A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Steven Wilfong

Multimedia car system patents ruled as unenforceable based on inequitable conduct

ITC’s ruling that uPI violated Consent Order affirmed

Court rules that VeriFone devices did not infringe on payment terminal software patents

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Converse attempts to protect iconic Chuck Taylor All Star design

French Court rules that shoe design copyright was not infringed

Oklahoma Court rules that Facebook notifications do not satisfy notice requirement

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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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Written by Laura Fishwick
Edited by Adam Lewin
Editorial Policy

Introduction

The most recent U.S. Supreme Court case to address the legality of school-imposed punishment for student expression was more than forty years ago in Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969). In that seminal case, the Supreme Court found that a state’s interest in maintaining its educational system can justify limitations on students’ First Amendment rights to the extent necessary to maintain an effective learning environment. Id. In Tinker, school officials suspended students for wearing black arm bands to protest the Vietnam War. Articulating the standard still used by courts today,[1] the Court held that a school may regulate student speech or expression if school officials can reasonably conclude that such speech caused or is likely to cause a “material and substantial” disruption to school activities. Id. at 513 (finding no substantial disruption because the protests were non-violent and did not interfere with class activities).

Tinker and subsequent Supreme Court cases have not addressed whether a school may regulate student speech that occurs off campus or online and is not connected to a school event, but that nonetheless causes disruption on campus or in the classroom. Further complicating the analysis of on campus, off campus, and online speech are additional factors such as the location where recorded activity takes place before it is posted online, and the location of the computer used to upload data onto the Internet. This comment explores the recent lower court decisions applying the Tinker standard to school-enforced limits on student speech made on the Internet. In cases of off campus or online speech, some courts have responded to the fact that Tinker involved on campus speech by requiring the school to show a substantial nexus between the speech and the school before applying Tinker. Beyond the nexus inquiry, courts move onto Tinker and examine the intensity of on campus discussions surrounding the expression, the burden the expression places on the administration, and whether the expression contains violent content.  (more…)

Posted On Jan - 12 - 2012 2 Comments READ FULL POST

Written by Julia Mas-Guindal
Edited by Heather Whitney
Editorial Policy

I. Introduction

The doctrine of moral rights in copyright law has been a source of strain in domestic and comparative legal scholarship for decades. This strain is greater in the U.S. than in countries employing a continental legal system, where moral rights are widely recognized. This is because U.S. law and European law are built on different foundations: while for the U.S. Copyright Act the encouragement of economic investments is the top priority, continental countries prioritize protecting the artistic work and the creators. This fact has made it difficult for U.S. law to adequately account for moral rights, as I will argue in this comment. This issue is particularly acute in the realm of film. While the U.S. has made progress in establishing moral rights for paintings, drawings, sculptures and certain photographic images through the Visual Artist Rights Act of 1990 (“VARA”), the U.S. system continues to exclude filmmakers.

In this comment, I will review what moral rights are and compare the moral rights landscapes of the U.S. to those of continental countries. This will shed light on why filmmakers’ moral rights have been excluded and how exclusion is not inevitable, as other countries with bustling film industries, like India, have moral rights for filmmakers.

Finally, I will address the arguments made by the likes of producers and studios for why directors should not have moral rights. In the end, I argue for a way to meet the needs of producers and studios while also making room in U.S. law for recognition of moral rights in the filmmaking field.

(more…)

Posted On Dec - 31 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The Digest will be taking a short break from our regular coverage over the coming weeks as our Staff Writers go on holiday.

While we take our hiatus from regular coverage, we have the pleasure of re-introducing our Comments feature. Comments are longer opinion pieces on especially significant issues. These pieces are written entirely by members of our staff, on topics they believe warrant closer examination and study. From now until late January, we will publish one Comment every one to two weeks. We have great pieces this year and we hope you enjoy them!

We’ll be back sometime in January with our usual coverage.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our work this year!

The Digest Staff

Posted On Dec - 22 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

New Information about Carrier IQ Software Sparks Concerns that Wireless Carriers Have Violated Federal Anti-Wiretapping Laws

By Abby Lauer – Edited by Michael Hoven

Last month, a security researcher from Connecticut published information about a software program installed on some mobile smartphones that may be surreptitiously collecting data about how the phones are used. The software, called Carrier IQ and manufactured by a company of the same name, has been described as hard to detect, hard to remove, and programmed to run by default without the user’s knowledge. The scandal escalated last week when Senator Al Franken sent a letter to Carrier IQ asking for details about the software and the company’s business practices. Privacy analysts are concerned that the software violates the Federal Wiretap Act, as amended by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which forbids the intercepting of “wire, oral or electronic communication” and authorizes penalties of $100 per day for each violation. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2511, 2520. Other commentators have suggested that Carrier IQ may also violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. 18 U.S.C. § 1030. So far, at least eight class action lawsuits have been filed against Carrier IQ and various device makers and wireless carriers.

Computerworld provides a general overview of the Carrier IQ software and the recent scandal. For a more detailed analysis of the legal issues, see Forbes, paidContent.org, and Talking Points Memo. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 14 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Patent-Eligibility of Medical Protocol Based on Correlations Between Blood Tests and Patient Health
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Michael Hoven

Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., No. 10-1150 (U.S. Dec. 7, 2011)
Transcript of Oral Arguments

Mayo v. Prometheus returned to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit again held that Prometheus’s method patents covered a particular application of a natural phenomenon, not the natural phenomenon itself, and were therefore valid. JOLT Digest covered the Federal Circuit’s initial ruling and its reaffirmation.

The Supreme Court heard arguments concerning whether a treatment that indicates a drug dosage based on correlations between metabolite levels in the patient’s blood and drug efficiency or toxicity is eligible for patent protection. Mayo argued that Prometheus’s patent was invalid because it covered a natural phenomenon: the correlation between metabolite levels, as revealed by a blood test, and patient health. Additionally,  Mayo claimed that the patent preempted all competing tests that would use metabolite levels (above a certain concentration that Prometheus’s patent covers) to adjust drug dosages. Transcript of Oral Argument at 8. Prometheus argued that their patent would not preempt competing tests because another party could file an improvement patent specifying a different range. Id. at 42. Prometheus said that its claims were patentable because it applied the conventional step of measuring metabolites in patients to the discovery of the natural correlation, and analogized its patents to patented processes that detect earthquakes, also a natural phenomenon.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. Ars Technica criticized the lack of attention that the Court gave to the issue of whether medical patents are legal in general, analogizing the issue to overly-broad software patents. IPWatchdog has predicted that the Court will interpret § 101 as a “coarse filter” and leave Mayo to challenge Prometheus under § 102 and § 103. Published before the Court heard oral arguments, the Wall Street Journal argued that the Court should continue its longstanding policy of providing strong patent protection to encourage investment by finding Prometheus’s diagnostic test to be patentable subject matter. The Washington Post features a discussion of the main arguments. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 13 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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