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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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Wikimedia Sues NSA for Upstream Surveillance

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Wikimedia Foundation filed a suit against the NSA challenging the constitutionality of upstream surveillance programs, which allow the NSA to communicate by Americans and persons abroad. The claim, which was joined by eight other human rights organizations, challenges NSA’s actions as violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution.

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Florida Considers a Bill Outlawing Anonymous Websites

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill, the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,”  that would require owners and operators of websites that disseminate “commercial” recordings or audiovisual works to prominently disclose their true names, physical addresses, and telephone numbers or email addresses on the websites. The bill extends to all websites that deal “in substantial part” in disseminating such recordings or audiovisual works, “directly or indirectly,” to Florida consumers.

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Federal Circuit Holds that Apple May Have the Right to a Preliminary Injunction Against Samsung’s Tablet Computers
By Jacob L. Rogers – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Apple, Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 2012-1105 (Fed. Cir. May 14, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded a decision by the Northern District of California, which had denied Apple a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s smartphones and tablet computers.

The Federal Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a preliminary injunction on three of the four patents in suit—two design patents related to the iPhone and one utility patent related to the “bounce back” feature when scrolling through documents on both iPhone and iPad. However, with respect to the fourth patent (the “D’889 patent”) related to the design of the iPad, the court held that the district court erred by using a 1994 prototype design as a primary reference to find that Apple was unlikely to succeed on the merits. The district court had already found that there would be irreparable harm to Apple without an injunction, so the court remanded for a determination on the balance of the equities and the public interest in order to make a final determination as to whether a preliminary injunction should issue against Samsung’s tablet computers.

Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log provides an overview of the case. Sarah Burstein expressed surprise at the decision in a guest post on Patently-O. Burstein expressed concern at the court’s unqualified acceptance of Apple’s theory of brand dilution from design patent infringement, which is normally reserved for Trademark. Ars Technica provides an overview of the stakes for each company, including graphs depicting worldwide share in the mobile and smartphone markets. Ars Technica also reports that following this decision Apple and Samsung attempted to return to the negotiation table per the judge’s orders, but were again unable to reach an agreement. (more…)

Posted On May - 26 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Sally Wang
Edited By: Charlie Stiernberg
Editorial Policy

Introduction:

Drug marketing faces the problem of an arms race — competitors attempt to out-compete each other by boosting their marketing efforts, at great expense, only to find that the baseline level of marketing needed to maintain the status quo has increased accordingly. These inefficiencies are costly and often harmful to the stakeholders — drug companies, patients, payors (e.g., Medicare/Medicaid or health insurance companies) and physicians. The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) is in the most strategic position to correct these inefficiencies, not only because it is currently tasked to monitor drug marketing, but more importantly because it oversees drug approval and labeling that creates the right to market in the first place. The FDA is also intimately familiar with the workings of the industry, allowing it to tailor its regulatory measures to achieve the most optimum results both for the public and the industry.  However, several First Amendment cases on drug marketing have severely curtailed the FDA’s ability to regulate in this area. Using the First Amendment to limit the FDA’s regulation of drug marketing creates a legal paradox: if a pharmaceutical company were able to sell a drug the same way as a consumer electronics company sells a TV, then the entire approval process would be undermined.  Selling a TV does not require complex regulatory pre-approval that then limits the advertising to the contents of a governmentally or scientifically-proscribed label. Therefore, drug marketing is a very unique space that requires a unique solution to its arms race problem.  Because intellectual property (“IP”) law provides the basis upon which drugs may be approved and marketed, as in the market exclusivity that is granted upon approval and the close tethering of patents to regulatory scheme, it serves as a better framework for determining the appropriate level of regulation for drug marketing as the resulting legal landscape provides for more flexibility that can address the current inefficiencies. This IP “carve-out” to the standard First Amendment rule of commercial speech is comparable to existing exceptions, such as spectrum regulation by Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and censorship by the National Endowment of the Arts (“NEA”), where there is a government conferred benefit and a strong public interest for such regulation. This comment argues that the FDA approval process has essentially carved out a similar exception to the standard First Amendment commercial speech doctrine, whereby the ability to market drugs stems from the IP rights generated through the regulatory process (e.g., market exclusivity and regulatory patent extensions) and that is inherent in the products (e.g., original patents issued by US Patent and Trademark Office).  Therefore, pharmaceutical marketing regulation should be considered in a legal framework that respects that IP origin. (more…)

Posted On May - 25 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Laura Fishwick
Edited By: Lauren Henry
Editorial Policy

The exclusive right to distribute copies is among the bundle of rights that Congress has bestowed onto owners of United States copyrights.[i] Copies of copyrighted works may include books, DVDs, CDs, and copyrighted labels and logos for other consumer products from shampoo to fashion items. The right to distribute copies is limited by the first sale doctrine,[ii] as codified in Title 17 by the Copyright Act of 1976 (“Act”), which entitles the owner of a copy “lawfully made under [Title 17]” to sell or otherwise dispose of the copy without the authorization of the copyright owner.[iii] The first sale doctrine balances the interests of copyright holders in obtaining fair returns on their products with the interests of consumers in accessing goods at low cost and in reselling goods in the marketplace. Concerning rights holders’ importation rights for their copies, § 602(a) of the Act provides that a copyright owner’s exclusive right to distribute copies under § 106(3) is infringed when someone acquires a copy outside of the United States and imports the copy into the United States without the copyright owner’s authority.[iv]

More than a decade ago in Quality King Distributors v. L’anza Research International, the Supreme Court addressed the circumstances in which the first sale doctrine limits copyright owners’ exclusive rights to import copies under § 602(a).[v] In Quality King, the plaintiff manufactured high-end hair care products in the United States and price-discriminated between United States and foreign consumers — selling them for a high price in the United States but discounting them for foreign retailers. Id. at 139. The plaintiff then sued a foreign retailer farther down the resale chain that had purchased the products abroad and resold them in the U.S., claiming a violation of its right to distribute copies under § 602(a). Id. at 138-39. The Court unanimously found that because § 602(a) expressly applies to “infringement of the exclusive right to distribute copies … under section 106,” and section 106 subjects these exclusive rights to “sections 107 through 122,” the importation rights given by § 602(a) are subject to the first sale doctrine in § 109(a). See id. at 143-46. Since Quality King, the general applicability of the first sale doctrine to the § 602(a) bar on importing copies has not been challenged.

Quality King left unresolved the question of whether the first sale doctrine would provide a defense to infringement by importation of copies manufactured abroad, because Quality King only involved products that were manufactured in the U.S. See id. at 154 (Ginsburg, J., concurring). Answering this question will depend on how the first sale doctrine’s statutory requirement that copies be “lawfully made under [Title 17]” is interpreted. See id. This comment will explore the three major circuit court decisions on this topic and suggest an alternative resolution in the aftermath of Quality King. (more…)

Posted On May - 20 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Masthead
Executive Editors: Andrew Segna and Kassity Liu
Technical Editor: Esther Kang
Submissions Editor: Dorothy Du
Content Editor: Jonathan Allred

Staff
Elettra Bietti
Geng Chen
Heejin Choi
Andrew Crocker
Julie Dorais
Laura Fishwick
Matt Gelfand
Lauren Henry
Brittany Horth
Mike Hoven
Gillian Kassner
Abby Lauer
Sounghun Lee
Adam Lewin
Susanna Lichter
Sonal Mittal
Jacob Rogers
Charlie Stiernberg
Marsha Sukach
Albert Wang
Sally Wang
Yana Welinder
Yunan Yuan

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

Written By: Michael Hoven
Edited By: Albert Wang
Editorial Policy

Introduction

When the European Commission recently proposed a “right to be forgotten,” U.S. commentators sprang to criticize it. “More Crap from the EU,” said Jane Yakowitz at the Info/Law blog. At Techdirt, Mike Masnick called it a “ridiculous idea.” Granting people the right to erase information about themselves would give them the power to stamp on the speech rights of others. Allowing this in the aggregate could produce profound social costs: increased costs of doing business could stunt innovation; research data could be lost; history could be erased.

This comment takes a different position. I argue that the right to be forgotten attempts to solve a privacy problem that is serious and deserves our attention. However, the social costs of establishing such erasure rights in data are nonetheless real. Individual privacy rights should not be allowed to decimate our networked information environment, or our ability to study the data within it and learn about ourselves. The right to be forgotten, and analogous privacy frameworks, contain exceptions — for example, for journalism or free expression — but additional measures should be taken to provide sufficient protection for expression and research.

In any privacy regime that incorporates erasure rights, there are two partial solutions that should be instituted to preserve some (if not all) of the social value of personal information. The first partial solution, data anonymization, has many skeptics in the law review literature, but has already reaped many benefits and imposes less of a privacy cost than many other privacy risks that we already tolerate. The second partial solution, eventual opening of suppressed information, is inspired by archival practice and rests on the premise that remembering, not forgetting, is crucial to the democratic process.[i] As a remedy for privacy harms, forgetting is overbroad. Information that was once available but was removed should not permanently vanish, but rather should be restored once the potential for harm is no longer substantial enough to justify the suppression of information.  (more…)

Posted On May - 2 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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