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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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United States v. Kolon Indus., Inc.
By Suzanne Van Arsdale – Edited by Sounghun Lee

United States v. Kolon Indus., Inc., No. 3:12-Cr-137 (E.D. Va. Aug. 21, 2012)
Indictment hosted by legaltimes.typepad.com

The Department of Justice brought a criminal indictment against South Korea-based Kolon Industries Inc. (“Kolon”) and five of its executives in the Eastern District of Virginia on one count of conspiracy to convert trade secrets, four counts of theft of trade secrets, and one count of obstruction of justice.

According to the indictment, filed on August 21, 2012, Kolon and its executives engaged in years of corporate espionage. The government accused Kolon of paying former and current employees of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. (“DuPont”) and Teijin Ltd. and its subsidiaries (“Teijin”) to reveal confidential and proprietary information related to the manufacture of synthetic fiber, in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (the “Act”). Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104–294, 110 Stat. 3488 (codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1831–1839 (2006)).

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters provide an overview of the indictment. Bloomberg Businessweek noted that Kolon’s alleged theft of trade secrets has already resulted in a jury verdict awarding DuPont nearly $920 million and a prison sentence for a former DuPont employee who pled guilty to theft of trade secrets.

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Posted On Oct - 28 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp.
By Dorothy Du – Edited by Daniella Adler

DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp., No. CV 10-3633 ODW (RZx), (C.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

The District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the heirs of Joseph Shuster, the first illustrator of Superman, signed away their right to reclaim Superman copyrights in an agreement with DC Comics (“DC”). The court granted plaintiff DC’s motion for partial summary judgment.

The court held that a 1992 agreement between the Shusters and DC barred the Shusters from terminating copyright grants to DC. DC Comics, slip. op. at 7. The court also found that section 304(d) of the Copyright Act of 1976, which provides former copyright owners a termination right, did not apply. Id. at 5.

Ars Technica explains copyright termination doctrine and points out that Pacific Pictures Corporation is a joint venture owned by the defendants and their attorney in the case, Toberoff. The Los Angeles Times highlights the importance of the victory to Warner Bros., DC’s parent company. If DC had lost the case, the studio, which is releasing the movie Man of Steel next June, would have been unable to continue using certain elements of the Superman mythos.

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

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co.
By David LeRay – Edited by Michael Hoven

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 2012-1507 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 11, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed the Northern District of California, which had granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The case was decided by Judges Prost, Moore, and Reyna, who acted unanimously.

The Federal Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion in finding that Apple established it was at risk of irreparable harm, one of the necessary factors under the eBay test elaborated by the Supreme Court to determine whether to grant a preliminary injunction. See Apple, No. 2012-1507, slip op. at 5 (citing eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006)). Specifically, Apple did not prove that a “sufficiently strong causal nexus relates the alleged harm to the alleged infringement.” Id. at 6.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case and argues that the decision elevates the preliminary injunction standard and thus makes it more difficult for patentees to obtain injunctive relief. Reuters states that the case is an implicit endorsement of Judge Richard Posner’s skepticism regarding remedies in the context of smartphone feature patents and that the case is a “palpable blow” to Apple’s smartphone legal strategy.

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Posted On Oct - 22 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Senior Exec. Ass’n v. United States
By Mary Grinman – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Senior Exec. Ass’n v. United States, No. 8:12-cv-02297-AW (S.D. Md. Sept. 13, 2012)
Slip opinion

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Maryland granted a motion for a temporary preliminary injunction, enjoining the United States from executing any part of Section 11 of the Stock Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (“STOCK Act” or “Act”), and from obliging federal employees to divulge any financial information that is subject to Internet publication by federal agencies.

Judge Williams ruled that the plaintiffs’ interests in protecting their privacy are more likely than not to outweigh the government’s interest in disclosing their financial information. Senior Exec. Ass’n, slip op. at 16. The court noted that privacy interests have become more significant in light of the “Information Age,” which makes it possible to rapidly assemble and spread immense quantities of information. Id. at 9.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog provides a brief overview of the case. Corporate Counsel provides additional background information on the STOCK Act. Joe Davidson of the Washington Post criticizes the Act as “rushed,” and discusses the impact of the Act and the court’s ruling on individual federal employees.

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Posted On Oct - 19 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust
By Natalie Kim – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, 11-CV-06351-HB (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2012)
Slip opinion

On Wednesday the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted HathiTrust’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claims, dismissing the claims brought by the Authors Guild. The HathiTrust Digital Library (“HDL”) is a massive, Google-affiliated book-digitization project led by academic institutions such as the University of California and Indiana University; it had scanned and placed books in the HDL without consulting rights holders. The Authors Guild claimed this violated § 106 and § 108, and sought an injunction against further distribution of the works and impoundment of already scanned works.

The district court held that HathiTrust’s digitization constituted fair use. HDL provides full-text search for copyrighted works for which the rights holder has granted permission and for works in the public domain; 73 percent of the trust’s 10 million books are copyrighted. The affiliated universities have been using HDL for full-text searches, preservation, and access for people with certified print disabilities. Four universities also created full-text access for “orphan works,” which are in-copyright works for which the rights holders are unavailable or otherwise unidentifiable. Google has scanned the books for HDL as part of its Google Books project; a separate litigation between the Authors Guild and Google is stalled on appeal.

Publishers Weekly provides an overview of the case. At Laboratorium, James Grimmelmann predicts the Authors Guild has little chance of a successful appeal due to what he views as the clear victory awarded to HathiTrust and print-disabled codefendants.

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Posted On Oct - 15 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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