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 Amanda Liverzani

PTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patents

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

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Alleged mastermind behind the undercover trading platform Silk Road convicted in Manhattan court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, the person allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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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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Federal Circuit invites en banc review of broadening reissue jurisprudence
By Jeffery Habenicht – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

In re Staats, No. 2010-1443 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) decision to reject Staats’s reissue application and remanded for further proceedings. The Board had rejected Staats’s continuing reissue application because it was filed outside of the two-year time limit imposed by 35 U.S.C. § 251 and was not sufficiently related to a previous broadening reissue application filed within the two-year limit. In re Staats, No. 2010-1443, slip op. at 5–6 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012).

The Federal Circuit held that the Board’s decision was inconsistent with its predecessor court’s decision in In re Doll, which concluded the two-year time limit in § 251 only applied to the initial broadening reissue application — not to properly filed continuation applications. Id. at 9 (citing In re Doll, 419 F.2d 925 (C.C.P.A 1970)). The court rejected the PTO’s argument that Doll only applied if the continuation application was “related” to a reissue application filed within the two-year window. Id. The court stated that this type of test would be “unmanageable,” because, by definition, every claim must be different in scope than the other claims. Id. at 10. In so holding, the court relied almost exclusively on Doll. The court concluded that if the PTO wanted to overrule Doll it would have to petition for a rehearing en banc. Id. at 11.

IPBIZ summarizes the case. Patently-O provides an overview and analysis. PharmaPatents criticizes the court’s broad interpretation of § 251, arguing that it will result in “twenty years of uncertainty” and a resurgence of post-grant strategic maneuvering. Patents Post-Grant, however, argues that Staats will have little effect because relying on broadening reissue applications as a matter of course has its own inherent drawbacks. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 4 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

California Considers Regulation of Autonomous Vehicles

By Yana Welinder – Edited by Albert Wang

California S.B. 1298 – Autonomous Vehicles
Bill
Leginfo.ca.gov summary

On February 23, California Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) introduced S.B. 1298. This bill would direct the Department of the California Highway Patrol to adopt “safety standards and performance requirements” with respect to autonomous vehicles that use “computers, sensors, and other technology and devices that enable [them] to safely operate without the active control and continuous monitoring of a human operator.” The bill would further expressly permit the operation of such a vehicle on California roads if its manufacturer shows that the vehicle meets all the adopted requirements and standards. According to Sen. Padilla’s news release, this bill seeks to provide for safe use of vehicles that “have the potential to significantly reduce traffic fatalities and improve safety on [California] roads.”  Similar legislation was introduced in Nevada last year and is currently being considered in Florida, Hawaii, and Oklahoma.

Wired provides an initial overview of the bill. Stanford CIS further compares the bill to legislative developments in other states.
(more…)

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

State Appeals Court Rules for Online Ticketing Site Under Federal Communications Law
By Geng Chen – Edited by Lauren Henry

Hill v. StubHub, Inc., NO. COA11-685, 2012 WL 696223 (N.C. App. Ct. March 6, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals of North Carolina reversed the Guilford County Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs in an unfair and deceptive trade practices case arising out of the 2007 “Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana” concert tour. The trial court found StubHub in violation of N.C. Gen.Stat. § 14–344, which prohibits a seller from reselling tickets for more than $3 over their “face value.” It also rejected StubHub’s argument that it was immune from liability under 47 U.S.C. § 230, which provides immunity to liability to providers or users of interactive computer services, who act as publishers or speakers of information provided by another information content provider.

The Court of Appeals conducted a de novo review of the trial court’s summary judgment decision on the issue of the scope of 47 U.S.C. § 230 immunity, an issue of first impression in North Carolina. The court held that StubHub acted not as a seller but as a broker, making § 230 immunity applicable. The court also held that StubHub was not liable under North Carolina law for the fees it charged the ticket-seller for use of the site because it was not the seller or the seller’s agent in the transaction.

Eric Goldman provides an overview of the case and discusses the holding in light of other §230 cases. (more…)

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

Federal Circuit Avoids §101 Analysis in Determining Patent Validity
By Jacob Rogers – Edited by Lauren Henry

MySpace, Inc. v. Graphon Corp., No. 2011-1149 (Fed. Cir. 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed Northern District of California’s ruling on summary judgment that four of Graphon’s patents were invalid due to either lack of novelty or obviousness under 35 U.S.C. §102 and 35 U.S.C. §103, respectively. The district court found that these patents, which disclose a method for creating and searching a database over the Internet, were anticipated by the Mother of All Bulletin boards, created by Dr. Oliver McBryan. MySpace v. Graphon, No. 2011-1149.

The Federal Circuit held that the district court correctly ruled that Graphon’s patents were either anticipated or obvious and that the district court’s reasoning was adequately clear despite a failure to go through the full Graham factor analysis. Id. at 23 (citing Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, 17 (1966)). The court also held that it was not necessary to examine the subject matter of the patents under 35 U.S.C. §101 because the case could be dealt with using §§102 and 103. Id. at 17-18. In so holding, the court compared the patentable subject matter requirements of §101 to the Constitution and suggested that the courts should apply something similar to the constitutional avoidance doctrine by endeavoring to resolve cases under §102 and 103 rather than §101 whenever possible. Id.

PatentlyO provides an overview and analysis of the case. The Patent Prospector criticizes the decision, arguing that the district court’s incomplete claim construction should have been reversible error. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 13 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

LulzSec Hackers Arrested after Leader Turns Informant

Five hackers associated with LulzSec, a splinter group of the hacktivist network Anonymous, were arrested in Europe and the United States with the help of an informant, reports the New York Times. Unsealed records revealed that Hector Xavier Monsegur, an outspoken LulzSec leader known as “Sabu” online, had been working with the FBI since his arrest last June. The arrested hackers are suspected to have been involved with LulzSec’s attacks on Fox, HBGary, and Stratfor. While the arrests, and Sabu’s collaboration with authorities, could damage LulzSec, Wired reports that some of Sabu’s fellow hackers had suspected that he had become an informant after a period of silence after his June arrest.

Court Says No Warrant Needed for Historical Cell-Site Records

In United States v. Graham, the District Court of Maryland ruled that the government did not need a warrant to access cell phone location records held by cellular providers, reports Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy. The court concluded that such records were covered by the third-party doctrine; customers voluntarily convey the information to the service provider, who creates and keeps the records, so the records fall outside the protection of the Fourth Amendment. The court noted that United States v. Jones (previously covered by the Digest) held that an surveillance over time could violate a privacy interest, but stopped short of creating a general principle that aggregated surveillance records run afoul of the Fourth Amendment.

In Hotfile Lawsuit, MPAA Takes Advantage of Megaupload Indictment

The MPAA is building on the Megaupload indictment (previously covered by the Digest) to argue that the file-sharing site Hotfile is liable for copyright infringement, Ars Technica reports. In their brief for summary judgment, the MPAA said that “Hotfile’s business model is indistinguishable” from Megaupload’s, and suggested that Hotfile’s stated attempt to compete with Megaupload was evidence in favor of Hotfile’s liability. Though the MPAA initiated the lawsuit in February 2011, the recent Megaupload indictment offers an additional rhetorical device to the film studios’ litigation.

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