A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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Stephen Hawking™: Famed Physicist Seeks Trademark Protection For His Name

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Stephen Hawking is posed to leverage his physics fame as a brand name. The renowned theoretical physicist has filed an application to register his name as a trademark with the U.K. Intellectual Property Office. The trademark, if approved, will give Hawking greater control over how his name is used in connection with certain goods and services including charitable endeavors, scientific research, and medical devices.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Jeanne Jeong

European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology Giants”

Snapchat Published Transparency Report Revealing Government Data Sharing

New Senate Cyberbill Measure to Protect Americans from Cybercrime

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By Jenny Choi – Edited by Anton Ziajka

lenovo-n20p-010Jessica N. Bennett v. Lenovo (United States), Inc., and Superfish, Inc., No. 15-CV-00368 (S.D. Cal. filed Feb. 19, 2015)

Lenovo is facing backlash from security experts for pre-installing adware called Superfish on some of its computers. Superfish detects advertisements on websites and replaces them with targeted images based on the user’s browsing habits, AnAndTech reports. Lenovo explained that it pre-installed Superfish to help its users make more informed choices by replacing advertisements with ones that potentially offer lower prices. However, Superfish threatens users’ privacy and data security, ArsTechnica describes in detail here and here.

On February 19, 2015, plaintiff Jessica N. Bennett filed a class action lawsuit in federal court for the Southern District of California against Lenovo and Superfish for pre-installing Superfish on a Lenovo-made laptop that she purchased. Ms. Bennett’s complaint states claims against both defendants for violations of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act, the Federal Wiretap Act, and California’s Unfair Competition Law; and for common law trespass to personal property. MaximumPC reports on the lawsuit. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 10 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Lan Du – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

hp-a-fcc-wireless-100340081-origOn February 26, along with the decision in favor of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) voted to preempt the North Carolina and Tennessee state laws preventing the expansion of community broadband networks.  The vote was split 3-2 along party lines, with the Chairman Tom Wheeler joined by fellow Democrats Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel.

The FCC order came in response to petitions filed by two municipal broadband networks: the City of Wilson, North Carolina and the Electric Power Board (EPB) of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Both operated broadband networks providing Gigabit-per-second broadband, voice, and video service.  Under Tennessee laws, municipal electric systems like EPB are not allowed to provide internet and cable services out of its electrical system footprints.  A 2011 North Carolina law similarly prevents the City of Wilson from expanding its gigabit fiber network, prohibiting its deployment to any areas in which residents currently have Internet service of at least 786kbps, a speed threshold that falls woefully short of any practical online use and is far below the FCC’s newly revised broadband definition.

In overturning these states laws, the FCC relied on the Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 requires the FCC to encourage the deployment of broadband to all Americans by using “measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.”  The FCC concluded that the subjected provisions of the Tennessee and North Carolina laws erected such barriers, conflicting with the federal regulation provided by Section 706. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 10 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Yunnan Jiang

UnknownOn March 2, 2015, 51 scholars, in the field of economics and law, submitted a letter to the United States Congress, petitioning for effective legislative reform to reduce patent litigation cost. In the letter, they argue that the substantial patent litigation costs have tended overall to reduce R&D, venture capital investment, and firm startups. They also attach 37 publications on patent litigation and its economic impacts, countering the view by lobbyists and others who claim that there is little empirical evidence to assess the performance of the American patent system. In particular, the scholars express their concern over “patent assertion entities” (PAEs), popularly known as patent trolls, estimating that PAEs litigation has been costing tens of billions of dollars per year since 2007, and has curtailed venture capital investment and firms’ R&D spending.

The letter can be found here. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 10 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By: Cristina Carapezza

UnknownFederal Circuit Tackles Common Service Mark Question

For the first time, the Federal Circuit addressed a common question in trademark law of what constitutes use in commerce of a service mark. The Federal Circuit ruled in Couture v. Playdom, Inc., No. 2014-1480 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015), that advertising or offering of a service alone is not enough to prove use in commerce. The services offered in connection with the mark must actually be provided before a registration can be granted.  David Couture filed an application in 2008 to register the service mark PLAYDOM claiming actual use, and the mark was registered in January 2009.  In February 2009, Playdom Inc., a company acquired by the Walt Disney Company, filed an application to register the identical mark. Noting that Couture did not acquire his first customer and actually perform any of the services he applied for until 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed cancellation of Couture’s registration.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-1480.Opinion.2-26-2015.1.PDF

 

Federal Circuit Vacates $101 Million Damages Award in Medtronic Patent Case

The Federal Circuit vacated a $101 million damage award to Medtronic Plc and ordered a new trial to determine damages. The three-judge appellate panel in Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc. v. Nuvasive, Inc., No. 2013-1576 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 2, 2015) affirmed that NuVasive Inc.’s oversized spinal implants and products for minimally invasive spinal surgeries infringed on patents owned by Warsaw Orthopedic Inc., a unit of medical technology company Medtronic Plc. The Federal Circuit said that Warsaw is entitled to royalty sufficient to compensate for the value of the patented technology but was not entitled to recover damages for lost profits and ongoing royalties. The appellate court also upheld that Warsaw infringed one of NuVasive’s patents.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/13-1576.Opinion.2-26-2015.1.PDF

 

USDA Not Liable for $10 Million to Subcontractor Building Wireless Broadband Networks

The Federal Circuit affirmed that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not liable for $10 million, the balance owed to construction subcontractor G4S Technology LLC after prime contractor Open Range Communications Inc. went bankrupt. The USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) agreed to loan Open Range $267 million to finance construction of wireless broadband networks in 540 markets. Open Range told RUS that it would use third-party vendors, but the loan agreement did not provide for direct payment from RUS to third-party vendors. GS4 alleged that the loan agreement’s provision that Open Range maintain a pledged deposit account (PDA) established the government’s intent to ensure subcontractors were paid. However, the Federal Circuit in G4S Technology LLC, v. United States, No. 2014-5078 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 6, 2015), found that the PDA was required to assist the government in reviewing and approving project costs rather than to serve as a mechanism to guarantee that subcontractors were paid.

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/14-5078.Opinion.3-2-2015.1.PDF

 

Posted On Mar - 8 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

Slip opinion

Jury verdict available here

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

Procedural history reveals that initially Smartflash sought $852 million compensation. This sum was calculated based on the percentage of sales of Apple devices (iPads, iPods and Macs) which enabled iTunes customers to access and download songs, videos and games. Apple contended that the maximum value of those patents was worth not more than 4.5 million.

During the trial, Apple’s lawyers challenged all issues of the case. Namely, it was argued that patents were invalid, that Smartflash waited unduly long to file a case and that it did not have ultimate control over the patents. More generally, Apple submitted that plaintiff’s claim for $852 in damages was deemed to be “excessive and unsupportable.” Yet, a jury in Texas federal court sided with Smartflash holding that Apple did not “respect” its patents and failed to demonstrate that the patents at stake were invalid.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2015 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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Mississippi Attorney

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction In ...

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Pass the Patented Pe

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Stephen Hawking™:

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi Application Stephen Hawking is ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Jeanne Jeong European Regulators and Watchdogs Increase Investigation of “Technology ...