A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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Federal Circuit Declares Pharmaceutical Patents Unenforceable for Inequitable Conduct
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Jennifer Wong

Aventis Pharma S.A. v. Hospira, Inc., No. 2011-1018, 2012 WL 1155716 (Fed. Cir. April 9, 2012).
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware‘s holding that claim 5 of Aventis Pharma’s U.S. Patent No. 5,750,561 (filed August 4, 1993) (“the ‘561 patent”) and claim 7 of its U.S. Patent No. 5,714,512 (filed August 23, 1993) (“the ‘512 patent”) were invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 and unenforceable on inequitable conduct grounds. Reviewing the district court’s factual findings for clear error and its ultimate finding of inequitable conduct for abuse of discretion, the Federal Circuit found that both patents were unenforceable for inequitable conduct, because the defendants had met their burden of showing that the withheld references were material to patentability and that the applicant intended to deceive the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), primarily relying on testimony by the patents’ inventor.

PharmaPatents provides an overview of the case. Patents4Life suggests that the case may have come out differently had the inventor “professed to have no recollection” of the events which happened twenty years ago. Bloomberg Businessweek discussed the financial impact of generic drug manufacturers on Sanofi. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Circuit Ruling Leaves Open Possibility That YouTube Is Not Protected By Safe Harbor
By Jacob Rogers – Edited by Julie Dorais

Viacom Int’l, Inc., Football Ass’n Premier League Ltd. v. YouTube, Inc., Docket No. 10-3270-cv (2nd Cir. April 5, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Second Circuit partially affirmed and partially reversed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, granting summary judgment to YouTube on all claims of direct and secondary copyright infringement brought by Viacom. The district court held that YouTube qualified for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §512(c), which protects service providers from liability for acts of infringement by users.

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that §512(c)(1)(A)’s exception to the safe harbor provision “requires knowledge or awareness of specific facts or circumstances that indicate specific and identifiable instances of infringement,” but it vacated the district court’s summary judgment order because certain internal emails within YouTube raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether it had such knowledge. The court also held that the “right and ability to control” an infringer under §512(c)(1)(B), which also creates an exception to the safe harbor provision, does not require knowledge of specific acts of infringement but requires more than vicarious liability at common law. It additionally held that willful blindness may be relevant to determinations under §512(c)(1)(A), although it is limited by the congressional mandate that safe harbor for service providers not be conditioned on monitoring. See §512(m). The court accordingly remanded the case for the district court to apply this “right and ability to control test” and address the issue of willful blindness in the first instance.

The Technology and Marketing Blog provides an overview of the case, noting that, regardless of the specific decision of the district court on remand, this decision is likely to raise litigation costs for all digital content providers seeking safe harbor under the DMCA. The New York Times Media Decoder Blog suggests that the suit has no winners, as both sides expressed lukewarm sentiments at the result and Viacom is currently pursuing a business partnership with YouTube simultaneously with this litigation. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 10 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The Northern District of Illinois Denies Motion to Compel for Subpoenas Seeking Non-Party IP Address Information
By Dorothy Du – Edited by Julie Dorais

Pacific Century International, Ltd. v. John Does 1-37, No. 12 C 1057 (N.D. Ill. March 30, 2012)
Slip opinion

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs’ motion to compel ISPs’ compliance with subpoenas for identifying information associated with IP addresses in a copyright infringement action against BitTorrent users.

In an opinion by Chief Judge Holderman, the court granted plaintiffs’ motion to compel ISPs to comply with subpoenas for information about Doe defendants’ IP addresses, but denied the motion in cases in which the information sought related to non-party IP addresses. The court held that subpoenas for information pertaining to non-party IP addresses are not “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), and that as such, the subpoenas would impose an “undue burden” on ISPs under Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A)(iv). Pacific Century International, Ltd. v. John Does 1-37, No. 12 C 1057, slip op. at 5, 8, 9 (N.D. Ill. March 30, 2012). Moreover, the court rejected plaintiffs’ attempt to justify the subpoenas on claims of conspiracy among the Doe defendants because the plaintiffs failed to plead the existence of an agreement among the defendants. According to the court, plaintiff copyright owners were not seeking information for the purpose of litigating the copyright action at hand but rather were attempting to use discovery improperly in order to identify BitTorrent users for future copyright infringement suits or threats of suits.

Techeye praises the decision for setting back copyright trolling campaigns by Big Content. ArsTechnica explains that the decision signals judicial resistance to copyright holders’ use of conspiracy theory to gather information about ISP subscribers in order to “extort settlements.” Last week, ArsTechnica reported on two other rulings in similar cases in Florida that suggest that plaintiffs in copyright actions are likely to lose whenever ISPs raise objections to subpoenas that are “fishing expeditions” against their customers. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 9 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Rejects Diagnostic Process Claims as Unpatentable Laws of Nature
By Charlie Stiernberg – Edited by Dorothy Du

Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., No. 10-1150 (U.S. Mar. 20, 2012)
Slip Opinion

In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court reversed a ruling by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that had held Prometheus’ claimed invention, a process that helps doctors determine whether a given dosage of thiopurine drugs is too high or low, was patentable subject matter under the “machine or transformation test.” Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., No. 10-1150, slip op. at 4, 7 (U.S. Mar. 20, 2012) (citing Prometheus Labs., Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Servs., 581 F.3d 1336, 1345–47 (Fed. Cir. 2009)).

In an opinion by Justice Breyer, the Court held Prometheus’ claimed invention was unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101, because it was fundamentally a law of nature. Id. at 24. In so holding, the court reasoned “the steps in the claimed processes (aside from the natural laws themselves) involve well-understood, routine, conventional activity previously engaged in by researchers in the field.” Id. at 4. The Court emphasized that just as a law of nature has long been held unpatentable, so too “is a process reciting a law of nature, unless that process has additional features that provide practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the law of nature itself.” Id. at 8–9.

SCOTUSblog provides a history of the case, briefs, and other relevant court documents. Patently-O breaks down the opinion in a section-by-section analysis. IPWatchdog criticizes the decision, admonishing that it will kill the medical diagnostics industry. The AMA praises the decision for invalidating patents that inhibit medical treatments. PharmExecBlog argues the decision may be a “harbinger” for the Myriad case now pending before the Court. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 4 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit invites en banc review of broadening reissue jurisprudence
By Jeffery Habenicht – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

In re Staats, No. 2010-1443 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) decision to reject Staats’s reissue application and remanded for further proceedings. The Board had rejected Staats’s continuing reissue application because it was filed outside of the two-year time limit imposed by 35 U.S.C. § 251 and was not sufficiently related to a previous broadening reissue application filed within the two-year limit. In re Staats, No. 2010-1443, slip op. at 5–6 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 5, 2012).

The Federal Circuit held that the Board’s decision was inconsistent with its predecessor court’s decision in In re Doll, which concluded the two-year time limit in § 251 only applied to the initial broadening reissue application — not to properly filed continuation applications. Id. at 9 (citing In re Doll, 419 F.2d 925 (C.C.P.A 1970)). The court rejected the PTO’s argument that Doll only applied if the continuation application was “related” to a reissue application filed within the two-year window. Id. The court stated that this type of test would be “unmanageable,” because, by definition, every claim must be different in scope than the other claims. Id. at 10. In so holding, the court relied almost exclusively on Doll. The court concluded that if the PTO wanted to overrule Doll it would have to petition for a rehearing en banc. Id. at 11.

IPBIZ summarizes the case. Patently-O provides an overview and analysis. PharmaPatents criticizes the court’s broad interpretation of § 251, arguing that it will result in “twenty years of uncertainty” and a resurgence of post-grant strategic maneuvering. Patents Post-Grant, however, argues that Staats will have little effect because relying on broadening reissue applications as a matter of course has its own inherent drawbacks. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 4 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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