A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The 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. 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.

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

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

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

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins 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.”

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

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 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. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc.
By Suzanne Van Arsdale – Edited by Sounghun Lee

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc., No. 2011-1555 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2012) (Transocean II)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the Southern District of Texas’s ruling that U.S. Patent Nos. 6,047,781, 6,085,851, and 6,068,069 held by plaintiff Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. (“Transocean”) were invalid for obviousness and lack of enablement, that defendant Maersk Drilling USA, Inc. (“Maersk”) did not infringe some claims, and that Transocean was not entitled to damages. The court of appeals also reversed the district court’s conditional grant of a new trial.

The Federal Circuit held that a person of ordinary skill in the art could practice the claims without undue experimentation and objective evidence was sufficient to rebut a prima facie case of obviousness. As such, the court further held that the jury’s findings and award of $15 million to Transocean were sound, and the district court erred in granting Maersk’s motion for judgment as a matter of law for insufficient evidence. In so holding, the court noted that “we have rarely held that objective evidence is sufficient to overcome a prima facie case of obviousness.” Transocean II at 21.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the decision and the prior ruling. IP Frontline notes that the court has rarely found nonobviousness by looking at objective indicia.

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Posted On Nov - 24 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Hernandez v. Path, Inc.
By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Hernandez v. Path, Inc., No. 12-CV-01515 YGR (N.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

In a class-action privacy lawsuit over a photo sharing app’s alleged unauthorized access of user data, the District Court for the Northern District of California held that the plaintiff has Article III standing, but dismissed six of the ten claims. The court held that neither a slight loss of phone battery life nor hypothetical future risks to the security of user data were sufficient harms to establish standing, but ruled that the expense of paying an expert to remove the unwanted software could be sufficient. It also allowed a negligence claim to go forward, noting that California courts have not foreclosed the possibility of liability for third-party app developers who negligently collect user data.

MediaPost provides a short overview of the case. Internetcases discusses the holding for each claim in more detail. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision, expressing concern about the implications of allowing the negligence claim.

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Posted On Nov - 20 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michelle Sohn

Posthumously Conceived Twins from Michigan Seek Deceased Father’s Social Security Benefits

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether posthumously conceived twins are entitled to their father’s Social Security benefits, reports ABC News. The twins—aged 10—were conceived through in vitro fertilization, using sperm stored while their father, Jeffrey Mattison, underwent chemotherapy.  Months before Mr. Mattison’s death, the twins’ mother, Pamela Mattison, had been preparing for the in vitro treatment according to her attorneys. Mrs. Mattison conceived the twins in January 2001, weeks after Mr. Mattison’s death. While the case is one of first impression for the Michigan Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar issue earlier this year. In Astrue v Capato, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the eligibility of posthumously conceived children for social security benefits should be decided according to statutory requirements or a state’s intestacy law. The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will decide whether Michigan’s law permits children conceived after a biological parent’s death to inherit benefits.

Ninth Circuit to Decide Whether a Sent E-Mail Can Create Agency

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took on the question of whether a sent, but unread, e-mail can give rise to a contract claim, reports Law Technology News. The question arises from a contract dispute between Paramount, an almond and pistachio company, and Ventilex B.V., a Dutch manufacturer. The plaintiff in the dispute, Paramount, contracted with the defendant’s American sales unit, Ventilex U.S.A., to buy the defendant’s almond pasteurizing machine. According to the contract, Ventilex U.S.A. guaranteed the machine’s approval by and compliance with government regulations. However, the machine was not able to obtain governmental approval and Ventilex U.S.A eventually went bankrupt. Paramount then brought suit against Ventilex B.V. Pointing to an e-mail from Ventilex U.S.A to the defendant regarding the machine’s guaranteed government approval, the plaintiff argues that Ventilex U.S.A. was acting as an agent for the defendant. However, the defendant never responded to the e-mail and it is unclear whether the e-mail was actually read.

Google Transparency Report Released

Earlier this week, Google released a new report on transparency, reports Ars Technica. The report is released twice a year and discloses statistics on traffic, removal requests, and user data requests. According to the report, the U.S. government made the most requests for user data. From January to June 2012, the U.S. made nearly 8,000 requests for user data and Google complied with these requests 90% of the time. Overall, approximately 34,000 Google users were subject to surveillance requests by governments worldwide. The report also reveals that removal requests for copyrighted materials grew exponentially. The Microsoft Corporation has made the most removal requests for copyrighted material so far this year.

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

Supreme Court to Hear DNA Privacy Case

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Maryland v. King,  a case involving the warrantless collection of DNA from an arrestee, the Washington Post reported.  In 2009, Maryland instituted routine DNA collection from people arrested for violent crimes; Alonzo King, Jr. was arrested for assault in 2009, and a cheek swab connected him to a 2003 rape, for which he was later convicted. The Maryland Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that the DNA collection violated King’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Canada Invalidates Viagra Patent

The Canadian Supreme Court invalidated Pfizer’s patent on Viagra for failing to meet the disclosure requirements of the Canadian Patent Act, reported Reuters. The court accused Pfizer of trying “to ‘game’ the system” with its patent. The ruling was a victory for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which had previously, and unsuccessfully, sued Pfizer in the United States, Spain, Norway, and New Zealand.

Sixth Circuit Affirms Ruling against Attorney Who Made Fake Child Pornography for Defense Case

An attorney in Ohio digitally altered two photos of minors to display them in sexually explicit acts, and used those images at two separate trials to argue that child pornography laws are overbroad because it is too difficult to detect whether or not a given image is of a minor. As Ars Technica reports, the attorney, Dean Boland—a former state prosecutor and frequent expert witness in child pornography cases—was held liable for $300,000 in a civil suit brought by the families of the two girls whose images were altered, and the Sixth Circuit has now affirmed the decision. The Sixth Circuit rejected Boland’s First Amendment argument, which emphasized that the images were created for courtroom use. The court stated that the creation of “morphed images” to make his point was “an option Congress explicitly forbade.”

Posted On Nov - 13 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Voter Verified, Inc. v. Premier Election Solutions, Inc.
By Craig Fratrik – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Voter Verified, Inc. v. Premier Election Solutions, Inc., Nos. 2011-1553, 2012-1017, 2012 WL 5382734 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 5, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Middle District of Florida’s ruling that the defendants, Premier Software Solutions, Inc., Diebold, Inc., and Election Systems & Software, Inc., had not infringed U.S. Reissue Patent No. RE40,449 (the ’449 Patent) held by Voter Verified, Inc., and that one of its claims was invalid for obviousness. The district court had held that claim 49 was invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 and claim 94 was invalid for indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. §112. Voter Verified appealed both the rulings of non-infringement and invalidity as to claim 49.

Voter Verified’s patent was issued on August 5, 2008 and claims a system and method for verified voting in an election comprising both generating a temporary digital record of the vote and then a corresponding printed ballot. A computer scans the printed vote for accuracy against the digital vote, and only records accurate votes. Defendants produce and market verified voting systems that use the voter herself to check the printed ballot for accuracy. Critical for the disposition in this case, an online periodical concerned with computer safety and security called the Risks Digest originally published a similar idea in the Benson article in 1986 via a subscription mailing list and made it available online in 1995, well before the ’449 Patent’s priority date in 2000.

Patently-O provides an overview of the prior art and joint infringement holdings in the case, and notes that the opinion, issued the day before the presidential election (and on appeal from the Middle District of Florida), did not force the court to intervene in voting in Florida. Patents4Life discusses how the “sufficiently accessible” standard leads to tricky questions and potential implications for what sort of online resources will constitute prior art.

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Posted On Nov - 12 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

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Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...

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Aereo Struggles as S

Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law By ...