CLIP-ings: September 15, 2017

Internet Governance

Atypical Ads: Following Facebook’s disclosures about Russian-purchased political advertisements, Senator Warner of the Senate Intelligence Committee wants Congress to enact laws to regulate political digital advertising consistent with the laws for political television ads.

Rocky Tweets: A California court has refused to find the existence of a contract for the development of a Rocky franchise spinoff movie based on a series of tweets that the complaining party sent to actors from the original films, with the court concluding that broad disclosure of an abstract idea does not imply a promise to pay for that idea.

Privacy

Evasive Exchanges: Kaspersky Lab opened a pop-up shop in London where customers purchased exclusive items by street artist Ben Eine by providing certain amounts of personal data; the stunt was a thought experiment designed to make people more concerned about the information they give away every day.

Agency Access: Despite increasing congressional and state legislative protections on access to personal medical records, federal law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) can override existing state law to access and act on patient and prescription information without a warrant.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Diseased Devices: Google, Apple, and Microsoft are taking Armis Labs’ warnings seriously by creating updates to protect their devices, as at least 5.3 billion of the 8.2 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices worldwide are vulnerable to an attack called BlueBorne that requires no user involvement to spread between devices.

Better Bureaus? After a breach of credit bureau Equifax exposed the personal information of more than 143 million U.S. citizens, a group of Senators has reintroduced legislation that would require credit reporting agencies to provide more transparent credit reporting and injunctive relief if they mishandle credit information.

Intellectual Property

Outlawing Oldies: Last week, the civil rights classic “We Shall Overcome” lost its copyright protection as a New York federal judge determined that the song’s lyrics are not sufficiently different from that of the 1948 version, which is already in the public domain.

Win for Skin? A New York federal judge is expected to decide whether tattoos drawn on human skin is an “expressive medium” that can receive copyright protection, after a group of tattoo artists sued a video game creator for portraying in-game characters with tattoos mimicking the artists’ copyrighted designs.

Free Expression and Censorship

Enraged Emailer: A federal judge dismissed a libel suit from the self-proclaimed inventor of email against a Techdirt writer who regarded the inventor as a fraud because “the claim is incapable of being proven true or false[,]” the inventor of email depends on the definition of email, and there are many individuals that could be credited with this invention.

Practice Note

Board or Bench? Parties interested in resolving disputes through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) should consider the impact of recent decisions when bringing disputes before the Board, which now allow foreign trademark protection in the U.S., registration of disparaging marks, issue preclusion, and fee shifting for some TTAB decisions on appeal.

On The Lighter Side

Name Game: WiFi network names that often default to complicated alphanumeric chains are increasingly being personalized by users, with names like DropItLikeItsHotspot believed to add creativity and personality to homes and businesses.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: September 8, 2017

Internet Governance

Droning Differences: China’s adoption of stricter laws on flying drones resulted in many citizens flocking to aviation schools in pursuit of official licenses; meanwhile the FAA’s looser drone restrictions have provided telecommunications companies like AT&T and insurance companies like Allstate and Farmers Insurance the opportunity to utilize commercial drones in conducting their inspections for repairs and damages from Hurricane Harvey.

Wheels Up? Representatives from both sides of the aisle of the U.S. House voted to pass the SELF DRIVE Act, a move that will eventually allow companies to perform safety tests on up to 100,000 autonomous vehicles on regular roads if the legislation receives Senate approval.

Privacy

Win for Workers: The European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of worker privacy rights forcing employers to inform their employees of the monitoring of their work email accounts, make employees aware of the consequences of utilizing work email for personal correspondence, and require legitimate justifications for monitoring their accounts such as IT risks or illegal activity.

Personnel Passcodes: The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has suggested that demanding a soldier provide a phone passcode is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, reasoning that providing or entering a passcode while in custody can be considered a self-incriminating act.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Unkind Uploads: A 20-year old college student informed the Federal Communications Commission of a potential vulnerability to their commenting system in which, when commenting, an individual can upload an accompanying file harboring malware.

Pay Phones: Consumers around the world are now quicker to adopt mobile payment systems that run on their smartphones, citing convenience and confidence in security features like biometric authentication and notification capabilities despite the fact that smartphones are easier to hack than credit and debit cards.

Intellectual Property

Ripped Off: A soon-to-be-finalized settlement between major record labels and the world’s largest audio-ripping website will end a copyright infringement suit brought by the labels last year to enjoin the site from illegally distributing and profiting from millions of copies of label-owned music.

Coffee Flop: Starbucks has settled a trademark suit brought by the parent company of a single coffee shop in Brooklyn for allegedly infringing on its “Unicorn Latte” and drowning out the small shop’s opportunity to obtain fame for creating the drink.

Free Expression and Censorship

Fond of the Filter: Recently-leaked documents from the Council of the European Union show that Estonia, the current holder of the EU Presidency, is pushing for indiscriminate internet surveillance and to censor the internet in a manner similar to China, including a proposal to filter all uploaded content.

Practice Note

Keeping Up with Copyright: Recent developments in copyright law have drawn attention to some of the key issues in the area, including an updated test for separability used in the Star Athletica case, new case law to clarify who counts as a “repeat infringer” of copyrighted materials, and the still-open question of when a copyrighted work meets the registration requirement so that the owner can sue for infringement.

On The Lighter Side

Move Over Amazon: The government of Tanzania and Zipline International Inc. await the start of their partnership resulting in the world’s largest drone delivery service, which will distribute up to 2,000 life-saving medical supplies daily to the country’s 5,640 public health facilities.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP

CLIP-ings: September 1, 2017

Internet Governance

Interfered Innovation: Despite opposition from the Iranian people, Apple continues to aggressively remove apps developed for and by Iranians from its App Store in compliance with current U.S. sanctions against the country.

Privacy

Final Destination? Uber’s chief security officer has announced that users will once again be able to disable a feature that previously forced them to be tracked by the app for up to five minutes after completing a trip, in response to a series of controversies involving spying, stalking, and generally poor handling of private location data.

Fundamental Fears: Last week the Indian Supreme Court ruled that privacy is a fundamental right protected by their constitution; this move will hopefully alleviate the difficulties the Indian government faced in its push for the adoption of unique ID cards that store large amounts of sensitive information, from banking information to fingerprint data.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Please Drive Through: A group of security researchers have devised a way to remotely hack into internet-connected car washes by writing an “attack script” that can trap vehicles and can cause the machinery to damage the vehicle and even spray water on passengers inside.

Trust Issues: A WikiLeak revealed that the CIA utilizes its technical liaison service personnel to conduct software updates for its partner agencies; disguising a data siphoner as the software update, the CIA gains access to the agency’s biometric data to see if the agency is holding back information.

Intellectual Property

Cube Copy: Rubik’s Brand Ltd., maker of the iconic Rubik’s cube, sued another toy maker for manufacturing “twist puzzles” that allegedly copy the original trademark-protected design and create confusion among consumers in violation of the Lanham Act.

Crackin or Snackin: Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds LLC (Wonderful) is suing Utz Quality Foods LLC (Utz) for trademark infringement as alleging that Utz’s new slogan “Get Snacking” is too similar to and will likely cause mass customer confusion with Wonderful’s longstanding slogan “Get Crackin”.

Free Expression and Censorship

Away with Anonymity: To discourage “false rumors, filthy language and illegal messages,” China will require tech firms to track the real identity of any user who posts a comment in an online message board in what is being seen as the latest move by the Chinese government to silence political opposition.

Say Cheese? A group of voters interested in having the ability to take selfies with their marked ballots is asking a New York court to repeal a 127-year-old state law banning the practice of showing a completed ballot to others, claiming that the law violates their First Amendment rights despite concern that repealing the law would result in undue political pressure to show a ballot to others.

Practice Note

Acquisition Aspirations: As more startups now aim to be acquired by larger companies instead of to become long-term businesses, patent counsel should be mindful of the shift when advising startup clients on intellectual property matters and take into account not only the interest of the client to drive up its valuation but also the interest of the acquiring company to purchase a firm with substantial IP protection.

On The Lighter Side

Aww, Mom! An app designed by Toyota utilizing Google Map’s API to monitor teenage drivers, triggered by unlawful behavior such as texting and driving or surpassing the speed limit, results in the app playing an embarrassing Spotify playlist chosen by the teen’s parents until the teen resumes lawful motorist conduct.


Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Fordham CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP