Crowdsourcing Patent Analysis – A Team Effort
The USPTO, Google, and Stack Exchange have teamed up to crowdsource patent analysis and expand the scope of access in areas like software patents. For the first time in the history of American patent law, the USPTO is inviting third parties to submit relevant materials to patent examiners. Stack Exchange has set up a website which users can access pending patents, submit prior art, discuss patent validity. Google has pledged to have its own patent search engine’s search results display links to the Stack Exchange discussion. This will only be applicable to patent examinations that have been made public, and to prevent abuse of the site, a single person is limited to one submission per patent, with up to three pieces of prior art. Additional submissions will come at a fee of $120.
New Zealand’s MegaUpload Apology
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key formally apologized to MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom for surveillance carried out illegally on him by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB). The organization is prohibited from spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, and while Dotcom was not a citizen, he was classed as the holder of a residence class Visa, making him a permanent citizen for surveillance purposes. Dotcom accepted the apology via twitter, tweeting: @JohnKeyPM, I accept your apology. Show your sincerity by supporting a full, transparent & independent inquiry into the entire Mega case.
AT&T’s FaceTime Problems Persist
Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute stated their intent to file a complaint with the FCC against AT&T for allegedly violating net neutrality by blocking access to FaceTime—an iPhone and iPad application—unless a customer has subscribed to an AT&T data plan. The policy director of Free Press stated that AT&T’s actions constitute “a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules.” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated that while he could not comment specifically at this time, if a complaint is filed, the FCC is prepared to “exercise [its] responsibilities and…will act.”
Apple v. Samsung, the Aftermath
Apple and Samsung have both submitted filings following a billion-dollar jury verdict for Apple last month. Apple has requested an extra $535 million in damages, in addition to the permanent injunction it has already requested against sales of certain Samsung products. Apple bases this request on assertions that “the harm to Apple was deliberate”, claiming that “Samsung willfully diluted its trade dress.” Samsung, for its part, is alleging juror misconduct, and moving for judgment as a matter of law. Samsung cites a series of cases in which juror misconduct has led to a new trial, and argues that interviews given by the jurors “to news organizations provide evidence of misconduct serious enough to have influenced the verdict.”
Facebook Shareholder Fallout
Approximately 50 lawsuits have been filed against Facebook, Nasdaq, and the underwriters of Facebook’s IPO. Some attorneys predict “hundreds of arbitration claims to be launched against brokers and securities firms that pitched the company’s shares.” The cases allege that Facebook did not disclose to investors that the company’s growth “was suffering from a migration in customers to mobile devices from desktop computers.” (There is some concern about Facebook’s mobile device advertising model.) The company’s exposure to liability could be large, as the stock has dropped 47% from its IPO price. “IPOs are the most attractive kind of suit for the plaintiff’s bar,” says Professor John Coffee of Columbia Law School. Many of these lawsuits eventually conclude in settlement for 2-3% of the alleged losses. Many of the cases are already before Judge Robert Sweet in the Southern District of New York, and it is likely rest the cases will also be consolidated in New York.