CLIP-ings: April 26, 2018

Internet Governance

Huawei Investigation Continues: The Justice Department is reportedly investigating whether Huawei Technologies Co. violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, which could lead to criminal penalties for the company; the investigation comes after Congress proposed to block Huawei from government contracts and advised carriers, internet service providers, and private citizens against purchasing Huawei’s products.

EU Regulates Tech Commercial Relations: The European Union proposed rules that will for the first time govern commercial relations between tech giants and smaller businesses; the proposal requires target app stores, search engines, e-commerce sites, and hotel booking websites to be clear about how they rank search results and why they delist some services and empowers companies to collectively sue the online platforms for violation of these rules. 

Blockchain Verifies Jewelry: IBM and several jewelry companies, including Richline Group and Helzberg Diamonds, established a joint initiative called TrustChain to develop blockchain technology to trace the provenance of finished pieces of jewelry and ensure they are ethically sourced; the initiative tracks and authenticates diamonds and precious metals through every stage in the process of becoming finished jewelry and includes third-party oversight. 


Identity Theft Of Children: A study released by Javelin Strategy and Research claims that more than one million children in the United States were affected by identity theft last year, causing $2.6 billion in losses and $540 million in out-of-pocket costs for families; the study states 60 percent of identity fraud victims who are children know the identity thief, while only seven percent of adult victims personally know the perpetrator.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Hack On Hotel Master Keys: Security researchers uncovered a design flaw in the software of hotel master keys produced by VingCard, a global provider of hotel locking systems used in more than 42,000 properties in 166 countries; the researchers are helping hotels patch the problem, which allows hackers to create a master key to the building, within minutes using a regular hotel key, even if it is expired.

Bad Gamble: British teenager Kane Gamble was sentenced to two years at a youth detention center after pleading guilty to 10 hacking charges for hacking a number of high profile United States government employees, including former CIA director John Brennan and former director of intelligence, James Clapper; Gamble and others stole 40 attachments from Brennan’s email, broke into Clapper’s and his wife’s emails, and stole and leaked the contact info of 20,000 FBI personnel.

Intellectual Property

SCOTUS Upholds Patent Review Process: The Supreme Court upheld the Patent Office’s power to review and cancel issued patents through the inter partes review procedure of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB); the case, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC turned on whether PTAB’s administrative patent judges are constitutionally permitted to revoke patents or if this can only be done by Article III courts.

Monkey See, Monkey Selfie: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Indonesian crested macaque does not hold the copyright to selfies he took on a nature photographer’s camera in 2011, dismissing an appeal brought by PETA; the dispute over who owns the photo–monkey or man–arose when Wikipedia posted the image to its free to use website and the nature photographer asked to have it removed.

Free Expression and Censorship

Facebook Updates Community Standards: Facebook unveiled changes to its content review policy, adding an appeals process for removed content and releasing its moderation guidelines; the move–part of Facebook’s commitment to be more transparent about its content decisions–now allows posters of removed photos, videos, or posts to contest determinations they believe were wrongly made.

Texas’ ‘Revenge Porn’ Law Struck Down: A Texas appeals court struck down the state’s “Relationship Privacy Act,” holding that the statute is overbroad and infringes on free speech protections; the law, which passed the Texas Legislature unanimously in 2015, contains provisions that the state court worried could punish individuals who share intimate, private photos without knowing that they were, in fact, private. 

Practice Note

Yahoo! Fined $35M by SEC: The SEC announced that Altaba, the owner of the remnants of Yahoo!, agreed to pay a $35 million fine for failing until September 2016 to disclose a 2014 data breach in which hackers stole information from 500 million users; the SEC–which released guidance on disclosure of data breaches earlier this year–said in a statement that “public companies should have controls and procedures in place to properly evaluate cyber incidents and disclose material information to investors.”

On The Lighter Side

Going Green: Ever wonder how it feels to be the Hulk? Now you can find out. A new force feedback jacket developed by Disney Research, MIT Media Lab, and Carnegie Mellon University uses inflatable airbags to simulate the experience of turning into the superhero.

Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

“We Gucci”:  After a nine-year intellectual property dispute between Gucci and Guess, the two brands reached a confidential settlement in longstanding a trademark infringement case that saw Gucci file suit in not only the U.S., but also in Italy, France, Australia, and China; the suit alleged that Guess was guilty of counterfeiting, unfair competition, and trademark infringement for its interlocking “G” logo on a line of Guess shoes.

Give Me a Break:  In advance of a final decision from the Court of Justice about whether the four-fingered shape of the KitKat bar is enough to justify the 2006 EU trademark KitKat holds, the advocate general recommended to the Court that there is not enough evidence to show that the chocolate is sufficiently known in the EU.

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

EU Debates Cyber System: The European Commission proposed legislation to create an EU-wide cybersecurity certification system for technology products by funding, staffing and giving oversight authority to Athens-based EU agency ENISA; France’s cybersecurity agency ANSSI, one of Europe’s largest authorities for preventing breaches and responding to threats, is a proponent of EU-wide certification, but argues that member states must keep a level of control over the process.

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

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP