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

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.



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.



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



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.



Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Gia Velasquez – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Federal Court Grants Uber’s Class Action Certification Appeal

Independent Contractor Classification of Uber Drivers May Violate Antitrust Laws

Self-Driving Car Will Be Considered Autonomous Driver


Icon-newsBy Evan Tallmadge – Edited by Yunnan Jiang

Patent Agent Privilege

In Re: Queen’s University at Kingston, PARTEQ Research and Development Innovations (Fed. Cir. Mar. 7, 2016)

Queen’s University and its partner in commercializing university-developed IP, PARTEQ R&D, are involved in patent litigation in the Eastern District of Texas against Samsung Electronics. The district court had ordered Queen’s University to produce all communications with its non-attorney patent agents. Queen’s University sought a writ of mandamus directing the district court to withdraw its order on the ground that the communication between a client and non-attorney patent agents is privileged.

Looking at precedent and relying heavily on the logic about the status of patent agents in the legal system found in Sperry v. State of Florida ex rel. Florida Bar, 373 U.S. 379 (1963), the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals held that “the unique roles of patent agents, the congressional recognition of their authority to act, the Supreme Court’s characterization of their activities as the practice of law, and the current realities of patent litigation counsel in favor of recognizing an independent patent-agent privilege.” The scope of the privilege is not unlimited, as the Court held that only communications that are in furtherance of the tasks of a patent agent outlined in 37 C.F.R. § 11.5(b)(1) are covered, but tasks incidental to those goals, such as assessing the validity of a competitor’s patent in contemplation of litigation or sale are not privileged.

For an interesting discussion of the implications and limits of this ruling (and perhaps advice on IPRs not covered), Dennis Crouch’s article on this ruling and the commentary provides good reading. Paul Ackerman over at National Law Review also provides an interesting look at the limits of the ruling.


Posted On Mar - 28 - 2016 Add Comments READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Frederick Ding — Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Supreme Court grants certiorari to Samsung on design patent damages

In December 2015, Samsung paid $548 million to Apple after a jury in 2012 found Samsung to be infringing Apple’s utility and design patents. Although this amount had been reduced from the billion-dollar jury award, Samsung contested the calculation of damages using the infringing devices’ total profits. Samsung petitioned the Supreme Court, presenting two questions, including: “Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?” On Monday, March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court granted the petition for October Term 2016, limited to this question. Tech companies are closely monitoring the case, which involves nineteenth-century provisions of the Patent Act that they contend did not anticipate complex “multicomponent” products.

Justice Department announces indictments of seven Iranians for state-sponsored cyberattacks

A federal grand jury has indicted seven Iranians alleged to be “experienced hackers … working on behalf of the Iranian government … to conduct a series of cyberattacks against civilian targets in the United States,” according to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. They are accused of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and unauthorized access to a protected computer, in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030, in connection with distributed denial-of-service attacks on several U.S. banks and an apparently successful intrusion into a New York dam’s control systems. Significantly, the Washington Post reports that this is the first time the United States government has charged foreign agents, acting abroad, with hacking civilian targets in the United States.

Civil liberties group warns of NYC’s newest surveillance network: free public Wi-Fi

New York City deployed the first public Wi-Fi kiosks in Manhattan in January 2016, as part of LinkNYC, an initiative to replace phone booths in the city with over 7500 advertising-supported kiosks providing free Internet service. But because the service requires an email address, and acceptance of terms and a Privacy Policy authorizing the collection, retention, and disclosure to government authorities of personally identifiable information transmitted over the service, the New York Civil Liberties Union has recently raised concerns that LinkNYC will serve as a new surveillance vehicle enabling law enforcement to collect information on citizens. The General Manager of LinkNYC issued a statement in response this week, noting that they would share data with law enforcement only upon “subpoena or similar lawful request.” This language is reminiscent of the terms of use and privacy policies of other telecommunications companies, which similarly give leeway to respond to court orders, discovery requests, and even agency request letters, including those that have not received judicial approval.

Posted On Mar - 28 - 2016 Add Comments READ FULL POST

Queen's UniversityBy Kevin Crenny – Edited by Stacy Ruegilin

In re Queen’s Univ. at Kingston, No. 2015-145 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 7, 2016), opinion available here.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, by writ of mandamus, reversed an order by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to compel production of documents containing communications between plaintiff Queen’s University and its non-attorney patent agents.

The Federal Circuit held that communications “relating to ‘obtaining legal advice on patentability and legal services in preparing a patent application’ will be kept privileged,” even if such communications are between a client and a non-attorney patent agent. In doing so, the court relied upon the Supreme Court’s decision in Sperry v. State of Florida ex rel. Florida Bar, 373 U.S. 379 (1963), hosted by justia.com, which had established that patent agents did practice law, albeit to a limited extent. The Circuit reasoned that protecting legal communications, even if neither party is an attorney, would serve Congress’ intent in establishing patent agents as an alternative to attorneys in this limited context. In so holding, the court established for the first time a patent-agent privilege, overcoming the general presumption against finding new forms of privilege.


Posted On Mar - 22 - 2016 Add Comments READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Gia Velasquez – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Federal Aviation Association Implements a Mandatory Registration Process for Drones

The mandatory registration process of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) in December drew considerable speculation regarding the necessity of the registration process. Researchers at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center investigated the risk of small drones on air traffic by studying the effects of wildlife collisions with aircraft and estimate that “one damaging incident will occur no more than every 1.87 million years of 2kg UAS flight time.” The study acknowledges that UAS may be more damaging to aircraft than wildlife, but conclude that the probability of a collision occurring is “at an acceptable level.”

The FDA Expedites the Review Process for Generic Pharmaceutical Drugs

The Food and Drug Administration has introduced an expedited review process for generic pharmaceutical drugs that would compete with an off-patent drug produced by a single company. When a patent expires, the patent holder can raise drug prices because of its exclusive hold on the market, making it unattractive for new producers to join. Estimating the change will affect as many as 125 generic drugs, the FDA hopes to foil plans of drug manufacturers such as Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who famously increased the price of an antiparasitic drug tablet from $13.50 to $750.

Senate Rejects GMO Labeling Bill

The Senate rejected a bill that would have established voluntary labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMO). Democrat Senator Jon Tester and organic farmer from Montana called the bill a “bad, bad, bad policy” because the voluntary standards “are no standards at all.” If it had passed, the bill would have preempted Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2016. Though GMO labeling is a highly disputed issue, General Mills received no sales benefit from labeling Cheerios® as GMO-free.

Posted On Mar - 22 - 2016 Add Comments READ FULL POST


By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by David Nathaniel Tan


On October 6, 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) delivered another landmark ruling concerning the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe.[1]Responding to a request from the Irish High Court,[2] the CJEU held that the Safe Harbor Agreement (the “Agreement”), under which companies like Facebook were able to legally transmit personal data from their European subscribers to the U.S., was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the Agreement and the case, and explore some of the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

According to the CJEU, the Safe Harbor Principles did not provide adequate safeguards as required by the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) (the “Directive”). The decision has led to a flurry of activity on both shores of the Atlantic. On November 3, barely a month after the judgement was announced, it was the hot topic of debate at a House Communications Subcommittee of Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade meeting. Microsoft, Apple and Oracle, among others, urged U.S. legislators to take swift action as “trillions of dollars in global GDP were at stake.”[3]

The CJEU decision has left U.S companies in a quandary as to how they may demonstrate their compliance with European law in handling foreign customer data, as they wait for rescue by Safe Harbor 2.0.[4] But so far, signals are weak that a new Safe Harbor Agreement can provide the much sought-after shelter for personal data making the journey across the Atlantic. (more…)

Posted On Jan - 4 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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