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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Fifth Circuit Limits DMCA by Distinguishing Circumvention to Access Software and Circumvention to Violate Copyright
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Helen He

MGE UPS Systems, Inc. v. GE Consumer and Indus. Inc., No. 08-10521 (5th Cir. July 20, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which dismissed MGE UPS Systems Inc.’s (“MGE”) Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) claim against Power Maintenance International, Inc. (“PMI”) and General Electric Company (“GE”) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 50(a).

The Fifth Circuit held that the DMCA’s provisions apply to protections designed to prevent infringement of copyrighted material and not protection from mere access to that material.  Thus, the circumvention of a protection measure that fails to shield the copyrighted material from being read and copied is not a violation of the DMCA.  The court further noted that once a protection measure has been circumvented, the DMCA no longer applies to the use of that work.

Barry Sookman provides an overview of the case and an analysis of the court’s ruling.  Info/Law has a critical discussion of the DMCA in light of this case’s holding. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 2 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit reverses court order granting toymaker Mattel ownership of Bratz doll brand
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Janet Freilich

MGA Entertainment, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc., No. 09-55673 (9th Cir. July 22, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a decision making headlines across the nation, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Central District of California, which had given Mattel ownership rights to the Bratz doll brand after a jury found that the designer who created the dolls was working for Mattel when he conceived the idea. Along with ownership of the Bratz brand, the district court also ordered Bratz manufacturer MGA to pay Mattel $10 million in damages.

The Ninth Circuit held that MGA had significantly improved the value of the Bratz brand as a result of its investment in the product, development efforts, and marketing since the dolls were first sold in 2001. Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski maintained that it would not be equitable to completely revoke MGA’s ownership of the billion-dollar Bratz line, even if development of the brand may have started with a misappropriated idea. In so holding, Judge Kozinski stated that a significant portion – if not all – of the jury’s verdict and damages award should be vacated, and that the entire case will probably have to be retried.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the case. The Wall Street Journal offers additional commentary about the prolonged legal battle between Mattel and MGA to determine the rightful owner of the Bratz brand. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 31 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Chinh Vo

Republican Senators Draft Bill in Opposition to FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations Plans

CNET reports that a group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, is sponsoring a new bill designed to thwart the FCC’s plans to regulate broadband providers. The bill, dubbed the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act, would allow the FCC to impose requirements on the broadband industry only if marketplace competition is inadequate, giving the agency authority similar to the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce antitrust. As JOLT has previously reported, many members of Congress have expressed concern over the FCC’s attempt to impose Net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, following the decision in Comcast Corp. v. FCC limiting the agency’s jurisdiction over broadband services.

Lawyers Drop Suit Against Scribd Featuring Novel Application of Copyright Act

Wired reports that lawyers have dropped a copyright infringement lawsuit against document-sharing website Scribd. The case, filed last September by children’s writer Elaine Scott after one of her books appeared on Scribd, had been closely watched because Scott’s lawyers sought a novel application of the Copyright Act. In addition to attacking the site for failing to block the unauthorized upload, Scott’s lawyers claimed Scribd’s copying and insertion of her copyrighted work into its filtering system — to prevent future unauthorized uploads — was itself a violation of the Copyright Act. Many university sites, social networks, and user-generated content sites employ similar filtering methods that compare uploaded materials to a database of copyrighted works.

Cell Phone Group Files Suit to Block San Francisco Radiation Ordinance

PCWorld reports that CTIA, an international group representing the wireless telecommunications industry, has sued the city of San Francisco in an attempt to block a recently-enacted ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to post how much radiation their devices emit. The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, argues that the city exceeded its authority by passing regulations related to an issue already addressed by the FCC. According to CTIA, the ordinance conflicts with federal law because the heightened labeling requirements undermine the FCC’s determination that all FCC-compliant cell phones are safe. The suit also alleges that the city ordinance violates the Communications Act by imposing a condition for entry to the wireless market — a power the Act limits to the federal government.

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Argues for Less Stringent Test for Protecting Anonymous Online Commercial Speech
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Janet Freilich

In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, No. 09-71265 (9th Cir. July 12, 2010)
Opinion

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied writs of mandamus appealing the District Court of Nevada’s order to disclose the identities of anonymous online posters. Although the Circuit Court denied the writs of mandamus for procedural reasons, the decision provides a discussion of Free Speech protection of commercial speech posted on the Internet.

Judge McKeown held that the District Court committed no clear error in ordering the release of the identities of three anonymous online speakers. In discussing the various tests for protecting anonymous speech, she stated that the District Court applied too stringent a standard for commercial speech by relying on the test announced in Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), which involved political speech. The court noted that the First Amendment affords less protection to commercial speech, and thus the balancing test between discovery and Free Speech should be based on “the nature of the speech,” with commercial speech subject to less stringent protection. In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, at *9920. In the discussion, the court noted the likelihood of an increasing number of cases involving anonymous online commercial speech and the lack of appellate decisions involving such discovery disputes.

The Internet Cases blog provides an overview of the decision and points out the significance of the case as the third federal circuit court case to address the issue of online anonymity. Citizen Media Law Project provides a more extensive overview and questions whether the Ninth Circuit’s definition of commercial speech will reduce free speech protection for “legitimate consumer criticism.” (more…)

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Use of Trademark in Domain Names Found to Be Nominative Fair Use
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Anthony Kammer

Toyota Motor Sales v. Tabari, No. 07-55344 (9th Cir. Jul. 8, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On July 8, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded an injunction against Farzad and Lisa Tabari by the United States District Court for the Central District of California in a trademark infringement claim brought by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (“Toyota”).  The Ninth Circuit stated that on remand the injuction must be modified to permit some use of Toyota’s “Lexus” trademark in Internet domain names.

Led by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, the majority concluded that Tabari’s use of the string “lexus” in domain names “buy-a-lexus.com” and “buyorleaselexus.com,” under which Tabari operated an automobile brokerage, was nominative fair use, a defense that shielded Tabari from Toyota’s claim of trademark infringement.  The nominative fair use doctrine is a defense that gives individuals to right to use another’s trademark to refer to the trademarked good itself. The majority reasoned that Tabari’s truthful communications regarding the nature of the Lexus product fell into the protective scope of the nominative fair use doctrine.

Seattle Trademark Lawyer features excerpts from the opinion. The E-Commerce and Tech Law Blog summarizes potential impacts of the decision. An in-depth analysis of the opinion is available at Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law BlogRebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log offers comments on the opinion. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 22 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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