STLR Link Roundup – November 27, 2013

Newegg found by jury to have infringed patent, owes $2.3 million

Newegg lost its latest case against a non-practicing patent holder (or “patent troll”), and has been ordered by a jury to pay $2.3 million to TQP Development for patent infringement. TQP, owned by patent enforcement expert Erich Spangenberg, holds a patent related to SSL and TLS encrypting, a common Internet cipher used by online retailers such as Newegg, as well as other companies from whom TQP has procured awards. The expert for Newegg, famed cryptographer Whitfield Diffie, was unable to persuade the 8-person jury, which deliberated for three hours immediately following closing arguments. Although Newegg is disappointed with the result, it has made a name for itself fighting patent trolls and intends to appeal the case.

Since December of 2008, TQP Development has filed over 100 cases using its patent, which recently survived a reexamination by the USPTO in 2011. Further litigation is expected on the TQP patent, which is related to the generation of pseudo-random key values.

U.S. working to stop U.N.’s effort to promote universal online privacy

A Brazilian and German proposal at a U.N. General Assembly seeks to apply the right to privacy (as written in the ICCPR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to online communications. A draft of the resolution asserts that the “same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.” The U.S. has circulated a memo to its allies calling for changes to the text of the draft. The U.S. redlines with the objectives of removing “suggestion that [privacy rights] obligations apply extraterritorially” and clarifying that violations of privacy rights do not necessarily violate freedom of expression, another right under the ICCPR. In the wake of the international backlash against NSA spying, the U.S. continues to seek to preserve its right to conduct overseas espionage.

2013 Tesla Model S has issues with nighttime electricity management

Impromptu testing by one freelance writer resulted in the finding that the luxury electric sport sedan was losing about a mile of range for every hour that the car sat unplugged during the night. A Tesla hotline operator confirmed the “vampire” problem. Because the V4.2 software does not include a sleep mode, car owners could expect losses of 8-10 miles of range per day during unplugged periods. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has addressed the problem and promised that new software would reduce vampire losses to a miniscule amount.

Year-to-date, Tesla stock (NASDAQ: TSLA), has gained 241.74%.

FDA orders DNA analysis company 23andMe to halt sales

23andMe’s main product, the Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service, tells users whether they carry a disease, are at risk for one, and whether they would respond to a drug. The FDA concluded that the uses fall into the medical device category, and therefore require FDA approval. In a statement, the regulatory agency said that it is “concerned about the public health consequences of inaccurate results from the PGS device” and is requiring compliance to “ensure that the tests work.” This is not the first time 23andMe has heard of the FDA’s concerns. When it submitted FDA applications in 2012 for medical device review, the FDA reported that the company did not address “the issues described during previous interactions.” UnitedHealth Group Inc., (NYSE: UNH) the largest exchange-traded U.S. health insurer, has raised concerns about the accuracy and affordability of the tests. The insurer projected in a March 2012 report that such genetic testing services may turn into a $25 billion annual within the decade, highlighting a possible need for public regulation.

About the Author

Jeff Zhang

Jeff Zhang is a Staffer for the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. He is a 2L at Columbia Law School.
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