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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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Federal Circuit Sets Forth New Standard for Willful Infringement
By Jie Zhang – Edited by Jennifer Wong

Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. v. W.L. Gore & Assocs., No. 2010-1050 (Fed. Cir. June 14, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling following an en banc decision that sent the case back to panel for rehearing, partly reversed its earlier decision from February 10, 2012, which had affirmed the verdict of the District Court for the District of Arizona against W.L. Gore and had upheld the district court’s doubling of the jury’s damages award for willful patent infringement.

On panel rehearing, the Federal Circuit reaffirmed the validity of Bard’s patent but vacated its prior opinion on the issue of willful infringement. The Federal Circuit employed the two-prong test for willfulness. The court redefined the first prong of the test and held that the objective determination of the likelihood that a defendant’s conduct constituted infringement is a question of law for the court to decide. Only after the objective threshold is satisfied can the jury consider the subjective recklessness of the defendant’s actions. The court further stated that if the defendant has a reasonable defense or non-infringement theory, then the objective threshold is not overcome and there is no willful infringement. Thus, the court remanded the case to the district court to determine whether the objective prong of willful infringement is satisfied under this new standard and to reconsider whether the enhanced damages award is proper.

JOLT Digest previously reported on the Federal Circuit’s earlier decision in the battle between Bard and Gore. Thomson Reuters provides an overview of the case. Patently-O comments on the implications of the new standard. (more…)

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

Government Says Megaupload Users Must Pay to Retrieve Their Data
By Jacob L. Rogers – Edited by Heather Whitney

United States v. Kim Dotcom, No. 1:12CR3 (E.D. Va. June 8, 2012)
Kyle Goodwin’s motion for return of property (hosted by EFF)
Government reply brief (hosted by Wired)

In United States v. Kim Dotcom (“the Megaupload case”), the government has filed a reply brief regarding their responsibility (or lack thereof) to provide third parties their data in a situation where the government’s shutdown of a site has made it virtually impossible for that third party to otherwise retrieve their data. Here, in response to Mr. Kyle Goodwin’s motion for return of property pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1963 or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), the government claims that non-parties to the case have no recourse to the government in order to obtain the data stored on the previously seized Megaupload servers. (Government’s brief at 12).

JOLT Digest previously covered the Megaupload indictment. A thorough explanation of the issues can be found on CNET. Computerworld and WebProNews assert that the government’s proposal is unrealistic, and might be an effort to deter swarms of Megaupload users from demanding their data.

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Posted On Jun - 18 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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.

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