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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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By Brittany Horth

United States Orchestrated Cyberattack on Iran’s Main Nuclear Enrichment Facilities with Stuxnet

Interviews with anonymous American, European, and Israeli officials, as well as outside experts, have revealed that President Obama ordered the acceleration of secret cyberattacks, codenamed “Olympic Games,” on Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities during his first months in office, reports the New York Times. The attacks were part of an Israel-United States effort to impair the development of Iran’s nuclear program. The order came after the cyberweapon, nicknamed “Stuxnet” by computer security experts, inadvertently became public in the summer of 2010. A programming error allowed it to escape the Natanz nuclear facility and compromise ordinary computers, prompting Obama to temporarily question whether the program should be shut down. The Natanz nuclear facility was nonetheless subsequently attacked by two newer versions of the Stuxnet computer worm that took out approximately 1,000 of its 5,000 centrifuges, but whether the attacks successfully slowed the progress of Iran’s nuclear program remains in dispute among experts and officials. “Olympic Games,” begun during the Bush Administration, raises the issue of whether such activity invites other countries to carry out cyberattacks against the United States, explains Ars Technica.

ABC v. Aereo, WNET v. Aereo Two-Day Preliminary Injunction Hearing Concludes

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan heard opposing arguments from both television broadcasters and the online television service Aereo in a two-day hearing addressing the television broadcasters’ motion for a preliminary injunction against Aereo, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Aereo, currently available exclusively in New York City, enables subscribers to watch and record live broadcast television through an Internet service for $12 a month by assigning each subscriber to one of several tiny remote antennas in Aereo’s server room, explains Ars Technica and Bloomberg Businessweek. Television broadcasters sued Aereo in March 2012 and allege that Aereo is violating copyrights by retransmitting broadcasters’ programming without paying for the rights to such programming, while Aereo counters that subscribers are legally entitled to access broadcast programming via antennae that just happen to be remote.

Google Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft and Nokia in Europe

Google filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission alleging that Microsoft and Nokia are colluding to raise the costs of Android mobile devices using patents that Microsoft promised it would not use against its competitors, reports Bloomberg. Google claims that Microsoft and Nokia transferred approximately 2,000 patents and patent applications to Mosaid Technologies last year in order to create “patent trolls” that can bypass the promise and engage in patent litigation that threatens manufacturers of Android handsets, reports Ars Technica. Microsoft and Nokia counter that the complaint is “desperate” and “frivolous” and note that the European Union is already investigating Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google, for its abuses of standard-essential patents alleged by Apple and Microsoft.

Posted On Jun - 5 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Kentucky District Court Latest to Grapple with Warrantless GPS Tracking after Jones
By Sarah Jeong – Edited by Michael Hoven

United States v. Lee, Criminal No. 11-65-ART (E.D. Ky., May 22, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by TalkLeft)

The U.S. District Court of Eastern Kentucky suppressed the discovery of 150 pounds of marijuana in the defendant’s possession, due to the placement of a warrantless GPS tracking device on his car. The search and arrest took place prior to United States v. Jones, No. 10-1259, 2012 WL 171117 (U.S. Jan. 23, 2012), the Supreme Court case that ruled that GPS tracking constitutes a search and therefore requires a warrant. The United States argued in Lee that the agents’ actions fell under the good faith exception to the warrant requirement, but Judge Amul Thapar found that only reliance on binding appellate precedent could create a good faith exception for the police. In this particular case, in contrast, the agents had relied on a national Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) policy supported by non-binding appellate precedent from other jurisdictions. The Lee ruling attempts to articulate a clear and administrable principle for applying (or withholding) the good faith exception to pre-Jones instances of warrantless GPS tracking.

The Associated Press reports on the underlying facts of the case. Wired analyzed the conflicting case law on the good faith exception. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 3 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Jury Decides Google Did Not Infringe Oracle Patents but Question of Whether APIs Can Be Copyrighted Remains
By Brittany Horth – Edited by Michael Hoven

Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc., No. 10-03561 (N.D. Cal. 2012)
Special verdict on copyright claims from May 7, 2012 (hosted by Scribd)
Special verdict on patent claims from May 23, 2012 (hosted by Scribd)

A jury in the U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco unanimously decided that Google’s Android mobile operating system does not infringe Oracle’s U.S. Patent No. RE38,104 and U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520. The special verdict came approximately two weeks after the jury unanimously decided that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright on Java application programming interfaces (APIs) but failed to reach any agreement on whether Google had a valid fair use defense.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup canceled the third phase of the trial, which would have addressed damages, and dismissed the jury after the second special verdict. However, the proceedings will continue since Judge Alsup has yet to answer the crucial legal question of whether APIs can be copyrighted in the first place, which will determine the fate of the partial verdict from the copyright infringement segment of the trial.

Bloomberg provides a brief overview of the case and the recent special verdicts. Ars Technica provides a more detailed explanation of the partial verdict from the copyright infringement segment of the trial and its potential ramifications for programmers. CNET provides a more detailed explanation of the verdict from the patent infringement segment of the trial.

(more…)

Posted On May - 30 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Erin Pritchard

New York Legislation Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech

Proposed legislation in New York would require New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, to “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post” says a report from Wired. The legislation is proposed in both the state Senate and Assembly, but no votes on the measures have been taken. Critics contend that this legislation poses First Amendment problems, and would degrade the Internet experience. Supporters contend that it would improve accountability online and stop “cyberbullies.”

Facebook IPO: Excitement and Disaster

On May 21, 2012, Facebook had their initial public offering, which Vanity Fair called the tech world’s most highly anticipated initial public offering since Google. However, Facebook was overvalued and Facebook’s share price fell below the offering price of $38, and has remained below since, reports Reuters. Now, Bloomberg notes that Facebook and the IPO underwriters face numerous lawsuits legal and serves as an embarrassing example of how not to run an IPO. As a result, there are billions of dollars in losses, investigations by two congressional committees, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

White House Addressing the Reality of a Networked Nation

On Wednesday, May 23rd, the White House launched the new Digital Government Strategy. In the first Digital Government directive, “Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People,” President Obama is pushing all federal agencies to develop mobile applications and thereby make government services more accessible to the public. Steven VanRoekel, the Federal Chief Information Officer, lauds the mandate for government agencies to open up their vaults of valuable data to the public, encouraging enterprising and external development. This release comes on the heels of President Obama’s Consumer Data Privacy Framework in February. The collection, security, and ownership of Americans’ personal online activity data is a lucrative, controversial and ever-growing market that has largely run unchecked since its inception. Adherence to the Consumer Bill of Rights is voluntary, but it is encouraging that the reality of America’s technological shift is beginning to be addressed by the White House.

Oracle v. Google, Patent Wars: Judge Learns to Code

In a move heralded by the technology community, Judge William Alsup of the intellectual property trial between Oracle and Google recently revealed he had learned to code in Java specifically for the case, Wired reports. Oracle is seeking damages from Google for infringing copyrights specifically related to Java APIs. Oracle’s lead counsel, David Boies, is still seeking infringer’s profits, but Judge Alsup is unconvinced that this is not just a “fishing expedition” as even he could write some of the infringing code in five minutes.

This case typifies the problems the tech industry is having with the patent system in the U.S. Visual.ly published a flowchart illustrating the convoluted nature of the patent wars being waged between large technology companies. Timothy Lee of Ars Technica criticizes solutions proposed by former Federal Circuit judges in an article specifically about software patent issues. Although the debate continues, the need for patent reform is recognized by both the innovators and the courts.

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

Federal Circuit Holds that Apple May Have the Right to a Preliminary Injunction Against Samsung’s Tablet Computers
By Jacob L. Rogers – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 2012-1105 (Fed. Cir. May 14, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a decision by the Northern District of California, which had denied Apple a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s smartphones and tablet computers.

The Federal Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a preliminary injunction on three of the four patents in suit—two design patents related to the iPhone and one utility patent related to the “bounce back” feature when scrolling through documents on both iPhone and iPad. However, with respect to the fourth patent (the “D’889 patent”) related to the design of the iPad, the court held that the district court erred by using a 1994 prototype design as a primary reference to find that Apple was unlikely to succeed on the merits. The district court had already found that there would be irreparable harm to Apple without an injunction, so the court remanded for a determination on the balance of the equities and the public interest in order to make a final determination as to whether a preliminary injunction should issue against Samsung’s tablet computers.

Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log provides an overview of the case. Sarah Burstein expressed surprise at the decision in a guest post on Patently-O. Burstein expressed concern at the court’s unqualified acceptance of Apple’s theory of brand dilution from design patent infringement, which is normally reserved for Trademark. Ars Technica provides an overview of the stakes for each company, including graphs depicting worldwide share in the mobile and smartphone markets. Ars Technica also reports that following this decision Apple and Samsung attempted to return to the negotiation table per the judge’s orders, but were again unable to reach an agreement. (more…)

Posted On May - 26 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Flash Digest: News i

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