The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday that it would consider whether to make it easier to hold companies liable for encouraging others to commit patent infringement.
The court agreed to hear an appeal by Internet services company Limelight Networks Inc.LLNW -4.11%, which is fighting a patent infringement lawsuit brought by larger rival Akamai Technologies Inc.AKAM -3.94%
A badly splintered federal appeals court ruled in 2012 that Akamai could proceed with allegations that Limelight encouraged its customers to infringe an Akamai patent involving a method for helping website owners manage online traffic efficiently.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a 6-5 decision, ruled Limelight would be liable if Akamai could prove that Limelight performed some actions outlined in the patent and then directed its customers to perform the remaining steps in the patent.
Limelight, which denied Akamai’s allegations, argued that a company shouldn’t be held liable for encouraging patent infringement unless some single party performs every step in the patent.
Akamai said the lower court’s ruling correctly closed a loophole that allowed companies to induce patent infringement without any penalty.
A host of technology companies, including Google Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc.CSCO -0.14% and Oracle Corp.ORCL -0.94%, urged the Supreme Court to hear the case. They warned that the lower court ruling would dramatically expand patent-infringement liability for companies whose high-tech products could be used to facilitate patent infringement by others.
The Obama administration also urged the court to hear the case, voicing similar arguments.
The Supreme Court likely will hear oral arguments in April, with a decision expected by the end of June.
Source – theguardian.com/ By – Jon Henley Category – Matthews Bark
Amiran Natsvlishvili is not complaining about the kidnapping. Nor about the brutal beatings, or the huge ransom his family had to pay for his release. The former managing director of a state car plant in Georgia is not bitter, either, about the accusations of embezzlement and misuse of public funds.
No, as his young lawyer argues in a bright, high-ceiling courtroom in Strasbourg, what Natsvlishvili really objects to is that the state lied to him.
Locked up for more than four months in the same vile cell as the man who kidnapped and beat him as well as a convicted murderer, when the state finally offered him a deal – cop a plea, pay a fine and you’re free – Natsvlishvili was so desperate that he jumped at it. And then he was told he could not appeal.
That is why we are here, says the lawyer to the judges behind the bench at the European court of human rights: this man has plainly been denied the right to a fair trial. Georgia of course denies it, but it is in breach of article 6, paragraph 1 of the European convention on human rights.
Along with the European commission in Brussels, the Strasbourg-based ECHR could reasonably lay claim to being one of the most maligned institutions in Britain. (“Hardly surprising, I suppose,” quips a senior British court official. “Our name contains the words ‘European’ and ‘human rights’. Not exactly a winning combination.”)
Conservative MPs have said it is high time for Britain to “quit the jurisdiction” of a “supranational quango”. The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is “reviewing Britain’s relationship” with an institution he says has “reached the point where it has lost democratic acceptability”.
Grayling said last week the ECHR did not “make this country a better place”. David Cameron has said the court risks becoming a glorified “small claims court” buried under a mountain of “trivial” claims , and suggested Britain could withdraw from the convention to “keep our country safe”. The home secretary, Theresa May, has pledged the party’s next manifesto will promise to scrap the Human Rights Act, which makes the convention enforceable in Britain.
Former lord chief justice Lord Judge and three other senior British judges have recently backed this stance in high-profile lectures, arguing that by treating the convention as a “living instrument” the ECHR is “undermining democracy”. Its judges, rather than parliament, are now making British law, they allege, and parliamentary sovereignty should not be ceded to “a foreign court”. But another leading supreme court judge, Lord Mance, last week forcefully defended the ECHR’s contribution to British law.
Parts of the press have been more outspoken, railing against “meddling, unelected European judges” who are “wrecking British law” and demanding the government “draw a line in the sand to defend British sovereignty” by “defying Europe … and ignoring the rulings of this foreign court”.
That’s not how they see things in Strasbourg. In the 60 years of its existence, the ECHR has reached well over 10,000 judgments in cases such as that brought by Natsvlishvili, prompting changes to national laws and procedures in nearly 50 countries that have now signed the convention.
In the past decade, the court has required Bulgaria to care properly for people with mental and physical disabilities, and Austria to allow same-sex couples to adopt each other’s children. It has forced Cyprus to take action against sex trafficking and Moldova to halt state censorship of TV. Its judgments have compelled improvements in Russian prisons, and more effective punishment of domestic violence in Turkey.
In France, laws have been passed to protect domestic servants from forced labour, while illegitimate children now have equal rights to inheritance.
Britain has been obliged to take greater care of vulnerable prisoners, regulate the monitoring of employees’ communications, protect the anonymity of journalists’ sources, bring the age of consent for gay people in line with that for heterosexuals and force local councils to observe proper safeguards in evictions.
“It isn’t just about the human rights of individuals,” says Paul Mahoney, the court’s veteran British judge, “it’s about the functioning of the rule of law – of democratic institutions – in countries not all of which have, like the UK, enjoyed 300-odd years of democracy and freedom.
At the end of the day, it’s possible for somebody from a tiny village to come here, take their government to court and get the law changed. That really is a small miracle.”
Deputy registrar Michael O’Boyle is equally forthright. “For six decades,” he says, “this institution has radiated a highly impressive body of case law out to the legal systems of a large number of countries – 47 today. It’s an advance in civilisation.”
Amy Cramer, who finished law school in 2011, was one of the fortunate ones, if you define fortunate as finding a temporary job as an employee benefits consultant for $18 an hour soon after graduation.More than 14 percent of her classmates at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago had not found any job nine months after graduation. Cramer recently joined the ranks of unemployed lawyers when her contract job ended in October.
“I love the law, but being unemployed is very tough on the psyche,” said Cramer, 28. “I don’t know if it’s bad luck or something I’m doing wrong. There’s so much self-doubt in the process.” The job market has been tough for law school graduates for several years. But law schools were slow to react to changing market conditions. They kept growing enrollments, despite fewer jobs. In 2010, a record of more than 52,000 students started law school, according to data compiled by the American Bar Association, which accredits U.S. law schools. Since then, enrollments have fallen nationally amid a dwindling pool of applicants.
Would-be lawyers are thinking twice about spending $40,000 to $50,000 a year in private school tuition to study for a profession that isn’t creating enough new jobs to match the supply of graduates every year. The first to reduce their enrollments were lower-tier schools, according to published reports. But now the pain is spreading up the ranks. National admissions data for the entering Class of 2013 are being compiled by the American Bar Association, but a survey of law schools in Illinois shows sharp declines in enrollment.At Loyola University Chicago, the entering Class of 2013 was one-fourth smaller than the 2012 class. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolled 170 students, which was 28, or 14 percent, fewer than a year ago.
Even elite schools can’t escape the trends. Northwestern University, No. 12 in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings, trimmed its 2013 entering class of three-year law students to 177, or 14.5 percent, from 207 the year before. Unless law schools relax their admissions standards, enrollments may continue to shrink, judging by the numbers of people considering getting a Juris Doctor degree. The Law School Admission Council reported that 33,673 people took the law school entrance exam, known as the LSAT, in October, down nearly 11 percent from the same test month last year. The exam is administered four times a year.
The would-be professionals turning away from law school are not fleeing in any obvious direction. For example, interest in graduate business schools waned after 2009 amid a tepid recovery and uncertain job prospects. Applications for Master of Business Administration programs rebounded this year, but much of the increase came from overseas demand, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.In the face of declining enrollments, the heads of law schools confront financial pressures that many have never dealt with. Schools are forgoing millions of dollars in tuition revenue by shrinking their enrollments. To balance their budgets, some deans have reduced faculty and staff through layoffs and attrition.
At the same time, they are spending limited resources to attract more students and find more jobs for their graduates. They are throwing themselves into curriculum reform and cajoling alums to hire students for either internships or full-time positions.”We’re in a longer-term correction in terms of jobs,” said Harold Krent, dean of the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. “Technology changes, globalization trends, corporate pressures on law firms and tax issues for state governments all have contributed. We have to ensure we continue to be as relevant as we can.”
IIT Chicago-Kent received 2,661 applications for its 2013 entering class, down 31 percent from 2010, when it received 3,854.Law schools face a difficult choice when the applicant pool shrinks. They can keep enrollment steady by loosening admissions standards, but the strategy could endanger their status in the influential rankings by U.S. News & World Report. Or they can preserve their academic credentials, accept fewer students and find ways to make up the revenue shortfall.
In 2012, Krent trimmed IIT Chicago-Kent’s first-year enrollment by 7 percent, from 308 full- and part-time students to 286, and the same number of students matriculated this year. From 2010 to 2013, the school has registered a modest decline in its median LSAT score, to 158 from 161, out of a possible score of 180.Krent said it hasn’t been easy balancing the goals of admitting students who can succeed in law school and pass the bar exam and maintaining revenue. Law school tuition also supports the undergraduate and graduate programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “Some people at the university would prefer if we guarantee 300 seats,” Krent said. David Yellen, Loyola’s law dean, said university officials supported his decision to cut the first-year class, agreeing to accept less revenue from the law school.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — Does stock-market strength beget more stock-market strength? It’s human nature to think that it does. And the three “amazing” facts that I discuss below are evidence that this implicit belief is very strong right now. But, in true contrarian fashion, the market all too often ends up doing just the opposite of what human nature would have us believe. That’s why huge amounts of money gets invested right before market tops, just as large amounts of cash get pulled out at bottoms.
Keep this in mind as you confront the breathless cheerleading among some bulls right now about the stock market’s recent strength. Here are three of thee “amazing” facts that the cheerleaders are noting — whose significance is not nearly as bullish as they would have us believe: Amazing fact No. 1: Market has been unexpectedly strong since May Day – This factoid refers to the Halloween Indicator, of course, which is based on the historical tendency for the stock market to turn in its best returns between Halloween
and May Day (the “winter” months). In contrast, the stock market historically has been flat during the other six months of the year — the so-called summer months between May Day and the subsequent Halloween. Not this year, however. Since the beginning of May, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA -0.39% has gained nearly 5%, leading some bulls to forecast even better returns in the seasonally favorable six-month period that begins this Friday. But there is no statistical support for this forecast. Upon feeding into my statistical software the Dow’s historical data back to its creation in 1896, I found no statistically significant correlation between the stock market’s performance during the summer months and the subsequent winter period.
To the extent there was a correlation, furthermore, it was inverse — a positive summer was more likely to be followed by a negative winter, and vice versa. It wasn’t statistically significant, so we shouldn’t make too much of this. But I mention it nonetheless because it means that if the cheerleading bulls bothered to look at the
historical record, they would be more cautious than usual — not more bullish. Amazing fact No. 2: Market’s year-to-date 2013 returns have never been negative It turns out that the broad market averages have never registered a closing price this year lower than where they stood at the end of 2012 — a very rare event. But so what? How have stocks performed following past years in which the same has been true? I haven’t seen anyone bothering to answer this crucial question, even though the factoid itself has been widely noted. And I think I know why: The answer is disappointing.
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers on Monday were set to approve sweeping new data protection rules to strengthen online privacy, and sought to outlaw most data transfers to other countries’ authorities to prevent spying. After Edward Snowden’s leaks about allegedly widespread U.S. online snooping, the draft regulation was beefed up to include even more stringent privacy protection and stiff fines for violations. The legislation is poised to have significant implications for U.S. Internet companies, too.
The rules would for the first time create a strong data protection law for Europe’s 500 million citizens, replacing an outdated patchwork of national rules that only allow for tiny fines in cases of violation. Supporters have hailed the legislation as a milestone toward establishing genuine online privacy rights, while opponents have warned of creating a hugely bureaucratic regulation that will overwhelm businesses and consumers.
The legislation was widely expected to pass a committee vote late Monday. Still, it is likely to be amended later since it also requires approval by Parliament’s plenary and the EU’s 28 member states. Lawmakers hope to conclude the process before the end of their term in May. The legislation, among other things, aims at enabling users to ask companies to fully erase their personal data, handing them a so-called right to be forgotten. It would also limit user profiling, require companies to explain their use of personal data in detail to customers, and mandate that companies seek prior consent. In addition, most businesses would have to designate or hire data protection officers to ensure the regulation is properly applied. Grave compliance failures could be subject to a fine worth up to 5% of a company’s annual turnover — which could be hundreds of millions of dollars, or even a few billion dollars for Internet giants such as Google. “Those companies are making billions from European citizens’ data. So if you want them to comply, you have to give them the right incentives,” said Giacomo Luchetta of the Center for European Policy Studies.
All companies offering services to EU citizens, regardless of where they’re based, would have to comply with the new rules, he added. In response to revelations of the National Security Agency’s online spying activities, lawmakers also toughened the initial draft regulation, prepared by the European Commission, to make sure companies no longer share European citizens’ data with authorities of a third country, unless explicitly allowed by EU law or an international treaty. That means a U.S. tech company handing over data to U.S. authorities, including information on its European customers, might be violating EU law. In practice, the provision would protect European citizens from seeing their data transferred for commercial purposes, but there are practical hurdles and loopholes that, among others, would still allow cooperation on national security matters, said Luchetta.
“If an American company gets a court order to hand over data, they have to comply,” he said. “The U.S. court doesn’t care whether you may be violating EU laws, and at the same time the EU has no power over U.S. court decisions.” Overall, the legislation has been subject to fierce lobbying over the past 18 months, and there are a record-breaking 4,000 proposed amendments to it. If Monday’s vote is delayed, lawmakers will resume their deliberations on Thursday. In a move welcomed by consumer groups and businesses, the regulation also introduces a so-called one-stop-shop approach, meaning companies would only have to deal with the national data protection authority where they are based in the EU, not with 28 national watchdogs.
Consumers, in turn, would be able to file complaints with their national authority, regardless of where the targeted service provider is based. For example that would make it easier for an Austrian consumer to complain about a social media site such as Facebook, which has its EU headquarters in Ireland. Meanwhile, the National Security Agency leaks continued to stir unrest among European policy makers. French leaders appeared angry on Monday upon learning that NSA allegedly recorded 70.3 million French telephone records within a month, and called for a swift implementation of tough privacy rules to govern the tech sector. “It is an important industry, but you cannot develop this industry if there is no personal data protection,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Luxembourg.
WASHINGTON — President Obama offered an impassioned defense of the Affordable Care Act on Monday, acknowledging the technical failures of the HealthCare.gov Web site, but providing little new information about the problems with the online portal or the efforts by government contractors to fix it.
With Republican critics seizing on the Web site’s issues as evidence of deeper flaws in the health care law, Mr. Obama sought to deflect attention from the continuing problems by focusing on ways to get coverage without going online. Like a TV pitchman, the president urged viewers to call the government’s toll-free number for health insurance, acknowledging that “the wait times probably might go up a little bit now.” In remarks in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama acknowledged serious technical issues with the Web site, declaring that “no one is madder than me.” He offered no new information about how many people have managed to enroll since the online exchanges opened on Oct. 1. And he did not address questions about who, if anyone, might be held responsible for the failure.
The president and his top aides played down the importance of the online marketplace that his administration once heralded as the key to the law’s success. Mr. Obama promised that officials are working to fix the Web site, but said that Republican critics should “stop rooting” for the failure of a law that provides health insurance to people who do not have it. “We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a Web site,” Mr. Obama told supporters. “That’s not what this was about. We waged this battle to make sure that millions of Americans in the wealthiest nation on earth finally have the same chance to get the same security of affordable, quality health care as anybody else.”
Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement after the president’s event that the administration is “not prepared to be straight” with the American people about the issues involving the health care Web site and the insurance program behind it. “Every day, new questions about the president’s health care law arise, but candid explanations are nowhere to be found,” said Mr. Boehner, of Ohio. “This decision continues a troubling pattern of this administration seeking to avoid accountability and stonewall the public.”
As they have pushed to repeal or defund Mr. Obama’s signature health care law, Republicans have demanded that the administration provide data to show how many — or how few — people have enrolled in health insurance plans through the online portal. On Monday, White House officials again refused, saying they plan to offer such numbers in mid-November and monthly after that. The White House refusal to provide enrollment data stands in contrast to the administration’s insistence that states submit detailed weekly reports on the number and characteristics of people who sign up for insurance through state-run exchanges. The Department of Health and Human Services said it needed the data so it could “track those measures which have the most potential to adversely impact beneficiaries related to their ability to enroll in insurance plans.”
The department said it wanted to shine a spotlight on the performance of state exchanges, which were built with the help of federal money, and it emphasized the importance of “transparency in the performance of marketplaces.” Moreover, the administration said that frequent reporting of performance data was needed so federal officials could spot problems with the state exchanges and step in to help fix them. In fact, the state exchanges have generally performed better than the federal exchange. With many consumers still unable to use the online portal, health policy experts outside the government have begun discussing possible ways to provide relief if the problem continues. One option is to extend the six-month enrollment period, which is set to end on March 31. Another is to exempt some people from the tax penalties that apply to those who go without insurance in 2014.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, suggested that such relief would be unnecessary if the administration fixed the Web site so people could enroll easily in the near future.
WASHINGTON — In the first congressional hearing on marijuana laws since voters in Colorado and Washington state legalized pot for recreational use in November, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) called for a “smarter approach” to marijuana policy and addressed federal laws that he said impeded effective regulation of the drug in states where it was legal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing followed a Justice Department memo in late August that said the U.S. would not challenge state laws permitting marijuana and that it would focus enforcement on eight priorities, which include preventing its distribution to minors and keeping revenue away from criminal enterprises.
Although marijuana is illegal under federal law, 20 states, including California, and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use.John Urquhart, the sheriff of King County, Wash., called on the government to allow banks to open accounts for marijuana businesses, which are currently prohibited under a federal law. Cash-only businesses are targets for robberies, he said, and are difficult to audit.
Deputy Atty. Gen. James Cole said the federal government was looking at ways to address the banking issue within existing laws.Urquhart told the committee that in 37 years as a police officer, “my experience shows the war on drugs has been a failure.””We have not significantly reduced demand over time,” he said, “but we have incarcerated generations of individuals, the highest incarceration rate in the world.”
Urquhart said that states and the federal government had shared goals regarding marijuana regulation.”We all agree we don’t want our children using marijuana,” he said. “We all agree we don’t want impaired drivers. We all agree we don’t want to continue enriching criminals. Washington’s law honors those values by separating consumers from gangs, and diverting the proceeds from the sale of marijuana toward furthering the goals of public safety.”
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s ranking Republican, raised concerns about the transport of marijuana across state lines, to states like Iowa that have not legalized it. He also cited findings from audits that found problems in Colorado’s medical marijuana program, even before the state legalized recreational use.”Why has the department decided to trust Colorado to effectively regulate recreational marijuana when it is already struggling to regulate medical marijuana?” he asked.
Cole said the federal government aimed to “trust but verify” that states legalizing marijuana create “robust” regulations to address public safety concerns and comply with federal guidelines.”We’re trying to find the best of the imperfect solutions that are before us,” Cole said.
Read more – latimes.com/nation/la-na-senate-marijuana-20130911,0,4973827.story