A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

Photo By: Yuri SamoilovCC BY 2.0

Transcript of Oral Argument, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l (No. 13-298)
Transcript of Oral Argument

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. The en banc Federal Circuit ruled that the method at issue was not eligible for a patent, but a majority could not agree on a standard for this decision. CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp., 717 F.3d 1269 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

In the course of the arguments, Justice Breyer identified a “Scylla and Charybdis” the Court will have to navigate: if it is too easy to obtain a patent that simply claims “tak[ing] an idea that’s abstract and implement[ing] it on a computer,” there is a risk that “instead of having competition on price, service and better production methods, we’ll have competition on who has the best patent lawyer.” Transcript of Oral Argument at 16. On the other hand, if the bar for patent eligibility is set too high, “you rule out real inventions with computers.” Id. Commentators, like Adam Liptak of the New York Times, agree that the Supreme Court will likely rule for CLS Bank International (“CLS”) but narrowly, thus avoiding the potential invalidation of the majority of software patents and the approach urged by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli. Id. at 44–45.

SCOTUSblog and PatentlyO analyze the oral arguments, and Patent Docs offers a review of the briefs on both sides. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 10 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer

Icon-newsApple v. Samsung — Round 2

Last week in San Jose, California, lawyers for Apple and Samsung squared off as the second major trial between the two mobile technology giants took off. Apple seeks roughly $2 billion in damages — $40 per allegedly infringing Samsung device sold in the United States — for violation of five of its mobile software patents. Samsung claims that Apple violated two of its own patents. The last time Apple and Samsung sparred over patents, Apple secured a decisive victory, and Samsung was ordered to pay $930 million in damages. The damages order can be found here.

Brian X. Chen of the New York Times notes that many of the patented features at issue have become “mainstays on mobile devices”: unified search, slide-to-unlock, remote video transmission, and data tapping among others.

Professor Mark P. McKenna of Notre Dame has also highlighted that “Google’s been lurking in the background of all these cases because of the Android system. . . . Several people have described the initial battle between Samsung and Apple as really one between Apple and Google.” Indeed, some of the contested features were put on the Samsung devices by Google through its Android operating system, rather than by Samsung itself. Google’s Android operating system—the main competitor to Apple’s iOS—runs on more than a billion devices worldwide, and an Apple victory against Samsung could require Google to make changes to several important Android features.

Block v. eBay — Misinterpreting Terms of Service

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a plaintiff’s stretched reading of eBay’s user agreement in Block v. Ebay, Inc., No. 12-16527 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2014). The court unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling that neither of the contested provisions constitutes a promise by eBay.

The plaintiff attacked eBay’s “Automatic Bidding System”—which incrementally increases a user’s bid in response to other users’ bids until the user’s specified maximum bid is reached—as a violation of two user agreement terms. Block, slip op. at 3. First, eBay’s User Agreement states that eBay is “not involved in the actual transaction between buyers and sellers.” Id. at 5. Second, the agreement provides that “[n]o agency . . . relationship is intended or created by this Agreement.” Id. at 4.

Eric Goldman suggests that “[w]hile this case reached a good result, it offers a good cautionary tale for contract drafters–especially lawyers drafting contracts for successful online businesses whose bank accounts are like honeypots to plaintiffs’ lawyers with an insatiable appetite for someone else’s cash.”

GrubHub Goes Public

Late last Thursday, online food ordering company GrubHub (owner of food-delivery services Seamless.com and Menupages.com; NYSE: GRUB) priced its initial public offering of 7.4 million shares at $26 per share. On Friday, the shares soared, finishing the day with a 31% gain and leaving the company valued at $2.7 billion.

With 3.4 million “Active Diners” and over 28,000 affiliated restaurants paying GrubHub a commission each time a customer places an order through one of its websites, GrubHub appears to be booming. Yet not everyone is confident that GrubHub’s operating and financial conditions justify its present market valuation. Forbes’ Peter Cohan, for instance, suggests resisting “tak[ing] a bite of GrubHub’s IPO.”

Tweet Away, Turkey

Last Wednesday, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s ban on Twitter violated the right to free expression, and it demanded that citizens’ access to the website be restored. Prime Minister Erdogan’s office responded on Thursday by lifting the ban, which, Gul Tuysuz and Laura Smith-Spark of CNN report “began hours after Erdogan threatened to ‘eradicate’ Twitter at a campaign rally on March 20, blaming social media for fueling anti-government rhetoric.”

On Friday, a court in Ankara also lifted a total ban on YouTube, which was imposed less than a week after the Twitter ban. The court nevertheless decided to continue to block 15 specific YouTube links. It remains unclear when access to the video streaming website will in fact be restored.

Posted On Apr - 7 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Ken Winterbottom – Edited by Husam El-Qoulaq

Photo By: DouglasCC BY 2.0

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies passed a bill last week enshrining citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression online. The groundbreaking bill, known as the Marco Civil da Internet, has been called an “Internet Bill of Rights.” The Brazilian Senate will vote on the proposed legislation this month, according to Index on Censorship.

The bill as passed represents a victory for tech juggernauts Google and Facebook, who successfully lobbied for dropping the provision that would have required them to store data collected from Brazilian citizens on servers within Brazilian territory. President Dilma Rousseff, who had been committed to the local storage requirement in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, dropped the provision to secure passage of the rest of the bill, Bloomberg reports. Foreign companies storing and managing data on Brazilian citizens are still required to “respect Brazilian law,” but commentators have noted that this provision may be unenforceable in practice for jurisdictional reasons. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 6 - 2014 2 Comments READ FULL POST

By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Sheri Pan

Photo By: photosteve101CC BY 2.0

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2013)
Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

EMI was awarded $41 million last week following a jury trial that found Michael Robertson, the CEO of MP3tunes, a now defunct cloud music storage service, guilty of copyright infringement. The verdict followed a 2013 order issued by the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York that altered several previous rulings in an earlier order issued by the same court in October 2011. Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 2011) at *1, Slip Opinion hosted by beckermanlegal.com. The court vacated summary judgment rulings on claims by plaintiff Capitol Records, since acquired by EMI, against MP3tunes for contributory infringement liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and red-flag knowledge of infringement Id. at *3–4. The court vacated the 2011 rulings after the Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19 (2d. Cir. 2012) decision by the Second Circuit, which overturned part of an earlier decision central to the 2011 order. The court also denied an inducement cause of action for lack of evidence, as well as a motion for reconsideration on whether MP3Tunes infringed on EMI-owned cover art by displaying it on the service. Capitol Records at *5–6.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the order that preceded the damages trial. Reuters provides a brief overview of the order, as well as the history and arguments of the underlying case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 5 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Paul Klein – Edited by Geng Chen

Energy Recovery, Inc. v. Hauge, No. 2013-1515 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2014)
Slip Opinion

On March 20, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and vacated a ruling by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia that had found Leif J. Hauge in contempt of a court order enforcing a previous settlement agreement (the “2001 Order”) and that had enjoined him from manufacturing and selling any pressure exchangers in competition with his former employer, Energy Recovery, Inc. (“ERI”). See Energy Recovery, Inc., slip op. at 2, 4.

The Federal Circuit held that “Mr. Hauge did not violate any provision of the 2001 Order . . . .” Id. at 12. Judge Wallach, writing for the panel, found that “[t]he Agreement only required Mr. Hauge to transfer ownership of the pre-Agreement pressure exchanger intellectual property . . . .” Id. at 8. Even if Hague was using his former employer’s manufacturing processes and the knowledge of its employees to create a pressure exchanger in a manner that infringed ERI’s patents or violated trade secrecy laws, these issues were not before the court. See id. at 9, 11. As “[n]othing in the 2001 Order expressly preclude[d] Mr. Hauge from using any manufacturing process,” the court did not find that Hague’s actions constituted a failure to assign “all other intellectual property and other rights relating to pressure exchanger technology predating [the] Order” to ERI. Id. at 8.

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt provides an overview of the case and notes that “[w]hat is most interesting in the case is the fact that the [Federal] Circuit didn’t examine more closely the relationship between ‘all other intellectual property and other rights’ and the trade secrets involved in ERI’s manufacturing processes.” PatentlyO agrees with the Federal Circuit’s treatment of intellectual property as “the rights over that technology,” rather than “the technology itself,” and warns that the latter definition would “lead[] to chaos, confusion, and erroneous views about the law[].” (more…)

Posted On Apr - 3 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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