By Tim Grayson
FCC Moves to Dismiss Net Neutrality Challenges
As PCMag.com reports, the FCC moved to dismiss two challenges to the agency’s December 2010 adoption of controversial net neutrality rules regulating broadband and wireless networks. Verizon and MetroPCS filed suit, each claiming that the FCC lacks the authority to enforce net neutrality. The FCC’s motion to dismiss stems from a timing issue: Verizon and MetroPCS both filed suit before the new rules were published in the Federal Register. This means a dismissal would likely be a temporary reprieve for the agency. Those on both sides of the debate will watch with interest as courts determine the scope of the FCC’s jurisdiction.
Johnson & Johnson Loses $482 Million Stent Case
The Wall Street Journal reports that Bruce Saffran has scored a big payday at the expense of Johnson & Johnson. A Texas jury awarded Saffran, a New Jersey radiologist, a $482 million verdict after finding that Cordis (J&J’s stent-making subsidiary) had infringed Saffran’s patent for producing “Cypher” drug-coated stents. Stents are small metallic devices designed to hold open arteries, and are used in a variety of cardiac procedures. This isn’t the first big court victory for Saffran—he received a $50 million settlement from Boston Scientific after an initial jury verdict of $431 million. His suit against Abbott Laboratories is still pending.
Mozilla adds “Do not Track” feature for Firefox 4.1
Following recent FCC recommendations, Mozilla has announced that Firefox 4.1 will incorporate a “Do not Track” feature, earning praise from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Privacy advocates say that “Do not Track” additions will protect consumers from surreptitious and difficult-to-avoid mechanisms that allow marketers and advertisers to follow most of users’ browsing histories. Google announced similar—but less thorough—developments for Chrome, which recently became the third browser with a double-digit market share.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Patent Overhaul Bill
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved by a vote of 15-0 a bill designed to reduce the massive damage awards that often arise from patent disputes. The bill would give judges a larger role in determining the importance of a particular patent to a product, and would also grant patents to the first inventor to file rather than the first to invent—aiding companies who file patent applications in multiple countries. The House Judiciary Committee has yet to begin drafting a companion bill, the next step in the legislative process.