About a decade ago, a federal appeals court issued a ruling that prompted thousands of new applications for patents on so-called "business methods," ranging from Amazon.com's "1-click" ordering system to Priceline's auction technique for selling tickets.
But at what point are such processes too "abstract" to be worthy of patent protection? That's one of the key questions that was set to be argued Thursday afternoon before an atypical 12-judge "en banc" panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.
Google is willing to fight Viacom all the way to the Supreme Court in the companies' legal battle over YouTube and pirated videos, but Viacom is taking a hard line of its own, executives from the companies said Wednesday.
David Eun, Google's vice president of content partnerships, told Dow Jones Newswires that Google has no plan to resolve the Viacom case outside court. "We're going all the way to the Supreme Court," Eun said. "We're very clear about it."
There's no mistaking who benefited from a federal-court decision to set licensing fees that three top Web services must pay songwriters and publishers for the right to stream their music.
But the question left unanswered is whether the losers also include consumers.
AOL, RealNetworks, and Yahoo may end up paying the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) $100 million as a result of a decision by a U.S. district judge to set the licensing fee for streaming music at 2.5 percent of adjusted music-use revenue.
"(The court's decision) is a victory for songwriters, … Read more
For more than a decade, Web site operators have enjoyed a broad legal shield against lawsuits filed over material posted by their users, which has let user-driven sites like YouTube and MySpace.com flourish.
But a pair of recent rulings by federal district judges have chipped away at that protective shield. If those decisions are upheld on appeal, and if more judges follow suit, Web site operators and Internet service providers may find themselves compelled to police what their users post--or face the unsettling prospect of being held liable for the contents.
"We fear these cases might inspire a … Read more
Arbitration clauses are popular for several reasons: (1) they dictate where a future case will be heard, (2) they remove the risks of trying the case to a jury, (3) they lessen exposure to … Read more
Craigslist.org can't be held liable for discriminatory ads posted on its site, according to a court ruling released Friday.
A group of Chicago lawyers had sued the online classifieds site over real-estate ads that stated discriminatory preferences such as "no minorities" or "no children." The group, the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argued that such ads are prohibited under the Fair Housing Act and that Craigslist should be held liable for allowing them to be posted on its Web site. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court … Read more
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a Maine law that slapped severe restrictions on sales of cigarettes via mail order and the Internet.
In their opinion (PDF) on Wednesday, the justices said a 1994 federal law trumped the Maine statute restricting sales and shipments of tobacco.
The 1994 federal law in question says that no state may enact a law "related to a price, route, or service of any motor carrier...with respect to the transportation of property."
That seems pretty clear: cigarettes are property, and the Maine regulations targeted motor carriers transporting them. But Maine … Read more
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in an appeal of a lawsuit accusing the National Security Agency of illicit spying on millions of Americans communicating with foreigners.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed suit in 2006 on behalf of journalists, scholars, criminal defense attorneys and Islamic-Americans, had sought review of a 2-1 decision last summer by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to throw out its case.
The ACLU obtained a victory at the trial court level in August 2006. A federal judge in Michigan ruled that the NSA's once-secret … Read more
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to weigh a dispute that could affect how taxes show up on Americans' cell phone bills, dealing a setback to wireless companies.
The case at hand, which pitted Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA against state utility regulators, centers on whether states should be allowed to forbid wireless carriers from breaking out various state and local taxes as line-item fees on a customer's bill.
Sounds like a simple enough matter, but it has actually stirred up quite a fuss.
The wireless companies, naturally, maintain they should be able to establish a visible separation … Read more