A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned, after pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Corey Omer

Apple v. Samsung — Round 2

Block v. eBay — Misinterpreting Terms of Service

GrubHub Goes Public

Tweet Away, Turkey

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by Vivian Tao

House Passes Patent Reform Bill; Senate and House Versions To Be Reconciled

A few months after the American Invents Act had passed in the Senate, the House voted to pass its version of the bill this week. The controversial bill would overhaul certain areas of the patent system, such as switching from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system. However, according to Patent Docs, the ACLU and other groups are more concerned that passage of the bill could signal Congressional approval of gene patenting, which could preclude individuals from seeking a second opinion for genetic evaluations. The Hill also notes that there is controversy on whether the bill’s streamlining of the patent process would lead to “efficient infringement” or truly better protection. Despite these issues, Patently O reports that the House and the Senate will likely work together to reconcile differences in their separate versions of the bill and vote on a final version soon. The Digest will have more in-depth coverage of the bill this week.

Oracle Seeks Billions in Damages from Google; Another Oracle Patent Is Severely Narrowed in Rexam

The U.S. Patent Office’s latest findings have helped Google’s case in the latest chapter of Oracle’s ongoing lawsuit against Google for alleged patent infringement regarding the Android operating system. According to Groklaw, the U.S. Patent Office rejected 17 of Oracle’s 21 claims on one of Oracle’s asserted patents. Search Engine Watch reports that this comes on the heels of Google’s motion to place the case under seal to protect confidential information and shareholder confidence, which may have already started to suffer. However, the crux of the case may lie in the damages figure. PCWorld reports that arguments revolve around the damages that Oracle has claimed, between $1.4 and $6.1 billion, which Google says is a gross overestimate. Among the many counterarguments advanced by Google, the Wall Street Journal notes the figure takes Google’s Android advertising revenue into account, but could be disputed since the advertisements and software at issue can run independently. Trial is set to begin in October.

Supreme Court To Hear Prometheus Again

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Prometheus Laboratories v. Mayo Clinic, a multi-year suit involving the patentability of medical diagnostic tests (the Digest covered the original Federal Circuit ruling). The Supreme Court vacated the Federal Circuit’s original ruling in light of their ruling in In re Bilski, but the Federal Circuit affirmed its original ruling of validity, according to Courthouse News Service. As Techdirt notes, opponents of patenting such tests argue those patents threaten the right to observe natural phenomena, and issuing such patents would also drive up costs and make bedside diagnoses difficult to administer. However, Prometheus asserts that their test “transforms” a blood sample into something that is no longer human and is thus protected by the machine-or-transformation test of patentability. Prometheus also argues that a holding for Mayo might be broad enough to eliminate all diagnostic and therapeutic patents. The Wall Street Journal notes that this could damage the incentives for private investment into therapeutic medicine. Ultimately, when the case is decided, it will have an effect on a range of other patented medical tests that currently exist.

Posted On Jun - 27 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Third Circuit holds that vulgar MySpace profile created off school grounds did not cause “substantial disruption” at the school to justify student’s ten-day suspension
By Michael Adelman – Edited by Abby Lauer

J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, No. 08-4138 (3d Cir. June 13, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Third Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed and remanded the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s ruling that suspension was an appropriate punishment for a student who created a fake MySpace account that made fun of her middle school principal. The court also affirmed the District Court’s ruling that the school district’s policies were not overbroad or void-for-vagueness.

The Third Circuit held that the fake MySpace profile, while vulgar and offensive, did not cause the type of “substantial disruption” which would have justified the ten-day suspension of the student. The profile was not accessible on any school computers (due to a filter), and while the school district asserted that the profile caused “general rumblings,” it could not point to any major disruption of classroom activities caused by the profile. The court applied the framework from Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), to analyze whether the student’s posting materially interfered with school activities, but it declined to directly address whether Tinker is limited to speech that occurs on campus.

Education Tech News provides an overview of this case, and the companion case Layshock v. Hermitage School District, No. 07-4465 (3d Cir. June 13, 2011) (involving another student who created a fake MySpace profile making fun of his principal). The Digest previously covered these cases when they were heard by Third Circuit panels and resulted in seemingly contradictory decisions. Wired provides a thorough analysis of the decision, noting that the Supreme Court “has not squarely addressed the student-speech issue as it applies to the digital world” and speculating that these “decisions might give the justices fodder to do so.” (more…)

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

by Dorothy Du

Bipartisan Bill Would End Warrantless GPS Tracking

The Geolocational Privacy Surveillance Act, a new bipartisan bill dubbed the “GPS Act,” seeks to clarify when the government can use GPS tracking technology to obtain geolocational information about individuals without a warrant, according to Nextgov.  Current electronic surveillance laws are behind the times and fail to address specific legal concerns raised by modern GPS technology. Several lawsuits in the past several years have led to a hodgepodge of court rulings over the use of GPS tracking by law enforcement, Wired reports. Ars Technica explains that the new bill would bring these decisions into uniformity by generally requiring a warrant, but creating exceptions for special cases, such as during emergencies or to track organized crime.

Juror Receives Jail Time for Contacting Defendant on Facebook

Joanne Frail, a U.K. juror, has been sentenced to eight months in prison for contacting a defendant online during an ongoing drug trial, reports The Wall Street Journal Blog.  Despite the fact that defendant Jamie Sewart had been cleared of charges, contacting her was directly contrary to Frail’s oath has a juror. BBC News says that Frail had looked up Sewart on Facebook to express her sympathy and discuss the jury deliberations in clear violation of the Contempt of Court Act of 1981.  As a consequence of Frail’s actions, the trial judge decided to discharge the jury and dismiss the case, which had cost £6m. NPR explains the risks jurors create by using the Internet during a trial, including the possibility that jurors could end up considering information deemed inadmissible at trial.

Online Streaming of Copyrighted Performances One Step Closer to Felony

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill that would increase the status of streaming copyrighted performances online to a felony, The Minnesota Independent reports. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who introduced the bill last month, says that the bill is not meant to target individuals and families streaming movies at home, but rather is meant to catch those who knowingly steal digital content and make thousands of dollars or more in profit from it. Supporters of the bill say that it would make copyright law more uniform by adding “public performances” to the list of protected rights, but some argue that “performance” is ill-defined and could lead to ordinary people being thrown in jail for posting copyrighted videos on YouTube, says Techdirt. The Wrap explains that without this bill, a “public performance” like streaming is not a “reproduction” of a copyrighted work. Such a definition has left the entertainment industry at risk of losing vast amounts of revenue to unauthorized websites that can be used to stream movies and shows.

Posted On Jun - 20 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Holds Bayh-Dole Act Does Not Independently Vest Ownership to Federally Funded Contractors
By Daniel Robinson – Edited by Esther Kang

Bd. of Tr. of Leland Stanford Junior Univ. v. Roche Molecular Sys., Inc., 563 U.S. ____ (June 6, 2011)
Slip Opinion
(via supremecourt.gov)

The Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit, which had held that the Bayh-Dole Act did not void an inventor’s assignment of intellectual property rights to a company.

The Court held in a 7-2 decision that Stanford University had no standing to sue Roche Molecular Systems for infringing an HIV testing procedure patent because the company was a co-owner of the patent. In so holding, the Court stated that the Bayh-Dole Act, which permits federally funded contractors to retain patents to their inventions in certain situations, does not independently divest a contractor’s employee and vest title in the contractor.

SCOTUSBlog provides an overview of the case. The New York Times criticizes the decision, saying it undermines the purpose of the Bayh-Dole Act. IPWatchdog features a thorough analysis of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 16 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Affirms Clear and Convincing Standard for Patent Invalidity Defenses
By Samantha Kuhn – Edited by Esther Kang

Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. P’ship, No. 10–290 (U.S. June 9, 2011)
Slip Opinion
(via supremecourt.gov)

On June 9, the Supreme Court affirmed a district court’s jury instructions requiring that the evidence of patent invalidity be “clear and convincing” for the invalidity defense against infringement to be successful.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the presumption of validity in Section 282 of the Patent Act requires that a defendant must present “clear and convincing” evidence that a patent is invalid in order to succeed on an invalidity defense. The main issue in the case was whether a lesser standard should be applied to evidence that had not been previously presented to the PTO during examination. The Court rejected Microsoft’s proposal of a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in such cases.

PatentlyO provides a summary of the case and concurring opinions. IP Watchdog gives a summary of the case and opines about its implications on patent law. The Digest previously covered both the district court’s decision and the oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

(more…)

Posted On Jun - 15 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Google to Supreme Co

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