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Thanks to our authors for a great semester full of legal analysis across intellectual property, entertainment, and technology law. This will be our last regularly scheduled post of the semester. We head into final exams right after the Thanksgiving break. Good luck, everyone!
- Google announces that it will begin warning its search engine users of terms associated with child pornography. The search and advertising giant also settled claims with numerous state attorney generals over its 2011-2012 tracking of Safari browser users who had not opted-in to behavioral tracking. In that settlement agreement, the attorneys general appeared to argue that a website bypassing a browser’s privacy settings could be a deceptive business practice in and of itself. (The federal litigation on this matter, brought by the FTC and settled in 2012, had only argued that telling users the company abides by users’ privacy preferences, then failing to do so, was deceptive.) Google maintains that the tracking in question was due to a bug introduced by code in Google+ which was intended to allow users to comment on and recommend ads.
- DropBox seeks an additional $250 million in funding, indicating an $8 billion self-valuation by the online data storage company. [H/T The Register]
- The U.S. Supreme Court denies the petition for a writ of certiorari in a lawsuit challenging alleged NSA data collection policies, which had been brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Meanwhile, Yahoo! announces that it will begin encrypting traffic between its datacenters to prevent the kind of snooping the NSA allegedly performed. [H/T SANS]
- In cybercrime news, Estonia will extradite to the US three men accused of running a cyber fraud ring. CME Group, the largest financial futures exchange (it owns the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, the New York Mercantile Exchange, the Kansas City Board of Trade, and about 25% of the holding company for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500) suffered a cyberattack. The market-making company said that some customer information was stolen from its energy and metals over-the-counter trading platform, but had no reason (yet?) to believe that trades had been affected. [H/T SANS]
- The FBI reports that Anonymous hackers have stolen information on more than 100,000 employees, and that it anticipates dedicating at least as many resources to cyber security as to traditional law enforcement. Also, the government has started charging cybercriminals who engage with online forums for illegal activity under RICO. [H/T SANS]
- The FTC hosts a public workshop inquiring into the privacy and security issues that may arise with the advent of the “internet of things.”
- A customer in the UK does some network traffic monitoring and finds that his LG TV is sending the manufacturer reports on what he watches — and not just TV channels, but even the file names of movies and pictures loaded from local storage. That TV model contains an option to disable “[c]ollection of watching info,” but based on network traffic analysis, it appears to send the data even if collection is disabled by the owner. LG has said it will release a firmware update that corrects the issue, but will it be enough to stave off inquiry by EU privacy regulators? [H/T Slashdot]
- Starbucks loses — for at least the third time, depending on how you’re counting — to Wolf’s Borough Coffee, purveyor of “Charbucks” brand coffee. The Second Circuit held that the evidence Starbucks offered could not show trademark infringement, dilution by blurring, or even a likelihood of dilution, and in particular allowed the district court to heavily discount the weight of an expert report, since the expert conducted a phone survey to try to gauge public association between the Charbucks and Starbucks marks even though both rely heavily on visual cues and components.
- In patent law, Professor Hricik over at PatentlyO writes up an interesting analysis of 35 U.S.C. § 101, which limits the eligible subject matter. [Note: JETLaw will host its 2013-2014 Symposium on Section 101 and subject matter eligibility on January 24, 2014. --Ed.]
- Eli Lilly sues Actavis under the Hatch-Waxman Act over Actavis’ filing of an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for a testosterone drug. But Actavis maintains that it is the first company to file an ANDA for that drug, which would provide it with 180 days of market exclusivity after it comes off patent.
- Patent troll (or “patent assertion entity”) MPHJ files its first suit based its portfolio of scan-to-email patents. Although MPHJ fueled a significant portion of the Congressional debate on abusers of the patent system, and various proposals have been considered, one of the leading bills hit a speed bump when IBM, Microsoft, and others came out in opposition to one of its provisions. [H/T Slashdot]
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