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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?

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.

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. 

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."

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 >>

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.

Cloud Speeds

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

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 

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

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

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.

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.

Lessig v. Liberation over takedown notice

Professor Lessig has sued Australian music label Liberation in the U.S. in relation to a computer generated take down notice sent to YouTube, to take down video of Lessig giving a seminar in Asia that included music licensed exclusively to Liberation in Australia.

If this case proceeds, there are interesting jurisdictional and fair use / fair dealing points that arise.  If the use of the music was fair use in the U.S., but not fair dealing in Australia, and the video is available in Australia, one would assume that there is copyright infringement in Australia.

Brisbane Times article
The video in question
EFF press release

Google and Defamation and Jursidiction

Google Australia has a defamation case against it tossed out, on the basis that it is Google Inc. that is operating the search engine and Blogger.

See SMH

Informational Privacy on the Web

A Data Broker Offers a Peek Behind the Curtain
The Acxiom Corporation is to open a Web site that will allow individual consumers to see some of the information that the company has collected about them.

http://nyti.ms/17slfwv

Computer Implemented Method Patentable in Australia

RPL Central Pty Ltd v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 871

Broadly, the claimed invention related to the assessment of the competency or qualifications of individuals with respect to recognised standards. It was implemented using a computer.

Claim 1 included the following steps:

(a)    a computer retrieving via the internet from a remotely-located server a plurality of assessable criteria associated with the recognised qualification standard, said criteria including one or more elements of competency, each of which is associated with one or more performance criteria;
(b)    the computer processing the plurality of assessable criteria to generate automatically a corresponding plurality of questions relating to the competency of an individual to satisfy each of the elements of competency and performance criteria associated with the recognised qualification standard;
(c)    an assessment server presenting the automatically-generated questions via the internet to a computer of an individual requiring assessment; and
(d)    receiving from the individual via their computer a series of responses to the automatically-generated questions, the responses including evidence of the individual’s skills, knowledge and experience in relation to each of the elements of competency and performance criteria, wherein at least one said response includes the individual specifying one or more files on their computer which are transferred to the assessment server.

The Federal Court of Australia today determined that this claim recited patentable subject matter.

Thredbo.com Decision

The Federal Court recently released its decision in the case brought by the owners of thredbo.com.au against thredbo.com.

The decision is: Kosciuszko Thredbo Pty Limited v ThredboNet Marketing Pty Limited [2013] FCA 563

realestate.com.au Federal Court decision

On Friday, the Federal Court of Australia handed down its decision in the realestate.com.au v. realestate1.com.au case.

The decision is [2013] FCA 539.

The case concerned a generic term, that was used as a domain name, but where significant advertising had built up recognition of the brand.  The Applicant lost on consumer protection grounds but was successful in relation to trade mark infringement.  The case shows the risks of using a dictionary term as a brand, and the importance of a trade mark registration.

"245    However that observation about the ordinary case does not really address (as neither Perram J nor Chesterman J were called upon to address) a situation where the highly descriptive nature of the second-level domain (“realestate”) makes a suffix such as “.com.au” essential to brand or name recognition. Consumers with some familiarity with realestate.com.au as a brand are likely to look beyond “realestate” and to the entire domain name in order to establish identity. A real danger of confusion again arises because in the scanning process which may occur on a search results page, some consumers will miss the indistinctive “1”. I have therefore concluded that the use of “realestate1.com.au” as part of an internet address on a search results page, constituted the use by Real Estate 1 of a mark that was deceptively similar to REA’s realestate.com.au trade marks."

Hotel Executive In Trouble over TripAdvisor reviews

A hotel PR person posted TripAdvisor reviews (mostly about restaurants) and got it serious trouble for it.  See stories here and here.

ASX rules on Social Media

The Australian Stock Exchange has continuous disclosure rules.  See Guidance Note 8, which has guidance about social media.  See also BRW article.

Are Online Reviews Reliable?

A recent newspaper article discusses whether online review websites, such as TripAdvisor, are reliable.

See Bad Reputation.

U.S. Patent Decision - The Alice Case

CLS Services v. Alice Corporation was decided yesterday by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, en banc.  See Judgment.  Alice Corporation is an Australian company.  Its U.S. patent was held to be invalid as it did not claim patentable subject matter.

"Upon consideration en banc, a majority of the court affirms the district court’s holding that the asserted method and computer-readable media claims are not directed to eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101."

There were a number of judgments.  The footnote to one judgment states:

"No portion of any opinion issued today other than our Per Curiam Judgment garners a majority. The court is evenly split on the patent eligibility of the system claims. Although a majority of the judges on the court agree that the method claims do not recite patent eligible subject matter, no majority of those judges agrees as to the legal rationale for that conclusion. Accordingly, though much is published today discussing the proper approach to the patent eligibility inquiry, nothing said today beyond our judgment has the weight of precedent."

Copyright in the Digital Era

A recent note on copyright:

Seven Copyright Principles for the Digital Era 
By John Villasenor. Brookings Institution, February 5, 2013 

YouTube redesign

YouTube has had a revamped look for channels in limited beta testing since early February, but it's now ready to spread the new-layout love to interested folks. Dubbed "One Channel," the design refresh places an emphasis on making a user's page look slick across different screen sizes and devices, adapting its style for the occasion -- yes, even on TVs. Along with a look that provides more visual breathing room, a wide image called Channel Art adorns the top of a page, giving the whole affair a stronger Google+ vibe. Now, channel owners can even snag a visitor's attention with a trailer that'll greet them if they aren't a subscriber. The refresh also introduces the ability to organize video playlists with custom sections. Raring to take Mountain View up on the fresh looks? Jab the second source link to get started. If you change your mind after taking the plunge, however, Google's letting users switch back to the old format for a limited time.


Why do you think that Google is doing this?

Australian Federal Court Limits Patentability

A recent Australian Federal Court decision limits the scope of patent protection for business methods implemented by computer.  The invention in question related to securities investing and, more specifically, to construction and use of passive portfolios and indexes.

The court denied patentability, stating:

"The implementation of the method of the claimed invention by means of a computer, at the level articulated in claim 1, is no more than the modern equivalent of writing down the index on pieces of paper. On the face of the Specification, there is no patentable invention in the fact that the claimed method is implemented by means of a computer. The Specification asserts a patentable invention, not in the use of the computer, but in the particular series of steps that give rise to the generation of the index. Those steps could readily have been carried out manually. The aspect of computer implementation is nothing more than the use of a computer for a purpose for which it is suitable. That does not confer patentability.

The enquiry into what constitutes a patentable invention is still evolving. It is not to be tied to particular notions of what was understood to be a manufacture at any particular point in time. However, while new developments in technology might be seen to widen the notion of what is patentable, the modern availability of computers as a standard means of implementing arithmetic or computational processes, which could have been implemented manually in the past, does not carry with it any broadening of the concept of a patentable invention."

See Research Affiliates LLC v Commissioner of Patents [2013] FCA 71

Google Australia does not control the Google search engine

Google Australia Pty Ltd does not like being sued in Australia.  In a recent Australian lawsuit, Google said:

  • Google Australia is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google International LLC and Google Inc is the ultimate holding company 
  • Google Australia is not authorised to, and has no ability to, control or direct the conduct of Google Inc and is not responsible for the day-to-day operations of Google Inc 
  • Google Inc owns and operates the domains google.com.au and google.com. The search engines at the domains mentioned are exclusively provided by, operated by, and controlled by Google Inc 
  • Google Australia does not have any ability to control or direct action in respect of blocking URLs from google.com.au

The Australian court found: "There is no reasonable prospect of Mr Rana proving that Google Australia owns the domains in question, or that it has the ability to control or direct the conduct of Google Inc."  Thus, the claims against Google Australia were dismissed.

The Court also stated:
"In short, whether or not a search engine could be considered a publisher of defamatory material is not settled in Australia, and accordingly, it would not be appropriate to refuse to give leave to serve the proceedings and on that basis effectively dismiss Mr Rana’s claim against Google Inc: A v Google New Zealand Ltd"

See Rana v Google Australia Pty Ltd [2013] FCA 60 

IP Theft

"Our message is quite clear: the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets is critical to all intellectual property rights holders, whether they be from the United States or whether they be from Chinese companies or other companies around the world,'' Robert Hormats, the under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said.

Though China is regarded as the most aggressive actor, Mr Hormats said other countries are guilty as well. He cited Russia and India as two countries active in the theft of intellectual property.

See SMH

Social Networks and Right of Publicity

From a Kenyon & Kenyon newsletter looking at legal trends for 2013:

An important “Right of Publicity” issue for 2013 is the use by social networks of their members' names and/or likenesses in advertising. Many social networks have broad Terms of Service which purport to allow them to exploit any content that a member posts on the networks' websites. Social networks take the position that these service terms permit them to use aspects of their members’ identities in advertisements appearing within the social networks. As social networks grow and compete for advertiser dollars, they will naturally want to allow advertisers to create the most effective ads possible. Studies have shown the persuasive potential of an online connection's recommendations (due to the apparent lack of bias), and therefore many advertisers are likely to request advertising that uses the identities of a social network's users.

Internet Simulcasting Decision

The Australian Federal Court recently decided a lawsuit involving radio stations simulcasting their broadcasts via the Internet.

"A broadcasting service is the delivery, in a particular manner, of a radio program, consisting of matter intended to entertain, educate or inform. Thus the delivery of the radio program by transmission from a terrestrial transmitter is a different broadcasting service from the delivery of the same radio program using the internet."

See Decision Phonographic Performance Company of Australia Limited v Commercial Radio Australia Limited [2013] FCAFC 11
See also Australian Copyright Council alert

CLS Bank v Alice case to be heard en banc

From a Kenyon & Kenyon newsletter:

Patent-eligibility of inventions implemented by computers: CLS Bank v. Alice Corp
The district court had held that the invention, which related to methods and systems for exchanging financial obligations between parties, was an abstract idea—ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101. A Federal Circuit panel disagreed, holding that the claimed invention complies with § 101 of the patent code. En banc, the Federal Circuit will address two issues:
I. What test should the court adopt to determine whether a computer implemented invention is a patent ineligible “abstract idea;” and when, if ever, does the presence of a computer in a claim lend patent eligibility to an otherwise patent-ineligible idea?
II. In assessing patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of a computer implemented invention, should it matter whether the invention is claimed as a method, system, or storage medium; and should such claims at times be considered equivalent for § 101 purposes?
Given the large number of software patents that issue each year, this decision could significantly impact numerous litigations, licensing negotiations, and prosecution practices.

Google not responsible for contents of advertisements

The High Court of Australia decided today that Google is not responsible for the content of advertisements placed via its AdWords program.

A key reason was the following at [69]:

That the display of sponsored links (together with organic search results) can be described as Google's response to a user's request for information does not render Google the maker, author, creator or originator of the information in a sponsored link. The technology which lies behind the display of a sponsored link merely assembles information provided by others for the purpose of displaying advertisements directed to users of the Google search engine in their capacity as consumers of products and services. In this sense, Google is not relevantly different from other intermediaries, such as newspaper publishers (whether in print or online) or broadcasters (whether radio, television or online), who publish, display or broadcast the advertisements of others.

See:
Court Decision, Google Inc v Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [2013] HCA 1
SMH
Technology Spectator
KWM Bulletin

Privacy for Mobile Apps

From The New York Times:
F.T.C. Suggests Guidelines on Privacy for Mobile Apps

The Federal Trade Commission said the mobile industry should include a do-not-track feature in software and apps and take other steps to safeguard personal information.

http://nyti.ms/X0xWcG

Too Many Lawyers

Law Schools’ Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut

Applications are headed for a 30-year low, reflecting increased concern over soaring tuition, crushing student debt and diminishing prospects of lucrative employment upon graduation.

http://nyti.ms/14xHPnF

Lawsuit Against Google For AutoComplete

An Australian doctor is suing Google for regarding its auto-complete function, that suggests the word "bankrupt" when his name is entered in the search box.
See Full Story

Netflix Facebook Blunder?


Netflix Inc said on Thursday securities regulators warned they may bring civil action against the company and its chief executive for violating public disclosure rules with a Facebook post, in a case that raises questions about how public companies communicate on social media.
The high-profile Silicon Valley CEO, Reed Hastings, dismissed the contention and said he did not believe the Facebook post was "material" information.

Google Street View Privacy Lawsuit

A privacy claim was made against Google for its StreetView product.  A Google camera car drove on to private property to take the photos.

See Boring v. Google.  Original DecisionThird Circuit decision

Is Law School Worth The Money?

See NY Times Article

"The graying of baby-boom lawyers creates opportunities. As more senior lawyers retire, jobs will open, even in the unlikely case that the law business doesn’t expand with an improving economy. More opportunity will open to women and minorities, too. As with any industry in transition, changes in the delivery of legal services create opportunities as well as challenges. Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial lawyers will find ways to capitalize on this."

You Can't Say That on The Internet

A BASTION of openness and counterculture, Silicon Valley imagines itself as the un-Chick-fil-A. But its hyper-tolerant facade often masks deeply conservative, outdated norms that digital culture discreetly imposes on billions of technology users worldwide.

See NY Times

Copyright First Sale Doctrine Reviewed by Supreme Court


Can United States copyright owners block importation of copies of their works sold or distributed outside of the United States?

Confronting this apparently straightforward question, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument on 29 October 2012, that revealed complex interactions of the relevant statutes and the difficult consequences flowing from alternative interpretations of those statutes. Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, U.S. No. 11-697.  See oral argument transcript.

The case involves Wiley text books printed and sold in Thailand, and Kirtsaeng’s unauthorized importation and resale of those text books in the United States. Wiley sued, claiming that the importation was an infringement under 17 U.S.C. 602(a), and Kirtsaeng defended that he had a right to resell the publications purchased in Thailand under the first sale doctrine codified at 17 U.S.C. 109(a).

On review is the Second Circuit’s decision for Wiley that the text books printed in Thailand could not satisfy the limitation in Section 109(a) that the first sale right applies only to copies “lawfully made under this title,” which the Court interpreted as copies physically made in this country.

Google Liable for Defamation Based on Search Results

In a jury trial in Melbourne, Google was found to have defamed a Melbourne man by placing his photo next to underworld figures.

See SMH and WebProNews and IBT

Australian Domain Name Resales


Top 10 public .com.au domain sales
Source: domainerincome.com

Hardware.com.au - $33,333
Electricity.com.au - $30,933
Currencyconverter.com.au - $27,500
Websitedesign.com.au - $22,000
1300numbers.com.au - $20,000
Vitamins.com.au - $20,000
Fridges.com.au - $20,000
Wines.com.au - $19,000
Carparts.com.au - $18,011
Freestuff.com.au - $18,000

See: SMH

Do Not Track

THE campaign to defang the “Do Not Track” movement began late last month.

See:  NYT

Why are Google Maps So Much Better

This is a good post that explains why Google Maps are so good.  And see also this Atlantic article.  Some people have said that maps are the future of Google.  Photos below of Google Street View Bike People and Hiker.



Software and Internet Patents


The U.S. Federal Circuit on October 9, 2012 granted en banc review of a case in which a Federal Circuit panel held that a claim must not be deemed inadequate under 35 U.S.C. §101 if, after taking all of the claim recitations into consideration, it is not “manifestly evident” that a claim is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea. CLS Bank International v. Alice Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 11-1301, 10/9/2012.  Alice Corp is an Australian company, suing for patent infringement in the United States.

The en banc court vacated the panel decision and requested briefing on the following questions:
  1. What test should the court adopt to determine whether a computer-implemented invention is a patent ineligible "abstract idea”; and when, if ever, does the presence of a computer in a claim lend patent eligibility to an otherwise patent-ineligible idea?
  2. In assessing patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of a computer-implemented invention, should it matter whether the invention is claimed as a method, system, or storage medium; and should such claims at times be considered equivalent for § 101 purposes?
The panel decision stressed that patent eligibility must be determined by what is evident from specific, concrete applications of the ideas behind an invention disclosed in the claims. The panel opinion, written by Judge Linn in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.,  132 S. Ct. 1289 (2012), included the following observation:
[N]othing in the Supreme Court’s precedent, nor in ours, allows a court to go hunting for abstractions by ignoring the concrete, palpable, tangible, and otherwise not abstract invention the patentee actually claims. It is fundamentally improper to paraphrase a claim in overly simplistic generalities in assessing whether the claim falls under the limited “abstract ideas” exception to patent eligibility under 35 USC §101. Patent eligibility must be evaluated based on what the claims recite, not merely on the ideas upon which they are premised.

The challenged patents in this case are directed to a computerised trading platform for exchanging obligations in which a trusted third party settles obligations between a first and second party so as to eliminate “settlement risk.” The district court granted a summary judgment motion that the claims were not patent eligible because they are directed to an abstract idea. On appeal the Federal Circuit panel reversed, concluding that the system, method, and media claims are directed to practical applications of an invention falling within the categories of patent eligible subject matter defined by Section 101.
To read the Court’s order for en banc review, click here; to read a summary of the panel decision and obtain a copy of Judge Linn’s opinion, click here.

Hobart.com Domain Name Sale

An Australian domain name company has sold Hobart.com.au for $65,000 to a website hosting business after purchasing the website for just $875 back in 2005, highlighting the potential riches in buying and selling geographic domains.
See Article

Google Sued in New Zealand, and wins

Google NZ was sued for defamation.  The lawsuit was dismissed on summary judgment, because it was decided that the Google NZ entity was not carrying on business in New Zealand and had no control over the search engine.  The court left open the question of whether Google is responsible for defamatory material that it produces from its search engine.
See NZ Court Decision (A v. Google New Zealand Ltd) and comment.

Facebook Photo Removed

A business was found to have breached advertising standards in relation to a photo on Facebook.  See Smart Company

Donuts Applies for Most gTLDs

The single most aggressive bidder for lucrative new web domains is a little-known investment group: Donuts Inc. Its $57 million play for 307 new domains - more than Google, Amazon and Allstate combined - has prompted alarm among industry groups and internet watchdogs.

See SMH

Employees Violating Computer Misuse Policy

In July, the Fourth Circuit weighed in on the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, LLC v. Miller and found that the CFAA is not broad enough to impose liability on an employee who has lawful access to his employer's electronic information but later misuses that information - such as by stealing the employer's electronic trade secrets. In taking this narrow approach to the CFAA and siding with the Second and Ninth Circuits, the Fourth Circuit has widened the circuit split over whether the CFAA applies to disloyal employees who violate the computer use policies of their employer. In this Legal Alert, Audra Dial and John Moye discuss the Fourth Circuit's recent ruling and its impact for employers drafting computer use policies as well as companies pursuing trade secret claims through the CFAA.

See kilpatrickstockton.com

New Cyber Data Laws

See Cyber Data Law story.

"NEW laws will allow authorities to collect and monitor Australians' internet records, including their web-browsing history, social media activity and emails. But the laws, which will specifically target suspected cyber criminals, do not go as far as separate proposed laws designed to retain every Australian internet user's internet history for two years in the name of national security. Under the laws passed yesterday, Australian state and federal police will have the power to compel telcos and internet service providers to retain the internet records of people suspected of cyber-based crimes, including fraud and child pornography. Only those records made after the request will be retained, but law enforcement agencies will be prevented from seeing the information until they have secured a warrant."

Publicity Monster

An interesting story about a company that promised to improve your Google rankings.
See Publicity Monster Investigated.

Apple beats Samsung in Court - First Reactions

Apple won one of the largest patent damages awards against Samsung.  First reactions.  News Report.  Will this impact the Australian court cases?

Copyright and the Digital Economy Issues Paper


The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) released the Issues Paper for its current inquiry into Copyright and the Digital Economy.

Headed by Professor Jill McKeough (Dean of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney), the review is focusing on the suitability of current exceptions and statutory licences in the evolving digital marketplace.

See Note here.

Paypal Over Zealous and Uncaring?

From The New York Times:
Some PayPal Users Criticize Antifraud Measures

Some of the payment service’s users say the company needlessly freezes their accounts when large transactions are involved.

http://nyti.ms/QuD0EC

Smirnoff Responsible for Comments of Users on Facebook

The Board considered that the Facebook site of an advertiser is a marketing communication tool over which the advertiser has a reasonable degree of control and could be considered to draw the attention of a segment of the public to a product in a manner calculated to promote or oppose directly or indirectly that product. The Board determined that the provisions of the Code apply to an advertiser’s Facebook page. As a Facebook page can be used to engage with customers, the Board further considered that the Code applies to the content generated by the advertisers as well as material or comments posted by users or friends.”


See Diageo Australia 

Computer Patent - Patentable Subject Matter

A system claim which includes as a limitation a computer to perform steps in a method is ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. §101 as a claim to an abstract idea because the computer functions solely as an obvious mechanism to solve a problem quickly, the Federal Circuit held July 26, 2012. Bancorp Services, L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (U.S.), Fed. Cir., No. 2011-1467, 7/26/12.

The asserted patents are directed to systems and methods for administering and tracking the value of life insurance policies in separate accounts. The Federal Circuit affirmed a district court summary judgment that the patents are ineligible for patent protection because the claimed computer components are no more than objects that facilitate the operation of claimed methods directed to an abstract idea. It held that a machine, system, medium, or the like may in some cases be equivalent to an abstract mental process for purposes of patent ineligibility.

To read the Court's opinion in this case, click here.

Online Auctions - Terms Unfair

See Malam v Graysonline, Rumbles Removals and Storage (General) [2012] NSWCTTT 197
  1. The CCAAC then went on to recommend that “online transactions (including online auctions such as eBay) should be covered by the national statutory consumer guarantees in the same way as in-store transactions” (Recommendation 10.1, page 111).
  2. In the light of this recommendation, and the clear intention of the Australian Consumer Law to provide wide ranging protection for consumers, I consider that the purpose of provision will best be met by limiting auctions to physical auctions where the consumer does have the opportunity to inspect the goods before purchasing, analogous to in-store transactions.
  3. In the circumstances, I am not satisfied this arrangement was a sale by auction and therefore s. 54 and 55 of the Australian Consumer Law apply.

Google's Top Lawyer: Some Apple Inventions are Commercially Essential, Should Be Made Into Standards

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he wants other companies to "invent their own stuff", and that Apple shouldn't be "inventor for the world". 

Google General Counsel Kent Walker disagrees, and this month wrote a letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee arguing that commercial inventions that impact "consumer welfare" should be just as important as technical patents.

See Here

e-book pricing

On Friday, the Department of Justice responded to the over 800 comments filed in its settlement with a group of publishers over e-book pricing. The Department responded as part of the Tunney Act proceeding for the settlement, while it is in the midst of litigating the same Complaint against Apple and publishers that did not settle.
The response can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/f285300/285315.pdf.
The comments are posted online and can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/apple/index.html

Apple v. Samsung

The Apple v. Samsung patent case restarted in Federal Court of Australia today.  See Sydney Morning Herald

U.S. Federal Circuit Responds to Supreme Court on Patent Eligibility

Reversing a summary judgment of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C.§101, the Federal Circuit in a 2-1 decision responded to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Prometheus v. Mayo with the caution that patent eligibility must be decided by examining claims for specific, concrete applications of the ideas behind an invention.  CLS Bank v. Alice Corp., Fed. Cir., No. 11-1301, 9 July 2012.  Alice Corporation Pty Ltd is an Australian corporation.

According to the Court, if, after taking all of the claim recitations into consideration, it is not “manifestly evident” that a claim is directed to a patent ineligible abstract idea, that claim must not be deemed for that reason to be inadequate under Section 101.


Judge Prost dissented, writing that the majority failed to follow the Supreme Court’s Prometheus ruling by not inquiring whether the claims include an “inventive concept” and by devising its own patentable subject matter test.

The challenged patents in this case are directed to a computerized trading platform for exchanging obligations in which a trusted third party settles obligations between a first and second party so as to eliminate “settlement risk.”  The district court granted a summary judgment motion that the claims were not patent eligible because they are directed to an abstract idea.  On appeal the Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that the system, method, and media claims are directed to practical applications of an invention falling within the categories of patent eligible subject matter defined by Section 101.

The “abstract ideas” test for patent eligibility has become a serious problem because of its “abstractness,” Judge Linn observed.  He noted that several Supreme Court decisions have discussed the concept of “preemption” to elucidate the “abstract idea” exception to patent eligibility.

However, he added that Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 188 (1981), addressed claims containing a mathematical equation, and held that they only foreclosed the general use of the equation in conjunction with all of the other steps in the claimed process.  Thus, the essential concern, according to the Court, is not preemption per se, but the extent to which preemption results in the foreclosure of innovation.

With respect to implementing inventions in computer hardware or software, the court stated that the “mere implementation” on a computer of an otherwise ineligible abstract idea will not render the invention patent eligible, citing Fort Props. Inc. v. Am. Master Lease LLC, 671 F.3d 1317 (Fed. Cir. 2011).

However, Judge Linn wrote that a machine limitation can render a method patent eligible where the machine imposes a meaningful limit on the scope of the claim and where it plays a significant part in permitting the claimed method to be performed, citing SiRF Tech., Inc. v. Int’l Trade Comm’n, 601 F.3d 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2010).  A machine is insufficient, he added, if it functions solely as an obvious mechanism for permitting a solution to be achieved more quickly, i.e., through the utilization of a computer for performing calculations.  A claim that is drawn to a specific way of doing something with a computer is likely to be patent eligible, Judge Linn explained, whereas a claim to nothing more than the idea of doing that thing on a computer may not. He added the following:
While the use of a machine in these limitations is less substantial or limiting than the industrial uses examined in Diehr (curing rubber) or Alappat (a rasterizer), the presence of these limitations prevents us from finding it manifestly evident that the claims are patent ineligible under § 101. … In such circumstances, we must leave the question of validity to the other provisions of Title 35.

To read the Court’s opinion and the dissenting opinion, click here.

New gTLDs by Australian Companies

Here is my list of new gTLDs applied for by Australian companies, Universities and governments.  There were a number of Victorian Universities who applied, plus the NSW Government and the Victorian Government.  Commonwealth Bank made three applications, as did iSelect.  A number will be contested (as marked in bold) below.

  • AFL
  • AMP
  • ANZ
  • AUSPOST
  • BEST
  • BOND
  • BOOK
  • CANCERRESEARCH
  • CBA
  • CEO
  • COMMBANK
  • NETBANK
  • COURSES
  • FILM
  • GLOBALX
  • IINET
  • KRED
  • LATROBE
  • COMPARE
  • SELECT
  • ISELECT
  • CPA
  • MELBOURNE
  • MONASH
  • NAB
  • UBANK
  • PHYSIO
  • RMIT
  • SALON
  • SBS
  • TAB
  • TENNIS
  • SEEK
  • SELECT
  • SEVEN
  • STUDY
  • SYDNEY
  • WEBJET
  • WOODSIDE
  • YELLOWPAGES
There are a number of multiple applications for the one gTLD, such as ART, AUCTION, BOOK, BET, BABY, HOTEL, HOT, GROUP, GREEN, GAME, CLOUD, CLUB, AUDIO, AUTO, SECURITY, FREE, RIP, MOBILE, MUSIC, NEWS, NOW, ONLINE, PIZZA, PLAY, POKER, PROPERTY, RACING, RADIO, RESTAURANT, RUGBY, SALE, SCHOOL, SEARCH, SHOP, SITE, VIP and SUCKS.  There was one PORN application and two SEX applications (and one SEXY application).

There were two applications from New Zealand, KIWI and RIP.

Amazon made over 70 applications for words in English, and a bunch more in non-Roman text.  Google made about 100 applications, under the name Charleston Road Registry Inc..  Facebook did not make any applications.

Reveal Day



Tomorrow is gTLD Reveal Day


It is anticipated that 1,900 applications have been made for new gTLDs.  Information will be posted here tomorrow.

For background about the gTLD process and new gTLDs, see: B and T; and Mallesons.

What should you know for Reveal Day.  See "10 things" article. 

See also ICANN and here and WIPO LRO page.

Here's $10 off at Shoebuy.com

Save on shoes, accessories, handbags and apparel at Shoebuy.com. We've got something for everyone and for a limited time, you can save $10 on that special something. Valid on purchase of $50 or more.

Kim Dotcom on the offensive

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10809796 


Papers state the FBI allegations "turn a blind eye to laws ... that provide a safe harbour" for businesses which work to remove any material which infringes copyright. It stated there was no law which allowed cloud storage companies to face criminal charges over the actions of users.

Does MegaUpload have a DMCA defence?

Privacy and Opt-Out

Many people are aware of the use of cookies for tracking purposes.  But that is old technology.  Many advertisers use more sophisticated tec...