A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Federal Circuit Tightens Patent Standing Requirement in Azure Networks

By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Sabreena Khalid

In Azure Networks, LLC v. CSR PLC, the Federal Circuit ruled that patent owners who had licensed “all substantial rights” to a third party could not be joined as plaintiffs in a suit on that patent. The court also reaffirmed the high bar to proving that a patentee has redefined a well-understood technical term.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Viviana Ruiz

Russia’s Intellectual Property Court affirms denial of Ford’s trademark application

Contrary to its advertising efforts, Red Bull does not give you wings

Federal Court rules that food flavors are not trademarkable

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House Passes Patent Reform – Keeps Senate’s “First-To-File”, Differs on PTO Funding
By Albert Wang – Edited by Matt Gelfand

H.R. 1249 – Leahy-Smith America Invents Act
Bill

Govtrack.us Summary

On June 23, 2011, the House passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and passed by a vote of 304 to 117, the legislation implements a first-to-file system, a post-grant review system, and a fund for PTO fees, among other procedural changes. Smith promised in a statement that the bill would help “to encourage innovation, job creation and economic growth” by reducing the application backlog and attacking frivolous patent litigation. The Act’s purpose is to “promote industries to continue to develop new technologies that spur growth and create jobs across the country which includes protecting the rights of small businesses and investors from predatory behavior that could result in the cutting off of innovation.”

Originally passed in the Senate by a vote of 95 to 5 (previous Digest coverage), H.R. 1249 includes a number of changes relative to its Senate counterpart, S. 23. Of note, H.R. 1249 retains the Senate bill’s first-to-file regime, which makes the “effective filing date” of a claimed invention the actual filing date, thus dismantling the existing first-to-invent regime. First-to-file has been criticized by the Inventors Network of the Capital Area and Tea Party politicians like Phyllis Schlafly for unfairly advantaging large companies, foreign actors, and other parties with the resources to file patents quickly, according to Mother Jones. Your Patent Guy argues in contrast that resource advantages already work to bias interference proceedings, and that the bill gives institutional actors no advantage that they did not already enjoy under the existing system. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 5 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST

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
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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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Federal Circuit Flas

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Spain Passes a “Go

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long Amendments to the ...

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Federal Circuit Tigh

By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Sabreena Khalid Azure Networks, LLC ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Viviana Ruiz Russia’s Intellectual Property Court affirms denial of Ford's ...