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Technology Law Source

Mapping the evolving legal landscape

Coinye West will not take over bitcoin’s reign on cryptocurrency

Posted in Information Technology, Intellectual Property, Trademarks

There’s exciting news in the world of cryptocurrency, the exchange medium that uses cryptography to secure the transactions and control the creation of new units. Bitcoin, created in 2009, was the first cryptocurrency and remains the most popular, though numerous other cryptocurrencies, such as Coinye, have emerged in the interim.

Where can you find cryptocurrency? Certainly not at your local bank.

Cryptocurrency is essentially digital money, a virtual medium of exchange that is not issued, backed, or tied to any particular nation or government. Cryptocurrency derives value through a variety of ways, such as buying either from exchanges, or directly from other people selling them, or try your hand at mining, which requires software you download to your computer.

After obtaining cryptocurrency, such as a bitcoin, the next hurdle is finding someone who will accept the currency in exchange for goods and services — which isn’t as difficult as you might think. Analysts estimate that over 65,000 bitcoin transactions occur every day through electronic transactions. What types of goods and services are exchanged, you may ask? Almost anything from the mundane products, such as electronics or dog apparel, to swanky cocktails or a Tesla, or to the illegal, including drugs and guns. Because purchases occur online through user’s virtual wallets, purchasers can remain anonymous and law enforcement can’t freeze their accounts.

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Back to school – time to get educated about the newest gTLDs

Posted in Domain Names, gTLDs, Intellectual Property, Trademarks

Ready for the first day of sunrise

ICANN continues to make big strides in widening the Internet playing field. To date, ICANN has invited 1,159 new gTLDs to contract, and of those 1,159 invited, 495 registry agreements have been signed. From the 495 applicants who have signed a registry agreement, ICANN has delegated 357 new gTLDs to the root zone including the newest 20 that have been delegated since our last post. The newly delegated gTLDs are:

  • .tatar
  • .wales
  • .gifts
  • .sarl
  • .cymru
  • .restaurant
  • .bnpparibas
  • .佛山 (Chinese city of Foshian)
  • .广东 (Chinese province of “Guangdong)
  • .sca
  • .caravan
  • .cern
  • .ltda
  • .property
  • .hosting
  • .help
  • .uol
  • .ooo
  • .how
  • .diet
  • .click

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Privacy law in the U.S. and Europe: University of Amsterdam Summer Course explores current issues

Posted in Information Technology, Privacy, Social Media

On July 7-11, 2014, a group of 25 privacy lawyers met in a historic building overlooking the Keizersgracht, one of Amsterdam’s most beautiful canals, and spent five days learning about U.S. privacy law, European data protection law, and the complex interactions between them. The setting was the Summer Course on Privacy Law and Policy, presented by the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law (IViR), one of the largest information law research centers in the world. Course faculty included leading practitioners, regulators and academics from both sides of the Atlantic. Course participants came from an even wider geographic area that included Hungary, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Switzerland, the UK, Belgium and Canada. I was lucky enough to serve as a co-organizer of, and faculty member in, the course. In this post, I describe presentation highlights and identify some cross-cutting themes that emerged during the week.

Dr. Kristina Irion, Marie Curie Fellow at IViR (and the other course organizer) started the course with “An Update on European Data Protection Law and Policy.” The Summer Course does not try to cover every aspect of privacy law. Instead, it focuses on law and policy related to the Internet, electronic communications, and online and social media. In her presentation, Irion analyzed the latest European legal and policy developments in these areas. The most important such development is the proposed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a major reform proposal that several of the faculty presenters believe will become law in 2015.

The GDPR would replace the current patchwork of national data protection laws with a single, harmonized, directly enforceable Regulation. It will establish new substantive rights and principles such as the Right to be Forgotten and the principle of Data Portability. It will also create new obligations for organizations including the implementation of privacy by design and privacy impact statements. Dr. Irion identified and discussed other significant developments in EU data protection law including the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) holding in SABAM v. Scarlet that ISPs may not be asked to filter content to protect copyright, and its landmark decision in Google v. AEPD that individuals may, in certain circumstances, require companies to remove online links to embarrassing information (the so-called Google Right to be Forgotten case). Continue Reading

Ready. Set. Go. FTC patent troll study cleared for takeoff

Posted in Intellectual Property, Patents

Last week, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget approved the FTC’s request to study how patent assertion entities (PAEs or, less charitably, patent trolls) operate and to what extent they affect competition and innovation. The study was originally proposed in September 2013 and modified this past May in response to public comment.

As we described previously in a two-part series of articles (read part 1 and part 2), the study will be conducted in two segments and is designed to answer the following questions:

  • How do PAEs organize their corporate legal structure, including parents, subsidiaries, and affiliates?
  • What types of patents do PAEs hold and how do they organize their holdings?
  • How do PAEs acquire patents; who are the prior patent owners; and how do they compensate prior patent owners?
  • How do PAEs engage in assertion activity (i.e., how do they behave with respect to demands, litigation, and licensing)?
  • What does assertion activity cost PAEs?
  • What do PAEs earn through assertion activity?
  • How does PAE patent assertion behavior compare to that of other entities that assert patents? Continue Reading

A new Ohio weapon against patent trolls?

Posted in Intellectual Property, Patents

Ohio may become the next state — after Virginia, Georgia, and thirteen other states — to take on the fight against patent trolls. A bill pending in Ohio’s General Assembly, H.B. 573, would provide additional tools to thwart abusive tactics by patent trolls. But how useful those tools may prove in the battle against the problems they are intended to remedy is yet to be seen.

“Patent troll” is a pejorative term without a well-defined meaning. It is widely used to describe an entity that does not make or sell any products or services, but acquires patents from others and then seeks to exact licensing fees through abusive tactics, including meritless assertions of patent infringement. Because defending against patent infringement claims can be an expensive endeavor, those targeted by meritless lawsuits often opt to pay patent trolls’ relatively low demands rather than aggressively defend against the claims in court. It is a decision that can leave business leaders steaming because, in their view, their companies are essentially being subjected to a shake-down by the threat of a meritless lawsuit.

In addition to frustrating business leaders, abusive practices in enforcing patents can stymie the economy. When companies are forced to settle meritless claims of infringement, they have less to spend on payroll, research and development, and other expenses that add value to the company and make it more likely to contribute to a thriving economy. Thus, patent trolls (as defined above) harm their targets, but they also negatively impact society more generally. Continue Reading

Delegation slows this week but the gTLD program is still going steady

Posted in Domain Names, gTLDs, Intellectual Property, Trademarks

Three new gTLDs have been delegated to the root zone since our last post. The newest group of gTLDs to be delegated include:

  • .gent
  • .nrw
  • .scb

gTLDs in Sunrise period — update

The following gTLDs are now added to the long list of gTLDs available for sunrise registrations so far this month: Continue Reading

ICANN continues to rapidly expand the Internet this summer — newest statistics released

Posted in Domain Names, gTLDs, Intellectual Property, Trademarks

As of July 4, 2014 ICANN announced that out of the 1,930 applicants received in 2012, 1,146 have been invited to contracting. Contracting is the process through which ICANN will contact eligible applicants and engage with them through execution of the registry agreement. Contracting is part of the transition to delegation phase of the New gTLD Program. To date, 464 registry agreements have been signed and those new gTLDs have entered the delegation phase of the program.

Next six gTLDs jump into the Internet pool

More than 300 new gTLDs have now been delegated to the root zone. A gTLD is delegated to the root zone and becomes a part of the Internet once it has completed the new gTLD program. The newest group of gTLDs to be delegated is:

  • .deals
  • .melbourne
  • .city
  • .schmidt
  • .cuisinella
  • .cancerresearch

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Beware of the Antitrust Laws’ extraterritorial reach

Posted in Information Technology

Our colleagues Jay Levine and Jason Startling recently wrote an interesting post on Porter Wright’s FedSec Law Blog. Though the article covers some interesting international and antitrust issues, the case Jay and Jason focus on is one that many in the technology industry may wish to follow. With technology products in particular, more and more goods are sold outside of the United States, yet seem to find their way back into the U.S. economy — often as a resale product or as part of a finished downstream product. The question that arises for many companies is whether U.S. antitrust law applies to that foreign sale. The article discusses how the  Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA), governs this conduct.

The Internet revolution — new gTLD update

Posted in Domain Names, gTLDs, Intellectual Property, Trademarks

Since our last blog post, the total number of domain name registrations among all new gTLDs has reached 1,414,766. There has been little movement this week on the leader board. The leaders are:

Number

New domain

Total registrations

1

.xyz

250,731

2

.berlin

136,703

3

.club

78,767

4

.guru

64,123

5

.photography

39,868

6

.email

34,799

7

.link

33,781

8

.在线 (online)

33,726

9

.today

29,669

10

.tips

25,661

ICANN has delegated four new gTLDs to the root zone:

  • .active
  • .suzuki
  • .place
  • .direct

Protecting the home front

It is important to remember that each newly delegated string that is set to launch is potentially one new threat to a trademark owner’s brand unless it has proactively protected its registered trademarks. Continue Reading