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.