Apple v. Samsung: Tech Trial of the Century

Smart phones and tablet computers are the central focus of the famous legal dispute between technology moguls, Apple and Samsung. In a nutshell, Apple alleged that Samsung copied the look and design of their cell phone and tablet products. On April 15, 2011, Apple filed suit against Samsung alleging infringement on three of Apple’s utility patents and four of their design patents. Apple also alleged that Samsung infringed on their trademark and trade dress by intentionally implementing them into their product line.[1]  Apple accused Samsung of creating 28 devices which infringed on their intellectual property.[2]  Apple was most adamant about its design patent for a “rectangular slab with rounded corners [i.e., the iPhone],” which they claim Samsung used in a number of their cell phone designs.[3]   Meanwhile, Samsung filed a counter claim alleging that Apple infringed on their patents for wireless communications Read the rest

Will You Tip the Pizza Delivery Drone? Commercial Drone Usage Now and in the Future

Unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones, have maintained a lasting presence in the headlines over the past few years, whether it was their applications in the United States’ wars or concerns about domestic use of drones for surveillance and law enforcement. Interestingly, drones are not limited purely to military and government use. The field is quickly expanding to include civilian and commercial applications. While hobbyists can now simply pick up a drone at stores such as Barnes and Noble[1], commercial usage of drones has yet to make a significant impact on our society as of yet.  Funding is abundant, however, so within the next few years, our society will change rapidly with the introduction of commercial drone use. One must ask him or herself: Will drones be buzzing around us within a few years, delivering items and performing services?

Drones can be used for any number of … Read the rest

Uber Battle: Cabbies vs. Startup

Those who have hailed a taxi or used public transportation can attest to the downsides of urban transportation including dirtiness, crowdedness, and unreliability. Since its founding in 2010, San Francisco-based startup Uber has aimed to appease the unsatisfied market of urban dwellers that desire easier, cleaner, more dependable transportation than has been available. Uber operates as “your on-demand personal driver” allowing users to hire and pay the nearest of the company’s “sleek black cars” (think Lincoln Towncar) as a chauffer through the users’ mobile phones. Unsurprisingly, Uber has clashed with regulators, cabbies, and others who claim that Uber is skirting existing regulations that protect customers. Cities including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City have proposed or threatened to propose regulations that would effectively run Uber out of their respective towns. In addition, cab drivers in several cities have filed class action suits alleging that the company is engaging Read the rest

Cushioning the Impact of First to File for Small Businesses: The Provisional Patent Application

On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”), the most substantial change to patent law in the United States since the Patent Act of 1952.[1]  Over the eighteen months following enactment, a number of alterations to the process that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) uses to evaluate patent applications will take place.  The single most significant effect of the AIA is the transition from a First to Invent (“FTI”) patent system to a First to File (“FTF”) patent system.  Many commentators have noted the challenges that the FTF system poses to small businesses and entrepreneurs.[2]  Indeed, small applicants, often operating on a limited budget and lacking the funds to fully pursue novel ideas, are at a significant disadvantage under FTF when compared with larger entities.  However, the AIA is now the law of the Read the rest

“Friend” for Funding: Are social networks the future of startup funding?

Soon, entrepreneurs may be able offer their Facebook “friends” and Twitter “followers” more than just virtual friendship and updates on what they had for breakfast.  They may also be able to offer equity stakes in their business.  In an increasingly rare instance of bipartisanship, last Thursday (Nov. 3) the House passed both the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act (“Entrepreneur Act”) and the Small Company Capital Formation Act (“Small Company Act”), each aimed at spurring small business growth through the method of “crowdfunding,” “a form of capital raising whereby groups of people pool money, typically comprised of very small individual contributions, to support an effort by others to accomplish a specific goal.” If approved by the Senate, the bills would allow entrepreneurs to use online social networks to solicit small equity investments in enterprises, a capital raising strategy that is illegal under current securities law. However, some warn that, if passed, Read the rest

The End of Peer-to-Peer File Sharing?

Another major peer-to-peer file sharing platform will soon face obscurity as well as a potentially crippling damages payout. LimeWire was recently told by a U.S. District Court in New York to shut down its peer-to-peer file-sharing system, after being held liable for copyright infringement.[1] The RIAA, Recording Industry Association of America, filed suit about four years ago claiming that “as much as 93 percent of LimeWire’s file sharing traffic was unauthorized copyright material.”[2] This was the first time since the Supreme Court ruled in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, LTD that a file sharing software maker was targeted. The RIAA claims that LimeWire owes trillions of dollars in damages for enabling distribution of copyrighted songs, a claim the federal judge presiding has deemed to be “absurd” yet admits this is the first time “a court has been asked to consider the issue of whether a copyright holder can … Read the rest

Diminishing Privacy to Information Receiving Growing Public Attention

It’s been several months now since my first article on the general subject of data and information in the law. Normally, I could attribute the delay to typical publishing delays, an overbooked 2L year, and an overly inquisitive (read: easily distractible) mind. But, in this case, I am writing about perhaps the most visible aspect of the topic: the privacy of personal information in an increasingly connected society. Given the increasing focus on the topic in academia, government, and media, it has been difficult to keep up with all of the recent developments. Even the turn of the New Year – often a good time for a retrospective look – hasn’t slowed the pace. There have been some significant developments in the legal and regulatory world. A small selection of some of the most significant news includes:

• At the start of December, the Federal Trade Commission released a proposed Read the rest

Microsoft’s Message to Its Partners

From September 2009 to September 2010, Google’s share of the U.S. mobile phone OS market has risen a staggering 18.9 percent, going from 2.5 percent to 21.4 percent, while Microsoft has seen its share of the mobile OS market decline from 19 to 10 percent. Notably, the other major players in the U.S. mobile OS market either held their share, in the case of Apple and Palm, or saw a modest decline, in the case of Research in Motion. Clearly, the rise of Google’s open source Android OS represents a greater threat to Microsoft’s future in the mobile OS market than it does to other companies.

Given Microsoft’s dramatic loss of market share, several industry analysts have speculated that Microsoft’s lawsuit against Motorola, alleging that several of Motorola’s Android based phones violate Microsoft patents, is in direct response to the pummeling Microsoft has taken at the hands of Google. This Read the rest

The Social Network: Defamation or Right to Privacy

 

In 1952, James Hill, his wife and two children were held hostage by three escaped convicts in their Pennsylvania home. In an interview following the incident, Mr. Hill stressed that “the convicts had treated the family courteously, had not molested them, and had not been at all violent.” Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 US 374. The convicts were later apprehended and two convicts were killed. The Hill family kept away from the spotlight and sensationalism surrounding the story, moved to Connecticut and resumed a private life. In 1953, author Joseph Hayes published a novel, The Desperate Hours, which depicted a family of four held hostage by three escaped convicts in their home. Hayes’s storyline differed from the actual events by incorporating violence including a beating and a verbal sexual assault to the family by the convicts. The book became a play, also titled The Desperate Hours, which eventually … Read the rest

Data, Information, and the Practice of Law

The practice of law has changed substantially with the advent of computers, the Internet, and the “Information Age.” In many ways, these changes in the legal landscape are not surprising, as they roughly parallel those in the personal and commercial worlds. Much of the technology that has made its way into widespread use has focused on improving and streamlining existing methods. Though we certainly interact now in ways that we could not have 30 years ago, this has largely been within a scheme of roughly incremental changes – the word processor can act as a much more efficient typewriter, and hard drives can act as a very large file cabinet (or library). Court filings, collaboration, and record keeping, among many other tasks, have been streamlined; previously inaccessible sources of information are available even to those with the smallest budget; young law students may seem “dependent” on online services for their … Read the rest