A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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Government Says Megaupload Users Must Pay to Retrieve Their Data
By Jacob L. Rogers – Edited by Heather Whitney

United States v. Kim Dotcom, No. 1:12CR3 (E.D. Va. June 8, 2012)
Kyle Goodwin’s motion for return of property (hosted by EFF)
Government reply brief (hosted by Wired)

In United States v. Kim Dotcom (“the Megaupload case”), the government has filed a reply brief regarding their responsibility (or lack thereof) to provide third parties their data in a situation where the government’s shutdown of a site has made it virtually impossible for that third party to otherwise retrieve their data. Here, in response to Mr. Kyle Goodwin’s motion for return of property pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1963 or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41(g), the government claims that non-parties to the case have no recourse to the government in order to obtain the data stored on the previously seized Megaupload servers. (Government’s brief at 12).

JOLT Digest previously covered the Megaupload indictment. A thorough explanation of the issues can be found on CNET. Computerworld and WebProNews assert that the government’s proposal is unrealistic, and might be an effort to deter swarms of Megaupload users from demanding their data.

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Posted On Jun - 18 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Employee Alleging Employer Accessed Quasi-Public Facebook Posts States a Valid Claim for Invasion of Privacy
By Charlie Stiernberg – Edited by Heather Whitney

Ehling v. Monmouth-Ocean Hosp. Serv. Corp., No. 2:11-cv-03305 (WJM) (D.N.J. May 30, 2012)
Slip Opinion
(hosted by Justia.com)

The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey granted defendant Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corp.’s (“MONOC”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff Deborah Ehling’s New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act (“NJ Wiretap Act”) claim, but denied MONOC’s motion to dismiss Ehling’s common law invasion of privacy claim.  Ehling, a MONOC employee, alleged that a supervisor inappropriately accessed restricted posts on her Facebook page without her consent.

The court held that Ehling failed to state a claim under the NJ Wiretap Act, because she did not allege that her Facebook posting was viewed by her employer “in the course of transmission.”  Ehling, No. 2:11-cv-03305 (WJM) at 4.  The court held that the NJ Wiretap Act does not apply to a received communication that is placed in “post-transmission storage” before it is “accessed by another without authorization.”  Id. at 4-5.  On the other hand, the court held that Ehling had stated a plausible claim for common law invasion of privacy, in part because she “may have had a reasonable expectation that her Facebook posting would remain private,” especially because she took steps to protect her Facebook page from public viewing.  Id. at 6.

The Delaware Employment Law Blog provides an overview of the case, and states that the key take-away for employers is “Don’t look for trouble or you just may find it.”  The Eric Goldman Technology & Marketing Law Blog notes that the number of Facebook friends with whom Ehling shared her post may end up determining whether the post should be accorded any privacy protection.

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Posted On Jun - 16 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

USPTO Proposes New Rules for Micro Entity Status
By Jeffery Habenicht – Edited by Dorothy Du

Changes to Implement Micro Entity Status for Paying Patent Fees, 77 Fed. Reg. 31,806 (proposed May 30, 2012) (to be codified at 37 C.F.R. pt. 1).
Federal Register

On May 30, 2012, the PTO published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register entitled Changes to Implement Micro Entity Status for Paying Patent Fees. The new rules, to be codified as 37 C.F.R. §1.29, set out the proposed requirements for attaining micro entity status. Although narrow in scope, micro entity status provides a significant reduction in patent fees for those who qualify.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”), enacted on September 16, 2011, created the micro entity status. America Invents Act, Pub. L. No. 112-29, §10 (2011) (codified at 35 U.S.C. § 123). Applicants qualifying as a micro entity would be entitled to a 75-percent reduction in fees. Id. §10(b). Although the AIA set forth a definition of what constituted a micro entity, id. §10(g), it left the specifics of implementation to the PTO. Accordingly, the PTO’s proposed rules attempt to clarify who qualifies as a micro entity and establish the procedures for claiming micro entity status, notifying the PTO of a loss of status, and correcting erroneous payments of fees.

On the whole, commentators have generally welcomed the PTO’s proposed rules. PatentDocs provides an overview and analysis of the changes. PharmaPatents explains that that proposed rules help clarify the AIA’s definition of micro entity status but raise questions about potential abuse of the higher education prong. Patently-O also mentions the clarifications provided by the proposed rules and notes that the PTO is seeking comments on whether “applicant” should be changed to “inventor” anywhere in the rules.

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Posted On Jun - 12 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

California District Court Dismisses Oracle’s Copyright Infringement Claims Against Google, Finds APIs not Copyrightable

By Susanna Lichter – Edited by Jennifer Wong
Oracle America, Inc., v. Google Inc., No. C 10-0361 WHA (N.D. Cal. May 31, 2012) (hosted by Groklaw)

The U.S. District Court of Northern California in San Francisco dismissed Oracle’s claims that Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright in 37 application programming interfaces (“APIs”), holding that the particular elements duplicated in Google’s Android operating system were free for all to use under the Copyright Act.

Oracle filed the billion-dollar lawsuit against Google in August 2010, shortly after acquiring Sun Microsystems, Inc. and its interest in Java, the language used in Android. The suit alleged both copyright and patent infringement by Google’s exact replication of the names, organization, and functions of the APIs.

On May 23 a jury of ten unanimously found that Google did not infringe on patents held by Oracle. Two weeks earlier the jury had unanimously decided that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright in the APIs, but deadlocked on whether Google’s infringement qualified as fair use. Judge William Alsup resolved the copyright claims, finding that the APIs were not copyrightable to begin with. Oracle will be limited to collecting statutory damages for 9 lines of code that were copied from Java, the resulting damages of which may not exceed $150,000.

Wired provides an overview of the case. JOLT Digest reported on the patent claim and
Ars Technica interviewed Google attorneys Kent Walker, and Renny Hwang after the verdict.

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Posted On Jun - 10 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Brittany Horth

United States Orchestrated Cyberattack on Iran’s Main Nuclear Enrichment Facilities with Stuxnet

Interviews with anonymous American, European, and Israeli officials, as well as outside experts, have revealed that President Obama ordered the acceleration of secret cyberattacks, codenamed “Olympic Games,” on Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities during his first months in office, reports the New York Times. The attacks were part of an Israel-United States effort to impair the development of Iran’s nuclear program. The order came after the cyberweapon, nicknamed “Stuxnet” by computer security experts, inadvertently became public in the summer of 2010. A programming error allowed it to escape the Natanz nuclear facility and compromise ordinary computers, prompting Obama to temporarily question whether the program should be shut down. The Natanz nuclear facility was nonetheless subsequently attacked by two newer versions of the Stuxnet computer worm that took out approximately 1,000 of its 5,000 centrifuges, but whether the attacks successfully slowed the progress of Iran’s nuclear program remains in dispute among experts and officials. “Olympic Games,” begun during the Bush Administration, raises the issue of whether such activity invites other countries to carry out cyberattacks against the United States, explains Ars Technica.

ABC v. Aereo, WNET v. Aereo Two-Day Preliminary Injunction Hearing Concludes

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan heard opposing arguments from both television broadcasters and the online television service Aereo in a two-day hearing addressing the television broadcasters’ motion for a preliminary injunction against Aereo, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Aereo, currently available exclusively in New York City, enables subscribers to watch and record live broadcast television through an Internet service for $12 a month by assigning each subscriber to one of several tiny remote antennas in Aereo’s server room, explains Ars Technica and Bloomberg Businessweek. Television broadcasters sued Aereo in March 2012 and allege that Aereo is violating copyrights by retransmitting broadcasters’ programming without paying for the rights to such programming, while Aereo counters that subscribers are legally entitled to access broadcast programming via antennae that just happen to be remote.

Google Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft and Nokia in Europe

Google filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission alleging that Microsoft and Nokia are colluding to raise the costs of Android mobile devices using patents that Microsoft promised it would not use against its competitors, reports Bloomberg. Google claims that Microsoft and Nokia transferred approximately 2,000 patents and patent applications to Mosaid Technologies last year in order to create “patent trolls” that can bypass the promise and engage in patent litigation that threatens manufacturers of Android handsets, reports Ars Technica. Microsoft and Nokia counter that the complaint is “desperate” and “frivolous” and note that the European Union is already investigating Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google, for its abuses of standard-essential patents alleged by Apple and Microsoft.

Posted On Jun - 5 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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