A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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European Court of Justice Invalidates Data Retention Directive
By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

In a preliminary ruling requested by courts in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice found that Directive 2006/24/EC was invalid. The Grand Chamber recognized the legitimacy of retaining telecommunications data as a means to combat serious crime and terrorism, but it ultimately held that the far-reaching scope of the Directive disproportionately affected individual privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned, after pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting.

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By Charlie Stiernberg

What Changed in Google’s Privacy Policy

Google recently announced changes to its privacy policy and terms of service, prompting concerns by a bipartisan group of congressmen over the future safety of customer data. Reuters reports that Pablo Chavez, Google’s director of public policy, responded directly to the lawmakers’ questions in a letter, stating that “the updated privacy policy does not allow us to collect any new or additional types of information about users.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) applauded Google’s efforts to notify its customers of the changes, but criticized the company for not adequately explaining what it meant until after the congressional inquiry. According to EFF, the major substantive changes include (1) combining all of Google’s separate product policies into one, (2) removing the separation between customer data sets stored in each of those products, and (3) using the information obtained from one product in another. The new privacy policy goes into effect on March 1, 2012.

Intel Purchases $120M in Patents from RealNetworks

Intel agreed to pay RealNetworks $120 million for 190 patents and 170 patent applications covering RealNetworks’s streaming video codec technology. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the latest in a set of large patent purchases by major technology companies, which peaked in June with the Nortel Networks patent auction. Competition in the smartphone and tablet markets has become more intense and patents more important as companies, including Intel, expand their businesses into the mobile sector. According to ZDNet, Intel called some of the patents “foundational,” indicating its belief that that some are important to the company’s efforts in the mobile media space. In addition to the sales agreement, Intel acquired the video codec’s development team, and the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to develop next-generation video software and related products.

New Mobile Device Privacy Act Proposed

Rep. Edward Markey released draft legislation this week that would require mobile phone carriers to reveal if they are employing tracking software such as Carrier IQ. Wired reports that under the Mobile Device Privacy Act, consumers would have to give their consent before data—including web usage, call history, and text messages—can be sent to third parties. According to Ars Technica, the controversy started when a developer publicized the widespread use of Carrier IQ software on smartphones a few months ago. Rep. Markey said such software should only be used with the consumer’s “express consent,” and emphasized that the legislation is just a “discussion draft” right now. Sprint and Apple both recently announced they are dropping Carrier IQ, but T-Mobile and AT&T still use it. Verizon does not.

Twitter Reveals 4,400+ DMCA Takedown Notices Last Year

Twitter partnered with Chilling Effects, a project sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, to publish all Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notices it has received since November 2010. Ars Technica reports that the site lists 4,410 takedown notices in that time frame. While Twitter regularly deletes tweets to gain safe harbor under the DMCA, the company stated that it wants to “be transparent with users.” The Huffington Post breaks down the requests by sender, showing that Magnolia Pictures, a New York film distributor owned by Mark Cuban, was responsible for a third of them. Web Sheriff, a third-party that automates takedown notices for its customers, sent at least half of all the requests in the list.

 

Posted On Feb - 11 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds That a Computer-Aided Clearinghouse is a Patent-Ineligible Abstract Idea
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Adam Lewin

Dealertrack, Inc. v. Huber, Nos. 2009-1566, 2009-1588, 2012 WL 164439 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 20, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s grant of summary judgment regarding the invalidity of Dealertrack’s U.S. Patent 7,181,427 (filed Sep. 3, 1997) (“the ’427 patent”), which had claims that covered an automated clearinghouse system for car dealerships. The district court had applied the then-definitive “machine-or-transformation” test from In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc) (“Bilski I”), requiring the claimed process either to be tied to a particular machine or apparatus or to transform an article into a different state or thing. Dealertrack had not argued that its claim effected a transformation, and the district court found that Dealertrack’s patent did not involve a particular machine as required by Bilski I’s test because the computer involved was a general purpose computer that was not “specially programmed.” For this reason, the district court held that the subject matter of Dealertrack’s patent was not eligible for protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of the Patent Act because Dealertrack had claimed an abstract idea.

Reviewing the patentable subject matter issue de novo, the Federal Circuit held that Dealertrack had claimed “an abstract idea preemptive of a fundamental concept or idea that would foreclose innovation in this area,” and therefore its patent was invalid. The court found that the claim’s language was too broad in scope, and that neither including a general computer to the method nor restricting the method to a particular field of use saved the patent’s validity.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case and discusses the case in context of other recent Federal Circuit decisions.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 9 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Clarifies the Level of Contribution Required for Joint Invention of a Chemical Compound
By Yana Welinder – Edited by Adam Lewin

Falana v. Kent State Univ., No. 2011-1198, 2012 WL 171550 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 23, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, which held that Dr. Olusegun Falana should have been listed as co-inventor on a patent that described the use of his protocol for controlled synthesis of a category of chemical compounds for use in liquid crystal displays (“LCDs”).

Judge Linn, joined by Judge Prost and Judge Reyna, affirmed the district court’s order to add Falana as co-inventor to U.S. Patent No. 6,830,789 (filed Sept. 24, 2001) (“the ’789 patent”). The court found that Falana “envisioned the structure of a novel chemical compound and contributed to the method of making it” because he developed a procedure for synthesizing a new class of compounds that was later used to synthesize a compound that exhibited a desired temperature independence. Slip op. at 13. In so holding, the court considered Falana’s contribution to “the entire class of compounds covered by the plain language of the claims” and rejected the defendants’ narrow reading of the claims to be limited to compounds that can perform “across a temperature range of +10°C to +50°C.” Id. at 7, 9.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. IP Frontline criticizes the decision because as applied to patents “with countless claims [it] opens the door to the possibility that at least one of the claims was jointly invented by someone not named in the patent,” which might enable patent defendants to recruit unlisted co-inventors as part of a patent litigation defense strategy.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written by Heather Whitney
Edited by Kassity Liu
Editorial Policy

United States v. Jones (U.S. Jan. 23, 2012)
2012 WL 171117; No. 10-1259

In a hotly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court unanimously found that the Government’s warrantless attachment of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device to a vehicle to monitor its movement constituted a Fourth Amendment violation. While unanimous in judgment, the Court split on both its underlying reasoning and with regards to whether the tracking amounted to a search at all. The Court also did not reach the question of whether the search was reasonable. Due to the Court’s fractured analysis, it remains unclear when the Government must obtain a warrant to track a vehicle’s movements, particularly in the case of short-term monitoring. In concurrence, Justice Alito also suggests that if the public views the losses of privacy brought on by new technologies as inevitable, his Katz analysis would be different in future cases.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Megaupload.com indicted by Department of Justice
By Daniella Adler – Edited by Abby Lauer

U.S. v. Kim Dotcom et al., 1:12-cr-3 (E.D. Va.)
Indictment

The Department of Justice recently brought a criminal indictment against Megaupload.com and related websites in the Eastern District of Virginia on three different counts of copyright infringement as well as money laundering and racketeering.

The indictment calls the operators of Megaupload.com and its environs the “Mega-Conspiracy” and describes it as a “worldwide criminal organization.” The government estimates that $175 million in profits from subscriptions and advertising comes directly from the large volume of copyrighted material illegally posted on the website. Among the individuals indicted were Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom and several of the sites’ main employees and officers.

Currently, when users attempt to access any of the “Mega” sites, they are confronted with an FBI Piracy Warning, which explains that the domain has been seized, states that the “individuals and entities” associated with the crimes have been indicted, and lists the charges.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 5 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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Mozilla Announces Re

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Flash Digest: News I

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Supreme Court Weighs

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