A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Silk Road Founder Loses Argument That the FBI Illegally Hacked Servers to Find Evidence against Him

By Travis West  — Edited by Mengyi Wang

The alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht was denied the motion to suppress evidence in his case. Ulbricht argued that the FBI illegally hacked the Silk Road servers to search for evidence to use in search warrants for the server. The judge denied the motion because Ulbricht failed to establish he had any privacy interest in the server.

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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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Popular Samsung Phones under Investigation for Patent Infringement

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

The US International Trade Commission has instituted an investigation of patent infringement involving some of Samsung’s most popular smartphones. ITC will have to decide whether it is in the public interest to ban a major producer from selling its phones in the US.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Kathleen McGuinness

Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function

Judgment of damages sufficient to render plaintiff a prevailing party for fee awards

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The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology recently released its Fall 2010 issue, now available online.  John M. Golden, author of “Innovation Dynamics, Patents, and Dynamic-Elasticity Tests for the Promotion of Progress” has written an abstract of his article for the Digest, presented below.

- The Digest Staff

JOLT Print Preview: Innovation Dynamics, Patents, and Dynamic-Elasticity Tests for the Promotion of Progress
John M. Golden

This article develops a model for innovation dynamics and studies its implications for technological development and policies to promote innovation.  The model generates a diverse array of trajectories for technological progress as a function of time.  Among the forms of possible trajectories, trajectories featuring linear or exponential growth are only special cases.  The model suggests that growth according to a supralinear power law might be more common: i.e., the cumulative amount of innovation might frequently be expected to grow like the quantity tz, where t is a measure of time and z is a positive exponent.

The model also suggests that, under a variety of circumstances, whether a given incremental policy change accelerates or decelerates technological progress will be determined by a “dynamic-elasticity” or “double-ratio” test involving comparison of percentage changes in model parameters.  The existence of such double-ratio tests might suggest that patents’ effects on innovation are even more sensitive to technologic and industrial circumstance than has commonly been appreciated. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 28 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Dorothy Du

IBM Creation “Watson” May Have the Potential to Assist in Legal Research

Watson, an IBM super computer four years in the making, competed on the popular TV game show Jeopardy! on February 14 through 16. On the 16th, Watson prevailed against former Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, tallying in at a total of $77,147 in winnings — more than triple each human contestant’s totals, as PC World reports. Robert Weber, IBM’s senior vice president of legal and regulatory affairs and general counsel explained in The National Law Journal that Watson could be useful in performing some of the basic legal research that junior associates are often assigned. PC World explains that Watson is equipped with a natural language processing system called DeepQA that allows it to understand a complex question, even one involving wordplay; the system uses six million logic rules in order to mine 200 million pages of content for human-like answers. Weber believes DeepQA could prove useful for “gathering facts and identifying ideas when building legal arguments” and says the technology could even “come in handy, near real-time, in the courtroom.”  Jennifer Chu-Carroll, who helped create Watson, told Computer World: “Watson is a significant step, allowing people to interact with a computer as they would a human being.”

Recent Cases Support the Use of Internet to Assist Counsel in Voir Dire

ABA Journal reports that conducting Internet searches to uncover personal details about potential jurors in order to facilitate in jury selection during voir dire has become increasing popular. Quinn Emanuel reports that a New Jersey appellate court in Carino v. Muenzen held that it was unreasonable to prohibit counsel’s use of the Internet during jury selection. And the Missouri Supreme Court in Johnson v. McCullough affirmed a decision to grant a new trial because a juror had failed to disclose his prior lawsuits, but added the qualification that in light of advances in technology allowing access to information about potential jurors, it was appropriate to increase the burden on parties to bring such matters to the court’s attention earlier. With more than 500 million people on Facebook, 175 million on Twitter, and over 70 million actively using LinkedIn, the Internet has become a revolutionary tool allowing jury consultants and trial lawyers to uncover facts that may be may not be discoverable via traditional jury questionnaires. Internet searches allow counsel to select jurors that with particular political affiliations, community involvement, sexual orientation, or income level, Reuters reports.

FDA Deputy Commissioner Speaks About New Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

On February 17, Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods gave his first speech on imports since the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Obama this year, Quality Assurance Magazine reports. The FSMA represents the biggest reform of U.S. food safety regulation in decades, and was drafted partially in response to a number of high-profile food-related incidents between 2007 and 2010, as Sidley Austin details.  Taylor indicated that, in light of the fact that 50 percent of our fresh fruits, 20 percent of our vegetables, and 80 percent of our seafood is imported, the FDA sought to establish a new paradigm for regulating imported food through the FSMA, according to the FDA. Taylor stated that “food safety is not only the right thing to do, it is good business,” noting “the major disruptions to our economies and to international trade that occur in the wake of major foodborne illness outbreaks and product recalls.” Food Safety News says the new law gives the FDA new tools to manage imports, such as the power to create agreements with exporting countries that facilitate inspection and certification of food in the country of origin.

California Judge Dismisses Another Class Action Lawsuit Against Pacemaker Manufacturer

MassDevice reports that Judge Manuel Real of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Guidant Corp., a subsidiary of medical device company Boston Scientific. The plaintiff, who had the “Insignia 1298” pacemaker implanted in 2004, was understandably concerned when he heard in the news that pacemakers like his were failing, explains Drug and Device Law. Rather than waiting or undergoing surgery, he decided to sue Guidant Corp., the manufacturer of the pacemaker. The plaintiff’s complaint in Cohen v. Guidant Corp. was dismissed on grounds of “preemption and want of injury, facts, and particularity.”  According to the judge’s order, the complaint failed to provide factual support showing that there was a specific defect in the pacemaker. The court also stated that fear of future injury, in the absence of an actual manifestation of a defect that results in injury, is not a legally cognizable claim under California law.

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Seventh Circuit Denies Moral Rights Protection to Chicago Garden
By Albert Wang – Edited by Matthew Gelfand

Kelley v. Chicago Park District, Nos. 08-3701 and 08-3712 (7th Cir. Feb. 15, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the Northern District of Illinois’ judgment in favor of the Chicago Park District on Chapman Kelley’s Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) claim, while reversing the court’s judgment in favor of Kelley on his claim of implied contract.

The Seventh Circuit, while affirming on the VARA claim, rejected the district court’s finding that Kelley’s garden was unoriginal and that VARA categorically excluded site-specific art. The court held that the garden was ineligible for copyright not for want of originality, but of authorship and fixation.  As a work not subject to copyright, the garden was not covered by VARA’s grant of moral rights. In addition, the court attacked the district court’s finding that the garden constituted a painting and sculpture for VARA purposes. In reversing on the contract claim, the circuit court held that the commissioner lacked the power to bind the city through her representations.

IPLawChat provides an overview of the case. Clancco and ArtSlant discuss the decision’s ramifications for concept art at large. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 25 - 2011 4 Comments READ FULL POST

Following Bilski, court upholds validity of patents that meet a “meaningful limits” test
By Irina Oberman – Edited by Avis Bohlen

H&R Block Tax Services, Inc. v. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Inc., No. 608cv37 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 2, 2011)
Slip Opinion hosted by 271 Patent Blog

Magistrate Judge Love, sitting in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, reconsidered a previous Report and Recommendation in this case, which recommended invalidating two of the plaintiff’s three asserted patents (the ‘862 and ‘425 patents). Applying the machine-or-transformation test as well as a new “meaningful limits” test, Judge Love modified the recommendation and upheld the validity of the ‘862 patent because the claims applied a “meaningful limit” on the scope of the claims.

JOLT Digest previously reported on the revised recommendation271 Patent Blog offers an overview of the decision highlighting the discussion of the ‘862 patent. Additionally, FreePatentsOnline and Patent Storm provide a helpful overview of the ‘862 patent. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 20 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By A. Gavin Fishman

Marketing Executive Proposes Controversial “.gay” Top-Level Internet Domain

CNET reports that Scott Seitz, chief executive of dotGAY and founder of SPI Marketing, plans to apply to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for approval of the proposed top-level Internet domain “.gay.” Seitz states that “.gay will be a venue for enhancing [the LGBT community’s] ability to interact with each other as a community.” Past efforts to register controversial top-level domains, such as the 2004 application for the rights to run .xxx, have stalled indefinitely in the application process. The Huffington Post reports that the largest obstacle to the application may be the U.S. Government, who “recently proposed that they have the power to veto domains that they believe to be objectionable.” CNET quotes Seitz as stating that this proposal is “problematic, and it’s discrimination on a terrible level. It’s not even appropriate for countries (to have the ability to veto) because of freedom of expression. Anything beyond (restricting speech that) incites violence is discrimination.”

Obama Administration Issues First Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement

This month, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (“IPEC”) released the 2010 Annual Report on Intellectual Property Enforcement. The report states that “[c]ombating online infringement, protecting health and safety and preventing theft of trade secrets for innovative technology will continue to be a priority,” and that “[o]ne new area of focus for 2011 will be patent enforcement in China and determining what the U.S. Government can do to improve the situation in China for U.S. innovators.”  CNET characterizes the report as “read[ing] a lot like a report that could have been prepared by lobbyists for the recording or movie industry,” noting that it includes various statistics and “proposals to curb internet piracy and other forms of intellectual property infringement.” On the White House Blog, Victoria Espinel, the first person to hold the office of the IPEC, highlights the report’s support of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, as well as the increased law enforcement actions which have taken place over the past year in the sphere of intellectual property.

MPAA sues Hotfile.com for its “staggering” P2P Copyright Infringement

Time, Ars Technica and CNET report that the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”) has filed a complaint against the operators of the “cyberlocker” service Hotfile. CNET explains that “cyberlockers are an alternative to BitTorrent file-sharing services” where “[a] user logs on to a locker service and watches whatever films or TV shows are stored there.” In its press release, the MPAA claims that “Hotfile facilitates the theft of copyrighted motion picture and television properties on a staggering scale and profits handsomely from encouraging and providing the means for massive copyright infringement.” The Hollywood Reporter reports MPAA general counsel and chief content protection officer Daniel Mandil as stating: “The theft taking place on Hotfile is unmistakable. The files are indeed ‘hot’ as in ‘stolen.’ It’s wrong and it must stop.” Ars Technica notes that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provisions would ordinarily protect the operators of a site like Hotfile from liability for content uploaded by users, but that the MPAA claims that the site encourages infringement and therefore falls outside the safe harbor protections.

Posted On Feb - 19 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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