A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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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

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
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Privacy Concerns in

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