A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief  

By Amanda Liverzani

PTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patents

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

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Alleged mastermind behind the undercover trading platform Silk Road convicted in Manhattan court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, the person allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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Fox Broad. Co. v. Dish Network L.C.C.
By Charlie Stiernberg – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Fox Broad. Co. v. Dish Network L.C.C., No. CV 12-04529 DMG (C.D. Cal. Nov. 12, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by Scribd)

The District Court for the Central District of California denied plaintiff Fox Broadcasting Company’s (“Fox”) motion for preliminary injunction against defendant Dish Network’s (“DISH”) “PrimeTime Anytime” (“PTAT”) and “AutoHop” set-top box (“STB”) features, finding that while Fox established a likelihood of success on the merits of some of its claims, it failed to demonstrate irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction.

Addressing the merits of each of Fox’s claims, Judge Dolly M. Gee held that Fox failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of its derivative infringement, reproduction right and breach of contract vis-à-vis PTAT, and distribution right claims, but successfully established a likelihood of success on the merits with respect to its reproduction right and breach of contract claims vis-à-vis the AutoHop feature. However, because the alleged harms that Fox would suffer were essentially contractual in nature, the court found that the injuries would be compensable with money damages and would therefore not support a finding of irreparable harm.

The Hollywood Reporter provides an overview of the order. Techdirt opines that the decision was a net win for DISH and criticizes the court’s fair use analysis with respect to the AutoHop feature. FierceCable includes a short statement from DISH Executive Vice President and General Counsel, R. Stanton Dodge.

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Posted On Nov - 27 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

EEOC v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia
By Jessica Vosgerchian — Edited by Geng Chen

Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, No. 11-cv-02560-MSK-MEH (D. Colo. Nov. 7, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by The Workplace Class Action Blog)

The magistrate judge in a sexual harassment class action against The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia (“Honeybaked Ham”) has ordered plaintiffs to produce passwords to their social media and email accounts as well as surrender their cell phones to a court-appointed special master who will review the materials for discoverable information.

The class action, brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of 20–22 women who worked for Honeybaked Ham, alleges that company manager James Jackman subjected the employees to sexual comments and groping, and retaliated against women who complained by firing them. Colorado Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty’s November 7 order marks a novel approach to the problem of how to treat semi-private online communications in discovery.

Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog contends that the court should have ordered plaintiffs to collect and produce relevant information from the accounts themselves rather than provide full access to a special master. The Workplace Class Action Blog, meanwhile, finds Judge Hegart’s plan “relatively low-cost and efficient,” and, because an independent official will screen for irrelevant information, sensitive to the EEOC’s concern that the plaintiffs’ full social media activities could bias the judge against them.

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Posted On Nov - 26 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Pio Szamel

Court Finds Warrant Unnecessary for Tracking of Unauthorized WiFi User

A federal district court has ruled that law enforcement do not need to obtain a warrant in order to track down unauthorized users of an unsecured WiFi account, reports Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy.  After tracking a child pornography suspect to an IP address associated with a Comcast account, Pennsylvania State Police discovered that their suspect was not the Comcast customer but rather a neighbor mooching off the customer’s unsecured WiFi network.  With the permission of the customer, they used free software and a directional antenna to identify the apartment containing the suspect’s computer and obtain a search warrant. In the subsequent criminal proceedings, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him on the grounds that tracking down his computer constituted an illegal warrantless search, but Judge Joy Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania disagreed, finding that the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because in connecting to the unauthorized wireless network he was voluntarily sending a signal to a third party. The Wall Street Journal has additional coverage, and the opinion can be found at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Republican Study Committee Releases, then Retracts Report Calling for Copyright Reform

The Republican Study Committee, an influential caucus of more than 170 conservatives in the House of Representatives, released a report on Friday, November 17 calling for wide-reaching copyright reform but then retracted it the next day in response to pushback from content industry groups, reports Ars Technica. The report, preserved by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), purported to debunk what it called “three myths” about copyright: that its purpose is to compensate copyright holders; that it represents free markets at work; and that the current copyright regime maximizes innovation and productivity.  It went on to call for reductions in statutory damages and in the length of copyright terms, expansion of fair use, and punishment for false copyright claims.  Techdirt hailed the original report, while EFF denounced its retraction as a retreat to a “reality-free zone.”

Texas Student Granted Temporary Restraining Order against School RFID Tracking Requirement

A state judge has granted a Texas high school student a temporary restraining order preventing her district from transferring her to another high school over her refusal to comply with a school-mandated RFID tracking program, reports Wired.  John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas is piloting a program to track students with RFID tags embedded in student IDs in order to prove that they are present on campus, in the hope of winning more attendance-based state funding.  The student in question objected to the program, claiming it violates her core religious beliefs, and publicized her objections in leaflets distributed to other students.  When she was threatened with transfer out of the magnet school, she sued the school with the assistance of the Rutherford Institute.  Her complaint can be found on the Rutherford Institute’s website; Ars Technica has further coverage.

Posted On Nov - 25 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc.
By Suzanne Van Arsdale – Edited by Sounghun Lee

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc., No. 2011-1555 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2012) (Transocean II)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the Southern District of Texas’s ruling that U.S. Patent Nos. 6,047,781, 6,085,851, and 6,068,069 held by plaintiff Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. (“Transocean”) were invalid for obviousness and lack of enablement, that defendant Maersk Drilling USA, Inc. (“Maersk”) did not infringe some claims, and that Transocean was not entitled to damages. The court of appeals also reversed the district court’s conditional grant of a new trial.

The Federal Circuit held that a person of ordinary skill in the art could practice the claims without undue experimentation and objective evidence was sufficient to rebut a prima facie case of obviousness. As such, the court further held that the jury’s findings and award of $15 million to Transocean were sound, and the district court erred in granting Maersk’s motion for judgment as a matter of law for insufficient evidence. In so holding, the court noted that “we have rarely held that objective evidence is sufficient to overcome a prima facie case of obviousness.” Transocean II at 21.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the decision and the prior ruling. IP Frontline notes that the court has rarely found nonobviousness by looking at objective indicia.

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Posted On Nov - 24 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Hernandez v. Path, Inc.
By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Hernandez v. Path, Inc., No. 12-CV-01515 YGR (N.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

In a class-action privacy lawsuit over a photo sharing app’s alleged unauthorized access of user data, the District Court for the Northern District of California held that the plaintiff has Article III standing, but dismissed six of the ten claims. The court held that neither a slight loss of phone battery life nor hypothetical future risks to the security of user data were sufficient harms to establish standing, but ruled that the expense of paying an expert to remove the unwanted software could be sufficient. It also allowed a negligence claim to go forward, noting that California courts have not foreclosed the possibility of liability for third-party app developers who negligently collect user data.

MediaPost provides a short overview of the case. Internetcases discusses the holding for each claim in more detail. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision, expressing concern about the implications of allowing the negligence claim.

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Posted On Nov - 20 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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