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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Photo By: Robert ScobleCC BY 2.0

Earlier this month, Mike Hearn of Google’s Security Department posted online that Google has successfully encrypted the data traffic between its servers. This undoes the National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) work in creating the surveillance program “MUSCULAR,” which taps into the connections between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers.

On October 30, the Washington Post released another wave of information attributed to Edward Snowden that described how the NSA had “broken into” the communication links between Google and Yahoo’s private data centers under a program codenamed MUSCULAR. The NSA is reported to operate this program jointly with its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters. The tapping of these communication fibers gives the NSA access to millions of users’ data, including both metadata and content, regardless of whether or not they were suspected terrorists or criminals.

RT quotes Google’s chief legal officer, David Drummond as being “outraged” over the program, explaining that they have “long been concerned” about this kind of activity, and have been slowly extending encryption across Google’s myriad of services in an attempt to protect its users. Drummond’s statement was made in response to the Washington Post report of October 30 and continues, “[w]e are outraged at the lengths to which the government seems to have gone to intercept data form our private fiber networks, and it underscores the need for urgent reform.”

According to Ars Technica, Google has had a full-encryption initiative for over a year, but accelerated the initiative in June after Snowden leaked the news of the NSA and FBI’s joint “PRISM” program. Under this program, the NSA could gain front-door access to users’ data by demanding data related to certain keywords or search terms. This program was previously covered by the Digest. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 18 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc.
By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Jennifer Wong

J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch)
Opinion

Photo By: Brian BurgerCC BY 2.0

The England and Wales High Court of Justice, Chancery Division held that infringement of Scrabble’s trademarked name did not occur when Zynga titled its games “Scramble” and “Scramble with Friends.” J.W. Spear & Sons v. Zynga, Inc., [2013] EWHC 3348 (Ch) at 147. It also held that the word “Scramble” was used to refer to games of that type and therefore did not infringe on Mattel’s trademark of that word. Id. at 158–59. However, the court also expressed concern that the “Scramble” logo created a likelihood of confusion because of its design. Id. at 142.

The court relied largely on Mattel’s previous actions to prove that the company itself did not seem to acknowledge confusion or infringement in a timely fashion to defeat Mattel’s trademark infringement claims. Id. at 46. Beyond its official holding, the court also noted that Zynga’s “Scramble” logo could potentially be misleading to consumers. Id. at 145. In the “Scramble” logo, the “m” is placed on its side such that it resembles the Scrabble name,. Id. at 142.

BBC News and PC Mag provide brief descriptions of the case and the reactions of the parties.  World IP Review gives a fuller description of the judge’s reasoning. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 13 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Charles Colman
Acting Assistant Professor at NYU School of Law

Edited By: Elise Young

“For this most inadequate proof [of consumer recognition], applicant asks us to give it the exclusive right to use red and blue bands on men’s white, ribbed socks — that we cannot do.”

In re Izod, Ltd., 296 F.2d 771, 778 (C.C.P.A. 1961)

 

Summary

 

On September 30, 2013, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board[1] issued a troubling decision in In re Bottega Veneta Int’l S.a.r.l.[2] Viewed in a broader context, the decision reflects the Board’s growing reluctance to apply the doctrine of “aesthetic functionality”[3] in ex parte prosecution proceedings to bar the issuance of potentially anticompetitive trade-dress[4] registrations. The TTAB gives its imprimatur to the dubious “trade dress” at issue in Bottega Veneta through procedural moves whose novelty and import could easily go unacknowledged — specifically, (1) the Board’s declaration of its intention to resolve “doubts” as to aesthetic functionality in favor of applicants, and (2) the Board’s disposal of concerns about product-design monopolization through reliance on supposedly limiting conditions agreed to by the applicant, but which the federal courts will not observe or enforce. As such, In re Bottega Veneta — despite its technical status as a mere “non-precedential” decision by an agency whose determination can theoretically be revisited by the federal courts — will improperly hinder marketplace competition and restrict creative freedom among designers. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By James Grace

Hershey_Cross_SectionHershey’s Opposes Mars’ Attempt to Register a Snickers’ Cross-Section as a Design Mark

The Trademark Blog reported that Hershey’s has filed a Notice of Opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concerning Mars’ application to register a design mark for “a cross-section of a candy bar showing layers within the candy, namely, a middle light brown layer containing several tan colored peanut shapes and a bottom tan layer, all surrounded by a brown layer.” U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 85441471 (filed Oct. 6, 2011). As one of four grounds of opposition, Hershey’s alleges that the design mark is functional, since the configuration of ingredients is the result of a commonly used  “layering” process for manufacturing candy bars that is efficient and cost effective. Notice of Opposition, ¶¶ 13-17, 23-29.

Medtronic v. Boston Scientific – Oral Argument

On November 5, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in the case of Medtronic v. Boston Scientific, No. 12-1128 (U.S. Nov. 5, 2013). Medtronic, a medical device manufacturer, licensed patents from Boston Scientific and subsequently sought declaratory judgment that it did not infringe Boston Scientific’s patents and was therefore not obligated to pay royalties. In a typical patent infringement suit, the patent holder bears the burden of proving infringement, and this burden does not shift in a declaratory judgment action.  However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Court recently held that where a licensee is seeking a declaration of non-infringement, the licensee should bear the burden of proving non-infringement because the patentee is not in a position to counterclaim for infringement. Medtronic v. Boston Scientific, 695 F.3d 1266 (Fed. Cir. 2012), slip op. at 12. Medtronic appealed to the Supreme Court. PatentlyO and SCOTUSblog provide a summary of the issues raised in oral argument before the Court.

Proposed Tweak to Law Would Pull Shield From Generic-Drug Makers

On November 8, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a press release outlining a proposed rule aimed at speeding up the dissemination of safety information concerning generic drugs. Under the current rules, generic drug manufactures must wait for approval by the FDA and the corresponding brand name manufacturer before updating product labeling to reflect new safety information.  The proposed rule would provide generic manufacturers with the same ability as brand name manufactures to update product labeling based on newly acquired safety information prior to review by the FDA. The Wall Street Journal discusses how the proposed rules relate to the recent of case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. , Inc. v. Bartlett , No. 12–142 (U.S. 2013), in which the Supreme Court overturned a $21 million judgment to a woman for injuries allegedly caused by a generic drug.

Posted On Nov - 10 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Elise Young

November 1, 2013 Notice from NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) recently announced that it has begun formal review of its standards development process for approving cryptographic algorithms. The notice appears to be a reaction to recent reports in the New York Times regarding the National Security Agency’s (“NSA”) back door access to encrypted data through an NIST-approved cryptographic algorithm. The article suggests that the NSA inserted back door access into the algorithm, one that many companies use to encrypt data sent over the Web.

The New York Times, in an article and blog post, and the Guardian cover the alleged back door access. Ars Technica, Matthew Green, and Wired provide commentary. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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