Finding Google’s copying a fair use, the Supreme Court ended Oracle’s decade-long attempt to recover copyright damages.  The battle began between these tech giants when Google designed its Android software platform for mobile devices, such as smartphones.  The platform allows “computer programmers to develop new programs and applications” for Android-based devices.  In designing the mobile platform, Google independently developed most of the code but copied what the parties referred to as “declaring code” for 37 application programming interfaces, or APIs.  The declaring code in APIs “enables a set of shortcuts for programmers.”  A programmer can select a particular task from the API’s task library without having to learn anything more than a simple command, thus allowing the programmer to use a library of prewritten code to carry out complex tasks without having to write the code from scratch.

At the time Google was developing the Android platform, many software developers were using Sun Microsystems’ Java programming language and its popular Java SE platform.  Oracle, shortly after acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2010, accused Google of taking critical portions of the APIs in the Java code for unauthorized use in its Android platform.  While Google independently developed the underlying code for the tasks, Google copied the declaring code for certain tasks “useful to programmers working on applications for mobile devices.”  “Without that copying, programmers would need to learn an entirely new system to call up the same tasks.”  With the “structure, sequence, and organization” of the APIs so similar, Oracle alleged Google infringed its copyrights.
Continue Reading Fair Use Shields Google in Its Copyright Battle with Oracle

The deadline for business to implement compliance with the California Consumer Privacy Act is just around the corner and chances are most businesses are not ready.

On June 28, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018.  The Act applies to any business which does business in California, and i) has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million; ii) buys, receives, sells, or shares for commercial purposes, the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices; or iii) earns more than half of its annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information. 
Continue Reading Compliance Deadline for California’s New Privacy Act Coming Up Fast; Are You Ready?

LinkedIn is a popular professional networking website with more than half a billion members. Many of its users, in an effort to enhance their networking capabilities, make their profile public and available to anyone to review their personal details such as their employment, education, skill sets and other personal information. Although LinkedIn disclaims any ownership of the information its users post, this information has enormous value in the online marketplace.
Continue Reading LinkedIn Profiles and the Applicability of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

In Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc. et. al., the Federal Circuit recently held that a lower court wrongly invalidated four patents under Alice because they contain an inventive concept.  The four patents at issue share the same specification and generally relate to connecting a data capture device, e.g., a digital camera, to a mobile device so that a user can automatically publish content from the data capture device to a website.  Defendants had moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the patents are ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101.  The district court granted these motions and subsequently awarded attorney fees.  However, the Federal Circuit concluded that the district court misapplied Federal Circuit precedent in granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss, and vacated the district court’s ruling.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Sets Higher Standard for Early Alice Motions

California case law over the last few years is replete with instances where a new and/or small business has one of their employees take responsibility for various IT activities such as setting up the company website and/or email domains.  Disputes arise when that employee leaves for other employment and refuses to give the former employer access to the business domain and/or emails.  This is what happened in the recent case, Pneuma International, Inc. v. Cho, which made its way to the California First Appellate District.   The Court was required to analyze an old, but largely forgotten, theory of tort liability, trespass to chattels, in connection with a defendant’s “control” over his former employer’s website domain.
Continue Reading Web Domains and The Forgotten Tort of Trespass to Chattels