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2010-2011

Articles

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Online Fantasy Sports Litigation and the Need for a Federal Right of Publicity Statute
Risa J. Weaver

Date posted: 2-9-2010

The right of publicity is currently a jumble of state common law and state statutes, but the online fantasy sports industry crosses state lines with ease. Having witnessed the great revenue potential of online fantasy sports, professional sports leagues are trying to strong-arm independent fantasy sports providers out of the business by using the right of publicity to assert property interests in the statistics generated by professional players, and used by fantasy sports providers to run their online games. The first such attempt--by Major League Baseball--failed. However, the state law nature of the right of publicity prevents any single court opinion from binding the industry or other jurisdictions. The National Football League is attempting to achieve a more favorable result in a different jurisdiction. If successful, other professional sports leagues will be encouraged to litigate the issue, and Major League Baseball might even attempt to re-litigate its position in other states. This free-for-all could result in different rules for different sports in different states, which would not only be untenable for the online fantasy sports providers, but a violation of the Constitution as well. A cohesive federal right of publicity statute would (1) bring uniformity to the doctrine, (2) give federal courts (where these actions are being brought) a federal law to apply instead of allowing them to continue muddying the application of state laws, (3) directly address First Amendment concerns, and (4) solve the dormant commerce clause violation alluded to above.

Topic: eCommerce

 

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Cyber Warfare and the Crime of Aggression: The Need for Individual Accountability on Tomorrow’s Battlefield
Jonathan A. Ophardt

Date posted: 2-23-2010

As cyberspace matures, the international system faces a new challenge in confronting the use of force. Non-State actors continue to grow in importance, gaining the skill and the expertise necessary to wage asymmetric warfare using non-traditional weaponry that can create devastating real-world consequences. The international legal system must adapt to this battleground and provide workable mechanisms to hold aggressive actors accountable for their actions. The International Criminal Court--the only criminal tribunal in the world with global reach--holds significant promise in addressing this threat. The Assembly of State Parties should construct the definition of aggression to include these emerging challenges. By structuring the definition to confront the challenges of cyberspace--specifically non-State actors, the disaggregation of warfare, and new conceptions of territoriality--the International Criminal Court can become a viable framework of accountability for the wars of the twenty-first century.

Topic: CyberCrime

 

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The Impacts of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law on IP Commercialization in China & General Strategies for Technology-Driven Companies and Future Regulators
Yijun Tian

Date posted: 3-23-2010

After thirteen years of discussion and three revisions, China's Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) was promulgated on August 30, 2007 and has come into effect on August 1, 2008. It is the first anti-monopoly law in China and has been viewed as an "economic constitution" and a "milestone of the country’s efforts in promoting a fair competition market and cracking down on monopoly activities." However, the wording of some provisions of the AML, including the sections dealing with Intellectual Property (IP) protection, is not very clear. And juridical interpretations and more specific implementing regulations on the AML have not yet appeared. This has led to a lot of uncertainty for the operations of foreign enterprises, particularly IP related enterprises in China. This iBrief will provide an overview of possible impacts of the AML on the IP protection and commercialization in China. First, it will provide a brief overview of the AML, including both major compliments and criticism. Second, it will examine both opportunities and potential legal risks of foreign IP holders and investors when operating in China, particularly focusing on the impacts of Article 55, the IP-related provision. Thirdly, it will provide some practical suggestions and strategies for foreign IP holders and technology-driven companies to operate in China, such as some useful defenses for potential IP lawsuits. Finally, it will provide some suggestions for future interpretation and implementation of Article 55 in the AML by drawing on lessons from the experiences of the United States and the European Union.

Topic: International

 

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In Re Bilski and the “Machine-or-Transformation” Test: Receding Boundaries for Patent Eligible Subject Matter
Matthew Moore

Date posted: 4-14-2010

In order for a hopeful applicant to be granted a patent over his invention, his application must satisfy several procedural and substantive requirements. Among the substantive hurdles that an applicant must clear is the mandate that patents only be issued to applications claiming statutory subject matter within the meaning of §101 of the Patent Act. However, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) has not construed that Section consistently over the years. Since that court’s formation in 1982, it has espoused two tests for statutory subject matter, and each time has substantially abrogated, if not overruled, the prior formulation. Most recently, the Federal Circuit has handed down the "machine-or-transformation" test in an attempt to redraft the limits of patent eligibility based on subject matter. This iBrief will explore the significant changes that this new test has brought to the patentability doctrine.

Topic: Patents & Technology

 

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Juvenile Justice, Sullivan, and Graham: How the Supreme Court’s Decision Will Change the Neuroscience Debate
Johanna Cooper Jennings

Date posted: 5-18-2010

Over the past twenty years, neuroscientists have discovered that brain maturation continues through an individual’s mid-twenties. The United States Supreme Court cited this research to support its abolition of the juvenile death penalty in Roper v. Simmons. Now the Court is faced with two cases that challenge the constitutionality of sentencing juveniles to life imprisonment without parole. Many believe these studies indicate that juveniles are both less culpable for their actions and more likely to reform; therefore, life in prison for juveniles is disproportionate, cruel, and unusual. However, others caution against the use of these studies in deciding issues of juvenile justice. This iBrief summarizes the cases currently before the Court, presents the arguments for and against the use of neuroscience in the juvenile justice debate, and analyzes the impact these cases will have on the future of neuroscience’s role in juvenile justice.

Topic: Health & Biotechnology

 

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Substantially Justified? The U.S. Government’s Use of Name-Check Technologies in Naturalization Procedures
H. Jin Cho

Date posted: 6-10-2010

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services relies upon the Federal Bureau of Investigation to administer the National Name Check Program, which conducts background checks on applicants for naturalization. Backlogs have led to long delays for aspiring citizens and significant legal problems for the government.

This iBrief examines the First Circuit’s ruling in Aronov v. Napolitano that an eighteen-month delay in adjudicating a naturalization application was substantially justified. While the government’s inefficiency can be explained partly by an understaffed bureaucracy, overwhelming evidence suggests that these problems are exacerbated by a technological infrastructure that is ill-equipped to handle the scope of the backlog. This iBrief argues that the government should be held liable for its failures; and that long-overdue technological improvements should be implemented to prevent these issues from recurring in the future.

Topic: CyberCrime

 

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The Anonymous Poster: How to Protect Internet Users’ Privacy and Prevent Abuse
Scott Ness

Date posted: 8-12-2010

The threat of anonymous Internet posting to individual privacy has been met with congressional and judicial indecisiveness. Part of the problem stems from the inherent conflict between punishing those who disrespect one's privacy by placing a burden on the individual websites and continuing to support the Internet's development. Additionally, assigning traditional tort liability is problematic as the defendant enjoys an expectation of privacy as well, creating difficulty in securing the necessary information to proceed with legal action. One solution to resolving invasion of privacy disputes involves a uniform identification verification program that ensures user confidentiality while promoting accountability for malicious behavior.

Topic: Media & Communications

 

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The Class Defense: Why Dispersed Intellectual Property Defendants Need Procedural Protections
Jonathan Reich

Date posted: 8-19-2010

The intersection of antitrust and intellectual property circumscribes two century-long debates. The first pertains to questions about how antitrust law and intellectual property law interact, and the second pertains to questions about how parties can exploit property rights, including intellectual property rights, to exclude competitors. This iBrief finesses these questions and turns to practical considerations about how innovation and intellectual property can impinge antitrust enforcement. This iBrief develops two propositions. First, although collaborative research and development has often been and remains unwittingly misunderstood, what is understood about it is consistent with the long- standing observation that antitrust has rarely interfered with collaborative ventures. Second, shifting focus from “intellectual property rights” to “uncertain property rights” makes it easier to understand what innovation and intellectual property imply for enforcement processes. Both intellectual property and tangible assets imply the same processes, but the boundaries of intellectual properties may be uncertain and may, in turn, allow parties to game enforcement processes in ways that would not be feasible in antitrust matters that principally feature tangible assets. Even so, uncertain property rights might not frustrate enforcement processes as the antitrust authorities may yet be able to factor parties’ strategic behaviors into the design of antitrust remedies.

Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks

 

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Chatter, Clatter, and Blinks: Defective Car Alerts and the Role of Technological Advances in Design Defect/failure to Warn Cases
James Forrest McKell Jr.

Date posted: 8-25-2010

Car owners are familiar with the warning lights on the dashboard and the beeping sound reminding them to use their seatbelt. But, neither the legislature nor courts have concretely defined the legal nature of these alerts. This iBrief will analyze when a deficient alert becomes a defective product tort claim and determine the appropriate theory under which such claims should be brought.

Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks

 

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Who Owns the Virtual Items?
Leah Shen

Date posted: 8-25-2010

Do you WoW? Because millions of people around the world do! Due to this increased traffic, virtual wealth amassed in MMORPGs are intersecting in our real world in unexpected ways. Virtual goods have real-life values and are traded in real-life markets. However, the market for trading in virtual items is highly inefficient because society has not created property rights for virtual items. This lack of regulation has a detrimental effect not just the market for virtual items, but actually the market for MMORPGs. Assuming we want to promote the production of MMORPGs as a market, society requires a set of distinct property rules to decrease the inefficiencies in the virtual market. In creating these regulation, we may be able to take cues from intellectual property laws, as many of the problems surrounding virtual goods are akin to intellectual property.

Topic: Media & Communications

 

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Disloyal Computer Use and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Narrowing the Scope
Greg Pollaro

Date posted: 8-26-2010

Congress drafted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to protect government interest computers from malicious attacks by hackers. As computer use has expanded in the years since its enactment, the CFAA has similarly expanded to cover a number of computer-related activities. This iBrief discusses the extension of the CFAA into the employer/employee context, suggests that this goes beyond the Act's express purpose, compares the different approaches taken by the circuit courts in applying the CFAA to disloyal computer use by employees, and argues that the more recent approach taken by the Ninth Circuit provides a better model for determining if and when the CFAA should apply to employees.

Topic: CyberCrime

 

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Keeping the LEDs on and the Electric Motors Running: Clean Tech in Court After Ebay
Eric Lane

Date posted: 9-22-2010

The recent rise of non-practicing patentees (NPPs) in the clean technology space comes at a time when the international community is debating the role of intellectual property rights in the deployment and implementation of technologies to combat climate change. While the impact of intellectual property rights on the deployment of clean technology has been studied, less attention has been given to the role intellectual property regimes play in maintaining the operation of those technologies already deployed in the fight against global warming. This iBrief focuses on clean technologies that have already achieved substantial market penetration and observes that recent trends in patent law are, to a large extent, allowing those technologies to continue working to reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, the course correction in the law of patent injunctions brought about by eBay v. MercExchange and the endorsement of court-imposed ongoing royalty payments in Paice v. Toyota demonstrate an important shift in patent law that is tempering the impact of clean tech NPPs in Title 35 infringement actions in federal courts. However, these trends have caused a tactical adjustment by clean tech NPPs—namely, filing suits in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), where the remedy of an exclusion order is available. These ITC cases could adversely affect implemented clean technologies.

Topic: Patents & Technology

 

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Privacy Expectations and Protections for Teachers in the Internet Age
Emily H. Fulmer

Date posted: 9-28-2010

Public school teachers have little opportunity for redress if they are dismissed for their activities on social networking websites. With the exception of inappropriate communication with students, a school district should not be able to consider a public educator’s use of a social networking website for disciplinary or employment decisions. Insisting that the law conform to twenty-first century social norms, this iBrief argues that the law should protect teachers’ speech on popular social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace.

Topic: Media & Communications

 

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Private Ordering and Orphan Works: Our Least Worst Hope?
Keith Porcaro

Date posted: 9-28-2010

The political capture of copyright law by industry groups has inadvertently led to orphan works problems arising in less organized industries, such as publishing. Google Book Search (GBS) is a prime example of how private ordering can circumvent legislative inefficiencies. Digital technologies such as GBS can open up a new business model for publishers and other content industries, centered around aggregated rights holdings. However, the economic inertia that private ordering represents may pose a threat to the knowledge-oriented goals of copyright law.

Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks

 

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The Rise of Computerized High Frequency Trading: Use and Controversy
Michael J. McGowan

Date posted: 11-8-2010

Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic shift in how securities are traded in the capital markets. Utilizing supercomputers and complex algorithms that pick up on breaking news, company/stock/economic information and price and volume movements, many institutions now make trades in a matter of microseconds, through a practice known as high frequency trading. Today, high frequency traders have virtually phased out the "dinosaur" floor-traders and average investors of the past. With the recent attempted robbery of one of these high frequency trading platforms from Goldman Sachs this past summer, this "rise of the machines" has become front page news, generating vast controversy and discourse over this largely secretive and ultra-lucrative practice. Because of this phenomenon, those of us on Main Street are faced with a variety of questions: What exactly is high frequency trading? How does it work? How long has this been going on for? Should it be banned or curtailed? What is the end-game, and how will this shape the future of securities trading and its regulation? This iBrief explores the answers to these questions.

Topic: eCommerce

 

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Standards × Patents ÷ Antitrust = ∞: The Inadequacy of Antitrust to Address Patent Ambush
Jonathan Hillel

Date posted: 11-15-2010

"Patent ambush" describes certain rent-seeking behavior by the owner of patent rights to a technology that is essential to an industry standard. Two cases, Qualcomm and Rambus, represent attempts of the Third and D.C. Circuits, respectively, to address patent ambushes using federal antitrust statutes. In both cases, antitrust law proves inadequate to the task. Under Qualcomm, licensees gain too much power to extort undervalued royalty rates from patent holders who have disclosed their rights during standard-setting. Under Rambus, coupled with the dearth of other options to combat patent ambushes, non-disclosing patent holders are given free reign over standardized markets, to the detriment of end-users. This iBrief argues that the flaws in each rule inhere from a fundamental inadequacy of antitrust law to address patent ambush.

Topic: Patents & Technology

 

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Limitation of Sales Warranties as an Alternative to Intellectual Property Rights: An Empirical Analysis of IPhone Warranties’ Deterrent Impact on Consumers
Marc L. Roark

Date posted: 11-15-2010

Apple's success with the Apple iPhone has brought with it certain problems. Its success has engendered a community that has attempted to circumvent Apple's exclusive service agreement with AT&T. Unfortunately for Apple (and similarly situated manufacturers), intellectual property law allows consumers to alter their products so as to circumvent relationships that manufacturers may have with others. The patent and copyright law first sale doctrine allows consumers to manipulate a product after it is purchased. As a result, manufacturers are increasingly turning to alternatives to intellectual property to secure control over the device after the sale. One such alternative is the exclusion of warranty under Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code. This iBrief considers whether limitation of warranties have the deterrence effect manufacturers desire. Said differently, it considers whether manufacturers can use warranty limitations to prevent consumers from using their products in an unauthorized manner. The iBrief presents a behavioral model based on the Triandis model of planned behavior and enhances the model by accounting for likely and unlikely benefits and detriments. The model suggests that participants weigh the probability and magnitude of the detriment against the probability and magnitude of the beneficial impact when making the decision to engage in technological piracy. This model, considered with other empirical evidence, suggests that Apple's warranty could be a stronger deterrent for consumers than civil liability. The iBrief concludes that manufacturers can better protect their post-sale expectation of profits by raising consumer awareness of their warranty's quality and by raising awareness of the consequences for using the product in a way that is outside the terms of the consumers' authorized use.

Topic: Patents & Technology

 

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Applying Copyright Abandonment in the Digital Age
Matthew W. Turetzky

Date posted: 11-15-2010

Copyright law protects orphan and parented works equally--but it shouldn't. Consequently, current law unnecessarily restrains public access to works that authors have not exercised dominion over for decades. This problem has come to the fore in the Google Books settlement, which critics argue will give Google a de facto monopoly over orphan works. But this criticism implicates an obvious question: Why are orphan works protected by copyright law in the first place? If orphan works were in the public domain, then no one would worry about Google's supposed "monopoly" because Google's competitors would be free to copy the works without facing class action lawsuits. To address these concerns, I propose a new equitable defense to copyright infringement: the orphan theory of abandonment.

Topic: Copyrights & Trademarks