A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Heejin Choi

Report Suggests that NHS Pay for Organ Donors’ Funerals

A new report from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, based in London, urges the National Health Service (NHS) to undertake a pilot study of paying for the funeral expenses of organ donors. This recommendation aims to increase the number of donors in Britain, which has half the organ donation rate of the U.S. and one of the lowest in Europe. According to CBSNews, co-author of the report Keith Rigg compares the proposal to the established practice of medical schools’ paying the cremation or burial costs of those who donate their bodies to science. The plan, if adopted, would be the first of its kind in the world. 

Mississippi to Vote on “Personhood” Amendment Next Month

As the Los Angeles Times reports, Mississippi residents will vote on November 8th on Proposition 26, the “Personhood” Amendment, which amends the State Constitution to define “person” to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” If passed, the amendment will effectively outlaw abortion in any case, even rape and incest. Concerns have been raised regarding Proposition 26’s other potential ramifications, including a possible ban on some birth control methods, some fertility treatments, and in vitro fertilization. Other concerns address the possible legal consequences that women early in and unaware of their pregnancy might face for partaking in activities that might put their fetuses at risk. 

Facebook Faces Multiple Lawsuits Related to Cookies

An increasing number of Facebook users are suing Facebook, claiming that it violated federal wiretap laws by using tracking cookies that record users’ internet browsing history even when they are not logged in, ZDNet reports. Both federal and state lawsuits have been filed by Facebook users in multiple states, including California, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. All of the lawsuits allege that Facebook violated a provision of the federal Wiretap Act that prohibits interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications. According to ABCNews, courts in the past have tossed out similar cases, finding that these cookies were not wiretaps.
Posted On Oct - 17 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Dorothy Du

Alien Dalvik allows Android Apps to Run on Apple and Other Products

Myriad Group, a software company specializing in mobile technology, announced the release of Alien Dalvik 2.0 on October 6, CNET reports. Alien Dalvik is the company’s port of the Dalvik process virtual machine found in Google’s Android operating system. Alien Dalvik, which launched earlier this year, enabled Android apps to be run on non-Android phones. Version 2.0 expands on the software’s versatility by allowing Android apps to run on still other types of devices, such as TVs, e-book readers, and tablets like Apple’s iPad, TechCrunch explains. According to Liliputing, the technology broadens possibilities for developers, who can now write Android apps and then use Alien Dalvik 2.0 to package the Android “APK” files and transfer them to other platforms with little need for tweaking.

Steve Jobs’ Successor Tim Cook Has Big Shoes to Fill

Steve Jobs, the drop-out genius and co-founder of Apple who brought us iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Wednesday, October 5 at age 56, the New York Times announced. Tim Cook, Jobs’ hand-picked protégé and the CEO of Apple since Jobs’ resignation in August, certainly has some big shoes to fill. In reaction to Jobs’ passing, Cook stated that “Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built,” as reported by The Wall Street Journal Blogs. According to The Wall Street Journal, Jobs’ passing has raised questions about Apple’s outlook in the face of rival products, such as Android smartphones and the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet. Moreover, Cook’s unveiling of the new iPhone 4S on Tuesday received lackluster reviews, AFP reports. Tech bloggers at BBC News and elsewhere have since rescinded their harsh critique of the iPhone 4S, recognizing in hindsight Cook’s probable emotional state. In addition, many express high hopes for Tim Cook’s leadership. The Wall Street Journal reports that Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co, has said that “Tim Cook’s move to CEO has been flawless, not surprising given Jobs groomed him for five years to take the role.”

America Invents Act Only Pseudo “First-to-File”?

The America Invents Act, signed into law on September 16, has been hailed by many as the most monumental piece of legislation in patent law in decades. As reported by ipeg, the act changes the patent system from “first to invent” to “first to file”, thus putting the United Statesin line with most other patent systems around the world.. However, the switch to “first to file” may not be as straightforward as it first appears, Slashdot reports. Patent attorney Carlos Fisher of Stout, Uxa, Buyan & Mullins told Redmondmag for example, that “it is not clear whether  a prior use or offer for sale of an invention by an inventor…within a year of the date of filing would be render the invention unpatentable” by reason of prior art. According to Patently-O, the Act includes an exception to “first to file” in 35 U.S.C. 102(b)(1) that says that disclosures made by an inventor within 1 year of the filing date will not be considered prior art for the inventor, but would be considered prior art for later inventors. This glaring exception gives the first to invent and disclose precedence, thus rendering the new system merely pseudo “first to file.”

 

Posted On Oct - 13 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Is It Unconstitutional for Congress to Take Foreign Works Out of the Public Domain?
By Julie Dorais – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545 (U.S. 2010)
Transcript of Oral Arguments

On October 5, 2011, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Golan v. Holder. The case involves the challenged constitutionality of Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (codified as 17 U.S.C. §§ 104A109), which extends copyright protection to certain foreign works that have already been in the public domain in the United States. Petitioners claim that Section 514 violates both the First Amendment and Progress Clause of the Constitution. The government in turn contends that Congress acted constitutionally and in accordance with a significant interest in complying with international obligations.

The case comes up after the Tenth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Section 514 in two separate decisions, with the first decision rejecting the Progress Clause challenge and the second decision rejecting the First Amendment challenge. The Digest covered the Tenth Circuit’s first decisionthe district court’s decision on remandthe Tenth Circuit’s second decision, and the plaintiffs’ petition to the Supreme Court. For commentaries on the oral arguments, see Copyright and Trademark Blog and The Denver Post.

(more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Holds that Apple did not Engage in Copyright Misuse
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Michael Hoven

Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corp., No. 10-15113 (9th Cir. Sept. 28, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Northern District of California’s holding that Psystar infringed Apple’s federal copyrights, and vacated and remanded the district court’s grant of Apple’s motion to seal summary judgment papers. The district court had rejected Psystar’s defense of copyright misuse, in which Psystar had argued that Apple’s Software Licensing Agreement (“SLA”) requiring users to run Mac OS X only on Apple computers “impermissibly extend[ed] the reach of Apple’s copyright.”

The Ninth Circuit held that Apple did not engage in copyright misuse by restricting the use of its software to Apple computers because this restriction did not prevent other companies from developing competing products. The court upheld the district court’s grant of an injunction on the grounds that it did not abuse discretion, even though Psystar did not contest the ruling that the enjoined use of Apple’s software did in fact constitute infringement. Finally, the court vacated and remanded the district court’s sealing orders, finding that the district court did not adequately provide reasons underlying its decision given that there is a presumption in favor of access.

The Wall Street Journal provides an overview of the case and notes that Psystar has shut down its operations. Internet Cases criticizes the decision for reaffirming Apple’s long-standing policies of distributing software and hardware as a “closed ecosystem,” which limits third parties from creating valuable technologies in this space.  (more…)

Posted On Oct - 5 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Ultramercial Patent Infringement Claim
By Amy Rossignol – Edited by Michael Hoven

Ultramercial , LLC v. Hulu, LLC, No. 2010-1544 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 15, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and remanded the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s dismissal of Ultramercial’s patent infringement claim against Hulu, LLC and Wildtangent, Inc.. The District Court had found that U.S. Patent No. 7,346,545 did not claim patent-eligible subject matter.

The Federal Circuit held that the ‘545 patent claims a “process” that is patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The ‘545 patent consists of a method of distributing copyrighted material, such as movies, television shows, music, or books, through a website to consumers who view or interact with advertisements in exchange for free access. The revenue generated from the advertisers would then pay for the copyrighted material. The court did not consider this process abstract, finding that it went beyond mere “mental steps.” Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos, 130 S.Ct. 3218 (2010), the court rejected the machine-or-transformation test, noting its waning application to the “inventions of the Information Age.”

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. JOLT Digest previously reported on the District Court’s 2010 decision. JOLT Digest also reported on the Bilski decision.  (more…)

Posted On Oct - 2 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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