A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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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

By Pio Szamel

En Banc Federal Circuit Hears Arguments on Scope of Software Patents

Flash DigestOn Friday, February 8, the en banc Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard arguments in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., in which the court will consider when patent claims with software elements should be rejected as unpatentable “abstract ideas.” Patently-O discusses the different rules proposed by the parties and the government, while Techdirt relays one audience member’s opinion that based on the argument it could be “a 5 judge to 5 judge tie,” in which case the district court opinion finding the patents invalid would be upheld. JOLT Digest reported on the original, now vacated Federal Circuit decision back in July.

Economists at St. Louis Fed Publish Paper Arguing Patents Should Be Abolished

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis advocate for the abolition of the patent system in a newly-published paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, reports The Huffington Post. The authors, Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, argue that first-mover advantages and competitive pressures motivate most innovation, while a strong patent system discourages downstream innovation, imposes steep transaction costs, and enables rent-seeking. Boldrin and Levine acknowledge that a much-weaker patent system may be net-beneficial, but point out that incentives faced by key actors such as patent holders, lawyers, and the Patent Office ensure that as long as patents exist, the system will get ever more restrictive.

3D-Printed 30-Round Magazine Unveiled, Named After Andrew Cuomo

Three-dimensional printing and gun enthusiast project Defense Distributed has unveiled a 30-round 3D-printed magazine with a new design that can go through hundreds of rounds without jamming. The new magazine has been named the “Cuomo,” after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and in an interview with Talking Points Memo the group’s founder indicated it was intended as a response to the new New York law limiting magazine sizes passed in wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn. Wired reports on the improvements the soon-to-be-freely-available design makes over previous attempts at 3D-printed magazines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted On Feb - 11 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...