STLR Link Roundup – March 30, 2014

Proposed NSA Reforms: Salient or Superficial? President Obama urged Congress for NSA reform this past Thursday. Under his proposal, phone companies would release their customers’ records to the NSA only after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approves requests for specific phone numbers. Queries would also be limited to “two hops” rather than “three hops” – meaning that the NSA would (still) receive “all the contacts of all the contacts of suspected persons.” President Obama Continue Reading →

Target-ing Data Security Breaches

On December 19, 2013 Target reported that there had been unauthorized access to Target customers’ payment card data, which may have resulted in 40 million credit card numbers and personal information of up to 70 million individuals being exposed.  The Target data breach was so significant and shocking that there are reports that a “cyber-thriller” movie based on the breach is in the works.  Only months later, Neiman Marcus reported that 350,000 of its customers’ Continue Reading →

White House Proposes to End NSA’s Mass Collection of Phone Data – But Reforms Don’t Go Far Enough for Many Privacy Advocates

Responding to mounting public pressure, President Obama announced this week that he would be proposing legislation to end the National Security Agency’s mass collection of phone records. Under the new proposal, phone metadata would be stored by telephone companies, not the NSA, and could only be obtained by the NSA through a court order.  However many members of Congress as well as privacy advocates argue that the proposal does not go far enough and that Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – March 24, 2014

Obama Administration Takes Technological Action Against Climate Change A week after the Senate Democrats hosted an overnight session highlighting climate change, the Obama administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, a broad effort to harness the power of data and data-driven tools to help communities across America prepare for the effects of climate change. Key components of the initiative include the launch of climate.data.gov—a website which contains data and resources pertaining to sea-level rise and coastal Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – March 21, 2014

Class Action Status Denied for Gmail Case In its fight against claims that it illegally scanned private e-mails on its Gmail accounts, Google has just won a major victory. The U.S. District Court in San Jose, California refused a bid for class-action status. Allowing the case to proceed as a class action would have allowed plaintiffs to pool resources, and would ultimately have put greater pressure on Google to settle. E-mail users have claimed that Continue Reading →

Cy Pres Remedies in the Internet Privacy Class Action Context

Last November, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Marek v. Lane, a class action case concerning potential privacy violations arising from Facebook’s short-lived and controversial “Beacon” program, which automatically posted information regarding users’ transactions on third-party websites to the users’ Facebook feeds. The class action ended in a settlement, in which Facebook agreed to pay $9.5 million into a cy pres fund to “establish a charitable foundation” that would “fund organizations dedicated to educating the Continue Reading →

A Not-So-Obvious Threat to Pharmaceutical Patent Portfolios

I.  INTRODUCTION A bill working its way through Congress seeks to curb so-called abusive patent litigation tactics. But a less sensational provision warrants close attention, particularly from the pharmaceutical industry. The provision, if passed, could threaten issued patents in ways parties don’t expect. The recent “Innovation Act”1 that the House passed in December2 and its Senate companion bill3 both seek to codify the judicial doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting (ODP). At first glance the change Continue Reading →

Freeing the Market in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is known for being home to tech giants such as Apple and Google. These companies, and others like them, set the bar for technological innovations which are generated by and depend upon the hard work of thousands of employees. The Valley is vaunted for its respect for the power of an individual’s idea, and these types of success stories have characterized the area for decades. Why then, in this culture of respect for Continue Reading →

STLR Link Roundup – March 5, 2014

Warning to Patent Trolls: Supreme Court Could Endorse Fee-Shifting in Frivolous Patent Suits In the morning of February 26, 2014, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases concerning who should pay attorney fees in frivolous patent cases. The Court will decide, under the attorney’s fees provision of 35 U.S.C. § 285, when a federal judge may order the plaintiff to pay for the defendant’s attorney’s fees as punishment for having brought a patent infringement Continue Reading →

En Banc Federal Circuit Opts for Status Quo as it Upholds Cybor No-Deference Rule

Claim construction is arguably the most crucial aspect of a patent infringement case. As some prominent legal scholars and practitioners note, “[claim construction] is central to evaluation of infringement and validity, and can affect or determine the outcome of other significant issues such as unenforceability, enablement, and remedies.” To date, there have been three important claim construction cases. In Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 517 U.S. 370 (1996), the Supreme Court, while not categorizing claim construction as Continue Reading →