A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged



Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location



Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.



The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.



By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade


Flash DigestBy Evan Tallmadge – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Linked Inheritability Between Two Regions of DNA is an Unpatentable Law of Nature

Genetic Technologies Limited v. Merial L.L.C. (Fed. Cir. Apr. 8, 2016)

Genetic Technologies sued Merial and Bristol-Myers Squibb in Delaware district court for violation of patent on methods for detecting genetic variations. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim, ruling that the patent claims were ineligible for protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because they were directed to a law of nature. The Federal Circuit agreed that claim’s subject matter was unpatentable and thus affirmed the district court’s finding.

Dr. Simons, inventor under the 5,612,179 patent, discovered that non-coding regions of DNA (introns, colloquially ‘junk DNA’) are linked to nearby coding regions (exons) and inherited together more often than probability would dictate if gene recombination was random, a phenomenon known as linkage disequilibrium. The ‘179 patent describes a method for detecting exons by amplifying linked introns. Genetic Technologies claimed this method was advantageous to prior art because it allowed the amplification and sequencing of significantly shorter segments of DNA.

The ‘179 patent at its core claimed a patent over the relationship between introns and exons, broadly covering all applications of the concept of linkage disequilibrium, a universal and inherent feature of all human DNA. This situation was analogous to the recent decision in Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., where the Supreme Court concluded that the claims were directed toward an underlying law of nature, even if substantial human ingenuity was required to implement the discovery.

JD Supra has a good in-depth analysis of the case and the peril that patentees of diagnostic inventions face under the current regime.


Posted On Apr - 19 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Illinois FlagBy Yaping Zhang – Edited by Mila Owen

On April 6, 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (“ACLU”) and the Electronic Freedom Foundation (“EFF”) filed an amicus brief at the Illinois Supreme Court, urging the Court to declare unconstitutional the State’s Sex Offender Registration Act (“SORA”). SORA imposes jail time on a registered sex offender who fails to report “Internet communications identities” to law enforcement, and broadly applies to such activity writing an online letter to the editor, posting a political comment, or researching health information.

The amicus brief can be found here. Both EFF and ACLU have given their accounts of the case and their reasons for filing the brief.

The Defendant-Appellee in the case, Mr. Minnis, committed a misdemeanor sexual offense several years ago as a juvenile . He served 12 months’ probation and following which was added to the sexual offender registry. He was recently arrested and charged with a Class 3 felony punishable by a year in prison after he failed to report to police a Facebook account to which he had uploaded a photo. SORA, codified at 730 ILCS 150, imposes considerable burdens on registered sex offenders, requiring them to report “all e-mail addresses, instant messaging identities, chat room identities, and other Internet communications identities that the sex offender uses or plans to use, all Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) registered or used by the sex offender, all blogs and other Internet sites maintained by the sex offenders or to which the sex offender has uploaded any content or posted any messages or information ”.


Posted On Apr - 19 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fed. Cir. Flash DigestBy Gia Velasquez – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Federal Court Grants Uber’s Class Action Certification Appeal

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted Uber’s appeal regarding the class action certification of Uber drivers in California. This will stall the case, which concerns whether Uber drivers are employees rather than independent contractors. Uber argued that all drivers forfeited their right to be a member of a class action lawsuit because their contracts contained a binding arbitration clause. Should Uber prevail on appeal, each driver would be forced to individually arbitrate to achieve employee certification.

Independent Contractor Classification of Uber Drivers May Violate Antitrust Laws

A lawsuit alleging Uber violates antitrust laws has been permitted to move forward by U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff. The suit, filed against Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, alleges Uber violates antitrust laws by classifying their drivers as independent contractors, but not permitting them to compete on price. The fares are calculated through an algorithm which cause all drivers to charge the same price, and according to Rakoff, “through the magic of smartphone technology, can invite hundreds of thousands of drivers in far-flung locations to agree to Uber’s terms.”

Self-Driving Car Will Be Considered Autonomous Driver

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the artificial intelligence system in Google’s self-driving car can be considered a driver under federal law. Now, Google faces the challenge of ensuring the system complies with standards designed to apply to vehicles with human drivers. Worried that the technological progress will be impaired by regulation, Chris Urmson, the head of the Google project, said the “leadership of the federal government is critically important given the growing patchwork of state laws and regulations on self-driving cars.”

Posted On Apr - 19 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST

European CommissionBy Tim Saviola – Edited by Ariane Moss

Press Release, EU Commission and United States agree on new framework for transatlantic data flows: EU-US Privacy Shield (Strasbourg, February 2, 2016)

The European Commission and the United States have agreed on a new Privacy Shield to govern the usage and protection of data of European citizens when their data passes into the United States. The agreement, announced on February 2, 2016, creates a new set of data protection obligations for US companies when managing data of European citizens. US and EU authorities will also be able to better monitor and enforce the new regime.

Negotiations were prompted by the invalidation of the older “safe harbor” scheme adopted by the European Commission in 2000. Under those provisions, data from European countries could be shared with US companies if certain outlined privacy principles were complied with.  However, after an Austrian citizen complained that his Facebook data was inadequately protected due to US government surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden, the European Court of Justice overturned the safe harbor principles. In the 2015 Schrems decision, the court stated that because US law permitted national security and law enforcement usage of the data to trump the safe harbor data protections, the scheme “enables interference . . . with the fundamental rights of [European] persons.” Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner, 2015 E.C.R. C-362/14.


Posted On Apr - 19 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Department of Justice (DOJ)By Kevin Crenny – Edited by Mila Owen

United States of America v. Safya Roe Yassin, No. 16-mj-2009-DPR (W. D. Mo.) Criminal Complaint available here; Opposition to Motion to Revoke the Detention Order available here (hosted by Washington Post).

In a recent filing, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri argued for the continued pre-trial detention of Safya Roe Yassin, who has been charged with making threatening statements online in support of ISIS. The filing was noteworthy for its reliance not only on the tweets Yassin had published, but those of other ISIS supporters that she had retweeted.

The government’s filing states that in August 2015, Yassin posted a series of tweets indicating support for the “Caliphate State” of ISIS, including calls to violence and releases of names, addresses, and contact information for U.S. military personnel. On August 24, she retweeted tweets from another account that contained the names, cities, and phone numbers of two FBI employees under the heading “Wanted to kill”.


Posted On Apr - 18 - 2016 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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