A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Anne Woodworth

UK Court Allows Safari Users to Sue Google over Privacy Settings

FTC Responds to Allegations that it Ignored Staff Recommendations to Sue Google

Citigroup Report Criticizes Law Firms for not Reporting Hacking

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Federal Circuit Rejects En Banc Review of Infringement Willfulness Standard

By Paulius Jurcys – Yaping Zhang

The Federal Circuit rejected a motion for en banc review of a patent infringement case evaluating the willfulness standard and whether the standard should be changed in order to meet the interpretation provided by the Supreme Court in the Octane decision.

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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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By Paulius Jurcys Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Slip opinion

Jury verdict available here

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

Procedural history reveals that initially Smartflash sought $852 million compensation. This sum was calculated based on the percentage of sales of Apple devices (iPads, iPods and Macs) which enabled iTunes customers to access and download songs, videos and games. Apple contended that the maximum value of those patents was worth not more than 4.5 million.

During the trial, Apple’s lawyers challenged all issues of the case. Namely, it was argued that patents were invalid, that Smartflash waited unduly long to file a case and that it did not have ultimate control over the patents. More generally, Apple submitted that plaintiff’s claim for $852 in damages was deemed to be “excessive and unsupportable.” Yet, a jury in Texas federal court sided with Smartflash holding that Apple did not “respect” its patents and failed to demonstrate that the patents at stake were invalid.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jenny Choi

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Andrus Nomm, a computer programmer from Estonia who worked for Megaupload.com from 2007 until his arrest in January 2012, pleaded guilty in connection with his involvement with Megaupload and associated piracy websites. He is sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for conspiring to commit felony copyright infringement. In court papers, Nomm agreed that Mega Conspiracy’s conduct caused more than $400 million loss to copyright holders and that the group gained at least $175 million in proceeds. He also admitted that he was aware of the stored copyright-infringing content on the websites and that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites.

Megaupload.com was a file-sharing company established in Hong Kong by Kim Dotcom in 2005 and soon became one of the world’s largest piracy hubs. At one point, it accounted for 4% of all the Internet traffic and had more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users, and 50 million daily visitors. According to The Guardian, Megaupload made a huge profit by paying people to upload pirated materials and facilitating unsanctioned exchanges of music and movies. On January 19, 2012, the DOJ shut down Megaupload and prosecuted the Mega group, after intense lobbying by the movie and music industries. Afterwards, according to another statement published by The Guardian, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America brought civil lawsuits targeting Dotcom.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Anne Woodworth

Report Claims Facebook Privacy Policy in Violation of EU Law

A report by the Centre of Interdisciplinary Law and ICT in Belgium claims that Facebook’s January privacy policy update remains in violation of European consumer protection law.  The authors stated that collection of device information such as location data defies article 5(3) of the EU e-Privacy Directive, requiring “free and informed prior consent before storing or accessing information on an individual’s device.”  The report criticized Facebook for not allowing users to control their appearance in “sponsored stories” and highlighted the inability of users to opt out of location sharing on the app without going through their mobile operating system.  Facebook responded that it’s updated terms and policies expand user control over advertising and comply with EU laws.

FCC Preempts State Laws Limiting City-Provided Internet Service

In a 3-2 vote, the FCC overrode state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that make it difficult for cities to provide internet service independently.  The move is likely to provoke litigation over limits on Federal Power.  In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League that Section 253 of the Telecommunications Act did not allow for state preemption in a case concerning the blocking of municipal broadband service.  The FCC Chairman said the current action is allowable under Section 706 which mandates the blocking of growth barriers in the broadband market.

Aereo Files Repayment Plan Following Bankruptcy Auction

Last week, eight months after the Supreme Court declared Aereo Inc.’s television streaming business illegal, the company auctioned off intellectual property, technology and other assets for a total of $1.55 million, a much smaller sum than expected.  It’s trademarks, domain names and customer list sold to TiVo for $1 million.  On Friday February 27, the company laid out its plan to repay creditors.  The auction sale is set to be approved in a March 11 hearing, and Aereo hopes to have the repayment plan confirmed by creditors in May.

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Amanda Liverzani

UnknownPTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld 

In Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. Michelle Lee, the Federal Circuit upheld the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“PTO”) interpretation of a statute addressing the type of applicant conduct factored into a Patent Term Adjustment (“PTA”). 2014-1159 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 26, 2015), slip op. at 16. Gilead argued that the PTO’s PTA calculation for U.S. Patent No. 8,148,374 was based on an arbitrary and capricious interpretation of § 154(b)(2)(C)(i) of the Patent Act, which states that a PTA for delay caused by the PTO is to be offset by the time “the applicant failed to engage in reasonable efforts to conclude prosecution of the application.” Id. at 8 (quoting § 154(b)(2)(C)).  The court rejected Gilead’s argument that, contrary to the PTO’s interpretation, the statute should be read only to include applicant conduct that actually delays prosecution.  Applying the Chevron two-step framework, the court concluded that the PTO’s interpretation was entitled to deference because Congress did not specifically address whether an applicant’s failure to engage in reasonable efforts need actually cause delay, id. at 13, and that the PTO’s interpretation was permissible given the broad language of the statute, id. at 13-14. A timeline of the relevant patent prosecution and further explanation of the court’s decision are available at PatentlyO.

 

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patent

The Federal Circuit upheld a district court decision that Garmin’s GPS fitness watches do not infringe on a patent held by Pacing Technologies in Pacing Technologies, LLC v. Garmin International, Inc., 2014-1396 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 18, 2015). The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 8,101,843 (“the ‘843 patent”), claims a method for pacing users during activities like running or cycling “by providing the user with a tempo . . . corresponding to the user’s desired pace.” Slip op. at 2.  On appeal, the court considered whether the patent claims were limited to devices that convey pace to the user through a play back mechanism such as a song or flashing lights. Id. at 4.  The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court’s finding that claims of the ‘843 patent were limited to devices with play back features, id. at 5, and subsequently held that Garmin’s fitness watches did not infringe on Pacing Technologies’ patent, id. at 10. For additional commentary see Law360, the National Law Review, and PatentlyO.

 

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

 Soverain Software’s patent claims directed to online shopping carts were found invalid due to issue preclusion by the Federal Circuit, reversing the decision of the Eastern District of Texas in an infringement action against Victoria’s Secret and Avon. Soverain Software LLC v. Victoria’s Secret Direct Brand Management, LLC, Avon Products, Inc., 2012-1649, 2012-1650 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 12, 2015), slip op. at 2. The patents involved in the case, U.S. Patent No. 5,715,314 and U.S. Patent No. 5,909,492, were previously found invalid by the Federal Circuit in Soverain Software LLC v. Newegg Inc., 705 F.3d 1332 (Fed. Cir. 2013). Id. The court rejected Soverain’s argument that issue preclusion should not apply in the instant action because Soverain did not have full and fair opportunity to litigate. Id. at 6-14.  Further coverage of the decision and related litigation involving shopping cart patents is available at Ars Technica, IPWatchdog, and Law360.

 

Posted On Mar - 2 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong  

U.S. v. Ulbricht, No. 13-06919 (S.D.N.Y., February 4, 2015)

FBI Press Release
UnknownOn February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Mr. Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

A summary of the case is provided by Ars Technica, Forbes, and Reuters. Wired provides an in-depth analysis of the decision. Details on the course of the trial can be found at Forbes and Forbes. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 2 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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