “Copyright law is a dinosaur,” the musician said, expressing his disapproval over the suit but conceding that he was incapable of stopping it from going forward.

A spokesperson for Phan said the lawsuit was meritless, claiming that Ultra had agreed to allow her to use its music and that Phan intended to countersue.

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

This summer, the Silicon Valley Bank released its fifth annual Innovation Economy Outlook survey, which presents findings on trends in technology and entrepreneurship. The study had a generally optimistic tenor, finding, for example, that 65% of U.S. companies met or exceeded their 2013 revenue goals, and that business conditions are expected to improve in 2014.

In the area of gender diversity, however, the industry is lagging: Less than 50% of tech companies have women serving in leadership positions. This statistic places the U.S. behind Europe and Asia in terms of female representation, though a Forbes commentator noted that this does not necessarily mean that U.S. companies are less empowering or diversity-friendly.

The results of the survey only confirmed estimates based on existing data from top companies—only 37% of Yahoo employees, 31% of Facebook employees, and 30% of Google employees are female, according to the respective tech giants’ internal demographic statistics. The paucity of women in science, engineering, and technology-related fields is by no means a new discovery, and has been the subject of much commentary, even spurning attempts by leading companies to close the ‘gender gap.’

Yet while the disparity persists, there are signs that the situation may be improving. Last Winter, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that tech firms are now hiring more women than men, though whether this trend will continue remains to be seen.

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

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.


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


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.


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