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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.” Continue reading →

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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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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Last week, Sprint filed several requests for the issuance of subpoenas in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The purpose of the subpoenas, according to the declarations accompanying them, is to reveal the identity of one who identifies him/herself as a ‘mole’ or insider in the company who may be violating Sprint’s copyright. The mystery mole has a Gmail account, as well as accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and Sprint has requested that the court subpoena all three companies.

The mystery mole purports to leak inside information “from deep within the enterprise,” though the logo on each of its pages contains nearly illegible text that says “Not affiliated w/ SprintNextel.”

The cases are Sprint Spectrum L.P. et al v. Facebook Inc., Sprint Spectrum L.P. et al v. Google Inc., and Sprint Spectrum L.P. et al v. Twitter, Inc. Continue reading →

In an outrageous misunderstanding of students’ off-campus free speech rights, an Indiana school district expelled a high school senior just three months shy of his graduation for tweeting an F-bomb from home at 2:30 AM.

Austin Carroll says that he sent the offending F-bomb tweet from home, from his own computer. He concedes that he agrees with the district that his tweet was inappropriate, but says he “just did it to be funny.” The Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District (the ‘District’) was not amused, claiming that he tweeted from school.

The school says that it reportedly learned about Austin’s tweet when he was online in school.

Even if the tweet was made off campus, it still doesn’t appear to have violated the school district’s “Responsible Use Policy” (the ‘Policy’) that is largely focused on integrating technology into classroom instruction, and making students pay for repairing damaged school notebooks and iPads (read it below).
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A new federal class action lawsuit (see below) charges that a host of well-known social media, app, and mobile device companies stole “literally billions of contacts” from users’ personal address books by illegally ‘harvesting’ personal data on the sly, without their knowledge or consent.

The 152-page complaint seeks monetary damages under both federal and Texas state law that could be enormous, injunctive relief, equitable relief “to mandate fixes to these mobile devices and apps” to stop alleged privacy violations, as well as attorneys fees and expenses.
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A Freedom of Information Act (‘FOIA’) lawsuit (below) by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (‘EPIC’) reveals that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security paid contractors to monitor Facebook, Twitter other social networks, blogs, and comments on news media websites.

The documents (below) disclose that the federal government paid at least $1.16 million to private contractor General Dynamics to monitor social networks, blogs, and news media sites for “public reaction to major governmental proposals with homeland security implications.” That’s government bureaucratic-speak for public dissent.

The legal implications of U.S. social networking surveillance programs tracking dissent of its own citizens, even with open source tools, are deeply disturbing.
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More lawyers are learning the hard way that courts will not grant social media discovery requests without first laying a foundation for access to the accounts and information being sought.

A trial court judge on New York’s Long Island recently granted two different motions to strike defense requests for social media and electronic discovery in a single personal injury case (read the decision below).

The decision reinforces the idea that Facebook “fishing expeditions” are likely to be denied. Lawyers who simply ask for social media and electronic data, will be wishing they had done their homework, because without showing how and why they should be granted access to it, their requests will almost certainly be denied.
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A juror who tweeted during a murder trial, and while he and his fellow jurors deliberated, led the Arkansas Supreme Court to reverse the conviction of a 26-year-old death row inmate.

While there were other factors that led the court to send the case back for a new trial, the tweets played a key role in its decision.

We’re not talking about a one time tweet either. The juror was a consistent, repeat offender who ignored the trial judge’s jury instructions even before opening statements about the case. He just couldn’t shake the Twitter bird off his back.
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