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

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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Settlement between Zynga and Electronic Arts
By Casey Holzapfel – Edited by Andrew Crocker

Hacked By Over-XThe Chicago Tribune reports that Electronic Arts (EA) and Zynga have reached a settlement agreement regarding competing lawsuits in the Northern District of California. While the details of the settlement were not made public, both parties agreed to drop their respective lawsuits and pay their own legal fees. According to red Orbit, the settlement does not involve compensation from either company.

EA initially filed a complaint against Zynga in August 2012, alleging that Zynga’s game “The Ville” copied EA’s game “The Sims Social” after hiring EA executives who had worked on “The Sims Social.” Six weeks later, Zynga filed its own lawsuit claiming EA had violated a 2011 agreement between the two companies regarding employee solicitation. Zynga accused EA of violating the agreement by attempting to block employees from switching companies. Two of the executives mentioned in EA’s suit for moving to Zynga have left Zynga in the past year.

The Chicago Tribune provides an overview of the events leading to the settlement. The San Francisco Chronicle looks into the details of copyright protection for video games. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

In re Innovatio IP Ventures
By David LeRay – Edited by Kathleen McGuinness

In re Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC, Case No. 11 C 9308 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 4, 2013)
Slip opinion

The Northern District of Illinois granted in part and denied in part Innovatio IP Ventures’s motion to dismiss seven claims in a complaint brought by manufacturers of wireless Internet technology. The court dismissed the manufacturers’ claims based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, the California Business & Professional Code, a theory of civil conspiracy, a theory of interference with prospective economic advantage, and a theory of unclean hands. The court did not dismiss claims based on breach of contract and promissory estoppel.

The court held that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine protecting petitioners of the government from liability extends to patent law cases in the Seventh Circuit, and specifically applies to pre-suit demand letters under Federal Circuit law unless the defendant is engaging in sham litigation. The court reasoned that the doctrine is “today understood [in the Seventh Circuit] as an application of the first amendment . . . ,” and applies readily beyond its origins in antitrust and labor cases. Innovatio at 9. The court held that the doctrine protected pre-suit communications under the logic of the Federal Circuit’s holding in Globetrotter Software. Id. at 13 (discussing Globetrotter Software, Inc. v. Elan Computer Grp., Inc., 362 F.3d 1367 (Fed. Cir. 2004)).

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. Wall Street Journal Law Blog and The Patent Examiner discuss its history. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 26 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Dorothy Du

Song Wins Contest to Circumvent “Happy Birthday to You” Copyright

For those unaware, the song “Happy Birthday to You” remains under copyright until 2030. The copyright, as Bloomberg Law and Gizmodo report, has been owned by Time Warner since 1998, and the corporation has made more than $2 million per year from licensing the song. Professor Robert Brauneis of George Washington University Law School says the copyright over the song is weak, as Slate explains, “due to lack of evidence about who wrote the words; defective copyright notice; and failure to file a proper renewal.” WFMU, an independent radio station in New Jersey, through its podsafe online music library Free Music Archive, decided to do something about it. Rather than challenge the copyright through a lawsuit, WFMU held a contest to replace the song with “a melody that children can sing without fear of being served.” The winner, “It’s Your Birthday!” by Monk Turner and Fascinoma, was selected by such judges as Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig and Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan. Not everyone, including Above The Law, is confident the song will accomplish its goal of replacing the original, however.

Privacy Concerns to Temper Excitement over Google Glass

Since April 2012, tech aficionados have been eagerly awaiting the latest news about Project Glass, Google’s project to create an “augmented reality” system. Google Glass comprises glasses-like headgear on which audio and visual information can be transmitted to and from a wearer, as Wired explains. A Google patent filed in April 2011 reveals that different embodiments of the device can utilize display lens or even a laser to display images directly on the user’s retina. According to First Post, Google Glass is supposed to perform much of the same functions as a smartphone, but without the hassle of a handheld device. Google has just opened up the project, giving U.S.-based developers until February 27 to apply to be a “Glass Explorer,” explains iProgrammer. However, with Google Glass comes some serious legal issues that have not yet received much attention. If it proliferates, Google Glass could run amok of distracted driver laws and creates privacy concerns over hidden cameras in places from locker rooms to board meetings, says Investors.com. CounterPunch has also expressed concern that the government and corporations may abuse the technology to get ahold of a “veritable gold mine of information.”

3-D Printing Gets Shout-Out in State of Union, but Copyright Concerns Growing

3-D printing is still in its infancy, but it is no longer merely an innovator’s dream. President Obama mentioned 3-D printing in the State of the Union less than two weeks ago as a potential way to bring manufacturing back to the United States. As NPR explains, however, the emerging technology may be significantly hindered by intellectual property disputes. A Note by Davis Doherty, a Harvard Journal of Law and Technology alumnus, has highlighted the potential for 3-D printing to run afoul of patent law by making it easy for the public to replicate designs that may infringe an existing patent on an unprecedented scale. NPR’s story focuses on copyright, stating that the problem arises from the fact that people are sharing their designs on websites like Makerbot’s Thingiverse, designs that are frequently protected by copyright. Moulinsart, the owner of the “Tintin” franchise, recently served Thingiverse with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, with which it complied. This follows Thingiverse’s first takedown notice back in 2011, reported on by Ars Technica, which prompted Thingiverse to add copyright language to its Terms of Use.

 

Posted On Feb - 25 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Executive Order on Cybersecurity
By Jessica Vosgerchian — Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Executive Order 13636—Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, 78 Fed. Reg. 11739 (February 19, 2013)
Order; Press Release

Photo By: Mark SkrobolaCC BY 2.0

On February 12, President Obama signed an Executive Order to increase information sharing between government agencies and private companies regarding cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure.

The order, titled “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” mandates the delivery of classified reports to infrastructure companies that are likely targets of cyber attacks. The Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence will develop a process for tracking the dissemination of the reports. Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, sec. 4(b), 78 Fed. Reg. at 11739.

The New York Times provides an overview of the order and reactions to it. The Huffington Post notes that the order safeguards personal privacy, a feature that the ACLU applauds and contrasts favorably with CISPA, the cybersecurity legislation reintroduced in the House of Representatives. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. v. Nagata
By Erica Larson – Edited by Suzanne Van Arsdale

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. v. Nagata, No. 2012-1245 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 11, 2013)
Slip opinion

Photo By: Derek GaveyCC BY 2.0

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Northern District of California, which ruled that plaintiff Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. (“SEL”) could not establish federal jurisdiction over defendant Dr. Yujiro Nagata. The courts rejected a novel offensive application of assignor estoppel, traditionally a defense, which bars the previous holder of a patent from attacking the patent’s validity when sued for infringement by the assignee.

SEL asserted the doctrine offensively, arguing that Nagata had violated assignor estoppel in a previous lawsuit by testifying against SEL, giving rise to a federal cause of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a). Like the district court before it, the Federal Circuit did not reward plaintiff’s legal creativity. Instead the court held that the argument lacked precedent or strong supporting authority and declined to extend the doctrine. Semiconductor Energy Laboratory at 6–7.

Property, intangible provides an overview of the decision and prior events. Dennis Crouch, writing for Patently-O, speculates that the Federal Circuit would have affirmed without opinion were the Supreme Court not presently considering Gunn v. Minton, a case which questions the extent of federal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(b). Minton v. Gunn, 355 S.W.3d 634 (Tex. 2011) cert. granted, 133 S.Ct. 420 (2012) (focusing on whether the state law attorney malpractice case raises a federal cause of action under 28 U.S.C. § 1338(b)). (more…)

Posted On Feb - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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