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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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Written By: Yana Welinder
Edited By: Molly Jennings
Editorial Policy

When Judge Robert Bork was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, a reporter politely asked his local video store assistant for a Xerox copy of handwritten entries of Judge Bork’s 146 prior rentals. Having convinced the editor of the Washington City Paper that this was perfectly legal, the reporter then published these records under the heading “The BORK Tapes.” The issue featured a suggestive cartoon of Judge Bork on the cover—beer in hand, slouching in an armchair in front of the television. You can imagine people flocked to buy copies of the paper hoping for juicy tidbits about the Supreme Court nominee’s secret watching habits. But to their disappointment, Judge Bork’s rental records listed only garden-variety films. This incident nevertheless spurred a privacy outrage. Within months, the Video and Library Privacy Protection Act was debated in Congress and California Congressman McCandless spoke in favor of the bill:

There’s a gut feeling that people ought to be able to read books and watch films without the whole world knowing. Books and films are the intellectual vitamins that fuel the growth of individual thought. The whole process of intellectual growth is one of privacy—of quiet, and reflection. This intimate process should be protected from the disruptive intrusion of a roving public eye. What we’re trying to protect with this legislation are usage records of content-based materials—books, records, videos, and the like.  . . . [T]here is an element of common decency in this legislation. It is really nobody else’s business what people read, watch, or listen to.

But books, records, and other materials were subsequently removed from the scope of this bill.{{1}}  The final version was adopted to regulate only the “rental, sale, or delivery of prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials” (emphasis added). Given its history, the legislation was dubbed the “Bork Bill.”

This comment argues that recent technological developments warrant an extension of the Bork Bill to protect records of online content consumption. The early view of the Internet as a space where “nobody knows you’re a dog” enabled people to freely browse online content, resulting in more “creativity and innovation.” Professor Eben Moglen has likened this anonymous space to cities as the historic destination for individuals who wanted to “escape the surveillance of the village” and “experiment autonomously in ways of living.” But as online exploration of content is increasingly being logged and those logs are being exposed, the Internet as a source of intellectual vitamins is under threat. More than ever, we now need to prevent the logging of media consumption that is not necessary for making the media available. This applies not only to media that existed in 1988 when the Bork Bill was adopted, such as books and music records, but to any material used for intellectual pursuit of knowledge, including blogs, tweets, podcasts, and other new sources of information. It is further critical that records of our intellectual curiosity not be shared with others without our permission to disclose that particular material.

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Posted On Aug - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Charlie Stiernberg

Proposed SHIELD Act Would Require Non-Practicing Entities to Pay Legal Costs

The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012 (“SHIELD Act”) aims to deter non-practicing entities (“NPEs”)—patent holders that do not make, use, or sell their claimed invention—from filing lawsuits by requiring such plaintiffs to pay successful defendants’ attorney fees, if a court determines that the suit did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding. Congressman Peter Defazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 6245 on August 1 to supplement 35 U.S.C. § 285, which provides for attorney fees in “exceptional cases,” with a new section 285A.  The SHIELD Act would only apply to computer software and hardware patents, both defined within the act. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rep. DeFazio intends to target companies that “buy the patents solely to sue the American tech startups that created the products.”

Raytheon Plans to Pursue Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims against Indigo Systems and FLIR

Following a favorable reversal in the Federal Circuit, Raytheon Co. plans to pursue its trade secret misappropriation claims against Indigo Systems Corp. and FLIR Systems Inc., the New York Times reports. In a unanimous opinion by Judge Linn, the Federal Circuit overturned a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that had dismissed claims involving infrared camera technology because of the statute of limitations. In so holding, the Federal Circuit reasoned that Raytheon had reasonably relied on Indigo/FLIR’s repeated false assurances that Raytheon’s trade secrets were adequately protected.

Proposed Amendments to ECPA Would Require Warrants for Cloud Data

New legislation proposed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a probable-cause warrant to access data stored in the cloud. The proposal would protect files in Dropbox, Facebook, and Google storage accounts, among others. Under the current ECPA, largely unchanged since the Reagan administration, the government can acquire such content as long as it has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed similar legislation last year, but it never got a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Wired predicts a similar fate for this new proposal.

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

Illinois Prohibits Employers from Requiring Employees to Provide Social Networking Passwords
By Andrew Crocker – Edited by Michael Hoven

H.B. 3782, 97th Gen. Assemb. (Ill. 2012)
Bill

On August 1, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed H.B. 3782, which amends Illinois’ Right to Privacy in the Workplace law to prohibit employers from “request[ing] or requir[ing] any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website or to demand access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.” H.B. 3782, 97th Gen. Assemb. (Ill. 2012) (to be codified at 820 Ill. Comp. Stat 55/10(b)(1)). Illinois is the second state to enact such a provision, following Maryland’s passage of a similar bill in April, according to the ACLU.

The governor’s office issued a press release that describes the legislature’s intent in passing the bill.

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Posted On Aug - 11 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Third Circuit Subjects Reverse Payments to Strict Antitrust Scrutiny

By Jie Zhang – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

In Re: K-Dur Antitrust Litigation, No. 10-2077 (3d Cir. July 16, 2012)

Slip opinion

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, which had rejected an antitrust challenge to a reverse payment agreement between the K-Dur patent holder Schering-Plough Corporation (“Schering”) and the generic drug manufacturer Upsher-Smith Laboratories (“Upsher”) to delay Upsher’s market entry.

The Third Circuit held that the rule of reason analysis should be applied in antitrust claims involving reverse payments and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings.  The rule of reason analysis requires the court to treat reverse payments as prima facie evidence of unreasonable restraint of trade, with the possibility of rebuttal by showing that the payment was not for delayed market entry or had pro-competitive effects.  In so holding, the Third Circuit emphasized Congress’ intent in passing the Hatch-Waxman Act — to provide incentive for competition in the pharmaceutical industry and increase availability of generic drugs.

Bloomberg Businessweek provides an overview of the case.  The Washington Post provides additional background information and reports on the reaction of the FTC and pharmaceutical companies.

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Posted On Aug - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Susanna Lichter

FTC Proposes Stricter Rules for Web Sites Visited by Children

The Federal Trade Commission recently proposed new regulations that would require third party advertising applications to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the New York Times reports. COPPA, which took effect in 2000, currently requires web site operators, but not website add-ons, to notify parents and obtain consent when personal information is collected from children under 13 years of age. In addition to extending COPPA to third parties, the proposed rule would change the present requirement that websites attracting both children and adults treat all visitors as children, allowing a web site to screen users by asking their age and applying COPPA privacy protections only to those who say they are under 13. Websites whose content is anticipated to attract primarily children would still be required to treat all users as children, however.

Appeals Court Says Embedding is Not Infringement in Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter

On Thursday the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that myVidster, a site that allows users to “bookmark” web videos by embedding them on its site surrounded by ads, was not liable to pornography producer Flava Works for copyright infringement when myVidster users embedded copies of Flava videos on myVidster. Flava Works, Inc. v. Gunter, No. 11-3190 (7th Cir. Aug. 2, 2012). Judge Richard Posner, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, reasoned that because simply viewing an infringing copy of a video isn’t copyright infringement, and the underlying data is actually being streamed directly from third-party servers to user computers, myVidster was not guilty of direct copyright infringement. Posner also found that myVidster was not liable for secondary copyright infringement, comparing myVidster’s level of inducement of its user’s actions to a bookstore from which a thief steals a copyrighted book and reads it: a “bad thing to do,” but not one that violates the rights conferred by the Copyright Act. Posner further requested that Congress clarify how copyright law should be applied in the age of Internet video.

Jury Trial Begins with Testimony by Phil Schiller in Apple v. Samsung

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, testified in the Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. trial Friday that Samsung outright copied all of Apple’s patented design, according to Wired. Apple claims Samsung is infringing on design patents for the iPhone and iPad and utility patents while Samsung claims Apple is infringing on its patent holdings. During questioning by Apple’s legal team Schiller explained his reaction to Samsung’s product, saying “I was pretty shocked when I saw the Galaxy S phone and the extent to which it appeared to copy Apple’s products” and that his “first thought was they’re going to steal our whole product line.” Addressing the issue of consumer “confusion” on cross examination Schiller testified “I looked at this phone and it was my opinion that Samsung has ripped off a number of our design elements and in doing that may be causing confusion.” The two companies have been embroiled in court battles for over a year. The jury trial for the case commenced Monday.

Posted On Aug - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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