Technology Law Source

Monthly Archives: March 2010

Opening of .co ccTLD Draws Interest as .com Typo Variant

A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an Internet top-level domain generally used or reserved for a sovereign state or territory. There are currently over 270 such domain extensions— from the Ascension Island (.ac) to Zimbabwe (.zw)—delegated by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). A number of the world’s countries have licensed their TLDs for worldwide commercial use—usually when the TLD has coincidental alternative meanings making it especially marketable. Examples include Tuvalu and the Federated States of Micronesia, small island-states in the Pacific, sell domain names using the .tv and .fm TLDs respectively.

The .co top level domain extension is the latest ccTLD to draw interests from domain registrants not located in the country indicated by the domain extension. The .co extension, the country code top-level domain assigned to the nation of Colombia, is significant to brand owners because Internet users searching for brand owners’ Web sites frequently mistype ".com” as ".co."…

Identity Theft Protection Company to Pay $12 Million to Settle FTC Claims, State AG Actions

According to an FTC press release on March 3, 2010 and as reported in various media outlet reports, like this one from The New York Times, LifeLock, Inc., an identity theft protection company, has agreed to pay $11 million to the Federal Trade Commission and $1 million to a group of 35 state attorneys general to settle charges that the company used false claims to promote its identity theft protection services.

The FTC claims and state attorneys general actions appear to have been centered around LifeLock’s representations that its protections against identity theft were complete, absolute, and guaranteed.  FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz noted in the FTC’s press release,

"While LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it."…

What Border Officials Can Do with Your Laptop And Cellular Phone

Having your laptop or smartphone searched or detained by Customs on your way back from a business trip would be a nightmare for most travelers, including bankers and other finance professionals. However, this scenario is quite possible under new governmental policies.

In 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) both issued their respective new policies on border searches of electronic devices. This was a coordinated effort of CBP and ICE to update and harmonize their border policies to detect an array of illegal activities, including terrorism, cash smuggling, contraband, child pornography, copyright, and export control violations.

With all the technology innovations that allow business travelers to carry massive amounts of information in small electronic devices, CBP and ICE are facing an enormous challenge. On the one hand, travelers have a legitimate right to carry information on electronic devices. In that respect, there are serious concerns regarding the traveler’s expectation of privacy. On the other hand, the government has a duty to combat illegal activities and to enforce U.S. law at the border. The difficulty is finding the right balance between the government’s duty to enforce the law and the rights of travelers.

The legal basis for ICE and CBP policies is the border search exception to the Fourth Amendment requirement that officers obtain a warrant before searching someone’s property. But, assuming that they have this power, another key issue is exactly what CBP and ICE are allowed to do with one’s laptop. In …

Government Agencies Enforce HITECH Act Regulations

As of February 22, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) began enforcement of data breach notification requirements explained in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (“HITECH Act”).

Enacted as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the HITECH Act, modifies the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) substantially by, among other things, requiring covered entities to provide notification to individuals whose protected health information has been compromised, used, or disclosed without authorization, or otherwise fails to comply with HIPAA.

(For more information, see our law alert (PDF) published 08/21/09 and provides a general overview of the HITECH Act and its changes to HIPAA.)

In its “Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health; Information Interim Final Rule” issued August 24, 2009, HHS stated that it will begin imposing sanctions on February 22, 2010 against covered entities failing to comply with the HITECH Act requirements, although, HHS also states that it expects covered entities already to be in compliance with HITECH and HHS’s regulations. HHS enforcement implicates all health care providers, health plans, business associates, and others that use, access, or disclose protected health information.

Additionally, HITECH includes enhanced enforcement provisions such as:

  1. an increased scale of fines for noncompliance up to $1,500,000;
  2. the authorization to state Attorneys General to bring actions on behalf of state residents to enforce violations of HIPAA; and
  3. expanded applicability of various portions of HIPAA directly to business associates.

All affected entities should adopt …

Latest Apple Trademark Dispute Highlights Need for Careful Mark Selection

Despite being the world’s foremost creator of hip consumer technology and a brand recognized worldwide, Apple has consistently managed to find itself embroiled in seemingly avoidable trademark disputes. As discussed in Hiroko Tabuchi’s New York Times article, "IPad? That’s So 2002," Fujitsu Says, Apple has found itself in another very public trademark dispute.  While the latest flap is that created by Apple’s use of iPad with its new tablet computer, it is by no means the first time Apple has been accused of trademark infringement.

In perhaps one of the most well known trademark disputes, Apple Computer sparred with Apple Corps on multiple occasions. Apple Computer’s first dustup with the corporate entity behind the Beatles’ Apple Records record label occurred in 1978 (shortly after the founding of Apple Computer in 1976) when Apple Corps sued Apple Computer for trademark violation. The parties settled that dispute in 1981 with the understanding that Apple Computer would never enter the music industry.

Predictably, in hindsight, Apple Corps filed suit against Apple Computer again eight years after the settlement—this time for violating the original agreement not to enter the music industry.…