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 Geng Chen

DOJ Defends Expansive Interpretation of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

NPR reports that Richard Downing, deputy chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section at the Department of Justice, testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee on the DOJ’s proposal to broaden its reading of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). An advance copy of Downing’s written statement, obtained by CNET, advocated for criminal prosecutions based on violations of Web sites’ “terms of service” policies or any “similar contractual agreement with an employer or provider.” As reported by the WSJ, at the hearing, Professor Orin Kerr of George Washington Law School criticized the vague and broad statutory language of the CFAA that would permit such prosecutions and expressed concern that the DOJ’s new interpretation would criminalize routine violations such as lying about one’s physical attributes on Internet dating sites. Though Downing verbally reassured lawmakers that these were “unsubstantiated fears”, given the government’s limited time and resources, he did not repudiate the government’s authority to pursue such cases.

Rambus Loses Antitrust Case Against Micron and Hynix

The Washington Post reports that after five months of deliberations, a California jury has found against Rambus in its antitrust case against Micron and Hynix for conspiracy to fix memory chip prices and interference with its business relationship with Intel. As reported by Bloomberg, though Intel initially collaborated with Rambus to implement its proprietary RDRAM technology, Rambus alleged that Micron and Hynix conspired to artificially raise prices of chips incorporating RDRAM and drove Intel away from adopting RDRAM as an industry standard. A Reuters article, relying on an anonymous source within the jury, indicates that the jury was not convinced that a lone Micron email adequately proved conspiracy and was swayed by the testimony of a former Intel executive that described the souring of the Rambus-Intel relationship as unrelated to pricing. Rambus is considering an appeal, based on grounds that the judge disallowed from evidence certain facts from a Department of Justice price-fixing investigation in 2005.

PhoneDog Sues Former Employee for His Twitter Account

Ars Technica reports developments in the case of a former employee of PhoneDog, an “interactive mobile news and reviews web resource,” who was sued for misappropriation of trade secrets, interference with economic advantage, and conversion over his Twitter account. Noah Kravitz amassed 17,000 followers as “@PhoneDog_Noah” but changed his handle to “@noahkravitz” after leaving the company. The trial judge dismissed PhoneDog’s interference claim but allowed the trade secrets and conversion claims to go forward. According to Forbes, Kravitz says that his employer never asked him to create the account and that he always used it for personal as well as business purposes. The damages of $2.50 per follower claimed by PhoneDog may be complicated by the additional 4,000 followers that Kravitz has accumulated since his resignation. An official statement by PhoneDog, as reported by Computerworld, argues that the company’s Twitter account naming convention establishes company ownership of the account, but does not mention any implied or express contract with Kravitz specifically regarding this particular account.

Posted On Nov - 21 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Holds that Typhoon’s Patents Are Valid, but Not Infringed
By Marsha Sukach – Edited by Andrew Crocker

Typhoon Touch Techs. v. Dell, Inc., No. 2009-1589 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 4, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the ruling of the U. S.District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which held that Typhoon’s patents that cover its “keyboardless” touch-screen computing system are invalid and not infringed.

Judge Newman, joined by Chief Judge Rader and Judge Prost, affirmed the district court’s judgment of noninfringement and upheld its interpretation of Typhoon’s U.S. Patents No. 5,379,057 and No. 5,675,362. The district court construed Typhoon’s patent claim for a portable, keyboardless computer as “requiring that a device, to be covered by the claim, actually performs, or is configured or programmed to perform, each of the functions stated in the claim.” Slip op. at 9. In so holding, the court disagreed with Typhoon’s argument that a device need only be capable of performing the stated function in order to meet the requirement.

However, the Federal Circuit reversed the summary judgment of invalidity on the ground of claim indefiniteness, saying that the claim term “means for cross-referencing” is supported by a description of the cross-referencing algorithm in the specification. Id. at 19.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. The Patent Prospector criticizes the decision, saying that it creates conflicting precedents. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 19 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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.

(more…)

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
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