A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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Written by Kassity Liu
Edited by Andrew Segna
Editorial Policy

Social media has taken our society by storm. From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, social media has provided individuals with newer and faster ways to communicate with one another. In 2011, eBizMBA estimated that 700 million unique users visited Facebook per month, 200 million users visited Twitter, and 100 million users visited LinkedIn. These statistics are staggering. The entire population of the United States, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, only totals 312 million.[i]

With the growing use of social media, many businesses in the U.S. have started to use social media as a method of advertising their products to consumers. Large conglomerates such as General Electric and Procter & Gamble have incorporated social media into their advertising and promotional efforts.[ii] Companies including AT&T and Dell have used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate with consumers and market their products.[iii] In 2010, Facebook boasted that over 1.5 million local businesses had active Facebook pages.

However, unlike these companies, pharmaceutical companies have taken a cautious approach to social media. In 2008, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry only allocated a “tiny fraction” of “less than 4% of the more than $4 billion it spent on direct-to-consumer advertising” on social media advertising.[iv] Unlike advertising in other industries, prescription drug advertising is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that drug companies are only allowed to advertise their products under a regulatory scheme that is set up by the FDA. Although some venturous drug companies have chosen to invest their dollars in social media advertising before the FDA provides the industry with clear guidance, many have been waiting for the agency to publish a guidance document on social media advertising.

With respect to social media, the FDA has only published a draft guidance on “responding to unsolicited requests for off-label information about prescription drugs and medical devices.” The fifteen-page document addresses how companies should respond to online inquiries about off-label uses of their products, but does not provide clear instructions to the industry about how to advertise their products using social media. Despite not having clear guidelines on the use of social media, pharmaceutical companies need to start exploring this evolving area of technology. Working within the current regulatory scheme, the pharmaceutical industry can use social media not only for the industry’s own benefit but also for the benefit of drug users and the medical community. Moreover, even if pharmaceutical companies choose to avoid using social media, this would not stop physicians and patients from sharing information about the companies’ products online. Therefore, in order to effectively monitor and convey reliable information about their products to consumers, companies may have to learn how to use social media sooner or later.  (more…)

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Fourth Circuit Holds Google’s Keyword Advertising May Infringe Trademark
By Michael Hoven – Edited by Abby Lauer

Rosetta Stone Ltd. v. Google, Inc., No. 10-2007 (4th Cir. Apr. 9, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Fourth Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded to the Eastern District of Virginia, which had granted Google summary judgment in holding that Google was not liable on all trademark infringement and trademark dilution claims brought by plaintiff Rosetta Stone in 2009.

The Fourth Circuit held that a reasonable trier of fact could find Google liable for direct infringement, contributory infringement, or dilution of trademark by allowing advertisers to bid on the trademarks of third parties. The court flatly rejected Google’s functionality defense, while affirming summary judgment for Google on vicarious infringement and affirming the dismissal of Rosetta Stone’s unjust enrichment claim. The court restored the direct infringement claim because there was a question of fact about consumer confusion. On the contributory infringement claim, the court concluded that there was a question of fact as to whether Google continued to sell keywords to advertisers it knew were engaging in trademark infringement. In so holding, the court stated that the district court had applied the wrong standard of review for summary judgment but said little about the lawfulness of keyword advertising.

MSNBC.com provides an overview of the case. On the Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Eric Goldman criticized the decision for ignoring the policy interests at stake and delaying an “inevitable” consensus that keyword advertising does not violate trademark law. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 16 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Declares Pharmaceutical Patents Unenforceable for Inequitable Conduct
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Jennifer Wong

Aventis Pharma S.A. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 2011-1018, 2012 WL 1155716 (Fed. Cir. April 9, 2012).
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware‘s holding that claim 5 of Aventis Pharma’s U.S. Patent No. 5,750,561 (filed August 4, 1993) (“the ‘561 patent”) and claim 7 of its U.S. Patent No. 5,714,512 (filed August 23, 1993) (“the ‘512 patent”) were invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 and unenforceable on inequitable conduct grounds. Reviewing the district court’s factual findings for clear error and its ultimate finding of inequitable conduct for abuse of discretion, the Federal Circuit found that both patents were unenforceable for inequitable conduct, because the defendants had met their burden of showing that the withheld references were material to patentability and that the applicant intended to deceive the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), primarily relying on testimony by the patents’ inventor.

PharmaPatents provides an overview of the case. Patents4Life suggests that the case may have come out differently had the inventor “professed to have no recollection” of the events which happened twenty years ago. Bloomberg Businessweek discussed the financial impact of generic drug manufacturers on Sanofi. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Circuit Ruling Leaves Open Possibility That YouTube Is Not Protected By Safe Harbor
By Jacob Rogers – Edited by Julie Dorais

Viacom Int’l, Inc., Football Ass’n Premier League Ltd. v. YouTube, Inc., Docket No. 10-3270-cv (2nd Cir. April 5, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Second Circuit partially affirmed and partially reversed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, granting summary judgment to YouTube on all claims of direct and secondary copyright infringement brought by Viacom. The district court held that YouTube qualified for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §512(c), which protects service providers from liability for acts of infringement by users.

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that §512(c)(1)(A)’s exception to the safe harbor provision “requires knowledge or awareness of specific facts or circumstances that indicate specific and identifiable instances of infringement,” but it vacated the district court’s summary judgment order because certain internal emails within YouTube raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether it had such knowledge. The court also held that the “right and ability to control” an infringer under §512(c)(1)(B), which also creates an exception to the safe harbor provision, does not require knowledge of specific acts of infringement but requires more than vicarious liability at common law. It additionally held that willful blindness may be relevant to determinations under §512(c)(1)(A), although it is limited by the congressional mandate that safe harbor for service providers not be conditioned on monitoring. See §512(m). The court accordingly remanded the case for the district court to apply this “right and ability to control test” and address the issue of willful blindness in the first instance.

The Technology and Marketing Blog provides an overview of the case, noting that, regardless of the specific decision of the district court on remand, this decision is likely to raise litigation costs for all digital content providers seeking safe harbor under the DMCA. The New York Times Media Decoder Blog suggests that the suit has no winners, as both sides expressed lukewarm sentiments at the result and Viacom is currently pursuing a business partnership with YouTube simultaneously with this litigation. (more…)

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

The Northern District of Illinois Denies Motion to Compel for Subpoenas Seeking Non-Party IP Address Information
By Dorothy Du – Edited by Julie Dorais

Pacific Century International, Ltd. v. John Does 1-37, No. 12 C 1057 (N.D. Ill. March 30, 2012)
Slip opinion

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’ motion to compel ISPs’ compliance with subpoenas for identifying information associated with IP addresses in a copyright infringement action against BitTorrent users.

In an opinion by Chief Judge Holderman, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion to compel ISPs to comply with subpoenas for information about Doe defendants’ IP addresses, but denied the motion in cases in which the information sought related to non-party IP addresses. The court held that subpoenas for information pertaining to non-party IP addresses are not “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), and that as such, the subpoenas would impose an “undue burden” on ISPs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A)(iv). Pacific Century International, Ltd. v. John Does 1-37, No. 12 C 1057, slip op. at 5, 8, 9 (N.D. Ill. March 30, 2012). Moreover, the court rejected plaintiffs’ attempt to justify the subpoenas on claims of conspiracy among the Doe defendants because the plaintiffs failed to plead the existence of an agreement among the defendants. According to the court, plaintiff copyright owners were not seeking information for the purpose of litigating the copyright action at hand but rather were attempting to use discovery improperly in order to identify BitTorrent users for future copyright infringement suits or threats of suits.

Techeye praises the decision for setting back copyright trolling campaigns by Big Content. ArsTechnica explains that the decision signals judicial resistance to copyright holders’ use of conspiracy theory to gather information about ISP subscribers in order to “extort settlements.” Last week, ArsTechnica reported on two other rulings in similar cases in Florida that suggest that plaintiffs in copyright actions are likely to lose whenever ISPs raise objections to subpoenas that are “fishing expeditions” against their customers. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 9 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

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San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

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EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

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California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

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