Articles Posted in Technology

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Google EspañaLast month, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a preliminary ruling on the right of natural persons to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data. In the case, Mr. Costeja González, a Spanish national, had lodged a complaint with the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), the Spanish Data Protection Agency, concerning a then 12-year-old announcement in La Vanguardia Ediciones SL, a Spanish newspaper, that mentioned a real-estate auction connected with attachment proceedings for the recovery of Mr. González’s social security debts. Mr. González wanted his personal data in the announcement removed from the La Vanguardia website. In addition, he wanted Google Inc. or Google Spain to remove the La Vanguardia web pages from its search results.

The AEPD rejected the complaint against La Vanguardia because the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs had ordered the announcement to promote the auction and secure as many bidders as possible. However, the AEPD upheld the complaint against Google Spain and Google Inc. The Google companies then brought separate actions before the Audiencia Nacional (National High Court), which stayed the proceedings and referred several questions regarding Directive 95/46 to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

In upholding the right of data subjects to have certain search results associated with their names removed from search engines, the Court of Justice stated that search engines may initially be able to process accurate personal data regarding a person. However, over time, this right may conflict with the Directive if such results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” Accordingly, the right of privacy should be balanced against the economic interest of the search engine operator as well as the “interest of the general public in finding that information.” Continue reading →

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This morning, Governor Jerry Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA to sign a business agreement.

Computer History Museum

As expected, some people came to exercise their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceable assembly. But, the crowds were no where close to when President Obama visited in 2011.

Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanctions

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caduceusIn a recent filing, EveryMD LLC—perhaps best known for its (in)famous lawsuit against Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and approximately four million Facebook business account holders—is suing Facebook for allegedly infringing on its patent on its system for online communication that underlies its model for allowing patients to email doctors directly. According to the complaint, the patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 8,499,047, entitled “Method, apparatus and business system for online communication with online and offline recipients.”

According to the EveryMD.com website:

EveryMD’s Doctor E-Mailer service is a unique, free, patent-pending system that allows your office to receive online prescription refill requests and requests for scheduling appointments from patients on your office’s existing fax machine.

Specifically, EveryMD’s complaint alleges that the method by which Facebook generates “mask” email addresses in order to allow users to communicate with each other infringes on EveryMD’s patent.

I am not a patent attorney, so I will make no claim as to the merits of this case. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

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Yesterday, December 6, a Canadian company filed two lawsuits against Apple, alleging that the Cupertino, California, company infringed on several of its patents. One lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, names both Wi-LAN (the Canadian corporation) and Wi-LAN USA (its subsidiary) as the plaintiffs. The other lawsuit was filed on behalf of only the Canadian corporation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Both lawsuits target Apple products compliant with the Third Generation Partnership Project – Long Term Evolution (“3GPP LTE”) standard, specifically the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPad (3rd Generation).

The Texas lawsuit alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,381,211, entitled “Processing data transmitted and received over a wireless link connecting a central terminal and a subscriber terminal of a wireless telecommunications system” and issued in 2002. Wi-LAN seeks damages and an injunction against Apple for manufacturing and selling 3GPP-complaint products that allegedly infringe on its patented system.

The lawsuit filed in Florida alleges infringement on U.S. Patent No. 8,315,640, entitled “Methods and systems for transmission of multiple modulated signals over wireless networks.” It also alleges that Apple’s products infringe on U.S. Patent No. 8,311,040, entitled “Packing source data packets into transporting packets with fragmentation.” Both patents were filed in 2010 and issued only last month, November 2012.

Complaint in Wi-LAN USA, Inc. v. Apple Inc. (S.D. Fla.) Continue reading →

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Earlier this week, on December 3, Apple was sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for an alleged patent infringement. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a California corporation vaguely named Technology Licensing Company Inc.

According to the complaint, the Technology Licensing Company owns U.S. Patent No. 5,734,862, entitled “System for selectively buffering and displaying relevant frames from interleaving frames associated with respective animation sequences stored in a medium in response to user selection” and issued in 1998. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the inventor of the patent at issue is Charles J. Kulas, a patent attorney and former electrical engineer based out of San Francisco, California.

The complaint does not detail how Apple allegedly infringes on the patent, but it appears to relate to the making and reading of DVDs.

Complaint in Technology Licensing Company, Inc. v. Apple, Inc.

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On Thursday, November 29, Google was named as the defendant in a patent infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiff is a Delaware company called CreateAds LLC, which, according to its website, is a tool that allows people to create print ads for any U.K. newspaper or magazine. The company alleges in its complaint that Google’s “Google Sites” product infringes on the patented software that powers the plaintiffs.

The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 5,535,320, is entitled “Method of Generating a Visual Design” and was issued in 1996 to its inventors, Clive H. Gay and Henri W. Frencken. According to the complaint, Clive Gay’s company CreateAds is built upon the software described in the patent. The complaint alleges that Google Sites’ “template-based visual design generation products and services” infringe on the plaintiff’s patent.

Complaint in CreateAds LLC v. Google Inc.

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Last Thursday, November 29, a foreign corporation called Arendi filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Delaware. Arendi, organized under the laws of Luxembourg, alleges in its complaint that nearly all of Apple’s products infringe on three patents owned by the plaintiff:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7,917,843: “Method, system and computer readable medium for addressing handling from a computer program”
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,496,854: “Method, system and computer readable medium for addressing handling from a computer program”
  • U.S. Patent No. 8,306,993: “Method, system and computer readable medium for addressing handling from an operating system”

In its complaint, Arendi references two prior lawsuits it initiated against Microsoft and Dell, alleging infringement of the same patents. The complaint states that both of those lawsuits were settled and dismissed in November of last year.

Arendi asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment that Apple’s products infringe on Arendi’s patents; compensatory damages for the infringement; and injunctive relief to permanently prevent Apple from continuing to sell its allegedly infringing products.

Read more about the lawsuit on Patently Apple.

Complaint in Arendi S.A.R.L. v. Apple Inc.

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Massachusetts company Lexington Luminance LLC (“Lexington”) filed a lawsuit against Google, Inc. yesterday, November 29, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. It its complaint, Lexington alleges that Google’s Nexus 7 and other similar products infringe on a patent the company owns.

According to the complaint, the patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851, is entitled “Semiconductor Light-Emitting Device and Method for Manufacturing Same” and was issued to Lexington in 2005.

A Massachusetts business entity search reveals that the registered agent of Lexington is Tien Yang Wang, the inventor of the patent at issue. Organized in July 2012, the business has stated as its purpose “Technology Research and Development.”

Photo credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock.com

Complaint in Lexington Luminance LLC v. Google, Inc.

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Yesterday, November 29, Brent Matthew Scott filed a class action lawsuit against Google, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The lawsuit alleges that through its Gmail product, Google violated state laws against wiretapping.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that Google intercepts the plaintiff’s emails (and those of the entire class of plaintiffs) before they reach the intended recipients, in violation of the Florida Wiretap Act, codified at Florida Statute § 934.03.

Most of the lawsuits against Google that are brought under state and federal wiretapping laws have alleged that Gmail’s automatic scanning of emails for personalized ad placement violates state and federal law. However, the present lawsuit does not elaborate on the nature of Google’s alleged violations other than to say that the provider “intercepts” the emails.

As written, the complaint may not be sufficient to take the lawsuit very far. Under the precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, a complaint must make a “plausible” claim for relief to survive a motion to dismiss. To be plausible, a complaint must make allegations beyond mere legal conclusions; these conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. The bare assertions in the complaint as filed may fall short of this requirement, but the court may allow the plaintiff to amend the complaint and re-file it.

However, if this case shapes up like the other Gmail scanning cases, even a well-pleaded complaint may find difficulty winning the case on the merits, as explained in prior posts here on Onward.

Complaint in Scott v. Google, Inc.

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Apple acquired partial European trademark rights to the word “lightning” from motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson’s intellectual property unit, H-D Michigan, LLC, according to public filings with the European Union’s trademark and design unit (see below), and a blog post by Patently Apple.

Apple uses the term Lightning to describe its proprietary connection interface for iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTouch devices that were introduced starting in September 2012.

The trademark update, however, currently applies only in the EU, although it seems likely that Apple and H-D also negotiated for the transfer of certain U.S. trademark rights to the word mark.

The H-D unit filed a trademark registration on January 1, 1995, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “motorcycles and structural parts therefore,” and was awarded trademark registration by the USPTO for the word mark nearly 2.5 years later on June 3, 1997.
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