A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Cristina Carapezza

Rosen Wins TV Headrest Patent Suit

Federal Circuit Allows for Declaratory Judgment of Noninfringement for Disclaimed Patent

Federal Circuit Prohibits Third Party Challenges to Patent Application Revivals Under the APA

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Government Agents Indicted for Wire Fraud and Money Laundering in Silk Road Investigation

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Jens Frankenreiter

Two former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have been charged for wire fraud and money laundering in connection with an investigation of Silk Road, a digital black market that allowed people to anonymously buy drugs and other illicit goods using Bitcoin, a digital currency. The two agents were members of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and allegedly used their official capacities and resources to steal Bitcoins for their personal gain.

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Mississippi Attorney General’s investigation of Google temporarily halted by federal court

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On March 2, 2015, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of Google was halted by a federal court granting Google’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate issued the opinion. Judge Wingate found a substantial likelihood that Hood’s investigation violated Google’s First Amendment rights by content regulation of speech and placing limits of public access to information.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Ken Winterbottom

J.P. Morgan Appeal Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

Court Agrees with USPTO: Settlement Agreements Are Not Grounds for Dismissing Patent Validity Challenges

Attorney Misconduct-Based Fee-Shifting Request Revived in Light of Recent Supreme Court Decision

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Pass the Patented Peas, Please: EPO Upholds Plant Product Patents

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

Everything’s coming up roses for plant patent holders, following the European Patent Office’s recent endorsement of patents for tomato and broccoli plants.  In a March 25, 2015 decision, the Enlarged Board of Appeal held that the European Patent Convention’s Article 53(b) prohibition on patents for production of plants by “essentially biological processes . . . does not have a negative effect on the allowability of a product claim directed to plants.”

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EEOC v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia
By Jessica Vosgerchian — Edited by Geng Chen

Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, No. 11-cv-02560-MSK-MEH (D. Colo. Nov. 7, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by The Workplace Class Action Blog)

The magistrate judge in a sexual harassment class action against The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia (“Honeybaked Ham”) has ordered plaintiffs to produce passwords to their social media and email accounts as well as surrender their cell phones to a court-appointed special master who will review the materials for discoverable information.

The class action, brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of 20–22 women who worked for Honeybaked Ham, alleges that company manager James Jackman subjected the employees to sexual comments and groping, and retaliated against women who complained by firing them. Colorado Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty’s November 7 order marks a novel approach to the problem of how to treat semi-private online communications in discovery.

Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog contends that the court should have ordered plaintiffs to collect and produce relevant information from the accounts themselves rather than provide full access to a special master. The Workplace Class Action Blog, meanwhile, finds Judge Hegart’s plan “relatively low-cost and efficient,” and, because an independent official will screen for irrelevant information, sensitive to the EEOC’s concern that the plaintiffs’ full social media activities could bias the judge against them.

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Posted On Nov - 26 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Pio Szamel

Court Finds Warrant Unnecessary for Tracking of Unauthorized WiFi User

A federal district court has ruled that law enforcement do not need to obtain a warrant in order to track down unauthorized users of an unsecured WiFi account, reports Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy.  After tracking a child pornography suspect to an IP address associated with a Comcast account, Pennsylvania State Police discovered that their suspect was not the Comcast customer but rather a neighbor mooching off the customer’s unsecured WiFi network.  With the permission of the customer, they used free software and a directional antenna to identify the apartment containing the suspect’s computer and obtain a search warrant. In the subsequent criminal proceedings, the defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him on the grounds that tracking down his computer constituted an illegal warrantless search, but Judge Joy Conti of the Western District of Pennsylvania disagreed, finding that the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy because in connecting to the unauthorized wireless network he was voluntarily sending a signal to a third party. The Wall Street Journal has additional coverage, and the opinion can be found at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Republican Study Committee Releases, then Retracts Report Calling for Copyright Reform

The Republican Study Committee, an influential caucus of more than 170 conservatives in the House of Representatives, released a report on Friday, November 17 calling for wide-reaching copyright reform but then retracted it the next day in response to pushback from content industry groups, reports Ars Technica. The report, preserved by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”), purported to debunk what it called “three myths” about copyright: that its purpose is to compensate copyright holders; that it represents free markets at work; and that the current copyright regime maximizes innovation and productivity.  It went on to call for reductions in statutory damages and in the length of copyright terms, expansion of fair use, and punishment for false copyright claims.  Techdirt hailed the original report, while EFF denounced its retraction as a retreat to a “reality-free zone.”

Texas Student Granted Temporary Restraining Order against School RFID Tracking Requirement

A state judge has granted a Texas high school student a temporary restraining order preventing her district from transferring her to another high school over her refusal to comply with a school-mandated RFID tracking program, reports Wired.  John Jay High School in San Antonio, Texas is piloting a program to track students with RFID tags embedded in student IDs in order to prove that they are present on campus, in the hope of winning more attendance-based state funding.  The student in question objected to the program, claiming it violates her core religious beliefs, and publicized her objections in leaflets distributed to other students.  When she was threatened with transfer out of the magnet school, she sued the school with the assistance of the Rutherford Institute.  Her complaint can be found on the Rutherford Institute’s website; Ars Technica has further coverage.

Posted On Nov - 25 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc.
By Suzanne Van Arsdale – Edited by Sounghun Lee

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. v. Maersk Drilling USA, Inc., No. 2011-1555 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 15, 2012) (Transocean II)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the Southern District of Texas’s ruling that U.S. Patent Nos. 6,047,781, 6,085,851, and 6,068,069 held by plaintiff Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Inc. (“Transocean”) were invalid for obviousness and lack of enablement, that defendant Maersk Drilling USA, Inc. (“Maersk”) did not infringe some claims, and that Transocean was not entitled to damages. The court of appeals also reversed the district court’s conditional grant of a new trial.

The Federal Circuit held that a person of ordinary skill in the art could practice the claims without undue experimentation and objective evidence was sufficient to rebut a prima facie case of obviousness. As such, the court further held that the jury’s findings and award of $15 million to Transocean were sound, and the district court erred in granting Maersk’s motion for judgment as a matter of law for insufficient evidence. In so holding, the court noted that “we have rarely held that objective evidence is sufficient to overcome a prima facie case of obviousness.” Transocean II at 21.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the decision and the prior ruling. IP Frontline notes that the court has rarely found nonobviousness by looking at objective indicia.

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Posted On Nov - 24 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Hernandez v. Path, Inc.
By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Hernandez v. Path, Inc., No. 12-CV-01515 YGR (N.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

In a class-action privacy lawsuit over a photo sharing app’s alleged unauthorized access of user data, the District Court for the Northern District of California held that the plaintiff has Article III standing, but dismissed six of the ten claims. The court held that neither a slight loss of phone battery life nor hypothetical future risks to the security of user data were sufficient harms to establish standing, but ruled that the expense of paying an expert to remove the unwanted software could be sufficient. It also allowed a negligence claim to go forward, noting that California courts have not foreclosed the possibility of liability for third-party app developers who negligently collect user data.

MediaPost provides a short overview of the case. Internetcases discusses the holding for each claim in more detail. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision, expressing concern about the implications of allowing the negligence claim.

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

By Michelle Sohn

Posthumously Conceived Twins from Michigan Seek Deceased Father’s Social Security Benefits

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether posthumously conceived twins are entitled to their father’s Social Security benefits, reports ABC News. The twins—aged 10—were conceived through in vitro fertilization, using sperm stored while their father, Jeffrey Mattison, underwent chemotherapy.  Months before Mr. Mattison’s death, the twins’ mother, Pamela Mattison, had been preparing for the in vitro treatment according to her attorneys. Mrs. Mattison conceived the twins in January 2001, weeks after Mr. Mattison’s death. While the case is one of first impression for the Michigan Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar issue earlier this year. In Astrue v Capato, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the eligibility of posthumously conceived children for social security benefits should be decided according to statutory requirements or a state’s intestacy law. The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will decide whether Michigan’s law permits children conceived after a biological parent’s death to inherit benefits.

Ninth Circuit to Decide Whether a Sent E-Mail Can Create Agency

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took on the question of whether a sent, but unread, e-mail can give rise to a contract claim, reports Law Technology News. The question arises from a contract dispute between Paramount, an almond and pistachio company, and Ventilex B.V., a Dutch manufacturer. The plaintiff in the dispute, Paramount, contracted with the defendant’s American sales unit, Ventilex U.S.A., to buy the defendant’s almond pasteurizing machine. According to the contract, Ventilex U.S.A. guaranteed the machine’s approval by and compliance with government regulations. However, the machine was not able to obtain governmental approval and Ventilex U.S.A eventually went bankrupt. Paramount then brought suit against Ventilex B.V. Pointing to an e-mail from Ventilex U.S.A to the defendant regarding the machine’s guaranteed government approval, the plaintiff argues that Ventilex U.S.A. was acting as an agent for the defendant. However, the defendant never responded to the e-mail and it is unclear whether the e-mail was actually read.

Google Transparency Report Released

Earlier this week, Google released a new report on transparency, reports Ars Technica. The report is released twice a year and discloses statistics on traffic, removal requests, and user data requests. According to the report, the U.S. government made the most requests for user data. From January to June 2012, the U.S. made nearly 8,000 requests for user data and Google complied with these requests 90% of the time. Overall, approximately 34,000 Google users were subject to surveillance requests by governments worldwide. The report also reveals that removal requests for copyrighted materials grew exponentially. The Microsoft Corporation has made the most removal requests for copyrighted material so far this year.

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Federal Circuit Flas

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