The UK Orders Google to Remove Links to “Right to be Forgotten” Stories

google_img By Juliya Ziskina

The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered Google to remove search results linking to news stories about the removal of information under the 2014 “right to be forgotten” ruling. Under the “right to be forgotten” ruling, Europeans who feel they are being misrepresented by search results that are no longer accurate or relevant—for instance, information about old financial matters, or misdeeds committed as a minor—can ask search engines like Google to delink the material. If the request is approved, the information will remain online at the original site, but would no longer come up under certain search engine queries.

Google had previously removed links relating to an offense committed by an individual almost 10 years ago. At the time, the individual had requested removal of the links under the “right to be forgotten” ruling. Several publications produced news stories detailing this removal request, and it became a news story in itself. Google retained links to those articles, and they still appeared in the search results for the individual’s name. The individual complained—and now the ICO has ordered Google to remove the newer articles. Google refused to remove links to these later articles, which included details of the original criminal offense. Google argues that these articles are an essential part of a broader news story about the “right to be forgotten,” and that the articles are in the public interest.

Google faces criminal charges and financial sanctions if it does not comply with the ICO’s order. These criminal consequences and fines may have a dire effect on Google’s ability to freely distribute information.

The “right to be forgotten” ruling gives European nations a mechanism to censor legal information and web pages. Not only does the ICO want to invoke the right to be forgotten, but it also wants to erase evidence that it implemented the policy. The EU designed this law to protect privacy, but these new developments are an unsettling new leap into government censorship.

However, Europeans can still use American Google to get uncensored information. European governments cannot force Google to alter results on its American search engine. The “right to be forgotten” ruling restricts, but leaves untouched. European governments may eventually try to patch this hole. But for now, the right to be forgotten disappears at the American border.

Image Source:

China Poised to Tighten Grip on Cybersecurity with New Law

CyberSecurityBy Andrew H. Fuller

As Cybersecurity becomes a prominent global issue for nation states, governments consider options to curb their nation’s digital vulnerability. On July 6th, China, an undisputed major player on the global digital frontier, released the Cyber Security Law of the People’s Republic of China (“CSL”) for public comments. The CSL will, among other things, encourage education and training in cybersecurity related fields, establish new protections and rights for personal and sensitive data, and create government set standards for information technology hardware and software. Once adopted, the CSL will be the first Chinese law that exclusively focuses on cybersecurity. Continue reading “China Poised to Tighten Grip on Cybersecurity with New Law”

“Don’t Copy My Style!” Exxon’s Trademark “Style” Infringement Claim Against Fox

exxonBy Chike Eze

Consumers associate a trademark with a familiar experience associated with a specific source. For example, consumers associate the “golden arches” symbol with McDonald’s cheeseburgers and fries. To protect such profitable associations, an owner of a well-known trademark may file for federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). USPTO requires the trademark owner, among other things, to police its mark by challenging others who impermissibly copy and use the mark. Therefore, it is not particularly newsworthy that Exxon Mobil Corporation (“Exxon”), an owner of several federally-registered trademarks, brought a complaint against 21st Century Fox et. al. (“Fox”) alleging federal trademark infringement, inter alia. However, Exxon makes an unusual argument that Fox infringed Exxon’s marks by copying the marks’ common “style.” Continue reading ““Don’t Copy My Style!” Exxon’s Trademark “Style” Infringement Claim Against Fox”

“Back Doors” in Encrypted Technology for the Government Will Harm National Security and Privacy

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 8.32.43 AMBy Michael Huggins

In the wake of an international controversy over government surveillance, U.S. technology companies have developed end-to-end encryption for users who want to send information. End-to-end encryption gives the sender and the recipient decryption keys for a piece of data or a message. Without these decryption keys, law enforcement officials cannot access the data or the message. Even with lawfully authorized access to the information, end-to-end encryption may allow criminals to keep their communications secret from the government. Additionally, the United States and other nations have expressed concerns that encryption will provide secure communications to terrorist organizations.  Continue reading ““Back Doors” in Encrypted Technology for the Government Will Harm National Security and Privacy”

“Oxygen OS” and the Future of the OnePlus Two

Screen shot 2015-08-03 at 8.07.20 PMBy Yayi Ding

On July 27th, 2015, Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus unveiled its second-generation smartphone, the “OnePlus Two.” This was a highly anticipated launch, because OnePlus’ first device, the OnePlus One, took the smartphone industry by storm just over a year ago. The OnePlus One offered the kind of high-end specs found in today’s elite smartphones, but for just a fraction of the price. Consequently, OnePlus has sold over 1 million OnePlus One smartphones thus far – no small feat for a new start-up based out of southern China. But, due to a series of behind-the-scenes legal issues, the OnePlus Two will not offer the popular operating system found in its predecessor, Cyanogen OS, but instead will feature OnePlus’ own operating system: Oxygen OS. This difference may be critical to the OnePlus Two’s future success. Continue reading ““Oxygen OS” and the Future of the OnePlus Two”

SCOTUS Teva Ruling: Big Splash with Little Impact

bookBy Miriam Swedlow

Despite overruling the Federal Circuit’s prior practice of reviewing all aspects of patent claim construction de novo, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc. has not dramatically changed the standard of review for patent claims. Instead, it imparts a sub-category of analysis in cases where the district court relies upon extrinsic evidence to clarify ambiguous or complicated facts needed for proper claim construction. The court first considers whether the district court relied upon extrinsic evidence and if so, whether it needed to in order to properly construe the claim. As predicted by the Supreme Court, only a small number of cases have required clear error review of fact finding in the months following the Teva decision. Ultimately, clear error review of fact-finding from extrinsic evidence simply adds one step prior to the traditional de novo review applied to patent claim construction.  Continue reading “SCOTUS Teva Ruling: Big Splash with Little Impact”

Online Retailers Beware: Amazon Search Results Might Violate Watchmaker’s Trademark

Untitled2 By Brennen Johnson

Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision in Multi Time Machine, Inc. v., Inc.. Although the case doesn’t deal with time travel like the name might suggest (so disappointing!), the Court’s decision on whether the behemoth online retailer’s search results could have violated the watch manufacturer’s trademark certainly is interesting. In a two to one decision, the panel of three judges decided that Amazon might have violated Multi Time Machine’s (“MTM”) trademark by displaying competitors’ watches when online customers searched for a particular MTM model.

So how is this interesting? Let’s paint this case in the terms used by Judge Silverman in his dissent against the other two judges—If a patron walks into a restaurant and orders a “coke” and the waiter responds, “We carry Pepsi,” has the restaurant infringed on Coca Cola’s trademark? The majority’s decision suggests that the restaurant might have infringed, but that it is a question for a jury. Similar to the restaurant’s actions, Amazon, who is unable to carry MTM watches, displays the similar products of MTM’s competitors when the customer searched for MTM watches.

It seems absurd that Amazon could be liable for simply responding to requests for an unavailable product by suggesting other similar products. However, things get a bit more murky when you consider the root question that results in liability for this type of trademark infringement: could a reasonable person be initially confused by the search results and believe that the watches displayed on Amazon’s page were somehow affiliated with MTM? If so, then customers might consider buying the competitors’ watches based on the reputation of MTM’s trademark, and both Amazon and the competitor would unfairly profit from MTM’s hard work in building a well-respected business.

So, how might Amazon’s search results confuse a customer? Well, in this author’s opinion, only by being a pretty thick dunce. The law requires that the results be confusing to a “reasonably prudent consumer,” and in my book, the poor dunce who gets confused by these search results doesn’t quite make the cut. Like the district court that first considered the case and Judge Silverman (who dissented from the majority’s opinion), I believe that the results are so clearly labelled that no reasonable mind would think that they were somehow affiliated with or originated from MTM. But you don’t have to take my word for it. You can check out the image in the thumbnail above or click here to see for yourself.

The majority opinion reaches a different opinion by determining that the text “MTM special ops” which remains displayed in the search box at the top is sufficient to confuse customers about who manufactured the products. The majority explained in its opinion that, although the displayed results were each clearly labeled as the product of a different company, the clarity of the page’s layout as a whole created a legitimate question of whether or not it might confuse a customer about the origins/maker of the displayed products.

As an additional note that online retailers should consider taking to heart, the majority said when reaching its conclusion, “A jury could infer that the labeling of the search results, and Amazon’s failure to notify customers that it does not have results that match MTM’s mark, give rise to initial interest confusion.” If an online retailer wants to avoid this whole debacle, the cleanest method would be to spell it out when none of the products it provides meet the exact product description typed into the search bar.

Stock Split and the Failure of a Shareholder Democracy

underarmourBy Joe Davison

Background: Since its founding, Under Armour has maintained a dual-class stock structure consisting of Class A Stock, which has been entitled to one vote per share, and Class B Stock, which has been entitled to ten votes per share. Founder and CEO, Kevin Plank, beneficially owns all of the company’s Class B Stock and also owned a small portion of the Class A Stock. As of June, this provided Mr. Plank with 65.5% of the company’s total voting power, but only 16.6% of the total number of outstanding shares. Under the terms of Under Armour’s charter, if the aggregate number of shares of Class A Stock and Class B Stock owned by Mr. Plank is less than 15% of the total number of shares, the dual-class structure will unwind and all Class B Stock would be automatically converted in to Class A stock. This would result in Mr. Plank effectively losing control of Under Armour.

In November 2014, Mr. Plank reviewed his current ownership of Class B Stock with Under Armour’s Board of Directors and requested that the Board evaluate the creation and issuance of a class of non-voting common stock. The Board authorized a Special Committee to consider such a class of non-voting common stock, and to evaluate and make a recommendation to the Board as to whether and on what terms to proceed. The Special Committee recognized that the Company has been well-served by allowing Mr. Plank and management to focus on long-term value creation without distraction. Accordingly, the Special Committee informed Mr. Plank that it would recommend the creation of a Class C Stock and a Class C Dividend. The Dividend would distribute one new share of the non-voting stock for every existing share of Class A and Class B stock. This would allow shareholders to sell the Class C stock without losing any of their voting power. Continue reading “Stock Split and the Failure of a Shareholder Democracy”

Will Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion Foster Innovation?

patent By Cheryl Lee

Some believe the US patent system is being used to curb innovation, handicap inventors and drain corporate resources in lengthy litigation that cripples competition rather than being used to drive innovation. Many US legislators believe that patent ‘trolls,’ the non-practicing entities that purchase patents and pursue infringement litigation, threaten America’s economy and ability to innovate. In response to the patent trolls, Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), along with 27 cosponsors, introduced the anti-troll legislation, H.R. 9 – Innovation Act in February, 2015.

However, the US Congress is not the only entity that wishes to solve the problems within the patent system. On April 27, 2015, Google announced the ‘Patent Purchase Promotion,’ an experimental marketplace inviting owners to directly sell their patents. Google stated that bad things such as lawsuits and wasted efforts happen when smaller participants sometimes end up working with patent trolls. Therefore, the Patent Purchase Promotion is Google’s attempt to “remove friction from the patent market” and “help improve the patent landscape and make the patent system work better for everyone.” The Patent Opportunity Submission Portal opened from May 8 – 22, 2015 for patent holders to submit information to Google about the patents they wanted to sell and at what price. Continue reading “Will Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion Foster Innovation?”

Go Fund Yourself: The SEC finalizes Regulation A+

blog_6_26 By Christian Kaiser

In March, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved final rules of Title IV of the JOBS Act, changing Regulation A into “Regulation A+.” Entrepreneurs selling securities to private investors are no longer limited to using Regulation D or the old Regulation A. Entrepreneurs can now crowdfund their startup online through a “mini IPO.” Many believe these new rules show that the government has embraced technological changes. Some are optimistic about what they see as an opening of the crowdfunding floodgates, but the rules’ restrictions and requirements suggest such sweeping optimism may be misplaced.  Continue reading “Go Fund Yourself: The SEC finalizes Regulation A+”