A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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Employee Alleging Employer Accessed Quasi-Public Facebook Posts States a Valid Claim for Invasion of Privacy
By Charlie Stiernberg – Edited by Heather Whitney

Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hosp. Serv. Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305 (WJM) (D.N.J. May 30, 2012)
Slip Opinion
(hosted by Justia.com)

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted defendant Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp.’s (“MONOC”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Deborah Ehling’s New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (“NJ Wiretap Act”) claim, but denied MONOC’s motion to dismiss Ehling’s common law invasion of privacy claim.  Ehling, a MONOC employee, alleged that a supervisor inappropriately accessed restricted posts on her Facebook page without her consent.

The court held that Ehling failed to state a claim under the NJ Wiretap Act, because she did not allege that her Facebook posting was viewed by her employer “in the course of transmission.”  Ehling, No. 2:11-cv-03305 (WJM) at 4.  The court held that the NJ Wiretap Act does not apply to a received communication that is placed in “post-transmission storage” before it is “accessed by another without authorization.”  Id. at 4-5.  On the other hand, the court held that Ehling had stated a plausible claim for common law invasion of privacy, in part because she “may have had a reasonable expectation that her Facebook posting would remain private,” especially because she took steps to protect her Facebook page from public viewing.  Id. at 6.

The Delaware Employment Law Blog provides an overview of the case, and states that the key take-away for employers is “Don’t look for trouble or you just may find it.”  The Eric Goldman Technology & Marketing Law Blog notes that the number of Facebook friends with whom Ehling shared her post may end up determining whether the post should be accorded any privacy protection.

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Posted On Jun - 16 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

USPTO Proposes New Rules for Micro Entity Status
By Jeffery Habenicht – Edited by Dorothy Du

Changes to Implement Micro Entity Status for Paying Patent Fees, 77 Fed. Reg. 31,806 (proposed May 30, 2012) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 1).
Federal Register

On May 30, 2012, the PTO published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register entitled Changes to Implement Micro Entity Status for Paying Patent Fees. The new rules, to be codified as 37 C.F.R. §1.29, set out the proposed requirements for attaining micro entity status. Although narrow in scope, micro entity status provides a significant reduction in patent fees for those who qualify.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”), enacted on September 16, 2011, created the micro entity status. America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, §10 (2011) (codified at 35 U.S.C. § 123). Applicants qualifying as a micro entity would be entitled to a 75-percent reduction in fees. Id. §10(b). Although the AIA set forth a definition of what constituted a micro entity, id. §10(g), it left the specifics of implementation to the PTO. Accordingly, the PTO’s proposed rules attempt to clarify who qualifies as a micro entity and establish the procedures for claiming micro entity status, notifying the PTO of a loss of status, and correcting erroneous payments of fees.

On the whole, commentators have generally welcomed the PTO’s proposed rules. PatentDocs provides an overview and analysis of the changes. PharmaPatents explains that that proposed rules help clarify the AIA’s definition of micro entity status but raise questions about potential abuse of the higher education prong. Patently-O also mentions the clarifications provided by the proposed rules and notes that the PTO is seeking comments on whether “applicant” should be changed to “inventor” anywhere in the rules.

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Posted On Jun - 12 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

California District Court Dismisses Oracle’s Copyright Infringement Claims Against Google, Finds APIs not Copyrightable

By Susanna Lichter – Edited by Jennifer Wong
Oracle America, Inc., v. Google Inc., No. C 10-0361 WHA (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2012) (hosted by Groklaw)

The U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco dismissed Oracle’s claims that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright in 37 application programming interfaces (“APIs”), holding that the particular elements duplicated in Google’s Android operating system were free for all to use under the Copyright Act.

Oracle filed the billion-dollar lawsuit against Google in August 2010, shortly after acquiring Sun Microsystems, Inc. and its interest in Java, the language used in Android. The suit alleged both copyright and patent infringement by Google’s exact replication of the names, organization, and functions of the APIs.

On May 23 a jury of ten unanimously found that Google did not infringe on patents held by Oracle. Two weeks earlier the jury had unanimously decided that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright in the APIs, but deadlocked on whether Google’s infringement qualified as fair use. Judge William Alsup resolved the copyright claims, finding that the APIs were not copyrightable to begin with. Oracle will be limited to collecting statutory damages for 9 lines of code that were copied from Java, the resulting damages of which may not exceed $150,000.

Wired provides an overview of the case. JOLT Digest reported on the patent claim and
Ars Technica interviewed Google attorneys Kent Walker, and Renny Hwang after the verdict.

(more…)

Posted On Jun - 10 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Brittany Horth

United States Orchestrated Cyberattack on Iran’s Main Nuclear Enrichment Facilities with Stuxnet

Interviews with anonymous American, European, and Israeli officials, as well as outside experts, have revealed that President Obama ordered the acceleration of secret cyberattacks, codenamed “Olympic Games,” on Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities during his first months in office, reports the New York Times. The attacks were part of an Israel-United States effort to impair the development of Iran’s nuclear program. The order came after the cyberweapon, nicknamed “Stuxnet” by computer security experts, inadvertently became public in the summer of 2010. A programming error allowed it to escape the Natanz nuclear facility and compromise ordinary computers, prompting Obama to temporarily question whether the program should be shut down. The Natanz nuclear facility was nonetheless subsequently attacked by two newer versions of the Stuxnet computer worm that took out approximately 1,000 of its 5,000 centrifuges, but whether the attacks successfully slowed the progress of Iran’s nuclear program remains in dispute among experts and officials. “Olympic Games,” begun during the Bush Administration, raises the issue of whether such activity invites other countries to carry out cyberattacks against the United States, explains Ars Technica.

ABC v. Aereo, WNET v. Aereo Two-Day Preliminary Injunction Hearing Concludes

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan heard opposing arguments from both television broadcasters and the online television service Aereo in a two-day hearing addressing the television broadcasters’ motion for a preliminary injunction against Aereo, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Aereo, currently available exclusively in New York City, enables subscribers to watch and record live broadcast television through an Internet service for $12 a month by assigning each subscriber to one of several tiny remote antennas in Aereo’s server room, explains Ars Technica and Bloomberg Businessweek. Television broadcasters sued Aereo in March 2012 and allege that Aereo is violating copyrights by retransmitting broadcasters’ programming without paying for the rights to such programming, while Aereo counters that subscribers are legally entitled to access broadcast programming via antennae that just happen to be remote.

Google Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft and Nokia in Europe

Google filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission alleging that Microsoft and Nokia are colluding to raise the costs of Android mobile devices using patents that Microsoft promised it would not use against its competitors, reports Bloomberg. Google claims that Microsoft and Nokia transferred approximately 2,000 patents and patent applications to Mosaid Technologies last year in order to create “patent trolls” that can bypass the promise and engage in patent litigation that threatens manufacturers of Android handsets, reports Ars Technica. Microsoft and Nokia counter that the complaint is “desperate” and “frivolous” and note that the European Union is already investigating Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google, for its abuses of standard-essential patents alleged by Apple and Microsoft.

Posted On Jun - 5 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Kentucky District Court Latest to Grapple with Warrantless GPS Tracking after Jones
By Sarah Jeong – Edited by Michael Hoven

United States v. Lee, Criminal No. 11-65-ART (E.D. Ky., May 22, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by TalkLeft)

The U.S. District Court of Eastern Kentucky suppressed the discovery of 150 pounds of marijuana in the defendant’s possession, due to the placement of a warrantless GPS tracking device on his car. The search and arrest took place prior to United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, 2012 WL 171117 (U.S. Jan. 23, 2012), the Supreme Court case that ruled that GPS tracking constitutes a search and therefore requires a warrant. The United States argued in Lee that the agents’ actions fell under the good faith exception to the warrant requirement, but Judge Amul Thapar found that only reliance on binding appellate precedent could create a good faith exception for the police. In this particular case, in contrast, the agents had relied on a national Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) policy supported by non-binding appellate precedent from other jurisdictions. The Lee ruling attempts to articulate a clear and administrable principle for applying (or withholding) the good faith exception to pre-Jones instances of warrantless GPS tracking.

The Associated Press reports on the underlying facts of the case. Wired analyzed the conflicting case law on the good faith exception. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 3 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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