Oracle v. Google: We Agree Not To Snoop On Jurors
Litigators routinely use the online and social media lives of potential jurors to their advantage during jury selection. But as Oracle and Google prepare to face off in the latest round of their ongoing $9.3 billion IP infringement battle, the judge in the case has offered the two Silicon Valley giants a choice: consent to a ban on searching the online lives of the jury pool, or disclose the extent of their searching to the jurors themselves. Last week, both companies chose the former option, agreeing to restrictions on Internet searches that go beyond the guidelines provided by the American Bar Association. Both Oracle and Google filed briefs recognizing that the practice of using a juror’s online presence was within the scope of this emerging field of law, but when presented with the specter of revealing their searches to the jury, quickly retreated. Whether they will honor the restrictions during jury selection, and throughout the trial, remains to be seen.
Uber’s Surge Pricing Under Siege
While Uber faces a major employment class-action case in California, the company’s ride-hailing service faces a unique antitrust challenge in New York. Plaintiffs in the case allege that Uber’s surge pricing algorithm functions as illegal collusion used to increase fares for consumers. At the end of March, a Federal District Court judge in Manhattan refused to dismiss the case, rejecting Uber’s arguments that such a conspiracy would require an impossible scale of collusion between thousands of drivers. Judge Jed Rakoff’s ruling agreed that the Plaintiff had “adequately pleaded a horizontal antitrust conspiracy,” opening the door for continued litigation. As is common to antitrust trials, Plaintiff argues that Uber operates in a narrow market limited to ride-hailing apps, while Uber agues that the market is much broader, including taxis and other ride options. While the ruling is far from a loss for Uber and its business model, it certainly helps pave the way for a protracted litigation.
Federal Law Protecting Trade Secrets Moves Forward
On Monday the Senate passed the “Defend Trade Secrets Act,” creating a federal cause of action for companies fighting the theft of their trade secrets. In a rare moment of Congressional agreement, the measure passed 87-0. While the 1996 Economic Espionage Act made trade secret theft a federal crime, the DTSA would allow companies to go to federal court and seek of civil penalties. The bill will now head to the House of Representatives, where major intellectual property legislation has not passed since 2011’s patent system overhaul.