A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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Federal Appeals Court Affirms the Denial of A123’s Motion to Reopen
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Janet Freilich

A123 Systems, Inc. v. Hydro-Quebec, No. 2010-1059 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 10,  2010)
Slip Opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which had denied A123’s motion to reopen and dismissed the court’s declaratory judgment against Hydro-Quebec (“HQ”).

The Federal Circuit addressed three major issues in its decision. First, it held that “because HQ had acquired less than all substantial rights in the patents in suit, [the University of Texas ("UT")] is a necessary party to A123’s declaratory judgment action.” Second, the court upheld UT’s sovereign immunity rights, despite the fact that UT had waived those rights in a related litigation in Texas. Finally, the court found that UT was both a necessary and an indispensable party to the action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19, and that the district court properly dismissed the action due to UT’s absence in the litigation.

The Green Patent Blog provides an overview of the case. Patent Prospector also discusses the case, with some commentary below. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 2 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Greg Tang

TSA Offends Travelers with Body Scanners, Fails to be Accountable

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) commented on the TSA’s use of body scanners in airports across the country, which has raised serious public concerns over the indignity and invasiveness of the body scanners and pat-down searches. The EFF expressed skepticism over the effectiveness of the body scanners in detecting terrorist attacks like the Christmas Day Bomb of 2009, citing various sources, including a TSA document, that have shown materials such as liquid, powder, and thin plastic — as well as passenger clothing — to be undetectable by the scanners. The EFF also reported on the Government Accountability Office’s criticisms of the TSA. The TSA has routinely refused to release test results to the public or perform cost-benefit analyses before adopting new technologies, despite estimated direct costs of $2.4 billion over a 7-year life cycle for the body scanners.

FCC Commissioner Casts Doubt Over Net Neutrality Rules

Ars Technica reported on comments that FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell made regarding the likelihood of FCC-issued net neutrality rules in a talk to the Federalist Society last Monday. The Commissioner expressed uncertainty regarding the substance and timing of any potential rules. The comments came just one week after FCC Chair Julius Genachowski spoke at the Web 2.0 summit in San Francisco, promising to make the rules happen and lambasting Google and Verizon for proposing their own version of open Internet rules back in August. McDowell cautioned against “taking a giant leap into a potentially dark and dangerous regulatory abyss,” and instead advocated cooperation with the FTC, trade associations, consumer groups, and Internet engineers to use existing consumer protection and antitrust laws to punish bad actors and help consumers — a proposal similar to the self-regulatory approach suggested by Comcast last week.

Novell Acquired by Attachmate; IP Goes to Microsoft

Enterprise Linux provider Novell announced last Monday that it would merge with Attachmate, with some intellectual property assets going to a consortium organized by Microsoft. InfoWorld reported on speculations that Microsoft would acquire core Unix IP from the deal, but ComputerWorld confirmed that Attachmate retains control over Novell’s copyrights for the Unix operating system. Since SCO Group launched its attack on Linux in 2003, claiming ownership of Unix intellectual property and copyright infringement by the open-source Linux operating system, Novell has defended the Linux community by defeating SCO in court and declining to pursue copyright action against Linux users. However, Novell has been subjected to criticism from the open-source community in 2006 for reaching a patent agreement with Microsoft over claims that Linux infringed upon Microsoft’s patents.

Jury Awards $1.3 billion in Copyright Damages from SAP to Oracle

Ars Technica reported on the record $1.3 billion that German software maker SAP was ordered to pay rival Oracle in their copyright infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California. Oracle sued SAP in March 2007 for allegedly using customers’ login credentials to download software and technical support materials from Oracle’s servers. Despite admitting to the inappropriate downloads, SAP had hoped for damages of $41 million from the jury. Several jurors have stated that the award was determined by focusing on how much SAP would have paid if it simply licensed the rights from Oracle, a common method for determining losses in piracy cases.

US Government Cracks Down on Piracy by Seizing Over 70 Domain Names

The New York Times reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division seized over 70 websites suspected to be involved in file-sharing and counterfeiting goods early Friday morning. The popular file-sharing blog TorrentFreak explained that the websites were shut down by ordering ICANN, the non-profit corporation responsible for mapping human-understandable domain names into numeric IP addresses, to redirect traffic from the seized domains to ICE’s takedown notice. OSNews raised concerns that the method used by the ICE could escalate to censorship of websites outside the US (such as whistleblower site WikiLeaks), as ICANN operates the root domain name servers for the entire Internet. The domain name seizures resemble actions authorized under the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, which just passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Posted On Nov - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

New York Appellate Court Rejects Demand for Facebook Records
By Irina Oberman – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown

McCann v. Harleysville Ins. Co. of N.Y., No. 10-00612, 1179 (N.Y.A.D. 4 Dept. Nov. 12, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York affirmed the Supreme Court’s denial of defendant’s motion to compel disclosure of photographs on Facebook and defendant’s motion for authorizedaccess to plaintiff’s Facebook account. The Supreme Court had ruled that defendant’s first request was “overly broad,” and that the amended request had failed to establish a factual predicate that the Facebook account was relevant. The Appellate Division agreed with the Supreme Court, noting that defendant was simply engaging in a “fishing expedition” to find relevant evidence. The Appellate Division modified the Supreme Court’s order, however, allowing defendant to file future discovery requests relating to plaintiff’s Facebook account.

The New York Personal Injury Law Blog provides an overview of the case and contrasts it with the Romano v. Steelcase ruling in September. Internet Cases blog warns that although the ruling is significant, it merely addresses overly-broad discovery requests and should not be construed as a decision to protect private personal information per se. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

USPTO Patent Denial Lawsuits Subject to FRE and FRCP
By Harry Zhou – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown

Hyatt v. Kappos, No. 07-1066 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 8, 2010) (en banc)
Slip Opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, vacated and remanded the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which had ruled that a patent applicant is barred from introducing new facts into evidence in a civil action against the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) brought under 35 U.S.C. § 145. The district court had ruled that the new facts should have been produced to the USPTO in the original application.

The Federal Circuit reversed its precedent, holding that a district court does not review a decision of the USPTO under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”)’s deferential court/agency standard on issues where the applicant offers new facts in evidence. The only limitations on the admissibility of new evidence in a § 145 civil action are those “contained in the Federal Rules of Evidence and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” The court remanded the case for further proceedings.

271 Patent Blog offers a brief summary of the decision. Patently-O features an analysis of the decision’s likely impacts. IPWatchdog provides a survey of the case law and statutory background relevant to the decision. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Lauren Henry

Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Anti-Piracy Bill

Ars Technica and CNET report that the Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a bill that would blacklist websites deemed to be “pirate websites” from the Domain Name System, ban credit card companies from processing US payments to such sites, and forbid online ad networks from working with the sites. The bill — known as the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA — received the strong support of content industry leaders, who perceive it as protecting their intellectual property, and the vociferous opposition of free speech advocates. Peter Eckersley at EFF’s Deeplinks blog argues that COICA fails to monetize content distribution for intellectual property holders, increases data traffic costs, and unconstitutionally restricts freedom of speech.

Limewire: Pirate Edition Provokes Search for Its Creator

Ars Technica reports that the RIAA and LimeWire are attempting to identify the creator of LimeWire: Pirate Edition. Days after a federal judge ordered LimeWire to shut down all software and cease distribution, LimeWire: Pirate Edition appeared. The new version of the program is functionally equivalent to LimeWire, as it is based on LimeWire’s open-source code. RIAA and LimeWire are conducting independent investigations to find the culprit.

Democrats Propose Cybersecurity Bill to Empower DHS to Punish Tech Firms

CNET reports that Democrats have proposed legislation that would give the Department of Homeland Security the power to fine technology companies $100,000 a day for failure to comply with the agency’s directives. The bill, known as the Homeland Security Cyber and Physical Infrastructure Protection Act, would give the DHS broad authority to enforce cybersecurity measures upon any “system or asset” deemed to be a “component of the national information infrastructure.” Critics argue that DHS lacks the institutional competency to effectively administer such powers, and that private companies need no additional incentives to enact security measures.

Posted On Nov - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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