Sunday, November 23, 2014

User Generated Content

An interesting story from England.  A hotel fined a guest for a bad review on TripAdvisor.

See Couple Fined by Hotel for Bad Review

See also this article, that mentions some lawsuits regarding user generated content

Monday, November 10, 2014

Computer Implemented Method Not Patentable Subject Matter in Australia

A unanimous Full Federal Court in Australia today decided that a computer implemented method of creating an investment index is not patentable, on the basis that the substance of the claimed invention – an abstract idea or scheme – was itself not patentable subject matter, and simply implementing that invention via a computer would not render it patentable.

See Research Affiliates LLC v Commissioner of Patents [2014] FCAFC 150

See also this case note.

Many internet related inventions may not be patentable subject matter in Australia as a result of this decision.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hate Speech on Facebook

If someone posts something hateful, and possibly illegal, on your Facebook page, what should you do?

See Smart Company article about Anzac biscuits.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

Negligence and pure economic loss

Australian High Court decision on concurrent liability in contract and negligence for pure economic loss.

Brookfield Multiplex Ltd v Owners Corporation Strata Plan 61288 [2014] HCA 36 (8 October 2014): http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2014/36.html
A unanimous decision against finding concurrent liability in negligence to a contractual counterparty who had the opportunity to negotiate non-price terms with a builder. Would a software or IT enterprise customer be in any different position when dealing with a technology or telco provider?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reloadable Cards

There appears to be a market for reloadable payment cards.  Part of the growth in this market is driven by online sales of goods and services.  See article on eMerchants.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Zealand AdWords Case

Trade mark infringement found when competitor purchased Google AdWords that were trademarks of the other.

InterCity Group (NZ) Ltd v Nakedbus NZ Ltd [2013] NZHC 379 


See also comment.

Use of a competitor's mark in advertising could amount to an infringement of their trade mark unless it is clearly for descriptive or comparative purposes only e.g. if the advertisement includes sufficient text to differentiate the product or service that of the competitor. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Legal Lessons from the Ice Bucket Challenge

See this article:  Legal Lessons from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

"Viral cause marketing is an enticing way to build attention for a brand. Before you embark on a strategy that seeks to copy the summer phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, consider the legal ramifications."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Defamation and the liability of search engine providers

The following Supreme Court of NSW decision was delivered last week by McCallum J: Bleyer v Google Inc [2014] NSWSC 897 http://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/action/PJUDG?jgmtid=172529.

Her Honour expressly declined to follow Beach J in Trkulja v Google, and preferred the English line of cases. This was not a final decision on the merits (consideration was in the context of a permanent stay application, given low prospects of success), however the reasoning in this case is likely to be given significant weight in any future consideration of these issues. Her Honour does leave open the question, however, of whether liability may arise once notification of a complaint is received by the search engine provider.

An extract:

[83]  The evidence before me establishes that there is no human input in the application of the Google search engine apart from the creation of the algorithm. I would respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by Beach J in Trkulja that the performance of the function of the algorithm in that circumstance is capable of establishing liability as a publisher at common law. I would adopt the English line of authority to the effect that, at least prior to notification of a complaint (and on the strength of the evidence before me), Google Inc cannot be liable as a publisher of the results produced by its search engine.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Master Switch

I have just finished reading an excellent book, called "The Master Switch" by Tim Wu.  It is not a legal book, but more of an economic history.  It has a number of references to patent law.  Well worth reading.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Privacy

The Australian Privacy Commissioner has released a revised guide to "reasonable steps" to protect personal information.

Comments due 27 August.

"Effective ICT security requires protecting both computer hardware (the physical devices that make up a computer system) as well as the data (including personal information) that the computer hardware holds from misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification and disclosure. However, ICT security measures should also ensure that the hardware and the information stored on it remain accessible and useful to legitimate users."


However, absolute security is not only impossible but undesirable.  See for example, here and here

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Letter from Amazon

Amazon wrote a detailed letter to authors, regarding e-book pricing.  See full text of letter here.

The letter asks authors to email Hachette's CEO directly.

WSJ article about the letter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Online Copyright Infringement

The Australian Government has today released the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper and is seeking public submissions on the draft proposals designed to address online piracy.
Australia has one of the highest rates of online copyright piracy in the world. This has a significant impact on Australia’s creative industries, including music, television, cinema, software, broadcast and publishing industries, which employ more than 900,000 people and generates more than $90 billion in economic value each year.
The ease with which copyrighted content can be digitised and distributed online means there is no easy solution to preventing online copyright infringement.  International experience has shown that a range of measures are necessary to reduce piracy and ensure that we can continue to take full advantage of the legitimate opportunities to create, provide and enjoy content in a digital environment. 
Everyone has a role to play in reducing online copyright infringement. Rights holders need to ensure that content can be accessed easily and at a reasonable price. Internet service providers (ISPs) can take reasonable steps to ensure their systems are not used to infringe copyright. Consumers can do the right thing and access content lawfully.
The Government’s preference is to create a legal framework that will facilitate industry cooperation to develop flexible and effective measures to combat online piracy. This Discussion Paper seeks the views of the public and stakeholders on proposals to establish such a legal framework.
Importantly, the Government expects that consumer interests will be taken into account in the development of any industry scheme or commercial arrangements.
The Discussion Paper is available on the Online copyright infringement—public consultation page of the Attorney-General’s Department website. Submissions are sought by end of 1 September 2014 and can be emailed to copyrightconsultation@ag.gov.au.
From King & Wood Mallesons:
The proposals are of most interest to copyright owners, to ISPs and to online intermediaries, although the proposed authorisation amendment to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) may have a broader application.
In this alert we look at the three proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper, and further questions raised within it.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Trademarks and website headings

In a decision by the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, it was decided that use of the generic term "Lift Shop" in the title of a webpage was not trademark infringement.

See:  Lift Shop v. Easy Living Home Elevators [2014] FCAFC 75

See also comment.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Town Like Alice

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the Alice Corp v. CLS Bank patent case today.

In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Thomas, the Supreme Court today affirmed the Federal Circuit’s en banc decision invalidating the patents asserted by Alice Corporation against CLS Bank International as ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. §101 because they are directed to an abstract idea. See Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International et al. (U.S. June 19, 2014). 

In an opinion by Justice Thomas, today’s Supreme Court opinion held that:

[T]he claims at issue are drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, and that merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.

In applying Mayo step one, the Court determined that Alice’s claims were drawn to the abstract concept of intermediated settlement (i.e., the use of a third party to mitigate settlement risk). Rejecting Alice’s arguments that the abstract-ideas category is confined to preexisting fundamental truths that exist apart from any human action, the Court ruled that intermediated settlement has long been a fundamental practice in our system of commerce, and recognized that Alice’s claims to intermediated settlement were not meaningfully distinguishable from the risk hedging claims it previously held to be abstract in Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U.S. 593 (2010).

In a brief concurring opinion, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, opined that claims to business methods are ineligible per se for patent protection, because they do not qualify as a process under 35 U.S.C. §101.

See note from WilmerHale and prior blog posts below.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Machines v Lawyers

"Some observers, not implausibly, blame the recession for these developments. But the plight of legal education and of the attorney workplace is also a harbinger of a looming transformation in the legal profession. Law is, in effect, an information technology—a code that regulates social life. And as the machinery of information technology grows exponentially in power, the legal profession faces a great disruption not unlike that already experienced by journalism, which has seen employment drop by about a third and the market value of newspapers devastated. The effects on law will take longer to play themselves out, but they will likely be even greater because of the central role that lawyers play in public life."

See Full Article - Machines v. Lawyers

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Privacy in the Digital Era

The Australian Government announces the release of the Discussion Paper for this Inquiry, Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (DP 80).  
The Discussion Paper provides a detailed account of ALRC research so far, and includes 48 proposals and a number of questions for people to consider and provide feedback on. The ALRC is proposing a model for a new statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy to be included in a new Commonwealth Act, and also is putting forward other alternative proposals to strengthen privacy protection.
The Discussion Paper is available in HTML, PDF, and as an ebook.
·         See Media Release >>

·         See Discussion Paper >>

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Software and Internet patents

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in what has been described as the most important intellectual property case in a decade: Alice v. CLS Bank.  One party in this case is an Australian company, that owns the patent in question.

Prior blog posts are here and here

A NYTimes opinion article is worth reading.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Cloud Speeds

An interesting non-legal article looking at the various Cloud services and comparing speeds:  ComputerWorld.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who Owns the Internet?

Two Harvard Law School experts — Jonathan Zittrain '95, Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Susan Crawford, John A. Reilly Visiting Professor in Intellectual Property — weigh in on a lawsuit in federal court that may decide whether Web access remains open and neutral.  Read More 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Privacy Guidelines in Australia

The Privacy Guidelines are no longer consultation drafts – the final version was released today (link below).

They have reversed their view on the application of the Privacy Act to foreign website operators.  So much so that the guidelines now conclude that “Where an entity merely has a website that can be accessed from Australia, this is generally not sufficient to establish that the website operator is ‘carrying on a business’ in Australia

Friday, January 31, 2014

Signature in Email

An interesting recent Federal Circuit Court decision to the effect that a person’s name at the bottom of an email was a signature - 
Austral-Asia Freight Pty Ltd v Turner [2013] FCCA 298
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FCCA/2013/298.html

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Lawsuit over bad Yelp review

See this story regarding a lawsuit by a builder against his customer who posted a bad review on Yelp.

The article includes the following:

For a while, online reviewers have been free to say whatever they like about businesses without much in the way of fact-checking by the review websites that host their comments.
And because review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Angie’s List often refuse to remove negative reviews without a court injunction, many businesses resort to responding to reviewers personally through the sites.
But others, like Deitz, have decided to cut out the middle man and lawyer up — no doubt because sites like Yelp are exerting increasing influence over consumers' buying decisions, from which plumber to hire to fix a leaky toilet to which spa to patronise to get a massage.
Thanks to their efforts, anonymity as an online reviewer may be a thing of the past.
In a major win for business owners in the US, a Virginia appeals court ruled earlier this month that Yelp must reveal the identities of seven users who wrote negative reviews of a local carpet cleaning business.
In that case, the customers weren't actually patrons of the shop, business owner claimed, which made their reviews false statements rather than opinions protected by the First Amendment. Yelp wasn't happy about the ruling, but they forked over the names anyway.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

COPYRIGHT POLICY, CREATIVITY, AND INNOVATION IN THE DIGITAL ECONOMY

On December 12, 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force held a roundtable to discuss issues involving copyright and the internet raised in the recently released “Green Paper.”  A copy of the Green Paper can be found here or here.