A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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By Ken Winterbottom

Theft drives former Bitcoin giant Mt. Gox into bankruptcy

Icon-newsMt. Gox, a Bitcoin exchange based in Japan, filed for bankruptcy last week after the theft of 850,000 of its Bitcoins. The company, which started as an online Magic: The Gathering marketplace, once oversaw 70% of all Bitcoin trades, though its prominence had fallen significantly even before the theft.

Despite CEO Mark Karpeles offering a glimmer of hope for victimized customers in a Tokyo press conference, investors say that the lost Bitcoins, worth about $473 million and representing about 7% of the estimated global Bitcoin total, likely cannot be recovered. A class action lawsuit has already been filed against Mt. Gox in Illinois, alleging consumer fraud and negligence.

Bitcoin, the first of a growing number of unregulated digital cryptocurrencies, was originally lauded as a currency immune to theft, corruption, and counterfeiting. However, faith in the currency has been shaken by a series of setbacks, from the FBI shutdown of the Silk Road, an online Bitcoin-only black market, to reports of Bitcoin counterfeiting. Cryptocurrency supporters view events like these, including the Mt. Gox bankruptcy, as illustrating the importance of stronger security measures going forward, but remain confident in Bitcoin and in the cryptocurrency movement.

Lessig v. Liberation Music Settlement

Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig claimed a victory last week in his ongoing fight for fair use in copyright practices. Last summer, Professor Lessig used a snippet from the song “Lisztomania” by the French band Phoenix in a lecture video that he uploaded online. While the band itself came out strongly in support of Professor Lessig’s use of the song, Liberation Music, the Australian music label that owns the rights to “Lisztomania,” had the video forcibly removed. Not one to be bullied into submission, Professor Lessig decided to fight back. In collaboration with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), a digital civil rights group, he successfully challenged the takedown in federal court, arguing that he was well within his rights to use Phoenix’s music under fair use policies. Complaint, Lessig v. Liberation Music Pty Ltd, No. 13-cv-12028 (D. Mass. Aug. 22, 2013) hosted by EFF.

Although the full terms of the settlement agreement remain confidential, Liberation Music admitted that the use of the song was permissible under both U.S. and Australian law, and it agreed to update its copyright policies to respect fair use. The music label will also pay Professor Lessig an undisclosed amount of money, which will go toward supporting the work of the EFF. Professor Lessig, a co-founder of the Creative Commons, is a longtime supporter of open access software, the public domain, and reduced restrictions on copyright and trademark use. His book Republic, Lost, is available for free online. In a statement about the settlement, Professor Lessig said:

“Too often copyright is used as an excuse to silence legitimate speech. . . . Hopefully, this lawsuit will send a message to copyright owners to adopt fair takedown practices – or face the consequences.”

“Google Tax” scrapped in Italy

In December of last year, the Italian Parliament passed a law which would impose a de facto tax on web advertisements. The law arose in response to a widespread practice among web giants that run on advertising revenue – including Google, Yahoo, and Amazon – of transferring corporate taxable earnings to foreign havens, such as Ireland, Luxembourg, and Bermuda, allegedly costing Europe and the U.S. over $100 billion annually. The Parliament postponed enacting the law until July 2014.

Now, the government of new Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, sworn in last weekend, has decided to cancel the so-called “Google Tax,” which many predicted would be found to violate European Union laws.

The idea of a “Google Tax” is not new: Israel has been considering a similar law for some time. The proposed Israeli law would apply specifically to search engines and would assess a straightforward 7% royalty. The Italian law, by contrast, required web giants to use Italian companies as middlemen in setting up advertisements. Meanwhile, Germany passed a law last year that would permit publishers to charge search engines royalties for using their news snippets.

Posted On Mar - 3 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Travis West – Edited by Husam El-Qoulaq

Photo By: Jeremy KeithCC BY 2.0

A document leaked by Edward Snowden shows that the Australian Signals Directorate (“ASD”) spied on communications between the Indonesian government and a US law firm that the foreign government had retained for assistance in trade negotiations. When the ASD sought advice from the National Security Agency (“NSA”) about continuing to report on the Indonesian communications, the NSA’s Office of the General Counsel “provided clear guidance,” possibly regarding the reporting of “information covered by attorney-client privilege.” The document states that the ASD was able to continue covering the talks between the Indonesian government and its US counsel and that it had provided “highly useful intelligence for interested US customers.”

The New York Times broke the story and posted an excerpt of the leaked document. The Chicago Tribune reports a response from Mayer Brown, the law firm advising Indonesia at the time of the document’s publication in an NSA monthly bulletin. Ars Technica and the ABA Journal provide additional commentary. The Guardian further reports on the ASD’s surveillance of Indonesia, as well as the NSA’s involvement in helping the ASD to crack Indonesian encryption.  Lawfare Blog views the document as a sign of the tight cooperation between the NSA and ASD and criticizes the New York Times for overselling the story. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 3 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Geng Chen – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Elcommerce.com, Inc. v. SAP AG , No. 2011-1369 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 24, 2014)
Slip opinion

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s grant of summary judgment in a patent infringement suit filed by elcommerce against SAP AG and SAP America, Inc. (“SAP”). Elcommerce.com, slip op. at 1–3. The district court held that the method claims in elcommerce’s U.S. Patent No. 6,947,903 (“the ‘903 patent”) were not infringed and that the system claims were invalid for indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. § 112. Id. at 3. The Federal Circuit affirmed the noninfringement holding but vacated the invalidity holding, id., stating that SAP had failed to meet its evidentiary burden because its indefiniteness argument was not supported by the testimony of “technical experts who meet the Daubert criteria,” id. at 29.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the case. PatentlyO features a thorough analysis of the decision.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 2 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer – Edited by Kim Meyer

Federal Communications Commission, Statement on Critical Information Needs Study (Feb. 28, 2014)
FCC Statement

Photo By: JasonParisCC BY 2.0

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has reversed course on a plan to ask media owners, news directors, and reporters invasive questions about editorial judgment and journalistic practices. A field study of the survey was scheduled to begin in South Carolina this spring, but on February 28, 2014, the agency issued a two-sentence statement laying the study to rest.

The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (“CIN Study”)—officially aimed at identifying “barriers that may prevent entrepreneurs and small business from competing in the media marketplace”—came under intense scrutiny from members of the news media and lawmakers after it was criticized by Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai in a February 10, 2014 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Pai suggested that the impugned survey was an attempt by the agency to “thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country,” “wade into office politics,” and “meddle[] in news coverage.”

Among others, the Wall Street Journal, AdWeek, and Fox News have all reported on the FCC’s recent decision to cancel the CIN Study. Fox News also suggested possible ties between the study and billionaire investor George Soros. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 1 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Elise Young

Ring & Pinion Service Inc. v. ARB Corporation Ltd., No. 2013-1238 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 19, 2014)
Slip Opinion

Photo By: Tristan FerneCC BY 2.0

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s grant of summary judgment, finding that Ring & Pinion Service Inc.’s (“R&P”) Ziplocker product did not infringe ARB Corporation Ltd.’s (“ARB”) U.S. Patent No. 5,591,098 (“the ’098 patent”). Ring & Pinion Service Inc., slip op. at 2.

In a unanimous opinion, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court that the foreseeability of a cylinder equivalent at the time the patent was filed did not limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents. The doctrine of equivalents accommodates future changes in technology, thus allowing for the continued relevance of a patent despite changes in language or concepts. At issue in this case was whether foreseeability at the time the patent was filed prevented the application of the doctrine of equivalents, and therefore might support a finding a non-infringement. In addition to finding that foreseeability did not limit the doctrine, the court determined that, the district court improperly applied the doctrine of claim vitiation in finding non-infringement. Id. at 8–9.

Patently-O summarizes the decision and comments on the underlying policy rationales. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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