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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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

Tenth Circuit Rejects First Amendment Challenge to U.S. Copyright Law
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Gary Pong

Golan v. Holder, Nos. 09-1234 & 09-1261 (10th Cir., June 21, 2010)
Slip Opinion

Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), codified in 17 U.S.C. § 104A, restored the U.S. copyrights of foreign authors who had lost copyright protection for failing to comply with certain formalities required by U.S. law.  Plaintiffs challenged Section 514 as a violation of the First Amendment.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado upheld plaintiff’s First Amendment challenge by granting their motion for summary judgment. Because the works of these foreign authors had become part of the public domain, the district court reasoned that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting public use of the works by reinstating copyright protection.

Reversing the lower court, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the URAA does not violate the right to freedom of expression that is protected by the First Amendment. In so holding, the court reasoned that Section 514 of the URAA was narrowly tailored to advance the government’s interest in protecting American copyright holders’ interests abroad. The court deferred to Congress because the legislative body is better equipped to amass data and make important decisions about U.S. copyright law. In addition, the court recognized that the foreign policy implications of the URAA warranted special deference.

For a complete description of the district court’s decision that was handed down in April 2009, see JOLT Digest. Techdirt provides criticism of the recent Tenth Circuit decision. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 1 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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