Intellectual Property

News Roundup 2012 Week 21: Microsoft battles Google, Facebook IPO Flops, Amazon Shareholder Meeting, SpaceX

International News

Microsoft wins Patent Battle with Google In a battle between two of the largest US companies, round one goes to Microsoft. A German court ruled that Motorola, which was recently taken over by Google, infringed one of Microsoft’s patents which allows long text messages to be divided into smaller parts and reassembled by the receiving mobile phone.

Microsoft can now demand that a German sales ban on Motorola products if it chooses, or it may demand a license fee to be paid by Google for the rights to use the Microsoft patent. Google says it may appeal the decision.

National News

Facebook IPO Flops; Morgan Stanley Hit Hard Facebook’s epic IPO flop has hurt more than the social media giant. Morgan Stanley,...

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Intellectual Property

Mixed Decision in Oracle v. Google Copyright Infringement Case

On Monday, the jury reach a mixed decision in the case involving Oracle Corp.’s claims that Google Inc. infringed copyrights protecting Oracle’s Java technology. The jury decided that Google made use of Oracle’s Java interfaces when Google was developing its Android mobile phone software. However, the jury was unable to reach a decision on whether or not the use was protected under the fair use doctrine—an exception to copyright law that allows for limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

The jury, after deliberating for nearly a week, found that Google infringed a minimal amount of Java code while it developed the Android software. Due to the minimal amount, Oracle is only entitled to recover statutory damages,...

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Intellectual Property

The Copyright Exception: Works Made For Hire

At some point during the life of your business, there’s a good chance you’ll hire an outside worker, or an independent contractor. When you do, it’s best to have a well-drafted independent contractor services agreement that details the scope of services, wages, and other important details about the project. In addition, you’ll want to protect one of the most important aspects of your business, your intellectual property. Today’s post details the copyright issues related to a work “made for hire”—i.e. projects completed by an independent contractor. Understanding these key issues may protect you and your business from costly litigation over intellectual property ownership and interest disputes.

The 1976 Copyright Act Under the Copyright Act, a work is protected by copyright automatically at...

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Intellectual Property

The Stored Content Safe Harbor Provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

US Copyright Law To appreciate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s important to understand the broader copyright scheme. Copyright law protects a broad range of literary and artistic expression, including written works, photography, and videos. An owner of copyright protected material has the exclusive right to (1) make copies, (2) prepare derivative works, (3) sell and distribute the original and all copies or derivative works, and (4) perform and display the work. Copyright holders also have moral rights, including attribution rights and the right to prevent distortion.

What is the DMCA? Enacted in 1998, the DMCA is a United States law aimed at protecting intellectual property and preventing copyright infringement. The DMCA is a response to increasingly widespread internet usage and rapidly...

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Intellectual Property

Who Can Access Your Digital Accounts When You Die?

Have you ever wondered what will happen to your Facebook account or your Shutterfly photo album when you die? Perhaps you wrote a masterpiece novel that is saved in your Gmail account. Can your loved ones access it or will it be lost forever after you pass away? The current laws in the US are vague. As our society becomes more and more reliant on Internet and “cloud-based” services, the legal questions related to privacy issues and access to digital accounts continue to grow.

In late January, the Uniform Law Commission, a national group of lawyers appointed by state governments to research and draft uniform state laws, proposed creating a committee to study issues related digital assets. The major goal is to figure...

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Intellectual Property

Social Media Legal Issues: (Post Number 5): Copyright, Trademark, and other Intellectual Property (IP) issues

Intellectual property (“IP”) issues, particularly issues surrounding copyright law, are issues every business is likely to encounter when engaging with customers via social media. Copying and pasting a picture, song, video, document, or webpage onto your business’ profile to share via social media is easy. And many social media users are doing it.

Nevertheless, sharing “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium” (i.e. original content) created by others, unless you have explicit permission to do so, is usually in violation of the copyright laws meant to protect, and by extension promote, the creation of original content.

And intentionally or inadvertently associating your business, your products, or your service with the trademarks of another can open you to liability for infringement.

To...

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Intellectual Property

Social Media Legal Issues: (Post Number 4): Trade Secrets, Confidential Information, and Your Company’s Social Media Strategy

Protecting your business’ confidential information is critical, and social media has undoubtedly made this process more difficult. The inherent nature of social media is to spread information— not to protect it. But if you—and your employees—understand trade secrets (and other confidential information), as well as who owns “your” social media accounts, you can help protect your business from the damage of inadvertent or wrongful disclosure.

So what is a “trade secret”? Generally, a “trade secret” is information that (1) is maintained in confidence, (2) has commercial value from not being generally known, and (3) is not readily ascertainable by proper means. The more detailed and difficult the information is to obtain, the more likely it is a trade secret.

For your information to...

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Intellectual Property

Bid Farewell to SOPA

The chief sponsor of SOPA, Lamar Smith (R-Texas), reported Friday that SOPA will be pulled “until there is wider agreement on a solution.” Smith said he has heard all the criticism andconcerns regarding the proposed anti-piracy legislation. He said “it is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”

It’s not surprising that the bill was pulled Friday, following widespread Internet protests, White House opposition, and several key players in Congress dropping their support for SOPA and PIPA. Both bills have been pulled for now.

It’s interesting how quickly things change in Congress. Just two days ago, Smith told the Wall Street Journal that he would...

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Intellectual Property

The Latest in the Battle Against Piracy

Megaupload Employees arrested for “Mega Conspiracy” The hottest topic of 2012, the debate over the anti-piracy legislation SOPA and PIPA, just got hotter. In the wake of widespread website blackouts and decreasing congressional support for the broad anti-piracy legislation, U.S. authorities charged Megaupload.com, a major Internet content hosting site, for a massive copyright infringement scheme. The group of employees, including the founders, have been dubbed by prosecutors as “Mega Conspiracy.” They are accused of employing a scheme that took more than $500 million away from copyright holders and generated proceeds over $175 million from subscribers and advertisers. The allegations include copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to commit racketeering. The group of Megaupload employees...

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Intellectual Property

Co-Sponsors of SOPA and PIPA Abandon Ship

As promised, we’re bringing you the latest SOPA (and PIPA) updates. The latest news came late in the day Wednesday, a day where major sites including Wikipedia, and Reddit (and the Google banner) blacked out their sites to protest the overly broad anti-piracy legislation, SOPA and PIPA. SOPA co-sponsor Ben Quayle (Arizona), and PIPA co-sponsor Marco Rubio (Florida) announced they will no longer support the bills. Sen. Quayle pulled his name Tuesday, while Sen. Rubio didn’t pull his name until Wednesday.

Sen. Rubio announced his withdrawal through Facebook, noting that he believed the bill was being rushed through Congress and is likely to have unintended consequences if passed. Rubio is also trying to persuade his fellow co-sponsor, Harry Reid (Nevada), to...

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