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Patents

SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails To Take Off 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-them-to-court dept.
speedplane writes As was previously discussed on Slashdot, back in September SpaceX challenged a patent owned by Blue Origin. The technology concerned landing rockets at sea. Yesterday, the judges in the case issued their opinion stating that they are unable to initiate review of the patent on the grounds brought by SpaceX. Although at first glance this would appear to be a Blue Origin win, looking closer, the judges explained that Blue Origin's patent lacks sufficient disclosure, effectively stating that the patent is invalid, but not on the specific grounds brought by SpaceX: "Because claim 14 lacks adequate structural support for some of the means-plus-function limitations, it is not amenable to construction. And without ascertaining the breadth of claim 14, we cannot undertake the necessary factual inquiry for evaluating obviousness with respect to differences between the claimed subject matter and the prior art." If SpaceX wants to move forward against Blue Origin, this opinion bodes well for them, but they will need to take their case in front of a different court.
Patents

Has the Supreme Court Made Patent Reform Legislation Unnecessary? 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the reply-hazy-try-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Congress gears up again to seriously consider patent litigation abuse—starting with the introduction of H.R. 9 (the "Innovation Act") last month—opponents of reform are arguing that recent Supreme Court cases have addressed concerns. Give the decisions time to work their way through the system, they assert. A recent hearing on the subject before a U.S. House Judiciary Committee (HJC) Subcommittee shined some light on the matter. And, as HJC Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a long-time leader in Internet and intellectual property issues, put it succinctly in his opening remarks: "We've heard this before, and though I believe that the Court has taken several positive steps in the right direction, their decisions can't take the place of a clear, updated and modernized statute. In fact, many of the provisions in the Innovation Act do not necessarily lend themselves to being solved by case law, but by actual law—Congressional legislation."
United States

Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial 641

Posted by Soulskill
from the bold-strategy dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The Globe and Mail reports that Edward Snowden's Russian lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, says the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor is working with American and German lawyers to return home. "I won't keep it secret that he wants to return back home. And we are doing everything possible now to solve this issue. There is a group of U.S. lawyers, there is also a group of German lawyers and I'm dealing with it on the Russian side." Kucherena added that Snowden is ready to return to the States, but on the condition that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial. The lawyer said Snowden had so far only received a guarantee from the U.S. Attorney General that he will not face the death penalty. Kucherena says Snowden is able to travel outside Russia since he has a three-year Russian residency permit, but "I suspect that as soon as he leaves Russia, he will be taken to the U.S. embassy."
Privacy

Supreme Court Gives Tacit Approval To Warrantless DNA Collection 130

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-to-gattica dept.
An anonymous reader writes On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a case involving the conviction of a man based solely on the analysis of his "inadvertently shed" DNA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) argues that this tacit approval of the government's practice of collecting anyone's DNA anywhere without a warrant will lead to a future in which people's DNA are "entered into and checked against DNA databases and used to conduct pervasive surveillance."
Canada

Secret Memo Slams Canadian Police On Inaccurate ISP Request Records 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the tip-of-the-iceberg dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last fall, Daniel Therrien, the government's newly appointed Privacy Commissioner of Canada, released the annual report on the Privacy Act, the legislation that governs how government collects, uses, and discloses personal information. The lead story from the report was the result of an audit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police practices regarding warrantless requests for telecom subscriber information. Michael Geist now reports that a secret internal memo reveals the situation was far worse, with auditors finding the records from Canada's lead law enforcement agency were unusable since they were "inaccurate and incomplete."
Google

Craig Brittain (Revenge Porn King) Sues For Use of Image 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-disgusting-gander dept.
retroworks writes "Washington Post reporter Caitlin Dewey leads with, "Revenge-porn impresario Craig Brittain is learning the hard way that karma is a real witch." The report states that the Federal Trade Commission has settled a complaint against Brittain, whose defunct site, "Is Anybody Down" was accused of unfair business practices. From the article: "The site paid its bills by soliciting women's nude photos on Craigslist and/or from their exes, publishing the photos without the women's permission (and often with their names and phone numbers attached), and then charging fees of $200 to $500 to take the photos down." Brittain agreed to destroy the image and never operate a revenge porn site again. However, On Feb. 9, "Brittain filed a takedown request to Google, demanding that the search engine stop linking to nearly two dozen URLs — including a number of news articles, and files on the case from the FTC — because they used photos of him and information about him without his permission." Ars Technica explains. "In this instance, fair use and general First Amendment principles are on Google's and the media's side."
Security

Uber Discloses Database Breach, Targets GitHub With Subpoena 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day-another-breach dept.
New submitter SwampApe tips news that Uber has revealed a database breach from 2014. The company says the database contained names and diver's license numbers of their drivers, about 50,000 of which were accessed by an unauthorized third party. As part of their investigation into who was behind the breach, Uber has filed a lawsuit which includes a subpoena request for GitHub. "Uber's security team knows the public IP address used by the database invader, and wants to link that number against the IP addresses and usernames of anyone who looked at the GitHub-hosted gist in question – ID 9556255 – which we note today no longer exists. It's possible the gist contained a leaked login key, or internal source code that contained a key that should not have been made public."
Oracle

Oracle Sues 5 Oregon Officials For 'Improper Influence' 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the software-versus-politics dept.
SpzToid writes: Following up on an earlier Slashdot story, the Oracle Corporation has filed a rather timely suit against five of former governor John Kitzhaber's staff for their "improper influence" in the decision to shutter the Cover Oregon healthcare website, while blaming Oracle to defuse the political consequences. Oracle argues the website was ready to go before the state decided to switch to the federal exchange in April.

"The work on the exchange was complete by February 2014, but going live with the website and providing a means for all Oregonians to sign up for health insurance coverage didn't match the former-Governor's re-election strategy to 'go after' Oracle," Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement.

Kitzhaber resigned last week amid criminal probes into an influence-peddling scandal involving allegations that his fiancée used her position in his office for personal gain.
Privacy

NSA Spying Wins Another Rubber Stamp 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the once-more-unto-the-privacy-breach dept.
schwit1 sends this report from the National Journal: A federal court has again renewed an order allowing the National Security Agency to continue its bulk collection of Americans' phone records, a decision that comes more than a year after President Obama pledged to end the controversial program. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved this week a government request to keep the NSA's mass surveillance of U.S. phone metadata operating until June 1, coinciding with when the legal authority for the program is set to expire in Congress. The extension is the fifth of its kind since Obama said he would effectively end the Snowden-exposed program as it currently exists during a major policy speech in January 2014. Obama and senior administration officials have repeatedly insisted that they will not act alone to end the program without Congress.
Patents

Patent Trolls On the Run But Not Vanquished Yet 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
snydeq writes Strong legislation that will weaken the ability of the trolls to shake down innovators is likely to pass Congress, but more should be done, writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. "The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. But provisions in the proposed law, like one that will make trolls pay legal costs if their claims are rejected, will remove a good deal of the risk that smaller companies face when they decide to resist a spurious lawsuit," Snyder writes. That said, "You'd have to be wildly optimistic to think that software patents will be abolished. Although the EFF's proposals call for the idea to be studied, [EFF attorney Daniel] Nazer doesn't expect it to happen; he instead advocates several reforms not contained in the Innovation Act."
Patents

Jury Tells Apple To Pay $532.9 Million In Patent Suit 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-remit-821,110-iphones dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Smartflash LLC has won a patent lawsuit against Apple over DRM and technology relating to the storage of downloaded songs, games, and videos on iTunes. Apple must now pay $532.9 million in damages. An Apple spokesperson did not hesitate to imply Smartflash is a patent troll: "Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no U.S. presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system." The trial happened in the same court that decided Apple owed VirnetX $368 million over FaceTime-related patents back in 2012.
Businesses

Lenovo Hit With Lawsuit Over Superfish Adware 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-comes-the-trouble dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that the fallout from the Superfish fiasco might just be starting for Lenovo. "Lenovo admitted to pre-loading the Superfish adware on some consumer PCs, and unhappy customers are now dragging the company to court on the matter. A proposed class-action suit was filed late last week against Lenovo and Superfish, which charges both companies with 'fraudulent' business practices and of making Lenovo PCs vulnerable to malware and malicious attacks by pre-loading the adware. Plaintiff Jessica Bennett said her laptop was damaged as a result of Superfish, which was called 'spyware' in court documents. She also accused Lenovo and Superfish of invading her privacy and making money by studying her Internet browsing habits."
Cellphones

In Florida, Secrecy Around Stingray Leads To Plea Bargain For a Robber 241

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-just-like-a-snipe dept.
schwit1 writes The case against Tadrae McKenzie looked like an easy win for prosecutors. He and two buddies robbed a small-time pot dealer of $130 worth of weed using BB guns. Under Florida law, that was robbery with a deadly weapon, with a sentence of at least four years in prison. But before trial, his defense team detected investigators' use of a secret surveillance tool, one that raises significant privacy concerns. In an unprecedented move, a state judge ordered the police to show the device — a cell-tower simulator sometimes called a StingRay — to the attorneys. Rather than show the equipment, the state offered McKenzie a plea bargain. Today, 20-year-old McKenzie is serving six months' probation after pleading guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor. He got, as one civil liberties advocate said, the deal of the century.
The Courts

Nvidia Faces Suit Over GTX970 Performance Claims 159

Posted by timothy
from the lot-of-work-for-a-few-pixels dept.
According to this story at PC World, Nvidia was hit with a class action lawsuit Thursday that claims it misled customers about the capabilities of the GTX 970, which was released in September. Nvidia markets the chip as having 4GB of performance-boosting video RAM, but some users have complained the chip falters after using 3.5GB of that allocation. The lawsuit says the remaining half gigabyte runs 80 percent slower than it's supposed to. That can cause images to stutter on a high resolution screen and some games to perform poorly, the suit says. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California and names as defendants Nvidia and Giga-Byte Technology, which sells the GTX 970 in graphics cards. Nvidia declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday and Giga-Byte couldn't immediately be reached.
Google

Antitrust Case Against Google Thrown Out of SF Court 62

Posted by timothy
from the like-the-swiss-miss-marshallow-scam dept.
Mark Wilson (3799011) writes "Just a few days ago Google was threatened with legal action for anti-competitive behavior in Russia. While we don't yet know if that will amount to anything, there has been some better news for the search giant in the US. A San Francisco judge dismissed a case brought against the firm by two men who thought the inclusion of Google services in Android pushed up the prices of their handsets."
The Courts

Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System? 183

Posted by timothy
from the judicial-vs-just dept.
An anonymous reader writes One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system. Fortunately, most of us never have to deal with it. On the other hand, the fact that we so seldom interact with it also means that most of us are not constantly thinking about it. It is possible our judicial system would be much better if most of us had to spend more time thinking about it. I myself had not put much thought into it until I watched a documentary about Aaron Swartz. It is frightening to think that someone could have been left in a position like that. I also hear about so many cases were people end up pleading guilty because they do not have enough money to fight a case in court. Is this really the best we can do? The Marshal Project is also an interesting source of information regarding the shortfalls of our current system.

What do you think about it? How can we improve our judicial system? Is there any interesting way that technology could be used to improve the system?
Government

Crystal Pattern Matching Recovers Obliterated Serial Numbers From Metal 133

Posted by timothy
from the x-still-marks-the-spot dept.
chicksdaddy writes Criminals beware: researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have figured out how to recover serial numbers obliterated from metal surfaces such as firearms and automobiles — a common problem in forensic examinations. According to this report, NIST researchers used a technique called electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to read, in the crystal structure pattern, imprints on steel that had been removed by polishing. ... The more perfect the crystal structure, the stronger and clearer the pattern. Software can then calculate the pattern quality to reveal crystal damage; areas with more damage produce lower quality patterns. In the NIST experiments, described in Forensic Science International, researchers hammered the letter 'X' into a polished stainless steel plate. The letter stamps were as deep as 140 micrometers, meeting federal regulations for firearm serial numbers. The researchers then polished the metal again to remove all visible traces of the letters, and collected the EBSD diffraction patterns and pattern quality data and analyzed them for evidence of the imprints.
Australia

Australian ISPs To Introduce '3-Strike' Style Anti-piracy Scheme 78

Posted by timothy
from the australian-rules-baseball dept.
angry tapir writes Australian ISPs are considering a draft industry code, developed in response to government threats to step in and do it for them, that will implement a 'three notice' scheme for alleged copyright infringement. If an ISP customer gets three notices in 12 months, a rights holder can go to court to obtain their details and potentially take legal action against them. (The other part of the government's copyright crackdown is the introduction of a scheme to have pirate websites blocked — the government has yet to introduce the legislation for it, however.)
The Courts

Federal Court: Theft of Medical Records Not an 'Imminent Danger' To Victim 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the physician-secure-thy-networks dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A federal court in Texas ruled last week that a massive data breach at a hospital in that state didn't put patients at imminent risk of identity theft, even when presented with evidence that suggested stolen patient information was being used in attempted fraud and identity theft schemes. According to a post over at Digital Guardian's blog Beverly Peters was one more than 400,000 patients of St. Joseph Hospital whose information was stolen by hackers in an attack that took place between December 16 and 18, 2013.

Peters alleged that her personal information had been exposed in the breach and then disseminated in the public domain, where it was being "misused by unauthorized and unknown third parties." Specifically: Peters reported that, subsequent to the breach at St. Josephs, her Discover credit card was used to make a fraudulent purchase and that hackers had tried to infiltrate her Amazon.com account — posing as her son. Also: telemarketers were using the stolen information. Peters claimed that, after the breach, she was besieged with calls and solicitations for medical products and services companies, with telemarketers asking to speak to her and with specific family members, whose contact information was part of the record stolen from St. Joseph's.

As a result, Peters argued that she faced an "imminent injury" due to "increased risk" of future identity theft and fraud because of the breach at St. Joseph, and wished to sue the hospital for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). But the court found otherwise, ruling that Peters lacked standing to bring the case in federal court under Article III of the Constitution.
Businesses

A123 Sues Apple For Poaching Employees 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-take-the-law-into-your-own-hands-you-take-them-to-court dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems is suing Apple in federal court for allegedly poaching five employees to help it develop a competing battery business. The suit accuses the workers, including A123's former chief technology officer, of breaking noncompete and nonsolicit agreements. "It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high-tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123," according to the lawsuit. The news adds some credibility to rumors that Apple is getting into the automotive market. "