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 Circuit rules that prosecution laches requires evidence of prejudice
By Jonathan Allred – Edited by Elizabeth Akerman

Cancer Research Technology Ltd. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc., No. 2010-1204 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 9, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit overturned the District Court of Delaware, which had ruled that the plaintiff’s patent was unenforceable for prosecution laches, and, in the alternative, invalid for inequitable conduct.

Prosecution laches is an equitable defense to infringement when the plaintiff has delayed the prosecution of a patent application unreasonably. In this case, the Federal Circuit held that prosecution laches requires a finding of prejudice – evidence that the accused infringer “invested in, worked on, or used the claimed technology during the period of delay” – in addition to an unreasonable delay in prosecution.

As the opinion notes, the usefulness of the doctrine will be limited now that patent terms are measured from the effective filing date and not the date of refilling.

The Federal Circuit also overturned the Delaware court’s ruling on inequitable conduct.

Patently-O offers a synopsis and disagrees with the dissent. Inventive Step summarizes the opinion. The Patent Prospector provides the text of the opinion with commentary sympathetic with the dissent interjected throughout. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

­­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
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