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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Federal Circuit Distinguishes Provisional Applications from Foreign Filings for Prior Art Priority under 102(e)
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Anthony Kammer

In re Giacomini, No. 2009-1400 (Fed. Cir. July 7, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On July 7, 2010, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences’ (“Board”) rejection of claims of U.S. Patent Application No. 09/725,737 as anticipated under 35 U.S.C. § 102(e), the so-called “secret prior art” provision.  The Federal Circuit’s ruling expanded the scope of 102(e) such that prior art U.S. patents and applications under § 102(e) are now to have an effective filing date as of the filing date of the qualifying provisional application.

The Federal Circuit held as a matter of statutory interpretation, that under § 102(e) the effective filing date for patent priority is the filing date of the provisional application, so long as the provisional application contains a written description of the claimed invention.  Thus secret and confidential provisional applications will receive patent priority for a claimed invention against any later filings.  The court based its decision on §§ 111(b) and 119(e), emphasizing that the patent system rewards the person who is first to invent.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. Matt Osenga at Inventive Step provides an analysis of possible implications of the decision. The Patent Prospector discusses the decision and notes that Americans will continue to receive priority over foreign patent applications. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 21 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Ian B. Brooks

Reality Porn Producers Claim Fair Use in Suit against Record Labels

Ars Technica reports that Warner Bros. Records and ten other record music labels have filed suit against porn companies RK Netmedia and RealityKings.com. The record labels allege copyright infringement for the use of their unlicensed songs in hundreds of hardcore pornographic videos. They are seeking the maximum statutory penalty of $150,000 per video. RK Netmedia says it will defend the suit under the fair use doctrine. They argue that because they shoot their films in reality show style, their equipment captures music played in the background of the nightclubs and venues where they shoot. The complaint is available here.

ACLU Challenges Constitutionality of Massachusetts Law Protecting Minors on the Internet

On July 12, 2010, an updated Massachusetts law went into effect which will extend existing laws to protect minors from obscene materials on the Internet. Citizen Media Law Project and Ars Technica report on the ACLU’s challenge to the law. The “harmful to minors” law has been expanded to cover many online communications, such as electronic mail, instant messaging, and text messaging. The ACLU argues that the updated law will have a chilling effect on Internet communications, affecting even constitutionally protected communications between adults. The law, which was previously restricted to physical locations such as shops within Massachusetts, now has the effect of reaching outside of the state. The ACLU seeks to have the updated language removed from the law.

Louisiana is Latest to Enact Anti-Cyber-Bullying Statute

Lowering the Bar and Citizen Media Law Project report on the latest cyber-bullying statute enacted in Louisiana. The law makes illegal the “transmission of any electronic textual, visual, written, or oral communication with the malicious and willful intent to coerce, abuse, torment, or intimidate a person under the age of 18.” Violators could face a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and three years in jail. The Media Coalition opposed the law on constitutional grounds prior to its enactment because of its vague language. Much of the language remained unchanged, so its constitutionality continues to be a concern for some.

Posted On Jul - 20 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District of Massachusetts reduces jury-awarded damages by 90 percent in copyright infringement lawsuit
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Jad Mills

Sony BMG Music Entertainment et. al. v. Tenenbaum, No. 07cv11446-NG (D. Mass. July 9, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a decision by Judge Nancy Gertner, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts reduced the damages awarded by a jury to members of the recording industry in a copyright infringement lawsuit. After finding defendant Joel Tenenbaum guilty of illegally downloading copyrighted music, the jury awarded statutory damages of $22,500 per song, $675,000 total for 30 songs. Judge Gertner held that the damages award should be reduced to $2,250 per song or $67,500 total. In so holding, Judge Gertner maintained that the jury’s award was far greater than necessary to serve the government’s interest in deterring copyright infringement and compensating copyright owners whose rights have been infringed. She argued that Congress never intended the extraordinary damages provisions of copyright law to apply to situations where a defendant did not receive pecuniary benefit from his infringing activities.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation commends the court’s decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Use of Common Words in Trademarks Can Still Dilute
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Jad Mills

Visa Int’l Serv. Ass’n v. JSL Corp., No. 08-15206 (9th Cir. Jun. 28, 2010)
Slip Opinion

On June 28, 2010, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada’s grant of summary judgment for Visa International Service Association (“VISA”) on its trademark dilution claim against JSL Corporation (“JSL”).

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski delivered the opinion, holding that JSL’s “eVisa” mark had diluted VISA’s “Visa” mark under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c)(2)(B) (2006). The court found that JSL’s “eVisa” brand had created a situation in which two different products, namely VISA credit cards and JSL’s eVisa.com, competed for association with the word “Visa.” The court explained that although the word visa has a common meaning, the Visa mark can still be diluted by a junior user who is not using the word according to that common meaning. And since Orr did not dispute that the “Visa” mark was famous and distinctive before JSL started to use “eVisa,” the court upheld summary judgment.

Reuters provides a summary of the opinion. Seattle Trademark Lawyer briefly analyzes the court’s rationale. Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 13 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Chinh Vo

NTP Sues Major Smartphone Makers for Infringing Wireless Email Patents

Ars Technica reports that patent holding company NTP has brought suits against Apple, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, and Motorola, claiming the smartphone makers are infringing eight patents for “delivery of electronic mail over wireless communications systems.” NTP brought a similar suit in 2001 against Blackberry manufacturer RIM, which settled for $612.5 million after several years of litigation. The New York Times notes that NTP may not enjoy a similar payday this time around “because technology and product designs change quickly and recent smartphone e-mail systems may well have been designed with an eye toward avoiding NTP’s patents.” Which specific claims will be relevant to this round of litigation is still unclear, as NTP is currently appealing the USPTO’s invalidation of a significant number of its patents.

New Law Requires Colleges to Fight Online Piracy or Risk Losing Federal Funding

The Huffington Post reports that colleges now risk losing federal funding if they do not take adequate steps to fight digital piracy on campus. This month a provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 went into effect, requiring any institution receiving federal student aid to have plans “to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network.” The regulations allow schools flexibility in their approaches to fighting piracy, so long as they employ at least one technology-based deterrent. Colleges must also educate their network users on digital piracy and offer legal alternatives “to the extent practicable.”

NSA To Implement Program to Protect Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Attacks

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. government is launching an extensive new program for monitoring the networks of utilities and other critical infrastructure, utilizing physical sensors to identify unusual activity indicating possible cyber attacks. Dubbed “Perfect Citizen,” the surveillance program will be administered by the National Security Agency in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, and implemented with the help of defense contractor Raytheon Corp. for $100 million. The project will focus primarily on older computer controls built without Internet security measures. While many industry and government officials feel the project is long overdue, others express concern about the NSA’s intrusion into domestic affairs. Wired explains the increasing government and public concern over cybersecurity leading up to the announcement of this program.

Posted On Jul - 10 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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