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 Kathleen McGuinness

Icon-newsGoogle News Becomes Opt-In in Germany

Following Germany’s recent broadening of copyright protection for news “snippets,” Google News changed their user policy for publishers in Germany, requiring publishers to opt in to Google News participation using a new confirmation system. Forbes provides a translation of the new policy. Tools like robots.txt, which prevent Google from indexing a page, will still be recognized. In all other countries, Google News remains opt-out; publishers who do not want excerpts of their work reprinted in search results must use tools like robot.txt or inform Google that they do not want their pages to be indexed, both of which prevent results from appearing in Google searches. TechCrunch gives an explanation of the history of the new law and its implications.

Federal Circuit Rules that Software Patent Is Not an “Abstract Idea”

On Friday, the Federal Circuit in Ultramercial v. Hulu, No. 2010-1544 (Fed. Cir. June 21, 2013), found to be valid a patent protecting a method of distributing copyrighted content online without user payments, in exchange for the user viewing an advertisement which would pay for the copyrighted content. The court focused on the pro-protection history of the most recent changes to the Patent Act, the fact that the patent did not cover every application of the abstract idea, and on Supreme Court precedent indicating that a patent tying an abstract idea to a specific method for doing something with a computer is not too abstract to merit protection. IP Spotlight describes the holding and its implications in more detail.

Tokyo Court Rules for Apple, Against Samsung in Bounce-Back Patent Dispute

On Friday, a Tokyo court ruled that Samsung had infringed Apple’s controversial “bounce-back” patent on certain earlier models of Samsung smartphones. The status of Apple’s U.S. patent on the bounce-back user interface element remains in contention; the PTO ruled that the patent was invalid earlier this year, but recently decided that some elements of the interface were patentable. Reuters has a short summary. Apple and Samsung have gone back and forth in their Tokyo patent disputes; last August, Apple lost a suit against Samsung over music and video synchronization on smartphones. Bloomberg describes the business history and implications of the decision.

Posted On Jun - 22 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Ass’n v. Monsanto Co.
By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Jennifer Wong

Photo By: the yes manCC BY 2.0

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Ass’n v. Monsanto Co., 2012-1298, (Fed. Cir. Jun. 10, 2013).
Slip Opinion

On June 10, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dismissed an action seeking a declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity with respect to three biotechnology patents owned by Monsanto, affirming the lower court’s holding that there was no justiciable case or controversy and dismissing for lack of jurisdiction. The court held that Monsanto’s assurances that it would not take legal action in cases of inadvertent contamination by their proprietary transgenic seeds constituted a legally binding disclaimer of intent to sue. Since the plaintiffs had taken no steps to remove themselves from the protection of this disclaimer, any controversy was moot.

Reuters provides a summary of the case. Bloomberg discusses the factual background in more detail. Patently-O briefly explains the legal holding. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 20 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Kelly-Brown v. Winfrey
By Alex Shank – Edited by Samantha Rothberg

Photo By: nayrb7CC BY 2.0

Kelly-Brown v. Winfrey, No. 12-1207 (2nd Cir. May 31, 2013)
Slip opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court for the Southern District of New York’s (S.D.N.Y.) dismissal of trademark infringement claims against Oprah Winfrey, rejecting her fair use defense. Kelly-Brown alleged that Winfrey had used her trademarked phrase “Own Your Power” “as a mark” on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine, its website, and at a magazine event.

Bloomberg summarizes the case and provides comments from Harpo, Inc. and Hearst Corp., two of Winfrey’s media enterprises. Reuters reports that Kelly-Brown was “ecstatic” about the result. JDSupra praised the court’s recognition of Kelly-Brown’s trademark as a “concept,” while Rebecca Tushnet critiqued the Second Circuit’s further confusing the meaning of “descriptive use.” (more…)

Posted On Jun - 18 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Samantha Rothberg

Icon-newsChinese National Sentenced to 12 Years in U.S. Prison for Selling Pirated Software

Chinese citizen Xiang Li was sentenced to 12 years in a U.S. federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and criminal copyright infringement, Bloomberg reports. Li operated a website, “Crack 99,” which sold more than $100 million worth of pirated software between 2008 and 2011. He was arrested in Saipan, a U.S. territory, after traveling there to sell software to undercover federal agents. According to prosecutors, Li is the first Chinese national to be “apprehended and prosecuted in the U.S. for cybercrimes he engaged in entirely from China.”

Songwriters’ Rights Group BMI Sues Pandora Over Fee Dispute

Broadcast Music Inc. (“BMI”), an organization that collects royalties on behalf of music publishers and songwriters when their works are played in public, filed suit in federal court against Pandora, the Internet radio service, the Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier this week, Pandora purchased a small radio station in South Dakota and argued that this move entitles it to pay BMI the reduced royalty fees that traditional radio broadcasters pay. BMI decried Pandora’s move as a “brazen effort to artificially drive down its license fees.” The organization sued for a judicial declaration of the rates that Pandora must pay when it plays an artist’s song.

Google Argues Wi-FI is “Radio Signal” in Street View Case

Google urged the Ninth Circuit to overrule a judge’s 2011 finding that its Street View program had violated the federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510–2522, by collecting private data over unencrypted wi-fi signals, Bloomberg reports. Google argues that transmissions over an open wi-fi signal are equivalent to public radio transmissions, and the interception of a radio transmission or any “form of electronic communication readily accessible to the general public” is not illegal under the Wiretap Act. Attorney Elizabeth Cabraser, who represents the consumers who won the initial ruling, argued that the Wiretap Act exception was intended to protect ham radios used for communicating over long distances, and not wi-fi networks, which are broadcast over very short distances. She urged the court to reject Google’s “attempt to create a loophole to serve its own purposes.”

New York Aims to Crack Down on 3D Gun Printing

A New York city councilman introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make it illegal for anyone other than a licensed gunsmith to manufacture guns using a 3D printer, reports CNET. The bill would require legal manufacturers to register the guns with police within 72 hours of creation. The New York State Legislature and U.S. Congress have both recently introduced similar legislation, and a California state senator has announced plans to do the same. The surge in legislation stems from the worry that untraceable, undetectable plastic guns could be anonymously printed by anyone with a 3D printer and the necessary software. Last month, that vision took a step closer to reality when the non-profit organization Defense Distributed announced that it had created the world’s first 3D-printed handgun, the “Liberator.”

Posted On Jun - 16 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Leaked Surveillance Programs Reveal Large-Scale Data Collection

By Michelle Sohn – Edited by Katie Mullen

Photo By: darkuncleCC BY 2.0

Last week, the Guardian revealed two top-secret U.S. programs—Verizon metadata collection and PRISM—that allow the National Security Agency (“NSA”) to conduct domestic surveillance on a massive and unprecedented scale. The first program was conducted with an order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court order required Verizon to provide the NSA with all “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications within the U.S. as well as between the U.S. and abroad. The order specified a three month period, but could have been one of several similar orders. Metadata includes the phone numbers, location, and duration of Verizon users’ calls, but not the actual content of conversations. The order also prohibited Verizon from disclosing any information about this program or the order’s existence. The second program, PRISM, allows the government direct access to participating companies’ servers. A wide range of data can be culled from the servers, including email, video and voice chat, and file transfers. Major companies allegedly participating in Prism include Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, and Google. Spokespersons from these companies have denied participation. PRISM can target user communications outside the U.S. and communications involving people outside the U.S.

NPR summarized an interview on the two surveillance programs with former NSA director, General Michael Hayden, who largely praised the program as “an accurate reflection of balancing our security and our privacy.” The New Yorker criticized the court-ordered metadata collection program, declaring, “The problem, then, is not just secrecy, but meta-secrecy. The government let the public think that certain words mean one thing, while operating on the idea that they mean another.” Congress has initiated new oversight proceedings on the programs. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 15 - 2013 Comments Off 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 ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

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

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

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

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

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