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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By Jennifer Wong

Twitter Ordered to Release Information in WikiLeaks Case

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has ordered Twitter to release information about three of its users who have possible ties to the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks, the New York Times reports. The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) sought the information last year, but not with a search warrant. Rather, they ordered the information be revealed pursuant to the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701 (2006). The information includes Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses, which can be used to identify and discern the location of a computer used to log on to the internet. The three account holders argued in court that their IP addresses should be considered private, that the order suppressed their right to free speech and that the information was irrelevant to WikiLeaks. However, the court did not agree. In his judicial opinion, Judge Liam O’Grady expressed that the information was material to the DOJ’s investigation of WikiLeaks and that the users “voluntarily” revealed their IP addresses when they signed up for a Twitter account. The court also dismissed a petition to have the DOJ reveal its rationale for why it wanted the information. According to the Guardian, one of the users, Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, plans to bring her case to the Council of Europe. 

AOL to Pay $10 Million in Patent Infringement Suit

Forbes reports that a federal court jury has returned a verdict of 10 million dollars in favor of BASCOM Global Internet Services in its lawsuit against AOL. The $10 million is intended to cover unpaid royalties for AOL’s infringement of one of BASCOM’s patents. BASCOM is a Long Island-based company that creates Internet filtering software that is heavily used by educational institutions. In 2008, BASCOM brought suit against both AOL and Yahoo for patent infringement. While Yahoo settled with BASCOM, AOL decided to go to trial. According to Long Island Business News, BASCOM’s president testified that he had tried to negotiate licenses for the patent with several industry giants, but they declined because they did not think he had the means to enforce the patent. AOL has indicated that it will appeal the decision. 

Court Blocks FDA Requirement of Graphic Warnings on Cigarette Packaging

According to a federal court judge, new FDA requirements for cigarette packaging may violate the First Amendment by compelling speech, Reuters reports. The proposed requirements would have tobacco companies place large graphic images of adverse, smoking-related health consequences on cigarette packets. The graphic images include a man smoking out of a hole in his throat and a mouth covered in diseased lesions. Several tobacco companies are currently suing the FDA over the new requirements. Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted a temporary injunction allowing the companies not to comply with the requirements until after the resolution of the lawsuit. According to CBS, Leon expressed in his opinion that the graphic depictions went beyond mere warnings of the health risks of smoking and acted more like anti-smoking advocacy. He said that the new requirements were like advertising for the FDA’s “obvious anti-smoking agenda” and that the companies would likely prevail in their lawsuit.
Posted On Nov - 15 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Continues to Evade Addressing Intra-Circuit Split Regarding Claim Construction
By Katie Cohen – Edited by Albert Wang

Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co., No. 2010-1402 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 31, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc of Retractable Technologies, Inc.’s patent infringement suit against Becton, Dickinson and Company.

Notably, there were two dissents filed in the court’s decision. Judge Moore, joined by Chief Judge Rader, expressed frustration that, despite claim construction’s critical role in patent litigation, the Federal Circuit applies its rules in this area unpredictably. Judge Moore would have reheard this case to address the role of the specification in construing claims. In a separate dissent, Judge O’Malley urged that rehearing en banc should have been granted to revisit and reverse the court’s decision in Cybor Corp. v. FAS Techs., Inc., 138 F.3d 1448 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (en banc), which held that claim construction is a matter of law reviewed without deference to a district court’s conclusions.

Patent Docs provides an overview of the case. IPWatchdog and PatentlyO outline the nature of the court’s split on claim construction issues.  (more…)

Posted On Nov - 11 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Third Circuit Affirms Prior Decision to Strike Down FCC Fine for CBS Broadcast of Janet Jackson’s Breast During Super Bowl Halftime Show
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Albert Wang

CBS Corp. v. FCC, No. 06-3575 (3d Cir. Nov. 2, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its earlier decision throwing out a $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission imposed on broadcasting corporation CBS for airing a split-second image of Janet Jackson’s exposed breast during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Reaching the same conclusion as it had in a 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit held that CBS’s broadcast was legal under the FCC’s policy at the time, which permitted networks to air instances of “fleeting” indecency without being sanctioned. The Court of Appeals ruled that it was arbitrary and capricious for the FCC to change its policy retroactively and impose a steep fine on CBS without notifying the network of the policy change. In reaffirming its 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit declined to change its position in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800 (2009), which upheld the FCC’s decision to abandon its safe harbor for broadcasted expletives that are not repeated. The Third Circuit stated that “Fox confirms our previous ruling in this case and that we should readopt our earlier analysis and holding that the [FCC] acted arbitrarily . . . .” Slip op. at 5.

SCOTUSblog provides an overview of the case. Ars Technica also describes the decision and discusses possible implications for future prime time broadcasts.

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Posted On Nov - 8 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

Zediva Closes Permanently, Pays $1.8 Million in Settlement

The streaming movie service Zediva has agreed to shut down permanently and pay $1.8 million to settle its lawsuit with Hollywood studios, Wired reports. (The MPAA is hosting the consent decree from the Central District Court of California.) The studios sued Zediva in April, one month after it launched its service. Zediva let users watch movies online by remotely renting and operating DVDs and DVD players owned and stored by Zediva. Zediva argued that because it rented DVDs to only one customer at a time, it operated like a video rental store and did not need to have licensing agreements with studios. As JOLT Digest previously reported, this argument did not stop the district court from issuing a preliminary injunction against Zediva in August. PCMag.com reports that the MPAA applauded the “strong message” Zediva’s shutdown sent to potential infringers and considered the shutdown a victory for the film industry.

Power Rangers Halloween Costumes Lead to Lawsuit

Owners of the intellectual property rights associated with the Power Rangers television series have sued the operators of a website for selling the Power Rangers’ colorful uniforms as Halloween costumes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. SBC Power Rangers LLC alleges that the costumes sold at MyPartyShirt.com (operated by Underdog Endeavors) infringe its copyrights and trademarks. Though clothing is not eligible for copyright because of its utilitarian function, “individual design elements” may be copyrightable. The Celebrity Justice blog at Findlaw says that while the patterns on the Power Rangers costumes could be protected by copyright, the stronger claim is that MyPartyShirt.com violated a trademark by using the Power Rangers name on its site.

U.S. Marshals to Seize Righthaven’s Assets to Pay Legal Fees

The District Court of Nevada ordered U.S. Marshals to seize $63,720 that Righthaven owes in legal fees as a result of its ill-fated lawsuit against blogger Wayne Hoehn, reports paidContent. The court dismissed Righthaven’s copyright suit against Hoehn this summer and awarded legal fees to Hoehn. Righthaven claimed that it could not afford to pay the roughly $30,000 award; the size of the award has since doubled as Hoehn’s lawyers have worked to enforce the judgment. While Righthaven’s legal strategy—the lawsuit against Hoehn was one of nearly 300 similar suits—garnered it some favorable settlements, it has not succeeded in court, as JOLT Digest has reported. Righthaven owes a variety of defendants over $200,000 in legal fees, according to Poynter, and may end up in bankruptcy.

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Susanna Lichter

New Cyberweapon Duqu Possibly Spawned from Stuxnet Worm

Computer security analysts warn that Stuxnet, the sophisticated worm that wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program, could be a precursor to more cyber attacks on industrial control systems, according to The Washington Post. There is definite evidence that Duqu, a dangerous new weapon that appears to borrow some of the Stuxnet original source code, was used in an attack last month. The New York Times reports that authorities are divided as to whether Duqu was created by reverse-engineering Stuxnet or if it was wholly made from scratch; however, the Hungarian lab that discovered Duqu says the two cyberweapons are “nearly identical.” The news raises fears that attackers could use these cyber devices to hack into the world’s infrastructure and manipulate water treatment facilities, power plants, and other critical systems.

FBI Announces Timline for Implementing Controversial Facial Recognition Tools

Next.gov reports the Federal Bureau of Investigation will begin implementing the use of facial recognition services as early as January, according to bureau officials. The new tools are designed to find matches from among the 10 million mug shots housed in the FBI database when uploaded with a picture of a suspected criminal. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has expressed concern that the new features will create false positives and infringe on people’s privacy rights.

Hacker Collective Anonymous Warns of Forthcoming Attack on Fox News

CNET reports that Hacker activist group Anonymous released a video unveiling plans to infiltrate the Fox News website early next month. The collective, which has aligned itself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, says the attack is a retaliation of Fox News’ biased coverage of the OWS protests. In another video issued last week, Anonymous demanded the release of one of its members who was kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas while attending a protest in Veracruz, Mexico. The Houston Chronicle reports that Anonymous has threatened to publish the identities and addresses of Los Zetas’ associates if its demands are not met by November 5th. Anonymous also made headlines multiple times last week, taking responsibility for operations targeted at police websites and child pornography servers. The collective hacked into a Boston law enforcement site’s server, altering the website’s homepage and leaking police names and passwords. They also took 40 child pornography sites offline.

Posted On Nov - 3 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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