A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Fourth Circuit Holds that Violating Employer’s Computer Use Restrictions Is Not a CFAA Violation

By Andrew Crocker – Edited by Michael Hoven

WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, LLC v. Miller, No. 11-1201 (4th Cir. Jul. 26, 2012)

Slip opinion

On July 26, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the South Carolina District Court in holding that Willie Miller’s violation of his employer WEC’s use restrictions on its proprietary computer systems and information was not a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030. WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, LLC v. Miller, No. 11-1201, slip op. at 2 (4th Cir. Jul. 26, 2012).

With the decision in WEC, the Fourth Circuit adds to a split among the federal circuit courts over whether an employee’s violation of an employer’s restrictions on use of a computer or computerized information that the employee is otherwise authorized to access can serve as the required element of “access[] . . . without authorization” or access “exceeding authorized access” for proving a CFAA violation. § 1030(a)(1). In the CFAA, to “exceed[] authorized access” is defined as “to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter.” § 1030(e)(6). The court held that this definition is best read literally, such that a CFAA violation must involve improper access to a computer or computerized information, and not its “improper use.” WEC, No 11-1201 at 9. This reading is related, although not identical, to the Ninth Circuit’s recent en banc holding in United States v. Nosal, No. 10-10038 (9th Cir. April 10, 2012), previously reported on by the Digest, and in direct conflict with other circuits’ construction of the statute, notably the Seventh Circuit in International Airport Centers, LLC v. Citrin, 440 F.3d 418 (7th Cir. 2006).

Bloomberg BNA provides an overview of the case. Eric Goldman Blog has more context on the circuit split.
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Posted On Aug - 6 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The Eastern District of Texas Puts End to Eolas’ Patent Trolling
By Dorothy Du – Edited by Jeffery Habenicht

Eolas Techs. Inc. v. Adobe Sys., Inc., No. 6:09-cv-446 (E.D. Tex. July 19, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by Justia.com)

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas denied plaintiff Eolas’s motion for judgment as a matter of law that its patents are valid or, alternatively, a new trial. Eolas Techs. Inc. v. Adobe Sys., Inc., No. 6:09-cv-446, slip. op. at 1 (E.D.Tex.July 19, 2012).

Judge Davis of the district court held that Eolas, a non-practicing entity, failed to show either that the jury had insufficient evidence to find the patents invalid or that they were entitled to a new trial under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. First, the court found that, as required under Rule 50(b), the evidence at trial, primarily the defendant’s expert testimony, was sufficient for a reasonable jury to find that the patents were anticipated and obvious. Id. at 11, 12, 15. Second, the court determined that there was no evidence that the jury was influenced by passion or prejudice and, therefore, no new trial was required under Rule 59. Id. at 16.

Ars Technica provides an overview of case. ZDNet strongly approves the decision and predicts that the Federal Circuit would deny an appeal by Eolas.
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Posted On Jul - 31 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Canadian Supreme Court Ends Royalties for Online Music Downloads

By Andrew Crocker — Edited by Michael Hoven

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), 2012 SCC 34; Rogers Communications Inc. v. SOCAN, 2012 SCC 35, SOCAN v. Bell Canada, 2012 SCC 36.

Opinions available at the Supreme Court of Canada.

In three copyright decisions on July 12, the Canadian Supreme Court interpreted the scope of rights in musical works under Canada’s Copyright Act. In Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the court overturned a finding of the Canadian Copyright board that when a user downloads a song from an online music store, it is not a communication to the public. In Rogers, however, it found that streaming a song from an online music service was “a communication to the public” requiring a royalty payment to the artist for a performance of the song. Finally, in Bell, the court held that the 30–90 second streaming previews of songs available from stores like iTunes do not require payment of a royalty to the artist. Together, the rulings significantly change the status quo for royalties collected by SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) on behalf of artists for digital performances of their works.

Reuters has an overview of the decisions. Techvibes discusses the impact of the Entertainment Software Association decision on the video game industry.
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Posted On Jul - 23 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Dorothy Du

Federal Circuit Reconsiders Myriad’s Gene Patents on Remand

This past Friday, July 20, the Federal Circuit heard 45 minutes of oral arguments for Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad on remand on whether isolated breast cancer genes are unpatentable products of nature, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. A year ago, JOLT Digest reported on the Federal Circuit’s decision to uphold the patent eligibility of isolated DNA. However, following a Supreme Court decision to strike down a diagnostic patent as an unpatentable law of nature in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Labs., a case JOLT Digest summarized, Myriad was remanded to the Federal Circuit. Reuters reports that at Friday’s oral arguments, Myriad attorney Greg Castanias compared isolating the patented genes to creating a baseball bat out of a tree, while opposing counsel for the USTPO compared the process to mining coal from the ground. According to Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the panel of judges hearing the arguments appeared to remain steadfast in their original positions on the patents. Judges Lourie and Moore made comments expressing their approval of Myriad’s patents, while Judge Bryson, who dissented in the original ruling, reiterated his belief that gene sequences are unpatentable products of nature. The oral arguments can be heard at the website of the Federal Circuit.

Europe to Approve Its First Gene Therapy

According to Wall Street Journal Health Blog, the European Union’s European Medicines Agency (“EMA”) has recommended the approval of a gene therapy to treat a rare genetic disorder. The European Commission ordinarily follows the EMA’s recommendations. An approval would be groundbreaking, according to the New York Times, because it would be the first approval of a gene therapy in the Western world; China approved a gene therapy for cancer back in 2003. Gene therapy theoretically works by supplying the body with normal copies of defective genes, thereby targeting diseases at their source. Followers of this exciting technology, however, have been disappointed by experimental results until now. Creating successful gene therapies has been a struggle because of challenges associated with inserting the genes safely and preventing immune reactions to the inserted genes, reports the AP. The New York Times explains that the gene therapy awaiting approval is called Glybera, is manufactured by uniQure, and treats lipoprotein lipase deficiency, a condition caused by a mutation that prevents patients from producing an enzyme that breaks down fat particles in the blood.

ITC Ban on Importing Motorola’s Android Products Takes Effect

An International Trade Commission (“ITC”) exclusion order banning the importation into the United States of Motorola Android devices took effect this past Wednesday, July 25, reports Ars Technica. The order issued two months ago, pursuant to the ITC’s ruling that 18 Motorola Mobility products infringed a Microsoft patent related to Microsoft’s Exchange Active Sync technology, which allows users to accept invitations and add events to their Google calendar. David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, has stated that “Microsoft brought this case only after Motorola stopped licensing our intellectual property but continued to use our inventions in its products,” PC Magazine reports. CNET notes that Microsoft has been “proactive” in pursuing licensing deals, currently receiving royalties from 70 percent of Android vendors. Motorola has promised users that it will keep its Android products on the U.S. market without infringing Microsoft’s patent, but has not yet disclosed how. Ars Technica and CNET speculate that Motorola will either remove or tweak the infringing technology in order to render the Android products non-infringing. Motorola has also filed an appeal of the ITC ban, according to the Seattle Times.

Posted On Jul - 23 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Judge Allows Aereo to Continue Providing Broadcast Television over the Internet
By Brittany Horth – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., 12 Civ. 1540 (AJN) (S.D.N.Y. July 11, 2012)
Slip opinion

Judge Alison J. Nathan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a request for a preliminary injunction made by a group of broadcast television companies against Barry Diller’s Aereo, a system exclusively available in New York City that allows subscribers to watch and record live broadcast television over the Internet.

Judge Nathan held that the plaintiffs did not show a likelihood of success on the merits in their claim that Aereo is liable for copyright infringement for publicly performing the plaintiffs’ copyrighted works but did show that they would suffer irreparable harm. Am. Broad. Co., slip op. at 36, 44. She explained that the plaintiffs likely would have been granted a preliminary injunction “but for” the Second Circuit’s reading of “the transmit clause” in 17 U.S.C. § 101 in Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 2008) (“Cablevision”). Id. at 1. (JOLT Digest has previously reported on Cablevision and its continuing significance.) Instead, she rejected all of the plaintiffs’ attempts to distinguish Aereo from the service at issue in Cablevision and concluded that the Second Circuit’s analysis in Cablevision was equally applicable to the present case. Id. at 21, 52.

A brief summary of the continuing situation is available at the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times features an analysis of the denial as well as the relevant precedent, including Cablevision and Sony Corp. of Am.  v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984) (“Sony Betamax”). CNNMoney provides a more detailed overview of Judge Nathan’s reasoning. CNBC offers Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia’s thoughts on the future of Aereo now that they have received this favorable ruling.

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Posted On Jul - 23 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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