A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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By Andrew Crocker

EPIC Sues FTC Over Google’s Impending Privacy Changes

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an attempt to force the FTC to step in before Google changes its user privacy policy on March 1, reports PC World. EPIC’s complaint alleges that Google’s privacy changes will violate the consent order that the company reached with the FTC last year in settlement of the Commission’s investigation of Google Buzz. EPIC is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the FTC, a move the Los Angeles Times calls “an unusual end run” to get the Commission to act. According to the Washington Post blog, the suit has been fast-tracked, and a preliminary ruling is expected before the new policy goes into effect.

Court Refuses to Shut Down MP3 Resale Site

Ars Technica reports that a federal district judge has refused Capitol Records’ motion for a temporary injunction against the music website ReDigi. ReDigi is a “used” MP3 site that allows users to resell music purchased through Apple’s iTunes store to other users. According to the ReDigi site, the sale is accomplished through a proprietary verification process that ensures no illegal copying takes place. ReDigi claims the service is protected by the first sale doctrine, which allows legal owners of physical works to sell or rent them to others. CNET reports, however, that Capitol has argued that ReDigi must make copies during its verification process, a use not covered by the first sale doctrine.

Washington D.C. Repeals Online Gambling Law

The Washington D.C. city council has voted to repeal the city’s online gambling law, according to the Washington Post. The measure, which had not yet gone into effect, was the first law passed by an American jurisdiction to create a city-run poker site for bettors located within the jurisdiction. Although online gambling has been controversial and a number of poker sites have been ruled to violate state and federal law, Reuters reports that D.C. legislators voted to repeal because of a lack of transparency in how the contract to run the site was awarded.

Posted On Feb - 13 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

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
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