Articles Posted in Social Media

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Defense attorneys for Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg won’t oppose attorney Dean Boland’s motion to withdraw from representing plaintiff Paul Ceglia, as long as he can’t have his cake and eat it too, according to a new federal court filing (read it below).

First, they insist that a withdrawal “not be construed as authorizing any further delay” in the case, including a pending decision on a defense motion to dismiss Ceglia’s “fraudulent lawsuit” seeking a fifty-percent ownership stake in Facebook.

Second, Facebook’s attorneys want Boland’s in camera communication to the judge in support of his withdrawal made public, arguing that there is nothing confidential about Boland’s “personal reasons” for withdrawing because, they say, at the same time he filed a “‘self-serving’ memorandum that he admits was for ‘the media.'”


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After three years, language-learning software company Rosetta Stone settled its trademark lawsuit against Google over the company’s Adwords advertising program. (read the settlement below).

The litigation rollercoastered during that time. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Google’s motion to dismiss Rosetta Stone’s lawsuit on August 2, 2010, and the Rosetta Stone appealed the dismissal. In April 2012, however, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reinstated three (3) Rosetta Stone claims for direct infringement, contributory infringement, and trademark dilution.

Unfortunately, here is why the undisclosed terms of their settlement agreement won’t give any more insight into preventing online advertising trademark litigation in the future.


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Yesterday Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg scored a huge win against Paul Ceglia, the plaintiff claiming 50% ownership of the social media company, but whose allegations the defendants have consistently maintained are based upon a fraudulent work for hire document.

In a 24-page decision and order (D&O) issued Wednesday (read it below), U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio granted Zuckerberg and Facebook what appears to be a huge advantage in this closely watched case, approving their entire motion for “a protective order relieving them of any obligation to provide responses to all of [Ceglia]’s documents requests, and many of Plaintiff’s interrogatories.” Judge Foschio deemed all of the items the defendants wanted to bar “irrelevant” to Ceglia’s defense of the defendants’ summary motion to dismiss the case.

In granting the Zuckerberg and Facebook’s motion for a protective order, the court noted that Ceglia’s interrogatories and document fell outside the scope of the court’s April 30, 2012 D&O limiting the scope of discovery. Judge Foschio concluded that the six (6) year statute of limitations for breach of contract claims remained “the primary issue raised by Defendants’ Summary Judgment Motion.” Zuckerberg and Facebook have steadfastly maintained that “Ceglia’s Work for Hire document is [a] forgery.”

The purported document’s authenticity — or lack of it — is key to any court ruling on whether or not Ceglia’s claim to own 50% of the social media company is valid and enforceable. Handwriting and digital forensic experts remain an essential part of the case, assessing whether or not the alleged work for hire document is genuine.


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Evolutionary Intelligence, LLC sued Apple, social media companies Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, Groupon, and Living Social, telecom Sprint Nextel, and mobile advertising network Millennial Media in federal court yesterday, claiming infringement of 2 patents.

Curiously, the names of the patents are virtually identical, although the abstract and specifics are different.

They are:

  1. U.S. patent number 7,010,536, a “System and method for creating and manipulating information containers with dynamic registers,” and
  2. U.S. patent number 7,702,682, a “System and Method for Creating and Manipulating Information Containers with Dynamic Registers.”

Except for the defendants’ names and minor changes to the brief summaries of each defendant’s alleged infringement, the lawsuits essentially appear to cut and paste different defendants from one suit to another.

According to Delaware’s Dept. of State, Evolutionary Intelligence, LLC was formed just over four (4) months ago on June 15, 2012. Each complaint states that the plaintiff has a “principal place of business in San Francisco, California.”


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Why would a defendant litigate over four and a half years, finish conducting discovery, tell a court that it’s ready for trial, and then – only then – ask a plaintiff to admit that he posted photographs on Facebook and other social media sites?

That is the question answered in a recent New York decision by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Hector D. LaSalle. The case, Guzman v. Farrell Building Co., et al, highlights the consequences for a defendant who wants access to a plaintiff’s Facebook account after filing a note of issue and certificate of readiness to confirm that it is ready for trial.

Plaintiff Samuel Guzman, a construction worker, sued defendant general contractor Farrell Building Co. in early 2006 under New York Labor Law §240(1) for injuries he reportedly sustained in a two-story fall while at work building a home in the Hamptons. Cases filed under Labor Law § 240(1) impose strict liability against defendants found responsible for making sure that safety equipment is in place and operational in order to protect construction workers.

Four and a half years later, the GC informed the court that it completed discovery. It did this by filing a note of issue and certificate of readiness for trial. Soon after submitting this filing, however, the GC claimed its investigator had now found “several hundred photographs of the plaintiff that were posted to Internet media websites such as Facebook,” and others, that it believed were helpful to its case.


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Here is a summary of legal developments in five federal and state court cases last week that involved technology companies, or alleged activities by their users.

Samsung Cries Foul, Claiming Jury Foreman in Apple iPhone $1B+ Lawsuit Was Biased

In a motion filed last Tuesday, Samsung’s lawyers asked U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh to set aside the jury’s $1.05 billion iPhone lawsuit verdict in favor of Apple. They alleged that jury foreman and retired computer engineer Velvin Hogan failed to disclose that his former Silicon Valley employer Seagate Technology Inc. sued him in 1993, despite being asked by the judge whether he had been involved in any lawsuits.


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A former Chairman of the the Advisory Board of a professional mutual fund pleaded guilty today in federal court to a series of charges in a $13 million conspiracy to defraud in investors by falsely claiming that Praetorian Global Fund Ltd. privately owned pre-IPO Facebook and Groupon stock before each of the social media start-ups went public. In reality, the British Virgin Islands-based fund did not.

According to documents in the case, Mattera spent nearly $4 million of approximately $13 million illegally acquired in the conspiracy so that he and his family could have the accoutrements of a luxurious life: buying jewelry, expensive cars, and interior decorating projects.


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Last week, my colleague Ilana Bergstrom and I attended a session called “Law School for Digital Journalists” at a conference hosted by the Online News Association. Although both of us went to law school, the session seemed like an opportunity to learn about the unique issues that online journalists face. Indeed, the session promised “classes [on] the full range of legal issues that impact the professional lives of digital journalists: copyright, newsroom law, international media law, access and FOIA, and the legal issues involved in launching and running a digital news operation.” The instructors were experts on digital media law, presented in conjunction with the UNC Center for Media Law & Policy, the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Both of us found the speakers dynamic, the discussions interesting, and the material familiar yet refreshing. From First Amendment rights to U.K. copyright law to journalism/news business law, the topics covered reiterated the need for an ongoing dialogue between professionals in different fields. As a contributor to Justia’s Verdict and Onward Blog and with aspirations of writing more, I found the level of engagement to be stimulating, combining two of my own passions: writing and the law. Ilana writes for Justia’s Onward Blog and expressed similar satisfaction with the session’s treatment of the union of law and journalism.

As a side note, but of no less importance, we both thoroughly enjoyed the lunch presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning political animator Mark Fiore. His presentation combined humor, politics, and a no-holds-barred commentary on some oft-overlooked aspects of our society.


Tagged: journalism

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In a Solomonic ruling, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez recently denied a defendants’ sweeping Notice to Admit social media account postings by a personal injury plaintiff in Carr v. Bovis Lend Lease (read the decision below). In New York, unless a party objects to another’s pre-trial Notice to Admit, they run the risk of admitting something they don’t disagree with, potentially helping another litigant through inaction. In Carr, the defendants’ Notice to Admit sought to have plaintiff admit to making Facebook, Twitter, and other social media postings online, even though plaintiff only acknowledged having a Facebook account.

Here, Justice Mendez gave each party a little victory, and perhaps a setback too.


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Photographer Christopher Boffoli has filed a lawsuit against Twitter in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, claiming infringement of copyrighted photographs. The complaint alleges that “Twitter users copied numerous photographs from the Disparity Series without license or permission from Boffoli . . . . [and] were hosted either on Twitter or on third-party servers.”

Boffoli claims that Twitter could have removed the copyrighted photos from its own servers or “disable[d] each Tweet advertising or linking to” the photographs on its own or third-party servers.

Twitter’s Copyright Policy states that “We will respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement that comply with applicable law and are properly provided to us.” However, according to Boffoli’s complaint, despite repeated requests that Twitter take down the copyrighted materials, “Twitter has not removed or disabled access to the [copyrighted photos].”


Tagged: copyright, twitter