A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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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

Credit-Card Processors May be Held Liable for Contributory Trademark Infringement in Gucci Counterfeit Suit
By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Gucci America, Inc. v. Frontline Processing Corp., No. 09 Civ. 6925 (HB) (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2010)
Order

On June 23, 2010, Judge Harold Baer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a motion to dismiss claims of contributory trademark infringement brought by fashion label Gucci America, Inc. (“Gucci”) against a group of credit card processing companies. Judge Baer held that these credit card processing companies may be held liable for contributory trademark infringement under the test established by the Supreme Court in Inwood Laboratories, Inc. v. Ives Laboratories, Inc., 456 U. S. 844 (1982), and its progeny.

Applying the principles outlined in those recent trademark infringement cases, Judge Baer held that plaintiffs can sue companies that service websites that sell counterfeit goods if plaintiffs can show that defendants (1) “intentionally induced the website to infringe through the sale of counterfeit goods;” or (2) “knowingly supplied services to websites and had sufficient control over infringing activity to merit liability.”  Although Gucci did not sufficiently plead direct or vicarious liability theories, Judge Baer allowed them to proceed under the theory that the defendants induced infringement and provided services to counterfeit sellers either knowing that its clients “traded in counterfeit products, or [being] willfully blind to that fact.”

The Intellectual Property Law blog provides a detailed summary of the case. Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Law Blog summarizes the case and offers relevant excerpts. Ron Coleman’s Likelihood of Confusion blog analyzes the case and compares it with recent developments in contributory trademark infringement case law. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 8 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Rules YouTube Protected by DMCA Safe Harbor Provisions in Viacom Copyright Infringement Suit
By Chinh Vo – Edited by Gary Pong

Viacom Int’l Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., No. 07 Civ. 2103 (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2010)
Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

On June 23, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted Google’s motion for summary judgment in a copyright infringement suit brought against its video-sharing service YouTube by media company Viacom.

In dismissing the suit, Judge Louis L. Stanton held that YouTube was protected from Viacom’s copyright infringement claims under the “safe harbor” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”), 17 U.S.C. § 512. These provisions give Internet service providers immunity from copyright liability for user-uploaded material so long as the providers remove copyrighted material promptly after receiving a takedown notice from the rights holder. The district court’s ruling was embraced by Internet companies as a positive step in the continued evolution of user-generated websites, but also strongly rebuked by some as making it more difficult for copyright holders to protect their works.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides links to the parties’ briefs. The New York Times and Ars Technica provide summaries of the case. Wired discusses the case in the context of other recent rulings involving the DMCA.

(more…)

Posted On Jul - 5 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Emily Hoort

New Law in San Francisco Requires Retailers to Post Cell Phone Radiation Levels

Ars Technica reports that San Francisco has passed an ordinance that requires all cell phone retailers to post radiation levels for their mobile devices. The city passed the law despite a lack of conclusive scientific evidence connecting cell phone use to increased health risks. Cell phone retailers will be required to post the specific absorption rate (SAR), which measures the rate of energy absorption by a phone user’s body, next to all sample display phones along with explanatory information regarding SAR values. Failure to post this information will result in fines of increasing severity based on the number of violations.  The Washington Post reports on the backlash from the cell phone industry in response to the San Francisco ordinance.

Government Crackdown on Websites Hosting Pirated Movies and Shows

The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office have cracked down on popular websites hosting pirated movies and television shows. According to The National Law Journal, the initiative, called “Operation In Our Sites,” targeted nine popular web sites, from which nearly 84 million pirated movies and televisions shows were downloaded each year. This crackdown follows the government’s launch of a joint strategic plan to increase intellectual property enforcement.

Lawsuits Filed Against Apple and AT&T for Defective iPhone 4 Antennas

Ars Technica reports that multiple lawsuits have been filed against Apple and AT&T in response to problems with the iPhone 4 antenna. The iPhone 4 antenna has faced criticism because of the weak signal it receives when held in certain positions, particularly when gripped in the left hand. Using a protective cover to insulate the antenna from direct contact with a user’s hand can alleviate the problem, causing some users to demand that Apple provide all iPhone 4 purchasers with free covers. Wired notes that the lawsuits allege additional charges against Apple and AT&T, including general negligence, deceptive trade practices, fraud, and misrepresentation. According to the New York Times, Apple has responded by casting blame on a software bug that caused iPhones to exaggerate signal strength. The company claims that the lower signals reported on the iPhone 4 are the accurate values.

Posted On Jul - 5 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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By Olga Slobodyanyuk ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain ...

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Federal Circuit Appl

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