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Google Appeals Ruling that Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong– Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as application programming interfaces (APIs). Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ariane Moss

Microsoft Tax Banned in Italy

California Responds to Data Breaches by Strengthening Privacy Laws

EU Court Rules Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement

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Google Appeals Ruling That Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as APIs. Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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UN Report Finds Government Mass Surveillance Violates Privacy

By Olga Slobodyanyuk – Edited by Jesse Goodwin

The UN Report from the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights found that government Internet mass surveillance violates Article 17 of the ICCPR by impinging individuals’ privacy.

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Functional Claim Elements Must Be Backed by Sufficient Structural Guidance

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The Federal Circuit found that patent claim terms that offer no guidance to structure and are solely functional are means-plus-function terms and indefinite under § 112(f).

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Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. v. Nagata
By Erica Larson – Edited by Suzanne Van Arsdale

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. v. Nagata, No. 2012-1245 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 11, 2013)
Slip opinion

Photo By: Derek GaveyCC BY 2.0

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Northern District of California, which ruled that plaintiff Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. (“SEL”) could not establish federal jurisdiction over defendant Dr. Yujiro Nagata. The courts rejected a novel offensive application of assignor estoppel, traditionally a defense, which bars the previous holder of a patent from attacking the patent’s validity when sued for infringement by the assignee.

SEL asserted the doctrine offensively, arguing that Nagata had violated assignor estoppel in a previous lawsuit by testifying against SEL, giving rise to a federal cause of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a). Like the district court before it, the Federal Circuit did not reward plaintiff’s legal creativity. Instead the court held that the argument lacked precedent or strong supporting authority and declined to extend the doctrine. Semiconductor Energy Laboratory at 6–7.

Property, intangible provides an overview of the decision and prior events. Dennis Crouch, writing for Patently-O, speculates that the Federal Circuit would have affirmed without opinion were the Supreme Court not presently considering Gunn v. Minton, a case which questions the extent of federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(b). Minton v. Gunn, 355 S.W.3d 634 (Tex. 2011) cert. granted, 133 S.Ct. 420 (2012) (focusing on whether the state law attorney malpractice case raises a federal cause of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(b)). (more…)

Posted On Feb - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Andrew Crocker

DHS Civil Liberties Office Validates Suspicionless Border Searches of Electronics

Wired reports that the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released an “Impact Assessment” regarding the authority of customs and border agents to conduct warrantless, suspicionless searches of electronic devices. In its executive summary, the CRCL concluded that the 2009 executive directives allowing such suspicionless searches comply with the Fourth Amendment and that a heightened reasonable suspicion requirement “would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.” Because the CRCL publicly released only the executive summary of the assessment, the American Civil Liberties Organization (ACLU) reports it has filed a FOIA request for the full findings. The ACLU has long been critical of the suspicionless search policy and is representing a plaintiff who alleges his constitutional rights were violated during a 2010 border search that resulted in the 11-day seizure of his laptop.

Obama Criticizes Patent Trolls

Mashable reports that this week, during a technology-focused Google+ Hangout following his State of the Union address, President Obama discussed patent reform and singled out so-called “patent trolls,” businesses that acquire broad patents and use them to sue other inventors. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted a video of the Hangout, in which Obama responded to a question about patent trolls by saying, “They don’t actually produce anything themselves. They are essentially trying to leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.” GigaOm praises the President’s stance but suggests that the administration’s past efforts on patent reform, including the 2011 America Invents Act, have not done enough to protect legitimate innovators from suits by patent trolls.

Python Software Foundation Fights Competing Trademark in Europe

Ars Technica reports that the Python Software Foundation (PSF) is fighting an a trademark application in the European Union by a British company, POBox Hosting. PSF, which manages the open source Python programming language community and holds a registered US trademark in the name “Python,” argued in a blog post that POBox’s attempt to trademark the term “Python” in conjunction with its computing services will lead to customer confusion because of the similarity of the organization’s market areas. In the post, PSF’s chairman seeks testimony about the recognizability of the Python trademark from European companies using the programming language. The Guardian notes that the dispute has the potential to mobilize the open source community because of Python’s popularity with developers.

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

United States v. Howley
By Ron Gonski – Edited by Daniella Adler

United States v. Howley, Nos. 11–6040, 11–6071, 11–6194 (6th Cir. Feb. 4, 2013)
Slip Opinion

The Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part a ruling by the Eastern District of Tennessee, which found that defendants Howley and Roberts stole trade secrets and committed wire fraud in connection with Goodyear’s tire-manufacturing technology.

The Sixth Circuit affirmed the defendants’ convictions but, in response to the government’s cross-appeal, vacated the sentences imposed by the District Court and remanded for resentencing. In so ruling, the Sixth Circuit indicated that the District Court did not supply an estimate of the economic loss from the theft of a trade secret and the reasons for that estimate, as it is obligated to do.

FindLaw provides an overview of the case. The Non-Competes blog notes that the Sixth Circuit opinion appears to open the door for a trial judge, when determining the economic loss due to the theft of a trade secret, to consider evidence that might be inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 15 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

FilmOn v. Aereo
By Alex Shank – Edited by Michelle Sohn

Complaint, FilmOn.com, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., No. CV13-00912 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 7, 2013)
Complaint (hosted by Scribd)

Online TV site FilmOn.com, Inc. (“FilmOn”) filed a complaint against competitor Aereo, Inc. (“Aereo”) on counts of false designation of origin and false endorsement under the Lanham Act on February 7, 2013 in the United States District Court of the Central District of California. FilmOn also seeks declaratory judgment that its use of the names “Aero” and “Aereokiller” do not violate the Act and that any trademark right in the name “Aereo” claimed by Aereo is invalid.

Since early 2012, FilmOn has marketed and sold the “WinTV-Aero-m” antenna manufactured by Hauppauge Computer Works, Inc. (“Hauppauge”). Just one day before the complaint was filed, Hauppauge assigned the trademark rights to “Aero” to FilmOn. In late 2011, Aereo changed its name from Bamboom Labs, Inc. to Aereo, the name under which it started its online TV site in early 2012. FilmOn argues that Hauppauge had sold “WinTV-Aero-m” antennas since early 2011 and that Aereo intentionally changed its name later that same year to confuse consumers and to attract them to Aereo by capitalizing on the Aero name.

The Hollywood Reporter provides an overview of the case and a discussion of prior legal actions between FilmOn and Aereo. Virtual Strategy Magazine features a brief profile of FilmOn and its reaction to continuing lawsuits brought against it by major TV networks. JOLT Digest covered the recent denial of a preliminary injunction to stop Aereo from broadcasting its television content over the Internet. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 13 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Department of Justice White Paper
By Mary Grinman – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Photo By: Cliff - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: CliffCC BY 2.0

Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or an Associated Force (hosted by NBCNews)

On Monday, February 4, NBC made public an unsigned and undated Department of Justice (“DOJ”) White Paper, which concludes that the United States can lawfully use lethal force in a foreign country against a senior operational leader of al-Qa’ida or an associated force who is a U.S. citizen if the following three conditions are met: First, the individual must “pose[] an imminent threat of violent attack  against the United States.” Second, capture must not be possible. Third, any U.S. action must be consistent with the law of war. Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or an Associated Force [hereinafter “White Paper”], at 1. While the White Paper presents legal analysis separated from any factual scenario, it resembles the legal justification advanced for the 2011 drone strike against Anwar al-Awlaki and could be the basis for future drone attacks.

The New York Times summarizes the DOJ’s argument and describes its current political environment. Wired criticizes the legal rationales behind the document’s conclusions. Lawfare comes down against the media hype generated by the document, and suggests that it is only a more fleshed out version of Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech at Northwestern University last March. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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