Tighter Digital Protections on the Horizon
The fall-out from the Paula Broadwell investigation has resulted in more than the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. It’s resulted in increased scrutiny over government access to electronic data without the use of a warrant. Just this week, Senate
committee has unanimously approved of a measure amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986 which would increase security for e-mails. Instead of an administrative subpoena for certain electronically stored data, the government would need to meet the higher standard of showing probably cause that a crime had been committed. Although the bill is not expected to make it to the House until the new year, for those concerned about lack of protections, it is an
important step in ensuring digital security in an age where e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other internet use have become a pervasive fact of life. Even with the Senate’s recent actions, the area remains murky; recently, a court ruled Twitter was compelled to sell its data in fulfillment of its contract with a data-mining company.
A Compassionate Use of Patent Law
While some companies have become famed for their patent wars, not many companies make the news for refraining from patent litigations. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it will not pursue patent litigation against companies which make a copy of its anti-retroviral drug, Prezista (or generic darunavir), if those generics are going to patients in Africa or developing nations. Johnson & Johnson stated in a press release that ”intellectual property should not be a barrier to ensuring a sustainable supply of medically acceptable darunavir in the world’s poorest countries.” While prices are already reduced to $2.22 per day after J&J licensed its drug to a South African generics manufacturer, this move will hopefully encourage other manufacturers to participate, lowering prices even further. While the move is calculated to help those in need, Johnson
& Johnson has not participated in the new Medicines Patent Pool which is designed to make intellectual property available by pooling patents for generic makers to use.
An Inconvenient Solution at Doha
With time running out on the Kyoto Protocol, nations are meeting at Doha to discuss the possibility of a new climate deal or at least extending the time commitments on the aging treaty. The Kyoto Protocol mandates binding cuts in carbon emissions for those nations party to the treaty. While the United States never signed the Kyoto Protocol, international climate laws have become increasingly geared towards curbing carbon emissions. Just two years ago, another
UN conference agreed to limit temperature rises to near pre-industrial levels. However, this has proven difficult to accomplish, not the least because several developed nations, including Japan, Russia, and Canada, are pulling out of the treaty or else can use hot air permits to increase their emissions.
Research in Motion Loses Patent Dispute
RIM has lost a patent dispute in an arbitration against Nokia this month concerning its current license agreement. The judgment is not appealable but is enforceable in U.S. Courts, leading RIM to the dilemma of either needing to stop its production of wifi enabled devices or else license the technology from Nokia and pay royalties. The cell-phone maker has already filed suit in the Northern District of California.
Google’s Antitrust Woes
Although the Federal Trade Commission has yet to act, reports have circulated that it is investigating and in talks with Google to resolve concerns over unfair trade practices relating to both its search engine and phone technologies. The European Union is also conducting its own investigation into Google’s business practices.