A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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In Response to Ruling by European Court of Justice, Netherlands Bans Unauthorized Downloading of Copyrighted Material
By Andrew Spore – Edited by Travis West

ACI Adam BV v. Stichting de Thuiskopie

In response to an order issued by the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”), the Netherlands has banned the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material. The Dutch government previously had allowed such downloading for personal use. The ECJ held that, because the law “makes no distinction between private copies made from lawful sources and those made from counterfeited or pirated sources,” it could not be tolerated.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Olga Slobodyanyuk

Amici urge the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ruling in the “Innocence of Muslims” case

Record companies sue Pandora for royalties on songs made before 1972

Alleged Heartbleed hacker arrested

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Specific Facts Supporting Indirect Infringement Required for Software Supplier to Obtain Declaratory Judgment Against Patentee Suing End Users
By Geng Chen – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Microsoft Corp. v. DataTern, Inc., No. 13-1184 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2014)

The Federal Circuit held that Microsoft and SAP had standing to bring invalidity and noninfringement declaratory judgment actions against DataTern, based on DataTern’s previous lawsuits against those companies’ software customers for direct patent infringement, but only to the extent that those direct infringement claims also established a controversy on issues of contributory and induced infringement.

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DOJ Indicts Nine for Zeus Malware Theft From Online Bank Accounts
By Emma Winer – Edited by Sheri Pan

United States v. Penchukov

Last week, the Department of Justice released a previously sealed indictment against alleged conspirators in an international scheme that stole millions of dollars from online bank accounts. The conspirators allegedly infected thousands of computers with “Zeus” malware, which captured passwords, bank account numbers, and other online banking information. Two of the defendants were arraigned in Nebraska after being extradited from the United Kingdom.

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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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Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments on GPS Tracking Case
By Amara Osisioma – Edited by Andrew Crocker

U.S. v. Jones, 10-1259 (2011)
Transcript of Oral Arguments

On Tuesday, November 8th, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in U.S. v. Jones to determine whether the police had violated Antoine Jones’ Fourth Amendment rights when they attached a GPS to his car without a warrant and tracked his movements. Though the police initially obtained a warrant for the investigation, it had expired when they placed the GPS on Jones’ car. Under the standard first developed in Katz. v. United States, Fourth Amendment protection extends to an individual’s “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

In applying this standard, the Court must determine whether and how warrantless GPS tracking differs from police tailing an individual by sight in public, which is not subject to Fourth Amendment protection. U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben, on behalf of the government, argued that regardless of the method used, police tracking of individuals in public places is constitutional. Yet, despite questioning from several justices suggesting that use of a GPS might constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, Jones’ attorney, Stephen Leckar, instead tried to propose a narrow rule that the installation of the GPS was itself a search or seizure requiring a warrant.

Commentaries by the Center for Democracy & Technology and Professor Orin Kerr for The Volokh Conspiracy highlight the justices’ discomfort with the idea that evolving technology might render current constitutional protections insufficient, a scenario they repeatedly compared to George Orwell’s 1984. At the same time, SCOTUSblog notes that both parties’ inability at oral argument to suggest clear rules for guiding law enforcement’s use of surveillance technology frustrated the justices, leaving the outcome uncertain. The Wall Street Journal suggests that even a decision by the Court requiring a warrant in order to use a GPS tracking device may not change the limits of police surveillance because law enforcement authorities in most states can instead request access to a customer’s cell phone records for tracking purposes without a warrant and without the customer’s knowledge.

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Posted On Nov - 18 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jennifer Wong

Twitter Ordered to Release Information in WikiLeaks Case

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ordered Twitter to release information about three of its users who have possible ties to the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, the New York Times reports. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) sought the information last year, but not with a search warrant. Rather, they ordered the information be revealed pursuant to the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 (2006). The information includes Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses, which can be used to identify and discern the location of a computer used to log on to the internet. The three account holders argued in court that their IP addresses should be considered private, that the order suppressed their right to free speech and that the information was irrelevant to WikiLeaks. However, the court did not agree. In his judicial opinion, Judge Liam O’Grady expressed that the information was material to the DOJ’s investigation of WikiLeaks and that the users “voluntarily” revealed their IP addresses when they signed up for a Twitter account. The court also dismissed a petition to have the DOJ reveal its rationale for why it wanted the information. According to the Guardian, one of the users, Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, plans to bring her case to the Council of Europe. 

AOL to Pay $10 Million in Patent Infringement Suit

Forbes reports that a federal court jury has returned a verdict of 10 million dollars in favor of BASCOM Global Internet Services in its lawsuit against AOL. The $10 million is intended to cover unpaid royalties for AOL’s infringement of one of BASCOM’s patents. BASCOM is a Long Island-based company that creates Internet filtering software that is heavily used by educational institutions. In 2008, BASCOM brought suit against both AOL and Yahoo for patent infringement. While Yahoo settled with BASCOM, AOL decided to go to trial. According to Long Island Business News, BASCOM’s president testified that he had tried to negotiate licenses for the patent with several industry giants, but they declined because they did not think he had the means to enforce the patent. AOL has indicated that it will appeal the decision. 

Court Blocks FDA Requirement of Graphic Warnings on Cigarette Packaging

According to a federal court judge, new FDA requirements for cigarette packaging may violate the First Amendment by compelling speech, Reuters reports. The proposed requirements would have tobacco companies place large graphic images of adverse, smoking-related health consequences on cigarette packets. The graphic images include a man smoking out of a hole in his throat and a mouth covered in diseased lesions. Several tobacco companies are currently suing the FDA over the new requirements. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a temporary injunction allowing the companies not to comply with the requirements until after the resolution of the lawsuit. According to CBS, Leon expressed in his opinion that the graphic depictions went beyond mere warnings of the health risks of smoking and acted more like anti-smoking advocacy. He said that the new requirements were like advertising for the FDA’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda” and that the companies would likely prevail in their lawsuit.
Posted On Nov - 15 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Continues to Evade Addressing Intra-Circuit Split Regarding Claim Construction
By Katie Cohen – Edited by Albert Wang

Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co., No. 2010-1402 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc of Retractable Technologies, Inc.’s patent infringement suit against Becton, Dickinson and Company.

Notably, there were two dissents filed in the court’s decision. Judge Moore, joined by Chief Judge Rader, expressed frustration that, despite claim construction’s critical role in patent litigation, the Federal Circuit applies its rules in this area unpredictably. Judge Moore would have reheard this case to address the role of the specification in construing claims. In a separate dissent, Judge O’Malley urged that rehearing en banc should have been granted to revisit and reverse the court’s decision in Cybor Corp. v. FAS Techs., Inc., 138 F.3d 1448 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (en banc), which held that claim construction is a matter of law reviewed without deference to a district court’s conclusions.

Patent Docs provides an overview of the case. IPWatchdog and PatentlyO outline the nature of the court’s split on claim construction issues.  (more…)

Posted On Nov - 11 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Third Circuit Affirms Prior Decision to Strike Down FCC Fine for CBS Broadcast of Janet Jackson’s Breast During Super Bowl Halftime Show
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Albert Wang

CBS Corp. v. FCC, No. 06-3575 (3d Cir. Nov. 2, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its earlier decision throwing out a $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission imposed on broadcasting corporation CBS for airing a split-second image of Janet Jackson’s exposed breast during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Reaching the same conclusion as it had in a 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit held that CBS’s broadcast was legal under the FCC’s policy at the time, which permitted networks to air instances of “fleeting” indecency without being sanctioned. The Court of Appeals ruled that it was arbitrary and capricious for the FCC to change its policy retroactively and impose a steep fine on CBS without notifying the network of the policy change. In reaffirming its 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit declined to change its position in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800 (2009), which upheld the FCC’s decision to abandon its safe harbor for broadcasted expletives that are not repeated. The Third Circuit stated that “Fox confirms our previous ruling in this case and that we should readopt our earlier analysis and holding that the [FCC] acted arbitrarily . . . .” Slip op. at 5.

SCOTUSblog provides an overview of the case. Ars Technica also describes the decision and discusses possible implications for future prime time broadcasts.

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Posted On Nov - 8 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

Zediva Closes Permanently, Pays $1.8 Million in Settlement

The streaming movie service Zediva has agreed to shut down permanently and pay $1.8 million to settle its lawsuit with Hollywood studios, Wired reports. (The MPAA is hosting the consent decree from the Central District Court of California.) The studios sued Zediva in April, one month after it launched its service. Zediva let users watch movies online by remotely renting and operating DVDs and DVD players owned and stored by Zediva. Zediva argued that because it rented DVDs to only one customer at a time, it operated like a video rental store and did not need to have licensing agreements with studios. As JOLT Digest previously reported, this argument did not stop the district court from issuing a preliminary injunction against Zediva in August. PCMag.com reports that the MPAA applauded the “strong message” Zediva’s shutdown sent to potential infringers and considered the shutdown a victory for the film industry.

Power Rangers Halloween Costumes Lead to Lawsuit

Owners of the intellectual property rights associated with the Power Rangers television series have sued the operators of a website for selling the Power Rangers’ colorful uniforms as Halloween costumes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. SBC Power Rangers LLC alleges that the costumes sold at MyPartyShirt.com (operated by Underdog Endeavors) infringe its copyrights and trademarks. Though clothing is not eligible for copyright because of its utilitarian function, “individual design elements” may be copyrightable. The Celebrity Justice blog at Findlaw says that while the patterns on the Power Rangers costumes could be protected by copyright, the stronger claim is that MyPartyShirt.com violated a trademark by using the Power Rangers name on its site.

U.S. Marshals to Seize Righthaven’s Assets to Pay Legal Fees

The District Court of Nevada ordered U.S. Marshals to seize $63,720 that Righthaven owes in legal fees as a result of its ill-fated lawsuit against blogger Wayne Hoehn, reports paidContent. The court dismissed Righthaven’s copyright suit against Hoehn this summer and awarded legal fees to Hoehn. Righthaven claimed that it could not afford to pay the roughly $30,000 award; the size of the award has since doubled as Hoehn’s lawyers have worked to enforce the judgment. While Righthaven’s legal strategy—the lawsuit against Hoehn was one of nearly 300 similar suits—garnered it some favorable settlements, it has not succeeded in court, as JOLT Digest has reported. Righthaven owes a variety of defendants over $200,000 in legal fees, according to Poynter, and may end up in bankruptcy.

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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In Response to Rulin

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Flash Digest: News I

By Olga Slobodyanyuk Amici urge the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ...

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Specific Facts Suppo

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DOJ Indicts Nine for

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European Court of Ju

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