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

Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Kayla Haran – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

Court Finds Negative Claim Limitation Meets Written Description Requirements

International Trade Commission’s Expansion of its Jurisdiction to Include Electronic Transmissions of Digital Data Ruled Improper

Court Holds That Patent Trial and Appeal Board Did Not Deny Procedural Rights in Review



Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Patrick Gallagher – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

TOR Project Head Alleges FBI Paid Carnegie Mellon for Hack in Connection with Silk Road 2.0 Investigation

DOJ Decides Not to Support FCC in Efforts to Preempt States Laws Limiting Municipal Broadband Projects

D.C. Court of Appeals Permits Continuation of Bulk Domestic Phone Data Collection



Senate passes Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act

By Frederick Ding — Edited by Yunnan Jiang

On October 27, 2015, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which enables companies to share cyber threat indicators with each other and the federal government, and immunizes them from liability for sharing under the act. Tech companies and journalists have vocally expressed opposition to the act, which may enable companies to share users’ personal information.



Senators push bill protecting interstate trade secrets amidst concerns over trolling

By Bhargav Srinivasan – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Senate Judiciary Committee is deliberating a bill to provide US companies with extra legal protections for trade secrets for products or services used in interstate commerce. However, some legal scholars believe the bill creates strong potential for companies to engage in “trade secret trolling” by falsely accusing rivals of stealing trade secrets in order to stall their business. The ensuing debate now weighs the intent of the bill with the potential for legal bullying.



Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Keke Wu – Edited by Yunnan Jiang

Federal Circuit Rejects-in-part the District Court’s Claim Construction

No Jurisdiction to Claim Reputational Harm after Settlement

Federal Circuit Affirms-in-part PTAB in Belden vs. Berk-Tek


Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By Sarah Jeong – Edited by Alex Shank

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 11-697 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2013)
Slip opinion


The Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted work lawfully made abroad, reversing the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The case involved the resale in the United States of approximately 600 copies of textbooks that originally had been bought in Thailand at relatively inexpensive prices. On remand, the Supreme Court ordered that the Second Circuit conduct further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion.

The unauthorized importation of copyrighted material is barred by § 602 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. § 602), and John Wiley & Sons’ (“Wiley”) right to distribute is protected by § 106(3). However, the first sale doctrine of § 109(a) extinguishes the copyright owner’s interest in a particular copy after the first sale to a consumer. At issue in Kirtsaeng was whether § 109(a) applies to goods of “foreign manufacture”—more specifically, whether the phrase “lawfully made under this title” applied to goods like the Asian editions of the Wiley textbooks. In holding that the first sale doctrine also extends to these goods, the Supreme Court removed the geographical limitations to the first sale doctrine placed by the Ninth Circuit in Omega S. A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2008). Furthermore, the holding undercuts distributors’ attempts to divide regional markets and practice economically efficient price discrimination.

The Los Angeles Times provides an overview of the case. Professor James Grimmelmann of New York Law School discusses the case in Publishers Weekly, calling the issues in the case “significant.” Ars Technica also comments on the decision, celebrating it as a “vindication” of the first sale doctrine. JOLT Digest previously reported on the Second Circuit’s holding in favor of Wiley, affirming the decision of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. JOLT Digest also previously commented on the future of the first sale doctrine after Quality King, a case heavily relied on by the Supreme Court in Kirtsaeng. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 30 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

BASF v. Makhteshim Agan
By David LeRay – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

BASF Agro B.V., Arnhem (NL), Wadenswil Branch v. Makhteshim Agan of North America, Inc., No. 2012-1206 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2013)
Slip opinion

BASF Agro B.V. (“BASF”), the world’s largest chemical manufacturer, suffered a setback in its patent litigation against Makhteshim Agan of North America (“Makhteshim”), the world’s largest generic agrochemical maker.The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Middle District of North Carolina’s grant of summary judgment of non-infringement for the defendants. The suit focuses on patents covering BASF’s termite-killing pesticide, Termidor, which is the United States’ top-selling pesticide. BASF commenced litigation in 2010 after Makhteshim began selling a competing product, Taurus SC.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the lower court’s claim construction, which was largely based on the doctrine of prosecution disclaimer, as applied to BASF’s actions during patent prosecution. Under that claim construction, the issue of non-infringement was easily decided as a matter of law; thus, summary judgment of non-infringement for the defendants was appropriate. Specifically, the court found that BASF had disclaimed so-called “barrier” techniques of pesticide application—which aim to surround buildings with a complete polygon of pesticide—in favor of deploying pesticide at discrete locations around the building boundary. Since Makhteshim’s products use the polygonal barrier method, they did not infringe BASF’s patents.

Bloomberg gives a brief overview of the case and discusses the relevant pesticides. Croplife provides commentary from business leaders on both sides of the case. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 29 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Alex Shank – Edited by Michael Hoven
Editorial Policy

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) introduced substantial changes to the U.S. patent system, among them the transition to the first-inventor-to-file priority system. Parties whose patent applications have been rejected by a PTO examiner and the newly formed Patent Trial and Appeals Board (“PTAB”) also have a new venue in which to appeal their rejections—the District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia (“EDVA”). Patent litigators, enticed by the “Rocket Docket” EDVA and its recently relaxed evidentiary standards, may spur a spike in granted patents, compounding the defects of already over-patented system. However, other AIA reforms, including expanded post-grant review and the opening of PTO satellite offices, as well as PTO appeals of EDVA decisions, will likely temper the spike. Ultimately, opening the EDVA may figure most prominently in heightening the scrutiny of potentially cursory PTO examiner decisions.

As described by Damon W. D. Wright and Matthew R. Farley at IPFrontline, the availability of the EDVA may inspire prospective patentees to refrain from bringing appeals directly to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) and instead to seek review in the EDVA. Prior to the enactment of the AIA, parties seeking review of patents rejected by the PTO could bring a civil suit to obtain a patent—commonly called a “Section 145 action”—but only in the District Court of the District of Columbia. Most applicants avoided the relatively sluggish DC District Court and appealed directly to the CAFC. The “Rocket Docket” EDVA’s reputation for efficiently processing suits may reverse this practice. As Wright and Farley note, the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Kappos v. Hyatt, 132 S.Ct. 1690 (2012), further enhances the appeal of a Section 145 action. In Kappos, the Supreme Court held that district courts hearing patent appeals can admit new evidence, bound only by the standards published in the Federal Rules of Evidence and Civil Procedure, and, if new evidence is admitted, the court must apply a de novo standard of review to both new and previously admitted evidence. In contrast, the CAFC examines only the evidence contained in the PTO record and does so with a deferential standard of review. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 25 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michelle Sohn

Flash DigestNorthern District of California Court Strikes Down National Security Letter Statute

On Friday, the District Court for the Northern District of California struck down 18 U.S.C. § 2709 due to its failure to meet First Amendment standards, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”). The statute is known as one of the “National Security Letter” (“NSL”) statutes, which allows the FBI to issue requests for subscriber information from Internet service providers, telephone companies, and others. The ruling was a response to the EFF’s 2011 petition challenging the constitutionality of the 2709(c) “gag” provision, which prohibits companies from disclosing that they have received an NSL as well as the judicial review provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3511 (b). District Court Judge Susan Illston’s decision to bar NSLs differs from a prior ruling on the issue from the Second Circuit. The Second Circuit, in Doe v. Mukasey, approved NSLs as long as the FBI took voluntary measures to protect against abuse. Unlike the Second Circuit, Judge Illston’s decision held that since the gag provision was meant to work in concert with the rest of the statute, the power granted to the FBI to compel subscriber information from providers also be struck down. The District Court’s decision is likely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Social Media Added Fuel to the Fire in Stuebenville Rape Case

Two Ohio high school football players accused of raping a 16-year old girl were convicted Sunday, reports USA Today. The case was largely driven by and followed in social media. Throughout the trial, texts and videos from Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were used to incriminate the accused. The episode even got the attention of hacktivist group, Anonymous, which made public a private video of students joking about the incident. On Monday, two Ohio girls were arrested after making threats against the victim on Facebook and Twitter.

Presidential Commission Concludes Anthrax Vaccine Testing on Children Unethical without Further Research

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released a report Tuesday warning against a government proposal to test anthrax vaccines on children without conducting more preliminary research, NPR reports.  The proposal for testing is rooted in two major concerns: first, the likelihood that anthrax would be the weapon of choice in a bioterrorist attack, and second, the uncertainty that the vaccine would work effectively in children. To date, the anthrax vaccine has been given to more than one million adults in the military, but the vaccine’s effects on children are not known. The Commission’s report concluded that more research would have to show that testing would pose no more than a minimal risk to children. The report also suggests testing on animals and young adults first. The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that charged the Commission with evaluating the proposal, will have the final say in whether to go ahead with the experiment.

Posted On Mar - 24 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Radio Systems Corp. v. Lalor
By Craig Fratrik – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

Radio Systems Corp. v. Lalor, No. 2012-1233, 2013 WL 811757 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 6, 2013)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the decision of the Western District of Washington, which had ruled that Tom Lalor and Bumper Boy (“Bumper Boy”) were barred under equitable estoppel from bringing certain patent infringement claims and that none of Radio Systems’ other designs were infringing.

Agreeing with the lower court, the Federal Circuit held that Bumper Boy’s four years of silence after sending a letter claiming infringement prevented them from bringing claims based on the patent referred to in the letter. However, in a divided opinion, the court reversed the lower courts and held that equitable estoppel would not apply to a continuation-in-part patent that Bumper Boy received after it sent its initial letter.

Writing for the Law Technology & Arts Blog, Aaron Orheim provides a good overview of the case. At Patently-O, Dennis Crouch considers how the decision might have changed with different facts and how patentees might change their behavior. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 23 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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