A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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­­The U.S. Government’s View on Gene Patentability Likely Changed
By Harry Zhou — Edited by Matt Gelfand

Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Neither Party, Association for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO, No. 10-1406 (Fed. Cir.)
Brief hosted by the New York Times

On October 29, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. District Court for the Federal Circuit in Association for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO, No. 10-1406. In its brief, the DOJ advocates for a change in policy for the patentability of genomic DNA.

The DOJ brief draws a distinction between “human-engineered DNA molecules” and “isolated but otherwise unmodified genomic DNA.” While recognizing engineered DNA molecules as patentable “human invention,” the DOJ nonetheless argues that genomic DNA isolated from human cells without further manipulation or alternation should not constitute patentable subject matter. This bifurcated position of the DOJ is in conflict with the Patent and Trademark Office’s longstanding practice of granting patents for isolated genomic DNA.

JOLT Digest previously reported on the district court’s opinion and examined the decision’s possible implications. Summaries of the DOJ brief are available from Patently-O and The Patent Prospector. The New York Times provides coverage of the patent law community’s reaction to the brief. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 12 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Dismisses Facebook User’s Claims that Account Termination Violated First and Fourteenth Amendments and Various State Laws
By Samantha Kuhn – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Young v. Facebook, Inc., 5:10-cv-03579-JF/PVT (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2010)
Opinion hosted by Justia.com

On October 25, 2010, the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss Karen Beth Young’s complaint that, in terminating her account, Facebook violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments as well as state contract and tort law, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. The court has granted Young a thirty-day period during which she may file an amended complaint.

With respect to the claim that Facebook deprived Young of equal protection by failing to accommodate her need for human interaction (resulting from bi-polar disorder), the court held that because Young failed to allege a deprivation of rights “under color of state law,” she has not stated a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In so holding, the court noted that the simple existence of contracts and relationships between Facebook and the government are insufficient to establish a claim under § 1983. Young, the court suggests, would have to show some nexus between those specific contracts and the alleged rights violations or, if certain Facebook activities amounted to state action, a causal relationship between those activities and the injuries suffered.

With respect to the claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligence, and fraud, the court held that Young failed to state a claim on all four counts due to the absence of applicable contractual obligations on Facebook’s part, an explicit disclaimer in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities that released responsibility for safety from third party conduct, and a lack of specificity in Young’s allegations. In addition to the specific shortcomings of Young’s pleading in this case, the court referred to the policy concerns manifested in the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which severely restricts the liability of interactive computer service providers for content posted by third parties.

A brief summary of the claims and bases for dismissal can be found in Evan Brown’s article on the Internet Cases blog. Eric Goldman provides an additional overview of the court’s conclusions and takes issue with the court’s concession that, had Young argued that there was a bad faith or arbitrary cancellation of her account, this could potentially constitute a violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 9 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

David Hosp and Ed Weiss offer their perspectives on the Cablevision case
By Paul Cathcart – Edited by Ryan Ward

On Thursday, November 4th, JOLT and the Cyberlaw Clinic at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society hosted a talk by David Hosp and Ed Weiss, two attorneys who worked on opposite sides of the “Cablevision” case, Cartoon Network v. CSC Holdings, 536 F.3d 121 (2008). In that case, the Second Circuit held that Cablevision’s “Remote Storage” Digital Video Recorder (RS-DVR) system did not directly infringe the copyright interests of Cablevision’s content providers. JOLT Digest previously reported on the Second Circuit’s decision when it was released in August 2008.

The two speakers took turns discussing their experience on the case. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Esther Kang

Google Settles Buzz Class Action Suit for $8.5 Million

The New York Times reports that Google has settled a class action suit over privacy violations related to its release of the Buzz application last February.  The settlement stipulates that Google will set up an $8.5 million fund for Internet privacy organizations and will educate users about Buzz’s privacy features.  Google chose not to compensate individual users because few class members suffered actual damages, and because pro rata distribution is unfeasible for such a large class.  On November 2, Google sent email notifications to all its users regarding the settlement and opportunities to opt out of or object to the settlement.  ABC News reports that the district court has preliminarily approved the settlement and will consider it for final approval on January 31, 2011.

Supreme Court Set to Hear Bayh-Dole Patent Case

Bloomberg reports that the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Stanford v. Roche to clarify the 1980 Bayh-Dole Act, which gives non-profit organizations and small businesses ownership of federally funded inventions.  Stanford University originally sued pharmaceutical company Roche for infringing its method for measuring HIV infection.  Stanford claimed ownership of the patent under the Bayh-Dole Act, but the Federal Circuit ruled that Roche co-owned the patent because one of the key inventors had assigned his rights to the company.  According to Corporate Counsel, the Obama administration and several major research universities supported the petition for certiorari.

Thomas-Rasset Receives $1.5 Million Verdict in Third Jury Trial

In her third trial since 2006, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was hit with a jury verdict of $1.5 million for sharing 24 songs, or $62,500 for each song.  In June 2009, a jury returned a verdict for $1.92 million, which Chief Judge Davis called “monstrous and shocking” before cutting it to $54,000 on remittitur.    CNET reports that the RIAA applauded the recent verdict, stating, “We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant’s misconduct.”  According to ABC News, Thomas-Rasset refuses to pay and plans to appeal the verdict on constitutional grounds.

Posted On Nov - 6 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

TTAB Reverses Refusal to Register Walther PPK Product Configuration
By Charles Griffin – Edited by Avis Bohlen

In re Carl Walther GmbH, No. 77096523 (T.T.A.B. Oct. 26, 2010)
Opinion

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) reversed an examiner’s refusal to register the product configuration of the Walther PPK pistol as a mark under Section 2(f) of the Trademark Act.

The Board held, contrary to an examiner’s evaluation, that applicant Walther had established acquired distinctiveness for the configuration. Walther presented a variety of direct and circumstantial evidence, including a survey of gun enthusiasts, expert testimony, and Walther’s advertising efforts, as well as a 40-year history of unsolicited media exposure supplied by the PPK’s most notorious devotee, James Bond.

The TTABlog and Likelihood of Confusion comment on the Board’s decision, ascribing the result primarily to the instinctive persuasiveness of the Bond-related circumstantial evidence. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 4 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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