Law and the Problem of Autonomous Cars

Fully autonomous vehicles will be in the hands of consumers in the near future.[1] Technology companies and car manufacturers have moved beyond small features like autonomous braking and autonomous lane assist, to fully workable cars that drive themselves with little human oversight. While the safety of the cars is largely uncertain, some initial reports bode well. Google’s self-driving vehicles have logged around 1.8 million miles on the road since 2009 and have been in only Continue Reading →

Despite controversy, new FDA guidelines permit GMO foods to remain unlabeled

These days, most foods Americans eat contain at least some elements that have been genetically modified. Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are created in laboratories using biotechnology or genetic engineering. Despite years of controversy over whether and how foods containing GMO ingredients should be labeled, FDA guidelines released this week maintain the legal status quo, under which food companies are not required to disclose GMO ingredients. Even as they change nothing, however, the new guidelines provide Continue Reading →

Paris Attacks Reignite Calls for Legally Mandated Encryption Backdoors

Only weeks ago, the Obama administration had decided that it would not pursue legislation requiring companies to build “backdoors” in their encryption allowing government access to encrypted data. However, the recent terrorist attacks in Paris may affect their stance going forward and have already influenced the debate on encryption. Soon after the attacks occurred, many quickly blamed encryption for enabling the attack’s organizers to plan in secrecy. Despite the fact that there is no evidence Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – Nov. 20, 2015

Law professors oppose federal trade secret act Forty-two law professors submitted a letter to Congress urging that the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) be rejected. The DTSA was introduced in July 2015 and would create a federal civil cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets. With the exception of the Economic Espionage Act – which criminalizes theft of trade secrets – state law largely governs the area (typically through adoption of some version of Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – Nov. 14, 2015

GoPro sued by Polaroid over design patent C&A, the company behind Polaroid cameras, filed suit against GoPro last week alleging that GoPro’s Hero4 Session camera copied the “ornamental design” of the Polaroid Cube Camera. In January 2014, C&A filed for a US Design Patent for its Polaroid Cube Camera; they obtained the patent titled “Cubic Action Camera” (U.S. Patent No. D730,423) in May 2015. GoPro denies copying the design patent, and insists that it had Continue Reading →

Does Lenz v. Universal Music Corp. Affect Copyright Owners §512 Takedown Procedures?

In Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., Nos. 13-16106, 13-16107, U.S. App. LEXIS 16308 (9th Cir. 2015), the Ninth Circuit dealt with an issue of first impression, whether fair use is an “authorization under the law” as contemplated by 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)(v). Lenz U.S. App. LEXIS 16308 at 12; Limitations on Liability Relating to Material Online, 17 U.S.C. 512(c)(3)(A)(v) (2015). The court held that §512(c)(3)(A)(v) does require the copyright holders to consider fair use before sending Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – Nov. 10, 2015

Laches still a valid defense in patent infringement cases In 2014, in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., the Supreme Court held that laches was no longer a defense to copyright infringement, causing concern as to whether laches could still be used in the patent context. Recently, the Federal Circuit met en banc and held that Petrella does not extend to patent infringement; laches is still a valid defense in the patent context. To arrive at this conclusion, the Continue Reading →

The Legality of Asteroid Mining

Introduction The space industry is experiencing a surge of activity that is making headlines. Elon Musk’s SpaceX was the first private entity to send a spacecraft into orbit, and is also one of the two private firms being paid by NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station under the Commercial Resupply Services program. Virgin Galactic is planning on flying paying passengers to the edge of space as a form of space tourism. Companies Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – Nov. 1, 2015

Supreme Court to revisit patent damage The Supreme Court announced that they intend to consider the issue of “enhance damages” in patent cases, a process allowing for treble damages in face of deliberate patent infringement. ( One issue addresses whether the Federal Circuit erred in applying a two-part test pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §284 to enhanced patent infringement damages. A second focuses on a district court’s right to discretion under 35 U.S.C. § 284 to Continue Reading →

Inducing Renewable Energy Innovation Through Taxation

Renewable Energy Innovation’s Obstacles As the Paris Conference approaches, policymakers will search for a practical means by which the United States can meet any potential voluntary commitments to reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Economists have suggested that an increase in the price of fossil fuels could “induce innovation,” as businesses are given an incentive to develop low carbon solutions to limit their costs.[1] To have a realistic chance of mitigating human contributions to climate Continue Reading →